Ariana smiles at Whimsy when she arrives and asks if she can spare
a moment to talk.
"Actually, Ariana, it was my intent to do a little gardening this
afternoon. If you wish to chat, perhaps we could do this in my quarters,"
"Of course." She would follow Whimsy. "Are you working on an
indoor garden, then?"
The two of them begin walking down the corridor, Whimsy's heels
clicking lightly on the stone floor.
"Yes. I am so tired of being surrounded by lifeless stone and
metal...and so I've been making a few changes to my rooms," she comments.
"That sounds like a lovely idea. Castles can feel so cold. I've
taken to hanging pictures and tapestries to try and make my quarters seem
"It passes the time, anyway," Whimsy replies indifferently.
Ariana frowns ever so slightly. "Well, one would hope you derive
some enjoyment from it, as well."
"Of course," Whimsy replies, with a bland half-smile. One thing
that Ariana might notice is that Whimsy seems to be taking better care of
herself lately. Her nails are immaculate, and painted a deep burgundy,
and her hair is styled and interwoven with ribbons and combs. Her dress,
also a deep red, is simple but elegant. And one might also guess that
she's been eating better, as she seems a touch less bony since Ariana last
looked closely at her (a few weeks ago).
Ariana is silent for moment before saying, "Have you always had an
interest in gardens, or is this a recent hobby?"
"I've liked the outdoors since I was a child...liked growing
things. But I never had a chance at anything permanent until I came
here," Whimsy answers. By this point, the two have reached Whimsy's
quarters. She opens the doors, and immediately Ariana notes the scent of
flowers. (Not the evil hallucinogenic ones.)
The parlor has been turned into a veritable greenhouse. Although
it isn't done to a ridiculous extent, there are a lot of plants in here,
most of them flowering. Large potted plants rest in the corners; smaller
ones rest on the tables. A flowering vine of some kind has grown from the
balcony into the room and runs up the wall and ceiling near the balcony.
There are a great many hanging plants as well. Ariana sees that Whimsy
has planted dahlias, roses, irises, lilacs, and a few others she don't
recognize. As she passes by the dahlias, she could almost swear that they
lean towards her just a bit.
Whimsy opens the balcony doors wider, and then pulls on a bellpull
for a servant to come.
Ariana gasps with delight when she sees the plants, and begins to
slowly walk around the parlor, smelling some of the more fragrant flowers
as she admires them all. She especially studies the dahlias.
"This is marvelous, Whimsy. I can't believe you've managed to
accomplish so much in only a few weeks."
"I've always had an affinity for conjuring plants," Whimsy begins.
"I created them...made them permanent. I have a good deal of
understanding of the way plants work, so I can create them in such a way
that they can survive the soil and climate here in Amber, even when such
plants normally wouldn't survive."
Whimsy approaches the dahlias.
"The dahlias in particular are rather fragile...they don't take
well to bad climates. I modified them to make them hardier." She pauses
for a moment. "What was it that Mother's tome on plant lore said? Ah
yes. 'The dahlia suggests the instability of perfect beauty.' Because
they perish so easily. These dahlias will not."
And she begins removing dead leaves and fallen petals, which she
places into a wooden bowl.
Ariana hesitates, then says, "It sounds as though you are speaking
of yourself, as well."
"Hardly," Whimsy mutters, with a slight frown.
Ariana raises an eyebrow. "I don't suppose you think of yourself
as rather fragile, do you?"
"If I had ever in my life been 'fragile,' I wouldn't be here now,"
Whimsy replies, moving a vine away from a hanging lamp. "Sturdiness is
something we inherit as part of being of the blood of Amber, is it not?"
"Yes and no. Sturdiness of the body, certainly. But we are by no
means invincible, nor are we without emotion."
"Fairly close to invincible in some respects," Whimsy replies.
"If you ever wish to test my strength, Ariana, I'd be more than happy to
show you how close I've come." There is something dangerous in Whimsy's
slight smile as she turns to look at her, her green eyes meeting Ariana's.
Ariana smiles faintly. "I have no doubt that your strength of
mind is quite impressive. It does not alter my original statement, though.
No matter how strong we are in mind and body, we can still be hurt."
Whimsy merely shrugs and turns back to her plants. A moment later
she adds, "From what I'm told of your history, Ariana, you know that
better than any of us. Is that why you're here? Has something happened
with one of your children?"
Ariana looks somewhat surprised. "No, not to one of my children.
I don't tend to be this rational when something happens to one of them.
I'm here because I'm worried about you, Whimsy."
