After the sitting with Andrevo, I headed back to my room, my steps heavy. When I arrived, I began to strip off my armor, and had Jackson put together a hot bath. I ordered him out of the room, and retrieved the jewel from my tunic, before stripping my clothes off as well. I hung it on the valet stand with my bedclothes, and lowered myself into the steaming water.
'What have I gotten myself into? What has she gotten me into?' I watched the light shine off the jewel as it twisted on the thin chain. 'I just had to take my mother's place, my grandfather's...and now I am guardian of all Amber. Its fate rests in my hands...our hands, at least. With a tool I can't even wear without killing myself.' I sank into the water and let it cover my head, thinking about it all.
After the water cooled to a lukewarm temperature, I got out, my aching muscles somewhat eased. I pulled my nightshirt over my head, and then, using one of the many bandages in my room, I taped the jewel tightly to my arm, feeling the sharp edges bite into my skin. Satisfied that it could not be moved without waking me, I stumbled to the bed and buried myself in the bearskin upon it, falling into a fitful sleep.
When I awoke in the morning, it was almost dawn. Efficient as always, Jackson had stoked the fire, and laid out my clothes for the day. I slipped them on, and snuck out to the stables, the castle slowly coming alive around me.
As I rode to Arden, I thought about my cousin, my grandmother, my mentor...my queen. How could I not have known? I knew she was an elder, but if anyone had asked me who I thought she was, Callyn would have been at the bottom of my list. When I had entered that room last night, the only thoughts on my mind were to secure my position. The death of a woman I barely knew...it only figured in its consequences, the actions I would have to take, the ideas I would need to protect as they jockeyed for power. Now...my mentor...the one who placed me on this path, was dead, and she had laid upon me an burden I did not know if I could meet.
I barely noticed the effort to pick out a leaf here, a twig there, and soon I was in my Arden, standing next to my destination: Julian's armor, which I had placed there only the week before. I scanned the forest around me, and sensing no one, removed the bandage from my arm, once again staring at the jewel as it reflected the light. I reached up, and lifted the helm off the figure, careful not to lean over to far. Unlike most of my peers, a fall from this horse would be quite painful. I carefully hung the jewel inside, placing it so it hung as a heart for my monument, then placed the helm back on. Checking its appearance one more time, I then rode off into the forest, to lose myself in the pain of practice.
After completing my morning routine, I headed back to the Castle, and took breakfast in my room while writing a message for Jackson to deliver.
I wish to meet with you as soon as possible to discuss the arrangements for Her Majesty's funeral.
Juliette Donaghue Collins
Lady Protector of Amber"