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Corinthian of Amber is the horndog bastard son of King Sejanus (H. Claudian; played by Will Chandler) and Daljit (H. Raj). Balthazar (played by Todd Goblirsch) is also a Claudian. Tiberius (played by John Barnes) is the crazy (really, really crazy) nephew of Sejanus. Azriel (played by Noel Chandler) is the daughter of Avril (H. Maven). Brannon (played by John Ellegood) is Piper's son. Vaerrek (played by me) is of Larcan, a minor House in the Courts allied to Helgram. Krista (played by Deb Rebel) is a Helgram. Amethyst (played by Jennifer Jerlstrom) is of the minor Chaosite House Oreen. Corinthian, Azriel, Brannon, Vaerrek, Krista and Amethyst start outside Sejanus' Wall that divides the universe; Balthazar and Tiberius are within it.
CORINTHIAN: ELSENORE, PREWAR
Corinthian finished his wine and cheese, then prowled the castle looking
for someone to have sex with. At Azriel's door he noted the sounds and
smells of a bath in progress. He entered stealthily and started to help
wash her. She objected and chased him off. Unfazed, he went looking for
Azriel's sister Prue. Livilla, also visiting Elsenore, intercepted him
in a hallway and enticed him into her bed while making disparaging
remarks about Azriel.
Their lovemaking was interrupted by the sounds of combat out in the
halls. Corinthian disengaged, took up his sword and ran naked into the
hall. Demons in Helgram forms rushed at him. He fought but his sword did
little damage to his foes. Magical protections?
TIBERIUS: AMBER, AGE TEN
Young Tiberius was blindfolded and placed in a palanquin for transport
to an important ritual site. This turned out to be the strange
underground chamber used to train those of the Blood the rudiments of
shadow-shifting. His Father and most of the rest of his family were
there. The room and its contents seemed to move. Tiberius had to
concentrate on them to stop the disturbing movement. He threw up. His
relatives laughed. His technique improved and he made things. Twisted
things. Other family members joined in manipulating the room. Some
watched Tiberius' doings with concern. He made more monsters and Bad
Things until he tired himself out and slept.
He woke screaming the next day. His nurse comforted and fed him. Cousin
Fusia asked him why all the monsters. At first he denied memory of the
event. Then he said that the monsters 'just happened'. He claimed he had
been inspired by pictures he'd found in his father's dresser drawer. The
pictures weren't really of monsters, but the people in them were doing
terrible things to each other. Fusia left feeling confused and saddened.
Tiberius felt an excess of paranoia. Why the inquisition by his dullard
AZRIEL & CORINTHIAN: ELSENORE, PREWAR
Azriel heard the sounds of fighting half an hour after she'd chased the
odious Corinthian out of her apartments. She strolled out into the halls
and saw the Helgram demons, heard Corinthian and Ving yelling and
fighting. She raised Pattern and started tripping demons, more for the
hell of it than anything else.
"What's going on here?" she demanded of a sprawling demon.
It scrambled up and eyed her warily, "Nothing that should concern you,
"OK." She watched the demons force Corinthian backwards. The didn't seem
to be trying to kill him. She called out, "Leave them alone! Let them
"I need a better reason than that!"
"It's my mother's house!"
Corinthian and Ving retreated slowly. It became clear that the demons
were after Ving, ganging up on him whenever possible. Corin they tried
to get out of the way.
Azriel shouted at Ving, "Now would be a good time to leave! You pissed
my mother off!"
The demons succeeded in separating Corinthian from Ving. Corin mentally
wrote his cousin off. Then Livilla Trumped him and he gladly left the
hopeless fight. "They got poor Ving." He noticed that Daljit was
standing off to the side and bowed. "Hello, Mother. A pleasure to see
VAERREK: LARCANWAYS, THE PRESENT
Vaerrek dreamed -- he hoped it was a dream -- that he was two years old
and standing in his crib, his toys around his feet. A noise had woke him
up, the noise of a man coming out of the chimney across the room. An
enemy had penetrated the House defenses! The spy -- or assassin -- was
dressed oddly in blood red pants and coat, trimmed with bone-white. He
was bearded and rather short, for an adult, carrying a big bag. The
intruder pulled a device made to look like a toy out of his sack and
pressed it on Vaerrek as another little man in red crawled out of the
chimney. There was nothing he could do, he was a helpless infant.
Another identical intruder entered, another... six in all. All but the
sixth offered toys but Vaerrek wasn't having any. The sixth started
collecting Vaerrek's own toys and stuffing them in his sack. Vaerrek
screamed, upsetting the five around his crib. He crawled over the
railing and ran over to the sixth intruder to pee on the man's boots,
there being little more an infant could do.
Vaerrek woke up in a piss-sodden bed. It had made sense in the dream,
curse it. Logrus-sight revealed traces of Pattern (not-quite-right
Pattern) on one of the walls, fading fast, and without any feeling of
personality behind it. Untraceable. He disposed of his bed clothes via
Logrus and Trumped in his mother Thira, an expert Logrus master, to
attempt a trace. She did no better than he had. They alerted the House
against further Pattern intrusions.
BALTHASAR: AMBER, AGE TEN
Balthasar's training ritual came to him as well. He did well, better
than well, he dominated. He overrode or at least influenced most of his
relatives' shapings, one after another. Only Nobe and Fusia and some of
the elders were able to thwart him. He made the buildings of Amber
dance, moved the sea closer and spun the ships like tops... everything
he could think of until dawn.
The next day he was swollen with pride but attempting to appear
nonchalant. He'd thought he was stronger than a lot of his family. Now
he knew he was. And he'd only get stronger.
BRANNON & AZRIEL: ELSENORE, THE PRESENT
Queen Avril, escorted by Brannon, informed Azriel that she'd found the
perfect husband for her and that she wanted Azriel to go meet him.
Azriel (who's motto was something like "So Many Men And All Eternity To
Use Them") objected. Avril persisted. Azriel would meet (and later
marry) Droom Helgram. Brannon was to escort her, lest she get lost.
"All right, Mother. I will meet him and I will do him, and I will dump
him if he doesn't meet my standards!"
Brannon and Azriel left immediately but traveled at a leisurely pace,
hitting strip bars -- where Azriel's own show always blew the local
strippers away -- every night. It took them three days to pass Ygg. They
moved faster after that as Chaosian strip bar equivalents were just a
bit too weird for their tastes. Safe routes (they'd both been to the
Courts before) took them to Thelbane. From there Azriel Trumped them to
their kinsman Uther. Uther told them that Droom Helgram was unsocial and
rather mysterious. He hinted that more information on Droom would be
welcome. Uther saw them to the gates of Helgramways. The demon Ceri let
them in to wait on Lord Droom.
TIBERIUS: AMBER, AGE SIXTEEN
Tiberius endured his coming-of-age ceremony, attended by all the adults
of the family, the speach by King Sepulchrave. The great doors to the
Pattern room opened and Sepulchrave offered him the first real choice of
his life. Walk it or not. Tib went towards the pretty light, snatching
at an apple along the way. Missed. Cora made strange noises. Tib copied
them, then Clarice joined in. He stepped on to the Pattern and began
walking. The sparks shot up. He shrieked. And kept shrieking most of the
way to the middle. Having finished, he stood drooling for a time, then
brightened and wished himself to the apple he'd missed before. He bit in
and pissed himself. Livea looked offended, others gave him black looks
as he was led to his seat. He was given a lot of instruction about his
duties. He didn't listen, concentrating on food and other
conversationss. Something about the Owls sounded bad. Money changed
hands over his performance.
He tried to skip out that night but was caught. He gave them an
incoherent story about how the Fairy Queen wanted him to go to the
Golden Circle. She'd smash his toes if he didn't. Neither his father nor
the King could talk sense into him.
The plan was going well. They all thought he was mad.
AZRIEL & BRANNON: HELGRAMWAYS
Droom entered demonformed but soon switched to that of a handsome,
middle aged man. He was insistant they marry, though he was willing to
give her some time. Azriel went with flighty and slightly offensive,
showing him a picture of what she wanted him to look like. Droom had
another man, Pytti, look her over and leave. Probably a Trump Artist.
Azriel was obviously eager to leave. Droom let her and Brannon leave.20
They Trumped directly to Ygg and discussed the meeting while shifting
towards another strip bar. Brannon insisted that things had gone too
fast. She was betrothed and somehow she'd been screwed. Azriel
maintained that an indefinite later meant Much Later. Centuries, dozens
CORINTHIAN: AMBER, THE PAST
Daljit sent Corin' off to one of her shadows for advanced military
training. This went well for some time. He trained hard and found plenty
of girls. One night he woke up to see intruders all around him in his
tent. The blocked his every move, stunned and spelled him.
He awoke floating on a white oblong in a lake. The sky was white, there
was white deep underneath the water. Far off in each direction was a
high steel-colored wall. He shifted forms and flew high to reconnoiter.
Examined a huge pipe with a water vortex at its base. A gigantic version
of an industrial-era kitchen sink. Maybe the whole kitchen. He couldn't
budge the knobs.
VAERREK & BRANNON & AZRIEL: WANDERING SHADOW, A STRIPPER BAR
Vaerrek took off into Shadow to see if the dreams were aimed at him or
random members of his House. Somewhere past Ygg, on his way to a
favorite shadow, he crossed the path of Patterner shadowwalkers. He
followed the trail to an urban, lively place and a stripper club.
Inside, he immediately saw Azriel of Maven dancing nude under the
spotlight and tarried for a few moments to enjoy the show. Allowing for
the inability to shapeshift, she was probably the best dancer he'd ever
seen. He spotted Brannon of York sipping a whiskey at a corner table.
Vaerrek walked over. Brannon invited him to sit. Azriel had seen. She
joined them, still nude. Vaerrek said he'd been wandering through the
neighborhood and crossed their path. They told him about the betrothal
and asked about Droom of Helgram. Vaerrek didn't know much about Droom.
Most of the Helgrams didn't know much about him. What he'd heard
indicated that Droom was Not The Man With Whom To Fuck. considering
Azriel's habits... "Marrying Lord Droom would be quite the honor. Rather
like leading a glorious doomed charge, or the doomed rearguard. Should
anyone ask, please remember that I told you it would be an honor."
Vaerrek didn't know what Droom's natural humanform was like. (He wasn't
sure what his mother's natural form was, for sure.) He had heard
something of Droom's sense of humor. The man was a traditionalist:
torture of enemies or detractors, elaborate revenge... the Classics.
Vaerrek ended up telling them about the weird Pattern-wrought dream.
Early into it they recognized the Santa Claus elements and explained the
myth to him. He thought it was horrible. Strangers sneaking into every
child's House and leaving packages! And this a fable for children.
He complimented Azriel's dancing talents and sent a waiter for some
pasties. Could she do the cute counter-rotating trick? He'd always liked
that one. Azriel couldn't resist a challenge.
Meanwhile Brannon made quiet arrangements for Santa Clause dancers and
was disappointed with Vaerrek's lack of discomfort.
