As I got down to the business of being an ambassador, and spent
some serious time with my paperwork, I had a very difficult time
concentrating.  When I asked my first female candidate for my diplomatic
staff to detail her education, all I could think about was the scene in
the practice room -- Ariana's wretched face, and Vixen saying, "Do you
always torture your friends?"

	I shifted uncomfortably in my seat, smiling encouragingly at young
Sabine.  Under the table, I shredded a small piece of paper.  God dammit. 
I wasn't torturing her.  She was torturing herself.  She always does. 
Usually unnecessarily.  A fact that Vixen is not privy to.  What does she
think she knows?  She's been around here less than a week.  She knows
nothing.  Except what she knew before she came here.

	My mind twined itself around the multitude of problems at hand. 
Ariana guards some faerie secret like it is an unborn child; she cannot
give it up to Nicholas because she learned it in another lifetime.  It
could be the thing that saves us all from Brand; not that he is going to
necessarily kill us.  I think he tries to drive us insane.  There is more
to these dreams than just the dreaming.  Something more will happen. 
Undoubtedly.  Brand doesn't even know what halfway involves, and these
dreams are not even enough to drive us halfway insane yet.

	If, in fact, the dreams come from Brand.  I still believe it could
be the faeries.  But, as Ariana pointed out after the debacle in which the
rescue of Miranda was attempted, there are faeries working with Brand.

	Damn, damn, damn...what can she know?  What can Ariana possibly
know that is worth so much?  And why is Brand after us?  He is after us
both.  Ariana dreams about making love to the uncles.  I dream of making
love to my sword.  What can be the outcome of this?  What indeed...

	I scribbled down a note:
	- combat-trained nanny

	For Iseult, I'm afraid.  I'm less frightened about people
attacking the children than Iseult being a problem, though I did give the
kids a cautionary lecture, and will have to see to having the cold iron
bracelets made.  And figuring out some non-ornamental, non- weapon item
for Iseult to carry.  This may be a good time to call upon my father's
ingenuity and skills at persuasion.  It's strange...for all that I missed
Beauty dreadfully, and wanted also to be with both my mothers for the six
years in Bedlam, it is the presence of Mandor that I missed most.  I
realized in the time we were away how much I've come to rely on him for
advice, and occasionally, aid.

	I wrapped up the interview with Sabine Chantris, stood up, shook
her hand, and watched her leave.  And sat down to stare at the scattered
sheets of paper and the hastily scribbled notes to myself that I'd been
collecting since the first interview that morning.  "Abraham," briefly
stated a post-it.  Another:  "Di'ghan," just as tersely.  A third: 

	There are so many threads to life right now -- some of which I am
able to write down on small note-pads, and some of which I am not.  How on
earth am I going to keep these threads in hand?  It's like driving a team
of a thousand small frogs.  Only more so.

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