20 below. 32 feet of powder base. 26 miles of rocky ravine, twisted around some 11 miles of vertical drop. Silence, Solitude, and a myriad stars blazing across the night. Skis for myself and Laura and, at the bottom, a cozy chateau, a blazing fire, and a thick rug before it. Ten minutes later, halfway down, the rock spins by in a blur, the crystal spire of the mountain towers among the blazing stars, refracting a prismatic waterfall of starlight across the winter forest below – and someone is trying to get through on a trump. It feels like the Castilian again, doubtless with another one of Randoms “urgent” messages. I could block the old fool easily, but given the time rates I’d have to keep it up for an hour or two on this end before he’d give up. Blasting him is tempting, but really not an option, and putting up a psychic barrier would take most of the fun out of the evening. He’d just try again a few “minutes” later anyway, probably, with His excreciable timing, just as we’d be getting involved in front of the fire…
It turned out to be another one of Randoms imperial summonses. Big deal. You’d think saving Amber would be enough to entitle us to a few days off, but nooo, nothing would do except my immediate attendance. If this turns out to be another formal family gathering… The mood is wrecked anyway, so I trumped through and found that yes, indeed, it was another formal gathering. OK. Fine. Why is it so vital that I be there hours early ? It’s being held in honor of Luke, Gavroche, and Myself – and Gavroche’s vanished. Great. At least I got most of my experiments done before going skiing. The resident chaosians livened things up a bit – but it was still a crashing bore. The only really memorable event was the announcement O Drizzt “The Recycled Ones” arrival. The expressions were priceless – so I recorded them. Jaen tried for a “trump hologram” manifestation of a monkey for an announcer but somebody squelched it. Fiona gave me a dirty look, so I shrugged at her. I could hardly “put him back” after the experiment was over could I ?
ANYway, the table gossip was a bit atypical, mostly about some shadow named “Hikura Ka”, rather then about each other. The place seems to have just “appeared” in the first circle of shadow, replacing the “black road” just as the road replaced Mabre. From the gossip, the place has a japanese flavor, patterned after the early dynasties. The local natural laws seem to belong near the courts, rather then near amber. The place seems to have no magic, and the power of the pattern is greatly reduced. It also seems to be developing natural trump “fields” linked to areas in amber, apparently based on corresponding locations. A weird mechanism, especially since the only place that really corresponds to Ambers layout is the emperors castle. The gates are reported to be miles across, implying either a lot of work or a really impressive energy source. The place is creating major disruptions in trade patterns, not least because its appearance/movement/creation has fouled the shadow trails. It’s currently running on about a 1 to 1 timerate with amber, Osric’s been reported there – and talks have not been going well. “Tensions are climbing”, to use a totally hackneyed phrase, the emperor Hikura VII is not cooperating, and none of the spies Randoms sent have returned. Other rumors include that Fiona may be pregnant, that Julian’s not having much luck hunting a monster that’s been “running amuck” in the area around amber, and that someone’s been trying to get Random. On the cosmological front Ygg feels better, shadow storms are back to normal levels, and the chaosians want to re- do and -schedule the olympic games, apparently feeling that Amber had an unfair advantage. I got jerked out of this immersion in the Amber gossip when Jaens voice rang out, volunteering himself (and apparently everyone) for anything anyone wanted done. He instantly became a target for food, minor curses, and practical jokes for the entire younger generation. I really shouldn’t have coated him in custard – but somehow Jaen always brings out the worst in me. Half the elders got in on the fun but Random disapproved. Next time I’ll conjure enough pies to provide ammo for everyone – before the regular supplies run out or Random can close things down.
ANYway, Random sent everyone less then five hundred to their rooms I wonder what’s eating him? A bit later on, Bleys slipped me a note. It seems that he “Wishes to meet with me on a matter of some importance”. Well why not? So the stewards said to stay put, why should I listen to them? Even if Random said so, I think he’s going overboard on this royal authority bit. OK. Fine. I go to meet Bleys. He seems tired and worried, not to mention having loaded his room with protective pattern sorcery. He seems a bit shocked, and says that my “new toy” tried to suck his brain dry and was powerful enough to nearly do it. I’ll have to talk to it. But ANYway, He wanted to talk about this Hikura-Ku place, it seems that the tension is higher then is commonly known, and there have been three tries on Random in the past week or two, and two of them came close. Random seems to be “blowing it off”, but he is king, and this sort of thing simply can’t be tolerated. Besides, Fiona is getting a bit worried about his mental state. In any case, since their normal agents hadn’t come back, the local people seemed to have inherent “trump defense”, the place was resistant to pattern, and they needed the information, He’d like me (and anyone else I could get to go) to head for Hikura-Ka and investigate on the theory that we were less dependent on pattern and less well-known then the elders while still being far more powerful then normal agents. He carefully noted that this was not an order or royal request, but merely a plea for help and that he might do me a favor some time. I suppose I should play the game and look for hidden motives, but why bother ? There’s just not enough data. Besides, I have to give him credit. With all the holograms, psychic messages, subtle spells, and such flying around his approach was a masterpiece of subtility and elegance. He slipped a note under my door. There were only three silly booby- traps in my suite this time – is the prankster loosing his touch? Maybe it really is Random, he’s been under a lot of strain lately. ANYway, I stepped out to talk to the “Gem Of Creation” before it grabbed for anybody elses brain. It was fairly easy to convince that going out and experiencing things was more fun then borrowing memories, possibly because it just perfected the power to take the form of a small boy. It’s named itself as well; “Orb”. Bleys said that he thought that I was one of the saner people around here, but sometimes I’m not so sure myself. I returned to my suite to take a nap. In the meantime, Drizzt was running around and, having heard some comment about (my) “creation running amuck” had denied it, while Jaen was pestered all night long. He refused the sleeping draught that mysterious butler brought him, Drizzt took it instead. In the morning I recruited Jaen, along with his “Son” Rick Aten. Humph. The “Kid” obviously has Logrus, Pattern, Trump, Shapeshift, and a high psyche. Some kid. Since Gavroche had himself cloned, before dissolving into the abyss, this could be a new guise for him – but he did spend a year with Jaen. Either he’s for real, Jaen’s denser then I thought, or they’re both in on something. Either way, who cares? ANYway, Drizzt decided to tag along, maybe I overdid that loyalty bit. Despite some comments I’ve heard from Jaen, Drizzt is not a dog – usually.
