An ancient forest, with only the faintest echoes of the Fair Folk
who used to live among them; a tumbling brook and a snug cottage and my
true love beneath the trees. The most pleasant two weeks I have passed in
years. No one to bother us; everyone in the universe respecting the
sanctity of the honeymoon.
For a time.
Let's travel back in time a little, shall we? To the wedding
reception -- my wedding reception. Or before. Back to the receiving line
in the Grove of the Unicorn, with Ariana discreetly pulling bits of moss
from my hair, and my friends and relatives, as well as a host of people
I'm just as pleased not to know, walking past, shaking hands, kissing
Oberon came past, smiling almost good-naturedly, his teeth whiter
than life. I gave him my hand, not because I wanted his blessings, but
because I'm a good Celt, and embrace the path I have chosen. I felt the
pulse, and fancied it traveled to my womb.
"What was that?"
"I've already had 36 hours of blessing, thanks."
He smiled, enigmatically, and I thought back to the cards I had
thrown the night before. Outcome: the Ace of Swords. "A birth of
Well, it saved me from walking the Pattern.
The stars spread gloriously above us as we paraded back to the
castle, into a room decorated with blue roses and the occasional sprig of
Foster and I opened the dancing. I don't remember much of that,
still in something of a daze, I suppose. I remember lots of strings in
the orchestra, and thinking that Gordon filled out Foster's pants nicely
where Foster didn't fill them out himself. Like I said, dazed...
The next dance was supposed to be with Gerard, but Driscoll ran an
interception, and suddenly, there I was dancing the second dance with the
ex-Crown Prince of Amber, who I was, as I recall, still extremely furious
with. I believe I was somewhat cold and aloof, and asked him if he dared
come within three feet of me.
"Now that you are lost to me, we can be friends," he said with a
small quirk to his grin.
That got a feeble smile out of me, and from there, we were a
little easier with each other. He told me that he was going to Lazarus
for some time, to help Eris catch up with her cousins, to deal with his
other daughter, and to, presumably, forget me. I don't think I'm being
self-centered when I say that. And, I'm fairly sure that he will have
forgotten me by next week, at the rate Lazarus goes...
Hm. He's rather depressive. Emer is either going to have to fix
that, or Pops is going to need to look elsewhere for my sister's husband.
In any case, dancing continued, as my erstwhile father took me for
a turn out on the floor. We talked of inconsequentials, and of
shapeshifting, but he said something that warmed my heart, in that he was
"growing fond" of my mother.
This can only turn out for the best. By the time they're
completely in love, I bet they rule the universe.
I was quite blissfully enjoying my wedding until Felix pointed out
that Vetch's presence earlier didn't bode well for the disappearance of
Oberon and three of my uncles.
I became significantly less blissful.
At least dinner was elegant and scrumptious, or what little I got,
with everyone banging on the tables and plates like the largest group of
heathens I've ever seen. Foster always obliged them, and me with him.
Several tangos later, I had determined to meet my fate with open
eyes and a brave heart and an apology on my tongue to whoever would demand
it from me for having killed the King.
After assuring myself that Beauty would be spending my honeymoon
in Suhuyways with Haris and Fiona and Suhuy, Foster and I departed, to an
idyllic, faintly Faerie Shadow. And what happened there, I don't have to
tell you about.
I was just about to talk Foster into staying for another two
(subjective) weeks, when Felix Trumped us. We were dragged through,
reluctantly, to a stuffy infirmary, where the centerpiece was a dying
king. My heart sank. I really had done it. Felix looked disappointed in
me, and I tried not to say too much. I don't remember who did it -- who
brought Fiona in, but I remember thinking it was very important that she
freeze Oberon. The infirmary ebbed and flowed with people. Meander at
some point explained what had happened, when Ahab came in, looking smart
and military with short hair, and demanded explanations. Vetch's name
didn't come up, but Dara's did, and if anyone works for anyone -- it's NOT
Vetch for Dara. I began to breathe again. I was happy to see Meander, I
recall, as Foster and I Trumped out to see to Beauty and Haris.
Harry had apparently not realized he was weaned by my being in
Shadow for two weeks, but that will be explained to him. I was just
getting reacquainted with my blue-eyed son when Ariana Trumped me. She
had orders from Ahab to go find Driscoll, and needed my Trump of Lazarus.
And, did I know of anyplace where she could snatch a few hours of sleep?
I knew, but I didn't *own* those places, so I said no. Foster was willing
to share. He sent her to where Harry was born. She came back in ten
minutes, looking quite a bit better than when I had found her passed out
on the infirmary floor, having exhausted herself in trying to heal Oberon.
We went with Ariana. Ironclaw's head rose majestically to sniff
us when we Trumped in. Foster didn't take it gracefully at all. Ariana
Trumped Driscoll and filled him in, and as we waited, she questioned
Ironclaw about Mercury, of all things.
Eris and Driscoll showed up a little later. Driscoll looked
relaxed, even pleased to see me. Eris was quite beautiful and quite
grown-up, and was wearing some kick-ass armor. If it's anyone's turn to
be jealous... I smiled at them both, and we turned our attentions to
Amber, where we were told to meet, en famile, with the new king, in two
hours. And that new king being Ahab.
Having accidentally ended up on a throne myself, albeit a Shadow
throne, I find myself very interested in watching the events of the next
year, but am frightened to participate. I know how many people die when
you're trying to secure a throne. I know how loyalty to the country
supersedes loyalty to friends. But while I am wary, I can't help but feel
my heart lift -- this is our time; our generation has come into its own,
with Ahab on the throne. I can't help but get caught up in the
excitement, and the hope that something of a new age has dawned in Amber.
Here's to new beginnings all the way around...
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