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Cassandra's Diary.42

Day 328/28

I'd still no word from DeWinter. So, I Trumped him. I felt the contact establish, waver and then drop.

With a horrified shock, I realized his card was warm. The familiar, always crisp chill of the card had vanished.

This must be a trick. A trick?

I Trumped Rinaldo. I asked him what a warm card meant. He said it usually meant someone was destroyed. I told him he had to come through immediately; it was DeWinter's card. That shook him. He signed off and Trumped back in 20 minutes, ready with supplies. He came through and quickly examined the card. He said that DeWinter's card shouldn't do this, even if he were dead. For example, Eric's card was still cold. He said only if someone completely ceased to exist, would this happen.

Shit! I so did not want to hear this.

I Trumped Owen.

She was even more shaken to hear this, pale and drawn. She examined her DeWinter card; it too was warm. She signed off.

What could I do? If he was anywhere I couldn't go, who could? I told Xhimena to call Pops. I had to talk to him immediately. I carefully kept my voice calm but insistent. She said she would call him.

I had made a number of sketches of Tremerule. They, too, were warm. What was the connection? What could have taken them both out, so quickly? DeWinter, at least, was too tough to go down that quickly. I did not want to think about it.

Rinaldo had DeWinter's card in a circle of some kind and was performing tests.

To do something, I went to get Xhimena.

Xhimena didn't realize I wanted Pops now . We went to her room so she could prepare for bed. I suppose it was her little ritual, but it took everything to remain calm. When she was in her nightdress, she went to the window. The villa rooms were much taller than our rooms in Gianassa. Neither of us could reach the gutter under the roof. To my shock, she stepped out into air and floated up high enough to hold on to it. Then she told me to climb up her, to the roof.

That just did not sound right.

But, if Kai could lift DeWinter when he was 7---she may be able to support me.

Desperate, I grabbed her tiny ankle and shimmied up until I got to the roof. I swung up and then lifted her up. I came close to breaking the gutter in my grip. She reminded me to be careful, since we had to get down again.

Xhimena went to a dormer and sat down, careful not to dirty her nightdress. I sat behind her. She began to sing. In a few minutes, five of the stars came down, forming into Ravens. Three more followed, and then Pops.

I went to talk to Pops. I told him I needed him help. I held up DeWinter's card, so Xhimena couldn't see it. I said he was missing and I wanted him found. He understood. He needed the card though. I put it into his beak and they flew off in a flurry.

I Trumped Claw to get us down. We were back in the parlor.

I gave Xhimena a kiss and sent her to play with the girls. I was thinking about what else I could do when there was something like and explosion outside. I opened the door. By the cars was…something. It had glowing fiery wings three times my size. Black spikes spun vertically around the center joint of the wings.


I screamed at Claw to get the children out! She nearly broke her neck getting up the stairs.

I did the only thing I could think of. I ran in front of it and then angled off, down the street. As I hoped, it, or he, followed. As I ran as fast as I could, I began shifting shadow, just enough to get us away from Paris, but not enough to lose Mal. As I ran, I got a Trump call. It was Gerard.

Before he could say anything, I said that what might have gotten DeWinter was Mal. He must tell Owen. Fiona knew about it. I cut off the call before he could reply.

Even in that brief exchange, Mal had caught up.

I kept shifting. I got ahead enough, at one point, to attempt to Trump Fiona. She was giving some sort of lecture. I said Mal may have gotten DeWinter. I diverted him from the children but he was after me! I had to drop the call because he was suddenly in front of me.

I veered off and continued to run. He wasn't chasing me. He was just blinking in front of me. Damn it! I didn't twist fast enough---and ran right into about four of the black spikes. They went right through me with a sharp bite of warm metal.

I pulled off them and got a Trump call while blood smeared everywhere. I answered it; it was Owen. She saw the wounds, and pulled me to her.

I was in Amber, I think.

I really can't remember much.

I told her what happened. Bleys was suddenly there. He said to close our eyes. I shut mine quickly enough to only get an after image of a bright flash. It felt positively wonderful. And the wounds were cauterized.