Brannon and Azriel headed on to Elsenore accompanied by Vaerrek. Vaerrek
turned on Chaos Courtier Suck-up at about 50%; Avril enjoyed that sort
Avril insisted that Azriel and Droom wed within the year. Azriel's
objections went nowhere. Helena and Prue were excited at the prospect of
a big deal wedding. Azriel put the best face on it that she could,
showing them what Droom would look like. Avril confirmed that Pytti was
Droom's Trump Artist.
BALTHASAR & TIBERIUS: AMBER, AGE SIXTEEN
Balthasar's Coming-of-Age was much livelier than Tiberius'. He breezed
through the Pattern imprinting but, as he finished, fires broke out in
the library and between the family and the only exit. Master of Ritual
Barkentine died in the fire. Tiberius conjured the library half full of
sand to douse the fire. It worked. Later he started digging the room out
with pail and shovel, singing. Examination showed that various books on
shadow geography in different parts of the room had all ignited at once.
Balthasar found evidence of oily accelerants on some books and informed
his father Tristan.
"This is much better than when I walked the Pattern. I told you that
fairy was a vicious bitch."
Balthasar mindraped all the guards. None had detected any clues earlier.
Tristan and others took the drooling wrecks to the infirmary. He
suggested Balthasar employ more sublety.
"The Power overwhelmed me. I had to release it." Balthasar replied.
"Me, too," said Tiberius, "But nobody understood."
AZRIEL & VAERREK & BRANNON
After some chitchat -- Beryl was seeing some Lord of Chaos (Vaerrek knew
that she'd been seen at Hendrakeways) and a discussion about sex in the
Courts -- those three plus various other Elsenoreans made a field trip
to the Wall surrounding Amber. Vaerrek had to maintain Logrus Defenses
to stay healthy in its over-whelming Pattern presence. No holes. Some
traces of the Primal Chaos unleashed at it in surrounding shadows.
Brannon came up with an elephantine mech spider for the trip back.
Helena and Prue loved it.
CORINTHIAN: PRISON SHADOW, THE PAST
Corinthian found a big box with a different Pattern inscribed on each
side. He looked it over carefully, then touched a side. Burn! Pain! He
tried another. Burn! More Pain! He noticed movement over by the giant
A cartoon Indian stepped forward, holding up a hand, palm out. "How."
"Shapeshifting, but that isn't important now."
Chief Strikem didn't know the answers to any of Corinthian's important
questions. Most of them confused him. The Chief convinced Corin to help
him track the Pirates -- Captain Hookish Pirates -- who had stolen his
papoose. They went by canoe to the edge of the sink, which was
overflowing, and down the overflow, gravity shifting to keep them in the
canoe as they went. They reached the floor and rode the leak/ river
towards the distant, mountainous fridge.
Livea approached Balthasar about keeping an eye on Kali. Livea suspected
Kali would make trouble and maybe kill people. They came to an agreement
about Balthasar's price.
Balthasar watched Kali cautiously but thoroughly. He discovered that she
was a Conjuror and a Shapeshifter. He seduced Kali's personal maid to
gain access to his target's room. While searching it, he noticed, out in
the courtyard, Sejanus crossing and the cook Swelter spying on him.
Vaerrek flirted with Avril and Helena over dinner. He discussed his
House with Avril -- should the marriage go through they would be allies
through Helgram -- and exchanged Trumps. Avril wanted to meet Petrie Pen
Larcan at some point. She was also interested in finding out who Beryl
was seeing. Vaerrek said he'd look into it. Azriel invited Vaerrek to
join them for Christmas. That brought up the odd dream and let on that
the Pattern residue in his room had matched that of the Wall, not the
version that Elsenore used. Everyone agreed that the Amberites were mad.
Tiberius watched Swelter the cook spy on King Sejanus and then attack
and kill one of Sejanus' advisors with a cleaver. Sejanus immediately
killed Swelter. Sejanus hurried off, frightened that he might be late
for some appointment. Tib took the bodies to the nearest guard station.
The guards were gradually convinced that Tibby wasn't the killer and
sent him on to Dr. Prunesqualor, still dragging the leaky bodies through
the palace. The doctor sent him on to Livea. Livea sent him away. He
Azriel tried to convince Avril to marry her own damned prince of Chaos.
Avril felt that it was ever so much more convenient to have Azriel do
She quarreled with Prue, winning hands down by bringing up Prue's
dalliance with Corinthian. Prue left, acutely embarrassed. Later, Azriel
found that her rooms had been invaded by 100 ferrets. The mess was
CORINTHIAN: PRISON SHADOW
They eventually sighted the Pirates' ship. Corin flew over to it at
night and stole the baby back. Strikem was delighted but still couldn't
tell Corin anything useful.
He explored the room. Found and played with the light switch. Looked
into the freezer -- Strikem called it the Land of Ghosts -- without
finding anything useful.
The weird 'Santa Clause Team Dream' started again. He toddled out of the
crib and relit the fire, burning the evil invaders up. He awoke with his
bedclothes stuffed in the chimney. He Trumped Avril in (her castle was
being invaded, in a way) to scan the power residue. Avril couldn't trace
it but identified it as new-Pattern, Trump and Magic.
Balthasar suspected that someone was trying to frame Kali for murder.
There were letters between Kali and Swelter the cook about distracting
King Sejanus from making an appointment at the Tower of Flint. One Trump
-- he was stealing them -- of an unknown person resonated with massive
psyche. While gathering things up Daljit walked out of a patch of shade
into the room and accused him of burglary. He told her that he was there
on Livea's business. Daljit let him go. He did report to Livea, telling
her that Daljit was in on it. Livea told him about the murder Tiberius
BRANNON & VAERREK: ELSENORE
Brannon noted that Vaerrek looked tired at breakfast, and Prue happy.
Banter fell through as Vaerrek had had another Santa dream. Brannon
suggested he consult the Pattern expert: Beryl. Vaerrek agreed, and
Brannon took him to Queen Beryl to ask for help. Beryl invited them to
stay the night. She and Brannon would watch over Vaerrek's sleep and
catch the phenomenon -- if any -- fresh. Vaerrek reluctantly agreed.
Tibby wandered about the castle with a bloody cleaver asking guards
where the King was. This got him an honor guard of several men.
Eventually he looked farther afield in the old, unused sections and
found Sejanus' corpse on the way to the Tower of Flint. Quite dead, torn
by great claws. Thank goodness for witnesses. He helped bear the king's
body back to the main part of the castle, trading Trump decks as he did
so. Later, he conjured flying monkeys to spy out the Tower of Flint and
the Owls. Most were eaten. He had the survivors dig down through twenty
years of guano to the floor, which turned out to be a concave bowl.
Azriel sent Prue a fine breakfast in bed as per their usual sisterly
making-up rituals. She talked to her mother about the special Jewels she
had been searching for. Avril let her see hers and showed her a bit of
how it worked. Alien. Logrus. They discussed the best areas to seach.
Deep in Chaos, of course.
Azriel took her experienced excavation crew to a spot near the Abyss.
She tracked Logrus powerlines with her Pattern tendrils to select places
Tiberius sent a conjured flying monkey to check out the regicidal Owls
in the Tower of Flint. It didn't last long among the giant birds. His
intent was to make friends with them and then move in. The Owls should
make excellent guardian beasts. He requisitioned a large quantity of raw
rabbits from the castle kitchens, then found Ving. Poor muddled Ving,
he'd make a fine distraction for the Owls if things didn't work out.
Ving was easily persuaded. Another monkey set a grappling hook and they
climbed up to the ledge under the main window. Tiberius tossed rabbits
in one at a time until the Owls stopped squawking over them. Tib told
Ving that the tower would be their clubhouse. Ving thought it was too
CORINTHIAN: SOMEWHERE HE'D LIKE TO LEAVE
Corinthian talked to Miette as they boated down the river. She said that
they were approaching a mined area, but that she had a map of it. Corin
asked why he shouldn't kill Irving the Living Brain. She said that
Irving had sent her the dream telling her to save Corin. They entered a
foggy stretch. Odd noises. Miette said that 'cyclopses' were coming.
Cyclopses were the people who had been capturing street kids (like
Miette) to plug into their machines and fuel the dreams. Corin had them
wait behind a mine and transfer three Stefan-clones into his boat. He
entered the water in shark-form and found the cyclopses' boat.
Reconnoitering in mist-form, he saw his first cyclops -- a fat man with
a clunky, brass mechanical implant over one eye, wearing a trench coat,
studying a map on the bridge. Corin searched the boat via the air ducts.
He found six children pent in one dark room. The second 'cyclops' was
guarding the door from the outside. Quick mind-touches confirmed that
the children were more captured urchins.
Vaerrek and Feddrin compared hallucination-sequences and times. The
times matched, as did their increasing control of the experiences.
Vaerrek explained the significance of the 'santas' in Elsenorean
folklore. They agreed that Patterners were very, very strange. They
chatted about Lord Droom's engagement to Azriel Maven. Feddrin was one
of Droom's associates. He didn't foresee any problems, so long as Azriel
produced a child promptly.
AZRIEL & BRANNON: NEAR THE ABYSS
Azriel and Brannon tried to maintain Trump contact with Kamron during
the latter's search for the source of the spikards. The contact failed
from time to time. Re-establishing contact once again, Azriel saw that
Kamron was under attack by a castle-sized demon. She pulled Kamron out.
Kamron was disappointed; she'd been having fun dodging the giant,
hungry, slow demon. Azriel convinced her that Prue wanted her and sent
Azriel returned to Elsenore to consult with Avril. Ignoring the
Engagement Party preparations, she quizzed her mother about her spikard.
Avril had got hers from an unfortunate, dead family member. Beryl did
not have one of her own. If she did, things would be much worse for
them. She didn't really know who the other spikard owners were. Azriel
complained that she kept finding ones with owners attached. They went
off into Shadow a ways and Avril let Azriel practice -- closely
supervised -- with her spikard. Quite a rush.
Balthazar, looking for a fast exit, tried to get into the Pattern
chamber and failed. He went to Plan B, got a fast horse and rode out. He
headed away from the center, past the Golden Circle kingdoms and reached
the Wall. His first attempt to make a hole destabilized the shadow he
was in; he retreated. A large catman walked up and asked him his
business. Balthazar explained. Skibbleshanks, the catman, didn't
understand: What wall? The catman walked through the wall. Hours later,
Skibbleshanks returned with two catman companions. They told Balthazar
that the wall was all in his mind. Balthazar gave disbelieving in the
Wall a shot and penetrated to an area where all his Trumps went cold.
BRANNON: NEAR THE ABYSS
Kamron returned from visiting Prue. Prue had not, as Azriel had claimed,
wanted desperately to play backgammon. She returned to working towards
Spikard Central, with Brannon monitoring. She got closer and closer. She
stopped to talk to an inquisitive demon named Dolby. Shortly after
returning to work digging closer, the contact broke.
Kamron Trumped Brannon hours later. Dolby had wanted to show her
something without showing he how to get to it herself. This was a large
rock chamber with all the power-lines running into a big blue stone, one
to a facet. Dolby called it God and the power-lines (twenty of them),
God's children. Kamron tried to contact God psychically without success.
The chamber was too hot and the air wrong for humanformed sorts.
