Whatever Ulysses has seen, he has seen either too much or not
enough.  And I'm inclined to think not enough, even if my husband thinks
too much.  Archimedes' can't think he's slipping fate's leash by simply
not naming our children Aster and... whatever else the other child was
named.  If there was another child.  I wonder.  I wonder if Ulysses didn't
just see a version of our future, a warning from Dworkin of things that
could come to pass if we didn't sit up and take notice.  I wonder if the
events of this past month could have taken place in that other future.

	I've been a married woman for two months.  Some portion of that
time, though I may never be reassured as to how long, was spent in the
dark confines of a tree, and I could not release myself, and all that
time, my husband lived with another woman that he thought was me, and
couldn't distinguish from me.  Do you know what kind of pain that causes
in my heart?  Almost more than any other pain I've ever known.  If I had
come back a hundred years later, and found Archimedes happy with even
Muriel, God forbid, I would hurt less.  I think.  It's hard to know you
can be faked well enough that no one will notice it's not you.  It makes
me wonder if any of these people are my people; what if I have been
rescued by close Shadows of those that I love, and live here, gulled by
Faerie glamours...

	This is why I wake up in a cold sweat at night.  The only
heartbeats in this world I know are real are my own, and the two faint
ones beneath my ribcage.


	Five months pregnant.  And all my demons exorcised and pounded
into three swords of martial, silent countenance.  These swords are as
grim as Sequence has become, and they know their masters to be are my
unborn children.  At the time, it seemed the best idea, but I don't know
anymore.  What will I have wrought, if I bring children into this world
only to live and die by the sword?  I hope we can give them more than

	Hell, I hope we can give them a universe to live in.

	Caitt keeps muttering under her breath about the Prophecy whenever
I am near.

	I tell her "I'm not even going to consider inviting Faeries to the
Christening, I don't see what you're worried about," but she doesn't find
this amusing.

	If it is the Prophecy again, what have I to fear?  I'll either
live through it, or I'll die.  Same as everyone else, in the last
manifestation of it, and in the future ones.


	Well, if childbirth is what I missed with Beauty, I'll adopt from
now on.  Only, it wasn't that bad.  Shapeshifters, even of my low caliber,
don't feel very much in the way of pain.  A good thing, because what I did
feel was horrible.  It's not like a wound in battle, where it's sharp and
quickly dulls to throbbing, and the heat of the moment distracts, and
then, afterwards, with the skulls of your enemies at your belt, you find
the surgeon, and get patched up.  And you move a little slower for a few
days.  This is the lot of being an Amberite warrior -- even a muscle cut
through to the bone, even a bone broken, these things are just details.

	Birth, on the other hand, is every fiber of your torso betraying
you, repeatedly.  Disrupted from the inside, expelling, pushing and
straining to remove that which you've nurtured for months.  It's just
nature's way, I guess, but one can't help but think there'd be a better
way to go about it.

	Alaric and Beatrice, my first-born, though Beauty will always be
my first child.  How can I describe it?  It's not a feeling nor a thought,
my relationship with them.  It's everything.  I see that it is the same
for Archimedes, too.  And yet, I am eagerly awaiting the day I can take my
sword in hand again.


	He's stubborn, pig-headed, and has the biggest blind spot in
Amber.  And, funny, that blind spot is shaped just like me, and about my
size too.  He can't honestly think that his rank has any bearing on our
relationship, not once the doors are closed?  He's from Rebma, anyways, he
should at least accept the fact that he is not going to rule me.

	So, what does he do to make me rethink my position on not having
told him about Sandr's wedding -- to make me think that maybe I was not
justified in not telling him?  To make me think he wouldn't have ordered
me right then and there to stay out of it?  He takes me into our room,
tips me over his knee, and prepares to spank the living crap out of me. 
OF COURSE I TREED MY HUSBAND.  He was being an asshole.  And damn him, and
his attunement to the Jewel, he crawled out of the tree and came back --
in a quieter mood.

	But, this wasn't about me, and it wasn't about him, it was about
Sandr finally finding something for himself in the universe.  You'd think
anyone who knew Sandr would be happy.


	I have had a phobia about caves for a year now, and the Jezetti's
method of kidnapping did not help any of this at all.  If I fall down
another Trump hole this lifetime...  never mind.  Empty threats do not
become me.

	Poor Ulysses.  He took it harder than the rest of us, our ten days
of confinement.  He circled the plateau like a caged animal, even dipping
one foot into the seething mass of Logrus that buffered us from the
confused energies of the Badlands.  Like glowing worms...

	A few hypotheses:

	- The ring did not work because of the time disparity, I'm almost
positive.  The group is not going to be happy about that.

	- I envisioned the creation of the Jezetti base like inserting a
straw into a wad of bubble gum and blowing an air pocket -- the gum being
the Logrus.  Gillian (God rest her soul, but only a fool crosses Archi on
a bad day), when I asked her, seemed to be amused but interested in this
hypothesis, and asked when I would be taking the Logrus.  The answer?  Two
days after my father assures me that it's safe, and the day after my
husband decides it's a good plan.

	Which brings me round to the most difficult of thoughts, and that
is, in fact, my husband.

	Ten days of waiting and wondering and thinking and playing with my
green-haired children, and watching Caitlin pine and Ulysses stew and
Sandr sandrize -- it was a goodly time, for it gave me time to breathe and
dream.  Whatever the wrongs done because of those ten days, I think it
gave me the ability to look my husband in the eyes again.

	I am not yet thirty-five years (though that day is fast enough
approaching).  Archimedes is over five times my age (though when I'm a
thousand and he's 1200, will it really matter?).  And I have known, since
the day I gave my heart to him, all of his crimes.  As he learned of mine
in return on that day.  I thought it was all long past, but then -- the
absinthe.  Absinthe, for all that it is a foul, demonic drink, does not
turn men into murderers and rapists.  So why should my husband be singled
out in the effect that strong drink has on him?  Why on earth did he have
to go to that Shadow in the first place, and fall into this destiny there? 
Since the day the crown of wormwood was conjured onto his chair, I've felt
slapped in the face, and more than a little numb.  It's not been easy, any
of this first year of Archimedes' reign.  I don't know if I can even hope
it gets better.

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