CHRONICLES OF AMBRE session 28
DRACO IN BRADENBERG
Draco spent some time attending to Bradenbergs concerns. He checked up on his outposts in Shadow and found that the ones near Ygg were completely gone. Local informants said that demons had invaded the area for some days before being driven out by a mighty priest. Draco established new outposts and flooded the area with spies.
Next he made a Trump of the Charybdite that had seemed to be the leader of the invasion of Chaos. He passed it on to Brand.
Draco Trumped Deirdre and exchanged information with her. Dee was worried about Corwin, still missing since riding off with Eric. Corwins Trump was warm and neither of them could get a feel for his direction. Octavian was rumored to be shacked up with Fiona. Oberon was planning a big family meeting. Draco briefed Deirdre extensively on the situation in Chaos.
Draco met with Caine in Ambres salle darms and discussed the events in Chaos. Caine approved of any and all Chaosian deaths and didnt much care that the damage to the Logrus was weakening all the Shadows of Chaos. Draco estimated Caines weapons proficiency to be equal to Jesses. Draco suggested they contact Loki to learn how to fix one way or the other the Logrus. Caine said Loki was a myth. Draco said that Octavian had talked with him.
Draco Trumped warning to Lady Bruda, Roland and Jesse.
He went to the border to look for signs of Chaotic deterioration. The vegetation looked sickly, including Ygg itself. He Trumped Lora now in Castle Ambre but she didnt know anything of its mystical properties. Next Oberon who told him Ygg drew half its power from the Logrus. Oberon looked tired himself. Both wanted to repair the Logrus to Ambres advantage, but how? Draco made mental contact with Ygg and learned that it was sentient, curious and engaged in monitoring the border. There had been large-scale movements in both directions at points opposed to Ygg and Cerberus. Charybdites were going towards Chaos and Chaosians away. He Trumped Niccolo who agreed to go check out the movements the following day.
RAICHLEACH IN THE COURTS OF CHAOS
The damage to the Logrus had all the Logrus Masters seriously ill. As she poked around she received a Trump call from Caine. She briefed him on events in Chaos, Niccolos and Dracos doings there and Dracos Hendrake girlfriend. Ten of her children had survived the Logrus and were puking miserably like all the other initiates. Caine brought up Loki and learned that Rai had cut a deal with the man. Caine wanted to speak with him. He told her that there was a full family meeting scheduled and suggested she present her Pattern initiate offspring at it before anyone could stop them.
Rai surveyed the smashed Ambreite embassy and then Trumped Draco to needle him and ask about his interest in Loki. Draco thought Loki might be able to repair the Logrus. Rai said shed ask him. She went to Lokis lair and found it empty. The Hall of Mirrors control gadget was gone. She tried to Seek Lokis unique Cloak signature and was directed to her current location. She probed the area carefully and found a vortex of Pattern, Cloak and Logrus energy spiraling away to the unknown.
Rai tried to Trump Fiona--- busy. Consuela and Kara (sneaking around dressed in black with some of Niccolos ninjas) declined to go contact Fiona themselves. Ambrose did pass on the message. Fiona Trumped her back and allowed herself to be convinced to come see. Once there, she still couldnt see a bit of the Vortex directly. Using Rais senses, she became very interested and requested Cloak initiates be on hand to aid her in her investigations. Rai tried sending some of her children into the vortex but they simply walked through it as if it werent there. She gave five of the Pattern initiate spawn instructions on etiquette and Trumped with them to Ambre. She walked the Pattern and found that while Fi had thoroughly searched her mind, shed left no compulsions. And Fiona had lost one secret to Rai.
Rai had Steward Hendon assign rooms for Aeneas, Emmilian, Caryas, Biorbheall and Bryngren. She found Oriana the Protocol Mistress in a lounge and sprung her request on her, padded with a little flattery, to instruct her kids in Ambre etiquette. Oriana agreed to tutor the Infamous Offspring. Rai gave her what she knew of the Roachlees quirks via psychic contact. Oriana shuddered. Rai picked up two small secrets. She asked after Fiona; had Oriana noted any new peculiarities in her behavior. Oriana thought Fiona was going through some kind of mid-life crisis. Rai introduced her children and told them to behave. Oriana recharged her magic cattle prod. Rai changed into one of the gowns shed appropriated from Floras effects.
NICCOLO IN AMBRE, EVERYBODY IN AMBRE
Niccolo spent the day with the Watch. They seemed to be much improved. More alert, prouder, and much spiffier. Also more circumspect in their bribe-taking and other illicit activities. The bad pimp problem seemed to have been taken care of.
Most of the family attended the meeting. Corwin, Delwin, Sand, Syric, Jesse and Osric were absent. Marcus, unsurprisingly, was there. Also five of Raiclees horde. Eric, Brand and Dorothea took the most obvious exception to Rais spawn.
Oberon started the meeting. He explained the events in Chaos. He said that some counterpoint was needed to the Pattern and that if the Logrus failed, the Cloak would make a very poor substitute. How to repair the Logrus was a difficult question. Everyone was instructed to direct Dworkin to him, should they have the opportunity or knowledge of his whereabouts. Oberon was also interested in talking to Loki, who was rumored to be his uncle. In preparation for fixing the Logrus, they needed to take and hold it. Bleys got that job and immediately picked Draco, Octavian and Parsifal for his lieutenants. Raichleach was directed to guard the Cloak with Benedicts help, and to improve her mastery of its powers. Niccolo was to track down the people crossing into Ambres realm and shut the traffic down, with Sean and Connor. Fiona would stay in Castle Ambre. Consuela was in charge of the Fire Castle.
Brand passed out Trumps hed copied from Dracos original, tricked out to facilitate a mass-mindream of the chief Charybdite. They ate first and passed rumors around. Eric was under house arrest for suspicion of killing Corwin. Caine and Julian were still Erics allies. Deirdre, Bleys and Random opposed them.
Rai asked Random if he needed help getting out of his trouble with Morganthe and her mother. Random thought things were fine. Married to Morganthe, theyd both be miserable.
Draco suggested Deirdre recruit a Raicling to take on her Corwin-hunt. Rai approached him and let him know that shed failed to contact Loki (not named directly) because hed closed up shop and vanished. She suspected that Loki was the real master of the Charybdites.