ANYway, we decided to adopt the guise of travelling merchants – figuring that they were fairly ubiquitous, had a good excuse for travelling or being a bit weird, and would be able to get in almost anywhere. Much too obvious a cover actually, but they’re aren’t that many choices in a mediaeval/japanese area. The first farmer we met revealed our error – so we downscaled ourselves a bit. It seemed that we were overdressed, overarmed, overstocked, undermanned, and mounted in a culture where horses were vanishingly rare. I sent the horses back and got some servants, apparently including the mysterious butler. Hmmm. An amberite butler, apparently ancient, with pattern powers, blocking all probes, not otherwise accounted for, and with a specific, hidden, hostility to me personally. Hmm. Now lets start eliminating. He has amber blood, a specific grudge against me, is “humble” enough to take up butlering, plays it monomanically, and isn’t most of the ones I’ve met. Hmmm… Hello Terror. Oh well, as long as he behaves himself. ANYway, a few days of poking around revealed that everybody here was a zen master, blades are normally reserved for nobles, and that Jaen has no memory of Fionas dinners – a cute touch. Okay, that’s a digression – so? We’ve changed our disguises a bit, now we’re “high-end”, long-range, traders, dealing in spices, high-quality silk, middle-quality weapons, and a few high-quality ones. Rick-Aten has taken the role of a warrior-monk, a “seeker”. Jaen is being my assistant, Drizzts being my son (ick), and I’m being the wealthy merchant. Alfred is being a/the butler, and bossing the rest of the servants. Adult men seem to be in short supply, the military went to a war footing last month and recruited almost all the cities able-bodied men.
The government around here seems to be a variant on classical warlordism, with various levels of loyalty and something almost identical to the code of bushido. The troops are being trained for HTH combat only – archery and other missile weapons seem to be entirely ignored. This may be less suicidal then it looks, as the troops are all capable of using a variety of power words. OK. Fine. An army of C’hi masters. Lieutenants get blades, captains have nametags, and warlords are reputed to have legendary blades. It’s pretty obvious that they simply promoted the regular army to officers wholesale, but a troop strength about twice ambers with innate powers and heightened attributes (Average: Chaos. Str/End; Amber, War; Low Ranked, and Psy; Chaos), will be lethal without intensive training…
Flora called, saying that the Amber and Hikura seemed to be “merging”, the gates are expanding, slowly – but perceptibly – as well as becoming easier to penetrate. Keeping the perimeters guarded is nearly impossible, and Random wants us back within two months. Personally the place looks like someones personal shadow peopled with his or her descendants, which would explain their high attributes and make them all distant relatives. As I’ve been studying Amber/Chaos genetics, I blitzkrieged the place for skin cell samples and had them analyzed. It looks like everyone here is descended from an Amberite and a Chaosian – which would fit in with the same fellow being in charge for a very long time. All of them have power words and a minor, innate trump defense. Great. We needed an introduction to the Emperor, so we hunted up a few “legendary blades” as possible presents – and settled on the Musashi Bokken. Again an obvious gambit for an amberite to use but, once again, there are only a few gambits we could use in a hurry. The Emperor has low-grade pattern powers, a high psyche, very powerful trump talents, and lots of C’hi powers. He was pleased with his present and gave us very opulent apartments. He also gave us the run of “public” pieces of his palace. We settled in all right and got things organized. The Butler (“Alfred”) was to talk with the other servants, Drizzt was to play with the local kids, Jaen was to go out and do the selling, and I was to try to get into the palace social scene and pick up the gossip. Most of the stuff is just as expected; weapons are premium prices, the general population has no idea of whom they are up against but is preparing because it’s the “will of the gods”, the regular army only has about 3500 men but is being expanded by conscription, all of the experienced military types have been promoted to officers, and there are 3 main generals/daimyos; Torquemada, a strategist, Shunto, strategist/support, and Akira, an ex-seeker of the way, now a follower of the sevenfold path. That’s somewhat odd – he quit being a seeker to be a general, which is a bit of a theological discrepancy. The only real surprise is that conscription is confined to this continent, I wonder if the trump gates are too? In any case, two unknown “high lords” have arrived, without a travel itinerary, bringing a marvelous gift “The blade of the four seasons”. One female, which caused quite a stir, and one male. The emperor’s been spending a lot of time with them. According to the gossips, the male generally dresses in reds/oranges/sun patterns and has white hair and a powerful build. The lady likes greens with heron patterns, has waist-length, straight, black hair that she likes to wear down, and is most elegant. My major source for this stuff is the lady Nikoma, who finds me absolutely intriguing. She’s also invited me, and the “visiting lords”, to a poetry recital. They’ve been around for a year or so and so are expected to be involved in the palaces social whirl. This looks like a splendid opportunity to get a look at them – even if the poetry turns out to be dreadful. In the meantime, Drizzt says that, while the kids usually have free run of the palace, currently there are guards all over the place and the prince is very worried about his father, who suddenly seems to be obsessed with war. Meanwhile, the young princess seems to have a crush on Drizzt. Oh well. Alfred says that they’ve got a set of rooms next to the emperors and won’t allow the servants in. They’re very picky about their food and drink enormous amounts of Sake. Other then that, they don’t seem to have any hobbies. They emperor has great confidence in them, and allows them to wear weapons in his presence. Great. It doesn’t look like any terribly simple solution is near at hand even without complications like that explosion in Arden. Now I admit that Julain isn’t the nicest of fellows, but that seems extreme. He managed to stumble back to castle amber, but isn’t in very good shape. Ah well, maybe we can find out something else during some of the upcoming social events…
