Saturday, September 1, 2007

Hubris and Aftermath

When I awoke, I saw Samba standing in the room, wielding my old leg like a rapier. I watched him through half-opened eyes as tried to balance it on his head, failing and catching it on its way down. I looked own at my body. I seemed to be whole, with no scars. I saw the jewel sitting under the cloth where I had left it. Finally, I smiled and opened my eyes. "You know, some dignity would be appreciated."
Samba snorted in surprise, and dropped the leg on the floor. "Sorry." He stretched an arm out to drag a chair near the bed, and sat, placing the leg upright and folding his arms on it. I reached out and grabbed the jewel, placing on the bed next to me. Samba spoke up as I moved. "You didn't tell me how easy it would be. Hey, I put it back, don't worry."
Easy? "How easy? I suppose I'm glad it was."
"I didn't fix your body. I removed switch?"
"Off switch?"
"I still can't figure it out. But I've been thinking. Have you ever been to a place called 'Earth'?"
"Maybe, or someplace similar. I've heard about it before. But it's hard to ask people what shadow you're in, you know?"
"Yeah, I hear you. Have you ever heard of some sickly person losing a limb and being fine?"
I sat up in the bed. "Not that I know of."
"Have you ever heard of some sickly person walking the Pattern and surviving?"
"Well, no."
"Don't feel bad, it didn't occur to me until I actually tried changing you."
I smiled. "Well, except one."
"We still have, like, days until the, uh confrontation."
"Say your body was a car..."
I interrupted him. "I want to get the other part of this plan done, and then lay low. I don't want anyone to know just yet."
"I want to explain."
If he insisted. "Ok."
"You'll feel better. Say your leg was the keys. During the...mishap, you lost them. But they were still there. I found them and returned them to you, instead of remaking your car, which is what I planned. That's it, really. I just wanted to be smug."
I still had no idea, except that there was some kind of 'switch' that had been turned off in me. I would need to look into that. "Except, I never had the key to begin with." I smiled. "Feel free to be as smug as you want."
"Oh yeah. Only cuz. This wasn't a me thing. I brought the paint, you were the nicely gessoed canvas. And you're right, this is less climactic than I imagined. However, you said we should get the second part done, correct?"
"I think we should, before someone tries to stop us." And if they found out, they would.
"Good idea." I stepped out of the bed, and walked over to get dressed. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that Samba had turned his head. One wouldn't think he was so modest if they didn't know him.
"I didn't toy with this as much as I pretended," Samba waved the leg, "so I didn't check to see if there was anything hidden in there. Like, gunwise."
"There isn't, unless it was there to start with."
"Did you want my full medical report while you're changing?"
"That would be good. And, while I'll almost afraid to ask, do you think it's permanent?" I hoped it was.
"Well. I'm pretty sure it is. My only test would have involved, well, really, really old, dead Fremen."
"I suppose I can only enjoy it while I have it, right?"
"My hope is no. But, it was much easier than I expected." I dressed in long pants, and a long-sleeved tunic, and put the jewel on under the tunic. It was still draining, but not nearly as much at it had been before. "Drain on the body, in Doctor Igari's opinion, is regards to resistance to damage and personal healing, you had the former, not the latter. By the way...I couldn't help but give your wedding present early."
I smiled. "I couldn't ask for anything else from you."
"Hey, if you happen to hit a fly run while playing a kick-ass game of base-ya know what, that's a shitty analogy. But yeah, it happened." I smiled, blushing. "Can I turn around now?"
"I know what you mean. And yes." I finished getting ready, strapping on my pair of lasguns, my sword, and grabbed my trump deck, and the key to the pattern room. I also grabbed the pin box, for later.
Samba spoke up. "You should try walking with the jewel."
"It's fine."
"Oh...shit...uh..." He handed me my Amber trump.
Why had he used it? "Thanks."
"You sleep like a baby." Perhaps with a little help?
"We're going to need it. Well, now I can afford not to."
He smiled. "I really hope this works, Julie."
"So do I, but even if it doesn't..." I walked over and gave him a huge hug. It was like a dream.. "Thank you."
