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Fair Xaveria,

I write to reassure you that I've arrived in Versailles safely. Durante and Alain send their best wishes. I've included some correspondence for Risena from Alain; he begs that you deliver it in person. He fears that she may not be as stalwart as you, sweet heart, when it comes to absent loves.

I am loath to mention this, for fear of causing you undue worry, but I feel I should so as to reassure you that your knight is still the fierce warrior he always has been. Merely a half-day from the very gates of Versailles, a pack of brigands tried to rob us in broad daylight. After the usual posturing, Durante drew arms and slew one of them. We then took shelter in the thick brush by the roadside and were able to drive off the rest without injury to ourselves.

As soon as the ruffians appeared, my love, your smiling face was all I could think of. I count it among my greatest blessings that I remain unscathed, to return to you in due time. The mere hint that I might sadden you spurred my heels to action; were it not for Durante's quick action and our fierce attack, your knight would have fallen to the lowest sort of criminal.

I shall have to remain here for a few days while the Estates convene. The meetings are long and rather arduous, and thoughts of you drive me to distraction. If my passions continue like this, then on my return I shall have to simply spend the next three nights in our chambers, thriving only on you. You drive me mad, love; but it is the sweetest sort of madness, a divine blessing from Eros himself.

All my love and affection,
Your knight, Bayard


Good Christ, Bayard, I know not if am glad you told me, or shattered. You know how I worry. But I am so relieved you are safe, my sweet. I can't bear the thought of you falling foul of Lady Fortune. I feel compelled to break into the stables and just ride one of your stallions to where you are, however long it takes. And you know well enough I might still do it.

I am haunted by your presence. The absent weight in bed. The day before, Guillaume found me going through your drawers. He might imagine I am taking advantage of you being far away from me, love. But I fear my heart would like to hear what I am so embarassed to say: I was looking for one of your undershirts, a worn one, to sleep with. Your smell still lingers on and it eases me, dear, on the nights where I have not your voice, or your letters, or even the touch of Morpheus to keep me calm.

Bayard: I will say your name over and over, my peace, until you come back to me. Those three nights you say I will turn into three months, three years, three centuries. I love to hear you say how you want me, Bayard, and it just reminds me of the corsets still left to unlace.

Darling, I will not tell you to be cautious anymore, but I do urge France to get my love back to me. After all, qu'est-ce que le tiers ├ętat?

Tell Alain that I will take care of his Risena, as much as he's taking care of my dear heart.

Yours, yours,


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