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Cassandra's Diary.47


Day 146/31

DeWinter is up an about. He should be just fine by the time Kai gets home on leave. He is having some problems though. He's very on-edge, almost twitchy. He wakes up in the middle of the night and has trouble falling asleep. He just says everything is all right.

I've been keeping an eye on things in the Sudan. Things are stable, but a bit tenuous. No one really knows how to deal with the notion of women running a government. Personally, I think it's a good experience. So, people are very cautious of what they say, so as not to cause any…incident. They want the talks to continue, after all.

I've decided not to go to Tir. The last thing I want to do is put myself, the baby, or Xhimena in range of Clarissa. DeWinter hasn't said anything, but I think he's relieved.

In the meantime, I've been putting both Eidolon and Tremerule through their paces, to get ready to walk the Pattern. They're both coming along fine, though their weapons' training is worrying me. Eidolon is all right, but Tremerule is just awful. He's enthusiastic and tries his very best, but if a move requires him to move right, he'll move left. If he needs to block, he'll try to move out of the way. He just cannot anticipate an opponent's moves. I'm at a loss of how to compensate.

Day 151/31

Several Bankers came to visit, all on the verge of collapse. They waved handfuls of bills, almost in tears. I bought an army? I assured them that I only leased them and I stopped that a while ago. They were receiving the bills late. They were a bit more assured, though they plainly thought I was a bit unstable. I mean, how many people need to go buy a militia?

I have managed to finish the painting for Julian. I just have to get them mounted and delivered, once they've dried.

Day 161/31

The pregnancy is much stronger than the other two. Blythe thinks it's because mine and DeWinter's energies have intertwined so much, the saturation levels are at a peak. Xhimena is just happy beyond words. She's even gotten some of the weir girls to follow me around and report to her. And, Blythe is encouraging her, the fink.

Day 175/31
A visit to Arden

I went to Arden. I got to the Castle in the hopes of getting a horse to ride to the forest. It was more difficult that any other time. Almost every horse shied away from me. In the end, they had to loan me Vialle's horse. She rides her about five times a year. I took that to mean Vialle wasn't so attached to the horse that she would mind me borrowing her. It was rock solid, placid, and resolutely refused to do anything but walk. So, the journey took over four hours. Sigh.

Vivant was there and met me on the porch. Julian wasn't due to return for a while. So, we had lunch and chatted away the afternoon. Mostly about the children. I think she was at her wits end of what to make out about Rhiannon. She is just so…different. At times, it's as though she doesn't even notice men. But, if she finds out they notice her, she wants to know names. As if she'll hunt them down, and not in a nice way. But, she has relationships, I suppose you can call them that. Her…intimate relationships all seem to be with “bad guys” by Rhiannon's own admission. I feel Vivant's anxieties.

Julian arrived and we talked some more. I gave them the first painting, which was a Yule gift, if a bit late. It was of Rhiannon, Julian, Vivant and Shapir. A classic portraiture. The second was for Julian, in thanks for helping retrieve Kai.

It had taken me longer than I thought to work on this. Making a Cubist painting of a forest with all the myriad of creatures in the shadows. Julian spent long minutes looking it over. With luck, it will take him a while to find and identify them all. But he seemed to like it. Sometimes, I'm not sure if he's just being polite. I really don't want to give him something he'll relegate to a closet, or an unused back room.

He did inquire about my ride here. I made an offhand comment about my troubles getting a horse. He immediately asked if I was pregnant. How in the world did he make that connection? Vivant was almost overjoyed to hear of it. She was fairly jumping up and down. In the end, I did explain about Xhimena, and her role with the Fey. Vivant gave Julian hopeful eyes and he gave a small smile and said, yes, she could talk to Xhimena. It seems Vivant has been wanting another child. I promised to have Xhimena talk with her. Vivant immediately went to write a note to her. I know Xhimena will be tickled to be addressed as “Lady Xhimena.”

It was getting dark and I had to get going. Julian offered to take Vialle's horse back. I gratefully accepted this and Trumped back to Paris.

I gave Xhimena the note. She smiled and said, “Good, another customer.” Then spent many minutes pondering whether or not she should make business cards up. I wonder what she's say on it? “Lady Xhimena….pregnancy consultant? Sex therapist? Baby expediter?”

Day 166/31

Well, I'm progressing faster. If I don't find DeWinter five times a day or night…it's a slow night! I can only imagine what it's going to be like later on.

I did take time to see Dalt and give him the news. It took a while to convince him I wasn't joking. He tried to show me that it wasn't funny. I insisted it was true. He just stood there, giving me a forbidding look. I asked him what was wrong and he said he was thinking. I couldn't help it, it was such an opening. I remarked that now I knew what to look for. He glowered and it struck me as hysterical. It was the usual with me and Dalt. He got angry, which was Dangerous, which made me giddy, which makes me laugh and makes him more angry. I had to fight the escalating cycle. He gave up in disgust and sent me on my way.

Day 172/31

Xhimena is almost done with Faiella's journal. Meanwhile, I'm trying to read the accounts of the Moonrider campaign. I have so much energy, I'm going through them faster than I thought I would.

Day 183/31

I'm more ravenous than before. And there are many more foods I can't eat, though I'm getting better at identifying what won't make me ill. Dastard studiously tries not to look at me eating. Yesterday, he had a long argument with DeWinter about the dangers of raw meat. He hears us tell him it's okay for me, he sees that I take no ill effects, but he just can't get his brain around the idea.

Owen came to offer her congratulations. Then she went to talk with both Rinaldo and Splurgi. I must admit, I find it insulting to be left out of what is going on. Not that that matters. Though, I am disappointed that Rinaldo isn't telling me what is going on, as he promised. Perhaps, I'm making too much of this.

Day 230/31

Things have been quiet. I've spent the last couple of months getting ahead of work, so that my absence doesn't inconvenience anyone too much. Easy cases I've gotten out of my docket. Harder ones, I've allowed for continuations. The rest, I've settled or sent them on to another judge.

Kai Trumped me to say he could come through. There was an instant party as all the girls welcomed him home. They came running, jumping in his arms, kissing him and asking how he was, while telling him what's been going on. Maybe it's years of practice, but we could keep it all straight. Matisse still had her hero-worship of him, and hovered, listening to everything he had to say. Kai just shook his head and said he should go away more often. I thought he looked much thinner than he used to, and that wasn't a good thing.

He, Tremerule and Eidolon went into town for “a wild time.” Tremerule came in around dawn. There was lipstick on his face and I could smell perfume. I caught him sneaking in. I helped him get past Dastard's door without incident.

Eidolon came back, not nearly as pleasant. Actually, he's been getting snappish a lot lately. Kasta's back in Greece and they promised each other not to date. I think it was wearing a little thin on him and, I'm sure, on her. But, they had an Understanding, so I just left it at that.

Day 231/31

I got a wire from Diana and Cassiopeia saying goodbye. It was then that I learned that they didn't leave after Yule, they stayed in Paris. All this time, months, and they've been living here and no one's said a word or came back to the house to visit. I must say, my feelings were hurt. I almost got everyone packed up and out of here. Maybe to the beach house. But, I figured everyone would argue me down, so I just kept silent. Again, I'm probably reading too much into it.

Later, I asked Rinaldo how they were doing. He just said they had an argument and they took themselves off to live in town. Not only that, but they were sharing a place with Splurgi. Personally, I don't think that was the wisest thing for them to do. He said if he argued with them, they would have gotten stubborn and stayed anyway. I wished he had talked to me. I wonder why he didn't?

