Spyridon Demetrievich Fyodorov, Docent in History and Philosophy at the University of Leningrad, Member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, and former consultant to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, resumes the narration where Maurice Étienne de Valois had left it; at the murder of Czar Alexander. Fyodorov, however, is a different man. More methodic and curious, better informed too, he may be seeking answers to the same questions but does so in a more disciplined way. He has more files to review and keeps the kind of notes that tend to expand with time. He begins where one Czar was assassinated, and will have to begin again where another one and his whole family were slaughtered. He ends up in a place he could have never thought as a possible source of his troubles. From lie to other lie, and from illusion to worse illusion, he makes way. His predicament is such that he has to keep working in the same narrow crevice that is left between reality and the multitude of its reflections. At the end of his career, he finally comes upon the answer to a riddle which had been meticulously designed and remained concealed for half a century; he uncovers a plot which, disclosed in time, could shake the world of international politics. Beyond his factual discoveries, though, he finds himself asking whether the last hundred years had not been but some sort of a bad dream, a nightmare perhaps, or a premonition, that came to disturb the sleep of a tired mind. And in fact, less than a dream, little more than a tasteless joke in the lips of a lesser demon, seem to have been the years and their revolutions. And they could have been more than that, or less, much less.
The end is full of surprises: the circular sequences of his times could simply prove nothing but a mere figment. It appears to him that all this turmoil and commotion could be but a fable; a fiction that, in the course of the twentieth century, one would have had to invent anyway in order to entertain one’s loneliness, or boredom, after the collapse of the old certainties. And he wonders. He returns to his passion, Greek literature of the late Roman years, because there is nowhere else to turn to. It could have all begun one day, a single day like any other, one of many in a difficult year by the end of the eleventh century, when a sleepless emperor failed one single challenge in one of his many tasks. He has reasons to think so; there is a trend that fits the pattern: the revolutions of his life lack natural quality and physical periodicities. The cycles that had always been so long and grueling, now keep closing earlier and earlier every time; maybe, because they had always been, or have now become, intellectual products. And they surely become less dramatic every year. In the end, they could have indeed been but the gains of one single day: the day the last and youngest of the daughters of History, Evlampía, having had enough of carousels’ rounds, magicians’ tricks and dancers’ figures, in a certain circus at the north end of Constantinople, began wandering, was distracted, took a wrong turn; and by sheer coincidence, by accident or bad luck, walked into a labyrinth of rotating mirrors.