Telling Tales 102
The Sunset King’s Version
“Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking. You’re going to say that I’m a horrible man. You’re going to say that I’m killing my own children, my beloved boys, and that in the process I’m killing the daughters of your tsar Pyotr, including the life of your beloved Vasilisa. Oh, yes, I’ve heard all of the accusations. It’s easy to criticize from the sidelines. It’s easy to point fingers and say, ‘if you’d only done this or that.’ I have advisors, you wouldn’t believe the things they say to get me to make some decision or another. As if one decision – ONE! – could make the difference in their lives or the lives of their servants. And it’s never enough, either, I’ll tell you that much. Make that decision one day, next thing you know your advisors have another crisis. Of course, a decision favoring one side always gets someone else up in arms. I swear, if I couldn’t have all of them dancing themselves to death in red-hot iron shoes, it wouldn’t even be worth it to be the Sunset King.
“The fact of the matter is, I’m the one that’s dying. Those royal children up there dancing, you think it’s part of some enormous enchantment? Where on earth could you have heard an idea as palpably ridiculous as that? Think about it. What would the mechanism be? I’ve heard of immortality spells, who hasn’t? The most infamous involves bathing in the blood of virgins. Pretty sure that’s where all of those silly vampire legends come from. Doesn’t even work, anyway, so I hear. Anyway, immortality is for the healthy. Those spells only work when the body is sound, not like mine. You can’t see it, but I’m riddled with disease. I used to have your build, you know, but once the sickness got a hold of me, it started feeding on me from the inside out. It’s getting bigger, which makes me seem bigger, but the truth of the matter is that there’s less of me than ever. Immortality? Hah.
“You think you know what’s going on here. Let me guess. Your Vasilisa is enchanted. Her sisters are enchanted. Tsar Pyotr is an evil sorcerer. No. No. No. The reason Vasilisa has been acting more distantly with you – of course, I know she’s been acting more distantly with you, don’t be absurd, everyone knows – is because she doesn’t love you. I take it back. That’s probably not entirely fair. She loves and admires you, but not in the way that you want her to. All of your courage and determination to bring her back from the lands beyond oceans, beyond the thrice tenth kingdoms, those things have solidified in her what can only be called an undying amity and respect. However, the more she has grown to know you, the less she has grown to love you – in the romantic sense, you understand. Her so-called enchantment is nothing more than a desire for distance without hurting you. Her sisters? Hah. What woman in her right mind would love those fools Arkady and Aleksey? They can barely tie their own doublets. Their father? He takes his daughters’ side and attempts to keep you from them. Why? Because, while he is, like you, ridiculously bound to his word, he is a good father and loves his daughters more than you.
“I have news for you, young prince. The world does not revolve around the things that you want.”