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Cheradenine is an ex-"special circumstance" agent who had been raised to eminence by a woman named Diziet. Skaffen-Amtskaw, the drone, had saved her life and it believes Cheradenine to be a burnt-out case. But not even its machine intelligence can see the horrors in his past.
Elaine Risley, a painter, returns to Toronto to find herself overwhelmed by her past. Memories of childhood - unbearable betrayals and cruelties - surface relentlessly, forcing her to confront the spectre of Cordelia, once her best friend and tormentor, who has haunted her for forty years.