Anyway, he said Diana's been wanting a child. He said he'd be happy to have more children, but he wasn't sure of his Circumstances. And he seemed unwilling to be pressed about any specifics. So, the only suggestion I had was for him to talk with Xhimena.
Day 232/31

Xhimena and Rinaldo met to talk today. I was there because both thought this was really awkward. It was fairly disastrous. She has to know some intimate details, which not everyone is willing to share with a nine year old girl. And she doesn't know, yet, how to put things delicately. Not that she would necessarily learn that in this household.

She eyed him, I suppose she was examining him magically. All she could say was that he was “weird…out of focus.” She went to a far wall and had him stand on the opposite wall, to see if that would make difference. It did, in as much as it allowed her to see that he was “eating” the spells she sent at him. Meaning, she wasn't going to learn much from him. She could look at Diana, but she wasn't sure, yet what she could do.

Then she sat down and asked him what his “happy thought” was. He didn't understand the question. So she was blunt, blunter that I'll write here, and asked him what aroused him. He turned red and left the room. That discouraged her a bit. I tried to reassure her, and give her a few suggestions on how to put things, but it didn't make her feel much better.

Day 238/321

Xhimena finally got the nerve to approach Rinaldo and apologize. He waved away the need and just told her that it was his wards that were getting in the way. So, cautiously, they talked and he eventually agreed to let down his wards for a bit. I wonder if she knew just how much trust he was placing in her.

He let them down and Xhimena's eyes grew very large. They she got flushed and flustered. I put a hand on her shoulder and she started. She just shook her head and tried again. This time, she said, “Got it.” Now she just has to see Diana. Rinaldo said he'd work on that.

He did ask her what the initial problem was. She said that his brain was very pretty. He smiled and remarked that she said the nicest things.

Day 240/31

At one point, because Dastard isn't getting what s going on, I kissed him. He must have blown a circuit because he literally fell over. DeWinter laughed so hard, he almost fell out of his chair. He just managed to say, “Do that again!” before collapsing again. Dastard was unamused.

Splurgi did report that the Sorrowful Hand is heading toward this Shadow, but slowly. Most have been intercepted by her in nearby Shadows. She set up “gossamers” to warn her if any are approaching.

We are a bit worried about security. We came upon the idea that perhaps we need a test. It took a bit to work out the generalities. Dastard was going to be the referee, so he wouldn't actively participate. Because Rinaldo wants to see how his magic works without help (in case he isn't around), he won't participate either. And, DeWinter wanted to evaluate the weir, so he's out too. Splurgi said she could make sure Paris slept, so no one would notice a thing. Rinaldo looked disturbed by the implications. He did make sure they would wake up afterwards? Of course. Those people pay her salary, so she has to wake them up. I wonder if he caught that she was joking with him.

She wouldn't tell us what night to expect the attack, naturally. She won if she could touch Mal. If she got through for that, then we were in trouble.

I did take the precaution of visiting Director Glorieux. I told him that should anything…odd happen at my house…he was to ignore it. He looked mystified, but assented.



Day 250/31
Battlestations!

Though we didn't know it beforehand, tonight was the test. It was a full moon and the sentry alerted us at 9:39 pm. Within 30 seconds, the girls were at the rendezvous point. Eidolon Trumped into Marseilles to gather Tralee, Robert, and Elandra. He brought them back to Paris to meet up with DoBlique (who I just learned is also in town) and Byslamia. DoBlique is to teleport them all to different locations periodically, so no one can get a fix on them.

Meanwhile, we were all alerted. It wasn't long before we heard a peculiar ticking sound. Not like a clock, but like many, many clocks. It was coming from up the road. We could hear it getting louder, though we couldn't see anything.

Then we could see it. Or, rather, them. The sounds were claws ticking on the cobblestones.

From crabs.
Hundreds of them, swarming up the road. I could see a shimmer of magick all around them. They were coming from all directions. Then the hundreds became thousands. At first, we could just stare at them; then the implications set in. It would be virtually impossible to defend. At over 100 to 1, there was no chance we could stop them all. And how do you stop a crab invasion, anyway?

The weir went crazy. Shovels, axes, clubs, anything we could find, we used to batter as many as we could. We raided Richard's kitchen for oil to burn. Then we used the gasoline in the car shed.

After six hours, they were still coming and the weir were getting tired. If they didn't move, we couldn't differentiate the live ones from the dead. There were that many of them. I ended up Trumping Tatasha and bringing in more. I can only wonder what they thought of this duty. But, their laughter died after two hours as the creatures just kept coming.

Then, an hour before dawn, one touched the house.

A magic spell went off and it became ten times larger. Large enough for smaller ones to crawl underneath and touch the house. Rinaldo shouted that the thing was draining the magic from the wards. Damn it!
I got a hold of a leg and managed to overturn it, but not before three more touched the house.

Rinaldo shut down the wards before we had dozens of gigantic crabs to fight.

I shouted for a withdrawal, and we got inside. I got to the front room when I hear Mal scream from upstairs. I ran up and found one small crab that managed to touch her. It transformed into Splurgi, who looked pleased with herself, as she did a little victory dance, and patting Mal on the rump. Mal, on the other hand, was furious.

She was now lavender.

From head to toe, her skin was dyed brilliant lavender.

We spent the next couple of hours shoveling thousands of crab bodies into cars, wagons, anything really, to cart them off. Splurgi sent the rest wherever she got them. Then she let Paris wake up. No one really remarked on how everyone fell asleep, or overslept.

Day 252/31

No one was happy today. The weir were angry because they had failed. Mal was angry because she was lavender. That I thought it a valuable lesson did nothing for anyone's mood. We refer to the whole incident as the Great Crab Attack.

I did get a note from the Director. He thanked me for the warning. If I hadn't, he said he have been, “seriously disturbed.” I noted that he was awake, so Splurgi's spell didn't work on him. Interesting.

Day 260/31
Xhimena in Glantri?

I took Xhimena to Glantri. The more I thought about the test, the more I realize we just don't know what we are up against. And, as much as I hate to admit it, we are not doing as much for Xhimena's education into the Fey as we could. We are just not good enough.

So, we went to the university. We went to admissions to inquire if there was anyone that specializes in Fey magic. It turns out; they have two professors who are specialized. One was busy, but the second might see us. I had them send a note informing him that there was a Fey person here who wished to enroll in his classes.

It was about a half hour later when the clerk returned with the professor. We could hear him long before he entered the office. He was expounding on all the practical jokes played on him over the years, but never, never has anyone tried something as idiotic as claiming they were Fey. It seems the Fey do not go to university.

We were introduced to Professor Symion and he was unimpressed. We did get his attention by talking a bit about the Fey, enough that he was satisfied that we knew “a little bit” of the subject. Eventually, I got him to agree to have coffee with us.

He led us to a nearby café. When I expressed reservations about talking freely in public, he enacted a spell which gave us privacy. No one could hear us.

It was my thought that he could not give us any valid answers if he didn't know just who or what he might be teaching. I needed to know if he could teach Xhimena anything. And, if he would do so, knowing the risks. He knew about the legends of The Witch and was more than a little startled to learn that that was Xhimena. He asked a few probing questions and said that she must start learning immediately. Why?

