It was shortly after breakfast that I received a Trump call from
Caitlin.  To say I was surprised would be putting it mildly.  Why on earth
would she risk contacting me, when she was on the run from Finndo?  After
what she had done to me, it seemed a terrible chance.  I took the call, of
course.  I was quite curious as to what she wished of me, and I was
confident that I was in no danger from her over a Trump.  I was quite
surprised when she proceeded to inform me that I was an aunt.  She had
given birth to twins, and invited me to come see them.  I decided that now
was the perfect time to do so.  I had questions I wished to ask of
Caitlin, you see, questions I would not be able to present if Finndo
caught up with her.

	Caitlin pulled me through into a nursery, and I spent a few
minutes looking over my new niece and nephew, Morgan and Eldred.  Eldred
favored his father in looks.  For his sake, I hoped that was all that he
inherited from his father.  And that Father never laid eyes on the child. 
Caitlin asked me if I would take them in, if anything should happen to
herself and Merlin.  I did not have to think long before nodding my
assent.  It was a problem I had been facing not more than a day or so ago,
myself, and one of the reasons we were about to pass so much time in
Shadow.  I knew full well what she was asking of me, and what it had taken
for her to ask it.  Especially since she had every reason to suspect that
I did not feel all that friendly towards her, after she had turned me over
to the Serpent.  I suppose she was counting on my concern for my brother's
children overcoming whatever dislike I might feel towards her.  She
guessed correctly.

	We spent some time discussing how Caitlin had escaped from Finndo. 
To my surprise, he had not caught her in Halybard, but out near Ygg.  What
could she have been doing there?  Passing some time, apparently, for not
enough time had passed in Chaos for her to have come to term.  The Serpent
chose not to intervene in the matter, which was rather inconvenient for
Caitlin.  I asked how much control it had over her, and she admitted that
there were only a few things it could not make her do.
	"Like what?" I asked, wondering, as I often had, how much of what
she had done to me had been against her will.
	"I do not think it could make me kill," she admitted.
	I sighed, and discarded subtlety for a moment.  "And with what
happened to me?"
	"No, Melanie, I had no wish to do that."
	I believed her.  And in doing so, I let go of the last of my
anger.  I was suddenly glad I had not indulged my petty ideas of revenge. 
I asked if she had any idea what the Serpent had planned for me, but
unfortunately, she knew nothing beyond the fact that it had wanted for me
to take the Logrus.  I was unsurprised.  I knew it could not be that easy.

	The conversation returned to Finndo, and Caitlin's options in
dealing with him.  I reminded her that she still had recourse before the
Council, and there were some who would support her.  A number that would
likely grow, once Alora took her seat there.  Which, given the time we
were about to pass in Shadow again, would be fairly soon.  I alluded to
how this also resolved the problem of who would raise Alora if something
happened to us, since she would be old enough to take care of herself when
we were through.  Caitlin got a thoughtful look on her face at that, and I
knew she was suddenly seeing new possibilities for herself and her
children.  She would benefit even more than I from such a solution.  I
suggested that Merlin might know of a few fast Shadows that would be
suitable, and if not, Kaedric would doubtless be willing to make
suggestions.  I hoped he would suggest a better pair than what he had
offered me.  I described them to her, and Caitlin found the second Shadow
as bizarre as I had.  If only Alora had not taken such an instant liking
to it.  Caitlin offered that she might forget about it over the years. 
Perhaps, but knowing my daughter, I doubted it.  She never forgot
anything.  She got that from her father.

	Claudio's wedding seemed rather uneventful, although Kaedric was
rather tense throughout the affair.  I was later to learn that Orrin was
upstairs in the Amber infirmary at that time, recovering from what Finndo
had done to him.  It is best that I did not know this at the time, for I
would have been hard pressed not to finish the job.  I will never forgive
him for killing Kaedric.  Never.

	The good news was that Finndo was dead, Kaedric's assassin having
made his attempt and been successful.  Which eliminated some of our reason
for going into Shadow, but not enough to change our plans.  Finndo might
be gone, but there would doubtless be some new enemy to take his place,
before long.  I would see my daughter safely grown before then.

