Have you ever stepped onto a patch of ground, and instead of
finding it to be completely solid, discovered that you haven't been paying
very close attention to Shadow shifting after all -- and you have not only
sunk into the ground up to your knees, you've ruined your new shoes?
Even metaphorically, have you?
I thought you had.
See, what happened was that I thought that all men really wanted
out of life is sex, but as it turns out, some of them don't want it unless
All right... the story. I've been in love with Gabriel now for
years. Absolute years. Ever since I saw him get really beat up by Lord
Julian and then go into exile, I've known that this is *the* man for me.
I know this is not usually how people fall in love, but that's me, that's
how I am. A little bit wrong in the head, quite impetuous, not very
logical. The kind of girl who ignores a genetic mandate to naturally
select the best of the breed, apparently. After all, the best of the
breed doesn't get beat up, does he? In spite of that, he probably *is*
the best. He probably threw the fight with his dad. Lord knows I
wouldn't, but then again, I don't think I'll even have the chance to make
that decision with Bleys.
So, it is Gabriel, and it has always been Gabriel, since that day,
and every day a little more so. He's just about everything I ever wanted
to be and know I can't be. Calm. Impeccably honorable. Death on two
legs. Graceful. Thoughtful. Studious. Quiet. The King of Swords in my
mama's tarot deck.
And who am I? I'm the danged Fool hopping off the cliff without a
backwards glance. I'll allow all kinds of insane cousins to take up
residence in my head, I'll believe anything anyone tells me, or else I
won't trust anyone. I am, as much as I hate to admit it, rather immature.
I am not particularly honorable, since I don't see that as the key way to
survive in my position as a young, powerless, female Amberite. I am the
antithesis of calm. The nicer things that can be said of me are that I am
inquisitive, enthusiastic and persistent, which are all just ways of
saying nosy, rash and too stupid to quit.
And, to be honest, even though I love Gabriel with all of my
heart, if he died, I very much doubt I'd still be mourning him after 112
years. I'm persistent, but I live in the moment, except when I'm carrying
a grudge. That's how I came to be in the Pattern room with Dmitri today.
I figured -- hey, this is the guy who shot me full of arrows --
repeatedly, I might add. If he's a cousin and walks the Pattern, he'll be
indebted to me. If he's not a cousin, and dies on the Pattern, I'm well
rid of an interfering bastard who shot me and stole my Trump deck and
*made me look foolish in front of Gabriel.*
Alas, he didn't die. Lilith came in, and apparently was taken
over by a shapeshifting virus, and began to assume the forms of those
around her. We had to repair to Chaos immediately to see Lord Suhuy, the
greatest master of my chosen art that has ever lived. He gave us a potion
that would help her come out of the disease slowly, but was himself at a
loss to repair the damage. We returned to Amber. I was most anxious to
I had recently set myself to wooing Gabriel, you see. Armor,
horses and weapons, and books on fighting -- given to him because I
thought he would like them. Flowers, romantic music, suggestive books --
given to him so he wouldn't get the wrong idea about my intentions. The
culmination of all of this was to be where I revealed myself as his
admirer, by saying, "Gabriel, I am wooing you," and dancing the Dance of
the Seven Veils in his room.
I was stopped cold in my endeavor when I was told that while he
considers the daughter of Bleys to be an excellent friend, he is
married... I think that's when I fled the room, and went looking for
Lilith and Colin to weep out my sad story. Only Lilith had turned into
Colin, and she seemed less able to control his... attitudes. They were
both only too happy to invite me into the room wearing nothing but my
seven veils. I just cried all the harder.
That's when Lilith took a Trump call and began to shapeshift into
Rasa. You are probably cold in that outfit. Perhaps you ought to
I fled like the Hounds of Hell were after me. And, of course,
what are the Hounds of Hells called? The Cwn Annwn in Wales. The
*Gabriel Ratchets* in Yorkshire. With this thought in my head, I ran all
When I stopped, I realized I was standing at a dead end in the
castle. I stopped. I looked down at my bare feet, the veils swirling
around my legs. I caught my breath. I slowly shuffled out my Trump of
Is she gone yet?
Yeah, Colin said, looking a little downcast. I gave him my hand
and went through. His commiseration helped a bit -- after all, he has yet
to sleep with Lilith, so he knew something of what I was going through.
That was when I got Trumped by Gabriel.
Will you ride into Shadow with me?
Of course, he said it in his completely business-like tone, so all
I could think was, "Great. He really has no clue what I was trying to
tell him, and now he wants me to assist him in finding some *other* lost
relative, or in Trumping someone he's too weak to reach." I said I would
go get something more appropriate to riding in Shadow and meet him in the
stables. He cut the contact, and I went to get a long heavy cloak that I
could wrap around me several times. I met Lilith looking like one of
Gabriel's guards on the way out. I couldn't even giggle nervously at her.
I refused to do the Hellriding and didn't talk. I sat my horse as
comfortably as if it were a chair in the library, miserably reminding
myself that all I know how to do is move, after all. After a while, he
stopped, and asked me to wait for him. He rode off. I looked down at my
fingers, and began shapeshifting the nails. Who needs a manicurist when
you can rule your body with the degree of finesse that I can? I sniffled
a little, feeling sorry for myself.
Gabriel finally returned. He began to question me -- did I really
think that he was as stiff and reserved as he appeared to be? As
humorless and unmoveable? No. I told him he must have a great sense of
humor, since he didn't kill me for being utterly impertinent to him on the
day we met. He nodded, and made a joke, which he seemed actually relieved
to see me laugh at.
He then pointed out that he wasn't looking for casual sex. And
that since he found me to be such a valuable friend, a person whose
welfare he cared a great deal for, it would be rather difficult to have
casual sex with me. That's when I began to realize that I had laid my
plans all wrong, and had based my pursuit on some incorrect assumptions
about how the world worked. I began to internally kick myself, until I
was brought up short by Gabriel saying that, at the very least, he wanted
Bleys' permission before he initiated anything with me.
At least he was thinking in the right direction! Even if he was
completely wrong about how Bleys would react to my doing anything. Unless
I destroyed the universe (or mindmelded with Farad), Bleys wouldn't give
two bits for anything I did. I told Gabriel as much. He didn't seem so
sure. How was I to say that the moment I had set foot on the Pattern, all
the relevant parties -- my father and myself being those parties -- had
considered me, for all intents and purposes, grown up?
We managed to push through to Bleys, with the aid of Sean.
(Mental note: send Sean a thank-you.) Dad was, as I could have predicted,
unconcerned. I took the opportunity to tell him about the Trump traps.
He seemed intrigued. Gabriel and I departed hastily, and went to my home
Shadow, to eat dinner together. We talked for quite some time, and I got
two kisses out of the deal. I returned in triumph to Amber. Colin didn't
seem to think two kisses was that much of a triumph, but what does he
know? *He* was not in the Slough of Despair today, declaring to the world
that he would wear seven veils until he died! Though that *would* be an
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interesting fashion statement on his part....