He said that there are things that the Fey simply learn. If Xhimena doesn't learn, she will be taken advantage of. She must learn about curses, protocol, the rules of obligation. He trusted that she has given them no personal items? She grew red in the face and admitted to giving away some pajamas. He flinched. She said it was a long time ago, and nothing has happened. He said it was likely they didn't want to alienate her. At least, not right now.

He said she would be a special case. She would take the normal classes and then special ones, with him. He thought this was a special situation and thought he could get her in, despite the fact that she probably wouldn't pass the qualifying exams.

We did discuss the issue of housing. This wasn't France. I couldn't just bring everyone here and have enough to live on. I have no history here, really. And it is an expensive place to live. And, strangely, I didn't want to uproot everyone right now. Perhaps a governess would be allowed? Yes, certainly. Xhimena laughed and thought instantly of Claw. She thought it would be funny to see Claw give advice to a bunch of 20 year olds. They'd be so shocked. I had to laugh with her.

Professor Symion thought that it could work. I did warn him that aside from the Fey wanting to have greater…access to Xhimena, there was also the political side from her also being from Amber. Amber? It turns out that he barely knew Amber existed. He knew that there was a Royal Family from there, somewhere out in the “Shining Circle” but that exhausted his knowledge. Oh my. This was going to be interesting.

He said he'd know more within a week or so. About her exams and such. I promised to come back around then.

Day 261/31

We had a small meeting. DeWinter, Mal, Xhimena, Rinaldo and myself, to discuss if Glantri is a good idea, or not. Mal is still sulking because the lavender dye hasn't come out. She said that the Mer have worn out their usefulness. She even growled at DeWinter. Xhimena said that Splurgi was helping us. Mal growled at DeWinter. DeWinter laughed, but Xhimena ducked behind DeWinter. We just turned the subject around what we needed to discuss, in the hopes that Mal will cooperate and forget about the Mer.

Rinaldo couldn't think of a reason, but thought that Glantri is a bad idea. But, he did admit that he can't teach her about this type of magic. He gets many points for admitting it.

On one, objective view, Glantri probably isn't a bad idea. Subjectively, I just can't get my brain to accept the idea, even if I was the one to broach it. I mean, she nine, or rather, ten years old! Putting her in a strange city alone seems tantamount to…it would be criminally negligent. Even with a governess, even if it was Claw, one person isn't enough for my peace of mind. We'd want her to try and fit in as much as possible given the age differences. So, a platoon of weir just wouldn't allow that. And if I were to send a platoon, I might as well pack us all up to go.

DeWinter didn't seem to think it was a bad idea. he did say she would not be allowed to date. Xhimena just gave an exasperated, “DAD!”

He said, “Not until you are 15…or did I say 50?”

She quieted down.

The whole thing must have seemed like a grand adventure. But, now that we were talking about her leaving all her sisters and the rest of us, she has completely reversed her opinion. She doesn't want to go. Well, that made things better.

DeWinter gave her an assignment. He extracted a promise from her to write about all the reasons why going to Glantri is good and why it will work. When she was gone, he said that he just wanted her to look at things from both perspectives. He wasn't sold on the idea any more than I am, but we have to figure out what's best for her.

I did tell Claw about our talks. When I told her that she was Xhimena's first thought for a governess, her face got soft as she smiled. She said it would be a tough choice. Her first instinct is to take on that responsibility herself. But, it might be better if it was someone responsible and closer to Xhimena's age. She'd have to think about it.

We have no answers, so we are shelving the discussion for a few months. It would give her plenty of time to start the following term.

Day 263/31

Work is getting difficult. I'm lucky if I can get in four hours before I'm distracted. The weir men are looking increasingly good. So far, DeWinter is keeping up with me. I think he's setting a personal goal. The girls are noticing my behavior now and have made strict rules with themselves to stay away from my bedroom area.

But, when I do get myself into work, it absorbs hours. The dense readings and legal strategies force me to concentrate. It helps push other concerns away. DeWinter has taken to circling various news articles and slipping them into a brief that I am reading. One was on the economic turmoil resulting in the unexplained shortage of crabs off of the Mediterranean. I wasn't inclined to try and explain that to anyone.

A second article did catch my attention, though. There was a student uprising. They were protesting our government's treatment of people in Africa. The Sudan had been a French protectorate, so they blame the government for what the Sudanese had been force to endure. Stories have been trickling out. They say the protests are a Student-ese ploy. Girls are following the examples in the Sudan and standing on corners to protest. Some are taking off their clothing. And it's a bit chillier here than in the equator.

Of course, they are being arrested. There are firm laws against “embarrassing or criticizing the government without 'due cause.'” Unfortunately, this carries long jail sentences. And, the arrests have increased the outcry.

Making a few inquiries, my co-judges are generally trying to get the students out of jail. The prosecutors are fine with this because they do not want to fan the flames of the protestors. Some are of the opinion that the government is getting a bit “cranky.”

Day 265/31

Pablo got himself arrested today, to his delight. He had painted a mural of old men in top hats and evening clothes bearing whip. On the ground in front of them, Sudanese peasants cower. Then he put it up, right in the front of his gallery. To put it kindly, the President went ballistic and had Pablo arrested in the middle of the night.

Things are getting out of hand. I put in a request to talk with the President. I must be on good terms with him…he agreed to see me in two days without even asked what I wanted to talk to him about.

Day 266.31

Xhimena finished her assignment. She wrote a twelve page paper of all the reasons she should go to Glantri. It had fine, solid reasoning throughout it. It was very good. But, she is like Kai, being very ambitious in what interests her. To that end, she also wrote a second, six page paper titled, “Please Don't Send Me!”

I Trumped Stargazer. He was working on some sort of cartographic project. He was kind enough to lend me Aurora's card. I Trumped her. She was reclining on a beach. She wore the tiniest bathing suit I have ever seen. I wonder why she bothered. She couldn't bring me through, nor come through to here, because there were about nine men staring at her. I had to smile. I could Trump her in the afternoon.

So later I went through to Aurora with Xhimena. We talked a bit about her experiences going to school in Glantri. Granted, she was 15, but she still had a difficult time, I supposed. It turned out I was underestimating that. She admitted that she knows she is very smart, but that did not translate into being wise. Some of the dangers can come from those we think of as friends. She wanted to fit in, so she went along with things that got her into trouble. Namely, drugs. Apparently it was bad enough, she had to quit school. Though, she did go back and finish it.

Hm, a lot more to think about. I know it exists, but I have to think if Xhimena is wise enough to avoid those particular traps. And frankly, I'm just not sure.

Xhimena had a lot of questions about the problems of drugs. And I really don't know how to explain something like that. I could talk about it all day, but she wouldn't understand it. I mean really understand it. She'd have to see it, I think.

It might seem a bit extreme, but I took her to an asylum. I know it wasn't a pleasant thing to do and I prepared her as much as possible. But, I'd rather she see just how destructive it can be if you are not able to deal with addiction. Some people in the family have used it. Some has found it enjoyable, some not so much.

I explained to the personnel that I have a case I am reviewing. It has to do with a related institution, so required a tour of the facilities. They had no problem with that. They just balked at the idea of my bringing a child. I overrode their objections and they reluctantly agreed.

I held Xhimena's hand tightly. We walked through the wards. There were the criers, the screamers, the rockers. Some just stared vacantly at a wall. Xhimena didn't seem frightened at all, just very sad.

When we got to the women's ward I was the one who had problems. My armband went off. There was imminent danger nearby. It pulses in time with my heartbeat. As we walked, the energy kept building. I concentrated on breathing and remaining calm. It continued to rise until it was almost an aphrodisiac. I had to get us out, immediately.

