My Wheelchair and I
While I'm not completely out of the wheelchair, I've been able to get up for short periods of time.
It's been quiet, so I've taken the time to do a bit of looking around, especially of the arable lands on the estate. It was my hope to set up a breeding program with Max, my new horse. He really it quite intelligent, so it is my plan to preserve that line, should anything happen to him. And, there is nothing better than a strong, intelligent horse to go through Shadow.
Unfortunately, there isn't much room for any significant herd in the area. Most of the lands are used for general staples and wines. In fact, the only areas that I could use are on Mount Kolvir, small plateaus scattered here and there. Each is a few miles wide, but probably not enough room for many. And it is a 2-3 hour ride, just to get there each day. Problematical.
A few inquiries led me to the Chanus Family. They breed horses, well outside this area, past Garnath, about a two days' journey. I dispatched a note, to inquire whether they would be interested in Max as a stud.
I received a note from the Chanus Family. They've sent two representatives to see Max. They did say they raise primarily courier horses and distance runners, so Max probably wouldn't fit into their program. Still, they would be interested in seeing him anyway. They'll arrive tomorrow, with two handlers.
I made sure some rooms were made ready, should they wish to stay through the night. It is a long ride back to their home. And I told the Weir to expect visitors. No knifing or imprisoning them in the cellar.
Hip and Cicero left today, going back to the Shadow they are from. I extended a welcome should they like to return with the suggestion that perhaps Cicero could make a Trump of Byslamia. There. That might give them time to get to know each other.
Meeting Lord Authra and Lady Capri
Claw came to inform me that the guests would be here within the hour. How could they know that? There is no line-of-sight for that distance. Claw gestured to the roof, where three weir children sat sentry. Oh. I wanted to call them down but thought again. These were their children, and they are much more coordinated and able than other children, in my opinion, but still
it was very high up.
The riders came into view. As they approached, I could see three men and a woman. The woman and forward man were dressed well, the other two in working clothes. I recognized none of them from my previous meeting with Lord Chanus, there was no resemblance.
I had left the wheelchair in one of the salons. Now I slowly moved to meet them. The man and woman introduced themselves as Lady Capri and Lord Authra. They were both dressed befitting nobles, but Capri was a bit more formal with her dress.
They had been here long ago, so I took them around the house, to re-familiarize them and so they would feel welcome and begin to relax. Since we had just met, Capri was the more formal in her address. As we walked, weir children scurried around, running past and playing games. In fact they were everywhere and I realized they were curious about our visitors. I greeted the children and the adults, who just happen to be supervising the play.
We finished in the stables so they could see Max. His size impressed them and Authra asked if he was really a horse. I had to smile. Still, Authra wasn't completely sure a breeding program would work. Even I know that it is easy to lose a foal during the pregnancy, so Max's size would add further complications to any foal and the mare. He suggested artificial insemination. I had to agree it would be better than a breeding stall. Capri was scandalized that Authra would bring up such a subject. I could only shrug. I was not taking on a delicate undertaking. If I couldn't talk about it, how would I succeed?
I would have to expand the stables. The two of them were responsible for some of the minor programs and were willing to bring 5 mares and qualified hands. There wasn't enough room for them. We tentatively set a date for a month from now. Since it has been rare for a month to go by without incident, I did qualify that I may have need to delay the process, with no insult to them. I didn't go into it further, but they allowed me the royal prerogative to being quiet about matters of the Family.
We retired to the salon, to further discuss the matter. Authra was inclined to speak frankly, but it made Capri nervous, to discuss such delicate matters to a lady. On impulse, I had DeWinter stop by and have some tea with us. Within moments, he and Authra were chatting. They are somewhat alike in their approach to people. Seeing that, Capri seemed to relax, hopefully realizing I wasn't about to swoon and faint or take offense.
That evening I dispatched a note to Julian. I don't know what made me think of Trouble, but I'd had a thought. I wrote about the sword I gifted to him last Yule, the one from Mycenea. It was the one who had defeated the sea serpent that had my ancestors trapped on the island. With the creature's defeat, we were able to expand, creating the world we have now. I doubt there was an actual serpent, but there may be some basis in fact, like many legends. If my armband was from the Courts, perhaps the sword was as well. It might come in handy should he decide to deal with Trouble, to ensure we have no future problems with her. I have no idea if it would be effective, but I was a thought.
House call to Jasra and Rinaldo
Random was thoughtful enough to send me a note, letting me know a few things. It's always good to keep information flowing both ways. Jasra, the woman we found in Castle Black, is the former Queen of Kasha, and is staying in town under Rinaldo's custody. She had not attacked DoBlique, but they were still unsure why she was there. I told DeWinter. It was his thought that perhaps we should go and apologize, for what we did against her. I agreed and we went first to the castle and then to Owen, where they were staying. I left a note for Simone letting her know I was in Amber and she could contact me anytime for training, if she was still interested.
We announced ourselves only as wishing to see Jasra. I don't think Owen's servant knew who we were. Rinaldo came to meet us. I was proud of myself. I didn't flinch or anything we he came into the room. Of course, I knew I might see him, so it was easier. It was his opinion that we should say nothing to Jasra. His mother wouldn't say anything and she wouldn't expect anyone else to do so. It took a little to convince DeWinter, but eventually he conceded the point. As for why she'd been there, all he knows was that she was following someone who was responsible for killing Doblique's staff. She'd lost the trail when DeWinter hit her.
We left, taking the opportunity to have some lunch in town. I've always been referred to by my title, but DeWinter wasn't used to the attention of the patrons and the owner. He muttered something about getting the weir to keep him on his toes. He's quite uncomfortable about being referred to as a prince, preferring to be called captain. Short of posting announcement throughout the city, I don't see how he can avoid it, but we can take it meeting by meeting, day by day.
Bellasara still wants training
We'd spent the night in the castle. At breakfast, Martin was there and acting oddly. He just kept smiling at DeWinter. DeWinter told him to stop, and while Martin agreed, his eyes were still laughing. DeWinter and I had had a wonderful evening, and I wonder if Martin felt something. I decided not to push the subject. He might have something else on his mind, and I think it's best I don't know.
When I went to get the horses ready, I found Bellasara brushing down Max. She was interested in continuing lessons. Was it all right with her father? Apparently so. I told her it would have to be at my estate, because that was where I was living. I doubted her father would like her to be travelling for hours each morning just for sword lessons. While we chatted, DeWinter arrived and she flirted shamelessly with him. He really has no idea how handsome he is. He bought into her act. I could only shake my head and get us out of there.
Later I Trumped Bleys. He did say he was willing to let her train but agreed that he didn't want her leaving the castle proper. It was my thought that Bellasara could Trump in, but I wanted to see if she would come up with the idea. I was curious how much she wanted to learn, if it was a passing fancy or something more. He chuckled a bit, saying he I'd make a good mother. He agreed to see what Bellasara came up with.
