Set after Ion returns from his journey with Abel Nightroad. Esther is Queen of Albion.
Esther smiles, full of majestic grace and beauty. When she stands up moving with careful, steady steps, Ion feels surprise to discover that he can meet her eyes. Time passes for both of them.
She embraces him, warm and tender. Ion knows, after all this time, especially for a Terran, especially for the Queen of Albion, that it shouldn't have made him hope like it did. Now he notices how her eyes drift past his shoulder, looking for his former travelling companion, before returning to him.
"It's been too long, Sir," she said, her voice had changed in the years since he had seen her. It is still sweet. She doesn't mention Abel Nightroad.
He shakes his head, "You don't need to say that, to call me that." Esther, she is the Queen of Albion. More importantly to him, she is Esther. Fair, kind, lovely and brave. Esther who has quelled riots, who has united a nation and is bringing together Methuselah and Terran.
There is a touching tenderness in her smile. Ion falls all over again.
It ends too soon, with a promise to speak again tomorrow. Time creates a chasm between them that Ion is determined to bridge.