The conversation soon ground to a halt, in the manner that always
tends to happen when difficult situations are being discussed.  After a
bit of an awkward silence, Kaedric said that he was tired, but he needed
to speak with Lord Ritar.  I pointed out that his condition would not go
unnoticed for much longer, and suggested that he could claim to be
indisposed due to the attack.  He admitted that he could, but insisted
that as the new king, it was more important that he make his presence
felt.  I could see his point, but somehow I doubted it would do much for
Chaos to know that the King was pregnant, either.  Kaedric suggested that
we consult the Priestess of the Serpent, something I had been considering
myself.  She had to know more about the Serpent than we did, even if she
was no longer the Serpent's servant.  I made the mistake of saying as
much, at which point Kaedric looked smug and said, "More than you do,
maybe."  Sometimes Kaedric can be quite insufferable.  I just smiled
sweetly and told him to wait until the child started kicking.  His smug
look faded rather quickly after that.  Ha.  Kaedric then informed us that
he also intended to address the Council in an hour, then he would eat a
lot and sleep for a long time.  I could not resist pointing out that if he
slept long enough, the pregnancy would all be over.  Kaedric did not think
this was funny.  He seemed to be having difficulty dealing with the fact
that for once he was faced with a problem that he could do nothing to
resolve.  I found that on some level, I rather enjoyed this, having been
in that sort of situation before.  Usually because of him.

	Once Kaedric had departed, and Claudio as well, I began to think
of possible ways of dealing with our problem.  Terminating the pregnancy
was the most obvious method, but if my experience with my first pregnancy
was any judge, this would be rather difficult.  Even more difficult than I
had been expecting, actually, for as soon as I began to contemplate how I
might abort the fetus, I immediately fell unconscious.

	I awoke a short time later to Alora shaking me and looking
concerned.  She wanted to know what I had done.  I explained that I had
been considering possible resolutions to the problem.  I did not go into
details.  The less I spoke of it, the less chance there was that she might
pick up that I had tried to do something like this before.  Obviously, if
the fetus was to be aborted, someone else would have to do the honors. 
And I could not even frame the request without losing consciousness.  It
was rather maddening, to say the least.

	I sent a summons for Caitlin, then sat and did some thinking. 
Kaedric stuck his head in the door a short time later to tell me that the
Council meeting had been postponed until the next morning.  I warned him
not to make the same mistake that I had earlier.  He promptly passed out,
of course.  I had suspected that he might, but I felt it was a risk I had
to take.  He was bound to think of it, eventually.  Better he passed out
while alone with me, than in front of witnesses.  He did not immediately
see the wisdom of this when he awoke, of course, and groused that one
could not help but think about something when told not to think about it. 
I had to smile a bit at that...but not until after he had left.

	Dinner was a somewhat strained affair, with Kaedric and I eating
mostly in silence, while Alora watched us with a rather concerned
expression.  Ian had still not put in an appearance when I finally
finished eating, so I went down to his workroom.  I found the door locked
upon my arrival, and ordered him to open it.  He refused.  I frowned, and
began to take down the spell warding the door.  This got his attention. 
He attempted to counter me, but it did not take him long to realize that
he would not be able to stop me.  I felt some satisfaction at that. 
Brilliant he might be, but he had not surpassed me in sorcery yet.  He
began to argue with me then, protesting that he did not want me in his
workroom, that he was my Head of House now, etc.  I raised an eyebrow at
that, and pointed out that I was now his Queen, so he was still obliged to
obey my commands.  That actually caused him to fall silent for a moment,
then he reiterated that he did not want me in his workroom.  As if I have
ever understood more than half of what I have seen in there.  I pointed
out that he was free to come out, but one way or the other, I would speak
to him.  And doing so through the door was not sufficient.  He paused,
then admitted that he did not want to come out because he was afraid he
would be beaten for walking the Pattern.  I had to admit, if he kept this
up, I was going to be tempted.  I said as much to him, and, after a few
more moments, he asked me to step back, then emerged wearing a suit of

