There really is nothing quite like being hit over the head with a
hammer shaped like your own incompetence.  I do not regret losing the toe,
as I would not have regretted (over- much) losing my foot, to those foul
bastards, who not only humiliated a man that I would die for, if it came
down to it, but did such horrid things to another man (a centaur, not a
man, but still).  It just makes the death I'll rain down on them at some
later date all the more sweet.  (I've gotta stop swearing revenge on
people.  It's eating into my retirement.)

	OK.  From the beginning:

	Born in Amber to a mother who couldn't keep me around, because I
would have inconvenienced her plans to take over the universe, deposited
in Shadow accidentally by an uncle who tried to play with the Black Road,
and embroiled in Shadow politics and religious prophecy from the day I
arrived, I don't think my Fa'il, my destiny, is turbulence-free.  Add to
this a tendency towards extreme bad luck with men.  Not actually bad luck
for me, but they don't seem to come out all right, do they?  Calamus lost
his head, Foster lost his legs, Shard lost his humanity, and Driscoll
lost...his heart?  Well, that was his own stupidity, but anyways.  (I can
only hope the curse falls smack dab into the middle of Chameleon's lap. 
And I would guess it has.  I'm a Baroness in his house now.  He'll rue

	Anyways, I've gotten ahead of myself.  There was a prophecy, and
we were raised to avoid it, and in being raised that way, it came and
hunted us down.  I ended up the queen of that land.  And my crown, set
with a few small amethysts, but for the most part a simple gold circle,
sits in a vault in a Shadow far away.  Why did I ever bother with a crown? 
I was nothing more than a glorified military dictator, kept on the throne
of Foil not because of my efficient bureaucracy, my stunning attention to
detail, or my amazing feats of diplomacy, but because I had the biggest
sword (metaphorically).  I know that.  I've always known that, but I never
admitted it.  Lavender, Queen and General.  Pish.  I hate Lavender.  She's
always trying to be more than she is, which is just Laughter, Girl With
Sword.  (Must remember to apologize to Ariana for my outburst regarding my

	So.  The Faerie wars are over.  The last, best thing I can do for
the Shadow which raised me, is to negotiate a lasting peace with the na
siogai, and turn the throne over to someone else.  Which was always a goal
in the back of my mind, but I thought I would wait, 'til the population
came back up, and there was actually someone young and strong and eager to
take the job.  And I probably still should wait, but I could probably,
with little difficulty, convince my mother to speed the Shadow up, and
make the waiting that much easier.

	This is where I stand:

	I stand on a flat disc called the primal plane of magic, and there
is some ridiculous menagerie of animals holding me and everyone else up. 
I also stand at a place halfway between Chaos and Amber, between an albino
Crown Prince that I fear only slightly more than a grandfather I've never
met.  Fortunately, there's a seventy-year-old ex-Logrus Master, with
artificial legs and eyes that don't match, standing here as well.  I stand
hesitantly.  Not really knowing what I think about things like morals,
ethics, scruples, laws, justice and obligation.  All I really know is

	I am an idiot.

	In the past month of Amber time, we have been invaded, and I have
had my daughter kidnapped, and I have birthed a son, and I have been
engaged, unengaged, handfasted and engaged again to Foster.  I have come
upon two new titles almost unaware, sworn to kill my father (and then
unsworn), and nearly been raped.  And I have come upon a side to myself
that was sitting quietly by, watching things, and now wishes to act.

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