If anything could snap me out of my funk, however briefly, the
events several days after my return could.

	It became evident, after it was too late, of course, that Ariana
and Vetch's little bitch-child had gone over the edge of all decency and
mindraped several of the children, and dared the rest into walking the
Pattern.  The oldest of this group being twelve or so, and the youngest
being Iseult, who now, I believe, goes on record as the youngest ever to
make the Pattern-walk.  Fortuitous that her strength comes from her
father's line.  I don't know where the mental abilities required came in.

	Suffice it to say, anger burned away my depression, and fear for
my children washed away my fears of my own incompetence.

	Because Briana is five years old, and because she is the child of
someone I hold as a dear friend, I have not killed her.  But any further
evidence that she is on the express to becoming a replica of Brand, and
I'm afraid I might just kill her.  This act itself is inexcusable; I don't
believe one of the family vendettas has ever been started when one of the
members of it is so young, but Briana may consider herself on the shitlist
of myself and probably my children for the rest of her life.  She has so
far to go to make up for this, that she probably never will.  And that's
fine.  The little bitch despises the rest of the world so much, perhaps
it's time for the rest of the world to show its contempt.

	And I can't help but blame Ariana for this, though I know she has
no more control over Briana than I do Iseult.  I do tend to think that if
she hadn't convinced us to leave Bedlam, we might have avoided a scenario
this dangerous altogether.  "I don't want the children to get too used to
technology..."  Fair enough.  "I don't want them to grow up away from
Amber; they need to live there to learn to love it."  Bah.  Amber is
simply too dangerous for the untrained and undisciplined mind.  It's too
easy to get into trouble.  And I only have two or three years left to
impart wisdom and discipline into Iseult.

	Which is why I think the men and I are going to have a pow-wow.  I
may not have turned out all that well, but I did learn some measure of
self-control thanks to the war.  And Ahab, having his children grow up in
a wartime Israel, managed to mold a manipulative little boy into a
concerned ruler.

	So.  We must either return to Foil, or find a place with a war,
and see what can be done.  Because I will not raise children who can fall
victim to a five-year-old girl, and risk life and limb at her whim.

	In the meantime, we'll stay at Middlecourt, and I'll give the two
inmates their first Shadow-walk and Hellriding lessons.  For emergencies,
only, of course.

	And in the meantime, there is the assassin's brothel.  There's
something there...something that I don't trust.  Foster came out of it
rather disoriented and confused by his time there; he fell asleep right
after one small bout with one of the...ladies.  Who knows?  Perhaps it was
an off day.  Perhaps it was more sinister.  I'm a big believer in
sinister, right now...  I don't even take myself at face value, anymore.

	So, I went to see Felix, assuming that if something were affecting
someone, it's probably mental, and my mental capacities are less than a
match for anyone.  Lord, Felix can probably dominate my mind as well as
Brand.  In any case, I wanted to borrow his pin, to ensure that *that* at
least, would be defended.  I promised not to lose it.  Of course, I had a
bad feeling about THAT, too.  Universe:  "That foolish girl made yet
another promise she can't back up.  "

	I was as surprised as anyone when Vixen approached me at lunch and
asked if I noticed anything odd about Foster since his return from the
brothel.  I had, of course, and I just told you about it, there, a couple
paragraphs ago.

	She then told me that she suspected that faeries were infiltrating
the brothel, glamoured as invited guests.

	Of course.

	Damn faeries.

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