The word for today is ineffective.
I always think of myself as being somehow important. I think that
my opinions matter, that my judgments have consequences, that I have some
facility for connecting what I want with what is. If I do, it sure as
hell hasn't shown up lately.
The situation we are in certainly sucks. I miss my Pattern... so
I figure that my daughter has an almost primal connection with the Jewel,
my wife is a Logrus user and sorceress, and I have numerous other friends
who can help me take independent action. I was going to organize the
group, find the Jewel, and then *we'd* have it. We would have done
something that everyone else would notice.
But no, Chaos is coming to war with us (or at least a branch of
it) and the Jewel is needed for the war, and not only did Random expect me
to go after it, he decided I could use some hints on who to take along.
And whatever little contribution we can make, we'll have been *ordered* to
make it, and it will be just one more story for the grandkids about what
we did during the war.
The actual quest, so far, has not been too bad. I don't really
like the fact that cold water turns me into a girl, but compared to
crucifixion, or even a sprained ankle, it's not a problem. A little
confusing is all. But the larger issue...
Felix and Laughter will never, ever have this problem. They have
sense. They don't try to imagine that who they are is significant on some
kind of cosmic level. But I was raised in an earlier time, during the
reign of Oberon, and I was raised by a woman who had been haunted for
eight hundred years by the consequences of a decision she made. I never
thought we were all good, or all bad, but I always thought of the family
as being great of stature, lords among men. I spent my entire childhood
thinking that I would learn, and work, and do the things that needed to be
done, and someday I too would be one of those surreally cool, diamond-hard
images on a playing card, opaque and potent as the Trump itself.
And now I'm fifty years old, and I have a wife and son, a growing
mastery of the Pattern, and no future at all. We're not like that. We're
a little island of reality, an offshoot of Chaos without any real ideology
of our own. Whatever giants worked to create Amber, their memory is gone
now, replaced by wishy-washy talk about putting Sand on trial or
interrogating some meaningless Chaosite who would have been a brain-raped
corpse in Oberon's day.
Ariana would say I'm being ugly and bitter. Oh yes, I am that,
and perhaps more. I feel betrayed. I've come to a party that can only
happen once, to find out that the guests of honor have left, and all
that's left are the hangers-on, buzzing around and working feverishly to
convince themselves that they're enough to keep the party going.
It's nobody's fault, there was never a conscious decision to be
ordinary instead of "that strength which once fought with gods." But
I wonder if this isn't how Brand feels, forever unresigned to
being a generation too young, stuck with the realization that what you do
never quite measures up. Not that it matters... hating the order of
things does not make for common cause, not when we are both part and
parcel of that same order of things.
But there must be a time. I have an obligation to raise my child,
and I fervently hope that his mother's love will prevent my poison from
afflicting him. But once he is old enough to stand or fall on his own....
I'm done pretending and hoping. People will start paying for things. And
Random will be the first. He's going to pay for taking me for granted.
I'm going to find something to do that will infuriate him, undermine him,
appall him. And I'm going to do it, and he'll know I did it. And I'll
laugh at *him* for a change. I don't need him to stand around thinking "I
should have been nicer to Ahab." I can't afford an investment in how he
decides to deal with things. But I may as well start with him in my
little one-man war with the world. Otherwise, he'd have to butt in sooner
or later, for Bart's sake, or Caine's, or the family's.
I love a lot of my family, and I can't take action that might
endanger them. But the rest... I've always felt I couldn't live with
myself if I were treacherous or malicious, and I've been honest with
everyone for just that reason. But I'm fifty years old and I can't live
with myself anyway, and I no longer owe one damn thing to the people who
are to blame.
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