Ice storm in Ixaxis. No boats will go through today.
Something is out there, killing her Shadows. Sand knows who it
is, and won't tell me. "Go ahead. Ask her if you want to know. Maybe it
will make you realize some things."
Why does she give me these puzzles? I'm no longer her student,
and even if she deems me careless, it is no longer her task to reprimand
It's not as if I have any illusions about Melanie, anyway. If I
can't tell her from Abigail, I have no illusions about her. And yes,
Abigail would be so vindictive. If Melanie is killing her Shadows,
witless, powerless creatures that they are, destined never to venture
beyond the borders of their Shadows, then no, she is not so different from
But Melanie hasn't tried to kill me, and her anger towards me
doesn't seem to be murderous. I don't know how to explain that to her --
that this is the difference. Perhaps Abigail would have taken Balin to
bed -- one never really knows with Abigail. But there would have been no
dreams and no sadness after. It is the softer emotion that is the clue.
The absence of the killing rage. Ixaxis bred no softness in that one,
even though I know that Abby's life was easier. From where come the
qualities of Melanie?
Sylvia doesn't think it came from the mother. All that Sylvia
tells me of Tianen is bad... She is a heartless woman, except when under
the madness, and when I see Sylvia turn into a cold killer, I know much of
how it must have been to grow up beneath the tutelage of the exile from
Atherton. Granted, Sylvia says Tianen didn't "mess" too much with
Melanie. Jubal was her special case back then, but I take this to mean
that Melanie was ignored, not treated kindly.
Brand, then? Sand says that in the twisted passages of the
Taormin, she defeated him so easily because his insanity had reduced him
to senility and fear. Apparently, he took the Taormin from Abigail because
he thought it was his daughter, giving him a gift, and the only danger he
ever presented the world was releasing Delwin.
At least I know what I'm up against now. Brand managed to
remember what he gave to Abby in return.
But what did Brand give Melanie? Looking at the three of them
together, I would guess that Brand tried to place a fatal flaw in each of
his children -- a certain weakness that he could exploit if he needed to.
Alek seems to hover on a knife's edge of indecisiveness and impetuosity.
And, though it is difficult to distill from Maron that which is Brand and
that which is Cymnea, I would say that Maron was given a weakness for
women. Probably from Cymnea, actually, and probably approved by Brand.
And finally, Melanie. Whatever it is, it's probably to be found in her
attachments to the dogs.
Faugh. I am not the man I used to be. I'm wracked by guilt, and
I'm not even certain I know why. She was going to use Balin against the
King, and that's all there is to it. And, as it happens, I turned out to
be using her instead. It's best this way. The King has enough troubles
without his sons causing more, or the lovers of his sons. So, it is also
for the best that I am not his son. Though I would be proud enough, if I
were... I wonder if they would adopt me, were I to ask? Laughter looks
enough like my mother... though softer. Ah. A bitter laugh on a bitter
Melanie dislikes Archimedes, but it is beyond me why she expected
him to forget that she had deliberately antagonized him. She dislikes
taking orders, but diplomatic immunity does not extend to the quarters of
the King. There are certain things one must accept in this world, and
that is not even the harshest in a long list of unchangeable facts.
The wind throws up larger and larger spates of ice against the
windows. I must go. Sylvia will be waiting.
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