When we got back to Tiryns, I found a letter from Julian. It was an invitation to dinner, a week from now. That should be pleasant. I was looking forward to it. I replied to Julian, saying we would accept the invitation. DeWinter doesn't have much in the way of clothing, so we'll have to arrange for something.
We were back into town, this time to meet with a tailor. Most of his clothing are going to be casual, but I saw it fitting to order some formal wear, just in case. He shrugged, but let the order be made. DeWinter was surprised that everyone referred to him as Captain. How could they know? One of the mysteries of Amber.. The tailor was a little mischievous, assuring DeWinter that all his measurements would be kept strictly confidential. He didn't know what to make of that statement. Outside I explained it to him and he was somewhere between appalled and astounded.
I tried to Trump DoBlique a number of times throughout the day. Actually, every two hours. Each time it was blocked. Either she was working on something that required a lot of time, or she was in a Shadow where Trump cannot go through. I know DeWinter is concerned, but he's trying not to show it.
I suggested that he and I go to Castle Black. He said he was willing, now that I brought it up. We left just after breakfast.
What we found is an empty castle. No servants, no guards, all of her belongings, gone. It wasn't a hurried move, since all her personal belongings were also gone, but it seems strange that she would have left her Pattern there, her source of power. We had nothing to go on, since it looked deliberate. We reluctantly agreed that she's probably off in Shadow where she can deal with the matter of the Elder in her own good time. We'd just be interfering. I fought down the urge to gather the Cabal of Meddlers, Martin and Owen and Kent. The five of us should figure something out. We returned to Amber
I took the first step and Trumped Owen. She came through and we settled down to chat. It was her opinion that DoBlique could call for help if she thought she needed it. the family tends to run more toward letting people work through things themselves, rather that trying to direct them. I didn't voice too many of my worries. DoBlique was under another's control. What if she couldn't call for help. And, even if she could, she wouldn't. she has no experience knowing there was anyone out there, short of DeWinter, who would help her however they can. I really wonder if DoBlique knows she can ask for help. That we wouldn't think less of her.
Owen was pleased with how Happy is doing. DeWinter even got to show off Happy's training thus far. Happy sat, not chasing the apples DeWinter threw near him. He wanted to chase them, but didn't. Then DeWinter tossed another one, saying it was attacking me. Happy shot forward and destroyed the offending fruit. Owen and I exchanged laughing glances and watched Happy's antics.
We had dinner with Julian and Vivant and Rhiannon. We decided to Trump through rather than riding. Rhiannon met us and escorted us up to the main salon. Vivant and Julian met us and gave us a brief tour of the house, more for DeWinter's benefit, I think. I complimented Rhiannon on her dress. It was indeed lovely. Like the precocious girl she is, she said that Julian had picked a green one, but it was ugly. Julian told her to go help her mother.
During dinner, Rhiannon continually asked for us to pass her items on the table. I thought she just liked being able to do this, and Vivant told her she could only ask for things that she was using. Rhiannon said she was using all of them. Vivant said she couldn't be. 'Yes I can,' she said. 'I can see myself in all the shiny sides, so no one can sneak up on me.' Vivant looked shocked at her daughter's paranoia, Julian was just a bit impressed, DeWinter was trying not to choke.
After dinner, we were entertained with a duet. Julian played on the piano while Vivant played the flute. Rhiannon got to play a piccolo. When it was done, we applauded our encouragement to Rhiannon. It was them time for her to go to bed, so Julian gave her a hand signal telling her just that. It wasn't much different from the hand signals he gives his storm hounds. Oh my. From the Rhiannon in the future, I wonder how she dealt with that. I had a feeling that Julian was in for a rude awakening once Rhiannon decided not to obey. Our coffee was interrupted by odds sounds from above. Vivant went to check. She returned to say that Rhiannon was herding some elephants into their pens before she went to sleep. Ah, of course.
Julian took DeWinter out, to show him more of the compound. It gave Vivant and I a chance to talk, not that we've really had much of a chance before. I remarked on the hand signals and I belatedly realized that Vivant saw nothing wrong with it. Nor did she foresee any difficulties in the future. The talk ranged over my "future" experience, but she didn't really believe it had happened. So, the discussion turned more philosophical. It's been a while since I had talked to anyone about any esoteric subject and found I was enjoying it immensely. Not that I was saying anything valid, just my own thoughts on things.
For me, the future is mutable. There is a past Cassandra as well as a future one. Since I met people from other points in time, it stands to reason that we all exist at the same time, just usually unable to connect with them. It would be sort of like having multiple newsreels of a person's life, all at different stages, but being able to see each one at the same time. Vivant asked if that wasn't suggesting that our actions are predetermined. Not so, I think. What I do now is based on past experience, not ruled by it. If I were to know about the future, then it might apply, but if I act differently than I might have, to bring about the future that I am seeing, then that future would cease. In the case of Rhiannon, all I know was that she was well, and going to be married in a short time. She seemed stable and happy. In fact, I decided not to say anything more, for fear Vivant and Julian might act differently. Then again, perhaps I was supposed to tell them what I saw
to ensure that future. I'm not particularly bothered by the paradox. We don't know the future and we still won't. Not really. But it is a topic I will give great thought to "in the future". It's intriguing.
Julian and DeWinter returned. Julian had lent several books to DeWinter on dog training, which he is eager to start reading. We bade everyone a good night and Byslamia pulled us through. DeWinter confessed that he actually had a pleasant evening.
I decided today to continue trying to draw DeWinter's Trump. I'm hoping that with the Elder's machinations gone, I might be more successful. It turned out to be a stranger experience than I had thought.
I began sketching, and images emerged, mostly of women. In one there was a leopard-skinned woman, another was a dark-haired, dark-complexioned woman. The strangest was a woman, very tall, with four arms. Oh, this was going to be great fun. I knew he had a long life before he met me, but I had little idea I was going to learn about it in such a manner. I did show them to him later, teasing him just a little. I said he wasn't concentrating, or else, he was concentrating a bit too much on other women. He was a little puzzled when I gave him the drawings and then memory returned. They were relationships from very far into the past. I was pleased that not only did he see I wasn't particularly upset, but that he wasn't embarrassed or uncomfortable with what had happened. I let him keep the drawings to do with as he wished.
I've continued working on the Trump. Images kept appearing, none of which had Trump potential. There were quite a few more women, he had a very varied life. Then the images moved into battles in many, many places. It took a while to realize I was moving, skipping through certain points in his life. Perhaps they weren't very important events, but I think they were important to him. I saw him in battlefields, while fighting, while commanding. I saw him in personal battles with various people, including one with him and Dalt snarling at each other. Then the images moved into the past that I was familiar with. The battle against the horde of vampires, our first kiss on the battlements of Grey Demesne. There were scenes as we traveled through Shadow and Martin's world. Eventually, there was the wedding, our honeymoon (I had many of those pictures locked awaythey are NOT for casual eyes) and one last drawing.