I quickly got Claw's Trump out. With relief, I realized they were in Amber, at the Castle. I told Claw it would be a good idea to keep them there, in my rooms, rather than go to Tiryns. She agreed.

Owen was Trumping Dalt. She told him what happened, which didn't make him at all happy. I realized Pops would not be able to find me in Amber, if he found out anything. I asked Dalt if I could go through. He agreed.

He was in a tent, surrounded by hundreds of other tents. He gave me some clothing and got himself dressed. He got armor and weapons, weapons and more weapons. I didn't even have a sword.

We barely spoke as we walked out of the camp. He saw to it that the perimeter guards gave me no hassles. Now where should we go? I thought of Corwin's Pattern. Could the Fey help? The Muse Queen? Corwin? It seemed a likely choice as anything. It would take a couple of weeks. I figure with no sleep, we could cut that time down by half.

Day 331/28

We were much closer. Each day, I only focused on shifting or calling the Ravens or Pops. I think Dalt was more than a little concerned for me. I was single-minded enough to be called manic obsessive. We didn't speak much and I refused to stop.

Day 332/28

We came to a forest. There were Ravens on all the trees. Dalt didn't like this one bit. I told them they were friends of mine.

“Great,” he muttered. But he followed.

We came to a clearing. In the center were eight Ravens, half circle behind another one.

It was Pops, still with a card in his mouth, and he was very much dead. His black shiny feathers were white in places. His eyes were raw wounds. I went to my knees and couldn't help crying. For him, for DeWinter, for the whole damn mess. It took long minutes before I could get a grip on my composure.

Dalt just stared, I have no idea what he was thinking. Perhaps he was wondering why I was crying over a bird, when I should be looking for DeWinter.

I told the other Ravens I was sorry. I had no idea I was sending him into anything that would harm him.

The three leaders replied that 'we know of nothing that is smart enough or strong enough to kill the King of Ravens.'

That implication bodes not well. It settled on me slowly and added weight to my shoulders. Pops had always talked about the King of Ravens in the third person. I hadn't realized who I was dealing with.

They were readying for a Mourning ritual, where the next King was to be chosen.

I was debating whether we should stay or go when one of the five standing in the outer lesser ring came forward. By the ruffling of the feathers, this one was breaking some social order. She said that when he arrived, just before he died, he gave a victory laugh.

Ah! Pops had learned something, or did something clever.

In his beak was still the Trump of DeWinter. Gently, I took it, turned it over and found hope . The picture was shattered. There were just blots of color everywhere. But I knew it was DeWinter's and it was cold .

I Trumped Owen and showed it to her. I didn't mention the Ravens, not yet. She gestured for me to put the card down. She said not to look at it or use it. Then she signed off again. I wrapped it in silk before putting it in my case. I apologize to the Ravens. We couldn't stay for the ceremony. We were going to find out who did this to their King and we would avenge him.

They bowed, not offended I think.

Before we left, Dalt kneeled in front of the leader to thank them for their help.

Day 333/28
Rediscovering Mal

It was nighttime when I got a Trump call from Owen and Fiona.

They asked if I still had the card.

Yes, of course.

Fiona said they were planning on making a Trump gate. It would require an enormous amount of energy: perhaps as many as 100 Trump artists. Fiona asked if I was willing to help.

It was a silly question, but I just said yes.

Even if it meant that it could burn out my Trump abilities forever?

“Hm, let me think. Tough choice. Be able to create pretty pictures or have DeWinter back?” I didn't bother to answer.

Fiona gave a brief, delicate smile. She said, “I thought so too, but had to ask.”

Fiona explained that our friends were outside of Shadow, in a place that didn't exist, where no being existed.


She would get back to me when they were ready.

I did ask who else would know of this place? It sounded remotely like where Galantia took a few of us so long ago. As soon as I said the name, the call was disrupted.

Three stars fell from the sky, coming right toward us. Dalt threw himself on top of me. I knew who it was. Funny, sometimes saying her name calls her, other times it doesn't. I asked Dalt to get off of me. She was a friend. I didn't get what he said, under his breath, but it was something about my choice of friends.

Galantia spoke softly, "This far past Ygg, it is hard to stay. This would have to be a brief visit."