	We arrived in Ixaxis during the summer, which was quite a pleasant
change from the winter ice storms that had been raging when I had last
spent a prolonged period of time there.  We were conveniently between
classes as well, leaving us with some time to settle in, as Alora prepared
for classes, and Kaedric prepared to take over Sand's job as head of the
school.  As for myself...  Much to my surprise, I found myself preparing
to teach a class in Ivoran magic.  It was something to do, after all. 
Even more surprising was the fact that, as the semester began, and the
weeks went by, I discovered that I rather enjoyed it.  There is something
satisfying about speaking to a room full of people who are listening
solemnly to every word you say.  There is a certain power in that.  Alora
excelled in her classes, of course, and soon made a small group of friends
for herself.  One of them, Arundel, seemed somewhat higher placed in her
affections, and it was soon obvious to Kaedric and I that she had a quite
a crush on him.  Graham was not mentioned again.

	It was perhaps a month or so after our arrival that I approached
Alora while we were gathered in the sitting room, and informed her that we
had a bit of news for her.  Namely, that there would be a new addition to
the family soon.  Kaedric and I had made the attempt shortly after we were
safely settled in Ixaxis, and I was quite certain by this point that we
had been successful.  Alora took the news quite well, mentioning that she
had been hoping that she would not be that much older than the heir to the
House.  After much discussion, we decided to name him Ian.

	The pregnancy itself went fairly smoothly, and the delivery was
easier than Alora's had been.  A benefit of my improved shapeshifting
skills, no doubt.  Ian was born with his father's black hair and bright
blue eyes.  Judging by his thinness, I suspected he had inherited his
father's spare frame, as well.  There could certainly be no doubt whose
child he was.  His first year proved not much different than Alora's had
been.  It was in his second year that I began to worry.  For, unlike
Alora, who had begun speaking by this point, he had yet to utter a word. 
And nothing I could do seemed to have any effect on this.  I took to
reading to him for hours on end, in hopes that greater exposure the
language would cause him to say something, anything, even if he was only
mimicking a sound he did not understand, but he remained as silent as
ever.  I began to fear there was something seriously wrong with him.  Even
Kaedric did not know what to make of it.  Sometimes I was certain that he
was simple in the head, but then I would see the intelligence in his eyes,
the way he watched *everything*, and I could not believe it.  Unable to
determine a cause, I spent the next two years at my wit's end, and
eventually, I gave up hope of ever hearing him speak.  Then, shortly after
his third birthday, I was speaking to him as I always did, not really
expecting any reply, when suddenly, he finally uttered his first word. 
And kept going.  He spoke a complete sentence, almost perfectly formed,
and for one long moment, I was positive I was hallucinating.  And then I
was pulling Kaedric out of the middle of his class, so he could hear for
himself.  Deep down inside, I was afraid Ian would stop speaking as
suddenly as he had started, before anyone else could hear him.  This, of
course, did not happen.  But it was the beginning of a pattern that
continued in everything Ian did.

	Ian turned out to be even more of a perfectionist than his father,
frequently refusing to let it be known that he could do something until he
could do it perfectly.  Until then, he would merely watch intently,
absorbing everything.  Kaedric gave him only one reading lesson, and
within two days he was reading with ease words that were so complicated
that he did not even know their meaning.  It drove his teachers to
distraction.  It drove me to distraction.  I found myself feeling grateful
that Alora had not been like this, for I am certain I would never have
consented to have another child if Ian had been my first.  There were
times when I jokingly referred to Ian in my mind as my demon child, so
unusual did he seem.  But he loved Kaedric, Alora and I as intensely as he
did anything else, and even after he had learned how to read, he would
still climb into my lap and listen to me read to him for hours.  Alora,
especially, he regarded with an awe approaching hero worship, and he did
his best to emulate her in everything she did.  And, given how quickly he
learned, Alora found herself pressing hard to stay ahead of him, despite
the fact that he was ten years younger than she.  In that respect, they
complimented each other perfectly, for Ian pushed Alora to advance far
more effectively than even Kaedric and I could have managed, and Alora
provided an excellent role model for Ian.

	Fortunately, Alora was so busy trying to stay ahead of Ian, and to
keep up with everything that Kaedric set her to learn about politics,
Amber and Chaos history, Shadow theory, Trump, shapeshifting, Logrus,
etc., that she never found time to be jealous of Ian.  She kept the same
close circle of friends over the years, with the notable exception of
Arundel, who took up with a noble girl named Dira when Alora was 14, and
was pretty much excluded from her group after that.  Hell hath no fury
like a woman scorned.