It was this one that I knew I had to finish. I was alone in my office, DeWinter was attending to something or other outside. Carefully, I began to add color. This was the trickiest. Not only was it difficult to add the colors, but also once I did, there was no fixing it later. So, I had to be certain I had precisely the right shade, the correct hue, to what I wanted. It took the rest of the afternoon.
The picture shows DeWinter in the apple orchard. I could see one of the outer walls of Tiryns far behind him. He was standing there, in a pose as if to ask, are we done yet? He was in working clothes, sleeves rolled up, as if I had stopped his work to take a snapshot. He wasn't wearing his sword, his concession to being relaxed. Instead, he had a war dagger at his waist. I know him enough that he wouldn't consider that blade really a weapon. Not a serious one, at any rate.
It was done. I jumped up and ran outside. I wanted to show it to him right away. I could barely contain my enthusiasm. Fortunately, my family doesn't demand decorum at all times, amongst ourselves.
He was outside directing some of the weir in a surveying project he has going. He's seen some of Amber's maps, old and out-of-date ones. He decided that Garnath needs more accurate ones. I called him over and showed him the card. I really liked the image. To my relief, so did he. To me, it showed he's well and truly settled here, felt at home here with all of us. He liked his portrayal. I think he was worried he would be seen as something other than what he was
that the burning would have distorted it somehow. I had to contain a start at that. I'd never shown him the first Trump, or what I have seen. I consider this to be my first, successful Trump.
He gave it some thought and decided he only wanted three to be made. One for me, one for himself, and one extra. I'd thought he'd want to give one to DoBlique, at least, but then she has her own ways of contacting him. It was his decision to make.
I Trumped Owen to inquire as to how to make copies. I've seen her flick the edges and have them duplicate, but she said it was much, much more difficult. Perhaps I could do it in a few years. Oh. Given the difficulty I've had with Trump, I asked her if she wouldn't come through to test it. I didn't want either of us to end up in UnderShadow due to a mistake, nor any other problems. She humored me and came through.
We tested it, and it was fine. Just as I was walking back to them I received another Trump call. I was allowing the contact when it was
yanked shut. It felt like a violent stop. I had a very bad feeling and immediately thought of DoBlique.
I mentioned it to Owen, but she had no answers. She did show me how to start learning who might be calling at a given time. As the call was coming in, I should flip through my cards. I should feel one as colder than the rest. I asked if I would have any increased affinity for those I made, when I make more. She said she didn't know, but we tested out the theory.
We recruited Byslamia. I had my back to them as they silently decided to try to Trump me. They tried four times and I guessed DeWinter each time. I was right only for two of them. Owen believes I have a particular connection with DeWinter. Of course, I do. She continued that I have an emotional and sexual relationship with him and now I also have the Trump connection. This may block my abilities to detect others for a little while. Oh.
While she was here, she also examined Toby and Jim. They are fine, but there is a history of serious malnutrition. No surprise there. She suggests that they eat more often, more that three times a day. They will never develop as they might have if their life had been easier, but it will help them in the future. Also, they still haven't caught on some of the notions of hygiene. Particularly, they cleaned only what skin was visible. I'll have to see that they receive more
intense scrutiny. In fact, I'll be taking that matter up with them personally, if they give any resistance. I relayed all this to Vis, whom I think is more suitable in the immediate candidates. They are too old for me to take this up with them. He promised he'd look into it.
We also introduced her to Max. This turned out to be both alarming and disappointing. Not only is Max smarter than a horse, she determined he wasn't a horse at all. In fact, he was highly sapient
as much as any of us. Between her speaking in Equine and with my empathic link, we found out a great deal. For one thing, mares here definitely don't interest him. It would be akin to asking any of us to mate with a primate. To think what I was going to do makes me shudder. His people are called the People of the Plains. He'd been with Cecilia and Tharkh for a long time and he remembers going to five very different places with them. He doubts we could find his homeland. I will find it. I have to. I can't imagine being alone for so long
with no one to relate to, to talk to, with anyone who understands me
it's a horrible fate.
DeWinter had an idea. Why not bring some to Amber? They would be the perfect scouts. They can travel without attracting much attention, other than their size, that is. They can relay information and items if necessary. They'd be intelligent enough to wander on Kolvir's plateaus, as they needed. If they wanted to come here, it could help all of them. For his part, Max said he liked it here. The water was sweeter, the food better, the air cleaner than any place he had known.
We took the idea to Random. He was intrigued with the idea. He didn't understand just how big Max was until I told him how many hands he stood. Geez, he's a monster! I had to agree. He was willing to work with the idea if we brought any more back.
We got back to Tiryns. I spent the afternoon making copies of DeWinter's Trump.
We left Amber this morning. My idea was to first find DoBlique. I think having Max near might just be helpful in that regard. Once we know she is fine, we'll get him to his homeland. I just hope we aren't too late. I respect Owen immensely, but the next time I have the mind to interfere, I'm not going to second-guess myself. I'd rather have them angry, like Sebastian is, with my interfering. At least that way they are alive and well enough to be angry at all.
Over the course of the days, I've tried to get the link with Max stronger. It makes learning his language infinitely easier. I have seen that he is much older, older than I am, actually. I would guess he's at least 50 years old.
We've been traveling over island terrains, hopping from Shadow to Shadow. It gets convoluted at times, but I think we are still moving closer to her.
Searching for DoBlique
The islands are getting larger, becoming small continents, allowing for faster movement. It's still quite Mediterranean in its weather and terrain. Definitely wine country.
We camped for the night. There's a terrible rainstorm. We haven't run into that too much, to DeWinter's surprise. We pitched a tent, planning to weather it out. I moved Max closer to the fire, knowing he likes the heat.
It was quite dark. DeWinter and I were occupying ourselves with each other. We were just making love when my armband warned me. I shouted over the storm that something was wrong when the earthquake hit. We were out of the tent in seconds. We had camped out in the open. There really weren't much safer places to head to. Mycenea has its occasional tremors, but this was entirely different. I had no idea of what to do.
Then there was shrieking from above. As if from a very large, very fast thing moving through the sky. I grabbed some clothing and dressed, trying to see all around. The shrieking was changing pitched. I stood, weapon drawn, for whatever was approaching. DeWinter tackled me, shouting that he said to 'stay down'. Even with him right there, it was hard to hear, with the violence of the storm overhead. He went to get his weapon. I heard Max screaming in alarm. I crawled over to where I heard him. Behind me, the camp flew up with the force of the next quake. It was all I saw, for then I was flying through the air. I was stunned, but began crawling some more. Suddenly I was being held about the head and arms. I began hacking, trying to get free of the assailant. The shrieking from above had increase in both intensity and numbers. I could feel minor wounds bleeding on my head and arms. Then the sky lit up with the force of the lightning and I saw I was caught in a fence of some sort, with little barbs all around. I started backing up, trying to free myself. I had just gotten loose when another tremor hit, again throwing me through the air. The ground literally erupted, as if a volcano was emerging right below me, or some giant was freeing itself from some subterranean lair. I fell hard, rolling over and over all around. Just as I was stopping, desperately trying to clear my head, something landed on me. Something much bigger than Max.