So I took three weeks off to run a few experiments. I was only actually gone about twenty minutes, is that any reason to get upset? But no, you’d think they were about to call out the order of the unicorn to hunt for me… ANYway, I sent Fiona a summary of our results so far, what there are of them, boy will she be surprised when she finds it. I finally found a combination Fax-machine/modem that would work in Amber and got a servant to install it in her room. I don’t know how the elders got along up till now, you’d think they were living in the middle ages. I mean, no telephone is one thing but Quill Pens are ridiculous! So the place has funny laws and odd limitations on combustion and energy conversion, you’d think that someone would import a few ball-point pens from somewhere, but nooo. They all concentrate on things like Corwins gunpowder (Weird stuff, an isotope in it is metastable under Ambers natural laws. Give it an energy input to get it over the potential barrier and it quietly breaks down into half a dozen lighter atoms and a fairly trivial amount of heat. Even with Ambers exceptionally low plank value it gradually decays thru tunneling effects. It’s no wonder that local synthesis has defied everyone – the energies necessary to create it leave it to excited to hang together. The stuff has to be imported from where the isotope is stable enough to hang together and it has to come in over a route thru shadows where the local natural laws won’t destabalize or change it) and other weapons. Why don’t they just…
Errr. Well. ANYway, the Emperor finally scheduled a social event that promised to be of some use, since he was inviting virtually everyone on his boar hunt, we’d get a fair chance to watch everybody interact at last. This left two problems. My (relatively) modest social position would make it guache to bring along too large an entourage and it was well-known that we had arrived without mounts. It would be easy to just “come up with some”, but how could we explain it? Still, the stables would be providing one, and we could probably get away with one more. Two people then. Me and a servant. Put it that way, and who could I choose but Alfred? As it turns out Jaen absolutely insists on coming along too, as my horse. For someone so pompous he seems awfully pleased with the idea. Hasn’t he got any pride (or dignity)? I wouldn’t volunteer to be bitted, bridled, saddled, and ridden. Ok. Fine. It should certainly help me look a bit clumsy, as befits a merchant. ANYway, we set off, following the dogs and shooting at wild pigs. After an hour or so something big came along, the dogs began to howl wildly – and Jaen started nudging forward. I knew he wouldn’t be able to act like a real horse. I pulled him up of course, the fool tried a contest of strength with the bit, and got his mouth yanked. Idiot. ANYway, the Emperor looked “predatory” and announced that; “We shall take the beast”. Huh. Serve him right if they’ve found a nest of skunks. Well we went forward, straight through a “trump veil”, and straight into arden. Well, that should be easy to spot from now on. T’ guards got sort of upset but the emperor didn’t seem to be paying attention. Well, this close, the differences are kind of subtle. Rick (and where the hell did he come from, Oh GM?) came up and said we were in trouble. Jaen wanted to stop and hold a conference instead of keeping his mind on trotting forward like a horse, so I had to spur him to keep him moving. Actually, he makes a fairly decent mount. He’s easily manageable and doesn’t seem to mind any of this particularly. Even Sabre has more dignity then this. ANYway, we came to a spot where a bunch of the dogs had been torn to bits, blood everywhere, Ick. Just past this was a spot where there’d been a massive explosion, probably where Julian got hit. The emperors advisors (evidently fit, healthy, amberites) are being reserved, but always seem to stay together. They also try to stay alert, as shown by the fact that they were among the first to spot a “reptile/dog thing” growling at us from a nearby tree. They projected a variety of magical and mental probes at it and suddenly looked sort of worried, so I did the same. The silly thing looked like an animal, but it was actually a magnetic bottle, loaded with a gram of antimatter. Jaen started working on trumping out, so I had to bop him over the head and tell him to “Stand still, you wanted to be a horse, so be a good horse”. He asked if I’d protect him, and stood there obediently when I said yes. Well that’s a little better. He’s really quite docile and might make a good horse with proper training – but he’s still pompous. I had aristotle take the antimatter away, and the emperors “advisors”, who’d been trying to stop him from firing, suddenly looked puzzled and let him shoot the creature through the head. Not being alive, it failed to die, and ran off, eventually meeting up with another. Aristotle fumbled this one – so I had to rebottle it and send it off. Both “guests” looked at me funny. Well, it’s not like they didn’t have any idea who we were.