I made our excuses, which the nurse was only too happy to oblige. We walked out. As we left the ward, my armband slowed and then stopped. I was overwrought enough I didn't want to walk all the way home. I Trumped DeWinter and he pulled us through.

When he saw me he asked what happened. Xhimena said I was “walking like when Mom wants you to drag her upstairs.” He just stared at her. “Okay, then.” She left and I told him what happened. We told Rinaldo who thought it curious and said he'd investigate.

Day 267/31

I had my meeting with the President. It was a singular waste of time. He just didn't understand that arresting people would just make matters worse. Especially since we were in the wrong. All he saw was that we were embarrassing ourselves to the rest of the world leaders. I tried to get him to change his stance. I said to announce that France is the epitome of innovation. We can show the world we are so strong, so confident, that we can hear what our people are saying, without fear. We can address our wrongs and make them right again. Instead of being embarrassed, we can be an example to other nations.

He was so enthused, he stood up and applauded. The twit didn't even get the idea that this is what he should be saying. I did extract his permission to give this message to the newspapers. I could tell them that he approved what I was saying.

Day 269/31
It's Time For Another Revolution?

Well, this was an interesting day. Yesterday I met with reporters from the national and local papers. I give so few interviews…actually; I give no interviews. So, they jumped at the chance to talk with me. All I required was that they print what I said, exactly.

I repeated the message I gave the president. I noted that the national papers stopped taking notes about halfway through. The local ones continued taking down everything I said.

Today, the editions were to come out. All the local papers printed the article. The national papers printed not one single word. I was so angry, I sent scathing letters to all three. In the future, they can expect no further opportunities if they were going to be so cowardly they cannot print what is going on right under their noses. I went out and bought all the copies I could find. I got all the weir children to hit the streets and give them away.

There was also an article by Gertrude Stein. She wrote that artists often convey uncomfortable truths and thereby attract attention and arrests.

DeWinter Trumped me in the afternoon. He had a “I-Told-You-So look on his face. There was a warrant for my arrest. Oh? Are there police at the house? Nope. They brought the army. Oh.

I went to Monad's office at the Louvre.

He was also put out with me. If I were going to bring down the government, as I promised all those years ago, I should have had the decency to give him some warning. Oh, by the way, he'd gotten engaged to Nachoth. He caught me completely off guard and was incredibly pleased with my stunned reaction. I gave my apologies and my congratulations, in that order, thank you very much. I didn't have anything to tell him, other than that I wanted to warn him due to his associations with me. He just pointed at his desk. He had several copies of all the local papers.

He asked me if I needed anything. I said I just needed a vacant stairway. He didn't even bat an eyelash. He just led me to a rear stairwell and told me to keep him informed. He was going to look up some of our old resistance gang.

I Trumped DeWinter. He wouldn't talk to me, just made an “uh-hunh” sound. Then he rubbed the bridge of his nose with two fingers. Ah, two soldiers are with him. Okay. I told him to send Claw upstairs.

I waited a few minutes, then Trumped Claw who brought me through. I got her to get the warrant. I wanted to see just how ironclad it was. It took about 15 minutes and I was reading it.

Ah. When Germany withdrew, the French government had awarded military rank to all the resistance members, myself included. According to our participation, we were given various ranks. It was a way to guarantee pensions and aid to those who lost much in the war. According to the Military Code of Justice, my actions, if there were suitable evidence, could be construed as treason. And that was punishable with death by a firing squad. Great.

I've been relatively quiet over the last decade or so. Even the President doesn't know of my part in the Sudan. But, that does not mean I do not have a reputation. At least, I think I have one. Most of the bright ones know that if I get riled, I also get equally determined. I just could not fathom the idea that they would publicly execute me, for this of all things. It would blow the whole situation way out of proportion. And, I'd make sure it was very, very, public. And there was no telling what DeWinter would do.

Day 287/31

Well, things have moved along. I've spent the last two weeks moving from place to place. The local papers have continued to publish my talks, for which I praise them mightily. I've even gotten some of the radio stations to allow me to give broadcasts about arrests and warrants.. The weir really love the army and police. They are so considerate, using those nifty sirens. It gives them plenty of time to get away, in the opposite direction!

I get home from time to time, and not for very long. Which isn't making anyone happy. But, the girls have rallied the weir nicely. They have 38 soldiers trussed up in the back rooms. The soldiers were there to put the girls into “protective custody.” They have responded by swarming them and bringing them down. The following batch arrived to find out what happened to those that preceded them, and they got captured as well. They all think this is great fun.

I did have to give them a lecture, though, on the proper treatment of prisoners of war. They were reluctant. They thought that allowing them to use the facilities and eating once or twice a day was more than sufficient.

DeWinter did tell me that he was going to talk to the President, to get him to see this whole situation in a different light. Good. I hope he has better success than I did.

Day 291/31
DeWinter Resolves All Issues

I went home to find that Nachoth was staying with us. We chatted, unable to leave the room. A fresh batch of soldiers had arrived. So, we drank coffee, chatted, and listened to the assorted crashes, bangs shots and sounds of bodies hitting walls. I've gotten to the point that I can identify everyone's particular battle-cry, just before they hit. When it was quiet, we crept outside. None of the children were hurt, other than bruised, and all were enormously pleased with themselves. There were two trucks worth of soldiers trussed up in the hallway. They were debated where they had room to put them all. I had to laugh. Even Richard was there, cast iron skillet in hand. The adult weir were hanging back, watching, evaluating, and giving a few useful hints.

A few hours later, the President came on the radio. It caught our attention because DeWinter introduced him. He has a very nice radio voice. DeWinter, that is. He said that the President was going to talk about the real intentions of the government. The President came on. It was clear that he was very, very nervous. He said that France was the government of the people and that elected officials were the servants of the people. To that end, if it is the people's desire, they would be holding a special election for the position of the President. Until this was resolved, all warrants were to be suspended until such time as the elected President makes his decision.

Whew. The girls all gave such cheers the weir would be proud of. If they could be heard over their own voices. The girls cheerfully untied the officers and merrily pushed them out the door. The poor boys didn't know what to do. How could they explain how they got captured in the first place?

DeWinter and Vis got back a few hours ago. I was more than a little alarmed at their injuries. They'd been shot, several times. I pushed them into a parlor and Claw and I started to do what we could. While I worked, I got most of the story out of DeWinter. Actually, Vis told me more because DeWinter was being his usual self. I think DeWinter awed Vis more than a little bit.

As he explained, they didn't have any trouble at first. At the first delay, DeWinter just walked right past them. At the second stop, he just knocked them out. By the time they got to the President's corridor, the soldiers were firing. Vis could tell that by that time, DeWinter was getting “seriously ticked off.” DeWinter then remarked that he was getting “irritable” because Vis getting throwing himself in front of him, taking more than his share of hits. Vis just smiled at him and continued the story.

They got past the guards and into the President's office. DeWinter tried to talk to the President, but the man was just too shaken up to listen. I could see the scene in my eye. A very angry DeWinter and a battle-ready weir, shot and bleeding in front of him. I'm surprised the man hadn't fainted.

Then, DeWinter really got mad. He grabbed the President and lifted him off his feet and up. He told the President, “The good men do lives on, but evil is interred in the grave. PICK!”

And, so, the radio broadcast.

DeWinter just gave me a look as if to say, “Now I've got my wife back.”

