'Heart must be braver, courage the bolder,
	Mood the stouter, as our strength grows less.'
			--the Battle of Maldon
	I'm not sure where I'm standing.  If it's solid ground or water, 
if it's Chaos or Pattern...  Lord God Above and Lady of the Trees...  
Are shadows human and Amberites gods?  Are shadows creatures and 
Amberites human?  Dualities rushing in around me.  Steady now!  There's 
Archimedes beside you.  Reach out.  Grasp his hand.  See?  All better.  
You won't fall over now.  Ok.  Breathe deep.  Sigh a little.  Touch the 
sword.  Lyria's not Lyria but Tianen, but you're still Laughter.  And 
that's still Sequence.  Of these things we can be sure.  The glamours of 
earlier are faded, and if they come back, you know the disspell.  
Everything around you is real enough.  Remember that.  Real *enough*.  
And these people, they're real, even though, in those days before you 
knew who you were, you dreamed that they were better than all this.  
Really.  (Did you ever suspect that you were born of traitors?  Born into 
a ruthless race of immortals?  Of course not.  You thought they would be 
like the Ancient Celts. Tall.  Strong.  Wise.  Moral.

	And those last two are the ones that can't be judged.  They are 
wise, a lot of them, in their own fashions.  But  moral?  You've walked  
thousands of shadows, Lavendar, you've seen a thousand moral codes, none
of them matching.  And you never looked on those shadow people with 

	It's not disdain.  (And the Celts that held this land so long ago, 
they were no more or less moral, with their silly codes of honor.  Have 
you found one code of honor yet that sits well with you, besides the one 
that was born with you?  No.  And Amber doesn't require a code of you.  
Loyalty to the Unicorn, maybe.  To Amber.  But to no one person.

	That's like ice water, isn't it?  Yes, look at the king.  Realize 
that you've been foolish, reasoning that since he *was* king he must 
continue to be king.  You've got to have a better reason than that.  
Amber is not ancient China, you can't just decide that you're a general 
and must be loyal to the king.  So why Random and Random's cause?  Don't 
you owe more to your mother?)

	BECAUSE, you foolish voice, that's not it.  It's my choice.  This 
is the man the unicorn chose to be king.  This is the one son of Oberon 
who doesn't carry that foolish hubris that makes him want to *die* to 
become king and yet is willing to accept that responsibility when he was 
called to it.  Benedict is more able, but he doesn't want it.  It's not 
merely a lack of ambition, it's something else.  And all the sons of 
Oberon have similar problems, and Random is *it*.  That's why I'm 
standing here with one hand on my lover and one on my sword, waiting, and 
debating with my inner voices.  Tianen's gift of Chaos must have warped 
me a little.  This is not the time to replay Joan of Arc, Laughter, it's 
simply not the time. 

	All right.  Stand up straight again.  Shoulders back!  Hands 
down, by your sides.  Relax.  You've got armies to raise.

	(But what if you have children to raise?  What if there's a baby 
inside you, right now, as we speak?  What will you do?  Drop out of the 
war so you don't damage the fetus?  Run to a fast time shadow and cram 
nine months into the weeks before the war?  Will you even tell 
Archimedes?  He's pledged his support, but...)

	Voice, you're getting on my last nerve!  I can't think of all 
that now.  It's God's will.

	(You don't believe in God.  Not really.  YOu just look to 
religion for the comforts of the rituals you were raised with.)

	Sometimes, yes.  But I think there has to be a God out there, 
whether it's a unicorn or a serpent or a dead grandfather.  That's enough 
for me, enough for now.  So be quiet.  I can't fall apart when things 
are just starting to come together.  I won't let it happen.  

	Silence.  Blessed silence.  Thank you.