About this time, “Lady Heron” used pattern shifting to make her horse go lame, apparently in an attempt to end the hunt. I made a sarcastic mental suggestion to Jaen about “offering her mine” – and he agreed enthusiastically. Idiot. She just lamed one as a ploy, serve him right if he gets a leg broken. It’s not like she’d lack an excuse, stallions are notorious for being hard to manage. Still, you never know, I might get a clue. So I led him over, acting as “horsey” as he can. Jaen actually seems to like being a horse. Maybe, somewhere deep down, he really wants to abdicate responsibility. With his talents he’d make an excellent mount; strong, enduring, a natural warhorse, teleportive, and docile, if poorly-trained. A few minutes, and a little more of Jaens acting up, later, “Lady Heron” decided to notice we were in the forest of arden, so the emperor decided to return before the war started prematurely. Jaen got a psychic message from his rider saying : “Keep acting supposedly like a horse stupid. Would you like to be a horse for the rest of your immortal life ?”. Maybe he would or maybe he just didn’t know when to shut up (as usual), so she squeezed his mind down to normal horse-levels for a while. I took him “back” to the imperial stables after the hunt (well what else could I do with him ?) and made sure he got a good rubdown, one of the nicer stalls, and some oats. I also did a through scan of his mind to make sure he’d recover, to try to speed it up if I could, to advise him not to chase the mares (unless of course he wanted to be gelded), and to look for interesting material. He was lots easier to “mind-rape” as a horse, and I hate to pass up such a chance. This indicated that he would recover in a day or so, a bit less with my stirring things up, that he agreed to stay away from the mares, and (among a lot of other neat stuff), that according to him; “Lord Borta” was Bleys, and his “contact”. Well if Bleys was coming himself, why pester me ? On the way back to the palace “Lady Heron” asked me “Why do you keep him around? Or under, as the case may be.” Probably Fiona. Jaen has a very powerful mind, even handicaped by horse form, and she always gets a bit snippish. I told her that it was hard enough to get any kind of amber-level help these days, so I made do with what I could get. Now wouldn’t it be nice if Jaen was a bit less pompous when he recovers ? On the other hand, I don’t think even Fiona is that powerful.
ANYway, back at the palace Warlord Sheng is calling for peace, which annoys “L Borta” the male councillor. Borta challenged Sheng to a duel at dawn, and asked me to second him. Since it’s a mortal insult to turn this sort of thing down around here it looks like I’m stuck with it. Jaen snapped out of it during the night, and went back to amber for another vacation/nap. I wonder if he’s been taking lessons from Malinbert? Probing at Rick shows that both Fiona and Jaen seem to be screening him. Interesting. Well, that gives me until morning to work on some of my own projects. As Cerwil worked out about like I thought it would maybe I can use the same basic procedure to create a logrus for Corwins pattern to play with.
Well, back to the duel. He should have gotten Jaen to do this, he’s equally silly. He says that “someone” knocked on his door – but when he answered, no one was there. He did find a note; “meet me in the courtyard”, so he went down and waited for an hour or so. When nobody arrived up, he went back to his room, searched it (just in case someone wanted him out of it in order to plant something in it), and went back to sleep. He then “turned down” a trump call in the middle of the night, and ignored everything. Avoid responsibilities and do whatever he’s told, no wonder he made a good horse.
