I am a vengeful, selfish person. Caitt has known this and tried
to cure me of it all my life, but the fact remains that I have bred truer
to my heritage than even my rather idyllic childhood can make up for.
When bad things happen to me, I want revenge. This is perfectly in
character for a daughter of Barimen and Sawall. Not so in character for a
daughter of a village witch.
I think up 'til recently, Foster was blind to my faults. Two
weeks ago, though it seems like this morning, I realized how deeply I hurt
him by attacking him. Which is not fair, dammit. It was he who hurt me;
he has no right to be hurt back when he has been lying to me since the
first day we met. And he also has no right to not understand where I am
coming from when I attack him in the middle of the night. That's not
I was not blind to Foster's faults, either. It just turns out
that they weren't his faults after all. He has a whole other set of
faults that I have to learn to overlook and love him for and in spite of.
Also not fair. However, I think there is no way to satisfy myself on this
front. Hurt Foster for deceiving me -- hurt Foster at all -- and I hurt
myself much more. That's the trouble for being truly selfish.
Occasionally what matters steps on another what-matters' toes.
Anyways, retching into a chamber pot at seven this morning -- only
not this morning, but two weeks ago -- I realized all this, and yet came
to no obvious conclusions. Other than the one that I'd rather be an unwed
mother when it comes down to it. And so, with only the firm belief that
my salvation lies in Alka-Seltzer rather than any emotional relationship I
can forge with anyone at all, I headed out with my cousins to the ends of
the earth to find a shard of a shattered jewel.
We should have known that nothing good could have come of it when
we passed a barrier of that fashion. That membranous feel of passing
through what appears to be empty space is never reassuring. It means you
are passing into a place where someone else rules the sphere of influence,
and if you don't know who that someone is, you'd best prepare for the
worst. Which we did not.
The fight was no battle, just a rout. I could have fought harder,
but for the fact that I'm carrying an extra entity around, and I don't
mean Sequence. (I think Alegra would be a good name. It means "mirth",
which is a fitting name for my daughter, may she be happier than I am...)
A magnificent trap. Sheer numbers can overwhelm even a motley but
well-trained crew of Amberites. They had to have been banking on the fact
that we would split up, though. If we had stuck together, fought back to
back...we might have had more of a chance. A lot more of one. So, our
divisiveness works for the enemy. A tactic that is tried but true.
Anyhow, I was thwarted in my effort to gain the barrier and Trump
for help, and that is that, as they say. Darkness. Waking up. Ahab
patting my face, trying to wake me. He didn't seem himself, but neither
did I. Everyone else was *dead.* Foster, Felix, Driscoll, Ariana and her
unborn child, Shard, Usires, Bart, Rinaldo -- dead. My lover. My
friends. Even an enemy of sorts. All dead. And only Ahab and myself
survived? How? I remembered pieces of it, but they were small. I had a
thing in the back of my head -- a bee in my brain. And a Trump in my
hose. Utter disorientation. But Ahab had the shard.
Their lives were not worth the shard. They never could be.
I gave him the Trump, he who I thought was Ahab, perhaps not
completely himself -- the cynical edge was not as sharp, but I thought
maybe despair had intruded. I didn't know. I have a feeling that this
will not be enough of an excuse when I am questioned, but then again, if I
had not done it of my free will, I would have done it under compulsion
from Ahab-who-is-not-Ahab. Call him Beavis. It's an insult in some
Shadows, and it works for me.
He went through the Trump and left me. I spent a long, lonely
night prowling, looking for clothes and credit, but the spirit was gone
from me. What did it matter? The only thing to live for was the child
inside me. (I can't believe no one likes Beatrice as a name.)
And then he came back, apparently to brag, in some small measure.
Not to brag too much, though. No classic "villain reveals all" scene.
Which would not have been followed up by the classic "cavalry saves the
day" scene, so I suppose it's just as well.
This idiot, who has power cosmic but apparently not the good taste
of Ahab to just not use it, nor the poor taste to actually try and rule
the universe, wants to put Corwin on the throne. It is at this point that
one has to wonder -- if you have all the power in the universe, what could
you possibly do with it? Line us all up and make us dance the can- can?
The universe is no fun if you're god. Too much responsibility, not enough
human interaction. I digress.
Anyways, Beavis is the enemy. It's not Dara (anymore). That's
sort of a relief, because Beavis is not much of a villain. Other than his
anonymity and power to steal bodies that stumble into his sphere of
influence, he has nothing to recommend him as a villain. I mean it's
scary, but once we kill the pod-creature, everything will be OK.
It's bad news when you come through the realm of fear and come out
the other side. It leaves you reckless. Unpredictable to even yourself.
There's no more need for caution because what do you fear? Death?
Mind-control? Rape? Being helpless, powerless? Losing Foster? Losing
Driscoll and Ariana and Felix? I used to. In the abstract, in the bottom
part of my mind, I still fear these things, but I'm coming to believe
again, after all these years, that there is an afterlife. Even if it is
no more than being well-remembered by those who loved you.
There's a small reserve of caution, still, for Beauty and for the
unborn. (Gawain? Gareth, even. No F names. No L names.) I think, if
anything, watching my children die while still alive myself, that of all
things would be my fear. So, my heart has not left me yet.
The small satisfaction of the day is that I dumped the water on
Ahab's body and watched it become a woman. And even better is that I
don't know how to reverse the effects. And even better, I threw up on his
Villains should really have a better sense of the limits of the
protagonists before they embark on their villainy. I certainly would have
guessed that I would be so petty.
He (or she, now), stormed off, not before revealing that my
compatriots were not dead. There was no elation to learn this; I had been
suspecting it since he revealed himself as not Ahab, and once you've
thought a person dead, it's hard to think them back alive. I tried to
look for them, but only succeeded in alarming the police. I got the false
memories removed as well, so instead of sketchy sequences of things
half-remembered, I had only a blank for two whole weeks of my life. I'd
prefer not to think of what could have happened in that time. We'll
assume 'til we can investigate, that the child is OK. (I knew someone
named Raven once. It's not that happy of a name.)
The queasiness was there, so I obtained Alka-Seltzer in the only
fashion I could, not having any credit in this town. Of course the
security cameras caught me. Shooting them out first would have been much
more obvious however.
What proceeded from this was a rather exciting motorcycle chase,
the likes of which I'd prefer not to repeat without a helmet. Then
contact from Ariana. And then a Trump from the same, and then, those who
I thought were dead -- all but Foster. Who they were trying to retrieve.
What horrid things they did to Foster, too. What a nasty
backwater of a Shadow. He's encased in plastic now, much to Gordon's
dismay. (I am rather glad Sequence is not capable of twining itself
around my body.) Beavis has a lot to answer for.
Only Rinaldo seems to have gone missing.
And two weeks of my memory.
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