I explained the situation.

She remembered the place, but said she no longer had the ability to go there having done so once.


There might be a few who could, fewer who would, she added then. Most of the beings like her have no interest in the going-ons of lesser beings like myself.

Dalt was muttering again.

But, Galantia would talk to a few--of her peers. Perhaps one or two might be willing to get involved. With that, she was gone.

Just from her visit, the damage to the Shadow was severe and I suspect, irreversible. Trying to shift out was like holding on to moving ice floes. It took a long while, but I managed. But not soon enough.

Something came out of the thinness. It was a sphere-like thing with 500 scorpion tails. Dalt yelled to run, he would hold it off. I said the shadow was collapsing. We had to go now! He cursed and followed. Unfortunately, every place I could get to was all downhill. The thing, I think an escaped denizen of UnderShadow, didn't even have to learn how to move. It just rolled on down after us.

It was right behind us when Mal appeared. He deflected it once and came after us. Ah, frying pan or fire. I'll take the fire. When he got close enough, I jumped onto one of the thorns. Dalt yelled something about my friends and jumped up to. The spikes rotate up, so we could sit on the shoulder of each wing.

Then Mal really put on some speed. Shadows whipped by us and we left the creature in the dust. Once far enough away, he slowed down. Apparently, he wasn't going to attack. I did say he gave me a scare appearing like that. He didn't understand why. I introduced him to Dalt and they exchanged greetings, though Dalt was a bit more cautious.

He asked me what was going on.

I told him.

Without a pause, he offered to help.

I tried to explain what danger I knew, but he would not be put off. He said his father had been the King of Thorns. From what I describe, little as I knew, this sounded like the thing that killed his parents and every one of his people. Oh. He survived because his father had gotten the Fey to promise to protect him. With the attacks being so sudden, his father never got to mention what form the protection would take. It was the Fey that put the construct on him.

Uh oh.

So, he would help us. If this thing is the same, it would be after the Fey.

He had found us a nice glade to talk in. We weren't there long before Fiona Trumped me. They were ready.

With a shock, I saw her bend down to kiss Bleys' forehead. He laid there, unmoving and pale, blood trickling from his eyes. He looked very dead to me. She came through with Fiona.

I made introductions and found out about Bleys. He'd tried to find DeWinter, and ended up caught himself. They call the adversary The Loathsome. What a fitting name.

Fiona said it was after the Children of Faiella. I couldn't breathe for a second. It was also after the Fey. Okay, then. She believed it was possessing Dastard, to achieve its goals here. Wonderful.

Fiona's plan is to open a Trump gate and go get them out. It would use an enormous amount of energy and in all likelihood, there would, literally, be an infinite army on the other side. Dalt perked up at that. Finally, there was something he could do!

Mal told her he could help open the gate.

Fiona looked curiously at him.

He said when the People of the Thorns died, their power passed on to those still alive. Hence, he had all of it.

Fiona said that he needed to know that he might very well lose that power, permanently.

Mal answered that this was not only to avenge his people. He also owed even more to DeWinter and myself.

Lastly, Fiona told him this would be more painful than anything he's likely to have faced.

He would not be dissuaded. He said the Zhan Zi were oath-bound to protect his life. It was time to cash in on that favor.

While we were talking, Owen had Trumped DoBlique through. She was more than a little startled at Mal's transformation. While they prepared, Mal, Owen and I went to the Queen of the Fey.

Day 334/28
Zhan Zi

We arrived at the Palace. At least, that's what I thought of it. All we saw was one room. To one side was a half-mile pond and a small grove. The Queen was doing something with a number of male Fey. It was too far away to be sure just what.

Mal simply addressed her, “I'm back.” So he was.

She was arrogant and composed, as usual. After a few pleasantries, where she tried to infer that he was not yet all he would become, Mal came straight to the point. “Do you know what killed my Father?” She was not so comfortable talking about that.


Will she help him?

She tried to be diffident and said she would send help, but she wouldn't go herself.

He said fine. But she would tell all that she sent that she would no go as well.

She refused to do any such thing. And she did not owe him any favors to make her do that.