	It was during Alora's fifteenth year that she came to me one
evening while I was grading papers, and mentioned that the ordeals would
be starting in a week.  I had been expecting this.  All Ixaxin sorcery
students must go through a test phase of three weeks, which are known as
the ordeals.  If they pass, there is a fieldwork phase of a year, and then
they are considered full sorcerers in the eyes of the world.  Since she
would not be remaining on Ixaxis, it was not strictly necessary for Alora
to go through the ordeals.  It remained to be seen if she would choose to
do so.  Judging by her expression, it appeared that she was still
deciding.  I asked her if she wished to speak about it, suspecting that
she did, for why else would she have sought me out?  She figured she
should, since taking the ordeals would require that all of us remain in
Ixaxis for an extra year.  I put her mind to rest in that regard, assuring
her that Kaedric and I had no objections to prolonging our stay.  In
truth, I was growing rather fond of the place.  I asked Alora if she
wanted to take the tests, and she said she did, but she had some
reservations.  She did not want to fail.  I understood this all too well. 
I had spent most of my teen-age years fearing failing my father, although
for reasons that had little in common with Alora's, fortunately.
	"I do not think you will," I assured her.  "But, if you do, it is
not such a terrible thing.  You will learn from that failure and try
again.  Surely it is better than discovering a weakness in your training
later on?"
	She saw the logic in this, and thanked me for my advice.  I told
her Kaedric and I were proud of her, no matter what happened.  It was the
sort of stock answer that parents are supposed to give their children, but
as I spoke the words I knew that they were true.  I was proud of her, just
for deciding to take the test.  That would not change, even if she failed. 
There was a time when I felt quite differently, when failure, whether my
own or someone else's, was unacceptable.  When had that changed?

	Alora opted not to tell Kaedric of her candidacy, preferring him
to find her name on the list of candidates, and I kept silent on the
matter as well.  I did arrange to be present when he read the list,
however.  I did my best to only look curious when he looked up with an
expressionless face, and asked if I was prepared to stay in Ixaxis for
another year.  Then he smiled as he revealed that Alora was a candidate,
and I allowed that, in that case, I could manage another year.  He looked
quite pleased and proud for a moment, before kissing me breathless and
leaving to post the list.  Alora had asked me to share Kaedric's reaction
to the news with her.  I decided to leave that last bit out.

	The three weeks of the ordeal were among the longest I have ever
experienced, with both Kaedric and Alora gone.  There were no classes to
distract myself with, unfortunately, although I still had a very eager
pupil in Ian, who was just barely five at the time.  I spent a lot of time
with him, and by the time the ordeals were over, he had managed to learn
how to identify who was calling over Trump.  Kaedric and Alora slept for
two days straight after their return, then ate an enormous breakfast,
before hugging Ian and I and confirming that Alora had passed.  Three days
after this, there was a celebration for those who had successfully
completed the ordeals, and their fieldwork postings were made.  Alora was
posted to a distant province, with an elderly woman named Erlienne as her
mentor.  What disturbed Alora, however, was the name of her partner at the
post:  Arundel.  She did not say much on the matter, of course, although
she did casually ask Kaedric at dinner that night who had drawn up the
pairings.  Kaedric informed her that it had been random chance, mostly,
although they had rearranged the pairings of those individuals not mature
enough to handle conflict.  The expression on Alora's face upon hearing
that was one I have probably worn myself, on occasion.  Kaedric has a way
of prompting that response.  Alora said nothing more on the subject.

	I found the fieldwork phase of Alora's training almost as trying
as the test itself.  She was only allowed to visit us once a month, and we
could not visit her.  It was the longest we had ever been separated from
her, and I found myself missing her terribly.  For the first six months,
things seemed to go well enough.  Then Alora returned for one of her
visits declaring that she was ugly, and no man would ever want to marry
her.  Oh, she knew she would marry someday, but it would be a political
marriage.  I smiled a bit at this.  Obviously, she still had some feelings
for Arundel, and he did not seem to reciprocate.  I assured her that just
because one boy did not seem to find her attractive, that by no means
meant they all would.  She seemed surprised that I had guessed what had
happened.  I wondered to myself if all parental omniscience was simply the
result of remembering our own past experience.  I pointed out that I had
not been attracted to Kaedric at first, and she seemed to feel better
about the matter.  I suspected she would not feel nearly so reassured if
she knew the whole story of my relationship with Kaedric, but that was not
something I intended to share with her anytime soon.  She did not speak to
Kaedric at all during dinner, not wanting him to guess the truth, as I
had.  She was afraid he would not think she was being mature, by letting
it get to her, and I could not convince her otherwise.  She decided that
she would just ignore Arundel, and went back to her post in a much better
frame of mind.  Or so I thought.