Day 312/31

Well the elections came and went. And, as DeWinter predicted, to my annoyance, the write-ins for the Presidency was yours truly. So, I went back to the papers (local, not national) and thanked everyone for their support, but I feel I do the greatest good when I am free to be involved where I was needed. The Presidency is a position, for which I am not qualified, but I have every confidence in the next candidate. And, in case that wasn't enough, I made it public knowledge that I was expecting, and right now my duties must be to my family first. But, should I be needed, I will be there. Oh, that all sounded so pompous, didn't it? Well, it was much longer and almost poetic. It took me days to write it and it was only a five-minute speech. At least, it is done.

I did send generous contributions to the local papers. And, I told them if I had any further interviews, they would be chosen before any of the larger papers. Actually, I also bought some stock in them. Their readership has risen dramatically, due to their accurate reporting. I wonder if the larger papers care?

Day 24/32

The last two months have been a blur. My co-judges drove me out of my office because I was too distracting and distracted. Official leave of absence, with many gifts and flowers.

DeWinter managed to keep up with me until the last month. Instead, Mal and I occupied ourselves nicely. Dastard thought my conduct was objectionable, but DeWinter was just grateful for twelve hours of rest.

Mal has been generally a very happy person. Not her usual acerbic self. In general, the house is a happy one. Mal has taken to ambushing people, though. Especially DeWinter. Her favorite tactic is to transform into a piece of furniture. When he's sitting down or walking past, she transforms back and tackles him. He objects at the fairness of it, claiming it isn't safe to do it while pregnant, but she just laughs…

Tralee Trumped to see how things were going. I was far enough along to really want to talk to Robert. He's become enormously attractive. I asserted what little will power I had and tried to stamp out the inclination, but it was a losing battle. I resorted to ending the Trump call rather abruptly.

Then DeWinter and I tried to discuss the baby's name.

We haven't argued, per say, but we did have a difference of opinion. It took the full two months for me to get him accept a choice of names. More than a few of the family name their children with names that start with the same letter. We did that, Kai-Revere following after the phonetics of my name. Xhimena was a case which we both just liked the name. I wanted this one to follow after DeWinter's. He, of course, had been adamant that this would only bring on bad things. I argued that the baby already is. The name won't change him. So, we'll compromise and make his or her name a combination, just like Kai-Revere's.

Sleeping has been a major issue. What little sleep I do try to have is continually interrupted. The baby insists, whenever I lie down for more than an hour, to kick out until I get up. Right now, I've not had sleep in the last week. DeWinter was concerned enough to call Blythe, who just said we were both very healthy. To make matters worse, I'm continually snacking. I'm rarely without a plate nearby.

Yesterday, I went into labor. But, it was unlike anything I've experienced. Oh, it started normally enough. The energies dropped and I knew it was time. DeWinter Trumped Blythe and everyone was waiting. The baby was performing like an Olympic gymnast. Xhimena kept herself to a corner, writing furiously.

Four hours later, I was in agony. This wasn't normal labor pains. The baby was literally trying to punch and kick out. Except, I wasn't ready and the baby wasn't waiting. Blythe tried to advance the situation and I think she was a bit rattled. The baby was now doing very real damage.

They got me lying down and Blythe administered a sedative. It worked a bit. At least enough to rest a bit. In the meantime, everyone started arriving. Tralee, Robert, their baby, Mother, Byslamia, DoBlique…I lost count.

The sedative did not last long, so she gave me a second dose.

It didn't work at all.

Blythe was becoming really worried. The baby wasn't turning. In fact, he's interfering in the process. I just looked at her. DeWinter was beginning to become just a bit edgy. Blythe said she was going to turn the baby and he jumped on that. “What did she mean? How was she going to do that?” She enlisted his aid and sent him for two rolling pins. He looked perplexed, but ran to do it. Of course, we only had one so he had to go to a neighbor.

In the meantime, she went in and turned the child. DeWinter was pretty annoyed when he figured out what Blythe had done.

And then the baby moved back to the former position.

She gave me a third sedative, which had no effect on either of us. She tried to move the baby again. She was almost succeeding and then went pale. She cursed. “Ow!” The baby had gotten a hold of a finger and was twisting. I sent a blast of mental remonstrations at the baby and there was an immediate pause. Enough for Blythe to get free. DeWinter was shocked to see her dislocated finger. Then he looked at me. I could see the unpleasant notions of just what that baby could do to me.

They bandaged her up and Claw took her place. They were going to try a breech.

That was when he learned to kick. It felt like I was being shot. A lot.

It's now been 15 hours. The continual pain is becoming difficult to deal with. Blythe offers some serious drugs, which I accept instantly. Her plan is that in the time we are subdued, she'll deliver the baby. Unfortunately, this could be even more difficult on me since I will be unable to assist…the drug will be working on me as well.

She gave me the tea and the world went fuzzy. Everything was out of focus. I could see them talking, sort of, but couldn't understand a word. Blythe went to work. I dimly remembering thinking that I wasn't having any fun. I think Claw patted me on the shoulder and said that no one was having fun right now.

It was all a nice idea, but it didn't work. Apparently, the “drunk” baby was holding onto the walls and wasn't letting go. Soon enough, we were both coming out of the effects.

They decided to just try and get this done. Claw managed to get a hold of the baby's head. I could tell it wasn't much fun, because she made unhappy faces; he was kneeing me. And there wasn't much she could do without hurting both of us. Personally, I wanted to strangle the little git right now.

In a burst of inspiration, Blythe called Xhimena over. She had Xhimena talk to the baby. She put her hands on my belly and began cooing to him. He became quiet. Enough so, that they managed to deliver him. Yes, a boy. Duncan-Rogier.
He immediately attempted to punch Xhimena. Blythe quickly handed him over to DeWinter, who was forced to hold him by an ankle until he calmed down. By the time Blythe finished up with me, the boy was starting to wind down.

I made myself sit up. I thought that holding might calm him down. It did work. Everyone calmed down, and I was left to some quiet time.

It didn't last long.

The postpartum depression hit much earlier and harder than ever. It was all just a bit of a bother just to keep sitting up. Still, I thought he was a bit hungry. I began to breast-feed, just as I've done before. He's so cute, lying there, looking at me. I mean, he was really looking at me with focused eyesight. So, I positioned him.

I didn't realize at the time what was happening. I knew it hurt more than it should have. What got my attention was that my armband had gone off. I told DeWinter, who had the weir search the house. There was only Claw, Blythe, Xhimena, DeWinter and I in the room. So there was no danger here.

After a short while, the pulses faded but never went away. Everything went quiet and I was very sleepy. Then DeWinter paused and looked at us. Then he looked at Duncan-Rogier and noticed the blood seeping from him mouth. He separated us. We were all surprised to see just how much blood I was losing. It gushed.

There was nothing about Duncan that suggested anything wrong. I had DeWinter go get a baby bottle from somewhere. He looked at me as if wonder if this was another trick. But, he went.

I took the nipple off the bottle and put it into Duncan-Rogier's mouth.

That's when the fangs came out. He ripped the tip in two.

Everyone stood there in variations of being appalled, shocked, or dismayed. What are we going to do about this? Over the next several hours, DeWinter and the weir tried to come up with something. I suggested they just get a breastplate and cut off what we didn't need. That gave others ideas and we came up with a breast shield. Thick enough to stop his fangs, but thin enough he could still feed. Though, I admit, I was sorely tempted to start using bottles.

