The day Foster and I married Driscoll was the first day I actually
felt like Mandor's daughter. Sitting across from him in his study, my
hands in his as he examined the scars on my palms, we talked...casually,
about the problems of the universe, as if they would never really touch
us. The death of the Gods. Their legacies, the Eyes. My eyes. I think
of them as mine because I will bear their imprint, always. Other pesky
rules of possession completely aside.
The day before that had passed in limbo, me struggling to see a
path in the chaos of my daughter and grandson and the King; the plans to
rescue Miranda; the knowledge of the discontent amongst the nobles; trying
to plan for the unknowable future in Faerie.
The morning had started with a bang. I.e., the after-effects of
that horrible nightmare. I started the day out with a trip to see the
army, and one Dead Oaks, who needed shoeing, whether he wanted it or not.
I had to fast-talk through that one, explaining all the parts and
dimensions of a horse's leg, and where the nails went, and that it didn't
hurt. I talked him into it by "one kick for every time you hurt me."
Ouch. Fortunately, though I am an infantry commander for the most part,
I've dealt with the cavalry since I was a child, and horses have never
managed to mystify me. Not even talking half-man horses. Dead Oaks has
shoes. And Haris didn't have to see his mother get kicked by a centaur.
It's good to be able to do some things right.
I went to see Bill Roth what seems like dozens of times. If a law
degree from Shadow would be any help, I'd get one, but medicine is about
the only consistent science between Shadows. In any case, I had to see if
it was OK to marry Driscoll, and I had to know my options for Beauty.
Could I marry her into the nobility if Nicholas refused to marry her? We
went over a nice list of nice nobles, which turned out to be a very handy
thing later in the day when I found out that those nice nobles are all
pissy about Oberon's decision to marry all of his children off to the
lords of Chaos. Hm. I can't say that the nobles have a real right to be
upset. If you consider what the average head of house of Chaos can do,
versus the average head of house of Amber... Not to be prejudicial about
people with lesser powers, it just seems a little odd... I don't know.
But, as Nicholas said, it will be a help when I tap some of the talent to
be on my staff in Faerie. And he's ever-so-proud of me that I thought it
up on my own.
Under Bill Roth's advice, Foster, Driscoll and I went to ask the
King's permission to marry. He gave it, with warnings, but happily
enough, I suppose. Keep it private, he told us, and was amused when I
mentioned that once upon a time, Driscoll's father, and my father, when
they had been in charge of things, had tried to arrange just such a
marriage. The Bad Old Days. That briefly horrible time when I didn't
trust Foster, when I both wanted and feared Driscoll... It's amazing, the
differences now. There was a small and tender scene in the Rath that I
will always remember....the moment I looked into Driscoll's face and
realized how much that I miss my brother, in spite of bad memories...
We went, after seeing Nicholas, to see Mandor, and gain
his...well, not permission, but to let him know the path that his daughter
was taking this time. He took it pretty well. I guess he's mellowed
quite a bit. I sent Foster and Driscoll back to Amber, while I discussed
theology with my father. What difference in the world did he think there
would be, with no Unicorn and no Serpent to watch over us? Did they ever
try to make our fates for us? Yes, the Serpent did. The Unicorn, he
didn't know about. And now we make our own fates. I bemoan the loss of
the Unicorn -- whether she tried to make our fates or not, I do think she
was trying to help us, was watching over us... Perhaps not to save us,
but she was a willing and caring guide.
Somehow, he told me that Brand had the missing Eye of the Unicorn.
I kind of mentioned my proprietary interest in the eyes I had collected,
and of course, Mandor warned me from doing anything stupid -- in a rather
touching way, actually. He told me that I reminded him a lot of himself,
when he was young. Dumb luck saw him through a lot of situations, he told
me. I laughed, and reminded him I have my family as well as dumb luck,
but more than my fair share of that as well. But, nevertheless, he told
me something I needed to know -- that Suhuy was the man to ask for advice
on the eyes. So, my next stop was Suhuy's, and I got as much information
as he could spare about the Jewel of Judgment, the Eye of Chaos, the Eye
of Destruction and the Jewel of Creation. The Jewel of Creation...that's
what I wanted. That's what I wanted to attune to. To see if I could use
something more than dumb luck in opposing the evil that is Brand.
Nicholas was hard to convince, only in that I had to secure
Random's aid in using the Jewel, since he supposedly would be able to
rescue me if I messed up. Well, Nicholas...if that's what you
believe...in any case, Random's permission wasn't too difficult, since
I've given him one grandchild already. Sometimes, I forget how well-
connected I am, just by the various accidents of birth. My own birth
So, I had the Jewel in hand, and for the third time in my life,
assailed the Pattern. In theory, when I reached the center, I should
allow the Jewel to draw me inside, and see its secrets. No secrets were
forthcoming, however. It was a dud. I wondered, for a moment, if perhaps
I just lacked the ability. By the time I made it back to Nicholas and
Random, I was fairly sure it was a fake. Someone had stolen this eye as
well...but unlike brazen Brand, had replaced it with a convincing fake.
WHO? Who this time both knew about it and had the skill? God damn their
eyes. Damn, damn, damn. I left the guardians of Castle Amber in an
uproar when I revealed the new breach in the security, and went to prepare
for my second wedding.
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