I went again to speak with Siobhan. I waited for her as she prayed, and greeted her as she stood. "Good morning. Would you join me for breakfast?"
She smiled. Not the reaction I expected after our last...encounter. "I'd gladly join you for company, Juliette, but I do not choose to currently break this fast."
"It was your company I wished anyway, so I will eat at another time. When we spoke earlier, you mentioned something I would like to explore in more...detail. If you were to become Queen, what *would* your plans be?"
"Can you be more specific?"
"I had expressed my concern over the rampant religious fantacism of worlds you have ruled...how would Amber be different?"
"That's a tough question, Juliette. For one we differ on opinion between the line between fanatacism and faith. Also, I have learned much from those experiences and think that the people would be better of under my rule. Without faith Amber has become chaotic and splintered. Even the Courts of Chaos mock us for such. I hope to unite us again under that which makes us who we are. The Pattern. The basis for entire existence, without it, there is no amber, and no royalty of Amber. It was Dworkin and the Unicorn's greatest gift to us, even greater than the lives they gave us. If it were not for the Pattern, nothing would exist as we know it, and yet, it is barely guarded and treated more like a rite of passage than the power that it truly is. Some of our family even bring those who would destroy it into the very walls of Castle Amber. I envision a peaceful world. A theocracy based upon the Pattern where all can be content and happy. I would hope to mold this from what we have and extend it so future generations would not know the chaos that we see daily now."
"And what of those whose heritage is of both Amber and Chaos?"
"What of us Juliette?"
She recognizes our common heritage. "I see." I had to think on that answer...and how best to phrase the question. "Would you war against the Courts?"
"I cannot foresee that future. We've warred in the past, but I do not seek war, I seek enlightenment."
"And if others choose not to receive that enlightenment? To remain in the dark?"
"All kingdoms have laws. I would not persecute the individuals, but must stop those groups who would choose for others. Education would be a must, so people would understand why we want them to change." Those groups...would presenting another option be choosing for others?
I nodded at her words. Another matter to be attended too... "On a different subject, if you will allow...I wish to thank you for your lesson the other evening. I learned much from it." So much.
"The Pattern has many secrets."
"If you would be so generous, I would like to study with you in the future."
"I will make arrangements with you sometime in the next couple of days." I had other business to attend to before knowledge...at least of this.
"I will see you at Otanashi's meeting, then." She nodded at my words, and we parted ways.
I sought out Fionn next, and went to his office. I knocked before entering, but did not grace him with waiting for a reply. He looked up from some paperwork. "Good morning Juliette. Something you need?"
I sat across from him, leaning back in the chair and putting my boots on the desk. "Your time."
"You have it. For now."
I chuckled. "For now?"
"Unlike half our family, I'm not a freeloader. I do have duties to attend to."
I smiled at his words. So true. "So, tell me what it is you plan to do with this sword if you get it?"
"Immediate? Long term? The sword specifically, or the title?"
He knew what I meant, but he was going to make me spell it out. "The title, in the long term. I assume you don't wish to just lounge around, drinking and carousing."
"I will place Siobhan as cyber-pope, Paki as Lord Protector. Ambrose will retain commission as Admiral, the only one. You will take my place as Captain of the guard. I'll then solidify Amber's defenses. Build an army reinforce the treaties that have gone lax with time. Spread outposts throughout Shadow, set up diplomatic ties with the Courts of Chaos, and rule over Amber till passes to my heir."
"Even if you win the competition, you will still need support. Do you have it this time?
"I'm certain I have it this time. Who would assist the Sprottles after their last display?"
"The Sprottles are not the ones *I* would be worried about." There were others as well who would be displeased.
"No one else would start a war to stand against a decision."
"And what if you were not chosen...would you abide by the decision?"
"I also had a question...unrelated to that matter. A favor. I wish to learn from you."
"what is it you wish to learn?"
"You have obviously found a way to...integrate other items into yourself."
"Oh, you do not know how? I assumed." Why would he?
"Not to such an extent that they are not rejected by the Pattern."
"It was your brother who did this, not I."
Connor...the brother I never saw become a man. "My brother?"
"Your brother was very adept at conjuring pattern creations."
"I see." I sighed. A dead end...literally. "Thank you for the information."
"It seems doable, but I haven't looked much into most forms of sorcery. All I can suggest is to master more of the idea of Pattern." I suppose my lessons with Siobhan would be helpful.
"Were the two of you close?" Perhaps he could tell me something of the man Connor had become.
"Closer than some of our family, he fit in well as a Donaghue."
I half-smiled, putting voice to the thoughts we both must have had. "More so that his sister, I suspect." In these months, almost a year perhaps, since I had returned...like family we were not. I got no reply from Fionn, confirming my suspicions. This was enough, then. I stood. "I will see you at Otanashi's meeting then."
As I walked out the door, I heard Fionn's voice behind me. "Good day."
For now, I would put the one I least wished to speak with. Getting a basket of food and water from the kitchen, I made my way to Rose's room. Hopefully she would be awake. I knocked, and she opened the door, dressed as if to go out. "I was about to have a snack, and thought I'd see if you wanted to join me."
"Certainly, I'll dress for such and join you where ever you wish." I guess her current clothing was not...appropriate?
"In the gardens, then." I made my way there, and waited, meditating.
About half an hour later, Rose arrived with several servants in tow, laying out blankets and pillows, and setting out a small bar. I couldn't help but roll my eyes, and I wouldn't be surprised if the arrangements had been made simply for their ability to aggravate me. I thanked her for joining me, and started off with small talk. After a while, I started in on my purpose." You'll have to forgive me for prying, but I admit a certain curiosity. What is your opinion of Otanashi's...meeting?"
"It's so early to discuss politics. Otanashi is honorable enough i'm sure his intentions are good."
"Ah, but if we dispose of politics early, then we need not bother with them later in the evening. Have you and your brother decided who will judge for your family?" Already the woman was starting to irritate me, and we had not exchanged but a couple minutes of conversation.
"I see. Why not?"
"We've both been very busy, we'll have it sorted out in time."
"I suppose, then, it doesn't hold much interest for you then?
"Oh, I'm quite interested."
I smiled. "Do you have certain ambitions, then?"
"All of our family gathering turn in to something spectacular."
"They do indeed. Any plans for this one?"
"Not as of yet." Growing weary of my time with her, I quickly made my excuses, and left her.
Last on my list was Paki. I went first to Forest Arden, but not finding him there, I traveled back to his rooms in Castle Amber.
"Thank you for your time. I had a couple of questions for you, if you don't mind?"
"Not at all."
"If you were to become King, what are your plans? Your overall...strategy, as it were."
"Well." He thought before answering me. "My plan is to choose the correct people for each of the roles that have been associated with the royal family of amber. I hope to instill some manner of faith to the people here and about, but not force it on them. I plan to institute a more strict legal system. Raise taxes but raise a higher standard of living for the people of amber and the golden circle. Build a standing army that fights for Amber and not bitter siblings. Institute new positions that need to be created to keep up with changing times."
All excellent ideas, it seemed. Paki was interesting me more and more. "Perhaps you could elaborate on your plans for a more strict legal system?"
"We need to enforce a law more equivalent to what we need as opposed to something from tradition. Things need to be addressed that are glossed over and left to interpretation. I want the King's law not to be the King's word."
"And these positions...what would they be?"
"I'm thinking Holy Patron and Surgeon General." There was not much more of substance I wished to gain from the conversation, but we conversed on shared interests for a while longer before parting ways.