Then everything went black.
Who am I?
I'm reconstructing things as best I can. It's been a while since I woke and haven't had the presence of mind to take any notes.
I woke in a hospital. Physicians and nurses moved around, speaking a language I did not comprehend. The first thing I noticed is that I had no personal items whatsoever. Then I noticed that I had no idea what items I was supposed to have. In fact, I had no idea who I was.
There were bandages over my head and a cast running from my right ankle to virtually my hip other than many bruises, I had no other serious injury. I tried to speak with a nurse, asking where I was, that sort of thing. She didn't understand my language, whatever it was. She called a doctor over, and he confirmed that I did not know what he was saying. I just looked at the nurse and she shrugged in response. What can you do? She seemed to gesture.
I finally pantomimed the idea that I wanted clothing. I still had no idea who I was, but I vaguely remembered traveling with someone, a man. Possibly a husband? I had no ring, so I couldn't be certain. She rummaged around and found a white sundress that fit well enough. She also got me some crutches, so that I could walk around. She kept me company and seemed to realize I was looking for someone. I wanted to find a face, any face that was familiar to me. Nothing.
Still no memories. I've seen everyone that has come through here, but it is no one I recall as familiar. But, there are more arriving every day. It didn't take long for me to see all the uniforms, to realize I was in the middle of a war. There were injured every where. There was so little room, the dead lined the corridors. It was a terrible war. But against whom? What side am I on? Why are we fighting?
I've picked up some rudimentary language. They call it French. The war had been going on for six years and it hasn't been going well. For lack of a better name, I've been dubbed Annette. It lacks any appeal, but I've nothing better to suggest.
I've been helping with triage. I've gotten fairly good and picking up a stretch with one hand and using a crutch with another. Mostly I've been cleaning up, changing bandages, and feeding anyone conscious enough to eat. I've surprised everyone at my ability to pick up a patient, with no assistance, and move him or her. I'm very, very strong. At least I have a talent, right? Perhaps I grew up on a farm?
My nurse, Marie, has smuggled me into the baths, getting me fresh clothing when she can. I'm hoping that when my head heals, I'll be able to remember more.
The cast was removed today. In fact, I was thinking it could have been removed long ago, but the doctors weren't about to listen to me. There aren't enough medical personnel, especially doctors, for me to take valuable time to convince them.
I've been training as a nurse. I still have no idea who I am, so I might as well be useful. I did ask Marie if she knew where personal items were kept. She said most of them are burned, since there is too much to keep. I wondered if I had a ring, to go with the vague idea of a husband. She took me to the store room where there were bins filled with jewelry, amongst other items. Two things drew my attention. One was indeed a ring, with a heraldic crest. The other was an armband of a snake. That was odd, but I knew it was mine. I signed for them. No one was going to argue with this, since most of this stuff would never find its way to the original owners.
Work has been grueling. Every once in a while I could sense what the wounded were feeling. Sometimes it helped to diagnose what was wrong, but mostly it was horrible. I had to take pains, sometimes, not to touch someone for too long. It was easier when they weren't conscious.
The powers that be decided that some of us need a vacation. They'd given me papers of identification. I am now officially, Annette St. Jude, named after the hospital I woke in. I've been given a salary, although there isn't anywhere to spend it on at the mobile hospital. We've moved twice since I arrived.
Marie and some of the other nurses are gong into Paris. They insisted I come along. I didn't have to be convinced, I could use the break from the war.
Paris gave me the sense that it's somehow familiar. Especially the Tower. It seemed that I was almost remembering it. I got a flash of an image: a dark-haired man is on the tower, talking to me.
Some images have emerged. With all the artists in the public squares, I thought I would try my hand at trying to record the images. They are so fleeting, I'm afraid I'll lose them if I don't try. Still, the strongest image is of the Tower.
I spent a few days looking up some of the images, perhaps a clue as to where I am from or where I've been. Nothing. The other nurses are not interested in research so I've been mostly alone while they go out on the town. I don't mind. They need the break and they've been very kind and considerate. Later today, we'll take a tour up to the Tower.
We all dressed for the day. Each of them had rummaged around until I had a fair wardrobe. Enough that I don't have to dress as a nurse while we are here. I'd almost forgotten that I am a woman. The others were taking great pleasure in dressing up.
The view from the Tower is wonderful, the engineering feat of the structure is astounding. Memory-wise it was an abysmal failure. Absolutely nothing happened. The others had a great time, each linking up with a wide assortment of men. I think this is what they lived for.
Making a friend--Pablo
I'm not ready to give up. I looked at the ring and thought it might be a clue. If it was a heraldic device, it could lead somewhere. If it was an organizational emblem of some sort, it might do the same. So I went to the records.
There were only three others there. An old man, who looked vaguely familiar, and two younger men. One of them was working his way through tome after tome at a fantastic rate. The other was sketching devices on a pad.
Hours later, nothing. The manager was distressed that I could not find what I was looking for. I explained my predicament, hoping he would be inspired with an answer. Instead, it simply distressed him further. I refused to cry in front of him, but told him everything would be all right. I put away my books and readied to leave.
The young man that had been sketching came over. He introduced himself as Pablo. He wanted me to sit for him, as he was an artist. He said I had 'eyes that looked into infinity.' I had no idea what to make of that. He gave me his card and I bade him a good day. I could only wonder why he was looking for subjects in the heraldic records room.
Back at the Hotel I saw that the others had already left for their dates. Good. I didn't want to hang on, impeding their vacation. Nor did I want to straggle along. A quick inquiry showed me that the trains back to the hospital left three times a day. I didn't feel like trying to have a good time. I wanted to work, to get my mind off my situation. My patience was all but gone, now. I would leave the next afternoon.
There was still some of the afternoon left, so I straightened up after the others and then went for a walk. If I was feeling lonely before, the walk only enhanced it. The park was filled with apple trees. It felt right, like I belonged here, but I knew I didn't, really. I wandered through them as the sun began to set. Across the path, there was a small boy throwing an apple with a dog. I felt dizzy, almost dazed by it. I couldn't look away. Did I have children somewhere? That scene was so familiar. It meant something, and it meant nothing.
All around me were couples strolling hand in hand, families enjoying the last of the day. The feelings of loneliness were almost crushing.
Overhead, once the sun was gone, planes flew. Many of them. It was odd. Little things dropped from them. Then they sprouted parasols and seemed to float. Something was definitely wrong. I ran back to the hotel. It was empty aside from Pablo who was just leaving. I pulled him back in. I couldn't explain why, just that I didn't think he should be out there right now.
