The amethyst and emerald ring is on the floor of the lord's
bedroom. I saw the glint of it out of the corner of my eye when Mother
pulled me through. I am rather inclined to think that my honor lies on
the floor there with it, in a distant Shadow, likely to be swept up with
the dirt in the morning. That floor and that dirt didn't look all that
different than the floor and the dirt I'm staring at now, between my legs.
My legs are encased once again in blue hose, and bottomed by black leather
half boots, but I haven't yet found replacement daggers. And we won't
think about Foster's legs. Not just yet.
I don't want to go over in my mind in agonizing detail how stupid
I was. I didn't think to try my Trumps. I didn't have lynchpins ready
for any event. I didn't even feel threatened. I actually thought that I
would climb that tree and someone friendly would come along and say "Hallo
up there, whatever are you doing in that tree? Come on down and have some
This did not happen.
They shot me down with an arrow and bagged me, like an animal
brought to bay. I thought that this rough treatment would end as soon as
I met their lord, as soon as he saw that I was a person of breeding (or as
I at least caught his eye and convinced him I was), and to be treated
well. I thought he'd say "Lost your way? Too bad. Though you wear cold
iron and are probably a great enemy of our people, you are quite a nice
person, let us help you, after you have some dinner."
This also did not happen.
I never thought of myself as innocent in the ways of the world.
That is why I carry Sequence, after all. Sequence, by its quiet presence
in my sheath, is often enough to see me through some rather treacherous
situations. (Mental note: situations get more volatile when Sequence is
_not_ a quiet presence.) My status is often enough as well. Status, and
those powers granted me by my genetic heritage and the Pattern in my
blood. Or the magics I learned as a child. And failing all these things,
charm. Well, it can be called charm. Clytemnestra calls it "the ability
to laugh at yourself," which doubtless suffices. None of these things
Riftvan, when I met him, said that the na si that I fought were
rather poor examples of the race. I'm beginning to believe that.
A few tears escape. That was bound to happen. I'm more upset
than I think I know. Rape isn't supposed to happen to Amberites, you
know. And neither is amputation of major limbs, I suppose? Well, I've
seen plenty of both. No, actually, I haven't. I've seen plenty of
amputation, I've been in battles aplenty, but I've only ever seen the
after-effects of rape. And probably didn't see them even when I saw
them. Most women in my Shadow dealt with it about like when a cow stepped
on their foot -- cried a bit, screamed a lot, healed up and went on. What
with their husbands dying in my armies, it seemed something less of a
consequence. A few picked up the sword and joined the army themselves and
The only other cases of rape I've seen have ended up in my court
on judgment days, usually when a woman has killed her rapist and the
populace wants to have her tried, but realize that they can't put her
through trial by combat for whatever reason. In between determining how
borders change when a river changes course and how much is a fair profit,
well, I know how I managed to never really think about it.
In any case, I think, if there were no Foster, if I had taken no
lover since Calamus, this would have bothered me less. I would have taken
this to be just one more sign that I am not destined to find happiness in
the company of men. Calamus soured me a lot, after all. Calamus'
look-alike would have merely embittered me, but nothing would have truly
changed. If I had ever slept with a man again before I turned a hundred,
it would have been surprising. And it wouldn't have meant much, really,
living like a nun. Not much at all.
But there is Foster, and there was. I feel like I didn't fight
hard enough. That I failed not only myself, but Foster as well. He's
stroking my hair. He doesn't know. I don't know how I'm going to tell
him. Maybe I won't, except that he's bound to find out if we are together
as long as we both seem to want to be together. I don't want to tell him
forty years from now and have him wonder why. Creating a rift for forty
years down the road in what will be a several thousand year marriage is
not my idea of a good thing.
Not that we're allowed to marry at this point. By the First
Branch, this is foreshadowing itself towards the Romeo and Juliet point.
Or rather, Pyramus and Thisby. If I had been the one to almost die
today... if I had, in fact, died, I would hope that Foster would go on
with his life, marry Eris someday.... Perhaps not likely that last part,
but he wouldn't kill himself... he'd have to suffer the dread fate of
leaving House Vetch then, wouldn't he...
(Just avoid the entirely maudlin, Laughter, thank you.)
I told Mother it was good he didn't have any legs, as I would need
the time. She was appalled, but it's too true... I need time and
vengeance. Vengeance, hot or cold, either dish will do. Time to savor
the toppling and death of the Faerie lord would be just as good as the
immediate satisfaction of killing him. There will be no peace for him
until I bring his life to an end.
What has happened to this life? Have I lived it up 'til now so
poorly that the Unicorn has now decreed an end to happiness? The babe
that grows inside me cannot bear the name of his father, just as I cannot
bear the name of mine. And his father will have no legs when he is born.
And I? How will I react when the child is born? Will I have even the
heart to raise him properly? What I have lost today is perhaps even more
far-reaching and longer-lasting than the loss of Foster's legs, in certain
For I can see no end to it.
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