Tiberius pacified the Owls with lots of food and moved into the Tower of
Flint once it was sufficiently clean. Someone, usually Titus, came by
every night to feed the Owls. He continued to work with the Master of
Rituals. Deerspike couldn't give him the codes to the wards on the most
secret books without Livea's permission. Livea declined to give
permission. Instead she implanted the knowledge in Tiberius so that when
he needed it, he would know. That was her story and she stuck to it. She
also caught him up on the news. Daljit was healing but out of action.
Balthazar had fled. Some factions were supporting Tristan for the
kingship as he was the best Patternmaster among them.
AZRIEL: IN SHADOW
Azriel learned to do some Logrus tricks with Avril's spikard. It
couldn't do any magic. Avril explained that spikards had a limited
'learning' capacity. One could, Avril told her, bring up the Pattern
while using the spikard for Logrus. Avril joined with her to try to find
another spikard with a Logrus tendril. Azriel got a weird feeling of
loss for a moment. Avril explained that the spikard took a toll in lost
memories. Azriel digested this information and continued the task. They
got close and were subjected to sharp, stabbing mental attacks. Trying
further damaged the power-line they were following -- and hurt them as
well. Azriel switched to tracing the power-line Kamron had been
following. Eventually she ran into a Pattern tendril. OWW! AGGH!
CORINTHIAN: STILL STUCK IN AN INDETERMINATE SHADOW
Corinthian stunned the kids psychically and bundled them into a cargo
net. He broke the door and killed the guard cyclops, then beheaded him
and stripped the man of everything remotely interesting, including a
weird pistol and the optical implant. He killed the steersman, put the
kids into a dinghy, aimed the boat at a mine and towed the dinghy back
to Miette, Irving and the Stefans.
[confusing notes: fix later from Will's notes.] Corin gave Miette the
pistol. She fired it once into the fog to be sure it would work. That
left them with eleven bullets.
Vaerrek agreed to test out the chair Feddrin had made to study the dream
phenomenon. Vaerrek took a nap in it. He found himself on a giant leaf
floating in a huge river. He exerted control over the (presumably) fake
environment and grew to his normal, dragonformed size vis-a-vis leaves.
He flew around a bit, found a waterfall and then disassembled the
hallucination. He had a glimpse of the ugly old man, very dead, and
awoke. Feddrin and Thjarand convinced Vaerrek to reenter the dream. This
time he was in a real-seeming room as a sort of disembodied spirit.
Transparent sarcophagi, one containing the dead old man in a partial
Santa suit. Arcane technomagical devices. The room was rigged with
dynamite on the outside. He tried to feel out just what was enabling his
presence there and got a sense that, whatever it was, it was elsewhere.
He pulled back to Feddrinways. What would happen if the device failed?
Would he die?20
BALTHAZAR: IN THE WALL
Balthazar felt like he was stuck between two places. He worked at
finding or making a crack. Skibbleshanks came by to tsk at him. Trying
to go out wasn't working. He concentrated on Beryl's image as a shifting
destination and managed some progress. Soon he breached the wall. He
found another horse and continued on towards Beryl. He came to a very
nice world with a pretty castle in the distance. Guards stopped him. He
told them that he was escaping from the Tyrant and the Evil Empire.
Incomprehension. "I've escaped from the land of Pattern and I'm claiming
BRANNON: NEAR THE ABYSS
Brannon smelled Logrus and brought up Pattern shields and tendrils. A
Logrus tendril touched him, quite painfully and recoiled. It recovered
and followed the line that he and Kamron were following. Kamron showed
him the crystal room. The spikard-source crystal didn't radiate energy,
it drew psychic energy into itself. Only one power-line was really
active. It felt of Logrus and a strong mind behind it. He had Kamron
strike a different facet with her dagger. The attached line destabilized
for a moment then began fixing itself. There were large areas of 'dead'
crystal, like crumbly quartz. Kamron gathered some and Brannon pulled
her through. She was boisterously happy, planting a big kiss on him and
babbling. He listened with half an ear. He learned that she was terribly
jealous of Azriel and that both Avril and Beryl were accustomed to using
her body as a remote, without permission.
Tiberius met with Mother Eilett, High Priestess of the Church of the
Unicorn. He explained that he was having a "crisis of faith in his
ability to survive" due to delays in Titus' crowning. Eilett revealed
that the Church was negotiating with both Titus' and Tristan's
supporters. They cut a deal: Tiberius would smuggle a chosen priestess
into the Pattern chamber for an attempt to walk it. In return, Titus
would be crowned as soon as possible.
AZRIEL: IN SHADOW, PROBING FOR THE SPIKARD SOURCE
Azriel and Avril analyzed the power-lines they could find. Most led to
the Courts. Two led into the Wall. Tracing the lines in Chaos ran them
into Logrus defenses too strong to breach. Kamron Trumped her while she
was trying to think of other options. Kamron bragged about finding the
blue crystal room with Brannon's help. Avril pulled her through to them.
Kamron showed them her crystals. Azriel convinced Kamron to let her into
her mind in return for a tour of hers. Azriel got a good look at Dolby.
The demon looked like a ball of spikes. And part of Kamron's mind was
securely walled off now.
CORINTHIAN: STILL THERE
The two boats docked at the wharves of a techno-Victorian city. Corin
released the kids, who scattered after spitting on a body on the dock.
Corin scratched Irving the Living Brain's glass tank with his sword.
"How did I get here? How do I get out?"
"Cyclopses found you and brought you in. Kronk was using kids to power
the dreams but you were better."
"How do I get back to my world?"
"The cyclopses used machines they'd brought in."
Miette piped up, obviously upset at Corin's actions, "I was at their
headquarters. I know the way."20
They took shadowy ways into the city, Irving covered by a cloth and the
unconscious Stefan carried by others. Corin broke into a tenement flat
and tied and gagged the occupants. He left Irving and his attendants
there and had Miette lead him to the cyclops' lair. She really was quite
stealthy; he decided to keep her and began to talk her up. Miette
stopped them when they came upon a cyclops van, gaily painted with
clowns and snacks, calliope music playing enticingly. Three cyclopses
exited the van and walked away down the alley.
Vaerrek reentered the 'dream' and studied the lab's devices carefully.
His main discovery was that the two Trump-powered devices in the room
seemed to indicate a very close blood relationship between Feddrin and
himself. That was news to him, and to Feddrin and Thjarand as well. What
the hell, Thira, Vaerrek's mother, always had been vague about his
Beryl agreed to meet him. He produced proof of his origins in the form
of raising Pattern Defense. Beryl touched it with a tendril. She was
most sympathetic to his descriptions of Sejanus' idiocy, Livea's hidden
tyranny, and the clan's general worthlessness. She gave orders to gather
an army. Balthazar told her that time was of the essence because Daljit,
Amber's best general, was temporarily out of action, though he'd failed
to kill her.
Balthazar was assigned large and comfortable quarters with a plethora of
servants to carry tales t their mistress. Helena came to him to ask
about differences between the powers of the old Pattern and the new one.
He led her to believe that they were essentially the same, though she'd
indicated that Defense was an advanced power for them rather than a
"I was one of their best and brightest. They were afraid of my freedom.
They sent Daljit to assassinate me in my bed." He agreed to try to take
an army through the Wall with him.
BRANNON: SKYE, ELSENORE
Brannon took his share of the crystals to his own place, Shadow Skye,
for study. They had no power, he decided, but might make decent fakes.
He Trumped to Beryl's castle and found himself in the midst of
pandemonium. He quickly caught up on the (remarkably accurate) rumors
concerning their visitor and the Queen's plans to invade Amber. He
talked to Beryl, who told him that she had touched Balthazar's mind.
Balthazar believed it. Livea could have given him false memories though.
Livea was good at that sort of thing. Brannon asked to talk to her in
private. She agreed. He told her of the chamber of the spikard-stone..
Brannon thanked Beryl for allowing him to accompany the invasion force.
Beryl had decided to risk an army of ten thousand on this throw of the
dice. He went down to meet the Claudian scum.
The army camped by a chosen section of the Wall.
Livea agreed with the plan to let a priestess assay the Pattern. She
sent him to get the key from Claudio, the guardsman in charge of it.
Tiberius tried his hand at conjuring a Key Forger in the Tower of Flint.
No joy. Dresses all in black, with a curling mustache painted on his
lip, he let Sister Portia in at the assigned time. Claudio cooperated,
happy with the unexpected and very substantial bribe Tiberius gave him.
Claudio expertly selected one magicked key from a hundred out of a wall
panel and opened the great doors.
Tiberius examined Sister Portia for the family features. "Just out of
curiosity, who were your parents? I assume you have some of the Blood in
you. I won't tell."
Portia gave him a careful look. "You're the one they talk about." She
began. She didn't blow up right away. At the fourth Veil there was a
bright blue flash -- but she was still there. The blue flash reoccured
at each Veil thereafter but she made it to the center alive. She was
exhausted yet glowing with triumph when she closed her eyes and
Tiberius walked the Pattern himself to take advantage of the rare
opportunity to wash himself clean of any compulsions he might have
picked up. He walked it. Tiberius was surprised to find nothing but the
little one blocking his memory of the library ward-codes; that
information was his now. He waited in the center until he regained his
breath and wished himself to Mother Eilett's meeting room. It was dark,
empty. He walked the halls, singing loudly, until guards came. He talked
his way into an impromptu audience with Mother Eilett and twenty of her
flunkies. He reported Sister Portia's success and offered to get Eilett
herself into the Pattern chamber. She seemed to like the idea.
AZRIEL: IN SHADOW
Azriel and Avril questioned Kamron about conditions at the
spikard-source. They decided that Avril and Azriel would go there. Avril
could shapeshift and would protect Azriel with sorcery. Kamron would
monitor via Trump. Avril had a Trump made from Kamron's memories. They
Trumped to the chamber and began tracing and cataloging the power-lines.
One line went down, into the Abyss. They traced it and soon came under
attack. Avril said that the attackers were probably Abyssites and made
Logrus Servants to block them. They reached the end of the line. Avril
could feel the spikard at the end but it was too 'slippery' to grab.
CORINTHIAN: IN THE SHADOW OF HIS CAPTIVITY
The cyclops driver had stayed with the van. Miette hid expertly in the
back. Corin misted under the hood. The four other cyclopses returned,
each carrying an unconscious child. The cyclopses drove to an apparently
empty warehouse and took the children (including Miette) to elevators.
Corin followed them deep underground. The cyclopses joined a mass
meeting where they cheered the Head Cyclops and a human-looking woman on
the dais. These leaders spoke of Kronk's work in bringing down the Wall
so that they could travel to the outside world.
--Corin freed Miette.--
The speech went on about finding another fine subject: Balthazar.
--Corin caught the woman's scent and realized that she was his original
captor. He misted up to the catwalk over the stage.--
The woman finished her speech and raised Pattern. Corin caught her legs
with a bolas shot and leapt down to the stage. He ran the Head Cyclops
through while she cut free of the bolas and ran. He pursued. She started
pulling herself somewhere with a Pattern Tendril. Corin jumped, caught
her purple robe and went with her.
