I'm writing this letter to you because I know you'll never read
it, and if you do, it's not even that big of a deal, but in case I die,
I'd like some sort of document of my last thoughts and feelings left
somewhere for someone to find someday.
I'll start by saying that I'm giving Nicholas, Ahab's son, lessons
Once Foster said to me: "Imagine how you would be if Fiona had
forced you to spend every day of your childhood with paintbrush in hand,
learning Trump inside and out." He was trying to tell me how desperate I
would be to have a second, happy childhood, if I had grown up like he did.
And I'd have to say that my first childhood was happy enough, in that
Caitt loved me, and my siblings and I were an inseparable and loving trio.
But Caitt was always afraid for us, that someone would find out we were
half-Faerie. She used to make Rosemary wear her hair down over her ears,
and when we were a month old or thereabouts, we moved far, far away from
the village where my siblings were born, and she took a job as the
personal witch for the Duke of Oleander and his army. We could ride
almost as soon as we could walk, and we picked up swords and wands soon
thereafter. We were a very serious group of small children. I see some
of us in Nicholas, and in how Foster must have been.
So, it worries me. To see Nicholas like this, and not knowing the
reasons why. In our case, it was paranoia through our early childhood
from Caitt. In Foster's, a long time of conditioning to disregard life.
And here I am teaching Nicholas how to kill, and worse, trying to give him
even more self-discipline. The lessons are frighteningly intense and
serious. I don't know how to introduce the aspect of humor in them.
Perhaps Foster will have a notion.
As to my own son, he's too young to think of anything other than
food and dry diapers. I wonder how he's taking to formula, and how much
time is passing in Amber. Because, yes, once again, we're off in Shadow,
looking for something the Elders deem important, but not important enough
to seek for themselves. Perhaps Random thought tracking the rest of the
Jewel down would be a mere formality, but who are we kidding? When you're
going to someplace called "The Plane of Magic," you are unlikely to be
confronting just your average Shadows.
I get ahead of myself.
I was still relating my apprehension over Nicholas. Well, I'm
mostly done relating it, but I wanted to get back to where I left off, so
I can tell you about who we have in our basement. OK, it's a dungeon, but
basement sounds better.
His name is Arthur, and he's caused all kinds of problems for
those of us with Pattern blood, but I won't specify why, because that
would be a breach in security, even though you're my father, and I'm
technically going to be one of your subjects when I'm actually part of
House Bances. Suffice it to say, he's done some rotten things, but they
all supposedly boil down to the fact that he went insane from walking the
Pattern at age 8. Fiona apparently "fixed" him. Uh-huh. Ahab, who
suffered more than most at the fellow's hands, wants him dead, regardless
of the fact that he's "fixed" -- i.e., no longer a threat to Amber. Ahab
want to kill him as an object lesson to all the rest of our enemies. It
makes sense, but I don't totally see the point, since it just gives our
enemies a marker -- you have to be more powerful than Arthur -- see, they
killed him -- but as powerful as Sand -- see, they left her alive, even
though she's mostly incapacitated -- if you want to make a move on Amber.
Mental shrug. It's Ahab. If he wants to kill someone in our
family and set off a cheery little vendetta cycle, I guess we can't stop
him. I'd rather not think about the logistics of it, and am leaving it in
everyone else's hands. I offered my alternative to Ahab. He didn't like
the idea of having Arthur in his service, because he'd just put Arthur in
danger duty, and get him killed, ASAP. But if he could be made to follow
the rules we use for indentured servitude in Foil, it would be all right.
I know my solution is fair because it pisses everyone off. And if I were
in charge of Amber, I'd force the issue, but I'm not, so I just stand back
and let the others duke it out.
Anyways, that's the closest thing we've got to hub-bub in Amber
right now. I'm sure Emer will enjoy watching over it all some day. Yes,
that was sarcasm. Sorry. I'd almost say that none of your daughters
deserve to be the future Queen of Amber, but I know how you view the
I spent the rest of the day with my family. Hary is a very good
child, and Foster is a very good father. And Felix is a very good
grandfather. I know I'm not marrying into a particularly
important/powerful section of the family, but they are the best -- the
kindest and the bravest, the most honest and the least screwed up.
Granted, Foster has a ways to go before he can leave all Vetch-ness behind
him, but between his father and grandparents, I think it will all work
out. I'm glad you no longer object to the marriage. I'm looking forward
to the day it happens, for many reasons...
The only thing to worry about is Felix. I don't think he should
marry Tamaryn, as nice a woman as she is. He needs someone who makes him
smile. I've only ever seen him frown and worry when he thinks of her. It
would be too much like what would happen to me if I were to marry
Well, anyways, we of the younger generation were rounded up to
find the Jewel. Yes, indeed, let's find the thing and turn the Pattern
back on! I'm sick to death of relying on Trump that functions only in
half the universe, and Logrus that comes from other people. And the
Jewel's location is -- the Plane of Magic! The residents call it the
Alex (yes, your ambassador, Alex), Logrused us in, and someone
refracted us at the door. I woke up under a warm blanket to the sound of
a lute playing, my armor and Sequence near, and my companions far afield.
Opening my eyes and sitting up, I saw a shade of Corwin near. His name is
Meander, and he is blind. He is not all that close a Shadow, as far as I
can tell, except for the musical abilities. He said he found me lying in
the road, and decided to take care of me. Awfully kind. Sometimes
Shadows teach us much about how poorly we generally behave. He prepared
food, and I ate, hugely and gladly. Trumps did not work, I found.
