As they left the Shrine, Paladin couldn't help but think about the story of his life. He'd endured enough to break many people. He'd lost his family at such a young age, his home and friends dead as well. He'd become a great Hero. His sister had been found and had again left. His mother was killed before his eyes. He himself had avenged her murder by slaying the demon who'd killed her and stopped his evil from conquering the land. And yet…the crowning achievement of his life was winning the love of this woman with whom he now traveled…the woman who had consented to marry him. He smiled. He had indeed found his Rose.
Suddenly, the sound of quiet footsteps on the stone floor informed the Mayor of Bowerstone that someone was approaching his study. He placed the pen back in the inkwell on his desk and turned toward the door; at that moment, his wife entered.
"Are you done?" she asked softly. The coolness of the room carried her words quite clearly.
He chuckled and glanced at the darkness of the night outside his window. "Close enough. I can pen the last couple of lines tomorrow morning and then turn the whole thing over to the copyist. He said it shouldn't take long; they've got some sort of new device that copies the pages mechanically."
She shook her head with a soft smile. "Do you really think people will want to read about our adventures during our Guild years? It's only been five years since we retired. Most everyone will still remember all of this."
He stood, stretched, and shrugged as he stepped out into the hallway of their home. "Currently, that's true. But eventually most of those who read this will consider it a mere tale – a fanciful story of romance and adventure. A fiction." He noticed that, as they walked, she was reading the pages he'd just completed. That would be the part describing their adventures in the Northern Wastes. "Make sure you put those back when you're through; I don't want those chapters getting lost." She swatted him with the manuscript.
They continued across Bowerstone Manor to the bedrooms. The Mayor couldn't help but chuckle – the previous occupant of his office would never recognize her former home after the redecorations he'd done. He'd removed the creepy stones in the central chamber and expanded the lighting, windows, and even put wood inside some of the rooms to brighten the place up and make it seem less…crypt-like.
A little peep from one of the rooms ahead of him stirred him from his musings. He looked in to see their daughter ready to blow the lamp out before bed. He knew their son, in the next room over, was similarly waiting, and debated including a chapter at the end of his book to tell about what had happened to them since that day he'd slain the Dragon. But then, he thought, it will seem more interesting and fanciful this way. He would leave it be.
A few minutes later, with the children tucked under their covers, he took his wife in his arms and gently kissed her. "I love you, Rose."
She smiled in response. "You'd better, or I'll have to go get my sword back out. Then I'll be even more cross." She kissed him again and continued, "I love you, too…Paladin."
He snickered. "Brat."
As they headed for their own room for the night, he couldn't help but think the final line he'd written fit the best. He had indeed found his Rose.
A/N: FINALLY DONE! Whew! Hopefully you enjoyed this tale. If so, please review and tell me so. If you spotted a problem, please let me know about that, too. I thank everyone who has or will read this, as well as those who have or will leave reviews.