Random Conversation

I stopped to talk to a guy at my building’s smoke pit. He mentioned he lost his job, and while that was a problem, there was no other choice than moving on.

Keep going, get a new job, apply for unemployment if necessary, but go forward. This is hard and discouraging, but the truth of that doesn’t negate the truth of needing to get going again.

I don’t really have anything in common with this guy, but he’s a nice person. I don’t know his name, and we’ve talked a few dozen times. It’s interesting to hear the same issues, worries, and plans coming from someone in a different situation. The great commonality of mankind isn’t unknown and yet surprises me.

Just an odd conversation. Maybe a bit of humility, and a bit of a kick in the rear. Keep going.

There may be something in there about the importance of everyone you meet.

Neighbors

My neighbor is watching TV really loudly, having a stroke, having a rage fest, or plotting cybercrime on the other side of our shared, very-thin wall.

Underglow

On a motorcycle, ground effect lighting would be a legit safety feature. It would make the bike more visible. It would also be a lot less annoying than straight pipes.

Definitions

In practical terms, an investment is a financial decision you make with an aim of making money. A speculation is a financial decision someone else makes to make money.

It’s sort of like special interest groups. If you’re in one, they’re activists. If someone else is, they’re in a dark-money special interest group.

LotR

I reread Fellowship trying to regain the joy of it and maybe hatch some story ideas.

The former happened. It’s better than I remember.

The latter sort of happened. I did forment some story ideas, but they’re gaming ideas. I got plots for DnD games, not fics.

I’m going to go get a cookie.

Schools

I wonder what transferring PhD programs is like. Is it even possible? It has to be.

Random in Rebma

(I tried, but I couldn’t get this to go anywhere.)

Whatever magic allowed me to breathe water in Rebma didn’t apply to smoking cigarettes.

Pity.

Seeing Corwin walk the Pattern and survive it, stand tall in the center, and vanish surprised me not at all. However the seeing of it did make me long for a smoke. I turned to Dierdre.

She was the only dark-haired sister. Fiona, the red bitch, Flora, the golden girl, and damp, sad Llewella with seaweed-green locks, none of them were dark haired like my brothers. Elizabeth had been. She’d died–I cast my mind back–centuries ago. I’d had never particularly known Elizabeth, but Llewella had.

And, of course, Theophonia, but even a princess of Amber had to respect the double-edged sword of sorcery. Tiffany had not. Odd both dead sisters were dark haired.

Dierdre and Moire stood side-by-side, looking at the iridescent tracery of the Pattern. I watched them as they watched it. Dierdre was the most popular girl in high school, and she’d been that girl for about a thousand years. I wondered if she still thought she was there, fighting the other girls for the best boyfriend, the nicest class assignments, to be the most popular girl all the other girls looked up to. High school had been a nightmare, and I couldn’t imagine reliving it after escaping. Maybe it was different for girls.

She was pretty enough. To be the most popular girl in high school, she had to be pretty. But she also had to be approachable, smart, and status hungry, she had to get the right boys, and surround herself with the right friends. She didn’t have to be just popular, she had to be more popular. How was that going to work? Would her connection to Corwin strengthen her, or weaken her, now that he wasn’t here?

For that answer I looked to Moire. She had definitely slept with Corwin. He hadn’t said anything, but she had that look. She was effortlessly relaxed, and her green skin was flushed. Her skin was made of leaves instead of deep ocean. That’s how Morganthe looked after a good bedding. Moire didn’t watch the Pattern longingly, and by her face she wasn’t as interested in departed Corwin as I was in a cigarette. She looked like she was coiling up a train of thought, knotting it, and putting it out of the way.

Dierdre, tall, dark, and thinking, did the bloodline proud. I didn’t like her, but she was working angles already. Shorter, curvier, and greener, Moire was feeling an emotion to be finished. Dierdre wore finery that floated in the water, wrapping her in a gauze of Amberite power and hinting at sexuality. Moire stood topless, open, and present.

I really didn’t like either of them.

The Pattern fires subsided. They dwindled like the dying fountains after a water show. I’ve seen those in Shadow. Corwin made me think of Vegas. The power of Amber had danced in the Pattern like a ballet of waters as Corwin struggled through, and now that he was gone, the sparks flared, subsided, flared again, and always their peaks were a little less. They would never disappear. Soon they would reduce themselves to some background level of noise, a flash of power here and there, and roil the floor of this room like waves breaking against the beaches. Always, there would be waves, but the walking of the Pattern by the Blood of Amber raised a hurricane.

But he was gone.

Dierdre looked at me. “So you’re getting married. Congratulations.”

