After having watched quietly for a time, sensing the growing fear and tension in the air, Valerian spoke up at last. "Your pardon," she said to the group, quietly, "but since our situation seems to be growing steadily worse, not better, perhaps we should start from the beginning, without any preconceived ideas. It may be, for instance, that Niferbelle was not the best choice for Charismatic Adviser, much as it pains me to cast doubt on anyone who inspired such trust. I fear I am beginning to think her loyalties may be suspect." Though she bowed respectfully to the assembled gathering as she spoke, she also watched the face of the Adviser, trying to gauge the woman's reaction.