Back in the dream. Vaerrek followed a dragonflyer through several
environments to another 'real' lab. He searched it and found another
Trump device. Feddrin couldn't Trump the thing out. Vaerrek reluctantly
tried the thing out and found himself looking into a long, dark
corridor. He didn't go through, thinking of just how many steps away
from his body that would be.
BALTHAZAR & BRANNON: THE WALL
Balthazar Trumped an Elsenorean soldier into the mid-wall zone. It
worked, but the man was frozen in stasis. Balthazar felt like he was
moving a bit slow himself. Catmen (who Balthazar suspected were
hallucinations) watched from a short distance. He sent the staticized
soldier back through.
Brannon tried pushing Pattern tendrils through the crack in the Wall
Balthazar had made. They tended to slow down but he gradually got better
at keeping them useful.
Balthazar ran an Amber peasant through to the Elsenore side. The man was
so accelerated he died of dehydration in minutes.
Brannon suggested that family members go through and recruit an army on
the other side. He Trumped to Beryl to report. Beryl agreed. She ordered
three Yorks, Ross, Valentine and Keegan, to go to Amberside and raise an
Keegan learned that both Brannon and Balthazar intended to stay on
Elsenore's side of the wall. She and her cousins insisted that one of
them stay between, where all the Trumps worked.
VAERREK & CORINTHIAN: SOMEWHERE IN VIRTUAL SHADOW
Vaerrek, dragonformed, examined the megalithic Trump construct from
several angles, hoping that Feddrin and Thjarand (watching remotely via
Trump) were getting something out of it. Three people stepped out from
behind a pillar. Three more Trumped out of it -- a woman, a man --
Corinthian -- clutching her cloak and a girl-child hanging onto the
man's ankle. The lady slipped out of Corin's grasp as he stared at the
man-sized dragon. She assumed a defensive stance. Corin threw a spiked
bolas at her ankles. She dodged and a man from the first group went down
instead. Corin recognized one of the men as one of his captors and
switched to the form of an acid mist to spritz him, then to his
demonform to pummel him. Vaerrek marked Corin as an enemy-of-his-enemies
and picked the fastest of the others, swooping down for a probing
attack with claws, tail and sharp wing-scales.
BALTHAZAR & BRANNON: INSIDE THE WALL-WORLD
Balthazar questioned the catmen until they became bored and wandered
away. Brannon observed, then went out for catnip. Balthazar tried other
cat toys. They learned next to nothing. Two days later Ross returned and
reported that Keegan and Valentine had been captured when they
approached Amber too closely. The B-boys healed the Wall closed and went
back to Elsenore with Ross.
Among Ross' information: the physical layout of Amber was greatly
changed. Rebma and Tir-na Nog'th were not there. Shapeshifting was
slowed in its vicinity. Amber was only about eight shadows from the
Wall. Elsenore Trumps were warm and inoperable there. Their Pattern
tricks had worked there. The place hadn't seemed to be quite the
hellhole that Balthazar had described. Queen Beryl found all this
Brannon suggested that they needed to draw a new Pattern. Beryl said
that Dworkin had used the Eye of the Serpent to do it; she assumed that
Sejanus had it. Balthazar told them that Livea had the Eye and used it
all the time, occasionally lending it to Daljit. Beryl seemed to believe
him. Balthazar urged that Valentine and Keegan, doubtless now
mind-controlled dupes of Livea, should be killed on sight. Debriefing
concluded, Beryl dismissed all of them but Brannon.
Beryl informed that Avril was trying to acquire a spikard via Azriel's
efforts. She sent him to go interfere with it. Poor, mindfutzed Brannon
retraced a lot of his steps to the Abyss.
CORINTHIAN & VAERREK: VIRTUALSHADOW
All of the four opponents raised Pattern defenses, one New, three Old. A
Pattern-defended woman shoved Corinthian away from the man he was
beating. The first woman he'd attacked was approaching with a sword.
The New Pattern woman spoke up, "Mr.. Corinthian, we apologize profusely
for what we had to do to you. We learned what we had to know."
Meanwhile Vaerrek's probing attack was going nowhere. The guy was good
and he'd fought draconics before. New Pattern Woman knew who he was too,
"Lord Vaerrek-- back off!"
"Who the hell are you?" Vaerrek had noticed that the four were wearing
garments Unicorn church officials. Vile, unclean, un-Serpentish...
Vaerrek and Corinthian filed that away. Vaerrek wondered if he could
manipulate this environment and Get Large -- and if they could too. He
tried, it worked. He stopped at eighty feet long. The two male opponents
started growing too, but not as well. Vaerrek showed them a toothy
smile. "Some other time." and prepared to leave -- Portia was doing
something arcane. Vaerrek whisked himself away with Corinthian and his
waif tagging along. Vaerrek faded out...
AZRIEL & BRANNON: IN THE SPIKARD GEODE NEAR THE ABYSS
Azriel and Avril sent Kamron in to grab the tendril-resistant spikard.
Brannon, monitoring some of this via Pattern tendril, grabbed on and was
dragged down with Kamron into painful, then potentially lethal
environments before he let go and retreated. Azriel-wearing-Kamron got
it but was badly wounded in the process. Brannon noted the return and
tried to intrude. Azriel pushed him away with Avril's stealthy help,
giving Brannon an inflated impression of her psychic strength.
Brannon reported Azriel's success to Beryl via Trump. Beryl probed and
informed him that Avril was with Azriel. Meanwhile Azriel helped her
mother block Beryl's Trump call. Beryl Trumped Brannon and pulled him
through to Elsenore before a gargantuan spiked ball (D'Olby) could reach
Azriel, Avril and Kamron returned to Castle Howard. Azriel Trumped her
fiancE9e Droom and invited him to visit. Now. He was happy to come.
Azriel was pleased to see that he'd assumed the studly form she'd
requested. Azriel asked him to check over the castle defenses since they
anticipated that Beryl might attack at any moment. Droom did this
gladly, especially since, he said, Beryl had been seeing Arvi Hendrake
and was trying to marry Helene to Querine Oreen.
While Droom surveyed the castle and its troops, Azriel and Avril checked
out the new spikard. It was mostly untrained and had only a little
Votes shifted and things happened quickly. Titus was crowned by the end
of the day. Livea was very pleased with Tiberius. They plotted together.
Livea was not worried about Portia (whom she thought was not a family
member) but Mother Eilett was another matter. Tiberius suggested
something pleasingly pyrotechnic. Livea decided to set a trap an
authorized Tib to arrange for Ving and Mother Eilett to walk the
Pattern. Their conversation veered off to walking through walls and
Editing Tiberius to make him taller. Livea sent Tib to summon Ving. He
sent the poor, brain damaged guy to Livea shadowed by one of his flying
monkeys. Monkey-vision showed Livea escorting Ving to the Pattern room.
Vaerrek, Thjarand and Feddrin discussed the events. None knew much about
Unicorn priests or had heard of Portia. Thjarand made him some sketches
(not Trump Sketches) of Portia and the others.
Beryl ruled out a direct assault on her sister. She Suggested (the Royal
'suggested') Brannon insinuate himself with Avril and Azriel. He went to
Castle Howard and ran into a madhouse of military preparation. He was
told that Princess Avril expected attack from Queen Beryl's forces. Lord
Droon had been given authority to organize the defenses. Brannon found
Lord Droon, wearing the form Azriel had requested, re-posting guards to
superior positions. They exchanged pleasantries, then Brannon went in
search of the ladies.
CORINTHIAN: LOCATION UNKNOWN
Corinthian and Miette fell away from Vaerrek when the giant dragon went
immaterial. They glided (he glided, she rode him) down to the ground on
a snowy hillside in the middle of a snowstorm. He shielded Miette with a
wing while he tried his Trumps. No response from Daljit. Dad's was warm.
The Castle Amber Trump worked -- but took him to the wrong place.
Mediterranean summer climate, sea air, a large Classical-Renaissance
Romanesque city with several big palaces atop the hills. He assumed the
form of a large dog and walked with Miette towards the largest palace.
That one flew the Claudian House banner and the one next to it flew that
of his own House Raj. Guards converged as they mounted the steps before
the great palace. Corin turned back into himself and announced his
identity. The guards sent for an officer. Corin tried Daljit's Trump
again. No. Livea's was warm. Ving's...
AZRIEL, BRANNON: ELSENORE
Azriel discussed the training of spikards with her mother. She suggested
they try to teach it to drain psychic energy off all the other spikard
powerlines and send it to the wearer. Avril thought Azriel could try
that on her own.
Brannon found them. It was soon clear to Azriel and Avril that Brannon's
memory had been tampered with. They slowly convinced Brannon of that and
managed to jog a few memories loose. Kamron confirmed that she and he
had gone spikard fishing. Brannon's opinion of Beryl hit the toilet.
Tiberius heard about the captured Outsiders and went to visit them. He
took a long stick. They were unconscious. He poked Keegan awake. Their
conversation started with whether or not they were really cousins, took
a detour about what were bastards and was Tib one? Keegan wondered how
the Claudians could possibly have won. Tib asked her if she and
Valentine wanted to walk the Pattern there. She agreed to his terms --
to not kill save in self defense or defense of Tiberius -- and he said
he'd do his best to arrange it.
VAERREK, BALTHAZAR: ELSENORE, CASTLE BLENHEIM
Queen Beryl introduced Vaerrek and Balthazar. Balthazar said he was
convinced that Amber would soon attack Elsenore.
Vaerrek privately showed the sketches to Beryl. She identified them as
Portia, Opal, Mercedes and Morgan, all priests of the Unicorn, plus Lord
Corinthian. The child was unknown. Corinthian was known for his lusty
nature. He'd disappeared at the beginning of the war.
BALTHAZAR: ELSENORE, CASTLE BLENHEIM
Balthazar carefully searched his rooms for spy devices and eliminated
them. Next he wandered around the castle. He found the dungeons and
talked his way in. He interviewed the prisoners. The guards watched him
BRANNON & AZRIEL: NEAR THE ABYSS
Retracing his steps jogged a few memories clear, but not enough. Azriel
suggested Brannon visit Aunt Verity to see if she, the family's number
two compulsion expert, could get them off. Brannon and Verity were
willing. Verity got everything off but the block on the memory of Beryl
actually meddling with Brannon's head. Verity advised Brannon to avoid
the Queen. Brannon agreed easily since he only wanted to get close to
Beryl when he stuck the knife in her.
Azriel took Brannon off to the Shadow Where Avril Practices Spikard
Tricks and tried her new toy out. Quite A Rush. She and Brannon worked
out how to use it together. <Wonder Twin powers -- activate!>
Ving answered his Trump. Ving was now a happy idiot. Corin wasn't sure
if that was a regular thing or temporary. Ving was with Livea, he had a
little happything, images of Owls, birdshit, the castle, tree-fort, his
Best Buddy Tiberius Who Understands -- Ving's chaotic thoughts leaked
all over the place. Corin cut the contact. Kali came down the steps with
three guys about Corin's age. Corin gave her a hug and Kali made sure it
really was him. She maintained the link to bring Corin up to speed. He'd
been gone a long time and a lot had happened, ending up with Sejanus
dead and Titus crowned the previous evening. Corin suggested that they
(he) could take the throne since he was ????'s son. Kali didn't think
that they had enough support. Also, Daljit had gone to ask Balthazar
(who? he thought) to find Corin but Balthazar had attacked her. She was
badly injured. Corin vowed to hunt him down like a dog. Kali went to
arrange for Corin to walk the Pattern while he visited his mother.