“Thanks,” I said.

Moire turned away from the Pattern and looked at us both. She looked back at it like it drew her. In the corner of the first Veil where the ribbon-like path draws close together, eddies carried cyclones of blue sparks, and elsewhere waves of the same sparks beat against each other. But they were fading. Moire drew her gaze away.

“Come away from there, Random. You owe us a year, and I’ll not have you escaping.”

Green-wench, I owe you nothing. I did a favor for a brother, but owe you? Nah.

Of course, I didn’t speak. I wasn’t going to elevate her to the status of one who talks to a Prince of Amber.

Dierdre turned to Moire, another popular girl, and started working. What was she going to do? Run for class president?

“Queen Moire, I’m so delighted to remain with you, for a while. I can’t wait to get settled, and if everything goes well in Amber, I’ll always remember you.” Dierdre smiled effortlessly.

Moire turned from me to her and raised her eyebrows. She didn’t seem to imply curiosity; if I could read her expression, it said, ‘Noted.’

The one I was related to continued, “Now, since there’s going to be a wedding, you can tell me how you’d like it and I can get started. A ceremony with two Amberites present, three if Llewella leaves her room, will be quite an affair. On the other hand, it’s only for a year, so we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. Shall we talk?”

“Of course,” said Moire.

To prevent anyone from trying to escort me, I turned from the Pattern chamber first. I suppose I could make a break for it, but it was a year. What’s a year?

They might even let me go early, if I was obnoxious enough.

Outtake from Sauron Explains It All 4

Toward the back of the group, Llewella and Gerard stood in similarity and contrast. Both watched the arguments with something like boredom. He outmassed her by a margin of a wildebeest, but they both had perched on the same rough boulder. She stared into space, he rubbed his beard, and their siblings fought with each other.

Suddenly, he leaned toward her. “My liegeman Vo Tallath sends his regards.”

Llewella stared blankly.

“Vo Tallath,” said Gerard. “Dark hair. Little mustache. He likes you.”

In another time, Llewella would come to a brilliant reply. She thought of several of them in the shower the next morning. Instead, she blinked like she’d an eyelash caught in her eye. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t listening at all. What did you say?”

Gerard didn’t look offended. “One of my liegemen likes you. He sends his regards. Vo Talleth. I hear he’s handsome. I forgot until just now.”

Llewella massaged her damp hair. It seemed like it never dried. “Oh, a knight. Gerard, I’m not really interested in knights.”

“I’ll let him know. Too bad, though. He’s well read, and you came up in conversation.”

“How did I come up in conversation?”

“Vo Talleth thinks he’s something of a wit. His mouth is somewhat quicker than his sword arm, and neither has remarkable aim. On a float he said something funny to an Admiral Hahm, who didn’t find Vo Talleth’s remarks nearly as witty as Vo Talleth did. The admiral assigned him to write an analysis of Teylon Gramm’s amphibious invasion of the West Isles. Long story short, Vo Talleth came to me because I have pretty much everything ever written on the subject, and after he’d discovered I’d read far more than he had on naval tactics, we started talking books and the family. I figured you’re the other best read, and he mentioned he thought your were pretty. I said I’d pass it along, and I have.” Gerard waved his hands like spreading a feast before her.

Llewella, for her part, grimaced. “Tell him thank you very much.”

“Got it.”

Before Gerard could space back out, Llewella asked, “You think you’re the best read member of the family?”

He nodded. “I’m pretty sure I am. I have to read twice as much as the rest of you to keep up, so I read even more to stay ahead.”

“You found a way to be a meat head about reading.”

Gerard shrugged and grinned.

Llewella looked up at him and said, “That is both deeply shocking and somehow exactly what I expected you to say.” She shook her head.

Gerard wore a wry smile. “If you can’t keep up, I’ll assume I won.”

Now Llewella looked ever so mildly annoyed. “What are you reading now?”

“Chrissom’s Modern Logistics for Medium Range Fleet Operations–which I don’t suppose you’ve picked up.”

“I have not,” she admitted.

“Pity. It’s a page-turner. And Busong’s Obscene Poetry for Terrible People.”

“Is that the one full of dirty little limericks about the court?”

“Yep.”

“Aren’t you in there too?”

“Frequently and unflatteringly.”

“Then why in Amber would you read it?” Llewella demanded.

“Because he had jokes. He called me the lesser cousin of cattle, lacking a cow’s utility in the dairy barn or the bull’s utility in the ring. He said it better. Interesting guy. Got killed in a bullfight.”

“Am I in it?”

Gerard lost his wry smile. “No.”

“I’m not?”

“Nope.”