Sean told Rai he was interested in the Cloak. Any time, she answered. He also mentioned that he thought he was being followed but hadnt got a good look at them.
Niccolo arranged to borrow a Raicling for his expedition. Raichleach asked him when hed marry poor, pining Oriana. Niccolo laughed at the idea of the God-Empress of Isperia pining for anything. Rai told Nic that this made them even, favor-wise. Niccolo agreed, surprised.
Draco talked with Dorothea about her mother. Fiona was acting different hornier but had walked the Pattern several times which ruled out a compulsion unless Dworkin had done it. They decided to find out if Fiona knew where Dworkin was. Indirectly --- Dorothea explained her method for dealing with her mother: get someone else to ask the questions and get the information from them.
Draco struck up a conversation with Marcus and tried to get him to approach Fiona but hed been trained better than that. They discussed Julian, Sean, Connor and the Cloak. Marcus told Draco about the Raiclings walking the Erbma Pattern and Queen Moires displeasure.
Rai and Dorothea snarled at each other.
Rai talked to Deirdre and offered a kid to help with her quest. Dee accepted. They speculated about whose blood had been used to hurt the Logrus. Lokis?
Rai talked with Caine about sabotaging Deirdres effort to locate Corwin. He gave her a Trump of himself for the Raicling selected and told her to send one that could not Seek.
Rai and Kara chatted about ninja training, the Watchs main job (searching out Chary agents) and the ins and outs of mindraping. Rai gave her some good pointers and a survey of the relative power of her cousins.
Brand organized the mass-mindrape. It went off without a hitch the victims head exploded -- though Draco learned something SECRET.
Octavian left with Fiona.
Draco briefed Nic on the intrusions. The Charybdites used a zone where Pattern and Logrus fluctuated and were unreliable. The Chaosians seemed to be simple refugees. He gave Nic a Trump of one of the destroyed outposts as a short cut to the region.
Draco convinced Kara to have some troops ready to back him up if he needed it. She thought she could get some from Julian. He gave her a Trump of himself and tried to cool her amorous impulses, without much luck.
Draco chatted carefully with Brand, giving and receiving dubious information. Brand wanted to replace the Logrus entirely. He thought another Pattern would do just fine.
Draco found ambassador Ren in his rooms, drunk and morose. Ren thought that Hendrake, desperate for allies, would soon press hard for Draco to marry Lady Bruda.
Niccolo left the group and found Oriana. She was feeling a bit neglected. They made vague arrangements for a serious outing later and left for Tella and a fast-time three day vacation.
Niccolo chose the Raicling Emmilian, the best fighter and a male. He didnt fully trust Sean and Connor. He had a bunch of Tellan sorcerers on standby, a variety of high-tech weapons and troops ready in Leone and took with him a personal guard of fifty yamabushi. Sean and Connor had guards of twenty each, all hulking shapeshifters. They used Dracos outpost Trump to get near the Charybdite route and then moved in stealthily. Nic employed local gargoyles with low-level shadowwalking abilities as scouts.
DRACO IN CHAOS
Bleys brought in a force of 5000 and secured Kilraeways without difficulty. Some remaining royal servants were hiding out there; they were rounded up and offered jobs. All accepted. Bleys, Draco and company moved on the Place of the Logrus, learning along the way that the vast majority of the Chaosians some tens of thousands -- were occupied with besieging Hendrakeways. The few Chaosians in the Place scattered at the Ambreite approach. Bleys Edited things, his staff sorcerers put up magical barriers and a detachment of troops and servants disposed of the mountain of corpses via Dracos Trump of the Abyss. Draco learned that the former Hendrake ally house of Jannisar had switched sides and was among the besiegers. Another, House Hamilcar, was badly hurt with survivors lurking about. Naturally, nobody in the Courts was taking Trump calls. Chanicut and Oreen held part of the Royal Ways, Charybdites other sections.
Draco led an expendable force to the siege and fought his way in, with Hendrake help. The Hendrakes had lost two thirds of their numbers but were fairly secure. Roland approached Draco about walking the Pattern. Should the Logrus collapse he didnt want Jesse to be the only Hendrake with any real power. He was also interested in the Cloak. Draco Trumped Oberon and sent Roland on through. Jesse immediately grabbed control (or the appearance of it) and garnered more bad will. Draco participated in throwing back an attack spearheaded by illusion-shrouded Abyss wyrms. They decided that this was a feint but there was no follow-up attack. Roland returned very tired. He wasnt happy with his deal with Oberon, the details of which are SECRET. Roland gave Draco an envelope with the Royal Seal of Ambre on it. In it, Oberon congratulated Draco on his marriage to Lady Bruda and instructed him to report to Ambre with his bride posthaste. Draco rounded her u, and Trumped Bleys to let him know what was going on. Bleys knew. They left.
Draco got himself cleaned up while Oberon had a private chat (heavy Compelling) with the bride. Draco broke the news to Kara, emphasizing that he had no choice. Available family members were gathered for the wedding and Ren (also Compelled) witnessed for the Courts. They got some odd last-minute wedding gifts. Bruda proved surprisingly compliant on their wedding night. Later, Oberon told Draco about the loyalty compulsions.
During the excitement, Rai ran one hundred Raiclings through the Pattern. Eight made it through.
Oberon and Draco discussed duplicating --- cloning? --- the blood samples Draco had from the Logrus. They werent sure who was the best in the family for techno wonders. Fi? Brand? Syric? Nic?
RAICHLEACH IN AMBRE
Rai brought her eight new Pattern Raiclings to Oriana and found out which ones had gone with Niccolo and Deirdre.
She spent some time developing a new persona, a sixtyish man for investigating the city Watch.
Rai returned to Lokis vortex shadow and found Fiona still there. Fi said she thought the vortex was draining into the Agate Cosmos, probably increasing the power of one of the psychic entities there. Fiona thought that Primal Chaos should destroy the thing if necessary. Fi thought the Cloak in Lokis blood let it coat the Logrus undetected before the poison went to work. Fi no longer needed the Raicling; Rai sent it to Oriana. (Who had, by the way, acquired Dorothea as an assistant.)