	My first thought was of Ulysses and his Trump armor, and a closer
examination revealed that the armor had, indeed, been engraved with Trump,
and had sorcery and Pattern energy bound up in it as well.  I had to
admit, I was impressed, although I had no intention of letting him know
this.  It soon became clear that he had built this armor to protect
himself, since he believed he was a target due to his new position as Head
of House.  I asked why he thought he had not been a target before, while
he was the heir.  He saw the logic in this, but would not remove the
armor.  We talked for a while, about how he had managed to walk the
Pattern, and why, and what his plans had been.  Apparently, he had been
planning to use the Pattern to bring him to his armor, then shift Shadow
until he found us.  At that point, he was confident his armor would have
enabled him to survive whatever our captors threw at him.  I visualized
him arriving in that strange place and confronting the Serpent, and I felt
my stomach clench.  The thought of what could have happened to him...  I
tried to keep my voice calm, and pointed out the various ways in which he
could have been stopped, had he actually carried out his foolish plan.  I
am not certain how convincing he found my arguments, unfortunately. 
Children always think they are invincible.  My point that we had managed
to free ourselves without his help he took more seriously, since it meant
that his walking the Pattern had been unnecessary.

	I was silent for several minutes, not quite certain of what to do
with him.  He had disobeyed us, yes, but his intentions had been good.  I
could not even get properly angry with Archimedes, since he had apparently
been suffering from memory loss when it happened.  I decided to leave the
matter for a later date, and deal with the more obvious problem, that of
getting Ian out of his armor.  Fortunately, the solution was easy enough. 
I simply asked if he intended to eat dinner in the suit.  He said that
there was food inside of it, although it was some sort of seaweed-like
substance.  I detected a serious lack of enthusiasm for this in his voice,
and gathered that it was not very appetizing.  I told him that he could
eat seaweed in his armor, or eat regular food out of it, but one way or
the other, he would be joining us for dinner.  After a moment or two, he
chose the latter.  As I knew he would.  He was still physically an
11-year-old boy, after all.  Given a choice between real food and seaweed,
there truly was no contest.

	I returned to the dining room with Ian in tow, and the rest of the
meal passed uneventfully.  If Ian noticed the enormous amount of food his
father was putting away, he made no comment about it.  I retired as soon
as the meal was over, feeling wretchedly exhausted again.  It seemed like
I had barely closed my eyes when I was being awoken for the Council
meeting.  I could only imagine how Kaedric felt.  I checked the status of
the fetus, and determined that approximately another three weeks of
development had passed.  Fortunately, it was still easily concealed,
although I certainly would be not be wearing my corset again.  I decided
my Ixaxin robes would do nicely.  Kaedric apparently felt the same, for he
was attired in a similar manner.  I got the impression that he had been
awake for some time already.  It was a pace he would not be able to keep
for long.

	The Council meeting itself was fairly routine.  Kaedric expressed
sorrow over Swayvill's death, and stated that there would not be many
changes from old regime, at least for now.  The only unusual moment came
when Caitlin stood and gave her complete support to Kaedric.  There were a
number of gasps and shocked expressions at this.  You would think that
Kaedric had just announced that he was pregnant.  Sorry, small joke.  The
meeting ended shortly after that, and we returned to the Ways.

	I pulled Kaedric aside for a moment upon our return, and asked if
he and Caitlin had spoken.  They had before the meeting, but
unfortunately, she knew nothing.  I had suspected as much.  It would be
too easy if she knew anything that could help us.  Kaedric mentioned that
Alora was going to be in charge for the next couple of days, while he
begin his confinement.  I could not stop the small chuckle that escaped me
at that thought.  Kaedric gave me a look and told me not to laugh.  I did
my best to compose my expression, and asked why he did not simply shift
into a female form for the rest of the pregnancy.  It was then that I
learned that he could not.  The Serpent had done something to his
shapeshifting that prevented this.  I felt all traces of amusement leave
me at that thought.  If he could not shapeshift properly, what would
happen when it came time to deliver the child?  I tried to hide the
nervousness I felt at that thought.  He had to survive.  I refused to
think otherwise.  Surely the Serpent would not have arranged Swayvill's
death, only to kill Kaedric as well?  Unfortunately, try as I might, I
could not quite manage to convince myself of this.

