After realizing that Brand was going to destroy me, I once again
blindly did his bidding. What? You find this hard to believe? Believe
it: there are no limits to the depths to which I can sink. Actually,
though, I had a plan. Perhaps it doesn't sound like a good one to you
now, with all the benefits of hindsight at your disposal, but what could I
do in the circumstances?
Gods, I am so tired! Let me begin from the moment I tumbled
through the Trump into the grass and Brand appeared to berate me. I
failed! Imagine how that feels. I never fail. After all, the price for
failure is death. My quaint provincial boarding school only graduated 10
percent of its students. And in the agony of failure I failed yet again;
to conceal my emotions from Brand. Naked hatred was traded between us. I
knew then that the man would kill me unless...well, unless I could escape.
Unless I changed his mind. What were the choices? Seduce him? Oh right
- like he wouldn't figure that out. Plus I'd have to touch him. Find
help and run like hell from his creepy castle? That looked a lot
I went searching for Rinaldo. Slinky dress and definite
intentions in mind. After all, he may be Brand's son but he has been kind
to me. At least, he has given me information when all around me was
confusion. Perhaps I can persuade him that it is worth saving me. Or
find out what Brand is doing so I can plan and bargain my way to some sort
Rinaldo was most accommodating. The talk was useful as well. But
don't underestimate the emotional comfort of sex. I don't have the
capacity for affection - but I still like to be held when the world is
shaky. There was far too much information, but I drank it in. I'll
figure it out later, if I live that long. This family is like some sort
of evil spider web across a thousand worlds, toying with the universe idly
and destroying the little ants that run across their fingers. Mixed
metaphors, but you can sense my revulsion. And when Rinaldo suggested
that I might be part of this dynasty of tyrants! Suddenly it made sense
and horror...how did Brand know where to find me in a thousand Shadows?
If he had raped my mother, he would certainly guess at my existence. And
I can see him deriving so much pleasure from the torment of his own
daughter. Rinaldo thought not, which is a relief, but still I wonder.
The main purpose of my interrogation was ill served by our discussion.
Apparently only these Amberites can move through Shadow without the cards,
and even if I were of the blood (and I only have a few hints from the
Prince of Lies to suggest it) I would have to find my way to Amber first.
Brand walked in before I could broach the subject of escape. Not
before I could dress. This clothing is useful in so many ways. I did
manage to tell Rinaldo that his father would kill me - and give him some
knowledge of the errands on which I am employed. It disturbed him.
Enough to help me? I don't know. Men tend to be sentimental about the
women they bed.
Brand was scornful enough. He threw me snippets of information
like scraps to the dogs. I bore with him, tried to find out what I
needed, tried to conceal my dislike. All I can do is succeed in this
mission and hope that he lets me live long enough to find a way out. If I
fail, I will die. And his powers are a mystery to me...
He sent me straight into a bedchamber, and somehow reached there
to freeze the guards. Looking back, it seems obvious that I was being set
up. After all, why not come himself if it was so simple? But I think of
him as a coward, so I was not surprised. I killed her. It was easy;
setups usually are. I killed the guards, too, and went looking for Eric.
How better to prove myself a good dog? Should I succeed, Brand would once
again be pleased, and I might rest and run. It wasn't hard to find Eric.
It's not exactly a castle under siege. They're very careless. I knew
there would be alarms raised shortly - having seen the guards go into the
chambers I had quitted in such disorder. And they started at the perfect
time. Eric emerged, alone...such confidence! His health disgusts me. He
dodged two of my poisoned stars, but the third cut him enough that he
should have fallen death-ill within minutes. The man is still damnably
quick - nothing for it but to run, fox-shape and four paws flying.
The Trump didn't work. What the fuck is Brand playing at? It
became clear suddenly. Panting in the dark, it hit me that he wanted me
dead, and he was too much of a coward to do it himself. Or, with what I
know now, had some darker motive...family hate? So this - the perfect
setup. I had no choice. Rinaldo had told me enough that I knew the
Pattern was in the basement. If I could reach it, I could perhaps move
myself through Shadow. God knows how, but I had to try. The gates would
be locked, no normal exits would be open to me now.
The pursuit was easy to elude in this shape, and I made it down
several levels before the fox took up my trail. A dog-fox, larger than I,
faster, and apparently older. No normal animal in this place...but one of
my own? How strange. Is Brand toying with me, yet again? I know the
limits of the fox form well; slipping round a corner I changed and formed
a noose to catch its little head. Obviously a mistake. Waking up bound
to a chair was a pretty clear indication of that.
He was better-looking as a fox.
On the other hand, since he seems to be offering me a chance at
some sort of survival, perhaps I shouldn't be too harsh. Not that I want
my mind meddled with, but it's nice of him to care. Assassin, I believe.
A little honor among thieves? His lady, on the other hand...weapons or
not, she's soft. She hasn't had emotion beaten out of her, that's
obvious. And she's not very fond of assassins. Which is an interesting
dynamic in itself. She must have some sort of powers like Brand's, since
she claims to be able to detect my relationship to this repulsive clan.
But at least I'm not Brand's daughter! The depths of my relief can be
Whatever he said he'd do - this were-fox assassin did hand me over
to the guards. Now it's up to my own cunning, I suppose. I have a few
tricks up my sleeve, and it doesn't hurt to have spent so much time on the
other side of the table.
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