"Amazing that it took you that long to get around to admitting
it," she replies. "Don't think to try to shoulder my burdens, Ariana, you
have enough of your own. I'm selfish in this way; my problems are mine,
and I don't intend to share them with anyone."
"That's what worries me, Whimsy. I understand better than most
the urge to cut yourself off emotionally from everyone, as a means of
avoiding future hurt. But it's not healthy in the long run. And it makes
it too easy to reinforce to yourself things that may not even be true,
since you don't allow anyone to tell you otherwise."
It should be obvious to Whimsy that she's speaking from personal
"Ariana, you deal with your pain in your own way. I deal with
mine in a fashion uniquely me. If I am distant, it is because I recognize
that my current state of mind is...not conducive to positive interactions
with the family. It has nothing to do with cutting myself off
"You make the mistake of seeing me through your lens, Ariana. I'm
not you at all. I have no husband, no children, no close family save for
Mother...and so it is not my way to turn to others for answers that lie
within me. And that's how it's always been."
"Just because it has always been that way, doesn't mean it must
continue to be that way. I came to Amber with no husband, children or any
family at all. Things change." Ariana pauses for a moment, searching for
the right words. "I know that your background, your life up until this
point, has discouraged turning to others for advice, or encouragement, or
even just someone to talk to. And the patterns of so long are difficult
to break. But it has been my experience that trying to solve every
problem, deal with every wrong or hurt alone, tends to leave you more
alone than before. I don't want that to happen to you."
Whimsy pauses, her back to Ariana, and Ariana can hear the soft
sound of Whimsy grinding her teeth.
"Yes, Ariana, things do change, but in truth my life in Amber is
not so different from my life in Chaos. I am still surrounded by
duplicity and deceit, and NOTHING that has happened in Amber since my
arrival has given me any indication that the members of my family are
trustworthy enough that I would feel comfortable sharing even the smallest
part of myself with them."
She turns to Ariana. "Someone to talk to?" she asks, her tone
mocking. "Someone to confide in? Someone to whom I could bare my heart,
and thus finally receive the inevitable dagger thrust? I cannot even
confide in my own mother, for fear that thoughts and words which oppose
her will would be summarily crushed."
"No, I don't trust any of you enough to reveal my heart, and I
only trust you somewhat because I know that I could crush you like a
She turns away from Ariana to resume work on her irises.
"And besides, Ariana, what more can happen to me? I've already
lost everything that mattered to me...and life goes on...not so different
from before." Her tone isn't bitter or regretful, just coolly
Ariana appears unfazed by Whimsy's response. It seems to confirm
something for her, actually.
"I am sorry that you cannot confide in your mother. In truth, I
fear her approach to life is similar to your own, which is why I am
concerned for you. Do you truly want to wind up like her, powerful, but
unable to even relate to your own child?"
"My child?" Whimsy asks with a throaty chuckle. "Thorn and I get
"My child... There will be no child...no more children...because
I choose it to be thus. Amber has broodmares aplenty without my input.
And besides, I don't doubt that Alexandra will have enough children to
more than make up for my frigidity and Laughter's indifference."
Ariana lays a hand on Whimsy's arm and says softly, "You may
change your mind someday, you know. We live for a long time. Who can say
what may happen a few centuries down the road? I doubt Fiona intended to
have children originally, and yet now she has three."
Whimsy gently pulls away from Ariana. "We can live for a long
time, Ariana, but this is not to say that any one of us will," she
replies. "At this stage, I have no future here. I will do what I can to
guard Nicholas' throne from usurpers; I owe him this much. But after
that, I doubt I will remain. There's nothing for me here."
Ariana appears distressed by this. "I think you are wrong. You
still have people who care about you here. Do you honestly think you will
be happier wandering through Shadow alone?"
"Care about me?" Whimsy asks, her tone again mocking. "After last
week's little debacle, I think I can do without so much familial love."
"Last week's little debacle had more to do with familial spite,
not love. There is a difference."
"In this family," Whimsy replies grimly, "the only difference is
the depth to which the dagger sinks into your flesh."
"I guess I can understand why you feel that way. You've never had
the chance to feel anything better. And when you've been betrayed by
someone you care about, the world seems a completely wretched place for a
"Given the story of Grayson's conception, I'm certain you do
understand. With total strangers, you at least have the chance that
they're not looking to use and abuse you...with family, you don't even
"That seems to be the trend among Oberon's get, yes, but not all
of them. Gérard, at least, seems genuine enough. And I have found
Benedict to be honorable. And there are some of our cousins, at least.
But what happened to you is not unique to just the Family here. Siblings
often do foolish things out of jealousy, no matter where you are."
