It was a pleasant enough dinner.  Balin continues to be quite
charming, and seems quite adept at the art of not pushing subjects that
one does not wish to speak of.  I wish I knew what he was about to say
before that waiter interrupted, though.  Curse the man's timing.  I wonder
why Corwin is so interested in Balin?  He has been spending more time with
Balin than the man's own father.  Perhaps he is doing so because
Archimedes lacks the time?  It is difficult to determine.  Maybe he just
likes speaking with someone who respects him as much as Balin does.  Well,
respect is not quite the right word for it.  More like hero worship. 
Balin really needs to get over that.

	Sandr needs to be in therapy again.  Badly.  It is bad enough that
this Claudio looks at me and sees the woman who used him, but Sandr did
*not* help matters any.  He alternated between whining that we needed to
go, and saying the stupidest things.  Like trying to get Claudio to remove
that ring of his.  Of *course* he was not going to do it, so it was
pointless to ask, and worse yet, it was far too obvious.  Sometimes I
wonder if Sandr learned anything from Father.  At least Claudio has been
convinced that I am not Abigail to the extent that he is not trying to
kill me, but he obviously trusts me not at all.  He should get along
wonderfully with that hypocrite, Ulysses.  I am sure they would have a
great time going out into Shadow and stomping on skulls together.  I
wonder why he is so interested in Sand?  And where this fire Pattern that
he mentions lies?  It must be somewhere close to Amber.  Perhaps a little
searching is in order.

	Caitlin, by contrast, was a far more pleasant encounter.  Fiona
misplayed her hand badly by not telling Caitlin who her father was.  What
did she hope to gain by keeping her dangling like that, when it was
obvious to any who looked at her?  There is no point in keeping knowledge
secret that is freely available to all.  So, naturally, I filled her in. 
Judging by her dress and weapons, she takes after her father in more than
just looks, something that will no doubt make Archimedes happy.  She has
expressed an interest in learning magic, and it might be worthwhile to
teach her some of what I know.  Something to think about, at any rate,
while I am with Sandr.

	When Sandr said he found a high-tech Shadow, he was not kidding. 
Intellex is an interesting place.  Pity I do not have much time for
exploring.  Getting Eddie to work is going to be a challenge.  But if we
succeed, oh the things we will be able to do with it!  And with the speed
of this place, my absence from Amber should go relatively unnoticed, so
long as I am careful.  Getting the answering device working will help
enormously with that.  On other fronts, Sandr is willing to let me drain
the energy I need from him to become a living Trump.  Of course, he thinks
I will let him become one as well.  Not if I can help it.  He has too much
power as it is, and I am loath to give him any more.

	It has been about a week, so I should be returning to Amber soon. 
I would not want to keep Balin waiting, after all.  The week has proven
useful for settling my mind about him as well.  I intend to consummate our
relationship this time.  Taking him as a lover should serve to bind him
closer to me, and it would be stupid of me not to do so based on a
childhood fear.  There is no place in my mind for such foolishness.

	I enjoyed that.  Quite a bit, actually.  Far more than I was
expecting to.  I have heard stories, of course, but I always assumed them
to be exaggerations, as such things usually are.  I wonder if it feels
this way for everyone, or if Balin is exceptionally skilled?  It does not
really matter, for now.  I just wish he had not asked about Father
afterwards, although I probably would have had the nightmare anyway.  How
long will it take me to rid myself of this irrational fear?

	Laughter is quite a bit larger than she was a week ago.  I mean
yesterday.  Either way, it is obvious that *much* more time has passed for
her than has in Amber.  I wonder where she went?

	From the way Benedict was glaring, you would think he feared
Caitlin would vanish simply by our speaking with her.  Not that this
stopped us, but Caitlin will find her time in Amber very lonely if he
continues with that attitude.

	It is fortunate that Balin chose to skip breakfast with the family
this morning.  He is the only one who might have questioned me about where
I vanished to.  I simply must learn how Kaedric did that.  A marvelous
trick, and one that Father never showed me.  I knew he had not taught me
everything.  As it is, he may come to regret what he did teach me.  I have
learned much in the way of explaining what has been happening recently,
and it is worse than I feared.  Father is still quite mad, and is trying
to free Delwin, a man in whose footsteps Father seems to have followed in
his attempts to conquer Amber.  It was with much reservation that I
offered Sand my assistance, but Father has left me with little choice.  He
has stolen the Eye from me, something which I cannot easily forgive.  And,
in his madness, he seems to have relegated me to die with all the others
in Amber, for he has certainly not tried to recruit me to his side.  Me,
his own daughter!  Perhaps it is just as well that he has not approached
me.  Refusing Father to his face would be difficult.  Assuming I did
refuse.  Perhaps I would not, if this was the man I knew before the
universe died so terribly.  But a madman cannot be predicted, nor relied
upon to keep promises that he makes.  One cannot survive an alliance with
such a man.  Or so I tell myself.  None of which changes the fact that,
within a matter of days, I will be called upon to fight the man who raised
me.  And I fear the result, whatever it may be.

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