AMBRE --- BRAVE NEW WORLD  session four

Players: Stan, Rey, Randy, and Dave; alas, no Noel

 

KADIM listened to Osric cursing his way through several languages as they watched Eric sell them out. Eric and the Emperor eventually left via Trump to take command of an enormous army. It marched towards Tella. Osric sent a note through to Niccolo.

RAICHLEACH was bored, bored, bored in Tella. Bored. Then a message popped out of the air: Eric had defected to the Emperor and was leading a big army towards Tella. No longer bored, she tried to Trump Eric. Blocking, naturally. She gave the message to Niccolo.

NICCOLO Trumped up to his tallest tower and settled into a meditative state. He turned Pattern back on in Tella, and then reached out to the Hell he’d made 4000 years ago for Mandor. It was still there, still populated by sadistic, psyche-blocked devils. He added Cloak and Focus to the powers that didn’t work there, and made all metals turn to liquid. Pattern use there now attracted lightning. He placed a bit more of his power into it and aimed it at Eric. Then he turned Pattern back off in Tella.

FITZCAIRN and Kadim enjoyed the show when Eric, the Emperor and their army fell into the Nic’s hell and was attacked by hordes of angry devils while their weapons and armor flowed like mercury. Eric got hit by lightning. Twice. The Emperor got himself, Eric and about twenty commanders and Praetorians away via some weird new power. "Dreaming", presumably. The Mirrors lost them. Osric had everyone monitor the other Imperials – out with various armies, mostly. Kadim checked out the Hall of Mirrors more thoroughly. He found Benedict’s mirror. Ben seemed to be a monk tending a garden.

Osric and Fitz got busy making Fingermen. They sent a dozen Fingermen through the Mirrors against each of three important Imperials, killing them. The field marshal of the forces around Erbma got two dozen – and lived. The man was almost as good as Benedict.

RAICHLEACH watched Niccolo go into full paranoid mode, summoning in two huge dragons to act as bodyguards while he made Trumps. Rai and Jesse slipped off to Cloakworld. Rai modified the place using some of Nic’s ideas and some of her own. The Focus initiates still uncompelled freaked out. Rai put them down with the controlled ones. She contacted some of her missing kids by having a compelled Templar Trump them. Padruig, Dagon and Kerttu, who’d been sent to infiltrate the Imperial army, didn’t answer. Later she found out they’d been detected and killed.

Jesse disappeared from Cloakworld. Rai followed her towards the ‘Clapper Island’. Jesse beat her there and Rai went after, into view of the enemy.

NICCOLO had a terrible dream about offending the Emperor. He woke up knowing that he could only redeem himself by helping to nail the Archfiend Osric.

KADIM, FITZ and Parsifal got together and brainstormed. They made a hundred living, intelligent bombs that looked like little pregnant gremlins. As they finished there was a great commotion. Kara and Gerard had turned coats and were letting the enemy through. Jesse surrendered. They informed Osric and sent most of the gremlins through. The slaughter among the generalissimo’s staff was horrendous but he himself was only badly wounded. They sent a last gremlin through. It dodged through the corpses to the commander, struck a heroic pose and detonated next to his head. Osric was already gone. They cleared away some attackers with gremlinbombs and then joined the king at the Real World via Osric’s mirror. Osric took a cache of supplies with him via the primal Pattern to the Lunar Castle. Kadim and Parsifal followed. Fitz wished himself to the Mirrormaster Gem.

RAICHLEACH watched Jesse trying to cut a deal with the Imperial troops. They seized her but did no harm. Jesse spotted Rai and sent out a tendril to grab her – and Rai learned that Jesse had been compelled in her dreams. Rai dominated her and had her fight her way to Rai. The troops had orders to take her alive, so Jesse was only wounded. They retreated to Cloakworld. Rai had Binte Trump Niccolo. Nic came through and clocked Raichleach. He was then stuck in Cloakworld, using Rai as a hostage/shield as one of the Raichlings turned off Trump. Rai woke up and zapped him. She took all his dangerous Trumps – Raichlings, Lunar Pattern, Cerberus, hers. Then she and a couple of her spawn dragged Jesse and Nic to the Real World and the primal Pattern. Set one up at the start of the Pattern; boot them onto it, yadda, yadda, yadda.

NICCOLO rubbed his temples and made a comment about the "fucking Dream power" then wished himself to Tella. He availed himself of rest and the comforts of his palace. Then he replaced his Trumps of Cerberus and the Lunar Castle.

FITZCAIRN Trumped Kara. She was in a cell, patiently awaiting the judgement of the Emperor. Somehow the idiots who took her into custody had put her in a room that blocked only Pattern. Fitz dominated her and broke her out. She tried to convince him to surrender and he had to knock her out psychically. Nobody else was answering Trumps. He took her with him towards the ‘Clapper Island’ [fuck it, I hate that name – Omphalos (‘navel’) it’ll be until something better comes along], disguising their traces as he went. Patrols picked them up in sight of Kolvir. Fitz zapped them to Omphalos and Trumped Rai hard. Rai readied her kids for support and blasted her Trumping attacker, then realized her error (or his) and pulled them through. They forced Kara onto the Pattern.

KADIM built magical traps out of moon rocks. After a while Osric came by and ordered him to booby trap the hell out of the point everyone popped up at when they wished themselves there. Kadim did that thing until exhausted, then slept. He awoke and checked with Osric: still working and didn’t want any help. He felt a trap go off and went to see. Parsifal was smoking a bit (saved by Pattern defense) and bore many wounds acquired some hours before Kadim guided him through the minefield and to the makeshift infirmary. Parsifal reported that he’d been in contact with Lora. No one had bothered her in Chaos. He confirmed that Kara, Ambrose and Gerard had gone over. He thought that Random had been captured in his sleep. He knew nothing of Julian, Nic or Jesse. Parsifal slept. Kadim felt immense power radiate from Osric’s lab. Another ‘boom!’ outside. It was Kara. Kadim sent a conjured guard to subdue her. She defeated it handily then caught sight of Kadim reading another, "What are you doing? I’m all better now." Kadim accepted this, cautiously. Kara apologized profusely. She’d been compelled in her dreams.

