So. Christoph. A stalking horse? A true innocent? He's led me into this mummer's dance either with great finesse or sincere bumblingness. I can't tell, and that is what worries me.
He gets flustered, I've seen that. But he can be so cold, so stony and remote-- he doesn't rise above the complications of his family-- our family-- so much as sink beneath them, let them wash over him, and remain unchanged. A rock at the bottom of the sea.
Deirdre's child. She, too, was an enigma, according to all the stories. Pops admired her, but I think that's because her axe was bigger than his.
And here I am, in bed with the guy. It's just sex, as they say-- and it's not the first time for either of us, so why am I getting all mushy about it? Why does it bother me so much that it is just sex? I suppose it's my ego getting in the way; I've never been casual for very long, before my lover goes gonzo and starts obsessing over me, and I have to end it. Here, there's no sign of that-- no hint of infatuation, no moments of indiscretion where all of his secrets spill out, no point where his competetive nature gets the best of him and he has to prove something to me...
I'm getting a little frustrated.
And then, there's the fact that I'm being followed everywhere I go. The littlest Amberite, Brianna, the one with the crush on Christoph, thinks she's being very sneaky, and that I don't know that she's shadowing me. I can't even laugh how pathetic it is, because it's just so damn annoying. I'm not precisely adored around here, even though my hosts and I have so much in common, at least regarding our mutual hatred of one Dalt son of Deela. I'm really quite surprised they haven't take the sword away from me. I found it in their castle, after all. But a little mental scarring when Benedict's whelp decided to sift through the sands of my mind, and well, thank you, you may own a Pattern sword? A priceless object of legend is all yours because you couldn't resist rape?
I walk around the castle like a ticking bomb, prowling for information, and there's so little to be had that's of any use. The Knights of the Unicorn are too few to win the coming war, I can see that, but there's a standing army I have not been allowed out of the castle to see, so I have some doubts as to how much they need me. The Regent, when I make appointments with him, gives me dry sherry and talks haltingly in Old Thari, then thanks me for my tutelage and pushes me out the door. I can tell even less about him than I can about Christoph-- is it a clever act, or is he really that clueless?
The one time I managed to corner Benedict, he merely growled out one syllable answers to my questions. "Does Amber want to negotiate a contract with me?" "Yes."-- and that's all. Does no one here know how negotiate?
At least there is Reckoning. Lirandel. She's a beauty, she is, slender and sharp, the faintest of traceries on her blade-- traceries that glow when the Pattern is near. She's almost worth all of this. Rafael would love her; I can just imagine how his eyes would ignite were he to see her, this creature of Oberon the Great's making. His hand would tremble as he took her from me, and he'd murmur his poetry, made from mad visions, about blazing swords... Ah, Rafael.
For a moment, I'm terribly sad. Nostalgic, even. The good old days, as they say. Youthful, impassioned, intense-- we were all so alive, we didn't know responsibility and yet we practiced it. "We are the good people," we told each other. "We have an obligation to the rest of the world. We must become the best we can be." Every one of us studied so hard, Ricca, Jalin, Drew, Lina, Rafe and me... all of it was pleasure, so intense it felt like pain, or perhaps it was the other way around. The brief, golden moments of rest in Rafe's mother's house... what was it called? The Willows. A pretty cottage on the River, shaded by willow trees. Golden light showered the house on summer afternoons. We floated down the River in little boats, and swam up it, towing them after us. We drank elderberry wine. The days were long. There was a beautifully written poem about the willows, framed and hung in the drawing room, about how the willows bent their branches to the ground to touch their roots. Rafael is a poet because his mother is...
What's this, a tear of regret? Or is it just a tear of silly, sentimental remembrance? Who knows... The truth of the matter is that it is in the past, and I miss it.