My father never ceases to confuse me. He is a living archetype, a
warrior born of the purist steel, tempered in the fires of war. Yet at
the same time, he might be the most complicated man I have ever known. I
visited his Shadow, Avalon, this day, and I gained further insight. I
know Benedict distances himself from Amber because of Osric's curse, and
he would not want to bring Amber to destruction through himself. Avalon
seems to be his own personal kingdom, yet he administers to it as
Protector, much as he would if Amber fell under siege. I remarked that
administrating over a land in which peace reigned did not suit him. He
told me of Avalon's origins, and of the bands of Moors which still assault
it. I thought of Claudio and I made a swift mental note not to bring him
here, if possible.
"I will watch my daughter," he stated, and little more than that.
He wasn't pleased, obviously, that Aelle would be there, but he would
still arrive. I kissed his cheek, and he my forehead. He asked me what I
had been up to in Amber.
"Mother and I did some traveling...to Chaos. We met up with the
Jezetti. They...want me to join them."
His brow creased tighter.
"They have a sense of community and closeness that I cannot find
"I would advise against it." Those words from Benedict would make
any rational person think about what they were intending to do.
But I'm not rational. I'm his daughter.
Before the tournament I talked with Melanie, who had retained
memories, as I surmised. She asked about Aelle, who was with us, and I
nodded. We had a conversation then, about Sandr. I almost let my face
betray me, but I was able to disguise exactly what the Jezetti had told
me. I told her that I'd rather Sandr, if he lived or even existed, not
ever know about me, or the child. Melanie seemed to respect that.
The first day of the tournament came and went. I watched Claudio,
victorious in the joust, and Ulysses deriving unusual joy from his own
That night, I knocked on Merlin's door. I knew that he was
Corwin's son by a lady of Chaos, and thus had a dual heritage much like my
own. Merlin (who seems to be starkly different from the time in which I
knew him) explained to me that Amber had been...a bit more accommodating
for him. Whatever that meant. But I think I could understand, in a sense
that Amber seems so much more ordered and close-knit. I inquired about
the rules of the events we were competing in during the tournament, and he
told me that they were to first blood. Because I had not chosen a second
yet, I asked him if he would be mine. He agreed, if I would do the same
for him. I nodded and bid him a good night.
Laughter faced Orrin in a battle of sorceries. I wondered if he
had any previous memories of the other time. Laughter treed him, and won
yet another event for Amber. Archimedes won a drawn-out contest with a
young Chaosite. And then it was my turn. Imagine my surprise when Orrin
reentered the ring. The way he was grinning, I knew he knew.
I looked at my father, and then my mother, gaining courage from
their nods. Unsheathing my weapons, I angled the blades to catch the
sunlight. The filigree of the Pattern glinted. But this phased Orrin
not. "Remember, lady, I walked the Pattern too," he sneered. "That won't
keep you from bleeding," I countered. He countered that with an
The time for words was over. This is my life.
I sized him up, keeping out of range, looking for fighting styles,
weaknesses. His ability was comparable to my own, I could tell. I fought
defensively, and then jumped into a quick Tai Quan sequence. Each of my
blows were parried. I then switched over to a Italiante stance, pulling
into an engarde position, one blade behind my back. A show of bravado
might catch him off-guard.
Unfortunately, he wasn't much fazed and he got past my defense
with Nevermiss, slashing through my vest and blouse. No time for modesty.
I returned to the Quan and fought him evenly. Time began to pass. I
feinted, then pressed to disarm him, but his strength pulled my blade from
my hand as well, and it was down to single blades. His breathing was
heavy, so I ran about the edges of the ring, making him come to me,
followed by short bursts of quick strikes, forcing him to parry.
Eventually I got inside his sword, and smote him with the flat of the
blade. Spinning, I beat the weapon from his hand, and leveled Trueblade
at his head.
He stood there, breathing heavily.
I could have cleaved his head from his torso, or gutted him from
his genitals to his neck. But that's not what I'm about.
My sword swung up and about, skimming his skull. He cried aloud
and fell to the ground. I bent over, picked up the bloody scalp, and
handed it back to him, a faint smile on my lips.
"Sorry about that."
Get some of that, asshole.
My exuberance over my victory filled me, and coursed through my
veins. I approached my father, smiling. "Well?" He congratulated me on
my victory. "Well, I didn't want it to seem like I was showboating, or
Benedict laughed then, and my joy was doubled. This was how it
should have been all along.
It didn't last long. The rat-dog gave him a ring, like mine, and
I fear that Fiona's hypothesis on his memories might soon come to pass.
My mother was happy with my victory, but she thought I should have killed
Orrin. She also wasn't crazy about my hesitancy to join the Jezetti. She
Trumped off during the party, stranding me there.
And here I still am, not really knowing anyone here. The Jezetti
I do talk to seem incredibly close-minded. In fact, if not for Merlin
showing up, I'd have left here hours ago. I did promise him a dance,
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