"Where’s Osric?"

"He’s holed up."

"He’s been a useless fuck, hasn’t he?"

Kadim looked around significantly at the walls, "No, he’s been great!"

Kara’s anger dimmed. "I’m worried about sleeping. Anything you can do to help?"

She and Kadim settled on him Compelling her to wake up if she came in psychic contact with anyone.

RAICHLEACH & FITZCAIRN watched Kara wish herself away to the Lunar Castle. She put Jesse on the Pattern next. Fitz explained about breaking her out of prison. He wanted to get Gerard next. Rai was skeptical; besides, Trumps didn’t work from the Real World to anywhere else. He expressed the desire for a Lunar Castle Trump. Jesse finished up the Pattern walk and vanished. Fitz told about the sad death of the Empire’s Number One general. He walked the Pattern himself and staggered as he popped up in the Lunar Castle’s courtyard at the center of multiple blast marks. A sign in front of him read DO NOT MOVE. There were bits of golem scattered about. Kadim came out to look him over suspiciously. "The Emperor is a piece of shit," Fitz announced wearily. Kadim guided him in, asking, "Any wounds?"

Osric emerged from his labs. He said that Julian was alive and on the run. Gerard had been captured. He was surprised that everyone was still alive. HE was ready for an attack via the Hall of Mirrors but no one else was. Fitz gratefully collapsed into a bed.

NICCOLO tried to Trump Random, Gerard, Kadim, Fitz, --- no, no, no, no --- Osric answered. "Yes?"

"Hi, boss. I got the Dog back. Rai got me onto the Pattern before I could do much damage."

Osric informed him that he, Niccolo, would be leading the military side of the attack on the Emperor, Eric and whoever might be around them. Nic armed and armored himself, told Cerberus to get ready for another fight, called back, and went through to the Lunar Castle. The assault group consisted of Nic, Osric, Kadim, Fitz, Parsifal, Kara and ten Deluxe Fingermen. Osric was glowing. Nic handed off his Cerberus Trump to Fitz.

RAICHLEACH dominated a Real World Ghost and forced it onto the Pattern. Nada, no reaction. She questioned it and learned that it hated all the living. Bored again, she walked the Pattern and wished herself to the source of the Dreaming power.

Osric Pattern-zapped them to the source of the Dreaming power, at the fourth iteration of Tir-na Nog’th – a village. There were Eric, the Emperor, several other Royals, five Praetorians (Fingermen) and a few officers. Eric jumped for his sword. Osric moved – much faster than normal – and hit Eric with a beam of light; Eric vanished. Osric’s Deluxe Fingermen got through the Emperor’s Praetorians and nailed him to a wall with four swords. Niccolo went after the biggest threat, a Royal beating a Deluxe. Nic sliced the guys arm, disarmed him and knocked him out. Fitz worked on turning Focus off locally; it was extremely difficult. Kadim punched the pinned Emperor out, knocking off the crown with the Jewel of Judgement on it off. Raichleach popped in. She armored up and tried to tip the Dreaming Gem off its table. It rolled off and bounced heavily. Fitz Trumped Cerberus in -- the monster filled half the room. Fitz tried to fireball the Focus master – a beautiful woman -- and fried the person next to her. Nic charged her, yelling. She split her attack into two fireballs, which were absorbed or deflected, and they were on her, pummeling her unconscious. She was pretty strong. Cerberus turned and sent them flying. Kadim used his Focus pointer and got the Emperor, the unconscious woman, then a couple of others. He tackled the one still moving. Fitz made some headway against the Focus. Rai Trumped the Dreaming Gem to the Lunar Castle. Next she helped Fitz mindrape – just barely -- the unconscious Emperor:

They had four Royal prisoners: Trajan (Nic’s, a younger son of the Emperor), Hypatia (the beautiful Focus master and sorceress, niece of the Emperor), Jeremy (Kadim’s, a distant cousin and soldier) and the Emperor. Also two priests. Rai mindraped the Focus master. She’d met Dalt and thought of him rather like they thought of Dworkin. Vast, insane power. She thought he was a lich – but she knew nothing of Pattern initiate immortality. Focus initiation involved the Emperor and the Jewel of Judgement. Osric Compelled the hell out of the Emperor. Kadim and Fitz linked up to probe Kadim’s prisoner:

About half of the Empire’s best Trump Artists had been blown up by gremlinbombs. Only about a dozen people knew what the Witches looked like, and now the Amberites knew who they were.

They had to wait around for the moon to rise before they could leave.

Kadim sneaked off with the crown and attuned to the Jewel of Judgement.

 

FIVE

Players: Rey, Dave, Noel, Stan, me and Neill (his first roleplaying experience)

PCs, in the same order: Kadim/Saladin, Fitzcairn/Marius, Jesse, Raichleach/at least 5 identies, Niccolo/Dominicus, Random

Location: still at the fourth iteration of Tir-na Nog’th:

KADIM gave Osric back the Jewel of Judgement. They discussed what to do next. The Emperor needed some time to heal up before they could use him to finesse their debut into Imperial society as long-lost relatives. NICCOLO reluctantly suggested Tella as the most secure place available. They Gated through -- but the Dreaming Orb didn’t go with them. Osric bitched but evidently it was bound to that version of Tir. Nic gave his surviving troops a nice speech congratulating them on the glorious victory over the forces of darkness, then had them attended to.