Rai returned to Chaos and Sought out Jesse but found her unconscious. Cloaking about, she watched Bleys troops, saw that Roland had walked the Pattern and learned that Jesse had returned to Hendrake after Swayvill died. Hendrake had drawn the ire of all the other Houses by being temporarily on top. She cut a deal for the services of ten Cloak initiate Raiclings. The Hendrakes sent them out with top assassins and nailed three enemy leaders at the cost of five Raiclings and seven assassins. In the confusion some of the enemy attacked each other. Hendrake negotiators suddenly made progress and the siege broke apart. Rai arranged for martial training of some Raiclings.
NICCOLO IN SHADOW
Nic and company took the Chary staging town just Chaosside and burned it down. Then they rendered the ravine route on the border unusable with Green Fungus, killing all the troops there. They tracked the wounded to a shadow with great regenerative qualities (qualities that made GF explosively fecund) and snooped around. The Charies didnt seem to control the place, just use its hospitals. After a not-too-successful battle, they trailed the Charies further out and, using scouts, found an army roughly 20,000 strong that seemed to be configured to use in Chaos.
DRACO IN CHAOS
Dracos scientists got the blood to grow, or at least increase in volume. Bleys thought they could erase the Logrus entirely if necessary.
Draco negotiated with the Stilletto faction and the Chanicuts. Both wanted marriage alliances with both Ambre and Hendrake, plus positions in the new government. Oberon had Draco offer positions and a supply of the poisons. Given samples, they were interested. Roland was happy so long as he was assured of a supply of the antidote. Draco got a large supply of both through Niccolo. Ambrose got selected to marry a Chanicut, poor bastard. No spring chicken, either. Ambrose got compelled too, this time.
Hendrake was now at least nominally in command of the Courts. Jesse had the crown, but no one was paying too much attention to that.
Draco checked up on the Agate Gate and found that the seals had been tampered with some time ago. He checked the Lunar Pattern and found no clues of recent activity. (Something moved out beyond the small livable zone...) Nobody had had the guts/stupidity to try the Star Pattern. A bit too diffuse.
RAICHLEACH IN AMBRE
Remembered and meditated upon Bell, the New Improved Shape of the Universe Dworkin had been working on. She suspected that the Primal Pattern might be under the central sea and taught some Spawn the shark-shape. They found nothing. Hired astrologers and worked out the movements of the moons, stars and planets. They would eventually form a V, but what did that mean? She consulted Jesse for computer experts and assigned the study to a Feldane cousin. She presented her findings to Oberon.
Rai patrolled Ambre City and found no Charies. She could only find the yamabushi off-duty. No assassins except Caines and the yamabushi. None of them were working, just drilling.
She practiced fighting with some of her children in Cloak Farm.
NICCOLO IN SHADOW
They studied the Chary army. Lots of shapeshifters and animaloids. And good. Too good --- they were detected. Nic had used the shadow-creature spies trick too often. The whole army chased them. Thinking that they could move a lot faster than a whole army, Nic & Co. got cute and tried to run their pursuers through a nasty shadow. Not nasty enough, and the effort slowed them down. The enemy proved able to twist Pattern power around, slowing them further. Nic & Co caught on and used Emmilians Cloak-shifting abilities but he wasnt fast enough. Trumps were blocked by Charies continually Trumping Nic, Sean and Connor. The lead enemy troops --- shapeshifters with engine speed --- caught up with them and munched Nics troops and sorcerers, the kid, Seans and Connors troops . And died. Nics nifty new armor saved his ass five times. But the next wave caught up with them. Nics last-ditch trick, Trump Disrupt, got him the seconds he needed to Trump to Tella, but he was alone.
When Nic returned, he found the army gone and three heads on pikes: Seans, Connors and Emmilians.
DRACO AT THE AGATE GATE
The Chaosian soldiers had deserted the Agate Gate to participate in the civil war, leaving only a few servants there. Draco re-garrisoned with Bradenbergers and Trumped in Lady Bruda to calm the servants. She was curious why Draco was bothering. The Hendrakes hadnt been able to do anything with the thing and had grabbed it only because Amberites were interested in it. Draco claimed he couldnt open it either. He briefed his soldiers about Cloak-users and Charybdites who might attempt to use the Gate. He Trumped Raichleach and got her to assign one of her spawn to join the garrison. He also left Trumps of himself and Deirdre with the garrison commander. In informing his mother of this he learned that Charybdites had killed Sean and Connor. He and Lady Bruda should attend the funeral. In other news, Corwin was still missing and Eric, though increasingly nervous, wasnt talking. Deirdre suggested Draco recruit some sorcerers for his garrison. He went off to do that.
RAICHLEACH IN AMBRE CITY
A castle page caught up to Rai in the City, summoning her to meet with Oberon. The king informed her of Sean and Connors deaths and questioned her about the Cloaks more extreme powers. Rai had a few vague ideas, nothing more. Nor could she sense how far a Cloak initiate had mastered the power. She asked how S & C had died and learned that Emmilian had died as well.
Rai Trumped Niccolo and woke him up. Nic was apologetic and heavily bruised. He told her truthfully how they had got their asses kicked. Emmilian had done very well; Nic said hed do his best to avenge him.
Rai went to the Cloak shadow and checked in with security. Benedicts captain told her that a census had found two thousand extra people in the city. Mindraping showed that they all believed they belonged there. Rai and the captain set up a schedule of ten abductions-and-mindrapes per night; she didnt think she could comfortably do more than that.
She told her brood about Emmilians death under Niccolos command and got a volunteer for Dracos garrison. She read through Osrics notes, hoping for clues to Dworkins location or information on the Torc. Osric had done some basic speculation on how to turn the Torc into a Bell.
The mindrapes showed that one in every ten to twelve townies was [SECRET]. She countered rumors of mass murders by Bens troops with a fabrication about a serial murderer from out-shadow.
