Looking into the earnest, worried eyes of my son, I did not have
the heart to voice my very strong doubts as to the veracity of the story
he was imparting. It's not that I think he would lie intentionally, it's
just that, with only Ulysses to back his story up, it was by far
preferable to hope that the whole thing was a rather grand delusion
experienced by the two of them. Or, perhaps, that both had stumbled upon
some Shadow near here where all of those things had come to pass.
It was a long, strange story that they related to me, and I was
both saddened and amazed by it. The fact that my death came in the middle
of it seemed inconsequential, really, in the scope of the horrors that he
was relating to me. A few interesting points came out. That Laughter is
Fiona's daughter by way of Mandor of Sawall. That Ulysses is Flora's son
by way of Perseus of Atherton. My mind, when I heard these two bits of
news, immediately twined around them, and began scheming of ways to use
But my mind, as it heard out the rest of the story, soon abandoned
this line of thinking, and my concerns solidified to one, single thing,
and that was, "How to prevent it from happening again. If, indeed, it is
As his tale of woe wore down to the bitter end, of fighting
Corliss while this Orrin dragged Laughter onto the Pattern and used her
blood to forge a path across it, I began to wonder... and then, when he
said the name of Dworkin, my worst fears were confirmed. Once again, this
family has gone through hell doing the incomprehensible bidding of that
crazed little man. Unfortunately, there have only ever been two people
I've ever heard of who could deal ably with him, and Oberon has been dead
these many years, and Corwin has not been seen in as long.
Later that day, the story was confirmed by a tall man dressed in
black and silver -- the son of the long-lost Delwin, and the presence of
these women at dinner, one of whom is my great-granddaughter. I leaned
back in my chair and reached for Vialle's hand under the table. What is
the true meaning of all of this? If there is a crisis, it is five or six
years away by all accounts, so why were they sent back now? And how could
it help but be true? Looking at Archimedes looking at Laughter, and the
presence of these strangers who claim to be relatives. They all have such
an air of seriousness -- perhaps this is most marked in Ulysses, who never
possessed such a thing before. Such a tragic, tired air about them all,
as if they've all been to hell and out the other side of it.
As we dressed for dinner, I spilled all of the tale to Vialle,
unable to contain it by myself any longer. She had been unwilling to
comment on any of it then, but now, with her cool hand in mine, she turned
to me and gave me a radiant smile. "Whatever it is for them, it's a
beginning for you. But why in the sea would I name a son of ours Kevin?"
"I have no idea," I said, leaning my head back against my chair and
pushing away the plate of wild boar in pepper sauce. "I've always left
the naming of my sons to their mothers."
"Hm," she said, and I knew she was only thinking about the name,
and not about Morganthe. She does not condemn me, but leaves it all up to
my guilty conscience.
It's good to be understood.
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