I used the phone to call the hospital. They could get me in touch with the rest of the army. I got a sergeant. I told him what I saw. He hung up. I hope he was getting help. I called the police station, but the phone just continued to ring. No answer. Something was decidedly wrong. The station was only four blocks away, so I decided to try and get there. Pablo insisted on accompanying me.
When we were a block away, we encountered people running away. Pablo stopped one. What was wrong. The Bosch are here. They were whom we were at war with. We retreated back to the hotel.
Hours passed into the night. We heard a few shots, and lots of screams. Mostly of fear, not of pain. It seemed too quiet. There could be a great many hurt. The hospital is where I could do the most good. It was ten blocks away. I thought I could make it.
Pablo accompanied me again. We were three blocks away when we were stopped. We were asked whom we were, where we are going. The streets were barricaded with checkpoints. To our surprise, we were allowed to pass. We encountered two more and then were at the hospital. Black uniformed soldiers were everywhere. Strangely enough, the emergency room was not very busy. I found the Director and he placed me in Triage once I told him I worked at the Front. There was some work to do, but not as much as I expected, though even Pablo was drafted to help move people.
The hospital, being no where near the front, was not equipped or ready for any sort of mass casualty emergency. I made suggestions and we all started making emergency kits, donating blood to future use, and opening up work areas. If nothing else, it kept us busy.
A familiar face
There were many shock victims. One in particular arrested my attention. It was of a young girl. She didn't speak, but I thought I knew her. She's very pale, very blond, pretty. She had a terrible head wound and is now almost constantly catatonic. She reacts to loud noises and bright lights, but that is about it. According to the doctor, she got shot in the head. I got him to examine her. The wound was much smaller than what it read in the charts, and the area behind her ear looked like it was crushed. I thought the original attending doctor must have been mistaken, but I changed my mind. His attitude was not of someone defensive of their skill, used to being questioned. He was genuinely puzzled. I wondered if there was pressure on her brain, causing her state. They thought it possible, and debated whether or not she was strong enough to survive another surgery.
On impulse, I spoke to her in my first language. She answered! She said her head hurt. I asked her name, did she know who I was, where we were from, but all she said was that her head hurt. I bit down on my disappointment, and consoled her that we would try and help her. Her chart said she's been here a year. She's been dubbed Annette Ste. Marie. Apparently anyone of dubious identity is named Annette. I changed it to Amanda, to distinguish ourselves.
I've stayed at the hospital. I've not wanted to leave the only possible link to my past. Large numbers of troops arrived. The hospital is now the headquarters for the Bosch. Wonderful. Still, each soldier has been really rather polite. They incited no violence and provoked no one. It made their takeover relatively bloodless.
Each of us is given a new duty roster. Some have been allowed to leave. Pablo was one of them, so I asked if he would tell Marie I was fine. There is a new director who immediately started reassigning beds. It didn't take long to figure out he was emptying the top two floors for the headquarters. Why not? I'm sure the patients won't mind.
Pablo managed to sneak back in. All my friends have escaped to the Front. I wished that Amanda and I could join them. I was told that surgeons would be arriving within a week.
Not only did the surgeons arrive, but Amanda is finally getting some attention. All this time, I've managed to teach her a bit of the language, mostly ready stories to her. I wrote our language (what is it called!) over the French words, to help he make associations.
One of the attending doctors was shot today. I heard he had threatened the new director, went completely over the edge, and the soldiers cut him down. It was a reminder that we shouldn't become so complacent with their politeness.
I've been going through books of children's names. I keep hoping Amanda would remember something, or I would. Still nothing.
The Bosch now have reinforcements coming through. They have additional troops and equipment. It means they have a strong supply line into the city. Paris is theirs.
Of the populace, a fraction, perhaps 10% are in shock. A third is furious at the occupation while the remainder have continued to focus, trying to get past each week as they come.
Making an enemy
One of the German doctors has agreed to do an exploratory surgery on Amanda. A Major Heron. He has taken himself away from the parties that go on in the top floors of the building. There is an ominous feeling about those floors. Any nurse who has objected or argued with him has disappeared. Rumor has it, they are taken up there.
Amanda was in surgery for 3 hours. Afterwards, she did not regain consciousness. She's in a coma. Looking over her chart and wound, I could see he removed a large portion of her skull. He said it would relieve the pressure. He said it was an interesting experiment. I grew very angry. Enough not to watch my tone. Even I, a mere nurse, know you relieve pressure with little hole, not this. This meant she had no longer had protection in that area. The doctor was astonished that I was talking to him in such a way and complained to the Director. To appease him, the Director reassigned me to scrubbing floors. Heron took solace in my misery. I made some points with the Director by just going along with it. I don't think it made him happy, though, to have to cater to Heron.
I have been forbidden to attend Amanda. If Major Heron were to find out, I would be removed from the hospital, or worse. Some of the nurses sneak me in from time to time. I just talk to her, read stories. She's still in a coma. I know that the Director knows about this, but as long as I am discreet, and the surgeon does not find out, he's said nothing.
There have been diplomatic sessions upstairs. There's talk of armistice treaties and ending the war. I see the looks of the French diplomats. They are angry and will not give in easily.
Amanda was scheduled for surgery again. This time they want to put in a steel plate over the wound. One of the nurses said she was not stable, trying to stand up for Amanda, who could do nothing for herself. The nurse was gone by the end of the day. It is time to plan an escape. I spoke to some of the nurses, and they know some who would be willing to help.
Our escape was planned for a few days from now. However, a timely explosion in the top floor gave me ample opportunity to get myself and Amanda out in the confusion. With one of the nurse's help, we found ourselves in a safe house. We are in a little attic loft, with the door blocked on the other side, in case of a search.
I heard that I was blamed for the explosion. I didn't want the Director to think that of me. He'd been as kind as he could, given the circumstances. I wrote a note explained that I did not do this, but left because of that imbecilic surgeon. If we can walk and talk, we would return to thank him for his kindness. I mailed it with no return address.
Joining the Resistance
There are wanted posters all over town, with my picture on it. I later learned that the Director had been killed in the blast. My imbecilic doctor was now in charge. He must have gotten my note. I can only imagine how angry he was when he read what I wrote. They are beginning a house to house search. I think it is for me.
I can't let them find us. Our hosts would be imprisoned, not to mention what they would do to us. I put forth an idea. I am not particularly different-looking and neither is Amanda. However, together we stand out. If there were sightings of a black-haired woman with a blond woman, it might distract them enough to give up. My resistance friends liked the campaign of distraction and said they could probably arrange it.
Oh, they arranged it all right. I found out there were lots of volunteers. Unfortunately, it didn't mean the Bosch would give up. In fact, they were looking pretty foolish and the Director was very, very angry. I was in for a fight.