NICCOLO IN AMBRE CITY
Nic quietly invited those of the family he was friendly with, or commonly worked with, to his club for drinks. Deirdre, Bleys, Gerard, Llewella, Mirelle, Random, Raichleach, Draco, Kara, Parsifal and Octavian, plus his friend Oriana. Dorothea showed up unasked and Lady Bruda came with Draco. Nic told of the ill-fated expedition that had ended up killing Sean, Connor and Emmilian and gave every detail he how the Charies had been able to foul up Pattern use with Cloak. He praised Emmilians courage and tenacity. Discussion turned into a wake under Randoms influence. Nic talked over the implications of the new Cloak powers with a few people. He also asked Oriana about the new Fiona. Oriana said that New Fi had many of the Old Fis memories. That seemed to rule out an Agateverse double made by anyone other than Fiona herself. Perhaps Dworkin had adjusted her like he had Oberon.
DRACO AT THE WAKE, ELSEWHERE
Draco consulted with Oriana about recruiting competent sorcerers. Oriana suggested a wizards club in Begma. She cautioned that they would probably want to be paid in political favors. Draco left the wake not long after and Trumped to Begma. The wizards treated him like a celebrity. He soon found a few that would swear on as his retainers (for life) so long as they were guaranteed some access to the Royal Court. These he Trumped to the Agate Gate Fort. He introduced them to Cerberus and Rais son Lester. The sorcerers set about raising magical wards. Lester showed off his improved, nearly passable efforts at achieving a human form.
Draco went to the Courts and checked in on the operations there. It had been determined that Lokis blood had damaged the Logrus by going primal and eating it. No progress on fixing it. They werent having much luck recruiting Hendrakes for the priesthood so theyd probably have to try the Sawalls. House Hendrake seemed to be in control. Roland was making deals all around.
Draco left and went back to Ambre. The moon was strong that night and the sky cloudless. He climbed up to Tir-na Nogth. There he saw a disturbing vision of the future --- Raichleach was Queen over a swarm of her spawn. He questioned one of them and learned that Rai had simply out-bred everybody else and had overthrown Oberon ages ago. Ghost-Rai said that half the family had ganged up on Oberon to kill him, then fought it out with the other half until she was the only one left. Ghost-servants thought that either Ben or Eric had killed Oberon, that Jesse had killed Draco and Octavian then killed her. Rai hadnt killed anybody. The Pattern room was littered with burned bug chitin, both real and ghostly.
Draco saw a ghost castle in the air above Tir-na Nogth and climbed up to it. Regular ghosts there though a bit more tenuous and reflecting the past. Nobody knew who Raichleach was but there was an Iago. He found ghost-Draco in his room cleaning some gear . Draco remembered that night. He Trumped Deirdre for the time.
RAICHLEACH IN AMBRE
Rai told Oberon about the [formerly SECRET] Agateverse creatures moving in on the Cloak. Not trusting Fiona, Oberon instructed Rai to get Llewella to strengthen the magical defenses on the Cloak. Llewella was still at the wake; she agreed to help. Rai asked after Morganthe: no change. They discussed Oberons illness. Rai blamed Nic; Llew blamed the Logrus damage.
The funerals were quick and efficient. The family didnt want to emphasize their mortality to the commoners.
Rai Trumped Jesse from the Cloakworld. Jesse was less ill now. The Logrus was attenuated but its initiates were no longer physically sickened. Her own plans had not worked out and she had a whole vase full of black roses. Rai enjoyed telling Jesse about Nics debacle and about the Fiona-Octavian affair. Jesse said she could see that she needed to return to Ambre and see that things were done right. She asked Rai to thank the people whod helped her mother recover from poisoning for her.
Rai returned to Cloakworld to watch Llewella raise her guarding spells and hand out a lot of psychic shield rings to Benedicts troops. They weeded out the Agate People.
Off to Lokis world. Fiona was still there but hadnt made any progress on stopping the energy drain. She suggested having Primal Chaos unleashed on it. Something on the Agateverse side was stealing their energy. Fi was reasonably sure that Primal Chaos would destroy the vortex, not feed it. Rai called Jesse and inquired after a Primal Chaos summoner. Jesse said her mother would help but not right away. She was still too weak. Rai told her about the vortex and Loki. Jesse instantly wanted to meet him. She came through and they melded into the Beast With One and a Half Brains. Raisse/Jechleach followed a faint trace of Lokis unique Cloak-signature to the Agate Gate Fort. Draco happened to be there. He let them in. Jesse tried to convince Draco to send some of his soldiers through the Agate Gate. He refused. R&J shanghaied thirty shadowfolk and brought them in to die on the magical wards like moths in a torch. Jesse sent a Logrus probe through and both women tranced out. Draco knocked them out, breaking the contact. Raichleach insisted they take their splitting headaches to a Pattern and walk it, just in case some Agate Thing had tampered with their minds. They Trumped through to Octavian and walked the Fire Castle Pattern. The Agate Thing was not Loki, as theyd half suspected, but something else. Something stronger than Fiona had lightly mindraped them.
NICCOLO IN SHADOW
Niccolo and Oriana stole a couple of days Ambre-time (about a week and a half for them) and went off into shadow to wallow in culture and each other. Upon returning Niccolo bribed two Raichlings to help him determine the parameters of the basic Cloak power. He couldnt find any way of blocking their ability to detect Pattern, Logrus or Cloak use at several Shadows range. They also knew instantly if they were being sought, or if anyone in their vicinity was. Nic was not happy.
Nics Cloak-alarm called him to Tella. Someone had probed at the shadows barriers. He set invisible air-sprites to respond to future alarms, watch and report. He wrote up the information on the Cloak and had it delivered to everyone in the family by the Ambre palace servants.
DRACO AT THE AGATE GATE
Draco Trumped through to his garrison captain in response to a distress call. The wards were glowing and bulging out despite the best efforts of the sorcerers there. Earth tremors began to shake the fort. He Lensed the wards and found that Jesses Logrus probe had weakened the Pattern-based seal. He shored it up with some of his own blood and the tremors stopped. The bulge stopped growing.
Draco got together with Niccolo to discuss the Cloak research and work out a way to nail the Charybdites. Nic thought their best shot was to gather an expendable army or two, equip them with weapons coated with shapeshift suppressant and jump the Charies when they made their big move on the Courts.
Draco was called to Bradenberg by assaults on his shadows wards. A number of simultaneous attacks infected his barriers with magic-eating bacteria. His sorcerers were useless. He consulted with Fiona. She identified the bacteria as something fairly common in a few shadows but she had no cure. The barriers collapsed. Draco started searching for intruders.