Day 25/32
Aftermath

About 12 hours later, the depression hit harder. I was uninterested in anything, including any food. Someone was always around, trying to keep me going. A little part of me knew what was going on, but the majority of me just didn't care.

I did rouse myself when Xhimena said she wanted a memento for her book. I suggested that Duncan could bite it? She dismissed that idea after thinking about it for a few minutes. Then she got the idea of putting ink on his feet and pressing them in the book, for little footprints. I've never heard of such a thing, but didn't really mind the idea. Xhimena successfully completed this task. She was ecstatic. He was furious.

And he made that abundantly clear. Very vocally, very loudly clear to the whole house. DeWinter ran and got Kai-Revere. “See? This is what you sounded like.” Kai was impressed. He wondered where that little body got so much air!

Time passed. I think a couple of weeks went by. The only way I could tell was because Blythe's splint was gone. It's all a dull haze. I remember a few odd conversations with Xhimena, but nothing else. Xhimena seemed to be able to hold my attention more than anyone else.

More time passed. I was told it's been another week. I woke up in the middle of the night and was actually hungry. I decided I wanted breakfast. It felt good to be out of bed. DeWinter rolled over and saw me up. He got up and walked with me to the kitchen. I made enough for two. When we were finished, I had enough energy to make breakfast for everyone. Richard didn't mind me taking over the kitchen. I think he was jut relieved I was up and about.

In fact, everyone was excessively happy to see me. It was a real indication of just how worried I'd made everyone. It was both humbling and gratifying. Mal was still very happy, and very pregnant. I was a bit concerned, since she was due to deliver a while ago. She wasn't very concerned though. I was, when I learned that it has been four weeks since Duncan-Rogier arrived.

It feels like I've been gone for a long, long while. I have lost a lot of weight. Right now, I'm interested in food and exercise. Duncan-Rogier is doing very well. He's only a month old, but already he's holding his head up.

Day 29/32

I'm feeling back to normal. Enough, that I wrote a little note to the Mer Khan. Given the nature of Duncan's conception and his fangs, I'm certain that she had something to do with it and I was more than a little angry with her.

I wrote that until she gave a suitable explanation, and made amends, neither she nor any of her people were to contact anyone living in this house at any time, anywhere. If she intrudes on my family, anywhere, I had every intention of annihilating the offender. She's lost my confidence and my good will.

Splurgi tried to get me to see “reason”. For example, that she said she had nothing to do with this. That was probably true. And I could see she seemed distressed at this turn of events. But, the Khan would not feel compelled to do anything if only she was outside my contacts, as long as the Mer, in general, could benefit. Or so I believe. I ordered her to leave the house. On the street, she tried to call out, to get me into a dialogue. I was in no mood to talk. I shut the door on her.

Day 53/32

The depression hit again. It wasn't as bad as before. Instead of a grey fog over everything, I just felt Bad. Smell seemed to be the worst. Even DeWinter smelled bad. Blythe smelled like a corpse. She tried herbs and drugs, but they had no effect.

I vaguely remember Mal having her baby. There were a lot of yells, crashes, bangs, and more than a little smoke. Our excellent water brigade was outstanding.

Day 56/32

Again, I woke up in the middle of the night, hungry. It was the whole pattern all over again. DeWinter looked like he wasn't ready to believe this was the end of it.

Day 63/32

I've seen everyone that I've missed since the birth. Mal had a little girl. Matisse was very disappointed; she wanted a little brother like Xhimena's. She insists that the baby is really a boy in disguise.

Day 66/32
IT!

The day crashed gray and murky again. DeWinter was at his wits end and called Blythe back. Nothing worked. He even trumped Tatasha, though I was only vaguely aware of her. Tatasha sent him out of the room and calmly locked the door. She came by where I was sitting and looked at me. She raised her hand….

…and slapped me as hard as she could, across the face. I could hear DeWinter shouting that he heard that.

In that instant, something hateful and nasty writhed in my mind. IT! I did the only thing I could think of. I lunged and hugged Tatasha. She was surprised, saying she didn't think that would work so fast. I thought of every good thing about her, about everyone in the house. I thought about how much I loved DeWinter, Kai, Xhimena, Duncan, everyone. IT hissed and spat at every thought. I thought about how this is the most wonderful household in the all the worlds. How devoted we are, how good everyone feels, the joys of the pregnancy, how wonderful DeWinter is with all he's put up with.

Tatasha just hugged me back, unaware of what was happening. It took a while, but I felt it surrender and leave. But, I could still sense IT. IT was still in the house, all around us. I went to Mal. IT was firmly locked on to her. I know very well the fog she was in. And she didn't even know why.

I sent Matisse to talk with her. And got all the weir to be with her. I got her up and dressed and into town. She didn't have much choice, since I fairly dragged her into it. DeWinter was just happy to see me up and about.

It was still pulling at her, though. I could see she was contemplating something not pleasant as we were crossing a bridge. Ahead of us, a pregnant young girl stood looking at the water. I knew what was going to happen.

With a jump, the girl was over the rail and into the water. Not giving it another thought, I leapt in after her. Fortunately, the bridges in Paris are fairly low. I'm not sure why, but Mal jumped in after me. Between the two of us, we got the girl to the shore.

Mal was absolutely furious. Perhaps because she had been contemplating the same thing? She castigated the girl for being so foolish. Mal told the girl to go home. Somehow this girl had brought out Mal, got her to react when nothing else did. I wasn't letting this opportunity get away. I said that the girl did need to get somewhere, but I said we were taking her home with us. The girl just looked at me. Mal nodded and prodded the girl up the bank and hailed a cab.

The whole time riding, Mal lectured the girl. She mercilessly set about getting her straight. I could feel her anger was actually a façade over her concern. But, concern it was and the positive feelings were driving IT away.

Over the course of the next six hours, Mal got the girl dried, clothed and fed. She sent for the girl's parents and interrogated her on what happened and what did she plan. By that time, IT was thoroughly extinguished from the house.

DeWinter went and found the girl's parents. He wasn't happy to find out that the father of the child would not marry the girl. Her name is Lynette. So, he went to talk to the young man. He gave the idiot all the opportunity to say that Lynette was special, that he cared, or that things got out of hand and he'd do the right thing. Like I said, he is an idiot. He didn't look at DeWinter, or realized who, or what he was dealing with.

So, the idiot told DeWinter, Lynette was “great in the sack.” He got “great mileage” out of her. It was absolutely the wrong thing to ever tell DeWinter. DeWinter hit him. DeWinter then recounted, firmly, that the idiot then decided to fall out the window, “all on his own.” Sure, he did. DeWinter just looked at me. “That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.” I had no qualms about it. Lynette's father was absolutely charmed.

Her parents assured us they had the situation, now and in the future, to help Lynette. Mal made them promise to tell her if they, or Lynette needed anything. They were more than a little bemused at the interest Mal was showing, but thanked her. Even though they were a little intimidated, knowing who we all are, they were gracious and warm. Good people. Mal jumped at DeWinter's suggestion that Mal set up a trust for Lynette's child. Hm, the child will have a hefty surprise when she reaches her majority, I think.


Day 71/32
Party!

I announced we were going to have a party. Well, not really. I invited Julian and Vivant to meet Duncan, the amazing demon-fang baby. I know it's a feeble joke, but it is the only way to disperse my anger as to what was done to him. Instead of laboring on any bitterness, I'm taking control over it. Laughter is better than crying, isn't it?

It was all going well. Vivant cooed over him, which he enjoyed immensely. And both approved of him and the entire family.