He smiled. "Hey, if it doesn't, there's always round two. Pattern willing. And Siobhan willing, too."
He had to bring her up. I snorted. "Let's go."
"Ya think she'd let you walk the pattern with that?"
I'm sure she wants to maintain her jewel monopoly. "I don't think I'm going to ask."
"Perhaps we should prepare for a 'no.'" He tried to crack his neck, but didn't. "Well, hrm, okay, ready."
"What, do you think I need *more* guns?"
"Would that be possible?"
"Although, let's at least try to act normal." I smiled. "Yes."
"Oh, I should probably not bring this in, huh?" He waved the leg.
"Leave it here, you can get it later if you want." He could have it if I didn't need it anymore.
He set it down gently on the bed. "Enh, I've dealt with your limbs enough." He smiled.
I winked at him. "Ready?"
He gave me a thumbs up. "Ready!" I pulled out the card for Amber, and we went through. Once there, we head towards the pattern room. Where we were met by Fionn and Siobhan. Oh shit.
Siobhan spoke as soon as she saw us. "Masamba Igare, did we not just explain this to you?" What?
He snorted. "To me, yeah."
I stood there, watching them, until Siobhan turned to me. "Then for your sake Juliette, no one goes to the pattern with the jewel before the coronation."
I studied them, sizing them up. Samba muttered to me. "Your call, Juliette."
I could take them in a duel, but the hallways were narrow, and Fionn would probably get his hands on me. It wasn't going to work if it was just him, much less whatever Siobhan could do. "You will try to stop me if I try?"
She answered. "I will do more than try."
For now, I was finished. "I suppose, for now then, I am checked." Samba nodded to me. I suspected Siobhan and Fionn wanted to talk to me, and I could at least shield Samba from part of it. "Masamba, I think we need to have a small...discussion."
"Perhaps you can give us some time?"
" or Siobhan?" I nodded to Fionn and Siobhan. "Alright." Samba bowed, and began to walk away.
I turned to Fionn and Siobhan. "Should we retire somewhere more...comfortable?"
Siobhan spoke for both of them. "If you wish."
"I will be more than happy to discuss family business with you here, if that's what you want." I wanted to find out about this "off switch." And I might still decide I wanted to try and be Queen. Now, I had the possibility.
"I am merely here to keep you from walking to the pattern, if you wish to retire to somewhere to discuss family business than lead the way."
I led them to my sitting room, and indicated chairs they could use, although I couldn't sit right now. Neither chose to sit. "I do not know of any others of our family living? Are there?"
"Not that I'm aware."
He answered as well. "I don't think so."
I snorted. "I am considering whether or not to throw my hat in the ring."
Fionn snorted, "I was the one not waiting for suppo--"
Siobhan waves her hand at him. "That is neither here nor there for why I stopped you. The jewel is not a bauble to be passed around the royal family, its secrets are for the ruler and those they choose." Perhaps she forgot how I got it to begin with.
"I didn't think it was, the two are only peripherally related. But it affects our participation in the competition, and I thought I would give you time to think."
"If you wish to prove yourself best to rule..." Fionn snorted. "...then make your path as you choose, but I think you're getting ahead of yourself."
"Getting ahead of myself?"
"What are you going to do if you become queen? Will yo do as Callyn and lead us through war after war as she tries to establish herself? What will you do when one of your cousins stands against you? Do you expect the likes of Rose or Joan to stand with you if they disagree with you?" I thought as she spoke. "When I spoke of your ability, I said you would have done better if you started the training long ago, instead of arms, not that you were ready now. What do you know in life beside harshness and battle? Are those the qualities you want in a leader?"
As if she didn't, in some way, bear responsibility for that. No one came after me when I left. "I think you would be surprised at what I have learned since I returned. But I have not made my decision yet, as it is. I will think on your words, as they are" I sighed in frustration. "Good. But I wasn't going to debate that now, I merely wished to inform you. I did have some questions, though, which I think only one of you can answer. Most likely you, Aunt Siobhan."
"I understand you must make the choice that follows your path, much as Fionn, must make his own way. I've always tried to be open for your questions."