Kadim settled upon Saladin, a third cousin of the Emperor, as his Imperial identity. He and Gerard -- who’s ID was ‘Gerard’ -- would be major officers in the navy.

Niccolo went for a military command and got an empty -- and important -- slot along the border with Chaos. He’d probably do something with the Trump Artists’ Guild too. Nic would be ‘Dominicus, Dominic for short’, a distant relative of the Emperor.

FITZCAIRN wanted a scholarly position along with his marital alliance with the Emperor’s niece Hypatia. Osric gave him the job of getting the Imperial magicians under control.

JESSE used her captive Prince Trajan as a sex toy. He wasn’t particularly adverse to that, especially after Jesse got RAICHLEACH to mind probe him for his sexual fantasies. And indulged many of them. She did take the precaution of fitting Trajan with a control collar like the one her mother had given her.

RANDOM fought his hangover by riding off to find a brothel. He indulged in a barfight and a chase, then convinced a whord to hide him.

KADIM got his ship fixed and recruited a crew of experienced mercenaries. He intended to do some privateering for the Empire. Osric interrupted that with a Trump call. He asked Kadim to go find Julian or his remains, and to discover how he had died. He also reminded Kadim to make sure to attend their formal introduction to the Imperial Court. Kadim sailed off towards Arden’s region of shadow. He encountered a nice, fat merchanter along the way and pursued. The quarry -- the Albatross -- out-sailed him despite his superior Pattern shadowshifting abilities. Kadim consulted Gerard via Trump. Gerard suggested they recruit the captain.

NICCOLO tagged along with Osric and the Emperor to Emprus. Osric -- Lord Chancellor Osric -- extracted more detailed information from the captive monarch. Trajan kept his position and Jeremy (other male captive) got a promotion. Rumors started to circulate in Emprus about the newcomers’ sudden exalted status and there was a good deal of resentment. Nic Trumped home to Tella rather than sleep in the palace and used the time to make Trumps, study plans of the Imperial Palace, his army command, Imperial Army logistics, the Register of Nobles, the recent history of the Empire, famous battles and commanders, Chaosian tactics and culture... And also to visit TnN4 (the fourth iteration of Tir-na Nog’th) and investigate the Orb of Dreams. He couldn’t get a lock on how to block the power without attuning to it, and wasn’t willing to go so far.

FITZCAIRN’S new title was Minister of Arts and Sciences. His new name was ‘Marius’. He worked on consoling and wooing Hypatia. She’s been involved with a Trump Artist who was killed in the slaughter of the gremlinbombs. Fitz caught a glimpse of something in he palace, something that evaded him by shifting shadow very fast. Hypatia thought that it was Dalt. Dalt was rarely seen but known to spy on people in the palace and the gardens. That evening they went out on the town and their carriage was attacked by a force strong enough to keep Fitz’ Fingermen busy.

JESSE went to Erbma and found Benedict’s mirror. He looked older, with a shaved head and a monk’s robe, sitting in full Lotus position between two candles. She went through. Jesse said, "Uncle Benedict, guess who--" but there was no sound of any kind. She snuffed the candles and left them in darkness. Jesse embraced Benedict in the dark. He slowly stood and set her back effortlessly. She gave him another hug. He lit a candle and examined her, then motioned for her to follow him. Sound rang normally in the corridor. Jesse started haranguing him. She wanted him for a guardian. He didn’t do that any more. She wanted his sword then. He didn’t know where it was. He no longer fought and saw striving as foolish. Ambre was a failed experiment. She tried inviting him to Fitzcairn’s wedding. He said they could visit him. She claimed it was her birthday. He remembered otherwise. She went on, and on, and on.... He commented that mind-sharing must not be conducive to sanity and invited her to stay with him to contemplate and study. She didn’t like studying. He grudgingly acceeded to attending the wedding if Fitz wanted it. Jesse claimed that Fitz had told her so himself. Ben wanted it in person. Jesse tried to Trump him -- blocking. She Trumped Osric, "Osric, did you know that Benedict’s coming to the wedding?" Osric indicated concern. Jesse: "He’s a big old puss now." Osric asked her to watch Ben, to keep him under control. He told her that Fitz was out.

When RANDOM felt he was fully recreated he Trumped Osric. Random’s new jobs were Master of the Cellars and Master of Revels. He cleaned up and inspected his domain. He selected gifts for the palace guard commanders that were well appreciated. Suddenly many people wanted to be his friend. Random took plenty of bribes but refused to take them to arrange access to the Emperor or his new Chancellor. He did arrange a big party with Gerard, Trajan and others and invited the bribers. One evening Random heard fast reports that Fitzcairn and Hypatia were being attacked. He set out with some Praetorians and guards, led by Colonel Robaire.

KADIM entered Arden and Sought Morgenstern, since Seeking dead guys didn’t seem to work. He found the great beast, bedraggled and bearing many wounds, also confused and distrustful. Kadim managed to approach slowly but something spooked the beast and it bolted. Kadim followed, then heard something stumbling towards him. Morgenstern stopped and turned at the edge of eyeshot. Julian -- Julian’s animated corpse shambled of the trees waving a big sword. Kadim charged Dead Julian and was immediately disarmed. The zombie was faster than Kadim remembered the live Julian to be. Kadim attempted to rush DJ and got a sword stuck in his clavicle. Kadim grabbed the hand and kicked --- and the hand broke off at the wrist. Kadim rushed off, fading fast, Trumped Osric and was pulled through. Collapsed. Osric revived him a little later. The sword was out and the wound closed. Kadim explained. Osric was disturbed. Kadim kept the sword. He headed back to Arden and picked up his stranded crew. Morgenstern allowed himself to be coaxed aboard. The voyage convinced Kadim to not try to keep the giant warhorse aboard ship for any length of time. He ceremoniously gave Morgenstern to the Emperor.