ANYway, somebody shoved a note under my door asking “Where do your loyalties lie… With Random, or with a capable king”. I’ll have to think about that one. Who cares ? As far as I’ve seen, none of them actually do anything, why pick between king logs ? I suppose that those loyalties I’ve got are with the people of Amber. It’s a nifty note anyway, coming with a communications link and self-rewriting ink. The only other “inquiry” this evening is about when my birthday is. I told them it’s in about two weeks, or at least I think it is. I wonder why it matters ? Gavroche (II) showed up around dawn and wanted to tell me; not to trust Alfred, that he wanted revenge on Terror and/or Bleys for the death of Gavroche I, and that he’s been “under cover” for weeks now. I’m not really clear on what Bleys has to do with things – but as for the rest; what’s new ? As for the duel, Borta annihilated Sheng both stylishly, and with an excess of adjectives. Afterwards we heard that the king of a “neighboring country” was coming to visit, and to draw up a peace treaty. I suppose this is why Fiona asked me to be ready to transport 500 men at a moments notice. Gavroche wants me to slip him a superior blade either during the conference or, if it can be entirely concealed, before the conference. Either way, he wants it to do lots of damage. I suppose he’s planning a war during the peace conference. How very treacherous. In the meantime, Ricks been off talking to people. Bleys and “Lady Heron” (who seems to have a new haircut?) have an attack planned during the conference. They hold an absurdly spied-upon private war conference themselves, in absurdly vague terms. Oh well. When I got back from lunch the Emperor was raging mad. It seems that one or another of the servants found well-drinker in my room, and the Emperor wants to know why I gave him a “lesser weapon” when I had that one ? I considered telling him that it wasn’t his birthday yet, and reproaching him for peeking at his presents, but decided to simply deny it all, which was true enough. As last I knew, the Butler had it. The Emperor says not to leave as he must think upon his judgement. Fine. Somebody wants to play silly games. I had Aristotle and my servants plant legendary blades all over the palace and so the Emperor ruled in my favor. The genetic tests on the Emperor are in now, it seems that he’s definitely an amberite and a son of Oberon, but doesn’t match any of the current amberites although he does seem to have vague, distant, memories of ruling amber.
ANYway, I gave Gavroche a nice sword and set up the spy-spells for the conference before going off to work on the Logrus II. I barely got that done before it was time to get back to the conference, which was hopeless since the Emperor thought that anything he could reach so readily from his palace should belong to him, while the Amber delegation (Random, Benedict, Caine, Gerard, and Fiona (boy did that startle Bleys – he looked at the woman beside him very oddly indeed). After a few hours they all admitted to being baffled and retired to have a banquet. As the third course was coming Fiona asked if I’d deliver the troops she’d asked me to arrange to ship in. I told her “Yes and No”. They wouldn’t all fit in the room ! The place would be dripping men out the windows ! She had me send 25 with their weapons drawn instead. Commotion breaks out. I run the cosmic first-aid shop, Gavroche jumps Bleys (he’s been disguised as one of Bleys servants, but has to drop the dagger that Bleys gave him when it tries to zap him) and, with the sword I gave him, chops him pretty well. Customer #1. Benedict gets into a fight with the Emperor, hesitates in shock when he turns out to be Finnando, and becomes customer #2. Alfred pulls an autocannon, three guards pull submachine guns, and Aristotle gets out a lake of jello. Fiona zaps the woman with the Emperor. Random takes my invitation to vanish and all of the guards on both sides are “official casualties” in Hospice as the Emperor looks shocked and vanishes in a burst of Trump – Pattern sorcery. Most likely Fiona, she says “It’s not for you to know. I’m busy” and hangs up. Gavroche goes off after Bleys, and the pattern heads him for Amber ? (Bleys seems to be missing from the hospital, you just can’t seem to help some folks, they simply haven’t got any sense. You’re supposed to wait to be checked out.) About this point there’s something like an earthquake, those with pattern imprints are suddenly out of action due to nausea, and the world seems to shift ninty degrees and then to settle down. Either Logrus II is feeling its oats, or the pattern is having a tantrum over having lost an advantage – Maybe both. Fiona and Bleys are nowhere to be seen and the pattern won’t come to mind for Gavroche, (It is throwing a tantrum) – but now he can shapeshift to counter the nausea now. When Gavroche goes to check Ambers pattern he can’t reach it due to rockfalls, the butler organizes the servants to clean up that lake he dumped into the place, Jaen is still asleep, and Corwins pattern is doing fine. Gavroche tells the whole story to Random, Bleys is indeed gone, and Benedict will live, but needs major surgery. Suhay has invited me to have dinner with him and Mandor but I don’t think I’ll tell anyone else about Logrus II, they might get upset.