Fionn spoke up, "I guess you mean for me to leave."
"Did anything unusual happen when I was born, or while my mother was pregnant?" I turned to Fionn. "You don't need to, I just don't think you would know the answers I seek."
"Not that I'm aware."
"Was I always...sick? Even from birth?"
"To call you sick is to be mean. You had more than your share of ailments, but you're not the only one in our family to be sick while young. Each of our Families is different."
"So I'm not...unique, I'm just the only one who did something in spite of it? And, please, do not soften your answers in order to shield me in some way."
"When you were a child, you would shy away from the fire because it would burn you, and you would be scarred. I do not know what happened when you left, but when you returned you would thrust your hand into the fire daring it to scar you so you could prove you could fix it. Most with a weak constitution would have turned to magic or sorcery, you turned to the sword. I would say that makes you unique."
"I wanted what was mine. Do you know of anyone who would have known my parents better?"
"I'm afraid not, only my mother."
Another dead end. "Unfortunately, I think if she had known the answers I seek, she would have told me."
"I don't think there are answers for what you seek. Why aren't you taller, or blonde? You are what you are."
"You are what you are, short, stubborn and redheaded. Another damn Donaghue. I"m going to get something to eat." After his outburst, Fionn walked out of the room.
"Good Evening, Fionn."
He snorted, "Good Evening," back at me as he left.
I turned back to Siobhan. "Thank you for your time, Siobhan. I do have one last...request. You know more of the jewel than anyone else I know of. If I merely hold it, instead of wearing it, while walking the pattern, will it be sufficient to prevent...attunement? I still have a need to do so."
"You can walk with it, without attuning it, but only under my watchful eye, I'll not have trickery under my watch."
"I am more than happy to do so. If I really meant to trick you, would I have asked?" I smiled.
"Possibly. May I ask where you wish to go?"
"I'm not sure yet. It is the act I wish to undergo."
"Then allow me to help, sit with me, and let me show you the guidance of the pattern."
"Thank you."
"Remove the jewel and place it somewhere not easily accessible like a pocket or under some clothing." She sat cross-legged and held out her hands. I removed the jewel as she instructed, and sat across from her, placing my hands in hers. "Picture the pattern in your mind as clearly as you can." I began to picture it as she instructed, seeing the blue glow of it's lines in my mind. "Now do not move, but walk that pattern, retrace your steps from your previous trips, remember each step and how each one feels." I followed her instructions, although I wasn't sure how exactly this would be the I was different now. So far, it seemed to be the same, and then I started to sweat. Something was wrong. I began to feel hotter and hotter, like I was on fire. I stopped. As if she were standing next to me, Siobhan pushed me forward. "Stop and you'll never start again. You have the influence of chaos about you. This is going to hurt. I'll not let you falter, walk." I tried to scream out that I didn't want to, I didn't want this *taint* removed from me. Damn it, I wanted to keep it! "You cant stop moving once its begun, or you'll die. Move." She kept pushing me forward. I said something I would probably later come to regret, but moved forward, slowly, taking each agonizing step as the fire burned through me. "The pattern is in your mind and your soul, as much as in that dungeon, here or there this would have happened. This is not my doing." Slowly but surely I made my way to the center, my anger and my tears mixing inside me. I wanted to blame rail at her for causing this, for taking it away. "You've done it, with help you'll learn to do it on your own. You've walked the pattern in your own mind. You've been restored to your form. Go now somewhere safe and rest. I'll be here if you need me."
But it wasn't her fault. It was mine. Foolishness. Hubris to think that I would be something I wasn't. To become more than what I was. A pipe best forgotten. "Then you would never have been able to walk the pattern again. You need rest, you don't look well. At least come somewhere safe with me, if not on your own."
I followed her, numbly, too tired to care, not just in body but in soul as well. There was a moment of disorientation and then we were in the amber kitchen. Fionn seemed ready and quickly scooped me up. "Take her to an alter room and post a guard so she can sleep peacefully." He nodded, and took me to a cot next to a pattern alter, then left to let me sleep. As I lay there, motionless on the cot, I could hear the posting of the guards, and the scratch of claws as several cats snuck into the room. I smiled half-heartedly at them. Agnes. I felt a trump contact, once, twice, then three times. Andrevo? on the third, I accepted.