So, the next step was to put up false wanted posters. They would arrest people without knowing why, only to learn there had been no crime. I'm gambling that if the Director would look so foolish, he would be removed from his position. Hopefully, to Hamburg. Or Antarctica.
We are driving the Bosch to distraction. The French are laughing up their sleeves, though we really haven't done anything but keep morale going. We haven't accomplished anything, really. We are moved each week, so that the comings and goings of the resistance is not noted in any one location. They just started showing up, asking for advice. It seems that since my image is everywhere, I've become some sort of a rallying point.
I've been having a lot of nightmares. Well, maybe not nightmares. I'm not particularly frightened, though I think I should be. I seen a big dark castle with dog-faced men and insect people. It's all very spooky and eerie, but I don't feel frightened.
Amanda spoke today! She was looking at the ceiling and said, Mommy, my head hurts. Then she said she was hungry. By the time I got past the false wall, the barricade, to the kitchen and back, she was asleep again.
She woke up much later. She said it was dark. I covered the window and lit a candle. I got her to eat, though it wasn't very much. She still doesn't remember anything.
We had to move again. Amanda was very distressed about this and cried at the mere mention of it. She said the bad men were out there. The snake man. What? She refused to be moved.
I finally convinced Amanda to move. She was very brave, keeping quiet and still. I learned that there is a treaty being worked on. Paris could very well be permanently German. One of the resistance members said they were going to have a rally. He wanted me to speak at it. I was unsure. It seemed like a risky thing to do. If it was learned I was there, it could get very ugly. I think many would show up for that. But, hiding behind these people seemed wrong too. If I was going to fight, I should be out there, with them. I don't know when I got drawn into this war. When I took sides.
In the end, I agreed. On the stipulation that arrangements were made to get Amanda out of Paris should anything go wrong. They didn't like it, it would be difficult, but they had no choice but to agree.
The rally was tonight. I got through half of what I was going to say before voices over megaphone announced we were surrounded. We had about a thousand people here. They called for someone to come out and parlay. I tried to go out, but was stopped by my own people. I had to pick one up and move him, to get through. It was now or never.
Three officers came to meet me. For the life of me, I can't remember anything of two of them. It was the third that held my attention. He was very tall, very blond and very handsome. I not only knew I knew him, but I knew I was in love with him. And he works for the other side. Oh my. He stared at me as if he was having a very difficult time breathing, as if his collar was a bit too tight.
He introduced himself as Obercolonel Eis. It called no memory to emerge. He was in charge of taking Paris. Oh. Well, he did it very well. I told him I was willing to go with him, if he would let the others go. Otherwise, it was going to get ugly. One side or another would be in trouble, and with half of the city watching, he didn't need further trouble.
He narrowed his eyes, considering. He conceded the point. However, he wanted me and fifty volunteers. Then the rest could go. I got a few minutes to go back and discuss this. The two officers with him were startled at his decision, but said nothing.
Inside, the feelings were running hot. Some wanted to go, one called for us to make a stand. I ignored him. I told the others that if it were mostly women and children, they wouldn't dare to do anything, not with the whole city watching. The inciter called for us to burn the warehouse down. If we died, our cause was made. I told him that would be doing the German's job for him. Was he working for them, the Germans? If not, be silent. Then he slapped me. I have no memories, but I just know I hate to be slapped.
I hit him before I really thought about it. I knocked him out. I think I broke his jaw.
Some of the other men looked like they were going to object, but the women there moved behind me and crossed their arms, waiting. After a pause, the men backed down. Eis called over the megaphone that time was up.
We went outside. He looked chagrined at the line of women and we were escorted to a truck. We got to see the men released. They came out of the warehouse, ready for a fight. When they did not meet a hail of bullets, they ran for the shadows and were gone.
Eis informed me that we would be taken to the headquarters. I immediately thought of the Director. And the missing women. What fate have I brought to them? I inquired as to our fate. If we were going to meet the same as the other women, we would like to be prepared, if he would be so kind. What women? The ones sent to the service men's quarters. To service men.
I didn't get any further because he'd moved to one of his own soldiers. He grabbed him by the lapels and whispered something to him. Then he moved back to us. He said we would be given quarters and we'd be treated with courtesy. I relaxed. I just knew I could trust him. He clicked his heels and gave a short bow.
We sat in the trucks and were off to the hospital. It was then that I realized Eis wasn't coming with us. If the Director saw me, I was as good as dead. I said something to that effect. Actually, everyone pretty much knows my story. There was a flurry of activity as one woman produced some makeup that darkened my skin and hide the spot on my forehead. Another gave me a cap, to hide my hair. A bit more makeup was produced and I looked surprisingly different.
Once there, we were escorted to a large room. Major Heron was very angry that we were being treated so nicely. He asked who the leader was. Three women stepped forward. He was going to take them away. I whispered to another woman, actually a young girl of about sixteen, and said that we were told we had to wait for Obercolonel Eis. It was his orders. The young girl repeated my whispered suggestion to Heron. It stopped him. Heron didn't like that at all. I didn't like how he looked at the girl who had relayed my suggestion. He left, without the women. He didn't recognize me.
A brutal trial for war crimes
Heron returned. He asked us questions, we answered. Really, it was easy to pretend we were just housewives who were told what to do, but new nothing. He was growing exasperated. He picked out the young girl and said she would come with him. When he returned, he wanted a list of names. He left a sheet of paper and pen. I was very, very nervous. But, what was I supposed to do? I could only rely on Eis. I don't think I would love someone who would be cruel. But how can I know that? The girl left. A few minutes later, the screams began.
Something in me changed. I've had no cause for anger, but I felt myself change. I knew I was not only capable of hurting Heron, but I could do it very well. It wasn't much later that I wondered about that. It went on for too long, each of us in some torment, we could envision many, many things. I put women into groups around the room. Heron would not leave here unhurt when he returned. The plan was, when he entered I would grab him. If his soldiers thought to shoot, I would threaten to break his neck. I have no memories, but I know I am strong. I can do it.
Eventually, everything went silent. I stood at the table, leaning over it as if I were writing. I would wait for him to approach. I was so angry, I was shaking. I was thinking Heron was arrogant enough to mistake it for fear.
The door unlocked and we all tensed, ready. I heard boots come in, but they did not approach close enough. Then Eis spoke. He apologized that his wishes were not met. In fact, he was asking for us to help him. I stood to face him, still very angry. He was carrying the young girl in his arms. My anger shifted a bit when I saw Heron behind him, in handcuffs. Eis said that Heron was to stand trial for war crimes. We would be his tribunal. One of the women came and took the girl from him.
Then he left the room.
With Heron inside.
And we descended upon that bastard.
I made sure we didn't kill him, though it was no easy task. No that would be for his latest victim, should she choose to take it. I dragged Heron over to her. She didn't kill him, but she got her measure. Then we had a brief discussion. Should we let him live? A simple break in his back, and he would harm no one for the rest of his life. I thought it fitting, being at the mercy of kindness when he'd given so little of it. About ten wanted this to go to an actual trial. The girl and I, with ten others wanted him as an invalid. The rest voted for death.