"I would say this goes a little beyond foolish," she responds.
"But it doesn't really matter. Alexandra made her bed; let her sleep in
it. I have more pressing concerns...like keeping Eric off the throne and
keeping his assassins at bay."
Ariana looks concerned. "Has there been an attempt on your life?"
"Not yet," Whimsy replies. "But it's only a matter of time. He
believes I killed Vixen. How can he act otherwise? How would you respond
were I to kill Vetch? Not that it's humanly possible, mind you."
"That's not a simple question to answer, either. I mean, of
course I'd want to avenge his death, but a lot depends on the
circumstances. For one thing, I certainly couldn't kill you outright,
without earning the wrath of your parents." She looks pained. "There was
a time once when I feared a friend of mine was going to kill Lucien, at a
time when Lucien was vulnerable. Had he done so, I probably would have
killed him, yes. But it's not quite the same circumstances. For one
thing, Vixen isn't dead, she simply took off. Something that was
inevitable, especially once it became known that she tried to kill Leto's
child. If Eric is going to kill you simply because you were the last
person seen in Vixen's vicinity, without a shred of evidence that Vixen
has even been harmed, much less that you were responsible, then he's
completely irrational. Which doesn't invalidate your concern, since I
believe he is irrational. Especially if he does try to kill you. Pissing
off Fiona and Suhuy would be an act of supreme stupidity." She pauses.
"Unless, of course, he frames someone else for it. Have you arranged for
"I, too, believe he is irrational...and therefore, I cannot guess
whether his actions will be well-thought-out, or quite random. I do not
have a bodyguard, but I do have my eyes and ears in Amber and this castle,
and I have taken steps to ensure that I cannot easily be killed." Whimsy
smiles to herself at that.
Ariana looks worried. "Have you had much experience with this
sort of thing before?"
"One hundred years of it, cousin. I hope it's enough," Whimsy
"I hope so too. Despite what you may think, I would hate to see
anything happen to you."
"Well...I can guarantee this much. If I am to die, I'll drag Eric
screaming into Hell with me," Whimsy responds firmly.
"You'll understand if I'd rather it didn't come to that. Is there
anything I can do to help?"
"Be available if I Trump you...," Whimsy answers quietly.
"I shall, to the best of my ability." Ariana hesitates. "Would
you like me to consult Lucien about this? He used to do that sort of
thing, at one point. He might be able to offer some advice."
"Are you entirely certain that your husband would choose to ally
himself with Nicholas over Eric?" she asks. "For acting on my behalf,
even passively, will be interpreted as a declaration of support for
Nicholas...and could get your husband into conflict with Eric."
"I understand your desire to help, Ariana, but why must you go out
of your way to risk your family's stability and happiness at every
"I don't see something this serious as going out of my way,
Whimsy. If I do nothing, and Eric takes the throne from Nicholas, then I
will be partly to blame for it. I don't think I could live with myself if
I didn't at least try." She shakes her head. "Which is not to say that I
don't pray every day that nothing will happen and things will remain
peaceful. But if Eric takes the throne, there will be war, and that will
affect my family's stability and happiness regardless of what I do."
Whimsy pauses and looks at Ariana for a moment, her expression
"Well-spoken, Ariana. I see that I've been underestimating your
grasp of what could happen. My apology for that. I will welcome whatever
aid you feel comfortable providing."
She smiles rather grimly for a moment.
"It's all so stupid, really. Does Eric really think that the
support of the nobles can compare with Nimue's support of Nicholas? He
doesn't stand a chance of doing anything but causing more death and pain."
"The very fact that he would be willing to cause such is to me
further proof that he would not make a good king. He wants the throne for
his own personal power, and he doesn't care who gets hurt in the process."
"You really don't need to explain that to *me*, Ariana," Whimsy
replies, carefully pruning the vines along the balcony doors.
"No, I don't imagine I do. Sorry, I didn't mean to start ranting
"I'm being short-tempered...perhaps we could talk another time.
All this focus on Eric is putting me in a foul mood," Whimsy answers
Ariana looks apologetic. "Of course. We can change the subject,
or I can leave, whichever you'd prefer."
"Perhaps we should just call it a day..."
"As you wish. If you do feel the need to talk later on, you know
where to find me."
Whimsy merely continues with her work.
Ariana begins to leave, then pauses at the doorway and looks back.
"Thank you, by the way, for the time you've been spending with Vincent. I
appreciate it." She then departs.
Ariana's Page |
All text on this page is © 1998 by Kris Fazzari and Matthew Richardson.
Last modified on October 28, 1998 by Kris Fazzari.