What the hell did Mandor expect? Has he been so cunning for so
long that he thinks he's infallible?
I didn't bring it up until after we talked long and hard about
corralling Dara. That went too quickly, though, because we know so
little. She apparently has Logrus ghosts running around as decoys, which
complicates things, and she has the full power of the Logrus to draw on,
which simply sucks. On Suhuy's advice, I may add an Amber team to the
list of people working to check off the duplicates - Lyss should be quite
facile at the game, and with Bart and a Hellmaid or two added to the guard
Chaos provides, she won't be in too much danger.
So after that, I brought up the issue of assassinations, and
discovered that Gramble was never informed of Mandor's little game.
Needless to say, I played off that. He'll be pissed, and probably piss at
me at some future time, but that doesn't much worry me. If the truth will
out, he was off base. He tried to test me, which I expected, but he
tested me in a manner that would have caused a diplomatic uproar and
possibly a war had I failed. Bad judgment. And, truth to tell, I don't
much like being tested anyhow. His one-way concept of jurisdiction is not
mine, and for my money, I'm out of his jurisdiction.
That done, I had a splendid chat with Flora. Trivial conversation
is like war for extremely low stakes, which made it a welcome relief from
war for high stakes. I made some hint of an apology to her - when I was
younger I had thought her to be shallow. Now I understand her quite a bit
better, I think. The true Flora is deep and delicate and can rarely be
experienced directly. I look forward to reading her work, if she follows
through on her plan to publish. I also tried to talk Kimdyl into a little
Queen to Queen soiree, but I'm not sure she went for it.
Visiting Fiona was equally enjoyable. Aside from obtaining the
benefit of Suhuy's excellent counsel, I was also able to leave a somewhat
nicer impression behind that I started with. All he knew about me was
that I enjoyed giving his wife gifts that gave him headaches.
Pregnancy agrees with Fi. She has always been beautiful, but her
condition has softened her porcelain finish into something warmer to the
touch. The hypothetical touch, since we're all better off to leave the
happy couple in a league of their own.
Today I spent with Mother, using some of my newly acquired skills
to very humorous effect. After Luther and I had taken sufficient lumps,
he fulfilled his destiny and suffered at her hands while I created a
Shadow pocket for her. Filled with a pink canopy bed, rose-pattern
sheets, soft music, and teddy bears. It made a fascinating backdrop for
her temper. I think we scared the children.
Tomorrow I'm off to call on Ariana at home, which will be
interesting. I can't see Vetch as being happy that I'm explicitly calling
on his wife, rather than his House. On the other hand, he's done me no
excess of favors.
After that... there's a war on.
She sure don't waste much time. Dara got Gerard and killed
several ships worth of men before we even had a cogent plan for defense
worked out. I don't much like the implications of that.
Step one: I have to push Nimue along in her training.
Disregarding the chance that she'll be more powerful than most in the
Pattern, I've been given to understand that Patterns increase in power as
more people walk them. We need to reinforce the Rose. It may be too new
to stand on its own, otherwise.
Step two: make sure that Bleys and Brand are being sufficiently
diligent in their work. The Castle, at least, we should be able to make
safe. Much Pattern. Much Magic.
Step three: figure out what it takes to make some of us safe out
in Shadow. Obviously she was too fast for Gerard to get the Pattern up.
Would someone quicker have had the time? Would Benedict? Or does it take
a Pattern master? Find out. Use this for defense - nobody out in groups
too small to take care of themselves. Later, when she knows this tactic
and expects it, tuck an ace up our sleeve and take the bitch down.
Related question: where does a Pattern blade fit into this?
Step four: beat Dara up. Repeat until unrepeatable.
How can we go wrong with a plan like that?
The trick is going to be finding out how to protect ourselves.
Our main hunting party will be Lyss, Bart, Hellmaids, some Amberite
guards, and some Chaosite guides. If they get overwhelmed, it may be more
than we can make up for. Lyss and Bart are each quite powerful (though
equally foolish), and it would be hard to field a much greater force in
their absence and still protect Amber.
Our other valid mode of attack is to keep her off balance. If
she's controlling her own actions to some degree, she has only a limited
conception of what the other duplicates are doing, or where they might be
headed. If the Logrus is running them all, then that has to take a lot of
energy and power. Otherwise the Pattern would keep thirty or so ghosts of
its own around, just to protect the borders. Working hypothesis: power
used to control the duplicates has to come from somewhere. We have two
working Patterns; perhaps there is some way of using them to target and
assault whatever area the Logrus is no longer paying full attention to.
Check that with Bleys - if I'm wrong, the Logrus would win big out
of the whole thing.
So, it isn't like we lack options. There's plenty to do. Ariana
has wrapped up the affair in Dexter, so we lack major distractions. The
problem is that we don't know our enemy. Dara could be doing any number
of unkind things, and we wouldn't be able to tell. Nobody has hazarded a
guess at just how much power her link with the Logrus gives her. So we're
running on guesswork, and no guarantees of anything. Damn all.
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