I think I may have figured something out about growing up today.

	Let's see.  How do you tell a story like this....

	It started with me, in mid-air, with wings I learned to grow only
a few months ago.  Colin and Alastair, seeing to the attack and defense of
Amber from afar, by magical means, were on my back.  Both eventually
Trumped away to people on the ground, to see to things close-up.

	I was alone, the wind whistling in my ears.  Colin had said he had
heard from Lilith, and that she was OK, so there was only one other person
in the world I was worried about.  I flew off into Shadow, changing shape
and changing location with relative ease.  It was... what's the word...
Zen.  Or Tao.  Or something.  A oneness with Shadow -- the essential me
changing with the currents and eddies of the universe.  It blew my mind. 
I didn't really want to answer the Trump contact I received, but I came to
earth and took it anyway.  I was a little afraid of it all, you see.

	It was Alastair.  He said that he was to help me find Gabriel, and
that he was doing so on the advice of someone we both knew.  And we
eventually went through a Trump contact to that someone.  You could have
knocked me over with a feather, but he was nice, even helpful, and pushed
us through to where we could Trump Gabriel, which we did.

	Gabriel was with a statue that, as it turns out, has an ancient
Lord of Chaos inside.  But, more importantly, Gabriel was there, and he
was OK, mostly, though he was very unhappy and very angry when we told him
what had happened in Amber while he was gone.  I think he blames himself. 
Sometimes there is such a thing as being too grown up, I think.  No
worries that I shall ever suffer from that, I guess.  I felt very small
and very quiet as we made our way to the Black Road.  Maybe all the
grown-ups around here aren't all playing a stupid game, after all.  Maybe
some of them do care...

	We made our way to Rebma, slowly, and as soon as I was there, I
was being Trumped, by Lilith and Colin and Duncan, and they all wanted
through.  I brought them.  Even though I wanted nothing more than to go
out by the reefs and look at the dolphins and think about things other
than the Regency of Amber, and the Armies of Amber, and the ruined Castle
of Amber.

	But, before I could convince myself to sneak out in the middle of
this, Lilith said we should return to Amber.  As soon as we were there,
she assigned me to look in the dungeons.  I didn't debate the issue at
all, I just went, even though every step down that long and dark
staircase, I could only think about dead bodies and worse.  It was a long,
unintelligible mental dialogue actually -- "What if there are dead
bodies?"  "What, are you scared?"  "No, but dead bodies are gross."  "But
you are a Duchess of Amber."  "What's that have to do with dead bodies?" 
"You're too important to be scared."  "Not too important to throw up if
they stink or if there are maggots."  "You're right.  That *is* gross." 
But, fortunately, when I got there, there was only Gerard, and he was
alive, even if he was unconscious.  I passed him through to the infirmary
and walked back up.  I said I was too little and weak to carry Gerard
upstairs, but I'm not.  I just wanted to be alone with my thoughts for a
while.  Yeah.  Weird, I know, but sometimes I like quiet, and sometimes I
do think.

	I have the current misfortune of being able to sense the Faradness
of any given situation, since he was so long inside of my mind.  And there
was a lot of Faradness to the huge piles of marshmallow fluff lying around
the castle.  I walked slowly to the kitchens, found fire and crackers and
chocolate, and had S'mores.  I wasn't ever a campfire girl or anything,
but I met some in Shadow once.  Princesses in my mother's Shadow aren't
allowed to be Girl Scouts.  Duchesses in Amber aren't allowed that either. 
But once you've walked the Pattern, you can be anything, if you know where
to look.  Or even if you're just hellaciously persistent.  I didn't sing
though.  I couldn't bring myself too.  Things were just too weird.  The
castle was wrecked...  Gabriel was upset...  Nothing was good.

	Eventually, I went back upstairs, and Gabriel found me, and said
he was going into Shadow, and would I come along.  I asked why.  "Because
I don't want to go alone.  And because I trust you."