Daljit was slime in a vat, recuperating. He made psychic contact. She
was muzzy but glad he was back. She agreed to teach him shapes capable
AZRIEL & BRANNON: IN SHADOW
They went together to the Spikard Geode Cave. They experimented with
trying to drain powerlines without much success. They severed a
powerline and connected it to a dead crystal with Pattern tendrils. It
seemed to work while the crystal actually touched the powerline's facet.
Kali intercepted Tiberius to ask for the loan of the key to the Pattern
room. He told her she could join the others scheduled for that evening.
What others? Eilett, the prisoners, her, Tib himself. She said she would
be there. They discussed his Flint Tower Club. She objected to their No
Girlz Allowed policy. Tib told her that she wasn't a girl, she was a
woman and she could join. She said she would. They parted.
Tib sent a note to Livea via monkey-mail: Evil Aunt Kali wants to walk
the Pattern with Eilett. I don't know what to do. A reply reached him
via servant within half an hour, saying that she'd take steps.
He visited Eilett to suggest she come early since he was being spied
upon these days. He told her he wanted to see the Unicorn. Virginity was
a requirement. No problem there. And he'd have to swear an oath to serve
the church. He didn't quite agree.
Tib visited Ving and found out that Livea had instructed him to walk the
Pattern and then make a special wish -- what wish she'd tell him later.
VAERREK: ELSENORE, CASTLE BLENHEIM
Vaerrek and Beryl discussed the Unicorn priesthood and Pattern
initiation. With the old Pattern it was thought that anyone with
sufficient psychic strength could walk it. The new had been designed to
BALTHAZAR: ELSENORE, CASTLE BLENHEIM
After wandering around for hours convincing the staff that he was a loon
Balthazar heard a rumor that a Chaos lord was helping Avril. He strolled
over to Castle Howard and was stopped by soldiers. His reputation had
preceded him. They, too, thought he was at least a little mad. Lord
Droom came over and introduced himself. They talked for a bit and Droom
let him in.
BRANNON & AZRIEL:
The replacement crystal didn't feel right. It showed no signs of
developing a closer bond with the facet. Brannon wanted raw stones.
Where did they come from? Azriel sent an Abyssal imp off to find D'Olby.
D'Olby told them that he had found the geode cave, not created it. The
stones were supposedly from a sister site to the geode which had
exploded. The fragments were spikard stones.
They probed the powerlines leading off towards the realms of order. One,
flavored with Logrus and shapeshifting, was Avril's. The others led into
the Wall. Azriel wanted a way through the Wall. Brannon maintained that,
having met Balthazar, he liked the Wall. They returned to Elsenore.
Kali told him they had an appointment at the Pattern room for ten in the
evening. Corin arrived stealthily at seven. He hid in the burnt library
and waited patiently. After a while he had a feeling that there might be
someone in the room with him. Someone really, really good. He misted out
into the antechamber -- empty of people -- and back to the library.
AZRIEL & BRANNON: ELSENORE, CASTLE HOWARD
They arrived in time to meet Balthazar when Droom escorted him to see
Avril. Avril inquired as to his House. Balthazar claimed that he
couldn't be sure, what with Livea's constant mindbending. Also that
their Pattern powers were stronger than those of most Amberites. Did
they plan to draw a new Pattern for their own use? They were working on
it. Did Balthazar know where the Jewel of Judgement might be. Livea had
it. He didn't know why she should be its keeper and had learned to not
ask questions in the Evil Empire.
TIBERIUS, CORINTHIAN: AMBER
Tib visited Keegan and Valentine again and passed them two conjured
daggers. He explained how to get to the Pattern room past the guards in
his real, sane voice. They were a little shocked.
Tib (wearing enchanted armor and with a monkey along to guard his back)
met Mother Eilett and her priestess escort at the entrance to the
Pattern antechamber. He offered to go first to demonstrate. She agreed.
He made it and wished himself to Mother Eilett's rooms in the temple.
The back-guarding monkey watched from a hiding place.
Corin saw a guy from one of his new family Trumps come in and wait. Two
priestesses met him and they went in to the Pattern room together. The
man walked the Pattern and disappeared. The younger priestess went out
to wait at the outer room. The elder priestess began walking it as soon
as he vanished from the center. Livea and Ving walked in and watched.
Halfway through, the Pattern walker stumbled, screamed Oh my god! and
glowed around the edges, then exploded. A blue gem hit the ground where
she had been. Ving giggled. Livea handed something to Ving and he
started walking the Pattern. Ving approached the dropped blue gem.
Livea's attention was focused on Ving and Corinthian jumped her from
behind and knocked her out. Corin looked up to see that Ving had picked
up the blue stone. Ving had the Jewel of Judgement in his other hand.
Corinthian heard guards coming. Probably alarmed by the priestess'
shriek. He found Livea's keys rushed over to close the big bronze doors.
A guard, a strong guard resisted. Corin slashed him through the gap. The
man fell away and Corin got the doors shut and locked. He searched Livea
for Trumps and anything else of interest. Done, he picked her up and
heaved her out onto the Pattern. She'd barely exploded into sparks when
he started walking it himself. It was hard, just as difficult as he'd
been told. He made it. He wished himself to Kali's rooms as soon as he
could concentrate. Kali was happy that Livea was dead, not happy that
Corin had been seen. She doubted that this was a good time to make a run
at the throne. Shit. He pulled out Ving's Trump and tried it. Nothing.
He went through Livea's deck.
VAERREK & BALTHAZAR & AZRIEL & BRANNON: ELSENORE, CASTLE HOWARD
They decided to check out the Wall again. Balthazar walked right through
it, others bounced off. Balthazar Trumped them through to Inside the
Wall. Azriel and Vaerrek froze up. Azriel slowly regained her mobility
and was normal after half an hour. Vaerrek started to melt -- a
shapeshifting thing. Some of the catmen found this curious, possibly
amusing. Brannon widened the entry hole to thirty feet across. Brannon
and Azriel checked on spikard powerlines. The one that she and Brannon
had severed earlier had changed owners. It was now redolent of Ving.
Sloppy, moron Ving, but still Ving. The other leading in to Amber had
not changed. They cut it. Vaerrek got passed back outside via Trump. He
recovered immediately but declined to go back in as a manikin. The
remaining group entered Amber's domain. This turned out to be a hallway
full of industrious people scurrying about.20
Corinthian split after checking on Daljit's care. He set off into Shadow
and soon ran into Keegan and Valentine on their way towards the Wall.
All three displayed shiny new New Pattern. They recognized each other
after a bit. Corin had slept with Keegan once but she had changed
considerably, and she hadn't seen Corin in half a century. They threw in
together and reached the Wall. Following Balthazar's vague descriptions
of how he'd done it, Keegan led them through the Wall. The met some
catmen Inside. Corin shifted to combat form. The catmen loved that,
they'd never seen anything like it aside from the melty guy, and he was
AZRIEL & BRANNON & BALTHAZAR: SHADOW CASTRAVALVA
A man met them in the busy hallway and introduced himself as Varley,
Librarian of Castravalva. Balthazar demanded and got a map. Castravalva,
it seemed, was an Escheresque folded-space kind of place about the size
of a very large castle. According to Varley it had been made by God.
Azriel Trumped Ving. Ving answered. He was happy, brainless and talking
to someone. She went for mental control and just missed intercepting him
give the blue crystal spikard to a strange looking fellow Ving knew as
Tiberius. Ving's mind leaked: images of Livea, winged monkeys, the Jewel
of Judgement. Ving had just left the Jewel in a very white shadow as
Livea had instructed him. Tiberius wanted Ving to accompany him back to
the white place. Azriel yanked Ving through the contact. She told
Brannon and Balthazar about the Jewel and this white land. She and
Brannon sent out Pattern tendrils to find it. They did, or thought they
did, but their tendrils slowed and stuck as if time were stopped there.
TIBERIUS: IN SHADOW
Tiberius found the white shadow and cautiously sent in a monkey to test
the waters. Gone. Cool. Might be able to get Kali this way. He Trumped
back to Amber and went to the Temple of the Unicorn. Tib told Priestess
Petra that he was ready to start his training and, by the way, Mother
Eilett was dead. Livea too. Kali had killed them both. Sent some man in
Corinthian's colors, but not Corinthian, to do it. He'd seen it through
his monkey's eyes. Petra was horrified. His training was delayed.
Guards reported that Corinthian had killed Livea. The members of House Raj had fled the city.
Tib Trumped Ving. He was with cousin Azriel. She was pretty. She didn't
have sex with cousins.
VAERREK: NEAR THE WALL
Vaerrek and Lord Droom talked while inspecting the initial
fortifications. Vaerrek explained about the annoying stasis effect. They
marveled at Balthazar's trip hazard. Droom said that there were
indications in the Courts that the Hendrakes were about to make a
preemptory strike at Amber. Elsenore was the logical staging ground.
Hence Droom's efforts to shore up Castle Howard's defenses. Queen Beryl
was dealing with Hendrake and might take advantage of the situation to
squash her sister.
TIBERIUS: AMBER PALACE
Tiberius hid his spikard in owl dung and went to see Titus. Titus told
him about Livea's funeral and Tib's place in the ceremony. Tibby told
Titus that Ving had been abducted by strange people. He showed Titus the
Trump of one -- Azriel. Titus called in Valery to hear the news.
Tiberius added that Ving had thrown a funny jewel into a strange white
land. Valery examined the Trump of the White Place and declared it very
unusual. Tiberius suggested it was booby trapped. Tiberius convinced
Titus to outlaw Kali and her kin. It wasn't hard. They assessed the
threat posed by the Rajs. Minimal until Daljit recovered. Tiberius
recovered his Trump and left.
Tiberius visited the Master of Rituals. He told him that they had new
Pattern initiates around, the priestess Portia for one. The MR denied
that Portia was a priestess. Tibby implicated Corinthian in the escape
of the two captive Elsenorean spies. The MR told him that Corinthian had
long been exiled by his mother for his sexual excesses. Tib told the MR
that he'd soon be joining the Unicorn priesthood. The MR had never heard
of any male priests before. The MR suggested that Tiberius search out
Clarice, who'd been missing her Rituals for a while. Or go track down
one of the Raj traitors. Tibby told him he'd listen to the Voices to
know what to do.
Tiberius spent some time in the Tower of Flint making a fake spikard.
Next he visited the Unicorn Temple and found that he was to be ritually
purified. He was bathed and all his hair shaved off. They showed him to
the candidate's room where he would be doing his studies for the
priesthood, then let him go back to his duties for the King.
AZRIEL, BRANNON AND BALTHAZAR: SHADOW CASTRAVALVA
The group found no way out of Castravalva save the way they'd come in,
via the Wall. Azriel caused a stir by shapeshifting in public. They
examined their Trumps but couldn't bring themselves to use them short of
an emergency. Balthazar was quite elated to find that Livea's Trump was
warm -- the bitch was dead! Probably. Brannon convinced them to reenter
the Wall and make an exit some ways from Castravalva. That worked.
