How long till the next anniversary of Eric’s coronation? I stopped pacing and my heart beat faster. As soon as someone saw that I’d recovered my eyes, I’d lose them again.

Therefore, I’d have to escape before the four years had passed.

If only it weren’t impossible to walk into Shadow from Amber itself Then I wouldn’t have to fool around with the Pattern. But my Amber is the center of all, and you just don’t depart it that easily.

Therefore, I’d have to escape before the four years had passed.

Then if I succeeded, with a blade in my hand, nothing could keep me from reaching the Pattern. I’d walk it, and when I made it to the center, I could transport myself to any Shadow world I chose. There I would recuperate, and this time I would not rush things. If it took me a century, I’d have everything letter-perfect before I moved against Amber again. After all, I was technically its liege. Hadn’t I crowned myself in the presence of all, before Eric had done the same? I’d make good my claim to the throne

I had grown new eyes, my fingers told me. It had taken me over three years, but I had done it. It was the million-to-one thing I spoke of earlier, the thing which even Eric could not properly assess, because of the variances of powers among the individual members of the family. I had beaten him to this extent: I had learned that I could grow new eyeballs. I had always known that I could regenerate nerve tissues, given sufficient time. I had been left paraplegic from a spine injury received during the Franco-Prussian wars. After two years, it had gone away. I had had my hope – a wild one, I’ll admit – that I could do what I had done then, with my burned-out orbs. And I had been right. They felt intact, and the sight was returning, slowly.

The door was mainly wood. Oak. It was bound with four metal strips. One went around it near the top, one near the bottom, right above the gate, and there were two which ran from top to bottom, passing along either side of the footwide grille. The door opened outward, I knew, and the lock was to my left. My memories told me the door was about two inches thick, and I recalled the approximate position of the lock, which I verified by leaning against the door and feeling the tension at that point. I knew that the door was also barred, but I could worry about that later. I might be able to raise it by sliding the handle of the spoon upward between the door’s edge and the jamb.

My sight was returning to me, that’s what it meant – that lovely patch of brightness, off somewhere to my right.

It was still almost like being blind, save for that feeble reassuring light through the grille. I knew my sight hadn’t returned fully. That was still a long way off. But even if it had, it was nearly pitch dark in there. I knew this because I knew the dungeons under Amber.

He might be overconfident, thinking I couldn’t see. On the other hand, he might be a bit afraid, if he recalled how I had entered into Amber. Either way he would die and I would then be armed. I gripped my right biceps with my left hand and my fingertips touched. Gods Whatever, I was of the blood of Amber, and I felt that even in that condition I could take any ordinary man. Maybe I was kidding myself, but I’d have to try it.

I regenerate faster and better than anybody I’ve ever known.

Therefore, I’d have to escape before the four years had passed.

I had grown new eyes, my fingers told me. It had taken me over three years, but I had done it. It was the million-to-one thing I spoke of earlier, the thing which even Eric could not properly assess, because of the variances of powers among the individual members of the family. I had beaten him to this extent: I had learned that I could grow new eyeballs. I had always known that I could regenerate nerve tissues, given sufficient time. I had been left paraplegic from a spine injury received during the Franco-Prussian wars. After two years, it had gone away. I had had my hope – a wild one, I’ll admit – that I could do what I had done then, with my burned-out orbs. And I had been right. They felt intact, and the sight was returning, slowly.

My sight was returning to me, that’s what it meant – that lovely patch of brightness, off somewhere to my right.

Well, let’s take it like this: I had awakened in a hospital bed and learned that I had recovered all too soon. Dig?

If only it weren’t impossible to walk into Shadow from Amber itself Then I wouldn’t have to fool around with the Pattern. But my Amber is the center of all, and you just don’t depart it that easily.

I knelt on my sleeping mat and with the spoon I traced a box about that area which contained the lock. I worked until my hand was quite sore – maybe a couple of hours. Then I ran my fingernail over the surface of the wood. I hadn’t scarred it much, but it was a beginning. I switched the spoon to my left hand and continued until it began to ache.

I’d discovered a tiny patch of brightness, off somewhere to my right.

Then if I succeeded, with a blade in my hand, nothing could keep me from reaching the Pattern. I’d walk it, and when I made it to the center, I could transport myself to any Shadow world I chose. There I would recuperate, and this time I would not rush things. If it took me a century, I’d have everything letter-perfect before I moved against Amber again. After all, I was technically its liege. Hadn’t I crowned myself in the presence of all, before Eric had done the same? I’d make good my claim to the throne

I hadn’t thought about it much up to this time, because even if I could figure a way to get out of my cell, I’d never make it out of Amber – or out of the palace, for that matter – without eyes or aid, and neither were available to me.

I kept hoping that Rein would show up. I was sure I could talk him into giving me his dagger if I really pressed the matter. He didn’t put in an appearance, though, so I just kept grinding away.

I’d lived through the Plague, I’d lived through the march on Moscow.

The door was mainly wood. Oak. It was bound with four metal strips. One went around it near the top, one near the bottom, right above the gate, and there were two which ran from top to bottom, passing along either side of the footwide grille. The door opened outward, I knew, and the lock was to my left. My memories told me the door was about two inches thick, and I recalled the approximate position of the lock, which I verified by leaning against the door and feeling the tension at that point. I knew that the door was also barred, but I could worry about that later. I might be able to raise it by sliding the handle of the spoon upward between the door’s edge and the jamb.

Day after day I worked, until I was perhaps half an inch into the wood. Each time I’d hear a guard’s footsteps I’d move the pallet back to the far wall and lie down on it with my back to the door. When he had passed, I’d resume work. Then I had to stop for a while, as much as I hated to. Even though I had wrapped them in cloth torn from my garments, my hands had blistered and the blisters had broken, and after a time the raw flesh underneath began to bleed. So I took a break to let them heal. I decided to devote the time to planning what I’d do after I got out.

Then if I succeeded, with a blade in my hand, nothing could keep me from reaching the Pattern. I’d walk it, and when I made it to the center, I could transport myself to any Shadow world I chose. There I would recuperate, and this time I would not rush things. If it took me a century, I’d have everything letter-perfect before I moved against Amber again. After all, I was technically its liege. Hadn’t I crowned myself in the presence of all, before Eric had done the same? I’d make good my claim to the throne

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