Owen pulled out what looked to be a large black scale of some sort. It was the size of the palm of her hand, not unlike a snake scale.

The Queen froze. Where did you get that?

Owen said she was owed a favor from one of the Queen's people. She was cashing it in?

And what did she want?

Owen wanted her to do as Mal asked.

She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed seethed, but had to acquiesce.

She said fine. But she would not go. I was furious. We were helping her people as much as ours.

I said, “And Faiella's line would witness this and will be there.”

She didn't like that one bit. She hissed at me and the air got frigid. Heat came from Mal's wings and it dissipated.

Fine. We are going now. With that, he turned and we left.

Day 335/28
The Loathsome

We got back in the early morning. Dalt and DoBlique were in the middle of a planning session. The plan was simple. The gate would be opened by Fiona, Mal, Owen and I. Once there was a connection DoBlique would stand just on the other side to use her magic. Dalt would go in and get them all out.



That didn't sound right to me. Even if he is a formidable fighter, anything close to an army of infinity would simply overrun him. And he might have to carry the others back.

It was DoBlique that remembered Bison and Tear.

I was disgusted with myself for having forgotten that they had gone with DeWinter. That set Dalt's plan awry. He couldn't carry six: DeWinter, Dastard, (maybe) Tremerule, Bleys, Bison and Tear. He said it couldn't be done.

Why not?

I have thousands of weir that would be able to help. All I had to do was ask. He was insistent that it couldn't be done. I knew, deep down, that both Bison and Tear would understand if they were sacrificed to save DeWinter. But I couldn't bring myself to say it. Not unless there was no choice.

We argued and talked, interrupting a Trump call Fiona was making. I think we were being a nuisance to her. When she was done, however, she said she had another idea. An equation for a quantam-something-or-other.

It would allow her and Mal to maintain the gate. DoBlique would stand inside with her magics. I would bring four weir to surround her and another sixteen to hold the perimeter of the gate opening. Dalt, Owen and myself would go and get our people. The only good thing about this was that time does not operate on the other side. What might be endless time to us, would be almost nothing to her and Mal.

I really hope so. But by what she didn't say, Fiona didn't hold out any hope for her and Mal. This will take their toll on them, more than the rest of us.

In a lull, I Trumped Claw. I needed 20 weir. No time to fight whom was getting the honor. They had to be ready in 10 minutes. That made her jump. I've fought enough times to know the men would not be what I needed. They got caught in the battle and never listened to orders. I said it had to be women only. She smiled and said that made it easier. Ten minutes later, she Trumped me and I had my troops. I told them what was happening and what they would face. They were more than ready.

We didn't wait.

Fiona got the shattered Trump card from me, critical for this to work. She opened it. It was very easy and very painful. As soon as the Gate appeared, Mal started to scream.

Dalt and DoBlique went in first. We were all surprised to see no one there. And nothing except faint colored strands we could run on. I set the weir women into formation. I repeated myself. If they were given an order, they were to do it. No questions. They nodded. We stepped inside. I looked back.

Fiona's head had a crown of fire. From this side, the gate was a shining beacon with two enormous wings stretched across the horizon. We began to move out.

On the horizon in front of us they came, boiling in their mass as they approached. DoBlique cast a spell and eliminated half the army in a blink. It was as if she destroyed the molecules of the universe, so effective was she.
Dalt made us wait. We saw nothing to indicate where we should go. He was watching, as were we all. As one we saw our clue. A brilliant flare burst on the horizon.

Owen whispered, “Bleys.” A signal. We ran.

We ran as fast as we could. It was disconcerting this notion of no time. it mean we felt no fatigue, our hearts didn't beat, our lungs did not breathe.

Day 338/28

Subjectively, we ran for days. Never stopping, never needing rest, never needing food or water. The masses from the horizon hadn't gotten to us.

Dastard was there waiting. He sent a spell to us, but Owen's staff took the damage in. Then Dalt hit him and just kept on hitting. They swore at each other.

Owen and I went to the others.

We found them, but not as we had hoped. They had been formed into some sort of sculpture. Except it was of all their parts. The only really whole piece I could find was one hand. It was Bleys'. We could tell by the ring. All the pieces are almost metallic.