Azriel and Brannon went out into the desert shadow they'd found while
Balthazar stayed behind to talk to the catpeople.
Brannon sent out tendrils searching for the White Place the Jewel of
Judgement (probably) had been ditched in. Azriel sent hers out to locate
the weaker of the two Patternside spikard users, following the
powerline. They argued about which object to pursue first. Azriel made
contact to a person using New Pattern, someone with a psyche rivaling
hers. Brannon backed her up mentally. More mentallists joined in on the
other side, making it four to two. The main contact identified herself
as Portia and demanded that Azriel quit cutting spikard powerlines.
Portia identified herself as an ally of the Claudians, then noted that
Azriel had a spikard herself. Portia cut Azriel's powerline. Azriel
ripped at Portia's line and broke it, then went to her knees convulsing,
puking, incoherent. Brannon carried Azriel back through to Wall and met
Vaerrek and Lord Droom there. Droom showed concern for his fiancee.
Brannon told him it was a power feedback effect and that he knew how to
deal with it.
Brannon took Azriel to near Ygg and waited for the powerline to
reestablish itself. They moved to a place with a nightclub where Azriel
soon recovered herself. Next they reported to Avril that they and Ving
knew where the Jewel of Judgement was. Avril was extremely interested
and reamed Ving's mind for details. The White Place confused her. Avril
made arrangements and the three trooped off to the Wall. Vaerrek joined
them on their expedition -- Avril was reliable. Back into the Wall.
Avril slowly unfroze. Vaerrek very slowly unfroze. Through to the
desert. Azriel couldn't find Portia's spikard powerline -- no getting
Momma Avril to mindblast her. She sent a tendril to find the other
spikard. When she neared contact her tendril was agonizingly shredded by
something. Once she could concentrate, she used her spikard to alter her
senses. Pain became pleasure. She toned it down to sub-orgasmic levels
thinking This is great! She tried again more cautiously, with Brannon's
tendril and Vaerrek's Logrus sight following. Vaerrek got a vision of a
great palace on a hill, a place of absolute REALITY, extremely
anti-chaotic. Brannon shouted in pain while Azriel had another orgasm.
Vaerrek -- his Sight well back from that palace -- saw huge birds
ripping the tendrils to shreds. He couldn't tell what the tendrils'
exact target had been. He pulled his Sight back and told them, after
Brannon and Azriel had calmed down, what he'd seen. Avril said that
Sepulchrave had kept great Owls.
TIBERIUS: AMBER PALACE
Tiberius, back in the Tower of Flint and feeling really, really clean,
felt a wash of alien power and the Owls went berserk, flying out in a
storm of dung which he barely avoided. He ordered some of his monkeys to
clean up and went out to see what was up. Alarm bells gonged, guardsmen
screamed. Family members ran out to help or observe. The Owls shredded
transparent tendrils of something that reached from beyond sight over
the city walls. Tiberius gathered some samples of tendril-stuff for
experiments. He noted that both tendrils had pointed straight at the
Tower. Someone after the Blue Stone?20
Tiberius set off into Shadow. He couldn't get a sense of direction for
Kali, Daljit or Corinthian. He did lock onto Liam and Noel. He caught up
to them in a jungle, fighting each other. They were naturally hostile.
He told them that he'd only agreed to look for them, not bring them in.
Furthermore there'd been an assault on the Palace by foreign powers.
This would be a very good time to come back and join in the defense of
Amber against outsiders. They decided to try, if Tiberius would go with
On the way back Tibby mentioned he'd had his nuts shaved by a sweaty,
oily guy. Oddly, they didn't ask for any more information.
AZRIEL, BRANNON AND VAERREK: THE WALL AND TO AMBER
They decided to shadow walk to the palace containing their objectives.
Vaerrek let the others do the work; he was pretty sure that Logrus made
big,noisy waves in this region. The land route dead-ended at Shadow
Solimar and a supposedly impassible forest. Avril and Azriel noted that
Solimar felt more Real than Old Amber. Their Pattern tendrils assumed a
physical form here. Avril found that really upsetting. A quick foray
into the forest convinced them to go by sea. They mugged people for
money and purchased passage to Amber. Avril and Azriel questioned Ving
about changes in Amber. He told them that Rebma had lost its Pattern and
its enchantments that allowed people to live there. It was a ruin.
Tir-na Nog'th no longer appeared in the sky. They wanted to know how to
get past the Owls. Ving claimed the Owls as his friends and told them
all about Tiberius and their No Girlz club. While stopping over in
Shadow Xedra they grew impatient and sent Ving to Amber via Trump, then
Trumped through to him.
Vaerrek's chaosian nature caused him to stink in Amber. So noticeably
that he let Avril shapeshift his aura until he didn't -- which left him
unable to summon the Logrus. Amber City was in an uproar over the
Tentacle Attack, with inquisitive guardsmen everywhere, chattering
commoners and stands selling tendril shred souvenirs. They sent Ving
into the Palace with Azriel riding along in his head via Trump. The
contact was severed as soon as Ving entered the Palace grounds. They
scurried away and Avril disguised their auras. Loud alarms sounded and
whole troops of guardsmen converged on the intruders' former position.
Systematic searches began combing the city. Vaerrek slipped into the bay
and swam away underwater in dragonform. Once he was well out of sight he
switched to flying and once over the horizon Logrused himself to Shadow
Xedra. He Trumped Avril and the group through to join him. Avril
transported them back to the desert and they made their way through the
Wall. They discussed what to do about Portia, whom Vaerrek identified as
one of the Santa Dream controllers. Azriel wanted to make her an ally.
TIBERIUS: AMBER PALACE
Tristan mindprobed Ving and learned about Balthazar, the Elsenoreans,
Avril, Azriel, Brannon, and Vaerrek. High level planning ensued with
Tiberius listening in. Valerius set off to start fortifying the breaks
and known openings in the Wall.
Tiberius talked to Antoine. Antoine, searching for Clarice, had found
huge, unsuspected, subterranean levels of the Palace. He'd heard calls
for help at one point. Tib agreed to help Antoine search later in the
day. He went to the Basilica for some priestly study. He learned that
Sepulchrave had been the child of the Unicorn, a creature that Dworkin
had found and tamed. Tibby believed every word. The time came to search.
Tiberius gathered a huge backpack full of food, all of his monkeys and
joined Antoine. Antoine led him to a hidden hallway leading under the
library. Tiberius ordered a regular trail of monkey poop. After a while
Tib calculated that they should be under the ocean. They zeroed in on
the sense of Clarice and Cara until they heard the girls' voices behind
a barred door. Antoine opened it, Tiberius saw an axe flying towards
them. Duck! Antoine went down from a grazing gash. It flew at Tiberius
next. He fended it off with his cleaver, which broke. Its next pass ran
it into Tiberius' Pattern Defense. It fell at his feet. He picked it up
and checked the room. Cara and Clarice were near panic. Master of
Rituals Deerspike had told them that there was plague in the City and
Palace and talked them into hiding there. Deerspike hadn't been by to
feed them in over a week. Tiberius told them that there was no plague.
Perhaps, he told them, thinking fast, it was some sort of ritual. Cara
and Clarice asked Tiberius to keep it quiet. Tiberius carried Antoine
while they carried his pack, wolfing down the food as they walked back
to the main part of the Castle.
BRANNON, VAERREK AND AZRIEL: THE WALL
Azriel suggested they go find Portia's dreamtrick power source. Vaerrek
shared his impression of it. Azriel and Brannon took turns shifting
shadow, leading to a shadow with a fiery sky and marshy ground. The
source consisted of a low stone circle rising just out of the marsh,
enclosing six curved monoliths that formed something like the skeleton
of a bowl. Azriel finessed them through the wards. They examined the
monoliths. Each gave off a separate psychic impression. Brannon tossed a
marsh-eel at one. The eel vanished into it, something like a Trump Gate.
That monolith felt like Corinthian. Concentrating on it, they found that
they could view some of Corinthian's memories, and fast-forward through
them. They saw bits of Corinthian's imprisonment and eventually his
murder of Livea. Another monolith yielded Vaerrek's memories. Another
had Feddrin's. Ving's. Drusus'. Eventually they got to real-time
Corinthian and Ving. Ving was with Tristan, Valery and someone they
didn't recognize. Ving seemed to sense their regard. He turned and
looked towards them. More people moved into Ving's area, including one
hairless man -- the man who'd had the spikard, now shaved.
TIBERIUS: AMBER PALACE
Tiberius learned a little more from Ving on the way upstairs. They made
their report. Valery and Tristan set off for Deerspike and soon brought
him in, mildly roughed up, with the Book of Rituals. Tiberius opened the
Book -- he was the only one who could -- and found no mention of any
ritual that would cover what had been done with Clarice and Cara. He
locked the Book shut. Yep, it was a ritual. Just one of those things.
Tristan and Valery released Deerspike. When they were alone, Tiberius
told Deerspike, in his real voice, You owe me big time. Your ass is mine
boy. Deerspike was thoroughly cowed. He told Tiberius that he'd got
power and knowledge from the girls and had meant to dispose of them
soon. Tibby vetoed that. He offered Deerspike the use of the spikard to
walk the Pattern with.
VAERREK, AZRIEL AND BRANNON: DREAMSCRYER MONOLITH
Steady energy streamed from the center of the water to whichever
monolith they used. Azriel tried to plant an image in Ving's head and
the monolith started to suck her into it, her body stretching but
Brannon and Vaerrek held her back. Brannon threw an eel at Vaerrek's
monolith. Vaerrek got a mental flash of EEL. Azriel wanted to try going
into Vaerrek's monolith, into his head as it were. Vaerrek said he'd
hurt her as much as was necessary to stop her. While she considered
trying Drusus' monolith Portia and her crew -- six in all -- gated in.
They wanted Azriel's spikard. Vaerrek reluctantly didn't jump them,
since he didn't trust Azriel and Brannon to back him up effectively, or
at all. Azriel talked Portia into some sort of secret deal. The
Dreammaster crew bragged that they could slip into any of the targeted
minds while they slept. Vaerrek studied all of them closely.
TIBERIUS: AMBER PALACE
Titus posted guards over the lower levels at Tiberius' suggestion. He
returned to the Tower of Flint and made a really good monkey, blue,
intelligent and complex, named Darwin. He gave it the spikard and had it
walk the Pattern. It succeeded and vanished. Tibby told Deerspike that
the latest test had failed and the spikard was lost.