The next thing I knew Owen was there and we were Trumping everyone we knew. I hadn't planned to do it, but it all worked out with fine, and hysterical, results.

Tatasha, being the High Mother, apparently has the ability to nurse children even when she doesn't have any of her own. She took the challenge to nurse Duncan without the shield. She's so weir…she thought his fangs were truly impressive.

I Trumped Llewella. I don't know where she was, but she was wearing a lime green skin-tight suit, which clashed with her skin. She couldn't come through because she'd waste too much time getting back and she was in the middle of some investigation. So, I offered a weir “placeholder” and she came through for about an hour.

Evander came through and he was delighted over his new grandson. His approval rose when he picked up Duncan and got a black eye for his efforts. He smiled, handed him back and went to see if there were any raw steaks to put on his eye.

Even Silviera took the challenge. She put a little milk on her finger and let Duncan suck on it. Of course, the fangs came out and she was highly impressed. It seems that the ability to “shape” fangs doesn't come out in Chaosians until much later.

Ergian came through and paid his respects. Xhimena was all excited and offered to show him around the house. The two of them disappeared upstairs…I resolved to keep them bit of information from DeWinter for a while.

March came. He too, took the challenge, and put a bit of milk on his finger. Duncan obliged happily and March thought the fangs were “neat.” He said Duncan had a pretty good grip and he lifted his finger up and down. Duncan's head went up and down with it, not willing to let go.

Mal's girl was not at all left out. Every single person came and offered her congratulations and admired the pretty girl. It was a bit harder to talk about her, since Mal still hasn't given her a name. So, as Duncan is the “amazing demon-fang baby” Mal's girl is “The Nameless One.” Matisse, however, didn't like that. She said he had a name, we just didn't know it yet. So, we amended it and called her “The Yet-to-be-Named One.”

We got a fair portion of the family together. I even allowed Sebastian to visit. With one stipulation; he was not to touch any of the house wards. Rinaldo promised to relay that when he brought Sebastian through. It was against my better judgment, but it has been a long time. Perhaps he's learned something over the years. I decided to give him another chance.

I went upstairs to find Xhimena and couldn't. On impulse I went outside. Yes, there they were, sitting naked on the roof. She seemed to be teaching him how to float in mid-air. I have absolutely no qualms about him. I know he won't do anything untoward. After al, she is only 9 years old.

Sebastian came through with his usual flair. As he came through, there was the sound of distant, or not so distant thunder. He took it as an attack and tackled the Director who was sitting outside on the porch having coffee. Someone got them separated and Sebastian strutted through as if he'd done something clever. The thunder was the consequences of what Xhimena and Ergian were doing, not an attack. But, Sebastian was still pleased with himself, oblivious to the idea that he's rather implied we can't protect ourselves.

The Director was fine, though. He was fascinated by the family. Everyone here looked vastly interesting. He said that just by looking at them, he knew that each person here had a story…and a fascinating one at that. He was highly content to sit and chat and watch the ebb and flow around him.

I sat with him for about an hour, making introductions and chatting with him. When I went inside, I went by the kitchen. I heard Sebastian said something to the effect that he could conjure beer. I altered my path and went to talk with him. I told him no, he wasn't to do that. He looked at me. Said that we were perfectly able to send someone for anything we needed.

He was going to say something else, but got distracted. He was looking at the walls. I was alarmed, because I knew that look. He was looking at the wards. I also know that he is incapable of doing less than simply look. He would meddle with them.

I told him to stop, but he wasn't hearing me. I repeated myself, loudly, and there was only a vague response. So, I moved forward, as quickly as I could and hit him, in the jaw.

To my surprise, there was no resistance. He fell back, hit his head on the counter and was unconscious before he hit the floor. I picked him up, carried him out of the house and deposited him in the far corner of the garden. Two of the younger weir came to watch over him, as did Rinaldo.

I went to tell DeWinter what happened. He'd now heard of the “attack” earlier. I told him it was Xhimena, and ended up telling him what they were about. He was highly indignant. He said she was in trouble. I said she was just a girl trying to impress a boy. DeWinter didn't like the sound of that any better. I managed to calm him down and he said he was going to get a drink. But, he did go out and demand they come back inside.

The next time I saw Xhimena, she'd gone to go to great lengths to pretty herself up for Ergian. Her hair was up, her eyelashes were curled, and she wore her best dress. She would have looked adorable even if she wasn't glowing and floating on air.

I went back outside. Sebastian still hadn't come around. Did I hit him that hard? Apparently. Years of repressed resentment wasn't so repressed right now. I told Rinaldo that Sebastian wasn't allowed back into the house. He understood. He did explain Sebastian, at least what his opinion was. Sebastian is incapable of denying his curiosity. The wards were probably different from anything he'd seen before, as they were a mixture of Fey and other magicks made into a different whole. I was a real obsession with Sebastian, one he couldn't control. I understood, but it wasn't changing my mind. I was just not going to put anyone in the house at risk. I was relieved when Owen and Rinaldo seemed to understand and support my decision.

When Sebastian came to, I went to talk with him. There was some objection, mostly because they thought he would anger me and I would do something about it. Well, he might anger me, if I let him, but I decided I wouldn't. Actually, I didn't feel so much anger as I did disdain. I know nothing I did would make sense to him. He would imply, or actually say, how unreasonable I was, as was par for the course.

And, he did just that. He was convinced that there was something wrong with the wards. He had just been looking at them when they rendered him unconscious. It took a bit to wrap my brain around the idea, but I came to realize that he simply hadn't seen me. he was so wrapped up in what he was seeing, he was oblivious to anything around him. Rather than admit I had succeeded, he was adamant there was something wrong with the house and wanted to do something about it. it didn't help that the weir girls used their…imaginations to foster his impressions, telling him there were ghosts in the house, which attacked him. I wasn't going to admit to Sebastian that the girls were lying, so I told him the ghosts were friendly with us and saw his inspection as an attack. He was baffled by the idea…and much too intrigued.

I diverted him and told him he wasn't going to be able to return to the party. I knew him, he wouldn't let the matter rest. And I would not endanger my children, or the rest of the family, for his capricious actions. He was highly indignant, but he didn't argue.

I went back to the kitchen, resolved to join the party and enjoy myself. I did, however, watch by the window to make sure he left. I saw him pacing back and forth on the lawn, muttering to himself. Then he stalked toward the house, gesturing angrily. He swirled his arms, and I was ready to shout a warning when he disappearing in a deafening roar.

I went outside, with the two weir girls, to make sure he was gone. So did Rinaldo. As I stood on the lawn, I felt something cold brush by me. Rinaldo was riveted. He whispered that Sebastian had created a hole in the Shadow…and something was coming through. He set about repairing it, while I tried to see what came through.

It became visible shortly thereafter. It was about seven feet long, with glowing eyes and six legs. From its back were two tentacles, which looked predatory.

And me, without my sword, with two unarmed young weir.

It stood there, looking about. The weir were getting ready to attack and I told they not to move.

By now, the interest from the rest of the party was engaged. Julian looked outside, with Gerard, and he informed us that the creature was an Angofahr. And they were highly dangerous. They usually traveled in packs of nine to twelve, so this was probably a scout. That did not make Rinaldo happy; he'd have to work fast to prevent the others from coming through.

Gerard said that the Angofahr would fight, if they believe they can win. If they see what they believe is a larger force, they will run. And none of us wanted to see the thing run loose in an unprotected Paris. Damn Sebastian!