It came out in our conversation that he has dreamed of us -- we of
Amber. How, I do not know, but he seems to be quite sensitive and very
perceptive of the things that go on around him. Frighteningly like Vialle
in some ways. I know it's not a symptom of being blind, so I wonder what
He heard his pursuers coming, long before I did. I readied myself
for battle, but managed to take them all out with magic -- what is a spark
in other lands is a roaring fire here. Sequence was disappointed, and
perhaps I was as well, but not too much. It felt good to so far outclass
someone once again -- a reminder of my genocidal youth, both good and bad.
It put me in a curious mood for the remainder of the day. I questioned
one of the men I treed, found the dirt on who sent him and why, and then
convinced him he was just plain wrong in thinking like that. Meander was
impressed by my abilities. Nothing like a little ego-boost. Forgive me
if I refrained from telling him about the abilities of my parents, and how
mine pale in comparison.
Meander and I departed for Tallfellows, an inn where we could
possibly pick up information on my missing companions. Then, as we were
walking along, he stopped, and went to talk to a tree. A truly kindred
spirit! Apparently Ahab had fallen in with some who knew the tree
communication system that exists here. Imagine my delight when I found
that not only can you speak through them, but that they function as Trump
in the way of transportation as well. I think I'm going to retire to this
place in my old age.
Ahab had fallen in with a centaur and a Faerie. The Faerie was
abrasively amusing, and the centaur amazing to me. I watched his every
move in fascination. His name is Looks Twice, and they really should make
centaur-accessible ramps for public inns, but alas, they do not. In any
case, we all moved in the general direction of Tall Fellows, by tree and
then by foot, and discussed the reign of the evil King Cedric, who is not
only a demon-worshiper, but the son of Satan. I have to wonder about this
variation of Shadow -- my sword is demon-forged, after all, and
associations with the demons of Chaos doesn't seem to blacken anyone's
soul. While I was raised both Catholic and Druidic, demons and the pits
of hell were kind of secondary to everything. Everyone always knew our
real enemies were the na siogai. The things that could happen to you for
straying across the borders were far worse than that which could happen to
you if you didn't obey the priests.
In any case, we eventually caught up with Ariana, who was
accompanying a witch and a talking rabbit. At this point, things began to
feel a little silly. It just declined from there. Felix showed up,
smeared with feces and carrying an indescribable creature on his back
disguised as a hump, and Hickory (the Faerie-sprite) picked him up and
dumped him in the river at Ahab's request. Felix was displeased, but we
continued on to Tallfellows, where we found Bartholomew and Usires.
Query, Father: are Jesbys naturally sulky and antisocial? But he found
Foster, and Driscoll as well, so I am grateful for that.
Foster was merely wandering around the town that Felix had
departed in his clever, if smelly, disguise. Hickory brought him back to
us. I think that I deal well with separation from Foster most of the
time, unless it is brought about unexpectedly. So many awful things kept
happening to us both every time someone out there conspired to thwart our
plans in some fashion -- it all started with Foster getting his legs
bitten off by a dragon, and me nearly being raped by Chameleon, and it
basically went from there, bad thing after bad thing. This last thing,
though, seems to have gone relatively smoothly, in spite of my anxiety.
The only other thing worthy of relating to you is the fact that
Driscoll is still not with us, being held for sale on the morrow by
slavers in the city. I'm all for killing slavers -- indentured servitude
is one thing, but slavery is quite another. Perhaps this makes sense only
to me. So many things do. At any rate, Ariana is acquiring gold --
platinum, actually, for us, and we are going to buy him back. While I
think this may be beneath the dignity of the Crown Prince of Amber (to be
sold by Shadows and bought by his future subjects), we have been warned
that we definitively do not wish to be taken prisoner by the city guards.
Which makes me think we should ask our companions about teleportation --
if they can do it, and we can get one of them near enough Driscoll, it
would be for the best. However, I suppose in a place as rife with magic
as this, the wards they have doubtless placed around him would be too
powerful. I really do wish you or Mother were here. I shall have to see
what Foster, Bart and I may be able to do in conjunction, as the only
sorcerers currently with our party. Though mine is only Faerie magic. I
remind myself now about your suggestion to learn real sorcery. I am
quickly rethinking my stance on that. As I do on most of your
suggestions. You were right about me not marrying Foster 'til after he
left Vetch, after all. While I might find some accord in the goals and
(some) stratagems of the house, I do not want my son forced into becoming
In any case, darkness is falling -- I'm not tired at all. Only a
few hours have passed for me since I woke up this morning in Amber, and I
spent many of those hours unconscious. I worry about Haris, but his
grandmother is an able protector. I worry about Driscoll -- only as his
future subject and future sister, you understand. As to worrying for our
party, I don't think we'll come to too much harm here, unless we are very
careless. I do worry a little more about those without sorcery, but
perhaps I should worry less, since it is the sorcerers who would be
burned. And finally, as to worrying for myself -- there is a gnawing
feeling I have about something Hickory said, about me looking familiar to
him. Yes. This worries me. I can write it off to reflections from the
Pattern -- heaven knows it's happened before. It's a little disturbing
because the way Hickory seems to recognize me without placing me is too,
too much like the way Driscoll first recognized me.
I think I will go now and see what kinds of stories that centaurs
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