	Alora returned for her next visit with her spirits much higher
than the last time, which prompted me to ask after Arundel.  Which is when
I learned that he had a black eye, courtesy of my daughter, who had never
struck anyone before in her life.  That I was aware of, at least.  And the
reason she had struck him?  He had not seen eye to eye with her on an
approach to a magical problem they had to deal with.  They were both on
probation for a week, as a result.  I asked after the real reason she had
hit him, but she insisted that was it.  I pointed out that we had never
taught her to resort to physical violence over a simple difference of
opinion.  She agreed, but responded that it was not a simple difference. 
He was pig-headed, you see, and she was right.  She would not favor me
with the details, of course, claiming it would not be very nice to
Arundel.  I decided I was pretty sure I knew what the underlying reason
for the black eye was, and hoped this had been sufficient to resolve
things between them.  At least Alora's lack of confidence in herself was

	I brought the matter up with Kaedric that evening, certain that he
would have been notified of her probation.  As it turns out, he had not
gotten the month's field reports, yet.  I began to wish I had not said
anything on the matter, but it was too late.  He did not look especially
happy about the matter.  I pointed out that Alora must get her propensity
for physical violence from his side of the family.  Kaedric argued against
this, of course, claiming he had never struck another human being in anger
without intending to kill him.  I had trouble believing this, of course,
having seen how he was with Claudio.  There was a certain incident
involving Claudio's broken fingers, after all.  That, he claimed was
merely retribution, which was completely different, since it was a matter
of sibling rivalry.  Upon consideration, I had to admit that Kaedric
tended to take out his frustrations on inanimate objects, as opposed to
animate ones.  Which prompted an uncomfortable thought.  Kaedric never
took out his frustrations on people, but Father certainly had.  What if
Alora was taking after him?  It was not a particularly pleasant thought. 
Fortunately, Kaedric rather effectively distracted me from it, and no more
mention was made of the matter.

	Alora's next visit was made quite eventful by the fact that she
brought Arundel with her.  She had invited him to dinner and to spend the
night with us.  An invitation Arundel probably wished he had not accepted,
in the end.  Kaedric, Ian and I spent the evening watching how Alora and
Arundel behaved towards each other, Kaedric and Ian a bit more intently
than I.  The couple seemed friendly, but there was definitely some sexual
tension in the air.  The sort you get between two people who want to sleep
together, but have not.  Kaedric relaxed a bit, once this became apparent. 
Ian, on the other hand, spent most of the meal staring coldly at Arundel
with those glacial eyes that he inherited from his father.  Arundel seemed
rather disturbed by it.  In the back of my mind, I found it rather amusing
to think that Arundel was being psyched out by a child ten years his
junior.  My demon child...  Arundel made the mistake of trying to engage
Ian in conversation, by asking when he was going to begin learning
sorcery.  Apparently Alora had never bothered to tell him much about her
brother, or he would have known better.  Ian just looked scornfully at him
and asked what he thought about one of the more complex theories of
infinity.  Arundel barely managed to stutter his way through one of the
standard answers, and I was hard pressed not to smile.  Kaedric did not
bother to hide his amusement, which earned him a glare from Alora.  There
was a bit of an awkward silence, before Kaedric began asking questions
about the politics of the area in which Alora and Arundel were stationed. 
This Arundel was much more comfortable with, and everyone began to relax a
bit.  Even Ian listened carefully, since this was all new information to

	I spent the rest of the meal paying more attention to Arundel than
the conversation, trying to get a better grasp of his character.  I came
to the conclusion that, aside from the arrogance that all Ixaxin sorcerers
posses, he was smart and friendly, although a little too similar to Bleys
in manner for my taste.  Apparently, Alora's taste in men was not
altogether terrible.  On the other hand, he was by no means suitable for
her to be involved with in any deeper manner.  I would not have my
16-year-old daughter losing her virginity to a Shadow sorcerer, no matter
how friendly.  Arundel spent the night in the guest quarters, and made no
move to go elsewhere.  The question was, would he be similarly circumspect
when he and Alora were in their distant province?

	I broached the matter with Kaedric after Arundel had left. 
Kaedric took the view that there were only three more months before
Alora's assignment was up, and then we would be off to Mayfair, where
there was no Arundel.  I pointed out that knowing they only had three
months left together might cause one of them to do something foolish. 
That got Kaedric's attention, and he decided that it was time for him to
make a surprise inspection of the field teams.  It was unprecedented, of
course, but he was the head of the school, so it was allowable.  Alora and
Arundel would suspect the real reason for the visit, of course, but it
should make them think twice.  At least I hoped it would.  I had to remain
behind, unfortunately, to run the school for the two weeks Kaedric would
be gone.  When he returned, he figured he had either scared the life out
of Arundel, or engendered deeper rebellion in Alora.  I sincerely hoped it
was the former, since if Arundel did sleep with Alora, I had every
intention of ensuring that his testicles rotted off.