I began to move, to get it away from Rinaldo. He didn't need the distraction. Julian said that they seldom were where we thought they were. Great. They can make illusions of themselves.

I saw Kai was itching to come out and fight. DeWinter calmly ordered him to stay in the house. In the meantime, I looked around. A bit away, I could see where grass was being stepped on…it was there!

Kai came to the doorway, and called to me. He threw my sword in a perfect arc. DeWinter just hit him in the back of the head. Kai objected, pointing to the edge of the door, “See, I'm still in the house!”

By now, Owen had managed to inch herself out of the house and was reinforcing Rinaldo's magic by shunting her own energy to him.

Fortunately, the Angofahr did not react to my weapon. I moved forward, feinting an attack on the illusion. Then I turned, as the real one moved forward, and slashed. I must have scored well because there was a serious wash of blood. Of course, most of it hit me. It roared, and reared and the two weir girls joined in. It wasn't an easy fight because it never became visible. And, to their dismay, it had no scent at all. So they we were truly fighting blind.

I took a few nasty hits in the legs from the tentacles, but we continued on. Julian watched closely, one hand raised to keep everyone still. Both DeWinter and Kai were poised tensely. When we had hit it a number of times and Julian let his hand drop. Both DeWinter and Kai were out of the house like a shot. Within minutes, it was dead.

Kai was very pleased with himself. For the first time, he'd been able to show some of his abilities, right in front of the family. I don't think it occurred to him that to some of the elders, his ability to follow Julian's and Gerard's cues might have been a better “show.” Still, I was happy for him.

Mal on the other hand was furious. Matisse had been watching the whole thing from a nearby tree. Mal was more than a little frightened by the idea that Matisse could have gotten hurt. Matisse, on the other hand had no such worries. She was certain nothing would happen to her as long as Kai was there. And me, she added in an after thought. It was clear her hero-worship of Kai was being reinforced.

I ordered the thing put in the garage. I wanted to find Sebastian and show him what he had done, however inadvertently.

In the meantime, we resumed our party. At least now, people all had something to talk about. I went to clean up and DeWinter saw to my legs.

Day 74/32

Kai wants to stuff the Angofahr. He'd have to get a taxidermist…and perhaps explain the existence of a creature no one had ever hear about, much less seen. He was confident, and I thought it was a fairly harmless project.

Day 83/32
Merisot

Kai had succeeded. They got the thing stuffed and mounted. The taxidermist was amazingly unperturbed by the creature, but he said it would be easier if the creature wasn't so damaged. In the end, they mounted it, dramatizing it as if in battle. It was a pretty good job. Kai was pleased as he went back to the Legion. We put the thing up in the rafter of the garage.

Oh, Mal has finally has named the girl. It was Owen's suggestion of a name, which Mal liked. So, her name is Merisot, from another artist. Pablo is going to steam.

I've spent the last few weeks trying to trump Sebastian. He has resisted answering. Owen suggested I might try Gerard. So, I Trumped Gerard and explained what I wanted. I simply said that Sebastian needed to know just what he's doing. If he persists in using that spell, he could be tearing holes in a multitude of Shadows. With frightening results. As Rinaldo explained anxiously, if there is no one to repair the damage, the tears continue to grow. He'd known Sebastian could do this. In fact, Sebastian rather knew what was going on. Or so Rinaldo believes. Rinaldo also believed that Sebastian wasn't using the spell, which neither proves or disproves the idea that Sebastian knows anything. Sebastian is more than capable of ignoring anything anyone has to say to him.
But, the idea of tears in Shadows was a horrifying thought. Both DeWinter and I have been through the results of that. So, I just wanted to show Sebastian real proof of what he's done and the danger he put my children, and the rest of the Shadow in. The problem is, I was not able to leave Duncan, or the children, to go after Sebastian.

Gerard, I think, must have felt a little annoyance with Sebastian as well. Or even that I had a justified point. Because he agreed to track down Sebastian. He'd let me know when he found him.

Day 206/32

It's been four months and things are back to our usual routine. Duncan-Rogier is doing well. He's growing faster than we can imagine. He's already walking. A little part of me is pleased. Another part is thinking that his childhood might slip away too quickly for him and for us.

Day 210/32
Apology

Gerard Trumped to say he's found Sebastian. And, Sebastian was willing to make an apology. That was fine by me. But, Gerard feels that Sebastian should make his apology to everyone in the house. I wasn't so sure of that. It would make it seem like we were rubbing his nose in his mistake and I think it would only cause more resentment than he already has to most of us.

I said so to Gerard, but he agreed. First, he said a public apology would make him, Gerard, feel good. Second, the apology would make him accountable for his own actions. Third, it would make an impression on the other children. I was bemused that he lumped Sebastian in with the “children” and it was a telling thought. I did agree, though, that seeing him apologize would be good for the children. None of them would want to do something so foolish, that they would have to stand in front of the rest of the family and admit it. So, somewhat reluctantly, DeWinter and I agreed to the whole thing.

Sebastian's apology was very strange. He started off well enough and then began to divert. He mentioned how important children are. And how easy it is to step over them or ignore them, even in normal times. To endanger them is simply inexcusable. He almost brought himself to tears and everyone was looking oddly at him.

It says much about Sebastian. Like a lot of children, his excessive display shows that he's really talking more about his own past, not what he's done here and now. Totally self-absorbed. Well, perhaps not totally, but enough that I felt this was almost a meaningless gesture.

Some children, when they know they are in trouble, will diffuse the anger by creating a bigger hurt on themselves. That way, the anger is turned into either pity or sympathy. That was what Sebastian was doing. It's an insidious tactic, because the first instinct is not to be heartless toward someone else's pain. And that instinct subtly reinforces his tactics so he never really has to deal with the core issues. What Sebastian needs is…a parent. Much like what happened to DoBlique…and Evander. She had to relive her childhood. While her memories did return, the second childhood, I hope, did heal some hurts and put things in a different perspective. I can only hope that happens to Sebastian. He desperately needs to see things with different eyes. And see them long enough to help him challenge his own perspectives.

Gerard looked a little pained at the whole thing. But, when Sebastian was done, Gerard gallantly wished us all well and said goodbye. Sebastian, taking his cue, followed Gerard's example and mimicked it exactly. With that, they left. Everyone else trailed back into the house, looking more confused than anything else.

Day 212/32

Well, something nice has happened. Duncan-Rogier has apparently come to the idea that I'm not going anywhere and leaving him behind. So, no more teeth. No more need to pin me down, literally. I gave him a lot of positive reinforcement on that notion. I gave him so much attention, Matisse crawled into my lap and said that she didn't bite either. I spent an hour tickling, cuddling and holding her, telling her what a wonderful girl she was. She took an almost hedonistic delight in the attention. Then the girls followed suit and it was a “snuggle-fest” as Rinaldo put it. But he was smiling hugely.

I am a bit concerned about the Mer. I've had Rinaldo change the wards to include all the Mer. And any signals they might read. So that however much Splurgi knew is now obsolete. So far, I had received no messages. There are ways to send word, not requiring direct contact. So, it's possible the Khan is content with what she had done and/or she's planning something. No, scratch that. She is planning something. I just don't know what. And, I doubt Splurgi will give me a truthful answer if I asked. Still, I suppose I'll have to go talk to her, but I wonder if that's a good idea. It could be considered a sign of weakness. Actually, I'm afraid it is. So, do I appear “weak” or go on with no information?

What a choice.


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