+218, AST (Continued)
So ANYway, the big battle seems to be over, I guess it’s time to clean things up. As Alfred was doing the palace, I got the prince and princess out of there for a bit (just in case) and recollected those “legendary” blades, except for spirit divider, which got away. Too bad, that was one of the nastiest. Off at the pattern, Gavroche says that the thing has some sort of feedback defence up. Gavroche tried to force his way in and got his shapeshifting power scrambled, he’s now restricted to being the fellowship of the ring. I suppose that’s reasonable, since Dworkin is in Gollum mode. He dumped Gavroche in Rivendell, and won’t fix his shapeshifting until he brings back the one ring. Gavroche called me for advice. How can I give advice when I can’t keep a straight face ? I had to take a minute off to read the books anyway, so I called back and told him to be Bilbo. I mean, lets face it. He had to be the luckiest guy in the cosmos. Seven major devices in the book – Orcrist, Glamdring, the Arkenstone, “Sting”, the One Ring, some Mithril Mail, and the Trolls key, and he stumbles over them all. He protested a lot but eventually decided to go along with it. Along the way he told me that Alfred was out to get me and was the one who put Well-Drinker in my room. Not really news, but if his malice is that uncreative I think it can be safely ignored. Gavroche found the ring by knocking it with his head when a bat brushed him in the dark and took it to Dworkin/Gollum. Dworkin was feeling much better, having had a snack of some 9000 cubic light years of popcorn. I guess now I know what multiverses eat, just in case one ever comes to dinner. ANYway, there he was, standing in from of a cottage with Gavroche/Bilbo waving the ring around and complaining about being hungry. Eventually he gave the ring to Dworkin and Dworkin returned him to normal, or as normal as he ever gets anyway. Just about this time Dworkin started started to complain about something in his mind that was withering and growling. Gavy had about decided that he was nuts when things went from secondhand to personal, as he teleported Jaen and I in. A neat trick that, Jaen tends to be hard to get ahold of. We said hello, Gavy explained (or was trying to), when in came another Dworkin. Since it looked like a party was developing, I started serving tea, while Gavy and Jaen dithered and more Dworkins arrived. Fortunately, they tended to “merge” when they bumped into each other, if they hadn’t there wouldn’t have been space in the room for us. Fairly obviously, somethings split up Dworkiin into his individual shadows, probably the influence of the Labyrinth. He seems to know about it, but doesn’t know who’s responsible, so I offered some speculations (but no real information). In the meantime Aristotle and Orb dropped by, “multiplied” Jaens armor when he asked them if they could make things like that, and decided to try linking up. They joined before I could tell them I thought it was a bad idea and vanished. I helped Jaen pick up his armor (He’s really very careless with that stuff, he left a set behind in Hikura Ku and now this. Oh well, now that I’ve got six suits, maybe I’ll start a collection). I went to check on their physical bases (well, on aristotles anyway) and found that they’d split up again due to personality conflicts, Aristotle being a computer and Orb being an intuitive creative artist. While they had worked together however, they’d built a set of universes and then replicated them into a cosmverse. They did say they liked the horse though. Well I like him, he turned out really well. ANYway, Orb and Aristotle say it was interesting and had its moments – but they’ve no desire to try it again. It may be just as well, they apparently created another place somehow “beyond” the abyss itself to build it in. I’ll have to look into it one of these days. A multiverse with only two polarities, destruction and whatever you’d call an Orb-Aristotle combination. Creation and Logic. Sort of like something that spontaneously appears and develops ? Definite possibilities there. Since the abyss wouldn’t contribute anything, I suppose the various worlds will all reflect the major aspects of their creator in some porportion or other. Still, between Aristotles magical and technical aspects and Orbs innate social links and spiritual nature, there should be plenty of variety in their cosms. I wonder if they put up a barrier against Greast ? I hope they remembered to do something about him. He was nasty to start with – by now he’s probably pickled himself in nullspace for long enough to forget his own name. Meanwhile, back in the Elronds chamber, the room is flooded with Dworkins, Gavroche has turned himself into a turnstyle in an attempt to number them, and Jaen has been trying to screw up his count while Gav threatens Jaen with his “autodefence system”, whatever that is. A good thing I wasn’t away that long, or who knows what they would have gotten up to. Both of them were a bit panicked when Jaen called me because a very large tiger had arrived and begun eating/absorbing the Dworkins. That’s probably all right, the patterns used its advantage to snatch an unfair percentage of shadow for itself, so I guess this is just rebalancing things a bit. I called the Labyrinth just to check on whether or not I was right, and found that, while it’s “eaten” 1723 Dworkins so far, it needs to eat about 1/2 of the ones that broke loose. The problem is that the Pattern still has an advantage since its best at defence, so I went to look for a little help for the Labyrinth. The Matrix looked like the best bet (since the pattern was prety arrogant in dealing with it), so I headed off to ask if it would like to help. A rough trip, there seem to be shadow storms all over amber and huge disturbances around the Logrus and the Matrix as well. It agreed to help, so I passed the news on to the Labyrinth back at “rivendell”. Incidently, Corwin seemed to be regaining his sanity back. I’d rather hoped that would happen as the energy imbalances dissipated.
ANYway the Labyrinth needed advice about what to do with those two pesty protoplasmic creatures – Jaen and Gavroche. I told it not to hurt (or eat) them, but had to admit that it wouldn’t hurt anything to “chase them around for a bit”. Meanwhile, in Hikura Ku, one of the warlords has taken over until the emperor or his heirs return. He just wants Amber and kikura Ku seperate again and is against the war idea. It seems that the Emperor was against it too, at least in the beginning, but his two “advisors” kept pushing the idea. The prince wants me to set up his triumphial return as soon as possible – since that was the main reason he agreed to leave in the first place. Meanwhile, back in the Elronds room, Dworkin is unconscious due to the psychic resonance of having so many versions of himself in one place and Gavy is trying to fend off the Labyrinth and figure out where Dworkin would go if he was conscious. Jaen figures out that the “logrus creature” contains (very) tiny traces of pattern and trump energies, which he thinks is very strange. Jaen carries the “main Dworkin” around awhile before “dumping” him into the center of ambers pattern chamber, inside of the patterns main defensive shield. All the other Dworkins head for Amber – like a game of “populous” – but one of the Labyrinths avatars decides to chase Gavroche since he’s been being an awful pest. Gavroche tries multitasking via shapeshifting, and calls for help from anyone and everyone while running. Sadly, nobody answers. Random and Fiona are shielded, Gerard is drunk, and so on. In the meantime Jaen picks up spirit divider, which Dworkin apparently grabbed, enhanced, and tried to use to kill the Labyrinth. He dropped it when he went unconscious. I got Jaen to give it back to me, and a good thing. It was nasty before, who knows what it’s like now? As the excitement in Rivendell drew to a close, Elrond asked me for an apprenticeship. Ok. He seems like a nice person – as well as being one of the first who’s expressed an interest. Situation summary; Jaen on vacation, Dworkin in the center of the pattern in amber and Gavroche being chased by the Labyrinth. Me? I’m enjoying the show and trying to keep all my “pots” stirred.
