Epilogue
Aftermath and Portense

Outside Eagle, Gladius; Gladian Year 603

"It was on that day my freedom ended. Compared to now, those long-lost days were like a dream. Like all dreams, it was gone as soon as I woke up. I no longer have dreams. Just a never-ending nightmare..."
- Excerpt from the diary of Claudia Antonia, Queen of Gladius

Randwulf had set up camp outside Eagle for the night. For some reason, he was unwilling to go into the city. He had to remind himself that he was no longer the same man he was. Though he had won the contest of wills, he put no faith in that victory. He could not help but think that the Guardian had let him win.
Swordsmanship--strength itself--was a matter of will. He did not like to admit it, but the Guardian had bested him in the duel. He was the stronger one. But if it were so, then why did he cede control over this new body the warlock crafted for them?
The Guardian's personality hid itself behind a wall in his mind. All Randwulf had was the initial rush before his mind settled. It was enough. He knew that the Guardian had a beautiful wife, a healthy son, a manor, friends, and happiness. What a life it was. How the Conqueror envied his foe from that brief glimpse.
Randwulf thought he could only get what he wanted by taking it, but the Guardian was different. He did not have to wrest his every achievement from unwilling hands nor was it all simply given to him undeservedly. No, he earned it. He was indeed the stronger man.
They would make a formidable team if only the Guardian did not shut himself out like he did. Perhaps it was part of his strength. His life had been taken from him, but he did not yield his power. Randwulf knew he would spend many years trying to unravel the mysteries of his other self.
His contemplation was interrupted by the appearance of Terentius. The youth kneeled before him.
"We have captured Lady Nyssa, sire. She is unharmed."
Excellent! The Guardian may be keeping a lot from him, but this would be his. Perhaps her presence would lure out the Guardian and expose his secrets. Even if it did not, the woman herself was still something worth having if she was anything like the image he saw.
The woman was brought before him. She was a little dirty from her ordeal, but Randwulf could see that the Guardian's mind had not exaggerated her beauty. She had not a single scratch on her. His men deserved the highest commendation for a job well done. As he walked up to her, he could see the confusion in her eyes. If anyone could see the Guardian in him, it would be the man's own wife.
"Luther?" she asked.
It was dark with only a few torches provided dim, flickering light. It was still amazing that she would make the mistake at all. He would have to get a good look at himself later to see just how much he had changed. He picked up one of the torches and held it up to his face. Nyssa squinted.
"No, you're not Luther... Who are you? His brother? A cousin?"
Randwulf only laughed.
"My name is Randwulf," he said, "and I am the new king of this land. You will be my queen, Nyssa."
"What happened to Luther? What are you to him?"
Her questions were more like demands. He liked that authoritative spirit of hers. She was a rare gem among women. He placed a hand on her shoulder. She pulled away.
"Your husband saved my life," he said. He held his hand over his chest. "Now he lives as a part of me. This is my darkest secret. Only two others know about it."
She continued to look at him. She was no fool. She would be able to draw the conclusion.
"Is it true? Luther? Are you in there?"
It did not take much guidance to set her mind at work. She met his every expectation. Of course she was already taken by another man. Was.
"Luther is asleep," Randwulf replied. "He will probably never wake up. Now I am the closest thing you have to him. Make of that what you will."
Ignoring Randwulf, speaking past him, Nyssa called out to the other self sleeping within him. "Luther, can you hear me? Listen to me. I'm going to save you. You're stronger than this man. I don't care if your body's changed. As long as your spirit is with me, everything will be all right. Can you hear me, Luther? Wake up! Wake up!"
Randwulf was not expecting to be ignored like this. Even hidden away in the deepest depths of his mind, the Guardian was still victorious over him. It made Randwulf angry and for the first time in his life, he understood what jealousy felt like. He did not like being reminded of his rival's strength, and that was all Nyssa was doing right then. He signaled for a guard to take her away.
Even as she was being dragged away, Nyssa did not stop and kept on crying out to her husband.
"I'll save you, Luther! Be strong until I do! I won't leave you! I won't stop until you're free!"
It was all so irritating, and yet it was not all bad. There it was, Nyssa's vow to stay by his side, even if all she meant to do was overthrow his mind. It was a start. A woman of her determination, with that much dedication, she would not break that vow for anything. There would be no need to detain her forcibly, to lock her up like a bird in a cage. She would stay of her own accord. It made things all the easier.
Randwulf was not content to simply take her there. He could wait. He would win her heart from the Guardian. She would love him and it would prove that the Conqueror was the greater man. No, that alone would not be enough, but it would be the beginning.
While Randwulf was busy dreaming about his rise to true greatness, the warlock suddenly appeared in front of him, startling him a bit, though he dare not show it. The warlock spread his arms wide, his empty sockets open like two yawning maws.
"Two hearts, one body," he said. "You will never find peace. One battle draws to a close, but strife will never be far from you. Your days are numbered. The Eagle in the East will come for you. He will awaken the sleeping lion and move the mountain. His talons seek the blood of the wolf. The sword will fall from your hands and reside with the mountain. If the wolf is to live, the East must fall."
Did the Guardian not take his son to a kinsman in the East? Was a mere child going to be the instrument of his destruction? No, he would never allow it, but first he had to consolidate his power in this country. There were still other towns that were waiting to fall to him, remnants of the enemy still at large. He had a lot of work ahead of him, too much to deal with this Eagle in the East right away.
Of course, if this Eagle in the East was really the son of the Guardian, it would years yet before he could become any real threat to Randwulf. There was no need to hurry, the Conqueror told himself. For once, time was on his side.