I have rarely felt so much impotent rage in all my life.
We stood at the edge of the broken Pattern, watching Beauty, and I
felt what was obviously an imaginary kinship with her, as she assailed the
imperfect Shadow of the very thing I had walked only seven years ago. I
was proud, and a little frightened, and altogether happy that, for good or
ill, she's as real as any Shadow can hope to become.
She gained the center and disappeared.
She did not appear next to us.
That, I think, was the moment that the black bile from my spleen
began to overtake my other humors; perhaps the prejudice against leeching
that I received in higher-tech Shadows hasn't served me well. I chose to
let the anger gnaw slowly at me.
First, I waited an hour. I thought -- "she must be truly
desperate to talk to him, I trust her, I'll let her have an hour." I
looked at Fiona, who was preparing to Trump back to Suhuyways. She had
that look on her face -- "Ah well, what can you expect from a Shadow?"
I don't know which smarted more, Beauty popping away like that, or
When it became evident that Beauty was having Shard block the
Trump, I moved from "intense dissatisfaction" to "rage." The day became
I looked down at my as yet flat belly, and reminded the child in
there that it should be a boy if it knows what's good for it.
Ahab became involved, and I don't even remember how. There was
that faintly pinkish fog around everything for a while, the thing that
indicates to me that I'm *really* angry.
Do not mistake me... I was not simply mad at Beauty. I was mad at
myself, for not understanding Mandor's position when I wanted to marry
Foster. I was also mad at myself for not understanding Beauty's position
better, because it was all too like what I had gone through to marry
That kind of complex irritation is not going to be resolved in one
afternoon. I remember rushing up to the battlements at one point, in
hopes that Clytemnestra was there, and she maybe could scare me back to
sanity, but alas, I ran into Driscoll instead.
That just figures. I was completely incoherent to him, I'm sure.
I went back down to Ahab's meeting room, and, for good or for ill,
took Beauty back to Foil with me. I refused to ask what had happened. I
didn't deserve to know, to some extent, but more so, I didn't want to
know. If I learned her decision was the correct one (not choosing Shard),
and then forgave her, I would never know if I forgave her for the right
reasons. If I learned her decision was the incorrect one (Shard), and
couldn't bring myself to forgive her, I would be exceedingly put out with
myself. Thus, I thought I would not ask until I had myself in hand, and
would forgive her blindly.
Fortunately, when the time came that I could bring myself to ask
her, she had chosen correctly.
But, she informed me, she was not ready to even consider Nicholas
as a suitor.
Fair enough, I told her. Then she proceeded to point out that
being the Crown Prince's wife and the Queen of Foil at the same time would
be rather difficult, didn't I think? I was stunned she was thinking in
Foster and I rode out to the Rath to continue settling into the
place. I have, as yet, less than a hundred men to call "army," but this
is not some slip-shod, recruit-who-you-can operation. I wish to cull the
best from the places I visit, and that will take time. A standing army,
by necessity, must be quality; a group that can stand to stay together for
only the promise of pay and balanced life. The spoils of war may or may
not become available to such as them.
The Rath itself, for which I have named the Shadow, is the
standard sort of ring fort; plenty of trees around, the fortifications are
good, the neighbors distant enough to be friendly.
I rather like the place.
Meander surprised me, in more than one way. The most surprising
part of the conversation was when he asked if we could be friends.
Perhaps I should not be surprised; I suppose there are many in Amber and
Chaos who one should not presume friendship with. But I rather thought
that those of us with more relaxed attitudes about the whole thing --
Ariana, Ahab, Felix, Foster, et al, well, we're all friends, and became so
without stating it explicitly. I hope we are, anyways.
All the same... I wouldn't have thought anyone would ever need to
ask *me*... aren't I rather friendly?
Ultimately, you can take the girl out of the church, but you can't
take the church out of the girl.
I sought out a priest and confessed my sins, sum and total. It
was a relief. While I do not look forward to the mission of penance I owe
to House Vetch, I feel lighter, somehow. Father Pari is extremely
understanding, even if there is something about his eyes that reminds me
of my father... though I don't know what. They aren't the same color at
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