Meanwhile, Niccos shadow Tella was hit with a single attack on one section of barrier. Niccolo sent samples to Leone for analysis and creation of a counter-agent. He stopped the spread of the bacteria with caustic chemicals. Watchful sprites assured him that nothing had actually got through
Draco Trumped Niccolo and they exchanged information. Draco sped time in Bradenberg, trying to throw off the enemys schedule. The following day many of his castle guards and staff fell victim to poison in the food. Draco sent samples of the poison to Niccolo, and then the surviving victims when Nic offered the use of Leonan hospitals. (Most who made it to the hospitals survived. Niccolo studied the treatment, which included organ transplants, with interest and wonder.) Draco tracked down the poisoner, a shapeshifter, with shifterhounds and arranged for Octavian to mindrape the fellow. Draco made Trumps of the two others in the villains cell and Octavian popped them. They learned that the Charybdites were going to hit the whole family and try to make it look like Chaosian work. Dracos attackers had moved before the others due to his precautions. Draco and Octavian sent warnings to the rest of the family.
RAICHLEACH IN CLOAKWORLD
Rai got word of the expected Chary attacks and passed it to Benedicts men. Sure enough, a huge sea-beast attacked the docks, eating buildings and people. Rai sent non-Spawn bugs with blasters to deal with the monster while Benedict and his men dealt with saboteurs and assassins in town.
Rai Trumped Fiona to keep her informed. Fiona suggested using the manaphagous bacteria on the vortex rather, someone else doing so. Rai called Jesse and told her of the missing Hall of Mirrors controller. Rai went to a safe distance and Jesse went in to test the bacteria. The bacteria grew fast. It spread out along the flows of magic both into the vortex and out, out, out. Jesse fled and called in her mother. Circe summoned Primal Chaos and passed out. The vortex flow stopped. Rai took the opportunity to mindrape Circe while Jesse examined the remains of the building. She learned that:
Circe had intended to assassinate Roland, with Bleys help. Now that Roland was effectively King of Chaos she was out to backstab Bleys.
Circe had hooks in both Jesse and Syric. In Syrics case they were in items he was carrying.
Circe had tried to get hooks into Raichleach and failed.
Jesse returned and took her mother away.
Rai dropped by Shadow Omicron and found it in a shambles. Syric was purging his army, his servants, everyone. He was convinced that Fionas agents had infiltrated his palace.
Rai informed Oberon of what had happened to the vortex. He was not displeased. She checked on her kids and was not happy to find that Dorothea was in charge of their etiquette training in Orianas absence. Discipline was harsh and propaganda thick. Rai hired her own etiquette master (a shapeshifter), withdrew her kids and set up school in the Cloak Fortress. Dorotheas propaganda had been mostly truthful.
Raichleach went to Tir-na Nogth. Brand was king. Eric was chained to a wall in a jester costume. Sand chained to another in a negligée. Erics mind had nothing left but fear. Sands barely had that. In a brief conversation with ghost-Brand Rai learned that hed married her to Syric
Rai climbed up to the second ghost city. This one was under siege by Charybdites. She learned that Oberon had destroyed the Cloak [How is SECRET] and the Logrus had died. Ambre was the last bit of reality standing. Loki had been trapped in the Agateverse. Fi, real or not, had been killed.
The third ghost city .
NICCOLO IN LEONE
The genetic engineers came up with a virus that would kill the manaphage bacteria and could lie dormant on the shadow barriers indefinitely. Nic repaired the hole and had the virus spread all around the barrier.
Niccolo contacted Benedict and asked where he could get a lot of really effective darts for use on the Charybdite army. Benedict supplied 5000 very effective ones. Nic recruited Dana Hendrake (with Rolands permission) as an advisor and found his cannon fodder in the shadows of Chaos. Missile troops and a horde of nasty crablike things. Dana stayed to whip them into shape. Nic put in a big order for shifter-null in the appropriate shadow, picked it up and had the darts coated with it on one side and various more normal poisons on the other.
Dana Hendrake Trumped Nic for rescue and was pulled into Tella. Both groups of troops were being attacked, the horde with Primal Chaos. They found another Horde. This one was far, far away from the Courts and might be safe. The missile troops Nic found on the Ambreside. From time to time hed Seek the Chary leader for an hour or two, just to piss him off.
DRACO IN THE COURTS
The Charybdites harried Roland by constantly Trumping him. The Hendrake psych defense devices were all Logrus based. Draco had Lora make a purely magical one for Roland. With hooks, of course. He got an impression of one of Rolands tormenters from a Hendrake wizard. He made a Trump of the fellow and contacted Octavian. Unfortunately, Octavian was exhausted from something else. He agreed to help out after a nights rest. Draco taught Lora to block Cloak magically. She set wards. He went out into Ambreside shadows recruiting and found that Nic had been doing the same.
Bleys informed Draco that his forces were under attack and losing. Draco contacted Niccolo. Nic gathered his troops and armed them with the poisoned darts.
Bleys retreat turned into headlong flight as the Logrus died and NOTHING spread from where it had been. Every Logrus initiate but Jesse and Roland (and, presumably Oberon) was knocked out. Roland tried to save what he could of his family. Draco Trumped to Ambre to inform Oberon. Oberon, puking his guts out, was aware of the problem. Draco contacted Caine and Deirdre, summoning them to attend Oberon. He oversaw the retreat of Bleys troops and the Hendrakes to his own staging places along the border. The stormfront of NOTHING advanced quickly.
Oberon sent Caine on a dangerous mission.
RAICHLEACH IN TIR-NA NOGTH2
Jesse Trumped her in a panic and started sending woozy or unconscious Hendrakes through. Rai Trumped Llewella and arranged to send them to Erbma. Jesse told Rai the Logrus had been destroyed.
Rai continued on to Tir-na Nogth3. The castle was cruder --- something from the distant past. Oberon, Osric, Finndo, a young Benedict. Rai found Dworkin in the Pattern room and asked a lot of questions. She assumed the forms of the Torc and Bell, asking about them.