AZRIEL, BRANNON AND VAERREK: DREAMSCRYING SOURCE
Portia gave Azriel a Trump of herself to seal their deal. Vaerrek
Logrused them away. Azriel and Brannon checked on the other spikard on
Amberside and found it moving away. They chased it. The spikard's master
felt them coming and tried to evade. They passed into an area where
Pattern wouldn't work and Vaerrek took over with Logrus (and
misgivings). An area where only shapeshifting worked. Azriel cut the
powerline. They entered a shadow jungle full of puking blue monkeys,
found the spikard-bearing monkey and took it from him. Brannon held on
to it during their return. The trip turned into a pursuit when they
caught sight of Valery on their trail. They lost him in a Logrus-only
zone and went to the desert. The now heavily patrolled desert. They
fled. They couldn't bring themselves to trust the entrance outside
Castravalva. Azriel Trumped Morgan, one of Portia's allies, and asked
for sanctuary in return for her sexual favors. The next day, Vaerrek bit
the bullet and used the spikard to get them through the Wall. It felt
really, really good. He hated it. Vaerrek Trumped to Thjarand's
no-magick Shadow to think and sleep. Brannon and Azriel went back to the
TIBERIUS: AMBER PALACE
Deerspike told Tiberius that he'd found the underground passages by
accident. Tiberius blamed the spikard's disappearance on the fiends
who'd attacked the palace. His monkeys started drilling down from the
base of the Tower to the Pattern room. Livea's funeral was huge.
CORINTHIAN: IN THE WALL
BALTHAZAR: JUST OUTSIDE THE WALL
Corinthian left Miette under the care of the catmen and exited to the
anti-Amber side. He sought out Balthazar for vengeance and found him
nearby. In the middle of a vast army encampment. He flew overhead,
located Balthazar's tent and descended upon it as an acidic mist.
Balthazar felt something bad coming, then the nearby, overhead presence
of a New Pattern user. He prepared to attack.
Corin ate holes in the tent and flowed in, attracting some attention.
Guards converged and a big demon ran over from an adjoining tent. The
demon entered, moving damned fast, and positioned himself to engage
Corin. Balthazar moved behind the demon. Corin invoked Pattern defense,
Balthazar was already using his and the demon summoned Logrus defense.
Heterodyning powers in close proximity made everyone extremely
uncomfortable. Corin calculated his chances and shifted to his human
Corin nodded, 'Greetings, Balthazar.'
'I haven't had the pleasure.'
'You will. I am the destroyer of Livea.'
'Let me shake your hand, that's awesome!'
Corinthian bowed instead.
'Then it's safe to go back to Amber,' Balthazar observed.
'Yes it is.'
'You're out spreading the good news.'
'Yes. Everybody's welcome. Let's go. We need a new king.'
'I thought it would be Titus.'
'Sejanus was my father, so I'm rallying support for suitable rulership.'
Pause. 'I hear you've met my mother.'
'How did you get stuck with the messenger boy job?'
'I'm out rallying support.' Calmly, 'So, what is your army for?'
'My army -- my army. We've been expecting an attack from der Fuhrer.
Lord Droom, the demon, had been listening to all this patiently. 'Lord
Balthazar, do you know this gentleman?'
'Never met him before.'
'You claim to be Lord Corinthian.' Droom flipped through his Trumps and
concentrated on one. Avril stepped through a moment later.
Avril looked Corin over. 'Ah, Corinthian. It's so sad that my daughter
isn't here for you to flirt with.'
'I'm here to claim the throne after killing Livea.'
'Surely you're not claiming credit not yours -- Balthazar's, for
instance. He's wiped out five or six of your family.'
'Where have you been for the past fifty or sixty years?'
'Here and there. Organizing.' To Balthazar, 'So the Chaosians are
'No,' Balthazar launched into effusive compliments regarding the fine
Chaosians he'd met.
They bandied words about. Droom wanted tactical and strategic
information about Amber's forces and plans. Corinthian said he wanted no
intrusions into his kingdom. Droom suggested removing Corin to Chaos.
Corin blustered. Balthazar declined to be alone with Corinthian. Corin
agreed, reluctantly, to spend the night in the camp.
VAERREK: THJARAND'S MAGICKLESS SHADOW
Vaerrek slept, then experimented with the spikard. Next he Trumped
Thjarand and set up a meeting with her and Feddrin. He briefed them on
everything having to do with the Dreamtwister source. Neither he nor
Feddrin really wanted to find out what would happen if the site were
shredded by primal chaos while tuned to their psychic wavelengths.20
Later Feddrin and Thjarand brought Vaerrek up to date on current events
and gossip. The most important thing was that Hendrake, Chandra, Kakatal
and other Houses were advocating intervening in Elsenore. Vaerrek's
mother Thira, and Thorathane, the Helgram heir, joined them. Word was
spreading. Teyr, the Helgram Master at Arms, wanted to look the source
over. Thorathane wanted Trump decks for Elsenore and Amber. Vaerrek
pretended to be enthusiastic about trying. He suggested they approach
Drusus Barumen, one of the other targets of the Dream Twisters.
Thorathane thought it would work best if Vaerrek was introduced by one
of his Elsenorean contacts.
Tiberius suspected he was being watched. He assigned his stealthiest
monkeys to shadow him and catch the spies. Four new acolytes joined him
in his priestly classes. He cornered one, the girl Silver, and mindraped
her after removing her defensive talisman. All four were former minions
of Livea, now serving the Unicorn priestesses. Portia was very active in
Unicornist skullduggery and had worked with Beryl, Avril and Kali before
the Wall was formed. Tiberius memorized the faces of the new priestesses
and then snapped Silver's neck. He stuffed the body up a chimney and
later planted a bit of Pattern Tendril from his stores with the corpse
and cleaned the murder site of any other evidence. While moving around
the palace complex he saw Deerspike speaking quietly with Fusia.
Deerspike saw Tib and disappeared. Tiberius set Ving to finding the
hidden door that Deerspike must have used. He sent the psychic barrier
talisman with a monkey to SOMEONE SECRET.
AZRIEL: AT THE SPIKARD NODE, NEAR THE ABYSS
Azriel tried to contact Avril via Avril's spikard powerline without
success. The contact seemed to be strictly one-way.
She returned to Elsenore. Keegan and Valentine were regaling Avril with
the story of their adventures beyond the Wall. The talk turned to Old
vs. New Pattern. Avril said that Old and New Pattern users working in
combination should be far more powerful than equal numbers of the same
type. Aunt Monseratt was visiting. Azriel eavesdropped on Aunt M's
conversation with Avril. Some sort of important contact... plans
involving Chaos... M needed to recruit more family members for the
plan... Vaerrek and his connection to the family... Larcan... Helgram...
why was Vaerrek hanging around? Azriel mulled that over, then visited
her cousin Piper.
CORINTHIAN: ELSENOREAN ARMY CAMP, NEAR THE WALL
Alone again, Corin tried to Trump Drusus, Uther and Piper, then
succeeded with Prue and went through to her. She was very happy to see
him. His welcome was interrupted by an eel hitting him. Azriel walked in
and hit him with an eel. A tall dark man threw eels at him. A small
dragon -- the one Portia had called Lord Vaerrek -- tried to convince
them to stop. Corin beheaded Azriel and her friend. Their heads laughed
while eels flew out of their necks. The dragon was still haranguing them
to stop. Eventually, Az and the guy got bored and the dragon escorted
them out of the room. Corin fell in darkness for a time and arrived at a
ghost version of the strange megalithic structure in the lake. Ghostly
Azriel talked in friendly fashion with ghost Portia, while the ghost
dragon prowled around and ghost dark guy threw things into a pillar...
Corin jerked awake with Prue asking him if he was ill. He'd collapsed
coming through the Trump. Where had he been for so long? Corin asked her
to marry him. She agreed. He told her a little of what had happened to
him while they went looking for Avril. They met Brannon -- the dark
eel-thrower of the vision -- and Vaerrek on the way. Introductions.
Corin and Vaerrek -- nice guy, Vaerrek, trying to stop the eel thing --
agreed they had to talk about dreams and things. Prue told him about
Lord Droom and Avril's efforts to make powerful allies. And of
Balthazar, Master of the New Pattern. Ha! Corinthian told them that
Balthazar was bullshitting them about his importance and power. And that
Balthazar had tried to kill Daljit, and not in self-defense.
BALTHAZAR: ~ IN THE WALL
BALTHAZAR TRIES SOMETHING SECRET AND FAILS. MORE SECRET STUFF.
Skibbleshanks informed Balthazar that the catman policy was that the
Elsenore-side holes were to be left open and the Amber-side ones were to
be closed immediately after use. Balthazar opened holes far from the
others until he found a shadow he didn't mind stepping into. Jungle,
lots of sick blue monkeys. He Trumped Titus and convinced him to
reinstate him in the family with a full pardon. He gradually talked
Titus around to issuing death sentences for Kali and Daljit. Titus
called in his military commanders and Balthazar briefed them on
everything he'd seen in horrible, horrible Elsenore. Later he walked the
Pattern, claiming worry that he might have been spelled in Elsenore.
Next he looked up Tiberius, having heard of his new duties as Assistant
Master of Rituals.
Vaerrek visited Queen Beryl and got a private audience. He gave her a
mostly accurate description of the Dream Twister, Portia and company but
refused on grounds of House custom to give her a psychic image of the
place. Then he brought up the rumor of Helena's impending marriage to
Querine. And that Querine -- the Querine well known in the Courts -- was
female. Beryl was shocked. She asked if Vaerrek was married. No, but
Larcan was allied to Helgram. He offered to show the Dream Twister to
someone in person.
Silver's body was discovered, much hubbub ensued. He heard that
Balthazar had been pardoned and was in Titus' good graces. He went to
visit wearing priestly garb. Conversation, involving a lot of
Tibby-logic. Balthazar mentioned finding the Shadow of Blue Monkeys.
Tiberius was excited about that -- think of the savings in conjuration
time. Tiberius said that killing Kali was part of the necessary rituals,
then admitted to making them up as he went along. Balthazar warned him
of the Total Evil that was Elsenore. Tiberius wanted a demon to
experiment on; Balthazar said he'd try to acquire one. Balthazar agreed
to take a monkey to the monkey shadow in return for ritually-blessed
Azriel and Piper rode off to Ygg and Trumped Drusus from there. She was
introduced to a grand plot involving Piper, Drusus, Livilla (also
present), Livea and the Church of the Unicorn. They wanted to Restore
the Balance, rein in House Hendrake and strengthen Helgram. Livea and
the Church had been weakening the Wall for fifty years. Azriel told them
that she'd been through the Wall and learned that Livea was dead but not
how she'd died. This was news to them. Azriel asked where Vaerrek fit
into the plan and was told that he was a Helgram ally, possibly useful
for spreading misinformation. She was told to pass on to Vaerrek the
information that Hendrake was going to strike at some of the lesser
houses allied with Helgram. She was given documents showing the planned
abduction of Svara, the Larcan heir, and Vaerrek himself. Azriel took
the papers and set off towards Ygg.