	Alora's next visit began rather tensely, for her anger towards
Kaedric was still quite strong.  Finally, Kaedric took her out hunting for
a few hours, and when she returned she was extremely tired, but much
calmer.  I never asked what Kaedric said to her out there, but whatever it
was, it must have worked.  The remaining two months passed quickly, and it
was with unexpected sadness that I dismissed my last class and said
goodbye to all of my students.  I was going to miss Ixaxis.  There was
something to be said for the scholarly life.

	Our next stop was Mayfair, and I found myself easily slipping back
into the culture I had been raised in.  Alora, on the other hand, objected
strenuously to wearing corsets and petticoats, and all of the primping
that was required to look like a fashionable lady.  She did not think much
of the attitude towards women there, either.  Kaedric had another talk
with her on the matter, and after that she treated it as a game, drawing
the men who flirted with her into a trap of her own wit, making them
appear foolish without their even realizing it.  Kaedric and I spent six
months polishing her manners and teaching her the culture, and then she
was out in Society.  She did marvelously well, and was much sought after
in balls.  No one seemed to think it odd that Kaedric now had a wife and a
grown daughter.  Ah, the wonders of Shadow.  Ian did not think much of
Mayfair at first, since his nanny insisted on dragging him to children's
activities, like animal shows.  Once Kaedric hired him a decent tutor,
though, he was quite happy, and spent a great deal of time in the museums. 
I continued instructing him in the arts of Trump and sorcery, as well.  I
missed teaching my classes a bit, but Ian's enthusiasm made it easier.  At
least I still had one student.  He continued to show a great deal of
promise, and I knew it would not be long before he was able to draw full

	It was perhaps a year and a half after our arrival in Mayfair that
Kaedric and Alora came to me as I was sorting through the day's
invitations, and informed me that Alora had been accepted into all of the
colleges she had applied to.  I had expected no less, of course.  Still, I
felt a twinge of unease, for I remembered all too well what one of those
Shadows had been like.  As I feared, the college she wished to go to was
Oxford, in the Shadow of the naked man.  Alora was very excited about it,
of course.  She loved the idea of seeing England as it would be in 150
years.  I could not quite bring myself to share her excitement.  But,
Oxford did have the best political science program, and I could hardly
object based on my own qualms about the Shadow.  Still, I found myself
wishing that we were going to a different Shadow.  At least we were
waiting until after the Season to depart.

	I sent Alora off to tell the news to Ian, then confirmed with
Kaedric that Oxford was indeed in the Shadow I had suspected.  Kaedric
chose to accuse me of obsessing about this naked man, something which I
soundly denied.  My only concern was that if we saw such things in the few
minutes that we were there, what must the state of the culture be like? 
Kaedric promised to edit the Shadow to remove that sort of thing.  I
believe he called it "streaking."  I should have had him edit out the
short skirts as well, but I figured I would not have to go out all that
often.  This was when Kaedric suggested that I teach a class at Oxford, on
the Regency period of England.  The idea sounded far more appealing to me
than it probably should have.  I told myself that it was merely a good way
to pass the time.  Kaedric would be teaching too, of course.  He was to be
Professor of Mathematics and Philosophy, K. Adric Ven.  I expressed a bit
of surprise that he would choose to use that surname.  He explained that
he found it more palatable than his connection with Barimen through
Delwin.  I understood that feeling all too well.  My Barimen connection
was hardly any more desirable than his.  And that was the better side of
my heritage.

	The rest of our stay in Mayfair passed far too quickly.  Alora had
many suitors, and created quite a stir when she did not seem to prefer any
of them, or even want to get married, for that matter.  It was all the
matrons could talk about.  As a Patroness at Almack's, I was asked about
her behavior quite a bit.  I pretended to be as baffled and dismayed as
they over Alora's behavior.  What was a mother to do?

