Now, why did someone think I'd be interested in what Ronan's been
up to?  I am, of course, but...why?  If this third party has been paying
attention, they'd know that my status in Amber is strictly ornamental --
ornamental army, ornamental diplomat...  I doubt my army can stand
against, say, the legions of Chaos, and everyone knows I got appointed to
the ambassadorship of Faerie because it looks like I'm some sort of
hard-liner.  LOOKS, I remind you.  Because everyone else knows that as a
genocide, I only killed Shadows.  Not Real People.

	So, someone, somewhere, thought it would be good for me to know
that dear little cousin Ronan is committing sedition.  Possibly even
treason, by this point.  Does he really believe this bullshit?  A
Parliament?  If Amber were a country of any size, I could see the need,
but it's a city.  A big, lovely, wonderful city -- and an easily ruled
city, as long as you pay attention.  It's not Nicholas' fault that there
wasn't much attention paid by the last few kings.  Someone should give the
lad a chance before mouthing off about governmental reformation.

	And, yeah, ornamental as I am, I think I can enforce that.  And if
I can't, I bet Felix can, and would be willing to as well.

	So.  That little rant aside, life in Amber since the children
walked the Pattern has been almost...calm...

	Perhaps it is time to retire into Shadow.  Calms seem to be
followed by storms around here.



	I don't know.  I'm as convinced as I can be that there is nothing
I can do to protect my children except give them the opportunity to
protect themselves.  I don't expect anyone to agree with me, but that is
how I see it, and yes, I do think those that think they can protect their
own are fooling themselves.

	We arrived at early evening, a soft mizzle covering the landscape.
From the front door of the Keep, the barracks and stables were dark
shapes, and it seemed, if I tried hard enough, I could hear the small,
rainy-evening activities of thousands of men.  A vain fancy, of course.  A
brief break in the clouds on the horizon showed a red and vibrant sky.  I
breathed in the scent I can only describe as Irish-army-camp.  I think,
when I looked for this Shadow, it was for that scent as well as anything.
It is the scent, after all, that I define as home.

	Twelve years, I thought, tears welling in my eyes.  Only twelve
more stolen years -- stolen out of time.  When my first three children are
grown, and Isaac and Elspeth almost so, it will be safe to return.  And
when we return, the need for retreating off into the Shadows will be gone.
And I will have to buckle down to my work -- defending Amber, at home or
in distant courts -- and begin to forget the trappings of my childhood.  I
am an adult now, by even my father's standards.

	What a strange way to grow up...

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