Rai came to walking the Fire Pattern. Dworkin had compelled her away to get her out of his hair. She had to do the Lunar Pattern next, after a few hours rest. Really tired now. Twelve hours rest and she did the Star Pattern she was huge, a vast psychic wraith. She finished it and teleported to Cloakworld. She informed her kids of what the other Raichleach had told her.
Rai went in search of the Serpent and found that its trail aimed straight at the Agate Gate. She got there herself and saw that the Shadowstorm was near and Dracos garrison bugging out. The Serpent had gone through the Gate and a crazy old man had sealed it after. Loki. She let Cerberus loose to flee Ambrewards.
Rai returned to Ambre and was drafted to accompany Caine to Chaos. Should he fail to reestablish order make another Logrus she was to finish it. She asked after Osric and told Oberon about her vision in Tir-na Nogth. Osrics death had led to the destruction of the universe. Rai and Caine Trumped to Ygg.
NICCOLO IN SHADOW
The Courts were gone and with them his plans to fight there. Nic sent the darts back to Tella and then returned to Ambre. He drank exquisite wine with Oriana on the battlements and waited.
DRACO IN SHADOW
Draco captured Purvis while aiding the Chaosian refugees. He evacuated the last of his Agate Gate garrison minutes before the shadowstorm hit. The shadowstorm slowed as it went Ambreside. Draco estimated it would hit Bradenberg in five days.
Draco Trumped Niccolo and discussed what the Enemy was up to. They decided that Loki, the Chary boss, Brand or whoever was making some sort of new or recreated Power. So theyd need an Icon. Draco and Nic went to see Benedict at Cloakworld and told him their theory. If they needed an Icon theyd have to come there, to the only Agateverse access left. Maybe. Unless they could use Rai like Osric had.
RAICHLEACH IN THE ABYSS
Rai and Caine (carrying the Jewel of Judgement) slogged through the vastly larger Abyss for days. No one but an accomplished shapeshifter could have survived the trip. Finally they saw a ring of light and power in the distance. A locus of Reality was forming. In it they saw the elite core of the Charybdite army at attention around three figures in the center. Brand, the chief Charybdite and Loki. Loki was doing the work, using his Hall of Mirrors control device. Caine told Rai that he wanted to kill Brand but wanted in on the power here, too. They infiltrated, shapeshifting to resemble the troops. Unnecessary. The troops were entranced, and so were Brand and the Chary leader. Unarmored too. Caine stabbed Brand behind an ear. Rai used darts on the Charybdite general, who broke out of the trance as he died. Loki noticed them. His concentration broke -- FLASH
Rai woke floating in debris. Rocks. Body parts. She found the Jewel and Caine. He was unconscious and in poor shape. Rai couldnt find any trace of Loki or his toy. A light probe showed that Caine believed Loki was dead. Caine woke and cursed. He had her walk the Pattern in the Jewel mentally and teleport to Ambre. She did that and reported to Oberon. He was silent for a time, then ordered everyone to leave the throne room. Two hours later they looked in. Oberon was gone. His crown and scepter were on the throne with a note: NO ONE ELSE CAN DO THIS. I WILL. I DO NOT EXPECT TO SURVIVE. BENEDICT IS REGENT.
The Shadowstorm reached halfway from Ygg to Ambre and then stopped. Later a second wave, this time of creation, swept through. [Bradenberg, Tella, Leone and Earth survived.]
Raichleach informed Benedict of Oberons command in Cloakworld. She thought the new source would need an Icon, so she drew something Serpent-like out of the Agateverse. When she and It got to the new Logrus they found a Serpent already there. It had a suspicious bulge in its middle, man-sized. Oberons Trump was warm. Caines was cool but he wasnt answering. Rai made mental contact with It. Yesterdays King of Ambre is tomorrows droppings. She found no trace of the Jewel of Judgement there. Rai sent her Serpent to coil around Ygg, which had either survived or been re-created.
Chaosians investigated the new Chaos and started traversing the new Logrus. The insanity proved to be of shorter duration than that of the old Logrus.
OCTAVIAN AT THE FIRE CASTLE
Octavian made various inquiries about searching for Corwin. Consuela's abilities in that regard were no better than his own. Niccolo said he'd tried already and drawn a blank; he suggested Octavian try recruiting a Roachling as Cloak abilities might help. Deirdre was about to go looking herself. She and Octavian started off in Arden, Corwin's last known position. They picked up a trail and Octavian belatedly decided to grab some of Benedict's Fire Castle troops for extra muscle. When he Trumped back to her Deirdre was arguing with Julian in the middle of a bunch of rangers and hellhounds. He wanted her to leave. She told him to 'fuck off'. Octavian took out Julian's Trump and played idly with it, making sure Julian saw the picture. Julian backed down, sweating, and 'helped' them look, interfering by raising Pattern Defense slightly. Deirdre picked up a trail with her new Cloak senses despite Julian and led them to a point where two Pattern trails became one.
RAICHLEACH IN CHAOS
Rai collected some [SECRET] items and Trumped back to Cloakworld. Only one item worked. Caine had left her a message: he feared a plot to destroy the Cloak and directed her to be on guard. She checked in with the investigators and learned that the city's excess population was made up of creatures from the Agateverse. Disturbing. Rai hid her new toy and Trumped Jesse. Jesse was standing in line waiting for her turn at the new Logrus. Rai got her to agree to chaperone ten Spawn through the Logrus. In return Jesse wanted the services of a couple of them for some time. Deal. Rai briefed her dear ones on what to expect from Cousin Jesse and Chaos.
Rai took a Trump call from Eric. Eric invited her to a private dinner. She didn't turn him down. Rai wanted Caine along, or Random. Caine was not taking calls. Random was in no useful condition. Getting desperate, Rai Trumped Jesse again. Jess declined, unwilling to lose her place in line, despite the fact that she kept getting pushed back. Rai Trumped Eric, accepted the date and learned that it would be held in Brand's (Trump-proof, scry-proof) former quarters.
