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Interlude II (Estonia)
The stony planes of his face did not soften. “The Holy Father is the sovereign of the Papal States and Prince successor of the kingdom of God,” he said quietly. “Try not to let it distract you,” he echoed similar sentiment from the dream but without the previous play of sarcasm to lighten the moment. “Because I am no one.”

An audience captured the moment, though his back was turned. The lingering grip upon his fingers without subsequent withdrawal, but the stiffness to his spine tightened. Explanation followed. “Formality is important. Informality is dangeorus, ambiguous, and seeded for misunderstandings. The informal encounter ends badly, but formality is clear as a mountain spring. The rules are unlikely to be misused or misinterpreted.”

The ring itself gleamed yellow as the sun on Philip’s otherwise smooth hands.
Man is like God: he never changes.

Patricus I
No one. The idea bothered her, for she couldn’t imagine the sort of emptiness required to define a man only by his formal interactions with others. She had observed enough of Patricius I’s public life to realise the rigid boundaries that prevented those around him really seeing him, despite the ways he circumvented expectation. He chose to be a figurehead, right the way down to the ceremonial nature of his dress. She had begun to suspect his private life was just that. Utterly alone. Just him, and the god who spoke to him.

Thalia sensed the bars of his cage again, though it was a self-inflicted one. Self-protective, maybe. But no one should have to live like that.

It made her feel sad. It also made her feel frustrated.

The subservience was not in her nature, and if he was all those grand things to the church, to her he was sketch made flesh and blood, and a feeling of familiarity she could not explain but already accepted. She could feel the tension in him, though, and if she did not much mind testing the boundaries of discomfort when she saw a need, she would not do so in front of others.

“That’s not what you are to me,” she said, which he would probably not like, or might just choose to take in a way other than the spirit it was intended, and yet it was the truth. Neither did she agree on the dangerous manner of ambiguity, though given the gulf of their lives she realised she had the luxury of being able to make such mistakes. At least he did explain though, rather than offer some vague assurance as to the beautiful nature of questions without answers. Her head tilted, and she finally leaned to kiss the ring as bid. For respect of his feeling if nothing else, although she found it entirely strange.

She released her grip as she straightened. Amusement played on her lips, though only pleasantly. Butterfly that she was, Thalia found nothing difficult with goodbyes, and she rather suspected she would see him again, even if only in her sketchbook.
"A river is water in its loveliest form; rivers have life and sound and movement and infinity of variation, rivers are veins of the earth  through which the lifeblood returns to the heart."
Roderick Haig-Brown
[Image: nimthallethe.jpg]

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