For Griffin and Stark

      "I've been nothing so much as a spider in the web these past fifty years, waiting for a tremor to tell me something of the hunt for Amber. My theory is that if I lie still enough, Amber will somehow come to me. I have plucked only a few strings, now and again, to listen for the resonance of Something... Something Happening...

      "My brothers come to me, from time to time, and ask for favors. Some have come and remembered who I am, what we are, and sometimes they are a little ashamed. Always they have discounted their sisters, and now they know that they depend on at least two of those who were once callously dismissed as "the girls" to keep hope alive. Llewella is the only other among us who has as much memory and power as I.

      "But most often, my brothers come to me as half the men they once were, gibbering foolish half-truths, or silent as the grave. They crave my favor, seek my aid, and I give it to them, because they were once the greatest men in the universe... brought low in an accident for which there was no avoiding. Could we have done other than what we did? I think not... leaving the universe to the tender mercies of Brand and Chaos would have been no better solution... and those of us who have enough memory know that Amber is safe in Gerard's care; as long as there is breath in his body, Amber still stands.

      "So, my brothers come, to ask for favors... sometimes they come and do not know why. I clean them up, give them food and shelter for a time, choose kind and pretty women from among my populace to remind them what manhood is all about... and I grant them favors. Corwin came once and asked me to hide his sword and Trumps; Random left me the Jewel. And what could I do with these artifacts? To attempt to use them, to even hold onto them, might cost me memories I hold dear.

      "I found a place for them, as I find a place for all things. I journeyed long, my young daughter at my side, to the Giant's Dance. Together, with songs of power, we lured a young giant from the dance, and traded these artifacts of power for his soul, which I locked deep in my dungeons. The only way they can be released is by returning him the soul.

      "This seemed a safe enough place for artifacts, but what of people? I had discovered over time a number of other precious objects my brothers left behind: their children. I understand that men spray their seed indiscriminately, but my goodness, I do think more of them should check back on what might have sprouted...

      "I chose my servants carefully, those that would get to know the children I had discovered and keep an eye on them. For the skittish girl who loved animals, I sent Aedan, the most wise of my young circle. For the boy by the river, I sent Greer, the most active. And for Griffin, I sent my own daughter because I believed she could handle anything that happened.

      "Aedan returned, confident that Stark's mother and brother would be able to get her through just fine; he was afraid of too much interference, lest she lose her place in her world, so he watched from afar. Greer stayed with Saril as his tutor. And my own Light of the Stars.... she never returned to me. She took foolish risks and was killed by an enemy of Griffin's.

      "And now the web is trembling, every which way. I don't know what to do about it; many of the tremors come from strings leading to enemies, and I am frightened to tip my hand. So I think that I will continue, to wait and watch..."

                                    --Embeth, Queen of Faerie