Rai talked to Bleys before the dinner, discussing Jesse (he said Rai was a good influence), the succession (he wanted her support, she was shopping for the best deal), the events in Chaos and the odds of Brand being really, truly dead. Who would be the new Man in Black? Bleys informed her that under his rule there would be no need for such a person. He said that Eric had got to the security offices first after Brand's death (real or otherwise) and pillaged them. Rai brought up Syric's pogrom in Shadow Omicron. Bleys mentioned the purge in Cloakworld. He offered to arrange for continuing small threats to Cloakworld in order to keep Benedict's men there. He said he'd prefer Corwin to stay lost for a time.
Rai walked the Pattern, just in case. No Compulsions.
Dinner with Eric was tasty but tense. Eric presented his qualifications for the Crown. He was the best diplomat. He knew of a plot against the Cloak and would tell her the details in return for her support. Lack of support would earn his undying enmity. Yadda yadda yadda. She did learn that the relative time flow in Chaos had increased to unheard-of levels. 1000:1 in some places.
DRACO IN SHADOW
Lady Bruda Trumped Draco while he was shifting shadow towards Bradenberg and told him the Logrus had been re-created. His Chaos place Trumps were still worthless but his Abyss Trumps worked fine. He went through and checked things out. A very long line of folk waited for their chance at the new Logrus. Shapeshifters in Benedict's livery kept order and escorted insane initiates to a nuthouse. Elsewhere hordes of Chaos Lords and demons built new Ways. Draco Trumped in artisans and dragons to construct a new Ambre Embassy in the best -- fastest -- spot he could find, a 50:1 area. Hendrakeways was going up in a 400:1 zone. Draco set minidrags to spy on the various construction sites. He consulted Lora about her vendettas. She'd nailed one. She thought the others were staying in Patternless areas.
Draco Trumped Llewella and got her to come through and experiment with readjusting relative time flows. She could do it, temporarily, but it was tiring. She left. Draco found that more than a 100:1 differential rendered Trumps unusable. He found an uninhabited very fast place suitable for making Trumps in and made a couple. Later, he noticed that lots, no most of the Chaos Ladies and demonesses were pregnant. Taking advantage of the time differential. He Trumped Lady Bruda.
NICCOLO IN TELLA
Trying for a shortcut to Chaos, Nic tried Trumping Dana Hendrake. No luck. Jesse -- she answered and pulled him through. He learned about the line, Ben's troops, the mass insanity, the time differential. He joined up with Draco made an effort to find out what had happened with Oberon, Caine, Raichleach, Brand, Loki and the Charybdite leader. Were Loki, Brand and the Chary really dead? What happened to the Jewel of Judgement? They searched the Abyss and found some demons that had seen the aftermath of the confrontation and gone to investigate the huge explosion. One demon had collected some scraps. It demanded too much in payment. Nic and Draco killed it. Nic took long bones for analysis in Leone. Draco gathered the rest for burial. Nic Trumped to Leone and checked in with his tech wizards. They could use cell samples to work out what the people had looked like sans scars and such. He left them to that and Trumped to Ambre. Benedict granted a private meeting. Nic told him about the parts and his hopes of confirming some deaths. He asked about Fiona -- was she the real thing? Ben had done some sort of test and thought she was. They discussed the strategic problems of a fast-time Chaos. Concerning the succession, Benedict said that the king needed to be a completed bastard, a description that best fit Eric. Ben said he himself was unfit on two counts; he wasn't wily enough or ruthless enough. He'd only step in to prevent murder. His siblings were not really that afraid of him and had manipulated him many times before. Nic was bummed.
OCTAVIAN IN ARDEN
Deirdre led them to the point where the trail ended. Someone had Trumped out from there, presumably Eric taking an unconscious or dead Corwin somewhere. While they racked their brains for what to do next Deirdre got a Trump call -- Eric. As soon as she said Eric's name Octavian grabbed her shoulder and joined the contact and probed hard, bursting through Eric's defenses. Eric and Corwin had fought to a standstill -- but Eric had arranged for help. Eric dumped Corwin comatose on Shadow Earth in a plague-ridden city. He had no idea why Corwin couldn't be contacted by Trump. Eric angrily cut the contact with a Power Word. Deirdre wasn't happy either. She shook Octavian like a rat. Don't DO that through me! It hurts!
Shadow Earth was a nasty, smelly, horrible place. Worse, magic didn't work there at all. Slower, mundane investigative techniques led them to the trail of a raving, unnaturally strong man taken by the Inquisition for suspicion of demonic possession. The man had escaped within a day into the slums of Paris in a priest's robe. They found a prostitute he'd robbed. They checked the mercenary companies gathering for some war or another and found him in one, busy establishing his position by beating the crap out of everyone else. Deirdre's face triggered some kind of memory in him and left him open to her suggestions. They took him to the Fire Castle Pattern and set him walking it. It worked. Corwin was tired enough that they could talk him out of going after Eric right away. They brought him up to date vis a vis Oberon's death and the new Logrus. Octavian failed to convince his father to back Deirdre for Queen. Corwin brought Deirdre around to backing him and blithely asserted that he could ally with Bleys and maybe Fiona. They discussed the new and improved Fiona. Benedict joined them. Corwin told him of Eric's cheap shot -- someone shot him in the back of the head with a blunted crossbow bolt -- which lowered Ben's opinion of Eric considerably. They agreed to keep Corwin's return a secret. Octavian told Benedict about mindraping Eric.
RAICHLEACH IN AMBRE
Rai discussed the succession with Fiona. Unfortunately, Oberon having been a misogynist bastard, the line ran through all the sons before any of the daughters turn came up. Mass compulsions and mindraping weren't really reliable in the long run. No one had made an offer for Fiona's support, not even Bleys. She was miffed. She dismissed the idea of Benedict taking the crown. He wouldn't do it and even Random would be a better king in the long run. Rai asked her about the plot to destroy the Cloak. Fiona clarified: it was 'plots', plural not singular, and Nic's misgivings were hardly the biggest threat. Multiple elders on different sides of the succession issue. Not Fi herself, of course, as she wouldn't destroy any source of power potentially open to her.
Rai went looking for Benedict and found him at the Fire Castle talking with Deirdre and Octavian. All seemed to be in good spirits. Benedict reiterated his position vis a vis the succession: he'd step in only to prevent mass murder. Benedict thought the Cloak needed protection and suggested Rai further restrict access to it. She said that it seemed everyone who wanted it had it. Ben preferred that Rai's children take the Pattern rather than the Logrus, just to keep their loyalties clear. Especially with time moving so fast in the Courts and the baby boom there.