It was Agnes instead. Apparently she had found our code...not that it was particularly hard. "What's wrong dear?"
"Tell him to come take me away. I don't want to be here right now." I couldn't face them right now, not after what I had done.
"I can try and contact him, but is there anything I can do?"
As she said that, Fionn opened the door. "My mother may be forgetful, but I am not. Some of your Stuff," he sprinkled spice over me, "And I want to put you on an IV, cause your body wont recover well on its own."
Agnes sounded in my head as the cats hissed and sprayed at him. "Is he hurting you?"
I shook my head no, so that hopefully Agnes would see, as Fionn growled back at the cats. "Why do you keep going when it wrecks you each time?"
"What else is there to do?"
"I was going to tell you later, but now is as good as ever."
Again, Agnes spoke to me. "If you're in danger child, I can pull you away." I shook my head.
Fionn continued speaking, "I've had more than one threat to take the sword from me. I know I'm the strongest, but I'm not the best swordsman. I'm leaving it with you, because I think they'll have to kill you to pry it out of your hands, and thats no easy task." He stood up, put the sword down and walked to the door. "I expect you to return it when I'm king." I didn't expect that from him, and part of me wished I could tell him what it meant.
I spoke with Agnes again once I thought he had gotten out of earshot. "I had a visitor, but he has left."
"Do you still need to leave? I saw"
"I want to leave Amber right now."
"Where do you want to go?"
"To Andrevo."
"I can send you to Dubrovnik."
"That will do. Thank you." She seemed to open a trump gate behind her, and ushered me through to her. I reached out to get the sword, and carefully stood up, carrying the IV with me as I hobbled towards her.
"You should not be sad that your magic is shattered by pattern, it is quite powerful. I'm sure you'll learn to combine your magics, like the rest of your family."
"I let my hubris get the best of me. That is all it was."
She smiled. "Well I'm always here for the Sprottles."
How sweet. I chuckled weakly. "Not yet."
"You should fix your weapons, lest someone think you've gotten soft," she smiled, "not that that would be bad. You could always try a paintbrush." Well, I had asked, but that was a matter for another day.
I turned back to her before I walked through the gate. "I know you don't like to leave...maybe one of you," I motioned to all the cats, "would sleep with least until he gets here?" I really didn't feel like being alone.
She laughed. "Dear, they are no more me than your birds are you. How many would you like? A dozen perhaps?" The cats began to pour through the gate.
"One or two would be fine." I smiled as I saw many more than that go through. Some jumped onto the bed, others the tables and shelves, where they became cats, or mugs, or books.
"When you combine the magics dear, they'll stay when you walk the pattern. After all the pattern accepts itself, but I know less of that than some of your family." I nodded as she dropped the contact. Making my way towards the bed, I took enough inventory of myself to determine I wasn't going to die while I slept, then wrapped the jewel in place, placed the sword in the bed next to me, and fell to sleep, clothes and all.

After I don't know how long, I was awakened by a trump contact. I ignored it the first time, hoping they would leave me alone, but a second contact came, so I opened my mind. It was Samba, standing in my room in Castle Amber. "You okay?"
I...I didn't know what to say. "Oh...Samba. No..."
"Julie! Can you pull me through?"
"Yes...give me a second." I sat up, shooing away the cat in bed with me, and reached out my hand to Samba.
He took it. "What... what happened?"
"The Pattern happened."
He extended his hand. "I-.. Is it okay if I try to help? I understand if you think my help will be inadequate."
I took it. It would be welcome, although I didn't really deserve it. "Part of me says no, that I deserve this punishment. But I am tired. Will you help me with these clothes at least? Fionn has dirtied them all up in his attempt to help." I have no idea what he was thinking.
"Uh. Alright. You mean...Um...removing and stuff?" I relaxed as Samba's help kicked in.