RAICHLEACH adopted a ‘Chancellor’s wife’ form and persona. She picked up information, helped Jesse with Trajan, observed, collated... Parsifal was to be a spymaster, Kara got a minor military command, Ambrose got a shit job. The Emperor didn’t know why the Orb wouldn’t leave TnN4. Rai went to examine the Orb and the area. It had been cleaned up, no blood stains or corpses. The ghosts had no idea who had done it. They couldn’t even see the Orb. Rai touched bases in Cloakworld. The Templars were starting to recruit to replace their losses. They were celebrating the complete victory over the Witches. Some reports said that there was trouble brewing in Chaos from Houses Minobee and Oreen. The Hesliks seemed to be busy with other projects. Rai helped oversee the recruiting and the spying. Rai returned to Emprus and coincidentally saw Random and company running off to rescue Fitzcairn.

FITZCAIRN/MARIUS electrocuted the axeman chopping his way into the carriage. Street thugs flung open the door and he set them on fire. Hypatia cast some spell or other. Two arrows hit him in the chest hard, dimpling his armor. RANDOM and his men got to the edges of the fight. He sent the Praetorians after the archers and ran to the carriage. He pulled Hypatia out without warning her; her punches were ineffectual. Fitz hit the archers with a sleep spell. JESSE noted several people watching the melee from buildings on both sides of the street. She ran up to a wall and started climbing it with clawed hands and feet. RAICHLEACH went in a front door in cute-girl shape and endured getting felt up by thugs to establish psychic contact. They’d been hired to attack the carriage by a boss watching upstairs. They thought it was a simple robbery. Upstairs, Jesse went in a window and started using her Logrus sword -- something Rai felt a floor below. Fitz saw Hypatia’s feet vanish out the opposite window. He kicked the door open, saw fighting in an upper story room and a flash of light knocked him back into the carriage. He belatedly raised a shielding spell. Random copped a feel while setting Hypatia on a bench, then complimented her and kissed her hand. Four guys charged them. He made one stumble with a Word, a Praetorian took another out, he punched one and stabbed another. He turned back with another compliment but Hypatia was casting a spell. A thug fell out of a window. Random and a Praetorian went over to help Fitz with the recovering thugs there. Fitz and Hypatia both fireballed the spellcasters in the building opposite them. Meanwhile, Jesse jumped in a window and took on five thugs. Killed one and was mobbed, stabbed with an envenomed blade. Antimorphia -- shit!. She threw one out a window. One thug hit the door and froze; Rai was on the other side doing Big Brain things. Jesse killed the stiff one and stunned the others. Rai came in and they mindraped one --- as strong as Rai herself. They were contract wizards hired by a noble to kidnap Hypatia and kill Fitz. Jesse looked out the window and jumped down to the street. The doubly-fireballed building was going up in flames fast. The Praetorians were all very concerned about Jesse’s Logrus sword. Rai joined Fitz and made snide remarks. Hypatia was fuming. More wizards on the other side of the street made their presence known. The Praetorians rushed inside that building. Fitz tried to translocate a wizard but couldn’t get past his shields. Hypatia grinned evilly and turned the floorboards beneath the foe to mush, collapsing half the structure just as Random ran in, and right back out. The wizards escaped. The thugs carried nothing to give them any leads. The fire brigade and Royal Guards arrived.

Rai told Jesse about the Oreen and Minobee situation. Jesse told Rai about her efforts to pull Benedict back into the family. They ganged up on Fitz and harangued him mercilessly like really annoying children about going to see Benedict. The threat to arrange Hypatia’s bachelorette party did the trick. Fitz begged off and went to Erbma, then the monastary. Ben agreed to attend the wedding.

Jesse and Rai found a shadow of Morganthe and sicced her on Random. Random was drunk and not at all happy about this turn of events. He Gated Morganthe to a casino he knew. She started drinking heavily.

KADIM’S (SALADIN’S) very public gift of Morgenstern to the Emperor put him in vogue. He indulged in his popularity for two days then shipped out to find the ‘Albatross’. Half a day out Gerard Trumped him and came through from a deck awash in low seas. Gerard said he’d lost three ships when their hulls simply came apart. The crews were all in longboats. Kadim sailed to the place and picked up the crews. A little diving on the broken ships showed that their keels had been burned away. Maybe some time-released spells -- Gerard had seen nothing. Kadim suggested they consult Fitzcairn. Gerard Trumped Fitz through, who detected a faint trace of Logrus in the magic, as if the spells had been hung in it. Fitz returned to Emprus and checked the files for Logrus initiate sorcerers.

Kadim and Gerard dropped off most of the crews in an Imperial port and proceded after the ‘Albatross’. They found her in a port, a not-terribly-impressive looking ship. Captain Cornelius turned out to be a middle-aged man, very alert. He said he’d taken Kadim for a pirate. He’d once been an Imperial naval officer but had been shafted. The man responsible was dead in the recent conflict. That, plus Admiral Gerard’s patronage, was enough to entice Cornelius back into service. The three spent a pleasant night drinking. Gerard learned all about Dead Julian. They escorted Cpt Cornelius to an Imperial port and signed him on as a senior captain. Kadim and Gerard got five Fingermen (and another boat for Gerard) and headed to Arden. They lost two men netting Dead Julian. Gerard stripped off the armor. Three shadows out from Arden the animate corpse became just a corpse. There was a quiet, family funeral. The Festival of Victory Against the Witches had begun. Kadim went about meeting people.