Rai checked in with Llewella and Morganthe. The expectant mother was no longer acting suicidal though she was making a shroud for 'no one in particular'. Moire had ruled out compelling the girl; she knew too many state secrets. Plus Morganthe was psychically stronger than Moire, possibly near Octavian's range. Llewella was convinced that Morganthe was too tough to really kill herself over Random. In regards to the succession, Llewella was undecided. Moire would prefer a weak Ambre.
She returned to Cloakworld and dealt with a Chaosian who'd been caught trying to sneak in. He was Murvis of the minor house Udrek. Rai Trumped Jesse and went through to her. Jesse advised Rai to back Bleys. Jess and the kids finally got to the Logrus. Rai watched them all go through, then Trumped Bleys to pick Jesse up. The madness was expected to last about a year -- seven days Ambre time in the madhouse run by Ben's troops. She located the new Udrekways and made arrangements to trade Murvis for favors to be named later. She turned him over after burning out all Murvis' knowledge of the Cloak.
DRACO IN BRADENBERG
Draco Trumped Gerard and arranged for a simple burial at sea for Brand's remains. Only Syric joined them for the ceremony; he looked like hell. Syric took a sample of the remains for his own tests. During the wake Syric quizzed Draco about Brand's personal effects. Werewindle, for instance. Draco took Syric to the embassy in Chaos and then out into the Abyss. All they found was a Trump of Ygg. Abyss demons informed them that they were a bit late as Raicleach, Caine, some Hendrakes and the toad demon had all combed the area. Rai and Caine had scored some Trumps and possibly other things. The Ygg Trump was cool, despite the fact that Ygg had been destroyed by the spreading Abyss. They wasted a lot of time sending victims (they cleaned out death row in Ambre City) through until the monster on the other side was too full to eat the next guy. It was a Patternless place and the monsters were highly poison resistant.
NICCOLO IN SHADOW LEONE
One of the shin bones was indeed Brand's. Nic so informed Benedict. He Trumped back to Ambre and checked in on the city watch. Kara had things well in hand. Maybe too well. They discussed the succession. She was following her father's lead and backing Eric. Among other reasons she recommended Nic consider their heirs -- Ambrose Vs. Jesse. Nic conceded that point.
Nic replenished his poison stocks in his Trump closets, then headed to Chaos. He searched for and found a little, out of the way shadow running at 80:1 suitable for making Trumps in. He did that: two spots in the Abyss, a spot near the new Royal Palace, Roland.
OCTAVIAN IN THE FIRE CASTLE
Octavian Trumped Julian and asked after Greyswandir. He claimed that he was still looking for Corwin. Near as he could tell, Julian bought it. He tried some more to convince Corwin to back Bleys. No luck. He Trumped Raichleach and asked for the details of Oberon's alleged death. The Serpent had claimed it ate Oberon. Octavian did not consider the Icon of a rival Realm a reliable source of information. Therefore, Oberon was probably alive and laughing at them. They discussed the succession and the search for Dworkin. Rai told him that the shadow that had contained the Primal Pattern didn't, any more.
Octavian went to the Grove of the Unicorn, avoiding Julian's patrols, and called Her. She came. If Oberon is dead, devoured by the Serpent, then who should rule Amber? She replied [!SECRET!!] AGH!
RAICHLEACH IN AMBRE
Rai visited Eric then looked for Random. She had to wait as Random was busy in a new whorehouse. Eventually he came out and Rai lectured him about his responsibilities to Morganthe. Tried guilt. Random shrugged it off.
[SECRET STUFF] As a result, Rai set out to walk all the Patterns she hadn't walked before. Someone else was doing the same ahead of her. Volcano Pattern, Lunar Pattern, Star Pattern -- resting longer and longer between each. The Someone Else kissed her on the cheek when she finished. You're a good girl no matter what Syric says.
Rai Trumped back to Cloakworld and briefed her kids about her plans to send them to a fast shadow in Chaos when Jesse was better. They disliked the idea. Boring. Rai found a nice 100:1 buggy paradise for them.
DRACO IN CHAOS
Draco got a fix on Werewindle but had to stop at shadows with toxic atmospheres. He got his wife to follow the trail while he kept in contact via Trump. She found a demonformed fellow who went to attack her. Draco pulled her to safety. He Trumped [Secret] and learned that the fellow with Werewindle was Delwin. Delwin had been harrying Chaosians for ages in an unending vendetta. Delwin wasn't answering Trump calls but Draco eventually tracked him to a livable shadow Ambreside. Delwin said that Werewindle had been given to him just recently and had been extremely useful. As to his vendetta it wasn't against Chaosians in general but concerned specific individuals. Fewer now. He needed some way to disguise Werewindle. Draco told him what he knew about the Cloak. Delwin returned the favor by removing the Deirdre and Oberon cards from Draco's Trump deck, saying that Brand had replaced them at some point.
Draco Trumped Lora to tell her that three of her five vendettees were dead. She was a little disappointed. Next he Trumped Deirdre and went through at her request. She told him of Corwin's return and that she was backing him. Dee felt that Bleys would try to take the crown by force of arms, possibly with Hendrake backing.
Draco returned to Chaos and recruited some demon spies to keep watch on the various houses. His own draconic spies were mostly dead. Some houses, Helgram included, had taken the precaution of regularly killing everything outside their gates. Draco tried silicate spies. Killed. All the houses were building up Ways, armies and their own numbers. Draco visited the Hendrakes and was informed that they weren't supporting Bleys or anyone else. Of course Duke Roland, eldest son of the eldest son of Oberon, had a claim himself. The houses were just now reaching the point where they were rubbing up against one another again.
NICCOLO IN CHAOS
Nic visited Jesse and asked to borrow her Trump deck for an hour or two. She agreed. He combined her deck and his and did a couple of Tarot spreads. Then Jesse used the combined deck for a query of her own. They separated out their cards and Nic tagged along with Jesse for a few hours as she searched for something in the Abyss. Then he broke off to pursue his own business.