I touched the sculpture and it fell apart.

We had to pause to think how we would get them out. There was no way we could carry them. Even Dalt looked happy we came along. He certainly couldn't have done it.

We found that by taking the colored ground strands around us, we could make a basket. It was even better to learn that once we broke pieces off, they slowly hardened. We improvised a basket, got the parts loaded and began running. Dalt carried Dastard, giving him a punch here and there to keep him dazed and confused.

The horde was much closer now. We got really close to the gate when we were overrun from behind. Owen was in front, dragging the basket. I turned and ran backwards, to get away and fight at the same time. Whatever they were, they were no match for me. Even with their numbers. Each swipe took out a swath before me.

We were just at the gate. I saw only one weir had fallen. I thought she might be all right, but she had lost most of her face. We began hurling our gruesome load through the gate. The weir kept the horde at bay.

Welcome to Hell Central.

We fought to maintain the front as we tried to get everyone through. Dalt took hold of Dastard and spun around, hurling him through the gate. He hit a nearby tree and crumpled to the ground. Tiny explosions went through his body. Whatever influence he got from here, whatever substance, it was being painfully driven from him.

We continued to fight. I don't know how many hundreds died around us then. The weir women were truly vicious in their fighting. By the time we got all the parts through and were retreating, only one more had fallen. I pushed the weir through. Dalt picked up Owen and threw her. Then he and I fell through.

The gate fell apart.

We all collapsed.

Day 340/28

There is a downside to working with no time. Once we rejoined the real universe, it came back on us with a vengeance. Five days of endless running and fighting took their instant toll. We all collapsed, barely able to move. I vaguely remembered that before this, I hadn't slept for days.

Fiona's crown of fire went out, and she crumpled to the ground. Mal stopped screaming, but the thorns that revolved around his center stopped and he crashed to the ground. Even his wings weren't on fire any more--they vanished. I tried to catch him as he fell, but was too weak. He landed on top of me, once more impaling me in three places. Owen and Dalt just managed to get him off me.

I made a make-shift bandage.

We were all shaking and the weir were going into shock. Owen and Dalt went to see about Dastard. I got up to get water and blankets for the weir. Once I got water and a bit of food in them, they roused but not enough. Owen just had enough energy to Trump Kent for some anti-shock medicine.

And then the Fey arrived. Even She, the Black Queen, came. The Ravens were the first though. Their new King was there. A she: I think it was the one who broke ranks, called herself Sigga.

The Queen of Zhan Zi tended to Mal. Only She could for some reason. She got him to draw energy in, though she sounded annoyed that he didn't know how to do that yet.

When I am done, I might have the energy to really dislike her.

Dastard kept trying to get up. But, something appeared in the air above him. It looked like a predator's toothy jaws with a tail. Later I learned it was the Merkin Khan. Whenever he got up, it bit him repeatedly until and he fell. Over and over again. The teeth did not wound, at least not physically. Eventually, I just tied him up as securely as I could and then some.

Day 343/28

The weir are fine. It took about a day. I eventually mustered up enough energy to get them to Aes. A day there and they were fine. They decided to come here, rather than Amber. Mal's wings were finally aflame once more and he sounded much better.

DoBlique woke yesterday and Dalt has snapped back better than the rest of us. I've tried to sleep, but I am just so worried. What are we going to do now? I've taken a few cat-naps, but I'm just not able to sleep. I am really worried about Fiona. She hasn't moved at all, not even when I give her water. Owen said she just needed time.

Day 344/28

We are still waiting. Fiona woke yesterday and is somewhat recovered by now. The horrible thing is she has no idea what to do about DeWinter, Bleys, or the others. We've spent time sorting through parts, until each persons' is “grouped.” Or, at least, everything for each person is sorted from the others by our best guess. But, we still have no answers.

I had to take myself away for a few hours.

More like three or four and have a private breakdown. I know we can't make a deal with Dastard. Fiona seems to think The Loathsome is still in him. If we let him live, he'll come after Kai and Xhimena. The line of Faiella. Would DeWinter understand this? Could he forgive me? I really don't know. I don't know what to do. We are stronger together, but this is far outside anything I know. So, I cried for a long time, away from anyone else. It wouldn't help anyone else anyway, to see me falling apart.