RAICHLEACH cruised the Festival memorizing names, positions, groupings. Osric was politicking like mad. Rai, in her Chancellor’s Wife form, was treated as a trophy wife. Lots of people were sucking up to Kadim and Random. Random encouraged arm-wrestling matches with Kara for him to bet upon. Kadim was set to participate in the Victory Games as a wrestler. She talked to -- simpered at -- two Trump Artists working on a big mural. One took her for the ditz she looked and acted like, the other, Sibelius, became interested in her. Rai talked to Hypatia and learned that she was still trying to ferret out who was responsible for the abduction attempt. Hypatia seemed to be pleased with the attention from ‘Marius’. Rai encouraged that, and asked why Hypatia would be a target. Hypatia said she’d been ruthless in the past, ruining a number of enemies. Several people were speculating about why the Imperial Heir was not attending the Festival.

FITZCAIRN/MARIUS made more Fingermen. He researched possible enemies with the necessary resources. There were five noble families with the requisite Chaosian bloodlines and wizardly contacts. There was NOTHING on Dalt save one folio with the family tree and a note from the Emperor that Dalt was alive and kept pent -- ineffectually. Fitz went to Osric and they had the Emperor escort them to Dalt’s cell. It was empty. Dalt had scribbled all over the walls. They got a mental image of Dalt; unlike Dworkin, he was a normal-looking fellow. Fitz installed a one-way barrier against Pattern. The sorcerous wards in place were stronger than he could make himself.

Fitz determined that the assassins had wanted him dead and Hypatia under their control. He wanted more agents. He recruited out of the Brotherhood of the Star and got four sorcerers he felt he could trust, and one maybe. He sent them to penetrate the magical underground in the city.

Bedtime didn’t work out well. The Fingermen checked the room, and Fitz swept it with a spell, but something was wrong. The bed was too warm, with a faint hint of Chaos. Fitz loaded up with shields. A Fingerman jumping on the bed didn’t trigger anything. He called for Hypatia. She was bemused, but checked it out. She exited quickly and nervously -- the bed was a demon. She called for more guards. Fitz Trumped Osric and was handed the Pattern mace. Fitz whacked the bed/demon enthusiastically. It burned pretty. He checked the new bed and the new room very carefully. He had an extra Fingerman guarding him when he woke up -- one of Osric’s Deluxe Fingermen. Fitz got reports from his new agents at breakfast. Three reported some progress. One, the one least trusted, reported lots of progress. One was found dead in the sewers.

RANDOM arranged for JESSE to give the Emperor a lap dance. Jesse agreed -- but found a shadow of herself to do it instead. The faux Morganthe threw herself in the river and drowned. Random wasn’t fooled by the shadow, and recognized the shapeshifted Jesse standing next to him. He drank a lot, spent a lively hour with a maid, and tried to ignore the interminable speeches. Two of the nobles’ wives started fighting viciously. Random intervened and felt a jolt of magic as he grabbed one. Now he wanted to beat up the other, too. One punch. The husband jumped Random and the magic flowed out to him. Random negated it with a Word. Jesse got caught in the second strand of the spell and head-butted a woman before Random negated the spell. He left the function. Jesse tried to follow and lost him.

JESSE tried to Trump Aunt Lora in Chaos -- no luck. She Trumped the Wisewoman and went through. Lora was sick, actually unconscious. Jesse suspected poison and Trumped Niccolo. Nic, cruising the Festival, hesitated but went through. He ignored the _sotto voce_ insults (he really needed to kill a couple of them with Windfall some day) and examined Lora. It looked like _anticacoeidolon_ toxin (brokenpatternbane); he Trumped them through to Tella. This poison the Empire had plenty of and plenty of the cure as well. He took care of Lora and left her with attentive nurses and his Trump of the Wisewoman. Nic gave orders for a small infirmary wing to be prepared, with easily altered panelling, ceilings, floors and furniture, for Family visitors. He gathered Leonardo, Donatello and Rafaello and Trumped them back to the Wisewoman, praising them as having studied diligently and learned well. Lora Trumped in about three hours later, Heslik time (up to about thirty, Tella time) and told Nic and Jesse that she suspected Oreens or Minobees. One or the other House was intriguing with a faction in the Empire.

JESSE Trumped RAICHLEACH and went through. They formed MasterBlaster as a 250 pound thug and set out for the Emprus underworld. There was a thug shortage, what with the recent mass imressments and combat losses, so they soon got some offers. They heard about the thugs killed during the attempt on Marius and Hypatia. These had been elite thugs; they learned where the elite looked for job offers. They posted. Two days later, they were contacted, interviewed and contracted to break a man’s legs --- Random’s. They Trumped him and he idly took it as he scooped up his winnings at a card table.

"What do you want?"

"We have to break your legs."

"What the fuck are you talking about."

Random sorted out the babble and eventually agreed to be seen, briefly, being beaten, and to wear casts for a while. The Dynamic Duo/one big thug were paid handsomely. They followed their contact stealthily to an ordinary-looking location.

NICCOLO stocked up on more anti-brokenpattenbane [we have to come up with some names for these poisons and antidotes] for distribution to the family, then went back to cruising the Festival. He overheard several comments about him being a useless nancy-boy. The loudest ones were the really dangerous veterans, men Nic was fairly sure could beat him short of using the Pattern sword. Nic picked a man he was fairly sure could beat him with swords but not hand to hand, and took offense at the comments. He challenged the man to fight weaponless, out of respect for the Festival. It was accepted. Nic beat him handily, but helped him up and bought several rounds of beer for the man and his friends.