"Yes, please. It's hard with this," I gestured to the IV, "I should have done it when I first got here, but I was too tired."
"Alright. I normally, ya know, Don't, unless ya buy me dinner, but..." I pushed the blankets aside and smiled wanly. Samba procured a few more limbs, and helped me strip off my dirty, dusty clothes. "Do you have some PJs near, or are you good commando?"
I pointed him to some dressing gowns among the clothes Andrevo had given me. "Andrevo has some dressing gowns over there."
We spoke while he helped me dress. "I take it our project wasn't successful."
"Hopefully he will be here soon. It didn't survive the pattern. It burned off the taint of chaos. I think, in some way, my aunt did it on purpose...but it would have happened anyway." Maybe to help remove the taint quickly.
"Shit. I should have known. I'm sorry Julie."
"It was hubris to think it would have worked. Not now."
"I did almost accidentally shift on the pattern. And it nearly killed me. And here I am trying to do the same. And yet, my idea for a plan is still sound. I think."
"There is a way to do it...look at Fionn. I just need to study more."
"I just should have realized it would have taken a lot longer than a few days before I up and decided it was permanent."
"And I should not have let it go to my head. But I will survive...and continue on, learning as always."
"Yeah. Shit."
"It is just so...tiring." I sat back down on the bed, covering up, and motioned Samba to pull over a chair. I hadn't felt this bad in a long, long time.
"I never got this whole fascination you had with scars, so I hope don't offend you when I ask..." He pulled the chair over. "Do you want The Leg back?"
"If you wish to keep it, you may. Otherwise it will serve as a good reminder."
"I don't want it."
I leaned over and rested my head on his shoulder, for once just letting it all out. I sobbed quietly. "Oh Samba."
"Shshshhh, Julie."
I felt myself feeling better as I sat, collecting myself again. Good Samba. I chuckled. "Promise me we'll always be is so hard to keep going sometimes...I need someone I can be myself with."
He smiled. "Why would I want to lose our friendship. Not to sound deep, but it's my only real one. Well, outside of Naxx, but I rarely see him." Mine too.
"I don't know...but our family history doesn't exactly overflow with real friendships."
"You might be surprised. But then, I dunno. I take it you got the chance to walk it. Do you think Siobhan did something to you beforehand?"
"She helped me...I walked the pattern...we walked the my mind." It was hard to explain.
"...Interesting...Do you think she might have tried to kill you?
"I was going to do it anyway. Walk the real one...No...if she meant to kill me, she could have easily left me to die when we were done. It would have been a tragic accident."
"Wait, all this..."
"I think she was trying to help me, maybe trying to remove what she saw as taint...but trying to help me."
"And it wasn't the true pattern?"
"It was, and it wasn't. It was in my mind, but each step, each twist, each was the pattern."
"I... I think I get it."
"I don't know that I fully 'get it.'"
"Maybe I'm biased against Siobhan, but someone 'tainted' with chaos can walk the Pattern. Hell, I walked the Pattern less than a week after I entered the Logrus. But then...Anyway...I don't mean to talk of conspiracies."
"I don't know. I wanted to stop, the was almost unbearable. But she pushed me on. And just as in the true pattern, once my foot was on the path..."
"Yeah. It's over now. Mistakes were learned from."
"And insight provided."
"I guess," He smiled. "Did she tell you I briefly stole the Jewel from you?"
"No, she didn't. What did you do with it? And why am I not surprised."
"I do have to admit. I am sorry, Julie. Think of it this way. I'm not great at math, but this is my best explanation. Your body is x, and i wanted to turn it into a body type that could handle the jewel on the pattern, body type y, but i have no idea what y truly is" Was he saying what I thought he was saying? Surely, after all we had talked about, he hadn't tried to walk the Pattern with the Jewel... "Is it just physical? Is it bone structure? Is it how well the flesh knits itself together? I have no intention for the throne, Julie. And we both know I wouldn't be the only non-ruler to have walked the pattern with the jewel."
He was! "No wonder she knew we would be there! You..." Some of the cats started hissing behind me.
