So this is to be my departure.
In all my time in the City, I never expected that I should know when I was departing. That was always the great pain and great risk of the City: to draw close to someone was to risk losing them when the City saw fit to send them away. And then there was a mourning like after a death--which I know well, as I have seen so many people come and go from the City. Never before has anyone known how soon or when or how he might leave the City. Here, we who are in the City now, we are the only ones to have this kind of bittersweet privilege, to know that we are leaving and to make preparations for that. Perhaps it was better the other way, though I'm not so sure.
I remember Lailis, the crippled queen; Megumi, who left and has returned again; I remember Princess Rue and Ahiru and Autor and Fakir who showed me such generosity when I first arrived here lost; I remember so many, both friends and foes. And Merry, and Riff--they've both come and gone so many times. And now I'll return to them again.
But for a little while. I have vows to keep in London and I hope that my father hears me again now, that I will not rest until the streets of London are baptised in either his blood or mine. And it will be his blood. Because that vow is only one of two I must keep. I will go to London and I will end this war between us.
And then I will go, by whatever means I may find, because I have found doors from my world to the City so I will find a door from my world to Daventry, and I will return to Rosella--I will return to my wife. As any soldier or lord would return from war. I have no doubt of this. I've made my vows here too.
I've packed my things in a trunk and a few bags--the things I brought with me to the City, the veritable clothes on my back from seven years ago, and all the things I've collected in my time here. It's quite a store of things, now that I've brought it all together like this. But, then, that's to be expected after nigh seven years in this place.
Rosella will take Kassandra and Noir with her, along with the rest of her menagerie. Kassandra I know she can keep well, though Kassandra could perhaps stay in the City as she fell out of the sky during a rainstorm some years ago. But she's coming with us. Noir only needs a little time in sunlight each day to keep
his mechanisms running--best not to mention clockwork around Rosella--
whatever keeps an artificial cat moving.
Rosella and I will say our own goodbyes properly and as we should, not here on the Network--
I've turned the Turnabout Cafe over to a young man who has been helping me with it for several months now, seeing to the day-to-day business there even though it was i my care. His family has lived in the City for several generations now, he says, and I have no doubt he'll take excellent care of the cafe.
I've walked through the Opera Abandoned a last time; taken a last turn about the City and Xanadu; I've stood a while under the cherry tree that never seems to lose its blossoms or go to leaf, the one I was told in perhaps my third or fourth day here that it was dangerous, and it was soon enough; I've set my affairs in order with the cafe and such funds as I had here; I have taken as last glance in the Fountain, watched the Carousel turn, and listened to the Clock. I wonder if I shall miss the sound of the Clock when I leave here. It's ticking slower than ever, but there's no malice to it now. It's restful, in a way. But I wonder if I shall miss it.
I shall miss the Opera Abandoned, I know. I shall miss this room I have claimed for my own--the one that Princess Rue offered to me but which Fakir and Autor stripped of anything and everything that could be used as a weapon. I have stayed in that room since. We kept the Opera Abandoned as a fortress then, and continued to do so for so many years. I put back in my own way what they took. This chair, that table, a lamp, bedclothes I preferred, books I chose myself, a carpet for the floor, some painting got cheaply for the bare wall, a secret place beneath the floorboards for my collection. It became my own place. A far cry from my house in Mayfair, but it was my own place.
I shall miss the ruin and grandeur of this place, the costumes hidden in closets, the trapdoors on the stage, the gilt and the cobwebs, the dust and the marble, the grand staircase and the great doors. I shall miss the performances we gave here, even once in the midst of a summer snowstorm--which I shall also miss, I think. I lived in only a very few rooms in this place, though I think I thought of the whole of it as my house. Save for the basement, which was the domain of Maestro Erik and He-Who-Kills, and woe betide any who would disturb their sanctuaries. I shall
miss this place.
I shall miss the City, I think, despite the pains it has caused me. I remember how it was when I first arrived here, when I was wearied of an evening's ball and decided to walk home and saw a bright an inexplicable carousel turning down at the end of a dark alley. I don't know where the doorway between London and the City was in that alley, but I know I passed through it somewhere. And when I turned again to go back, the familiar streets I had left were no longer there.
I remember how confused I was, with the Network device and with the City itself. I should like to think I adapted quickly enough. Though I thought it was my father's doing at first, or someone in his organisation. Perhaps they'd drugged me and I was dreaming, or perhaps hallucinating. It seemed the most plausible thing--I even wondered if I was dead.
And my father's voice rang in my head then-- A fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth-- Little wonder it did; it still rings in my head, I won't deny--
And yet, the impossible became possible, and I have very much realised that the City is real, after all.
The bright lights of the City are dazzling, as are the voices and faces of those who live in it--even those who prefer the shadows to the light, much as I do. I recall before we had the coloured coins, we would pay for things with ribbon and bright bits of paper or pretty stones. I recall the stories of the Animal Trinity when they first visited the City--or visited the wrath upon the City, perhaps. I recall snow in summer and heat in winter and great storms. I have been transformed into a child, a woman, a cat, a crow, a sultan of some far Eastern country who attempted to sell a vampire named Radu to some other king, a man of times and places not my own, a madman--the City has done much and done much to me. And yet, this horrid and ugly yet beautiful and impossible place has held me here for nearly seven years. After so much time, how can I not think that I will, in some way, miss it? I've grown accustomed to its madness. I have learned how to live between the curses, as we do. I looked forever forward to its letting me free and thought that perhaps it would never let me free. But that day has come at last, nearly seven years on.
Seven years--Rosella, isn't there a tale about a princess staying silent for seven years?
There are so many that I wish to thank here at the last before I go: He-Who-Kills, staunch defender of the Opera Abandoned; Neil Perry and Todd Anderson, knights of Daventry and true companions; Megumi Yukimura, teacher and friend and one who recollects far earlier times and whom I hope I will never soon forget; Pai, who trails after me with silent questions and with her brother following her; and most of all Rosella, princess of Daventry, whom I know I will see again so very soon; all those whom I have known in the City, whether they be friend or foe, whether they are still here or returned to their own times and places. I have a thousand names and faces in mind as I write this. Thank you. Though I know there is always a risk of forgetting when one leaves the City, I know that I will not soon forget you.
I have promises to keep now--very old ones. Merry and Riff will be waiting for me. I am seven years late from returning from a party, though I doubt they'll know that. I have promises to keep to them and promises to keep to Rosella, to whom I have now promised my life.
The impossible has become possible in the City. That has changed us all, I have no doubt.
With that, I shall take my leave of the Network and make my way to that ring of doors down in Misery Square and I will search for London, for my home, in those doorways--
--and bid you all adieu.
~C.[ooc: Bids you all adieu]