We passed ten years in Chantille Vale.  I suppose I could bore you
with stories of Alora's first words, or the first time she walked, or when
she cast her first spell, or drew her first Trump, or the various other
things that children do which their parents find endearing, and everyone
else simply endures, but I shall not.  Not because it would bore you, but
because those were private moments, and I do not intend to share them with

	I will note that having a child changed me both more and less than
I had feared it would.  Being isolated from reality for so long, free of
any pressing matters, save Alora herself...  It was a relief in a way. 
Towards the end, I began to feel eager to return to the real world, but
most of the time I felt surprisingly content.  It was not as if there was
nothing for me to do.  Teaching Alora all she needed to know was more than
sufficient to keep me occupied.  And as for Kaedric, well, I suspect we
could have stayed another ten years without it bothering him at all.  It
was funny to see how much he doted on Alora.  I had no such problem, of
course.  I must admit, though, she was all I could have hoped for in a
child.  Bright, inquisitive, talented...  Even if her hair did turn out to
be red, after all.  Her eyes, at least, never changed, and there could be
no doubt whose daughter she was.  Sometimes I still find it odd to see
Kaedric's eyes looking back at me from her face.

	And so the decade passed, and the time for my meeting with King
Swayvill arrived.  I garbed myself appropriately, and found that it felt
rather odd to be wearing a corset again.  It had been so long since I had
done so.  Not since before Alora's birth, in fact.  But it was time to don
my old role once more, and reemerge into the real world again.  The corset
would help me to remember who I was out there.

	The purpose of the meeting was for me to tell the King which of
the three positions he had offered I had chosen to accept.  It had been a
rather difficult decision for me, and one which I had often pondered
during my time in Chantille Vale.  The Lord High Adjudicator position I
discarded from consideration almost immediately, but I found myself torn
between the positions of Chief Ambassador and Royal Trump Artist.  The
latter would, admittedly, allow me relatively free reign in my spying, and
would fit my talents rather well.  Unfortunately, it would also advertise
my talents too well, and require a great deal of my time.  Once, this
would not have bothered me, but now I found that I did not wish to spend
most of my waking hours drawing or staring at cards.  Another change my
time with Alora and Kaedric wrought in me, I suppose.  And then there was
the manner in which the previous Royal Trump Artist had vacated the post. 
He simply vanished without a trace, three months before I was offered the
position.  This could have been due to a personal vendetta, of course, but
why take the chance?  Given my ties to Amber, I felt more than capable of
handling the Chief Ambassador position, and it would require far less of
my time.  And so it was that I came to my decision.

	The meeting itself was rather brief.  I simply informed his
Majesty of my choice, one that did not seem to surprise him.  He then
arranged to meet with me again in three week's time, to go over candidates
for the position of ambassador to Amber, and to Corwin's realm.  Assuming
a way could be found to contact Corwin, of course.  I smiled inwardly, and
intimated that I could doubtless arrange such a thing.  With this settled,
I asked if there were any other tasks he required of me before I departed. 
Only one.  He wished to see my daughter.

	I was certain that Kaedric would have informed Swayvill of Alora's
birth, so his knowledge of her came as no surprise.  I simply was not
expecting him to want to see her so soon, from his perspective.  Still, it
would have to be done sooner or later, so we arranged for the presentation
to take place the following day.  I briefly assured myself that Ran's deck
remained where I had left it in Kaedricways, and that Theo had not
returned.  Since only a week had passed in Chaos and Ivory, neither
situation was likely to have changed, nor had it, but I felt better for
having made sure of this before I returned to Chantille Vale.

	Kaedric was unsurprised by Swayvill's request, of course.  Alora
was Kaedric's heir, after all, and the King did need to ensure the
succession.  Then he let slip the news that another child would be
necessary to provide an heir for the house.  I was less annoyed by this
than I might have been, for I was expecting to have to provide him with at
least one more child.  There must be a backup for the succession, after
all.  Seeing as how this child would need to be a male, I suggested that
we forgo the absinthe this time.  But there was no need to hurry the
matter, just yet.  There would be plenty of time.  Or so I thought.

	The afternoon was spent preparing a letter for Corwin, requesting
the establishment of an embassy in his realm.  With this accomplished, I
Trumped to the front gates of his castle to deliver it, for there was no
other means of delivering it to him.  I was quite surprised to find the
bodies of dogs littered about the landscape, and the castle gates wide
open.  The smell of sorcery was strongly in the air.  There were still a
few guards seeing to their duties, however, and they challenged me almost
properly.  I identified myself, and they dispatched someone to announce
me.  Judging by their response, they had recently encountered someone who
had failed to properly answer their queries.  Doubtless the owner of the

