It is rather strange.  Now that I am beginning to grow used to the
idea of this marriage, I find that I am enjoying the whole process far
more than I had anticipated.  Even my conversation with Archimedes turned
out to be more pleasant than I thought it would be.  Tossing Random into
the Abyss as an offering to his ancestors...  I laughed in spite of
myself.  Ah well, one cannot help the occasional slip.

	I began the conversation in a rather dreadful mood, owing
primarily to Kaedric's prior admission that Archimedes was already aware
of this wretched pregnancy of mine.  Apparently he has known since the
very beginning.  And him the closest thing I had to a liege-lord at the
time.  How was he supposed to have any respect for me or my abilities
after Kaedric's tale to him?  And, as if this were not bad enough, Kaedric
told Archimedes of my pregnancy before *I* was even aware of it.  This is
inexcusable.  Had Kaedric not died once already, I would have been sorely
tempted to kill him.

	So there I was, facing Archimedes with the knowledge that he must
know the true reason behind this marriage, and not only having to pretend
that neither of us knew the truth, but having to ask to fill in as my
liege-lord the man who I once very carefully tendered my oath such that it
was clear that he was not my ruler.  It is rather ironic, I will admit,
but I did not think so at the time.  To be honest, I was rather surprised
when he accepted.  Perhaps it was the shock from that which caused me to
regard his statement about Random with such amusement.  All I know is that
I departed with my spirits higher than when I arrived, an outcome I would
have placed long odds against.

	The armor, of course, was the icing on the cake.

	I will treasure my memory of Kaedric's expression when I presented
the idea to him.  I had already decided to agree to Laughter's suggestion,
whatever his response to the idea, but Kaedric's dislike of it was all I
could have wished for.  Up until that point, everything about the wedding
had gone as he wished it.  Clearly, it was time to remind him that this is
not the way things will be between us.  He shall not always get his way in

	My conversation with Sylvester was equally satisfying, in a
different sort of way.  We are twins, as it turns out.  Mother apparently
kept us separated from the very start, knowing she would have to give at
least one of us up to Father.  I have often wondered what it would have
been like if I had not been forced to leave, but had instead finished out
my childhood with her in Chaos.  Judging by what little Sylvester let
slip, I have no reason to regret the way things turned out.  He grew so
tired of her and her schemes that he left when he was 15 or so, eventually
finding a place in House Vertix.  Obviously, he must have been a spy for
them from the very beginning.  Well done, indeed.  Ulysses was the perfect
choice to serve as his Amber parent, since his reputation was such that a
child would not be unexpected.  And he was a close friend of the Crown
Prince.  It came as no surprise to me at all to learn that Laughter's
little information network was all Sylvester's idea.  Utterly brilliant. 
I wonder why he pretended to take an interest in Kaedric back then?  An
attempt to cause jealousy, perhaps?  I do not suppose I shall ever know
the answer to that.  Not that it made any difference whatsoever in the way
I dealt with Kaedric, in the end.

	My loss in the competition dovetailed rather neatly with my desire
to end my participation in the whole affair.  I had made a good showing,
and even managed to defeat Maron.  I had no desire to proceed beyond the
semi-final event.  To do so would draw far too much attention to myself. 
Admittedly, I would prefer to have lost by my choice, not my opponent's
superior skill, but the end result was the same.  I now have more than
enough time to make sure that all is in readiness for the ceremony.  I
have given up any hope of the affair being inconspicuous.  So be it.  It
will be done well, if nothing else.  I still find myself troubled by the
possible appearance of the Serpent.  It is the random factor in the
wedding, the one aspect of it that I cannot control.  What did the Serpent
say to Kaedric, when he spoke to it in the previous time-line?  What does
he think it will say this time, under such different circumstances?  I
cannot hazard a guess at this point.  And that concerns me.

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