He steeled himself for a fight. "I am sorry, Julie"
I pulled myself away from him. "You betrayed me." And here I thought he was the one person I *could* trust.
"Only to keep you from..well. From this," he pointed to the IV, "Or worse. I understand if you want me to leave."
I saw anger flash in his eyes for a moment as he spoke. "Oh no. You will stay. And what right have you to be angry with me?"
"I am not angry now. And I only did what I could to try and protect you. I admit it was a rash and foolish thing to do. And I understand if you never trust me again."
"I don't need your 'protection.' I have had enough pity from the rest of my family."
"But do know, I did it to keep you from dying. This is not a pity thing, Julie. What we were doing was unique to me. Would you want your doctor to have had some experience?" I tapped my fingers on the hilt of the blade next to me, pondering. Samba was still. "Strike me down if you want to. I understand your anger. But, I tell you this with all honesty in my heart. I would have rather died a traitor to you than lived knowing I my incompetence had killed you."
He sat there, slowly blinking. I picked up the sword. After all we had done together...Argh! I was tired of all of this. It was driving a wedge between us. I threw the sword across the room. It crashed into one of the tables, and the tinkle of broken crockery was music to my ears. I ripped the jewel off my arm, and it followed the sword. I heard a sigh of relief from Samba. "These baubles...why do they come between us? I do not want this burden anymore."
He smiled. "I am sorry, Julie. But the only other option is putting them in someone else's hands. And I know you wouldn't be happy with that."
"Sometimes I wish I were more like my cousins, and in more ways that just one. If so, they would safely rest in the hands of whoever offered me the most, and I would be done with them." But, that was why she had given them to me.
A confused look crossed his face. "I have thought of another idea. Only slightly less foolish than any of my others."
"I don't know if I can handle another one of your ideas...not right now."
"Pitch them into the abyss. The Best will get them while the others will die trying." He smiled. "I am sorry."
"Please. I did not refuse you, did I? The fault is as much my own, as any others'. For a moment, I think I had it in my mind I would be Queen."
"Fault is a harsh thing to inflict on someone, even yourself."
"My life has been a harsh one."
"I will not deny that. But that does lump you in there with the rest of us. As in, there are few, even among us, who thing they have had privileged lives."
"There are some. I think, as he learns more about me, my fiance almost feels guilty for his life."
He laughed. "I really hope the expression 'Opposites Attract' comes into play."
" seems to be. Although I suppose this will test that. I wonder where he is. Agnes sai--He should be here soon."
He looked over the cats. "I'm not completely oblivious, dear Julie."
I chuckled. "It seems I'm a Sprottle now. And she is rather protective of them."
"I hope I'm not overstepping my bounds in saying shes the only good one of us all."
"I would agree. She is the one who brought me here."
"How have things been between you and Andrevo? I know you previously said they were improving."
I smiled. "Curiosity, or is there some other reason you ask?"
"Just curiosity. Actually. There is another reason.
"Ah ha!"
"You did almost kill me and I am trying to change the subject."
"You survive almost dead an awful lot."
"It's my 'thing.'"
"But as for me, and Andrevo, we are getting...closer. I think this may work, although I want to see how he reacts to...this." I motioned to the bed, and the IV.
"You vivisect people, I get vivisected. Well, If we want to test things, I could lie in bed next to you." I chuckled, and Samba snorted. "Although, keep me informed of his reaction. I am curious myself."
"I...It is good, I suppose, to see how he will react to the this reminder of who I am before we get married."
"I did have one question to ask. Though, I understand if you are against it."
"You may ask."
"Would you want me to help you with regards to your health? Nothing crazy like last time. Just, well, a little speed boost."
"I...Last time would have worked if I hadn't walked the pattern."
"Or, well, I was going to say a pain-killer that won't drive you crazy. But then again, I do sometimes have that affect on people."
I smiled. "Well, you are quite the charmer, with your eight limbs and all."
He laughed. "13, but who's counting." He briefly grew some tendrils out of his back. "Granted, if I were to do it now, well..."
"I would have said no," I laughed at his display, "but I think, for the present time, it can not hurt. If you were available."
