There was a knock at my door later that morning.  I was surprised
to see Benedict, so much so, that I almost didn't notice that Claudio was
there as well.  I could guess what Claudio wanted to talk about, but
Benedict had first priority.

	Benedict said that things needed to be explained to Killian.  He
elaborated, upon seeing my confused expression.  Apparently Killian
thought he was marked for death, and had decided to suicide by challenging
his uncles to combat.  I could certainly think of better ways to go, if I
had to.  I told Benedict I would speak to Killian, soon, but my gaze had
settled on Claudio.  Benedict followed it and offered to deal with Claudio
for me.  I smiled, but told him I didn't really think that would help.

	I then turned my attention to Claudio.  I asked him why he had
come.  He said that Random had told him to.  I asked him what his plan
was, now that he was here.  He had none.  I frowned and asked him to
verify that he had come to my room with no plan or intention whatsoever,
other than the King had told him to.  He verified this, and then suggested
that an apology from me would be a good start.  I said two words to him: 
Get out.  I'm sorry granddaughter.  I may be an arrogant asshole, but in
this I am not wrong.

	I Trumped to Rebma and walked slowly to Killian's house. 
Dworkin's time jump was beginning to weigh more and more on me.  Would we
really be able to change anything, or were we just wasting time until the
end again?  I didn't have an answer.

	I knocked on Killian's door and it was opened by Cordelia.  She
quickly made her excuses, so I assumed I must have been frowning.  When we
were alone, I asked Killian why he was trying to kill himself.  He looked
confused and said that since he had already failed one challenge, he cared
not how this one ended.  Benedict was right.  Killian certainly did think
that he was to be killed.  I smiled and said to him that if I had to
choose between his life and ending the challenge, I would end the
challenge.  I then got to revel in his expression, one that I must have
worn a thousand times in my life, one of utter confusion.  I explained to
him that his death was never the goal, that I merely had wished to teach
him a lesson.  I also encouraged him not to challenge any more of the
family.  Thinking of what Fiona might do to him made me feel cold.  I
continued the discussion with him, until I was sure he understood, then I
made my way slowly back to Amber.

	Just before lunch, I got a summons from Random.  He wanted to let
me know that a new relative had been discovered, Benedict's brother,
Joseph.  Joseph was currently with Benedict.  This was yet another change
in the time line, from the last time.  I mentioned to Random that
Claudio's mission had failed as we were on our way to lunch.  He didn't
seem surprised.

	There was a state dinner that evening to formally present
Melanie's son Ian to Random.  It was a fairly normal meal, if you could
overlook the fact that Ulysses was glowing.  Something told me I didn't
want to know.

	Melanie approached me after dinner.  She wanted to speak to me
about Dakota.  Apparently Ulysses hadn't quite brought the boy up to speed
before leaving him in Chaos.  I told her that I would do what I could, and
that Dakota was technically Ulysses' responsibility.  Privately, I decided
to see to Dakota's training myself, and did so over the week that
followed.  It was a good excuse to get to know my son better.  Now, if I
could just come up with a similar excuse for Vain, I'd be all set.

	There was a bit of a strange occurrence at the beginning of the
week.  The Chaosite, Ragnar, managed to get himself poisoned.  Trouble
will follow some people anywhere, apparently.  I had to wonder if it was
blood poison, but no one consulted me, and he did make a recovery.  I
posted a few extra guards around the infirmary until he was back on his

	And then Laughter went into false labor.  She was none too pleased
with that, as she was more than ready for her pregnancy to come to term. 
I reassured her that it would be soon, and hoped that I was convincing.

	At the end of the week, I received a Trump call from Cordelia.  I
immediately asked her what Killian had done now, based on prior
experience.  She stated flatly that he had successfully wooed a woman.  I
was impressed, and asked her the name of the woman.  I was then treated to
an awkward and truly awful silence, the likes of which I hope to never get
caught in again.  It was more than obvious who Killian had wooed, but I
did need her to say it.  She admitted that it was herself and I let her
cut the Trump contact.  I then Trumped Killian and released him, since he
had successfully completed the last challenge.  He was free to go.

	What a strange time we live in, truly.  Cordelia and Killian? 
Amber's own version of Beauty and the Beast, no doubt.

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