Later, when I had returned, Fiona tried to get answers from She.

None were forthcoming.

I tried getting answers from She.

She didn't really answer, but stopped short of being really rude. A small part of me wondered what would happen to her if I told Xhimena how cold and unhelpful She was. But, the Raven and the Mer-mouth did try and answer, as best they could.

Queen She gave them cold looks, but they did it anyway.

I will remember this. They do know something will happen soon. The Loathsome Prince is still there, inside Dastard.

I guess I just have to wait.

Day 345/28
The Loathsome and the Khan of the Fae

The ring of Khan surrounded Dastard, who is also the Loathsome.

Fiona tried to talk to Dastard, who was very weak and getting weaker. Zhan Zi Khan balked at the contact and refused anyone who wanted to touch or treat with Dastard. Fiona had a few harsh words for She. Zhan Zi Khan doesn't like Fiona one bit, for her confidence or her presumption "Wait. Something will change." Then, as an added threat, "I don't want to knock you down."

"Do you think you could?" Fiona's question greatly annoyed She. Perhaps it was the smile she had when she said it?

She stepped aside, inviting, no daring Fiona to step forward and treat with Dastard. She seemed to be spokesperson for the Seven Khan, the rest of whom have been silent.

Dastard offered to Fiona, "I think I can beat him, throw him out. Help me get rid of him."

Fiona smiles. "Really? Do you think you can do that?"

Everyone watched. Dalt was intense. I think the slightest wrong move would send him into action. The ring of Khans was still there, around Dastard, though the Zhan Zi had stepped aside. At least, they moved back little enough for Fiona to move close enough to hear Dastard's weak voice.

Dastard pleaded, "If you help, we can get him. I'm sure he's on his last reserves. I can pin him and we can then be done with him."

"But you aren't him," says Fiona, referring to Dastard. She hasn't touched him and I wondered how she could tell. Fiona stopped for a moment, in thought and then nodded, as if she came to some decision.

"I know I can take him," whispered Dastard, growing weaker. "If I don't get him first, I may go with him."

Fiona stepped back out of the circle. "I think you need my help very much, don't you?" She nods to all the others. "We will wait."

A few more hours passed.

Dastard's voice was suddenly stronger. "You must release me."

The Seven Khans stood ready to attend to Dastard. Again, it is She who began a response. "We need not do such a thing."

Dastard growled. "The universe is at stake. If the Brood do not have my leadership, it will be formless, and the UnBrood will prey upon the life of the universe. I hold the UnBrood back."

This was puzzling. I've been so tired, I'm not entirely certain what they were talking about. Who are the Brood, much less the UnBrood? Which had we been fighting against, on the other side of the gate?

"Yes. It seemed you had forgotten that," answered She.

"Do not you forget," strained Dastard. "Without me, you are all vulnerable."

Sigga questioned. "How is it then, that we are now here, with you having exposed us in this way? Why are you not protecting us?"

"Help me," was Dastard's only answer. "There isn't much time. Let me go."

The Khans seemed quite calm and unmoved by all this. They look like they could wait forever, for what was going to happen. For that matter, how long can we afford to wait? It seemed hardly likely that they had any of our interests at heart. Whenever this something was going to occur, what would I do? I hardly know.

She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed said, "I recall we have had this conversation before." Her eyes were angry.

Dastard became even more urgent. "Time is very short. Release me."

The Faceless One said, "You have aided the UnBrood. You are weakened by your choices and so leave the UnBrood to act. You are not a buffer when you empower this access."

"I die. Act now. Let me go."

The Seven looked at each other briefly and reach some secret answer. They began to talk about how they shall make changes to account for the Loathsome's death. How they shall protect the universe without the Loathsome's guard against the UnBrood. This conversation seemed casual but how would I know differently?

Dastard was becoming desperate as small sounds of pain escaped him. He whispered, "No time."

Finally, the Faceless One said, "We will not lift a finger to save you. You have your choices."

The She adds, "But those Blood you have harmed might hear your pleas."