	Have you ever seen a movie called the Wizard of Oz, where
everything is black and white, and then springs into Technicolor?  That's
kind of what this was like.

	We went off into Shadow, and things were OK.  Kind of
disappointingly unlike the Wizard of Oz, but I was cool with it all,
because hey, what's a fifteen-year old girl with a crush really going to
complain about if she's just been told she's trustworthy by the object of
her affection?  (Sometimes I can think about these things objectively. 
Other times...)

	In any case, Gabriel stopped and asked me to aid him in Trumping
Bonaparte, which we did, and then we went through, and I was asked to
basically be everyone's second because they were going to duel.

	They were going to WHAT?!?

	I didn't let my apprehension show, just accepted Greyswandir and
the clunky boring old sword that Gabriel carries (probably because it
deflects lightning bolts and magic like nobody's business, as Farasa can
attest to).  They went off looking for other swords.  I realized that I
had the chance to be Crime Stopper Number One, having a piece of stolen
property in my hands, and while Bonaparte's back was turned, Trumped
Lilith, shoved her pop's sword through, and broke the contact, hearing
only an echo of her telling me she loved me.  Gosh.  The duelers circled
each other.  I kept my cloak over the one sword I had left, and sat,
feeling tense.  I thought for sure that Gabriel would win, but what if he
didn't?  First off, I would have to explain what I'd done with
Greyswandir, and that could get messy.  Second, I'd have to be real
irritated that Boney had killed Gabriel.  That would have gotten even

	The duel went on and on.  Gabriel didn't seem to want to kill
Bonaparte, and Bonaparte didn't really seem to want to die.  That's a lot
of emotional distance to cover in a duel where there can only be one
victor, and that's our hero, Gabriel of Amber.  I didn't really want
Bonaparte to die either, and not because I liked the bastard or anything. 
He would have killed me when I was Farasa simply because it would have
killed Farad as well.  And he insulted me a lot, for whatever reason.  He
had a lot of anger, I guess.  And he would have killed Farad, who, weirdo
that he is, is someone I love a lot at this point, because if nothing
else, I understand him.  He's a good guy.  Well, good enough.

	But, like I say, I didn't *really* want Bonaparte to die.  He was
fairly honorable, in a hard-headed, stupid kind of way, and all he really
wanted was to avenge his dad, which I have to admire, 'cause I don't think
I'd go so far as to take over Amber if Bleys bit it.  And plus, I believed
he was innocent, ever since the night in Tir-na Nog'th, when I saw things
play out.  In fact, I'm probably the only person who knows in their heart
that both Bonaparte and Farad are innocent of the two crimes they stand
(stood) accused of -- that Bonaparte didn't murder those guards, and Farad
didn't kill Caine.

	Eventually, the fight wound down, and Gabriel did it -- just
beheaded the poor bastard that destroyed Amber in a day.  Blood sprayed
everywhere.  Including me.  I didn't cry, though, and I gave Gabriel his
sword.  He seemed concerned about what I had done with Greyswandir.

	"I gave him back to Lilith."

	This seemed to bother Gabriel -- not just bother, either, but to
disappoint.  As if I had done something wrong.  Now, if that doesn't just
make you want to smack something's head open, I don't know what does. 
Bonaparte was a thief, and he took Lilith's dad's sword.  I was returning
it to the rightful owner, not making a presumption about the outcome of
the duel.  I let my irritation show through, so we were a tired,
irritated, sad, bloody pair that went through to Amber bearing Bonaparte's
body, wrapped in his cloak.  So much for Oz.  When we got home, Gabriel
went to his room -- to sulk, no doubt.  And I cleaned up, and went to the
kitchens, and had S'mores.  There wasn't any staff to make real food,
after all, and I didn't feel like going anywhere else.

	So, that was my life lesson for today.  Why does feeling more
grown up mean feeling tired and sad?

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