Laughter is sleeping now, poor thing.  She's exhausted.  The
girl's birth was not easy.  Bless Caitt for putting the boy in my arms. 
It kept me out of the way, so that Laughter could be tended.  Caitt said
later that Mandor had to use shapeshifting to turn the baby inside her; so
that she might come into the world head first.  She seemed much less than
happy upon her arrival.  My daughter has strong lungs.  Two children to
replace the two I never knew; Alaric, dark like his mother, and Beatrice,
with hair more like mine.  How perfect they are.  I spent most of the
night just looking at them.

			-	-	-

	Sandr's wedding; a statement just in those two words.  Apparently
he has lost his bloodlust for Maron in the years he has spent away from
Amber.  I wish my anger were as easily dispelled - no; I take that back. 
Temper will allow me to keep distance between myself and those who are
dangerous to me.  Perhaps I'm paranoid.  I console myself by thinking it
is a conditioned reflex.

	I hope Sandr is happy, however.  That he is able to find whatever
it is that is lacking in his life.

			-	-	-

	That could have gone better.  I fail to understand why destroying
the new Patterns should not be done.  Chaos is a threat to Amber, and now
many of the houses rival us in power.  Sandr could offer only two
rebuttals that I can remember; that it would not restore the Badlands; and
that he did not think it necessary.  A fine thing for *him* to say.  It
will not be his life on the line in the redrawing of the primal Pattern,
as his preferred plan would require.  Fiona seemed to think that the fewer
Patterns in existence, the better my chances at survival would be.  It
killed Oberon easily, and I am nowhere near his equal.  I asked for more
time and more information before making a decision, having too little of
either to hand my life over quickly.  This earned me yet another outburst
from him.  I grow extremely weary of his misinterpretations of my
intentions and decisions, and of his public displays.

			-	-	-

	All right.  I shall accept my lesson in humility and try to learn
from it.  Whomever it is in the universe that I have offended; you now
have my complete attention.

	It has been decades since I have felt this helpless.  Whoever
these people are, they know far too much about me.  I have only ever told
Laughter about my alcohol-induced madness.  How was this information
gained by these people?  The juice I'll grant them as a well-laid plan,
but manifesting the substance directly into my bloodstream?  This is
conjuration that is well beyond my ken, and I have always considered
myself well versed in that subject.

	Then to be spirited away from a supposedly warded room, trussed up
like a Christmas pig; to be so quickly and entirely disabled; a mere hand
on my shoulder - flesh touching flesh, and I am entirely immobilized.  No
normal Amber citizens are these!

	Obviously they did not want my life - that they could have removed
easily, rapt audience that I was.  What did they so carefully remove from
me?  And why liberate me of my senses with absinthe beforehand?  I
certainly would have been easier to manage physically had they not
delivered me into my madness.  Or did that facilitate their theft?

	And why deliver me mad twice?  (Probably to test their theory.)
Laughter didn't deserve that - the pain of knowing what had happened while
I was gone.  I will gather my computers around me and begin working on a
new chip.  I will avoid at all costs once again being the source of the
pain behind those blue-violet eyes.

	I can only assume that the Cult of the King is now finished with
me, or I can at least hope.  Sandr's theories need to be tested, and I
must be ready for that outcome.  In the meantime, I shall see what
information of the Cult I can gather.

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