I don't really believe in omens.  If I did, I'd have to either
abdicate, or kill myself.  If the last few days are what I can expect as a
king, there's no hope left.

	Shard resigned.  Fine, I can sort of handle that.  Bad scene, no
question, but having a vampire on the watch was an iffy proposition,
anyway.  So be it.

	Benedict AWOL.  Bad, but we knew Dara had to get him.

	Spies.  OK, dealt with.

	Trump intrusion.  Almost slipped by, but being an ignorant little
dude, I asked Brand what was up, and realized we had a huge hole in our
defenses.  It's closed, and we're patching our people up.  With any luck,
Fiona will see to that.

	Ivan's navy vs. Usires and Caine.  Dealt with.  Like an asshole, I
tried to snip Trump to keep Ivan from getting away, when I could have just
compelled him.  That would have gotten me another Dara, which would be
useful.  But either way, they managed to deal with the fleet, which is all
to the good.

	The hunting party I sent Lyss on was the end, though.  Bart
decided that since he wasn't up to the task of leading the group, he'd
lead them to Dara and then drop her in the main hall.  Twelve guards and
three pages died.  If Ariana hadn't been around, it would have been far
worse.  Dara also nearly got to the infirmary, where my wounded son and
brother were staying.  If they had died, Bart would be dead right now,
Lyss or no Lyss.  They aren't, and he'll live, if he avoids me for a
while.  If.

	So I set my plan in motion, and I think I hold the right cards. 
We have some useful bits of ammo lying around.  I can use them.  I can use
anything and anyone, if that is what it will take to protect Amber.  But I
promise not to like it.

	It was fun testing Dara's shapeshifting against my imagination,
though.  I suppose antimatter wasn't sporting, but then, it wasn't like I
wanted her to live, either.  Since that was the one pleasure I got out of
my day, I went with it.  Revel in my heinous little menu:

- The box inescapable.  Constrict to person size.  Lop off one inch from
  the bottom.  Constrict and stay there.  Repeat hourly.  Normals just
  die, but shapeshifters die by inches.

- On Wings of Eagles.  A long drop onto some spikes.  Sealed ecosystem. 
  You can fly as long as the air holds out.

- Test Your Might.  Gravity just strong enough to break bones, slowly
  increasing.  The really skilled will live until gravity breaks molecules
  into atoms.

- Tick-Tack-Toe.  It's you and a dude who wants to play tick-tack-toe. 
  Food appears at the end of each game.  Totally harmless, except that you
  have to spend the rest of your life playing tick-tack-toe.  Most of us
  are immortal.

- The Soft Cushions.  An infinitely large thickness of soft edible foam
  rubber in all directions.  No light, no sound, etc.  You die of boredom.

	They're pretty weak, but I think I'm onto something with the last
one.  What I really need is to learn sorcery, so I can probe people's
brains and have the hells customize themselves.

	I thought about having one where things are normal except that
nobody ever thinks beyond you - you go the rest of your life without ever
hearing something you don't already know.  Then I realized it was too much
like some court dinners to be plausible.

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