"By the time the Missus-to-be showed up, you might be better."
"For now, I wish to wait." I nodded. "I can take care of things myself to be well enough for the meeting, assuming he arrives in a timely fashion."
"The problem is...I don't like leaving when I know you are in pain. And. Well. I have no where else to go. At least, none that I can recall."
"You are always welcome in my homes, wherever they may be."
"Oh, and I did embarrass myself horribly in Amber. Ah, I apologize for entering your room in the Castle, but I just was curious where you were. I had met with Fionn who said you were 'done.'"
I raised an eyebrow. "What did you do this time, Eufrextias Masamba Igare?"
"Well. See." He cringed jokingly as I said his full name. "No one died."
"See. I. Aheh. Up for a massage?"
I smiled. "Was it that bad?"
"If you insist."
"Oh." He smiled. "Well, I did get to talk with Paki briefly. And Fionn. Who is quite a good police officer." He scooted next to the bed, growing a tendril to tap onto my shoulder. "See. I did have my trump deck stolen. And I went to regulate the law in the place it was stolen from. I did, however, learn two things. 1 - There is a very good, efficient police force within Amber city limits, run by your cousin. 2 - Apparently non-royal members having trump cards is treason. Well. I did the whole 'I'm a badass and I'll kill you' routine to these poor tavern patrons. Only two were pretend-killed. I put them under and filled em full of pleasure. My only fear is they'll reject carnal desires now that they've Wait. Scratch that. Anyway...word got out, Paki showed up, rightfully pissed." I chuckled. "Though I think I...well...I didn't talk him out of anything. I just showed him the tissue I wished to use to cover my ass. Then Fionn radios in saying he found my lost trump deck a day ago. I didn't even know a day went by since I lost the damn thing."
I chuckled again. "Forgive me for laughing."
"But now, my conscious demands I riddle my 'victims' with moneys to compensate." He smiled. "Oh, go ahead. I had to suppress my laughter when Paki showed up. Only cuz I had this fear he'd believe me psychotic for doing so." I laughed again, stopping as my ribs protested with pain. Needless to say, I don't think I want to be seen by the regular folk of Amber too much now."
"Did Paki have anything else to say to you?"
"No. I think he saw how red I was turning."
"Well, he didn't try and kill you or anything."
"No. Granted. He wanted to. His first words to me, which were quite good, 'Masamba or Peter, please say Peter.'"
I tried to stop myself, but burst out laughing again. "This is how you're going to be the death of me, Samba."
He smiled again. "Oh. There is also another part about Fionn, despite being pissed at me, sort of offering me a job on the police force."
"Interesting." Indeed.
"Granted. I had this feeling he was looking for small talk...and an ally."
"What did he have to say about did you find out what happened? He needs allies, and he knows it."
"I asked if he was done speaking with you, and he said he was. I had this feeling that he would be done 'speaking' with you before Siobhan was anyway. I didn't want to press it for fear he might do some passive aggressive 'don't ignore me, I mean something' thing. After I got my deck back, I tried contacting you, then I went to the pattern room, saw you weren't there, then peeked in your room. I figured something was up if you didn't try to contact me back. I do admit, if this last contact didn't work, I would have attempted pattern walk #4."
"How sweet." I smiled.
"Well...Doctor Frankenstein was worried about his Adam." He smiled.
"After we walked the pattern, I no condition to do anything, body or mind. Siobhan took us to Fionn, who carried me to a bed. That's when Agnes contacted me. She wanted to see if I was alright." I smiled. "Even threatened Fionn at one point."
"Should I ask how she kn-Oh. Go Agnes!"
"I don't know how she knew. I mean, the cats had some, but how she knew to send them..."
"Well. Do they..."
"Yeah, Fionn came in to give me the IV, and said some pointed things...although he also gave me the sword."
Samba looked to one of the cats. "Do they report to her?"
"I'm sure they do."
"I was meaning to ask about that."
"Just like my falcons do to me."
"I might have an idea. Felix used to be like that. But, why did Fionn give you Kin-slaye-Er...The sword?"
"Chaos name, to some. Frankly..."
