I knew the moment she had gone from our world. As soon as the King knew it--felt it--so did I, with all of my being. The Princess was my charge--more, she was my Beloved One; when the King formed my body from roots and rocks and earth and winds he said, "You are to be the protector of the Princess, whom I love dearly. You are to serve her, guide her, and guard her. To that end, I give to you the love I have for my daughter, that you may cherish her as I do, and desire as fiercely as I do that no harm should come to her." And he breathed into me his love for the Princess, the love that is the heart and soul of me, and awakened me to my purpose. That is my secret: I am all earth, dust, and love, and nothing else besides.

She had shared with me her desire to see the world above, of her longing to stretch her limbs beneath the gaze of sun and moon, to feel wind and rain on her skin. I told her that the mortal world was no place for her, but she did not understand--how could she? How was I to explain to my Beloved One what it meant to walk in a world with death? How could I convey to her such sorrows as she could not even imagine? But in trying to shield her from pain, perhaps... perhaps I only caused her more. For all my efforts, nothing could diminish her curiosity about the mortal world. And so, as I was meeting with the King, she slipped away. I saw it in his eyes--he knew as well as I. The Princess, my Beloved One... she was gone!

How we suffered at her loss, at the thought of what she would endure! How we agonized over her slipping away! For me, the pain of her loss was absolute: I was made only to serve and protect her, to love her as my own child--that was my heart and soul--and for nothing else. To be parted from her, to be ever-aware of the feeling of her absence was to me unbearable. I begged the King to unmake me: Surely that was what I deserved, having failed in my one purpose! And, if my Beloved One truly was lost to us, I could never be whole.

He refused me. But, instead, it became my duty to lead others in the Kingdom to search the mortal world for her; to open portals for her; to wait for her, and hope that in the fullness of time she would return. Years passed, ages of men came and went; but of my Beloved One there was no sign. The people began to lose hope, and as the memory of our Princess began to fade--for them, not for me; never for me--the portals closed, one by one. Finally, only one door remained open to her, only one gate by which she could return home. And when all others abandoned hope, I alone remained to share in the King's hope that she would return to us yet. So, with the blessing of the King, I myself went to the last portal, and, to keep the dark of the mortal world from seeping in and corrupting our Kingdom any further, I closed the door behind me.

I was not made for the mortal world; I knew this. Separated from the power of the King who had formed me, I began to fade. My body became frail and worn, my eyes clouded by the darkness of the mortal world--a darkness not dispelled by sunlight. I was made of the mere stuff of the earth; it was only my love for the Princess that bound me together. Separated from our world, either she would come and by her presence restore me to life... or she would prove to be lost forever, as so many feared, and I would perish utterly, returning to the earth, ash, and dust from which I had been made. And so, I stood at the gateway to our world--I could not open it again without her--and I watched. And I waited. And with my heart I cried out for my Beloved One, for whom my heart was made, in whose absence it could thrive on nothing else. And in the darkness, I wondered: When she returned--not if, when--how would I be able to bring myself to test her, as the King said I must? She would have no memory of me; but even so, could I hide from her my secret--that there was no life within me save the love the King had given me, the love from which I was made? When she did return to me, I finally beheld my Beloved One again, only to send her, unguarded, as a lamb among wolves--to send her to face the tests ordained for her, without being able to stay by her side! And in the end, to have to hide myself from her sight, to remain apart and not defend her from the greatest suffering of the mortal world, suffering I shall never know... My heart breaks anew just at the memory of that long dark.

But peace... these things have passed away; my Beloved One and I are restored to our Kingdom, our world without weeping, and I am again made whole. Already, she can laugh at the former trouble of our being parted--for, in perhaps the one mercy of the mortal world, she only vaguely felt in her human life her soul's longing for the world from which it had been taken. But I... I am her servant, her protector, her guide and guardian. For her innocence, I would never weep before her, and she will never know the things that I--like her Father--would suffer for love of her. My Beloved One has returned to reign in her Kingdom, and all is well; and all is well.