Conflict? What conflict? I live a quiet life in Omphalos. Not that I mind. Once I stood at the head of the loftiest of tables, pouring wine into the cup of a king among gods. He never saw me, that king, even though he was his own daughter. Not until he gave my place to a pretty boy he fancied did he even glance in my direction. My mother still seethes with rage over that. I’m not sure it’s worth wasting so much passion upon. I’ve always been easy to ignore. I may have my father’s height, but none of his presence or power. I might possess my mother’s stormy gray eyes, yet I have neither her beauty nor her guile. How often I’ve wished my eyes were violet-blue, flecked with silver and green. Such a color would be unforgettable. Or to have a glorious mane of golden hair like the proprietor of the Navel enjoys. No one would ever think Gabrielle was ordinary. Quite the opposite. Only I’d want my golden tresses to mingle with strands of silver. It might give me a look of age and wisdom, no matter how ridiculous my behaviour or how unlined my face might be. I happen to enjoy wrinkles and lines upon a woman’s face. They give her character. Anyone who’d discard a person with character is a fool. Anyone who thinks hiding her wrinkles will keep a roving eye from straying is equally foolish. My mother was deemed one of the most beautiful immortals to grace the heavens, never showing a line. None of this kept my father from sporting with anything which caught his fancy. Poor Mother. The wrinkles and lines eventually caught up with her. If only she’d try to wear them with grace instead of fighting them. If only she didn’t waste so much time worrying about me. No, I’m not happy, but I’ve never been happy. Not with myself or what I’m doing with myself. Why do I keep going to the Navel, picking out cup after cup? It’s always the same. I take the cup home. I keep for a few days, pouring wine, sometimes tea or mead into it, and drinking the contents. I smash the cup. I break it into tiny bits, seeing my father’s face. I return to the Navel. I select a different goblet. The same thing happens. I take it home, use it for a brief time, and destroy it. I’m not sure why I keep doing it over and over. I can’t seem to stop. Mother, who lives with me in Omphalos, worries and questions me about it whenever we’re alone. She blames my father for my behaviour. I didn’t think I cared about him any more, but why do I keep smashing cups? Cups which remind me in some way of my past at my father’s side? If only I could let go of that time. If only I could let go of myself. Somewhere there’s a Door that will open to a path, leading me to my desire, a way to release it all, to change into someone else. I hear there’s a path for every person waiting in the Shadow Forest, leading to your heart’s desire. One just has to want to find that Door bad enough for it to appear. Only I need a key to open this Door. I sense who this key is, even if I’m not sure why. I know what he wants. I’ve just got to convince him to open my Door. Perhaps if I can help him find the path to his heart’s desire, he’ll help me find mine. I’ve just got to persuade him it’s in his best interest to do this.