Life is just one irony after another.  In order to save her from a
curse, Nicholas almost alienated Beauty completely; in order to gain her
trust and respect, he almost had to die.  Figures.

	What doesn't figure is how I managed to marry someone as stubborn
as me, but then again, maybe it does.  Once I figured out that the Dara
clones had made attacks on all the Pattern babies in residence in the
castle, I raced up to see what had become of my family, even though Foster
had said they were safe.

	He looked fine.  Sort of.  He acted fine.  Iseult was screaming,
and Haris looked very happy to see me, in a relieved and adult sort of
way.  "Daddy fight," he told me.  I picked up Iseult, and, muscles
screaming, Harry too, holding them close for a minute.  Before Beauty, I
never thought there was anything magical about the smell of a baby's hair. 
Now, it's almost the most important thing to me, the greatest symbol of
the security of my family.

	"Are you all right?" I asked Foster, alarmed.  He paled, and fell
over.  Onto the bed, thank goodness.  Fuck.  Fuck, fuck, fuck.  It's
amazing what you can do when the adrenaline hits, and I had both babies,
one in each arm, and was out the door, down the hall to the infirmary,
where I found Ariana still working like a fiend over Meander and Nicholas.

	Upon our return, I found the Takaran blade.

	The night Foster and Tamaryn left House Vetch, Riftvan attempted
to disembowel Foster in a fashion that defied his shapeshifting ability. 
Ariana knocked herself out trying to heal it.  It was a Takaran blade that
did it.


	Foster woke up around midnight, and I did not threaten him, bully
him, or otherwise berate him about his condition.  This was not my
immediate notion, of course, but I managed to hold it in.  He seemed so
weak, and though he ate all of the gruel I offered him, he winced quite a
bit when he reached for a glass of water.

	Ariana and I are looking into the Takaran blade situation.  One of
the places to begin is Bances.  Ironic, ain't it?

	I don't even want to think about the army situation, but I have
to.  I was hoping to lure Looks Twice to the effort, and have someone I
*know* is reliable help out for a while.  I have to choose my captains,
those people I'm going to trust more and more with the details of the
army, and I'm by no means happy to do this, what with the revelation of
all the spies Dara has been keeping around.  I wonder if Mother would do
the honors?  Or should I be spending some time on that myself?  I've got
the control over time in the Rath that I need; I've taken extra care in
selecting folks for the army, but we're talking 20,000 people now, and no,
I haven't met them all.  Not even in the nine months we were there.

	Ah.  Life.  It never gets easier, but that it gets harder.

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