Well, at least She is giving us some say in what happens here? I wonder why?

Dastard spoke to the gathered Amberites and Weir. "It is seconds now. I need energy. I need to return to my domain instantly. Tell them," a finger twitched at the Seven standing so implacable, "to release me."

Dalt made up his mind in an instant. His mouth thinned and he said nothing.

Fiona was silent as a statue.

Owen stood close to Fiona's shoulder, watching with a barely restrained intensity. She didn't speak either and was pale.

Dastard looks at me; his eyes locking with mine. "If I die, everything is lost. Tell them. There is no time." His face worked with desperate fear.

No one said a word. It was so silent, even the birds were waiting. I hardly knew what to say. If I accepted his offer, I could definitely have deWinter back. But, Fiona did say that they were after Faiella's line and the Fey. That put Ximena and Kai directly in the line of fire. Could I risk them? Could we stop the UnBrood, the Brood or the Loathsome again?

All I could do was wonder what deWinter would say. Oh, of course he'd want to be alive. But, at the risk of his children? The very idea of losing him made me a little crazy. And, I scarcely could think about what it would do to the children.

I've seen the results. Every Amberite that has ever lost a parent when young has paid a terrible price. Evander was the first to cross my mind. He had made himself into a veritable sociopath, results of the hurts he would not allow himself to feel. DoBlique's own hardships were another example. She lives with the scars even now and has hinted at terrible, horrible times while trying to recover. To this day, she has convinced herself she is no good example for the youngsters. It's why she never stays with us long and visits too infrequently. Dalt has his own problems by forcing his self-imposed isolation Sebastian can hardly maintain even a casual relationship for long.

And then I thought about Random and Martin, and the rest. It's like the loss leaves a scar that never softens, never goes away. Just then I realized just how strong DeWinter is. Or was. How far he has pushed himself to grow beyond the losses of his youth. How he has made himself take a different path. I missed him so much, right at that moment, I just wanted to cry.

Could I be enough for the children? Can I get past this long enough to raise them healthy and whole? I realized what I had to do, though I could only hope DeWinter would understand. If he didn'tI can't think about that.

I made no reply. I could only look at the ground. I didn't want to see how anyone looked at me.

DoBlique started to wilt, knowing that the dead would stay dead and she had slain thousands without rescuing DeWinter.

Panic broke out in the Loathsome Prince's eyes. His fear contorted Dastard's handsome face. "I will barter my freedom for service to the Blood of all those taken. Spare me!"

Having said this, something shifted in the air and fabric of the shadow we stood in. Everyone could sense it. The Fae Khans looked at each other with victory--they were rewarded for their wait.

DoBlique screamsed out, "Then restore all of them now!" She pointed at the sorted piles of body parts.

I couldn't move, I was so overcome. One part of me wanted to scream, 'Yes! the other part, ever so slightly larger wanted to scream, No!. Did she know what she was doing? Did she know she was risking the children? Can we hope to capture, or even stop The Loathsome once he was free? I was afraid the answer was no.

The Khans backed away from the Loathsome and power rushed back to him, popping and hissing across his skin. He didn't not rise and the power did not seem to strengthen him--but he shifted his gaze and then gestured with both hands at the metallisized pieces of the dismembered we had so carefully arranged.

The edges of the lumps and shapes burned with sudden light.

The Weir scrambled in--heedless of the powerful display and their safety--to nudge the correct pieces closer and watched them start to blend properly together again. The four men and one woman began to seem whole; then they definitely were hale.

It was only moments before deWinter, Tremerule, Bleys, Bison, and Tear were groaning and showing movement.

Then there was a invisible rush about Dastard. The fabric of the shadow tugged and rippled and something large was gone completely.

Dastard cursed softly and passed out.

| Cassandra Diary 39 | Cassandra Diary 40 | Cassandra Diary 41 | Cassandra Diary 42 |
| Cassandra Diary 43 | Cassandra Diary 44 | Cassandra Diary 45 | Cassandra Diary 46 |


The hour of the session's finish was very very late. Viv's notes were blurry, and we were all so riveted that no notes were made. So we hope the closer makes as much sense as it did to us at the time. Thanks.