[Cecily] Thirty One: "Life is but a Dream"

        In all my years of fighting nightmares, both waking and sleeping, I've never been afraid to go to sleep. Tonight, though, I find getting up and pacing the room every time I start to doze off, contemplating what dream, or nightmare, we just might wake up in the next time this happens. I may not be afriad of the dark, but I never realized how disturbing it might be to know your dreams are not your own.
        The worst part of all this is it's something I don't know how to fight. Dreams are the realm of magic and philosophy. Mine is still that of blood and swords, no matter how much I play at Regent, or even queen.
        It's not easy. It will never be easy. I only wish I hadn't needed so brutal a reminder of that.
        I can't explain why I had insisted we not leave Amber in the dream. It was nothing more than gut instinct, but I couldn't shake the feeling that if we were to wander too far out into the Dream King's realm, we may not have found our way back. Even in the dream, Amber is still Amber.
        Or at least I hope so.
        It feels like I'm playing a game of chess, but can only see one side of the board. Things happen, but we either don't see them until they happen, or until it's too late to defend. I keep waiting for some disembodied voice to say "Checkmate" and tip me off the side of the board. I have a feeling it would be a damn long fall.
        Damn you, Dworkin. Where the hell are you?
        When we gathered, after tallying the missing, the injured and the dead, it was the most subdued I have seen this group since we arrived. My head still felt strange from the hours I'd been lost in the Jewel, and I spent more time listening than usual. I think the small edge of confidence and camaraderie we had gained is starting to unravel. There's nothing to focus the group on, other than surviving, and I'm not sure who all is out only for themselves.
        Gerda should live, if we can find Stark, but there's no way the pregnancy will be viable. I think Fletcher is still in denial, to some extent, of the Dream's ability or power to interact with the waking world. I can't say as I blame him. It's not sitting all that well with me. But in part, denial has gotten us in the mess we're in. We've been fighting this battle like we can win it with a fair fight, and that's just not going to happen.
        We made some plans - sleeping in shifts, letting loose our little bird in the basement, and making a strike against Roth - but there was a half-heartedness our sense of purpose, a sense of fighting against an inevitable defeat. Or maybe I'm just tired and shouldn't be thinking about this right now.
        I wish I had that choice.
        I need to learn what the Jewel is capable of. I was able to attune to it in the dream, and that seems to have crossed whatever barriers exist between dream and waking. Maybe the Jewel, and the Pattern, transcend the Dream's power. Maybe it will give us an advantage in fighting who ever it is who has toppled the Dream King.
        If I can figure out how to use the damn thing. Magic crap is Harry's realm of expertise, not mine. I don't even know in what direction to go with it, but all the sorcery types are occupied with creating our mole, so I'm left to my own inadequate devices.
        Maybe I'll see if Shen'll keep en eye on me for the next couple of days while I play with this thing, just in case I get lost in it again. I may not have a clue, but I'm stubborn, and I'll figure this thing out if it kills me.
        You know, all things considered, I probably shouldn't say things like that...
        Anyway it's better than sitting around waiting until the next disaster comes. It's becoming too easy to be reactive rather than proactive, with the constant avalanche of disasters we can't seem to out-run. I have to agree the idea behind Fletcher's complaint, if not with his blood-thirsty enthusiasm: we're not making our point strongly or loudly enough. Yet, we can't over-extend ourselves in the face of this new threat.
        I can see why there are so many crazy monarchs throughout history. Dealing with this is enough to drive anyone right out of their mind.