OK, Gavroche frantically shadowshifts through field and fountian, moor and mountian, followed by yonder tiger, burning bright in the shadows of the night. No, that’s not it. I’ll have to ask Aristotle, he should remember how it goes. Gavroche tries icefields, which gets him surrounded by growling tigers. Desperate to escape, he tries several forms, and keeps up his trump calls, but has no luck – it keeps tangling up his outgoing “trump lines”. Inspiration strikes when he finally turns himself into a giant ball of yarn, which the “tigers” bat around all over the place. Jaen tried to pull him out through a trump portal, but only started a tug-of-war, with Gavroche as the rope. Eventually the tiger(s) let go, allowing Jaen to bounce his head off the walls and then grabbing him directly with some logrus tentacles. He tried to cut his way out using “trump scissors” but lost consciousness from the strain. Gavroche took this opprotunity to sneak out, having had enough of being a cosmic kitty-toy. When Jaen woke up he decided to stir up Gerard, who was still drunk, Gerard ran a bit amuck until I got him back to bed, my god he’s heavy, and Jaen went off to the hospital to bother Julian. The doctor promptly throws him out, but he bulled his way back in to “explain things” to Julian. His “explanation” seems to be that Dworkins “Evil side” has woken up, and gone on the rampage. Maybe Jaen hit his head harder then I thought. On the other hand, he’s always been a pompous idiot. Julian headed off for Arden (of course) and Jaen headed for Ambers throne room to stir up Random. Along the way he nearly got drafted by a toon rhinocerous, and was afterwards infested by the trump gerbils, who seem to like him. They ate his trump deck, so he threatened them, and was promptly pestered by a horde of them. He tried to stomp on them, so they ate his clothes. Jaen just doesn’t seem to know when to give up does he? He tried to find a shadow where they couldn’t pester him, and they came to me and asked me to help them reach him. Well why not ? They could hardly make a bigger fool of him, he manages that on his own.
Meanwhile, Amber was talking with Hikura Ku, on the topic of how to close the trump gates as they’d agreed on peace. Gavroche wanted to set up some trade routes, and was annoyed at Jaen, who’d gotten some new clothes (apparently with lousy flavor), and wasn’t being helpful at all. The problem with the gates was that they were a manafestation of power being drained from amber, the outflowing of ambers “reality” was “pulling in” Kikura Ku to replace the missing bits. The power, or at least the 90% which wasn’t being used to maintain the gates, was being used to “expand” a primal plane somewhere in shadow, where it was being stored as a perfect crystal lattice of energy nodes. Hmmm. Just like the jewel of judgement, but without the flaws making up the pattern in the jewel. Version II here is going to be huge, but blank, an enormous power source for mystical and psychic powers. Neat. While theoretical considerations seem to require that the flaw-pattern in “the” jewel be unique within any one multiverse, both duplicates and differing versions being forbidden by the exclusion principle. I simply never considered the possibility of a newtonian version, unflawed, and therefore having an empty value set. Very interesting. I think I see several different ways to mess it up – the question is whether I should. Meanwhile, Jaen had gotten in to see Random at last, and was making an ass of himself. He wound up being kicked out yelling “Your business is your own, Mine is saving Amber!” at Random. He stomped off in a huff. Idiot. He may not be the stuff of legends – but he is still king around here. It’s just not a good idea to spend a lot of time yelling about a kings faults in his own throne room. Back at the investigations, there seem to be 54 primary nodes placed geometrically around the castle and all of them feed into one, which is being fed into the forming crystal off in shadow. Things show no signs of becoming critical anytime seen, so I supppose I’ve got enough time to run a few simulations. It really looks like messing things up is the way to go, and the easiest way to do it seems to be feeding somehting through the nexus Primal chaos would do it – but seems likely to cause a really big bang. A Logrus tendril would “flaw” the crystal, but this wouls warp it and who-knows-what else out of our universe. So might tinkering with the energy flow, if probably less violently.
