The Jewel continued to haunt me, and it hadn't changed its arrival
point, either. This time it showed up in the middle of a rather intimate
massage that Laughter was treating me to. She made no comment. I set the
Jewel on the night stand. Random hadn't called for it right away the last
time, and since I didn't want to spoil the current moment, I figured that
if he did, I could always use the Jewel to block the contact.
After Laughter and I had finished, I took the Jewel into my hands.
I did my best to impress upon it that Random was king and it needed to
stay with him. I learned that comparing the Jewel's mental presence to
Song's was much like comparing mine to Fiona's. Whatever I did had some
effect, though. When Random Trumped for it later, I was unable to hand it
through, and when I pulled him to me, he was unable to Trump out with it.
I smiled weakly at my father and suggested that since it was being
contrary that I hang on to it. If he had need of it, I would simply come
to him. What could he do but agree?
I Trumped Ulysses and got the remaining shards of the future Jewel
from him. Perhaps I could figure something else out.
Laughter sat bolt upright in bed that night and announced that
someone was riding a Wild Hunt in April. I was more interested in how she
knew. She announced that Fiona had taught her how to use the Jewel to
monitor Shadow paths. Damn, I didn't know it could do that. As I
accompanied her to intercept the Wild Hunt, I found that you could indeed
'see' Shadow paths with the Jewel. I was just thinking of addressing that
subject with Fiona, when Laughter and I passed that odd-looking Chaos
creature. We ran into Julian shortly thereafter.
He was hunting the Chaos creature and it appeared the Chaos
creature was hunting me, or, more precisely, the Jewel of Judgment. What
followed next most reminded me of a silent film Marie and I had once seen.
I believe it was called the Keystone Cops, or something like that. I
won't bore you with details. Suffice it to say that the creature wanted
the Jewel, we wanted the creature. I conjured some chloroform and tossed
the Jewel to Laughter. When the creature went after her, it got a dose of
chloroform, which didn't slow it down for long. I tried chloroform spiked
with Halybard poison next. That had a more prolonged effect. I took the
creature back to Amber and attempted to communicate with it, after I had
gotten the Jewel back from Laughter to give the creature an excuse to hang
around. It seemed to have some rudimentary intelligence and was a fairly
good mimic. I added the word 'no' firmly into its vocabulary.
Laughter, Melanie and Ulysses showed up before I had much of a
chance to be useful, and the creature soon found itself inside a force
field and in the midst of some sort of gas. I think that it chose simply
not to breathe. I must admit that I found that rather amusing. A
suggestion was made that we simply give the creature the Jewel and follow
it. That was quickly modified into making a fake for the creature to
follow. I decided that it was time to bring Random in on the affair, it
being his jewel and all, and Melanie quickly disappeared. He agreed to
the fake, which I supplied, and we were soon running after the creature,
who headed straight for Arden. We wound up in a clearing with Ulysses
yelling at an uncooperative Dworkin. Laughter and I returned to Foil,
where I continued to mess with the shards.
Didn't take the 'rat-dog,' as Ulysses had named it, long to find
us in Foil. I'd like to see how it got around the barrier. I Trumped
Ulysses in, who then Trumped the creature to god knows where, along with a
note. We actually received one back, to the tune of reassembling the old
Jewel would disrupt the current time flow. Why hadn't the old idiot just
said so? Ulysses Trumped the shards back to the clearing, and I tried to
get some sleep before heading to Rebma the next day.
That afternoon I gave Laughter my sword before Trumping my Aunt
Llewella. I turned myself over to the proper authorities once in Rebma,
and had my hands chained firmly behind my back. I really hate that. As I
watched Moire's face as she read the charges, I began to be thankful that
Laughter had decided to meddle in my affairs after all. Moire still
thought I was guilty; nothing had changed. She locked me in her steady
gaze as she read the penalty; castration, followed by immediate death.
Somehow I knew that the fact that I was her grandson, or that I was
innocent of this particular crime, wouldn't matter much if Muriel took the
stand and said I was guilty. That's what hurt the most, I think. I had
always thought of Rebma as my true home, and Amber as someplace my mother
occasionally dragged me to. My home was ready to condemn me on one
woman's word, whereas Amber accepted me no matter my crimes. That was a
lesson that would sting for awhile, I knew, and one I would be long in
Muriel took the stand then, and I almost held my breath. Would
she destroy me simply because I had denied her what she wanted? I
followed her gaze as she admitted that she had made the story up. It
rested fully on Laughter; a fact that was not lost on Moire. She called
for the truth-teller then. I begged to be allowed her presence as well,
if I were called upon to give my testimony. Muriel begged that due to the
sensitive nature of the case, that she be allowed to speak it privately.
Moire consented and the court was cleared, save for my immediate family.
Muriel told the truth then, without intervention by the truth- teller.
She told everyone how we had been lovers, and that she dreamed of marriage
and living the life of nobility in Amber, and that I had said no, and that
she then had fabricated the rape, as a punishment, or as a lever to get
what she wanted? I guess I'll never know. I wonder if she ever realized
that what I had said no to was the move to Amber, not the marriage. I
guess she never really did listen to me.
Moire was furious. She consigned Muriel to imprisonment in a
tower. I interceded, stating that I wished her no punishment on my part.
That earned me a promise from Moire that her case would be reviewed after
one year, and a rather withering glare from Muriel, which was put down
quickly by an equal glance aimed at her by my granddaughter, Sky. It
didn't have to be this way Muriel; you made it so yourself.
Moire gave Martin the key to my chains before she left, still too
angry to speak with me, I guess. Martin asked what brought me back to
Rebma after all this time. I told him that I just felt it was time to
deal with it. He didn't remember. After all, he had died when the spells
went down in Rebma. I found myself wanting to be close to the brother I
had never really known. I offered to tell him about Morganthe, if he
liked. He said he would, and we discussed her that very day over dinner
in Amber. Claudio looked a bit uncomfortable in his new role as Sky's
bodyguard, but not nearly so uncomfortable as my granddaughter did.
I spoke with Random that evening about the tournament. I couldn't
help but comment on the elaborate gold case sitting on his desk. He said
Fiona had given it to him, and it would hopefully interrupt the Jewel's
wanderings. It has yet to prove itself, however.
As I crawled into bed that evening, I couldn't help but think
about all the things I had so recently lost and gained. I'd lost a
kingdom and a world, but I'd gained a father and a brother and a second
chance. I gathered Laughter up into my arms and placed a hand on her
abdomen. Maybe this time, everything would work out better.
to the Diary list