And so it was.
I went to the door, surprised to find it unlocked. Eis was outside, speaking with one of his men. I apologized for the mess, but said we were done. He nodded. He got one of his men to not only take Heron away, but to drag the body through the hospital, to the trash. An effective message.
A short meeting with Eis
The ladies have all been given quarters together. All this time and I have not seen Eis since. Could I have been wrong? Surely he would have come to see me, if we'd had a relationship.
Later that morning, he had some officers come and get me. He explained that there was an Armistice about to be signed. He wanted me to select a few women to let them go home, to tell the others so that there would be little problems. I told him that there were some problems with that. What were the terms of this armistice? He didn't know. Knowing that the war would end would be fine, but if Paris were to remain as a German territory, or if that was feared, the city would not react well. It could very well blow up in his face. He thought about it and said he'd get back to me.
Then he asked if he knew me. I replied that I have no memories, and he confessed the same. I spoke to him in my language, and after a moment, he replied in the same language. How odd that both of us have no memories.
I could tell it bothered him as much as it did me.
The armistice is going to be signed. Paris will be returned to France and the Germans will keep certain lands, which had been their goals since the beginning. Everyone was happy enough that the war was over that there was little resistance over this matter. All of us will be able to leave.
The question was, where do we go?
There are both French and German troops in the city as the transfer of authority was to be switched. There's the occasional breakout of violence, which keeps me busy at the hospital, but still, it could have been worse.
Amanda hasn't improved. She still has the mind of a little girl, perhaps eight years old. Eis visited once and saw her. He did not recognize her, but Amanda immediately spoke, clearly saying he was her brother. They did have the same coloring, some similarities, though he was much larger. But no other information emerged from any of us.
The Germans are leaving. Eis came once more. He talked a bit about having started in the military as a corporal, working his way up through the ranks. I was impressed that he had made it to colonel is such a short time. He corrected me, saying he was now a general. He went on to tell me about his duties and the work ahead of him in Germany. I realized he would be leaving.
What we I supposed to do? Follow him? Any answers I might have of my past, I felt would be here. Now that the war is over, I might be able to find them out. I had to keep trying, even if I don't know if I believe I will accomplish anything.
Eis continued to say that he could come back from time to time, perhaps every few months. He would even arrange for me to have a house to stay in. I noted that he didn't say I should go with him.
It's been almost a full year that I have been here. I was feeling rather dreadful that he was leaving. I'd be alone again, not that we'd spent any time together, but I'd thought that once the war was done, we'd figure it all out. I care for Amanda, but she requires more from me than the reverse. I wanted to talk to someone, about the images I've seen, possibilities, everything, as an adult. And he was sitting there, calmly telling me what? That he could blithely walk away with little feelings on the matter.
All the feelings of the year threatened to spill over. Some did. I asked him what I was supposed to do. Just wait in his house, like some mistress, hoping I'd get a day here and there with him? If he could get away? It was all well and good that he had a career, but I don't do well unless I have something to do. He was going there. I pointed out the window. I was referring to Germany, but he was literally looking out the window. He was going a thousand miles away, with all manners of problems in between.
He said, "Well there was always the telegraph."
Oh, he is exasperating! Great idea, you do that. I got up and left. I wonder if he'll be able to leave the room. I slammed it hard enough to break the door. The sound echoed through the hall as I let him figure it all out. By the time I calmed down, he was gone. Just like that.
I've been going amongst the former resistance people, asking if any knew of a job I might be able to do. With soldiers coming back, there would be few in the future. With the war ending, there'd be too many nurses and doctors for me to hang out there. And I don't think I'm as qualified as the others.
I was asked to meet with the President of France. He asked if I might be willing to use my image and presence, to help keep up morale and such, during the rebuilding. It didn't take long for me to agree, though it seems strange that anyone really cares whether I'm involved. I hadn't done much, but they seem to believe that the people have latched onto me as some sort of symbol. He actually referred to me as Annette Liberte.
I agreed to the proposal. The Cabinet members were very happy and started to make plans. Unfortunately, I'd never worked with any of them during the war, so they had little idea that I tend to work in my own way. I told them that the wealthy, the privileged would have to sacrifice something, to get the poorer sections back on their feet. 'They were supposed to give away all their money?' No, just a lot of it. We would need money for rebuilding, buying food, moving people to new homes. They were aghast at the notion, and shot it down. I walked out on them.
I noticed one fellow smiling as I left.
A grass roots approach to reconstruction
Amanda and I are staying with some former resistance members. I managed to get some food lines opened. Many, many people showed up for food. I even got some of the city's private tradesmen to donate some time to help with repairs. The President was correct, it seems. I just had to ask for something, and it was usually given. It probably won't last, but I'll use it as long as I can. There are many farms, towns and villages that were destroyed during the war. Those people had nowhere to go, no lives waiting for them, to future. We had to make one.
While I was serving lunch, I found a young man standing next to me. He was very, very well dressed. I remembered him. He said we had a common ally. Oh? He mentioned one of the Cabinet members, one who hadn't objected to my ideas. This man hired him, Monad, to be the Minister of Liberty. He was to assist me in any way I required.
We've made great progress. I work almost 14 hour days, though it's usually supposed to be only 10. Amanda stays with us, playing quietly as we work. We started on the obvious, getting people food and clothing. Then we put them to work. We aimed at the obvious, so people can see the results. It's kept the momentum going.
The last week I've wondered if I am becoming ill. I find myself seriously distracted. I will go into a room only to have forgotten why I went in. I forget where I place things and suddenly feel very confused. Yesterday, I lost almost all appetite, the food being tasteless, getting chilled one moment, over heated the next. And while I have slept, it is restless and as good as if I hadn't slept at all.
Monad caught me today, going through another bout of fever. He immediately relocated us back to our quarters. He's very concerned. He didn't want me to go to the hospital, for fear word would get out that I was sick. He called in doctors, but they could find nothing wrong. I'm confined to bed.
My condition hasn't improved. The doctor's are very concerned. About mid-day I received a visitor. Colonel Eis. He corrected that, reminding me he was a general now. He came in, bearing flowers. I watched as he fussed with getting them into a vase, clearly trying to think what he should say. Eventually, he turned and told me very seriously that I was working too hard. What we have been doing has reached him in Germany and he was impressed, but I should be taking better care of myself. I was not feeling at all well and I wanted to shout at him. To ask if he even cared, but I just kept quiet. If I yelled, he might go away.
He'd seen some of the posters of me that have been circulating, to keep morale going. I was 'Annette Liberte' in everyone's mind now. But, he didn't like the idea that I was wearing trousers. He thought it a bad precedent. Oh, really? How is that? Well, it gave people all sort of ideas. It was dangerous, and I was ruining the country.
