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It is done! After all the years of study, the months of preparation, I have taken the first steps in my ultimate design. My plan, of course, was flawless. And there was surprisingly little difficulty given the reputation. I had expected to lose three men, no more than four all told. Only two were killed outright, the third should still be useful even with only the one eye. A successful operation by my measure.

By far the most difficult thing is maintaining the "hail-fellow-well-met" attitude that seems to be expected. The swagger comes easily enough after all these years, and the ridiculous beard trim is tiresome, but has so far drawn no comment.

The greatest surprise was the lamentable condition of the kingdom coffers, and the virtually non-existent privy purse. I fear I shall have to move earlier than I anticipated to rectify these matters. But not yet. The Curia seems competent and reasonably biddable. The latter is encouraging, the former may be an obstacle if I am not meticulous in developing the necessary relationships.

For now, careful positioning of the pieces will be more efficacious than swift action, so I shall practice patience and bide my time.