The day we returned to Amber from Bedlam was bright and fair.
Morning in Amber means breakfast in Amber, and I would swear by the look
on everyone's face that I'd raised another army in Shadow and brought them
all to eat. Which, very technically, I did. I had to grin a little to
myself about the nine faces new to Amber. Almost as proud of them as if I
had given birth to them myself. *Almost*. Enough that I'd given birth to
two of them.
Beauty looked horribly sad when she saw the changes that had
occurred in all of us. I wondered, not for the first time, if it was
quite the right thing to try and see it through, to put this girl on the
throne beside the King of Amber. It's not what she ever wanted. It's not
what she was raised for or trained for. But she feels so certain that
because she's had his child that she must stay with Nicholas, and there's
not any way except time that will get her over that. I know they love
each other, as bad as they are at admitting it to each other. But this
life isn't quite right for her. But what other life would be, except to
live and die in a distant Shadow?
I hate doubting myself.
She and I chatted a bit. I filled her in on six years of
happenings, as sketchily as possible, and did not mention that which
predominated my six years -- medical school, with a heavy concentration in
OB/GYN. She would not be particularly happy to know that she was the
reason I studied that particular subject. Not at all.
I went after that to see the army. I don't think anyone could
have predicted how much I'd miss that! There has been no time in my life
since I reached age nineteen when I have not had an army at my disposal,
except these last six years, and it showed. But, if anything, my time
away doing other things had illustrated that I needed to set up a much
more efficient medical corps than a couple of old leeches and a tent.
Of course, not much had happened to the army in the night we were
away. Dead Oaks was just now getting used to his shoes, and complaining
about stuff getting stuck in the frogs. I tested Hary's skill with the
pick, and had him do Dead Oaks' left back foot, and then I got the right.
Ariana and her kids had come out with us, but when it became evident that
I was going to settle down to some fairly serious drilling and reviewing,
they departed...all but Vincent, who remains, as ever, Iseult's shadow. I
really do wonder what the boy thought when my girl was also a boy.
Probably thought, "Hey, I'm a Vetch, I can change into a girl, if she's
going to be like that." Vetches are as persistent as they are sneaky, I
think. At least, the ones raised by Ariana...
The Queen's funeral was that same day. I knew I had a little time
to take the brood to Middlecourt and meet Mandor before the funeral, so I
did. He seemed a little surprised to see us...but by none was he so
surprised as Isaac, who looks as if he could have simply just budded off
from Gramble. Isaac was equally impressed, I think, to see someone who so
resembled his older brother.
Watching Pax's face when he saw Mandor was a real treasure, as
well. It must be like the first time I saw Jordan, though much more so.
Finally -- the person with your hair and your eyes. The person who looks
like family. They hit it off well. I felt very relieved and happy, all
of a sudden, and knew that coming back to Amber was the right decision.
We went to Kimdyl's funeral, next. It was hard, having said my
farewells to the Queen years ago now. It was hard, also, to see that
Beauty sat with my family, and not with Nicholas. I resolved to Do
Something. And I did. I don't think I'll ever have the latitude to act in
such a high-handed fashion with the King about any subject other than my
daughter. But that's all right. I shouldn't need to.
Suffice it to say, I got them finally to spend some time alone,
while I juggled the infant habits of my grandson. Who was, whether Beauty
married Nicholas or not, the Heir. Amazing...I felt like nothing so much
as Richard III's grandmother -- or was it mother? Neither with power nor
without...but always well remembered by whoever is on the throne.
So well remembered am I in this case, in fact, that I'd been
chosen to plan His Majesty's wedding to my daughter -- with Bartholomew to
It was a punishment, you see...a nice big hint that I shouldn't
overstep my bounds with His Majesty too often. As if I really needed a
warning. I remember very well His Majesty as a child.
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