	Kaedric sent for Alora, then retreated into his quarters to go
over what she would need to know until this...unpleasantness was past.  I
retired to my study and began considering the problems we were having with
Trump, having decided that this was less disturbing than anything else I
cared to think about.  Unfortunately, I had precious little to go on. 
Father had mentioned once or twice that there was a Plane of Trump, and I
suspected that it might be the source of the current problem. 
Unfortunately, Father had never shared many details about it, so I had no
idea how to reach it.  I no longer had Pattern, and the Logrus was not
working well enough to make it efficient for me to search with it.  If I
tried, it would take days, or weeks, to find anything.  My current
condition made such a prolonged absence impractical.  Nor did I wish to be
away from Kaedric for that long, given his own difficulties.

	After a few hours of fruitless research, I went in search of
Kaedric.  He was still closeted with Alora, but I was allowed entrance.  I
told them of my findings thus far, such as they were.  He, too, had heard
of the Plane of Trump, but had no better idea of how to reach it than I. 
Nor was it his primary concern, at the moment.  I decided that pregnancy
definitely made him irritable.  The fact that it made me a bit irritable
myself was probably not helping matters any.  Nor did Kaedric's
announcement that we were to move into Thelbane on the morrow.  It made
sense, of course, now that Kaedric was King, since Thelbane was far more
defensible than Kaedricways.  But I hated the idea, all the same.  Not
only because it was yet more evidence of how much things would be
changing, but for somewhat more sentimental reasons, as well.  Kaedric had
built the Ways himself, after we were married, using styles we both
enjoyed.  Essentially, it had been built for the two of us.  And even
though we had spent most of our married life living in Shadow, it still
had a special place in my heart, much as I was loath to admit it. 
Thelbane would never have the same meaning to me.  It would never truly be
our home.

	While I was contemplating this, Kaedric asked me about the armor
he had seen Ian wearing earlier that day.  I filled him in on my talk with
Ian, and he decided that maybe he should talk with the boy.  I certainly
had no objections to this.  Introducing Ian to robotics had been Kaedric's
idea in the first place, and I had objected to it then.  Since he had
chosen to ignore me, he was more than welcome to deal with the results.

	Claudio made his appearance at this point, ostensibly to see how
Kaedric was doing.  It soon became obvious that he had finally realized
that he was not pregnant, and his relief was readily apparent.  This, of
course, rather irritated Kaedric.  Then Claudio requested an army to use
in eradicating Wickling.  I could have throttled him.  Not that I objected
to the idea, of course.  If any house deserved elimination, it was
Wickling.  They had overthrown the King in the future, after all.  It was
only a matter of time before they tried to do so again.  And since Kaedric
was the King this time, I would rather they were destroyed before this
happened.  No, I was angry because Claudio suggested this in front of
Alora, who did not share our knowledge of the future.  Naturally, she
could not understand Claudio's dislike of Wickling, and we could not
explain it.  What could we say?  "You see, dear, we came from the future,
and you were actually conceived seven years before you were born."  I do
not think so.  Fortunately, I think she just attributed it to
overzealousness and prejudice on Claudio's part.

	Shifting from the subject of Wickling for the moment, Claudio
asked who was working on the Trump angle.  Kaedric pointed him in my
direction.  Wonderful.  He also informed me that I would need to present
him with a list of who I would like to replace me as Chief Ambassador. 
Another blow I had been expecting, but made none the easier for it.  I had
rather liked my job, even though I had barely had much opportunity to
practice it.  What was I supposed to do once it was gone?  Kaedric said I
had other duties as Queen.  I rather wanted more enlightenment on this,
but I could not ask him for details in front of Claudio and Alora.  I
refused to appear ignorant in front of them.  Still, I wished I had tried
to learn more about what the queen's duties were before I had to assume
the role.  Unfortunately, there had been no queen for me to observe. 
Kaedric, sensing my reluctance, pointed out that the Chief Ambassador was
too likely to get enmeshed in the politics of the houses, and was often
required to take a harder line with them.  All things which were not
politic for the King, and therefore the Queen, since we had to present a
united front.  I knew all of this, of course.  But, as with moving into
Thelbane, I did not have to like it.

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