"Ah. I suppose I could see that."
"This is a test of wills that I'm not running screaming from this room at the sight of the damn thing."
"He gave it to me because he said that he was not very good with it, and he knew someone would only be able to get it from me 'if they pried it from my cold, dead fingers' and I seemed to be really good at not dieing. I can have someone come and put it away, at least."
"Well. Little secret, Julie. Fear comes and goes for shape-shifters. Good ones, that is."
"Like everything else, it seems?"
He smiled. "Oh...was that a clue I'm not massaging well enough? And I never knew Fionn to be so poetic."
I laughed. "Very, wouldn't you say? Mind you, at the time he says this, I am lying on a cot, not able to move, on an IV drip."
"I have decided/ i'm king of this place/ now i throw a chair / at your fucking face." He laughed. "Wow." I laughed, wincing. "And I thought I was a bad swordsman." I felt a new wave of painkillers wash over me from Samba's touch. "So, not to talk 'business' but my feeling is that in many ways Ambrose and Fionn are similar. I mean. With level-headed-ness. I wouldn't know, and I could be totally wrong." He smiled at the nearby cats.
"I think you might be right, although don't tell either of them that."
"God no. I think that's where they'd actually agree, to disagree even though...they wouldn't. Whoa. I just confused myself."
"I'm glad I'm not the only one." He smiled, and I felt a brief boost of pleasure. "Hey! I could get used to that."
He laughed. "Sorry."
I smiled. "Why don't we get a bed set up in here for you?"
"I hope I'm not ruining you for And-" He laughed. "Chair's fine. And hey, Julie. Do you forgive me about the jewel thing? I hate to harp." I felt anger well up in me again. He muttered. "Shit!"
"Just give me a little time, ok?"
"All right. Just remember why I did it, and how you learned about it. I won't bring it up again. And I'm not even flooding you with pleasure to calm things." He smiled weakly.
I nodded. "On to happier things, though."
"Did you want me to have them prepare a room for you?"
"Would that be weird for the Missus? er..." He pointed up, and off into the air. "You know."
I shrugged. "Do you think I care?"
He laughed. "Well. It's one thing if you do it. It's another if I do it, ya know? Don't get me wrong, I'll accept. I kind of like the fashion of this place."
"I have been told to treat this place as my home. I'm sure it will be fine, although you'll have to go get a servant for me. I'm not sure if they know I'm here, although that probably alerted someone." I pointed to the mess in the corner.
He smiled. "Enh, you know these Victorians. I...Was going to say something funny in response. Well, there are...uh...christ I'm lazy. Others who might be concerned about taking care of you."
I laughed. "What?"
He looked at the cats. "...and would go fetch the servants. So I wouldn't have to." He smiled at them. "This is a damn comfy chair."
I laughed. "Feel free to ask them..."
"She's yer Granted, I am the maidservant now, Aren't I?"
I laughed again. "I suppose so."
Samba stood up. "Dearest Feline: I most humbly request that you might deliver a message to the most gracious of Mistresses, who has been a boon and benefactor for the health and well-being to her soon-to-be-relative Juliette Dognahue. That, I, as a humble vessel to deliver this message, speak for her in requesting a handmaiden of the area to come to this particular room...In order to help maintain her wellness." He also said it in what I could only assume to be cat. After a moment, he laughed. "She said no. Er.."
I reached over and petted the cat he talked to. "I'm sorry he bothered you, dear. Masamba, just get up and open the door."
"I didn't mean Agnes. I mean..."
"I know."
He reached down and pet the cat as well. "I have two mistresses..." Samba got up and opened the door, calling out to a servant walking down the hall. "Ma'am? A word!...Madame Juliette Donaghue would like to speak with you." The servant came in, and I told her to prepare rooms for Masamba, then released her. "Yer so much better that than I."
"I've gotten a little used to it, I admit. Samba, darling, I'm starting to get tired. I don't suppose you could sit with me until I fall asleep?"
"Your rooms should be ready by the time I fall asleep." He agreed, and I turned over, falling back asleep quickly. The next time I woke up, he was gone.

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