Kadim’s match was coming up so he scanned the crowd for assassins. Gerard was in the stands and they talked. Gerard was nervous. He was being followed and this cloak and dagger stuff was not his forte. Nic gave him some A-BPB [see below] and a Trump of Tella (a slight twinge, but Gerard had saved his ass, again, recently, and never complained about losing an ear in the process) for a quick escape and safe hidey-hole. Nic discussed his own SOP. Gerard knew the Resume True Form Word of Power, which Nic was using on furniture these days.

KADIM/SALADIN and his big, ugly opponent were very closely matched in strength and speed. The match was brutal. Kadim broke a finger but ripped off half the opponent’s nipple off. After half an hour Kadim judged that the man was tiring, and charged. It was a set-up. Kadim’s nose was broken but he did get a good grip -- and pinned him. The crowd roared for both of them as they limped off to the gymnasium. One of the bustling attendants laid a hot towel across Kadim’s back. Moments later, as NICCOLO made his way in, Kadim collapsed. Discolorated skin beneath it made the towel suspect. Nic put on his thick gloves and Trumped Kadim, and the towel, to Tella. This poison was beyond his competence and Kadim was weakening fast. He tried some general measures and Trumped Osric. Osric came through and shapeshifted the stuff out of Kadim. Nic gathered samples of the poison with extreme care and arranged for Parsifal to help him study it. Nic bitterly regretted the loss of his old dual high tech and magical toxicology labs and researchers. He did remember a lot of molecular chemistry. Kadim recovered quickly after the shapeshifting.

 

[For my own convenience, and until we come up with better: Antimorphia is the poison that inhibits shapeshifting; PB is for Pattern (user) bane, A-PB is the antitoxin; BPB is BrokenPatternBane, A-BPB is the antitoxin; LB is LogrusBane, A-LB is the antitoxin; if there’s a FocusBane it’ll be FB. Note that BPB works pretty damned well on Pattern initiates. The new stuff is Sarin, not that anybody knows much about it IC.]

 

SIX

AMBRE: BRAVE NEW WORLD

Players: Rey (Kadim/Saladin) Herrera, Stan (Raichleach) Pedzick, Dave (Fitzcairn/Marius) Geissinger, me (Niccolo/Dominicus); missing: Noel (Jesse) Chandler

GM: John (the Devil) Barnes

12/ 1/ 2001

 

[Raichling Report: still alive --- Rowena, Leax, Nairi, Vartan, Teppo, Casidhe & Emira]

KADIM returned to the Imperial Palace and the party despite his toxic
ordeal. He rounded up a few men from his crew to serve as bodyguards and
backslap blockers. He discovered that he had groupies. There was some
discussion concerning Fitzcairn's bachelor party. Kadim suggested an orgy.
Random had more radical ideas but was shot down. Parties in Kadim's
homelands ran to snake dances and big headdresses. Nothing said "Fitz" to
him --- maybe a 'orgy' of reading? The real towel boy was found dead. Random
suggested Kadim consult Eric/Mr. X, or maybe Lora.


NICCOLO worked in Shadow Tella on bodyguards and a toxicology kit. He got
A-PB (antipatternbane) elements and began processing them. Random Trumped
him to say that it would look bad for his own son to miss his party. Nic
cleaned up, dressed up (including a light chainmail shirt close to the
skin), grabbed a case of Chateau de Nique and Trumped through to his dad.


RAICHLEACH approached Fitz about getting a Fingerman; one made to look like
a teenage boy. Fitz had to send her to Osric for special orders. Osric was
willing -- he called her 'love muffin'. Rai reported on Sibelius'
suspicious -- to her -- alertness. Osric assigned her the task of keeping
Jesse from destroying that part of the universe. Rai banged Osric's brains
out.

FITZCAIRN worked on spells to detect the taint of Chaos. Hypatia's
compellings seemed to be wearing off and she was rationalizing her position.
Fitz kept on sucking up to her. She was receptive but wanted to know more
about the 'Witches' and the Pattern. Fitz explained. She was familiar with
Broken Pattern and could understand 'much, much better than that'. He
demonstrated -- stealthed -- Pattern Defense and told her about Seeking.
Hypatia had picked up rumors that Witches were unaging. Fitz confirmed it.
Now she was _really_ interested. She did have the bloodlines to walk the
Pattern, as near as Fitz could tell.


KADIM hit the formal banquet, along with everyone else. Nic and Kara came in together; Nic brought his own brandy. Rowena and Vartan were formally introduced as children of Chancellor Marcellus (Osric). Kadim felt that something was wrong during the second course. They were being watched. He studied the shadows and glimpsed Dalt. RAI felt
a brief psychic scan. Kadim couldn't tell if Osric had felt anything or not.
A few minutes later he saw Rai, Fitz and Osric jump and dive under the
table -- Fitz dragging Hypatia -- as a white flash lit up the room. Stinking
smoke -- the stink of burnt flesh -- filled the room. Fitz summoned a
breeze. The Emperor and Empress had both exploded from about the waist up.
Prince Jeremy was also dead, along with two nobles. Guards closed all the
exits. Nic jumped up and positioned himself to guard Trajan, "Defend the
Heir!" Jesse was prevented from leaving -- Rai 'calmed' her. Trumps were
inoperable in the immediate vicinity. Osric spread the word that the Jewel
of Judgement/Imperial Crown was missing. Trajan was dazed and Osric busy so
Lord Lothario, Hypatia's father, took charge, calling out sensible orders to the guards.
Trajan and Jesse started arguing. Nic whispered to Rai to puppet the Prince.
Rai did so roundabout, via Jesse his controller.

Things settled enough for Kadim, Kara, Nic and their entourage (sailors,
Fingermen) to leave for Erbma via Tella. They picked up weapons and supplies
and Nic used his Hall of Mirrors Trump. It looked wrong. Cloudy. What with
Kadim's toxic experience, just hours before, they were cautious. Nic sent a
goat through first. After a minute it shriveled up and died. Three minutes
later it got up and shuffled away in a manner that reminded Kadim of
zombie-Julian. Hm. The Lunar Castle looked OK. They went there and Kadim led
them through the minefield.

