Grandfather and Grandmother are likely removed for the time being, as close to dead as any two creatures such as themselves likely can be. Mother is lost. And I inherit House Raja and the title of a Lord of Chaos, by happenstance.
Did you plan this too, Virgil? Did you know what I would find at the end of Shadow, and the knowledge I would bring back? I only hope Serpentis proves himself at least capable of understanding the mysteries there. What happened to you, Virgil? Where did the plan go?
But I clear these thoughts from my mind, and focus on the Pattern. It is my strength, my only strength now. Even here, so far from Amber, it gives me what I need to continue. I remember my footsteps and retrace my steps. The turns before the Second Veil are treacherous, and they lead you from the inside of the shape once more towards the edge. To reach the Second Veil, you will only be able to see the glowing blue fire of the Pattern around you, every step harder than the last and every insight more powerful than before.
The Second Veil is a greater challenge than the first, but it is far more direct in its methods. It does not sneak up on you. It does not hide from you. It is a wall suddenly in your path, and beyond it you cannot reach. As you reach the Second Veil, the very forces of Shadow itself beat upon you, seeking to break you. There is a hate in the heart of the Second Veil, a hate that burns as bring as the sparks of the blue electric flame searing about you. It is not a cold hate, that waits for its chance to strike. It is a terrible, unending hate that does its mightiest to scourge you from your task.
To pass the Second Veil, you must not let it break you. As the hammer falls upon the heated steel, it is not seeking to break the steel. The harder the strike, the greater the metal becomes. The force of the Second Veil is to purge the remaining weakness from you and to harden your resolve into pressing forward against the most impossible of odds. As you gave up your fear of failure at the First Veil, you must give up on your weakness at the Second Veil. It will not allow any through. The creature who reaches the far side of that Veil is not the whole creature who began it.
If my mother's defeat was my First Veil, I have passed now my Second Veil. There is naught but death in Amber, and Virgil is the agent of my enemy. My weakness has always been that I care too much. I care too much for my troops. I care too much about my cousins, though not in a way that would make me hesitate to bring them harm. Quite the opposite. But I still care.
Virgil is beyond caring. If I allow myself to care here, he will defeat me. It will defeat me. Perhaps I will be able to save my friend from it. Perhaps not. I know my task, however, and I have very little time to do it. I can no longer afford to care. Risks must be taken. I must succeed.
There can be no other outcome.