	After a brief period of waiting, I was shown in to see, not
Corwin, but Sky.  Remembering that she was Corwin's consort, I curtsied
appropriately.  This seemed to surprise her, although I am not certain as
to why.  I presented my note for Corwin, along with a Trump for him to use
in contacting me with his response.  Sky thought it would be at least a
week before Corwin returned from border patrol.  I could not hazard a
guess as to how long that would be for me, but it was certain to be before
I was to meet with Swayvill on the issue, and that all that truly
mattered.  My task was thus dispatched, but fortunately Sky invited me to
stay for refreshments.  Even more fortunately, she was too busy to stay
with me herself, and left me in the hands of her servants.  I proceeded to
investigate the castle with sorcery, and, much to my amazement, found
Claudio there, along with a man who looked much like Corwin.  Regrettably,
Claudio was able to detect my spying, which speaks much of how his ability
with magic has grown.  Given that he now knew I was there, I saw no reason
to conceal myself from him further, and transported myself to his side.

	Claudio did not seem particularly happy to see me, but then, he
never is.  The strange man who accompanied Claudio was introduced to me as
Killian, one of Corwin's sons, raised in Shadow by the sound of him.  He
felt magic and Trump were vile sorcery and unnatural.  Silly boy.  He will
learn soon enough, as Claudio did.  Claudio saw fit to warn me via Trump
that Killian might attack me if I pressed him on the matters which
disquieted him.  I was surprised, not by what he said, for I had figured
as much myself, but by the fact that he chose to warn me at all, and
especially when it meant the risk of opening his mind to me.  It cannot be
attributed to any warmth of feeling towards me, judging by his reaction
when I arrived.  Perhaps it was out of deference to Kaedric.  Whatever the
reason, I felt confident in my ability not to push Killian too far.  Truth
be told, I found him rather fascinating.  He actually attacked Bleys,
right after successfully completing his first Pattern walk.  I would have
liked to have seen that.

	We retired back to the drawing room, since Killian expressed
interest in the refreshments that were there.  We had not conversed long
when Sky joined us, looking rather angry.  She strongly hinted that I
should take my leave, so I proceeded to do so.  Her anger, however, seemed
more directed at Claudio than at me.  It would seem that there is still
bad blood between them, and in truth, I did not desire to be anywhere in
the vicinity when they came to blows.

	The rest of the evening passed quietly enough, as they usually
did.  Kaedric did not seem especially surprised to learn that I had seen
Claudio in Corwin's universe.  Apparently Claudio was there to fetch his
son by Sky, to join him in Chaos for a time.  This went far towards
explaining the mood that Sky was in at the time.

	I presented Alora to Swayvill in the morning, with all the
appropriate ceremony.  She behaved as befitted her position, but I
expected no less of her.  We had tea, and then Swayvill spoke privately
with her for ten minutes or so.  I sent her home after this, but Swayvill
asked me to remain long enough to present me with a list of candidates for
the various ambassadorships.  The most interesting was the list for the
ambassador for Corwin's universe.  Vertans all, although there were few
enough of them.  Membership in that house is almost as secret as who
actually heads it, and there are few who expose that to outsiders.  The
council members, of course, had little choice but to do so, and those who
had competed in the Tournament had revealed their house affiliation as
well.  Sylvester's name was on the list, of course, having been one of the
latter.  Swayvill asked me to use what contacts I had to determine who on
the list was most suitable for the position.  They would need to be
willing to place the interests of Chaos over those of their own house, if
necessary, which would make the choice a difficult one, since we knew so
little about them.  I promised to begin working on the matter and returned
to Chantille Vale.

	I contacted Sylvester almost immediately, of course.  I was
certain that he would not want the position himself, and therefore might
be inclined to help me choose a better candidate.  My twin's expression
when I presented him with the list told me that I was correct in that
regard.  I was surprised when he mentioned his interest in the Amber
ambassador position, however.  It is obvious, at least to me, that he
holds no great fondness for Amber, although I have been unable to
determine why.  I suspect it has something to do with the hatred he feels
towards Father, but I have thus far not determined the cause of this,
either.  At any rate, he was more than willing to help me find someone
else for the position in Corwin's universe, and we began going over the
list together.  The council members were eliminated almost immediately,
for obvious reasons.  The sisters Rhiannon and Lindell were quickly
dropped from consideration as well, Rhiannon being ostracized in both ends
of reality, and Lindell's dislike of Amber and Amberites being a matter or
record.  This left Balmora, Rochester and Dermot, the three Vertans who,
along with Sylvester, had represented Vertix at the Tournament.  Sylvester
advised that, while Rochester was a good man to keep in mind for any dirty
jobs that you might want completed, as an ambassador he would be a rather
poor choice.  Balmora, on the other hand, was a good possibility, while
all that could be said to recommend Dermot was that he was as innocuous a
Vertix as you could find.  Not the most ringing of endorsements, to be
sure, but not necessarily a bad thing, either.  I would have to see what
else I could learn about these two.

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