RAICHLEACH helped Jesse get Trajan into protective custody. Jesse wanted to go rub out Hadrian, the Imperial Heir, right now. Rai insisted they try to learn who had assassinated the Emperor. She Trumped Nairi (her daughter, in charge of Cloakworld in Rai’s absence) and learned that the Templars had gone to high alert. Rai brought Nairi up to date. Rai Trumped Nic and exchanged information. She mentioned that initiating a couple of Nic’s people in Cloak would be an acceptable quid pro quo for his training two Trump Artists. Nic voted for Hadrian’s elimination – they could blame it on the Emperor’s assassin.

Rai and Jesse questioned Trajan concerning his brother Hadrian. They were friendly. Hadrian’s personality was reminiscent of Benedicts’ – a military god, even-tempered and very serious. He was very protective of the Emperor. Rai and Jesse Sought out Hadrian.

FITZCAIRN and Hypatia delved into the Imperial Library to find out if Dalt had eliminated emperors before. Dalt had never been caught but it looked like he had. They checked on Dalt’s cell; Fitz’ wards were gone. Great. They went to see Osric but he’d left. Hypatia’s father was still in charge by force of personality. Trajan’s sister, a hypochondriac nitwit, was found in her rooms, having hysterics. Fitz and Hypatia mindprobed her and found that she was innocent of the murders but had been heavily used by others to spy on the imperial family; she suspected that she had done some naughty things.

NICCOLO and KADIM Trumped Parsifal for some sorcerer’s advice about the nastiness in Erbma. Parsifal couldn’t help; he was off with Osric, Gerard and Random to secure Hadrian. They told Parsifal they’d join in if Trumped for help. What now? Kadim was all for going to Erbma anyway – it should be safe for a couple of minutes. Kadim didn’t know how to do Pattern Defense though. Nic lent Windfall to Kadim, saying that the sword’s anti-magical function might help. Nic would monitor Kadim via Trump and pull him out at a second’s notice—something they couldn’t do through Pattern Defense. Kadim went through and quickly found a Mirror showing Dalt busily concentrating on the Jewel of Judgement. He and Nic fell into wordless agreement. Nic went through, they exchanged swords, and they rushed through the Mirror with murder in mind. Dalt moved with blurring speed and Nic fell to the ground with his spine severed. Kadim dodged about a bit then tossed his sword at Dalt and rushed him. Kadim fell down, kneecapped and hamstrung. Dalt left without saying a word. Nic Trumped Osric, "Boss, we could use some help here."

"What happened?"

Niccolo explained. Osric thought through the implications and called off his imminent battle. Dalt would just kill Hadrian like he had Justinian. Osric explained the blurring speed as something the Jewel could do if its user was in danger. Nic thought that speedy-Dalt was faster than Eric but not Benedict. Osric pulled them through and half-exhausted himself healing them. Nic should be fine in a couple of days. Osric said that he could still initiate Niccolo into the Focus using the Bell instead of the Jewel.

FITZ Trumped Osric and explained about Hypatia’s desire to walk the Pattern. Osric approved it. Nic went along with them to the Lunar Castle. Hypatia did the deed and lived. Fitz and Nic welcomed her into the family.

NICCOLO became a Focus initiate, starting with the shadow travel and offensive functions. He practiced with it. Experiments showed that people could readily distinguish between the feel of Pattern, Broken Pattern and Focus. He informed Osric of his intent to cover some of his Pattern use with Windfall – he’d be waving the thing about quite a bit. If necessary he’d say that Windfall was war loot, taken off a dead Witch. He had a cover story ready to explain Jesse, too. She’d been a deep-penetration agent into Chaos and had ended up in a position where she had to take the Logrus; she’d never been the same since. The family tolerated her for her heroic service and occasional utility. Osric thought that wasn’t too bad.

FITZ and Hypatia learned that Dalt had removed Emperors who had fallen under the control of others. He took Hypatia out to practice her new Pattern tricks and had a nice picnic.

KADIM also took the Focus and practiced with it. He found that even the Combat Prescience effect worked best with a group of troops, sort of a vampiric use of the group’s psychic power.

Kadim and Lord Lothario discussed the political situation and possible scapegoats over a night of drinking at a secure club. Lothario convinced Kadim that the Chaosites, the usual suspects, would do best. Kadim would send the Seventh Fleet out to patrol for slimies. Lothario was grabbing all the power he could while it lasted. He didn’t know who’d offed the emperor --- he would have suspected Kadim’s family but they were all there, in plain sight. Maybe the crazy old coot in the basement. He did think it odd that the Crown hadn’t saved the emperor like it was supposed to do and had done, historically, many times. He hadn’t seen what had become of the crown. Lothario thought well of Hadrian. Trajan had gone downhill since the war. He thought fairly well of Marius (Fitzcairn). Marius had handled himself well so far and wasn’t a simpering fop like any of the idiots his daughter had been enamored of in the past.

Kadim sailed off to St. Laveau, his private Shadow. Time had degraded the tech to a few relic firearms. He surveyed the situation and started a bunch of horrible wars to eliminate the weak and build up the manpower for a large military force. The crew enjoyed it.

Kadim sent the Albatross off to patrol the border with Chaos. There seemed to be a lot more activity than was usual. He reluctantly Trumped Raichleach and asked if she knew what was up in Chaos. Rai – in sight of Hadrian’s army with Jesse – didn’t know but liked the idea of distracting Jesse with Chaosian adventures. He told her about Dalt having the Jewel of Judgement.