Corinthian and Prue plotted, screwed, plotted, screwed... He told her
that he'd killed Livea, that Balthazar had killed the Master of Rituals
and that Tiberius -- a new guy, sort of a natural Ving -- had probably
killed Mother Eilett. They went to see Avril. Prue told her that Corin
had proposed and that he was going to be King of Amber. Corin told Avril
that he was the oldest son of Sejanus. Avril wanted proof. Corinthian
didn't want anyone that strong in his mind. They settled on Vaerrek,
someone not known as a psychic giant. Vaerrek agreed, Corinthian dropped
his defenses -- he and Vaerrek were nearly exact equals in psychic
power, or lack of it -- and Vaerrek asked Who is your father? Vaerrek
observed the memories that prompted, picked up some information on Who's
Who In Amber and Corinthian's abilities -- Corin would be useful backup,
unlike Some People -- and reported truthfully to Avril. Corinthian was
certain he was Sejanus' eldest son. Avril asked Corin a lot of questions
about people in Amber. She decided that this was, or could be, a good
thing. An immediate private wedding now, then a state wedding later. She
Trumped Verity, Keegan, Ross, Valentine, Misusu...
Balthazar fullfilled his part of his bargain regarding the Shadow of
Blue Monkeys. Darwin flew in with the first group, cursing and
complaining incessently. His spikard had been stolen by terrible bastard
Vaerrek and Corin took a quick trip to House Berumen in Chaos to try to
recruit Drusus against the Dream Twisters. Drusus was not particularly
impressed by Corinthian's claim to be family. Apparently being a nephew
was not quite enough. Vaerrek they were slightly polite to. Vaerrek
explained about Portia and her nefarious doings. Drusus said he'd had
such dreams but had not been disturbed by them at all. Still, it was
interesting. He'd discuss it with people. Vaerrek and Corin were
Tiberius heard Darwin's story, learning of Azriel, Brannon and Vaerrek.
Tiberius tested Darwin: the monkey had no Pattern himself.
SECRET STUFF WITH OR IN CONJUNCTION WITH BALTHAZAR.
Tib studied Deerspikes things while the man was out of his office. Ving
found a second office and the hidden entrance without blowing himself
up. Tiberius gave Ving a new, fun game: spy on cousin Fusia.
AZRIEL: NEAR YGG
Azriel Trumped Vaerrek (leaving the Courts with Corin) and pulled him
through. He Trumped them to a magicless shadow where they could talk
more freely. She showed him the documents. He asked why Drusus was
helping him and his House. She explained about the plot. Vaerrek
identified Drusus as secretly anti-Hendrake (a common position) and was
reasonably satisfied. He told her about Querine, Helena and Beryl's
reaction to the news. Azriel laughed until she cried. She asked Vaerrek
if he wanted spikard lessons. He declined. He wanted to use the thing
the minimum necessary, then get rid of it. Azriel said she'd be
interested in it. She suggested he attune it to the Dream source, and
told him she knew how to do it. He liked that idea. They went to the
Wall, far away from the other entrances, where he made a new one.
CORINTHIAN: NEAR THE COURTS OF CHAOS
After Vaerrek Trumped away Corinthian set out to find Daljit and Kali.
He followed his senses to the Wall, then inside. He entered what looked
like a permanent opening to the other side and found himself in a place
called Castravalva. A man named Varley greeted him and asked if he was a
friend of Balthazar, Brannon and Azriel. He said he was and asked after
any other new arrivals. There was only one, an old woman. Very old, she
looked to be a normal, mortal 150 years old. She didn't recognize him.
Corin did a light, careful mind-probe. It was Kali. She'd aged terribly
the moment she crossed into the Wall. She'd been separated from Liam and
Noel somehow. She vaguely remembered putting Daljit's bucket in some
sort of wall cabinet. Corin searched diligently for hours and finally
realized that Daljit's remaining consciousness had somehow merged with
the structure of the Castravalva pocket shadow. He found her equipment
and Kali's things and took it and Kali through to the Elsenore side,
where Kali aged to dust in seconds.
Balthazar visited Avril and was warmly welcomed. She told him about the
impending wedding. He said he had the highest respect for Corinthian. He
told her lies about his 'mission' to Amber, reporting partial success.
He'd found a way to open up the Pattern to them, involving Tiberius who
was currently second in command of the Pattern. Avril said that
Corinthian thought that Tiberius was nearly as daft as Ving. Balthazar
claimed that there was method to the man's seeming madness. But Tiberius
wanted a special monkey. Balthazar didn't understand why, but there it
was. He left Avril confused and went to see Droom, then back through the
Wall. He noted that some essence of the inner Wall, the land of the
catmen, was flowing out into Elsenore. He reported that to Tristan. He
hid his two companions, Keegan and Valentine (apparently acquired
SECRETLY) in a rough section of Amber the City. He went to find
Tiberius. Tiberius was having new banners put up. Blue Monkeys on Red.
The guards didn't like it. They complained that nothing of the sort used
to happen in Barkentine's time. Tib replied that Sejanus was eaten by
Owls in Barkentine's time. Balthazar took Tiberius to meet the two
Elsenoreans. They discussed the differences between Old and New Pattern
(more sugar, mostly) and how to combine them. Balthazar suggested
walking the Pattern while concentrating on the Old power.
VAERREK & AZRIEL: IN THE WALL
While Vaerrek slowly made a portal to the Amber side with the spikard
the catman Mungo Jerry found them and informed them of Balthazar's deal:
portals to Amberside were to be closed immediately. They passed through
and did that -- closing was easy. Azriel used her spikard to shapeshift
Vaerrek's aura of Horrendous Chaos Stench, leaving him temporarily
Logrusless. Azriel rode on his back as he flew them to the Dream Twister
megaliths. Opal was there. Vaerrek acted vague -- his impression of
someone who was Compelled. Azriel amused Opal while Vaerrek attempted to
attune his spikard. Then Vaerrek asked Opal if they'd stopped monitoring
him, as per their agreement to leave him alone. Opal smirked, of course
they had. Vaerrek checked and one megalith was still tuned to the
Vaerrek Channel. He weighed how to respond to such a deliberate
provokation. Azriel, recognizing the signs of Vaerrek going to combat
mode (a peculiar tail twitch), hissed at him to not hurt Opal while she
was there. Vaerrek ignored that and pounced, intending to rip Opal's
heart out and eat it 'on camera'. Two of her confederates popped out of
a plinth the moment he began his rush. Azriel started to move to
interfere. One of the newcomers was scarily fast -- Vaerrek instantly
bowed to the new odds, dodged the fast guy, kneecapped Opal with a tail
strike in passing and ran like hell yelling, You shouldn't have lied!
Then flew like hell, shifting shadow with Pattern Defense on. Azriel
cast a spell at him, which bounced off the Defense. Azriel, furious and
abandoned, tried to explain her innosense to Opal and company. Then she
severed Vaerrek's spikard powerline. Vaerrek didn't quite crash into the
ground. When he could, he invoked the Logrus and cast a tendril out to a
place far along the Wall. Two men were waiting for him when he got
there. He recognized them from Corinthian's memories as Valery and
Tristan, two of Amber's leading lights at military and sorcerous matters
respectively. Vaerrek fled. They followed. Tristan cut him off from the
Logrus and then altered the air flow so that Vaerrek was going nowhere
at top speed. Vaerrek glided down to a boulder and waited. He used his
jonesing retching to cover swallowing the spikard. Valery approached
cautiously. Vaerrek greeted them by name and introduced himself. They
said that they were disturbed that a Chaosian could operate in Amber's
realm. Vaerrek told them that one could adapt, though it was
uncongenial. He said that he'd been sent dreams from their region and
had entered to attempt to deal with the problem at its source. That
caught their attention. He gave up the power source -- if they mindraped
him they'd get everything. He claimed disinterest in their conflict with
Elsenore but noted in passing that both sides seemed to be assuming
strictly defensive postures. He really didn't care to be in this
uncomfortable place at all, and if he hadn't been interferred with from
inside, he'd never have come. They seemed to have some sympathy for his
position. Vaerrek noted to himself that Tristan seemed to know whenever
he shaded the truth, and that Valery watched Tristan for verification.
They wanted to see this power source. Vaerrek directed them there.
BALTHAZAR & TIBERIUS: AMBER
Balthazar and Tiberius introduced Keegan and Valentine to Titus as
allies. They'd renounced their allegiance to Beryl after walking the
Pattern and learning of the compulsions she'd inflicted upon them. They
would happily work to undermine Beryl's authority. Titus was happy with
this arrangement. Tiberius provided K &V with psychic shield gadgets.
Later that night he ran up the Blue Monkey flags and got chewed out for
AZRIEL: AT THE MEGALITHS
Opal thanked her for her help while her companions worked on her knee.
Azriel explained Vaerrek's fears. Opal shut the Vaerrek plinth off -- it
was a trivial action. Opal asked it they should turn Corinthian's off as
well. No. Azriel watched the Eel Dream and played with it. Eventually
turned Vaerrek's channel back on and saw him sitting on a boulder
confronting two men. His Trump was warm. She and Opal, Vauxhall and Alva
watched and listened. They saw the way things were going and began to
mount all the magical defenses they could. Azriel tried Trumping Vaerrek
periodically, but he resisted. She shapeshifted herself to look like
Beryl. Alva pulled her through a plinth to a temple.
CORINTHIAN: IN THE WALL
Skibbleshanks informed Corinthian if the portal etiquette as he went
through. Corinthian soon crossed a Logrus trail and diverted to follow
it. Eventually he drew close. It 'felt' like Vaerrek. And there was some
Pattern use in the area.
Balthazar walked the Pattern, concentrating on the essence of Old
Pattern. Once done, he tried to use a combination of the two. It worked.
His Pattern Tendrils were different, intangible. He touched Valentine
and Keegan with them and told them that it had worked, and how to do it.
He wished himself away and went looking for Corinthian. Corinthian was
actually Amberside, near an area where the stench of the Logrus was
VAERREK: THE DREAM MASTER MEGALITH
The site was deserted but a host of magical wards were up. Vaerrek
reminded them that Opal and the others had probably been monitoring him,
and them. Tristan took down the wards and got them in. They asked
Vaerrek how it worked. Vaerrek attuned himself to show them, figuring
that his odds of getting away with the spikard were slim. He told them
how to do it. Tristan followed, then Valery. From a not-safe-enough
distance, Vaerrek bargained with them for his release. He ended up
giving up vague information about shifting auras, the fact that he had a
spikard with some Pattern but couldn't recommend them since he'd been
caught when someone glitched his. (He looked Tristan in the eyes when he
told him that. They lost interest in such a flawed commodity.) He agreed
to give them information and help, so long as it did not damage Larcan
or Helgram. They agreed to not use the Dream source against those Houses
unless at war. They escorted him to the Wall and opened a hole. Vaerrek
felt certain that they felt he owed them much more help and information
than Vaerrek did.
Azriel returned to the megaliths after Vaerrek, Tristan and Valery left.
She watched Corinthian walking and walking and walking without getting
anywhere. She teleported to him. He felt that he was still following
Vaerrek and his captors. She was only partiall caught up in his trap and
could see the flaws in the illusion. She eventually made him see them
too. He still couldn't escape though. Azriel moved away from him without
trouble, the trap hadn't been aimed at her. Alva was waiting for her
just beyond the trap's border. Alva reluctantly told Azriel that
Corinthian needed to be knocked out and carried out. Azriel returned to
him and convinced him. He set his (Daljit's) armor to 'auto-protect' and
let Azriel make him sleep. She carried him to the Wall, accompanied by
Alva. Alva left. Azriel woke Corinthian. They went through and to
Elsenore for the wedding.