	Kaedric shut down Mayfair completely when the time came for us to
depart.  He and I would doubtless be back, of course, so there was no
sense in leaving it running.  We then journeyed to the Shadow that was to
be our new home, spending two weeks living in a cottage near a small
village in England while we became acclimated to the place.  This was
mostly accomplished through books, radio, and TV.  Nothing nearly as
advanced as what I had seen on Intellex.  It was not the technology that
gave me the most trouble, of course, but the culture.  Especially the
style of dress.  By the end of the first week, Alora was already wearing
her skirts just barely past her mid-thigh, as was the fashion.  I, on the
other hand, found myself reluctantly wearing skirts that at least covered
my knees, although they left my ankles exposed.  A fact which amused
Kaedric to no end, you may be sure.  He and Alora spent a lot of time
walking on the moors, while he explained the Shadow to her, and she
fretted through the sort of jitters one typically finds when children
first begin college, or so Kaedric assured me.

	As professors at Oxford, Kaedric and I were granted a small house
to live in.  We could have afforded something larger, of course, but I
wanted to remain close to the campus.  Alora moved into Lady Margaret Hall
and began her classes, but she came back every day to visit, at least for
the first month.  She enjoyed college immensely, although she often said
that none of her professors were quite as challenging as her father. 
Which was only to be expected, given that they were Shadows.

	Ian spent most of the time discovering the wonders of technology. 
He took the TV apart at least twice.  The second time, he even managed to
put it back together correctly.  Outside of his interactions with the
family, though, he did not socialize much.  He would talk with our
colleagues from the college, when they came to visit, and the few people
that Alora would bring home with her, but that was all.  After three
months of this, Kaedric managed to convince him to play on some sports
teams, and he went out for soccer and cricket.  Despite this, he still did
not really socialize with people his own age.  I understood this though,
and did not push him to do so.  I had never had much use for other
children when I had been growing up, either.

	The big fight with Alora came at the end of her sophomore year,
when she announced that she was moving out of the dorms and getting an
apartment with her friends.  This was not the problem.  The fact that some
of these friends were male...this was the problem.  I had accepted a lot
of things about the culture of that Shadow, but never this.  It was
unthinkable.  Fortunately, Kaedric was equally against the idea, and in
between quarreling with each other as to why Alora had come to even
suggest such a thing, we managed to present a united front to her on the
matter.  After a week of this, she decided to remain in the dorms after
all, and wrote a wonderfully worded apology for her behavior, full of
theories about how not being able to do what everyone else was doing was a
great learning experience for her as a future ruler.  It was pure
bullshit, of course, but Kaedric loved it, and thought it perfectly
justified his decision to expose Alora to such a promiscuous culture in
the first place.  We fought about the matter for another week or so,
before eventually deciding to agree to disagree about the matter.

	The only other occurrence of note was the project that Ian began
working on in the basement.  Kaedric gave him some books on technology
even beyond what was available in the Shadow, and he took up an immediate
interest in robotics.  I tried to understand what he was building down
there, but it was rather beyond me.  I have never had a great love for
technology, especially after everything that happened with Aleksandr.  He
was so obsessed with technology...  I feared that Ian was following in his
footsteps.  Eddie had been a sentient computer, after all, and to me, the
difference between that and some sort of sentient robot was so
insignificant as to make no difference.  Kaedric disagreed, of course.  He
told me that Ian was nothing like Aleksandr, because Ian was like him.  Or
how he would have been, had his childhood been more like Ian's.  I
desperately wanted to believe him.  I just wished I understood Ian.  I
ought to be able to understand what my own son was doing, right?  That was
when Kaedric pointed out that I had not understood much of what Ian was
doing since he was born.  Much as I hated to admit it, he had a point.  I
decided there was not much I could do about it, other than have Kaedric
keep an eye on him.  Those damned books had been his idea in the first

	The remaining years passed quickly enough, and without much
incident.  Ian continued working on his project in the basement, but no
final product was seen.  After four years, Alora graduated from Oxford
with a triple bachelor's degree in political science, history and
mathematics.  Her father was exceedingly proud of her.  As was I, of
course.  With Alora's college education at an end, our stay in Shadow came
to a close as well.  Alora seemed a little unhappy to be leaving, but her
excitement about returning to Chaos was far greater.  Ian did not seem to
care at all, so long as he would be able to continue working on his
project.  Despite Kaedric's insistence that Ian was much like him, there
were times I still feared he was too much like Aleksandr.  Or Father.  It
is not a thought I cared to dwell on, overmuch.  Surprisingly, Kaedric
seemed the most of unhappy of all of us about leaving Oxford.  Part of it
was the teaching, of course.  I was going to miss that somewhat myself,
much as I hated to admit it.  But there was something else as well, some
other reason that I just could not identify.  I never could get him to say
what it was, of course, but I did wonder.

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