So falls away the geas, and with it my sanity.
I remember the conversation with Mandor. I remember the redness
of his eyes, and the hatred that I felt, and the cold sadness, and now the
madness... I will have his head, some day, and his throne too. This is
no empty threat. He has sown the seeds of his own destruction. I have
enacted genocide and jihad on the sidhe. He shall not be safe from me.
And I whisper these words to the sword by my side. May my oath be as true
as the world is wide...
The Faeries are looking at me. The Tamaryn-Faerie, and the
Foster-Faerie, and the little Harry-Faerie. I'd best settle down. Don't
want to startle the Faeries. Don't even want to kill the Faeries. Save
it all for the albino bastard who sits in state at the end of the
universe. Sit down a bit, Lavender. Let the world stop spinning.
Deep breath. Plant the sword point-first into the floor. Lean
the forehead against the pommel. Breathe again....
All right. What happened?
Foster said, "I know a place. We can go there and have the child
and you'll be back in fighting trim by morning."
And then, after you agreed, you went to visit Mandor. And Mandor
said, "You are my eldest daughter. As such, you have been offered in
marriage to Amber's Crown Prince. These marriages will help ensure that
this time the peace will last for generations, if not more. I hope, while
you are off in Shadow, you will give this some thought... you shall be a
Princess of the Crown when the throne passes to me... you are the fitting
match for Driscoll. Besides that, he loves you..."
Foster loves you more. Foster actually knows you. Foster deals
with the cookie crumbs in bed with good grace, and it is to Foster that
you are handfasted.
Foster is an assassin from a house of assassins. Foster is a
Vetch, and worse, a Faerie, and in any case, Mandor likes him not.
The blood is rushing in my ears. I think the proper term for what
I am now experiencing is "anguish." My head hurts. My chest hurts. My
hands hurt where they are twined around my sword. Angry tears fall from
my eyes, which hurt as well. My throat hurts with held-in screaming.
It went on from there. You looked him in the eyes, and he took
the opening, and drove his wishes into your mind.
I was stupid.
You trusted him.
I was stupid.
You trusted him.
End that cycle. We know that. We know all that.
What happened next?
You went back to Foster. Which is when you asked Tamaryn to place
the geas on you to not think of Driscoll. The most direct route to
subverting Mandor's command for the time being. Then, off to the Shadow.
The longest 9 and 3/4 months of your life. Especially the last thirty-six
hours of it.
I have a son. Haris. Harry. Certainly a descendent of Gerard.
No question. Driscoll will not be adopting him or acknowledging him. He
is Foster's or no one's. Maybe.
I spent eleven months not thinking about Driscoll, and it's caught
up to me, here and now, in not even eleven minutes. I am desperate. I am
suffocating. Thank God I am handfasted to Foster, for I have a year in
which my honor will defeat Mandor's commandment.
And after that year, what?
In a year, Harry will be stumbling through his first steps and
words. And you, Laughter? Will you have to give up your treasured spot
in the only happy family of Amber? There is that in you that longs to
keep Gerard and Felix and Isabeux and Foster and Vivienne close around you
and Harry. It is the thing that fights now with echoes of Mandor's voice.
But Driscoll loves you...
And Eris loves Foster...
And Foster loves Laughter...
And Laughter loves....
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