NICCOLO spent some days in Tella healing and then making sure he was fully recovered. He returned to Emprus and summoned to a meeting the veteran he’d fought at the victory celebration. Nic flattered the man a bit (excellent record, a real soldier, etc) and explained that he wanted recommendations for his staff officers. Cpt. Decius was happy to give them. Nic (Dominicus) accompanied Decius, and the others returning to Third Army. He met everyone he could, broke in his new security staff of Tellan ninjas, established his habit of disappearing frequently at night to attend to other affairs, handed out a number of Trumps of himself, etc. Three Templars went with them, called up due to the increased Chaosite activity. The youngest of them was one of the Raichlings.

RAICHLEACH watched Jesse go over the hill to Hadrian’s camp wearing a sex-goddess form. Jesse was noticed and taken into custody. Rai had Trajan get the two of them into camp. Jesse soon found out --- but refused to believe --- that Hadrian wasn’t interested in her body, only in answers to questions. (He was satisfactorily married; he was wearing a very good mental barrier device.) Then Hadrian noticed that Trajan (poor, compelled, sex-toy boy) wasn’t acting right. He questioned his brother about the assassination. He was returning to the capitol to take the throne. Rai thought she saw Sibelius, or a lookalike, among Hadrian’s officers. She told Jesse about the stirrings in Chaos. Jesse didn’t bite. Should they make Hadrian’s wife disappear? Learn to mimic her? They asked around and found out that the wife was in Emprus at her parents’ estate. Rai and Jesse couldn’t think of a good excuse for Trajan to leave. Meanwhile, Trajan was increasingly confused and agitated. He wanted to leave. Hadrian called in a doctor. Rai suggested they get Trajan to experts in Emprus. Hadrian trusted his doctors. He ordered everyone but his brother and summoned doctor out. Rai split to Cloakworld.

Rai discovered something SECRET about hiding something from some power. Osric was going to look into changing that.

FITZCAIRN’S luck changed for the worse. The picnic was not a fun event. Jesse approached him for help finding Hadrian’s wife, claiming she had a message to deliver. She took the opportunity to tell Hypatia every embarrassing thing about Fitz that she could think of. Then she made more up. Hypatia’s opinion of her fiancée sank. Fitz hurried up getting them to Agrippina (Hadrian’s wife) before he had to kill his cousin. Agrippina met with them and something about Jesse’s gushing made him suspicious. He made contact and dominated her. Her plot horrified him. Fitz Trumped Osric and explained the situation. Osric agreed with Fitz and said he’d take care of it. Hypatia watched all of this with interest. She didn’t seem to be afraid of Jesse in the least.

KADIM (Saladin) became a patron for the INSERTNAMEHERE clan. They’d been used by Emperor Justinian to check the power of other, more powerful factions; in particular the one attached to Hadrian. They badly needed a protector, and Saladin seemed like the best choice. In return for his support, he’d have theirs and that of their agents. They mainly needed to be kept out of the court system. Kadim did his research and found out that his would-be clients were mostly powerful in banking, used to counterweight Lothario and the Princes. Kadim accepted their allegiance and moved quickly to scoop up some of Trajan’s supporters who were concerned with his sudden idiocy.

DOMINICUS’ (Nic’s) HQ was hit with probing attacks. Dom took out 500 men on a retaliatory sweep, burning and killing, and met little resistance. The one significant-seeming enemy escaped via Trump. Meanwhile, HQ was hit with a heavier attack. Though the enemy lost 2:1, Dom was not pleased that he’d responded so predictably to the Chaosians. His scouts and Intel people still had little idea of this enemy’s face, goals, strength or tactics. Nic was embarrassed. Bleys (and even Random) had taught him better than that. His staff thought they should lure the Chaosites out.

RAICHLEACH conferred with Osric and learned what had happened with Jesse. Rai told of seeing Sibelius at Hadrian’s camp. Osric said he’d had Sibelius followed, and the man hadn’t left Emprus. Osric told her the full story of Kadim & Nic Vs. Dalt. Amusing. She said that Adiran and Emira were now qualified Trump makers. Osric set them to systematically making Trumps of the whole court, in an order he provided. He’d turn Trump back on in the royal court for the project. Rai wanted the morphhounds eliminated. Maybe they could be replaced with nice constructs? Osric had a lot on his plate without making hundreds more constructs. He set Rai to scaring up more political support and information. Eric would help. Eric’s office, it turned out, was located at the back of the main jakes.

Rai, as Mrs. Marcellus, went to see Saladin and was passed ahead of the line of supplicants outside his quarters. They discussed Jesse’s plan, the morphhound replacement project, Fitzcairn’s woes and the eldritch corruption of Erbma.

Rai approached Sibelius directly. He was one of a long line of Trump Artists. The emperor’s death was tragic. He had no idea who’d be after Fitz. Rai had Eric put Sibelius under watch. There was a suspicious Trump call…

FITZCAIRN Trumped Nic and asked for a Trump of Dalt. Nic said he thought that was an extraordinarily bad idea. The man was four thousand years old and master of the Jewel of Judgement. He’d probably know if someone was making a Trump of him and who would possibly dare use such a Trump? Fitz checked in with Eric. They’d learned that the demon bed was from a faction tied to the emperor’s sister, probably aimed at cutting her contact with Fitz. The attack on the carriage was still a mystery. The sorcerers with known Chaosite associations were tied, specifically, to Clan Heslik. Fitz’ Brotherhood of the Star thought the carriage attack was by anarchists, who would want Hypatia dead. They didn’t know how big the anarchist gangs might be, but wanted access to the Imperial Library to find out.

Hypatia was being a bitch. Fitz tried to earn points by paying attention to the wedding plans. He hired a secretary, a male. Who promptly fell in love with Fitz.