Of all the nerve! He comes back here, after months of not one word, and this is what he tells me? I got up and went to the door. Monad, dependable as always, was working in the other room. From the door, I called him over. I told him he had to dispatch a message to the Cabinet right away. I had it on good authority that I was very dangerous and I was ruining the country. The Cabinet needed to know this immediately. Monad gave a short bow and I went back into the room. I didn't quite slam the door. Eis was standing there, eyes narrowed. I said it would only be fair to give the government due warning before I did any more damage. He approached slowly and then kissed me.
I didn't know what to expect, but this wouldn't have been it. The walls trembled, the building shook. Thunder roiled overhead and it felt as if the building was on fire. I didn't care. It felt wonderful. I felt familiar.
Eis was even more startled and tried to stop. I wanted this connection, so I didn't give him a chance. I found I was more than strong enough to keep him in my arms.
But I didn't know how hot the flames would burn.
He tore my clothes. I tore his. We were on the floor. It was heaven.
I have no idea how long we were engaged in our activities, but it ended when he went unconscious. I should have been worried, but strangely wasn't. I just knew he wasn't hurt. But the intensity must have been too severe.
I got him into bed and got myself dressed. I found Monad, who told me that he had relayed my message and the Cabinet's reply was that they already knew it. I had to laugh. Actually, I felt pretty good, even my appetite had returned. I don't remember that last time I ate, and even then it was only the minimum to keep me going. I got some clothing for Eis. His poor uniform was completely destroyed.
Food arrived and I tried to rouse Eis, but he just muttered something and rolled over. I left him sleep.
He woke hours later, very embarrassed, and almost frightened, about the whole thing. He said he'd admired me, but he'd no intention of admiring me in this way. He was trying very hard to be the gentleman, to act correctly. I wanted to reassure him, but he wasn't letting me back into the bedroom. He did say that at least he's stopped having the shakes. I walked to the door and talked to him through it. Trouble sleeping? Fevers? He opened the door about half a foot and looked out. Forgetful? Can't sleep? He'd had the same problems. I said if he wanted to try to eat, the food will taste much better now. I went and retrieved a strawberry and popped it into his mouth. He protested that he didn't like strawberries, but his eyes got wide. 'Hey, that's pretty good.' Then he was at the table, devouring whatever I had left.
Amanda knocked on the door and Eis dived for the bedroom again. I sighed and took the clothes, leaving them just inside the door. I let Amanda in. She'd just wanted to say hello to Eis. But, she'd been told by Monad I was being naughty and had to wait. I smiled and said it was fine.
I was beginning to wonder if we'd been given a drug. Three people, who happen to know the same, unknown language, all related somehow, all ending up with amnesia. Both Eis and I are stronger than anyone else, though he is much stronger than I am. There was something odd here. Amanda said it was the snake man. He hurt her head. I asked her if she could draw the image. She said no, not as well as I could, but she could show me. How? She took my hand and held it to her forehead. I felt the back of the sofa as I hit it. An image had slammed into my head, clear and very strong. The snake man. I didn't know him, I think. How had she done that?
Eis came into the room and I had her do it to him. This time I got to watch. She placed his hand on her forehead and his head rocked back violently as the image came into his head. There was no back to the settee, so I caught him before he fell off. He didn't know the man either. But this had to be some clue. It wasn't the man I remember standing on the Tower. Who is he?
I've sent out word I need help. If I have become Annette Liberte, to help France through this war, then I needed France's help now. Our plan is to find any other amnesia victim's. All we need are the listings, and some general ideas of their symptoms and circumstances.
We've gone to where I was found. I was hoping that might trigger some associations. Nothing.
At least I now have a name. Pablo has decided I came into being, as in parthenogenesis, like the mythical Athena. Of course, I tried to squash that notion, but Eis focused on it. Oh, not the creation part, the name. He seemed to recall I had a similar name, more syllables, maybe three, and it ended in a. Did that narrow it down? Not really, but we got some of the classics, scanning for various names. He was certain it was Cassandra, when we came to it. So, I have a name. Not that I can really use it. The Cabinet feels that Annette speaks to more people, and it is what they are used to. So, I am Cassandra to only a few.
I wish the name Cassandra actually meant something to me.
Amanda kept bringing up the bad man, the snake man. On impulse, I took off my armband. Like this? Her eyes grew wide. "Yes
snakes." We went through different snake species, again hoping for associations. After Amanda herself stumbled over adders-- Eis jumped in again-- "Blackadders," to be specific. What could that mean? I could look over heraldic devices again, perhaps historical references or organizational totems, but I have no idea if that would mean anything, or accomplish any goal.
Something to be pondered.
We have a list of names of amnesiacs. Monad was intelligent enough to have various locations write down who was actually in their establishments, rather than who should be there. We weeded out those who have families, even if they do not remember them. Then we crossed off those who had symptoms of shell-shock, and other obvious causes of their illness. That took the list from about 400 to a more manageable 100. I began visiting them.
I went through the patients in the first three promising sites. Out of all of the inmates, two stood out. I don't know what it was, they just seemed livelier, more noticeable. As a test, I spoke my native tongue
and they answered! Two more, without memories. I used my name to have them brought to Paris. Unfortunately, neither Amanda nor Eis seemed to think they were familiar, nor was the reverse.
I admit to becoming rather discouraged. It's been a year, and we've learned nothing. Despite what I want, I really don't know what my relationship with Eis is, in reality. For all I know, we could be married
to other people and our feelings were out of place. I'd hate to learn that we've broken promises to others. I'm having difficulty justifying any actions based on ignorance, since I can clearly reason this possibility.
As for who we are, I still have no idea. I broached the idea that we are different from others. We are noticeably stronger, well, not Amanda, but the rest of us. Eis is very strong, and fast, too. Amanda has her gift of placing things in our minds. This is decidedly unusual. So, what does that mean? We all speak an unknown language, and we all have amnesia. Both Eis and myself have had our faces and positions very public, but not one word has come from anyone that should know us. Surely a parent, or spouse, or even children would telegraph or write to make contact? That was a daunting thought. I am pretty young, I think, but not so young I couldn't have a number of children by now.
Do we keep trying? Do we keep trying but live as if this will be all there is. Do we give up and accept the life we have now? I wish I had answers. Perhaps Eis shouldn't have resigned his commission to pursue this. If we are going to spend the rest of our lives here, he shouldn't have to give up his career. I'll have to talk to him about it. With all he did towards ending the war, he could probably get it back while still in good favor. Whether I am there or not should be a secondary consideration. I'm actually considering hiring a medium or mystic to find some answers. That is how desperate I'm becoming.
One thing is becoming clearer. I am thinking more and more that this has been no accident. Could a drug to this to us? What were we, who were we, that we'd have such enemies?
| Cassandra Diary 12 | Cassandra Diary 13 | Cassandra Diary 14 | Cassandra Diary 15 |
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