While I was thinking about all this stuff, Gavroche was talking to Random about my proposal that he go and find out where the energy is going and complaining about how Jaen just won’t cooperate and refuses to go. Random doesn’t seem pleased with Jaen, it might be best if he stayed out of the way for awhile. Anyway, I got Orb to patch the holes in the universe while I thought, which seemed to increase the flow of energy but lessened the immediate problem. About this time, Jaen somehow wound up standing beside the opening of a crystal cave where Bleys was lying, injured and unconscious. Jaen leaped in, and someone rolled a rock over the entrance. We were then treated to “Jaens stupid escape tricks”, after he found that his armor and powers wouldn’t work. At last he gets the idea of patching up Bleys and getting him to help. They make a human pyramid, push the rock aside, and climb out. Jaen seized the chance to ask Bleys a few questions, notably; 1) Can you contact Fiona? (No), 2) How did you get here? (He doesn’t know. He fell asleep in the hospital, and woke up here), and 3) How was hurt? (Gavroche hit him). At this point he pushed Bleys into the hole again. I don’t know why. Bleys bleeds, Jaen goes back down, gets sealed in again, and treats Bleys again. How many of the elders has he pissed off in the past few days anyway? I get at least five. I think the one I really feel sorry for is Bleys. He’s locked in a hole with Jaen. Bleys acted intelligently this time – he left as quickly as possible.
Back home, Gavroche was giving me his “explanation” of recent events : that Fiona had spotted him in Bleys entourage and cut him in, a fine example of “advanced” fence-sitting. Bleys was trying to “get” Random at the conference and that he doesn’t blame Bleys for the death of Gavroche I. That was Terror. Apparently, Gavroche I was upset at being betrayed, and decided to “think about nothing” in order to avoid being upset. Naturally, he promptly vanished. I could have warned him about that, but it never even occured to me that an abyssal master might not know it. He then left to look for where all the energy was going with me as “guardian angel”, just like old times. The route was oddly convoluted, but it eventually led to a spot in Corwins reality. I suppose that the “bend” was necessary, the intersection of the two “spheres” only occurs along one line. He winds up at an icy mountian with a monastary atop it. Gavroche rode a purring goat-creature up the mountian and found that the place was full of chanting, mindlinked. monks (quite powerful) and had one on guard. So much for the infiltration plan. He bowed and introduced himself instead. The monk looks him over and says “You have a very powerful mind. Why are you here?”. Gavy says “I travel through many realities” and the monk says “Oh. Another one.”. Well that’s one way to deflate people. It seems that they know what’s going on quite well, it’s a part of the “ordering of power” and Gavroche is “One of those she warned us about” – which lets him in for a psychic assault en masse. Gavroche pulls the multitasking and adaptive bit again, tells the monks he isn’t an enemy, and finds that this is all being done on the “Mistresses Orders”. It’s probably Fiona again, she was tangled up in this mess from the start. ANYway, Gav can’t talk to the mistress because “They are one with Sinandra”. Now where have I heard that name before?. Oh well. The 55 linked minds try to shove him away, but are distracted by the need to maintain the nexus points. It’s a good thing that the “lattice” is self-organizing, or they’d never be able to handle it. I’ve been probing through from the nexus, and find that the monks are handling the drain-nexi while the last member is handling the major focus. Jaen appeared to help him out a moment ago, but hasn’t any really good ideas. Between them they decide to K/O the monks while I scramble the power flow. OK. Fine. it works. Things start going nuts. Gavy wants to grab all the power he can and “throw it at Fiona”, who promptly channels it all into the jewel and thanks him for taking over the monks job. Gavy decides to send it to the Courts instead. Well, that should stabalize the area around the courts for a bit. Jaen, in trump form, goes in to confront Fiona, while I toss a Dworkin into the crystal (No, Labyrinth, Don’t eat that one). Gavy senses imminent death, as Jaen reaches Fiona and tries to a use a trump feedback loop to blow up the crystal. Gavroche leaves as the entire shadow blows up – monks, mountian, monastary, and all. Jaen retires to one of his shadows, and locks the door behind him, and Orb fills up the hole in the multiverse. The crystal seems to have been blown up, but a pattern-energy lattice would seem to be almost indestructible, so who knows. Fiona seems to be dead as well, but I did give her that extra C’hi infusion, so the same goes for her. Gavroche says that the crystal appeared in the shadow where they were and destroyed itself, but he’s been wrong before. He tried to call Jaen, got no answer, announced that; “It never works”, and tossed it into the abyss. Gavroche says that that’s going to be his general policy from now on, any trump card that doesn’t work is obviously broken… He uses pattern to hunt for any remaining crystal bits, and doesn’t find any. The gerbils did leave him a trunp of “Bamf”, a lightly wooded and very pleasant shadow full of gerbils, bunnies, and raccoons, all intelligent. His pattern powers don’t work there (since it’s in Corwins reality, which now has it’s own complete order / chaos substrate. Jaens trump reads “out of order”, it would. I’m just considering how to set up a triumphial return to Hikura Ku for the prince when Random calls, wanting me to come to the palace. Gavroche seems to have taken my advice about how to gain political power at last, and simply asked Random for some responsibilities. Random promptly gave him responsibility for diplomacy and trade and would like me to help him out – and to try to keep Jaen out of trouble. Since he won’t answer his trump, Random uses the jewel on his card and starts heating him up until he answers. When he does, he appoints him as ‘minister of foreign affairs”, AKA “Bodyguard for Gavroche”, gives Gavroche the jewel of judgement (to keep nuisances out of his mind), and heads to a jazz nightclub off in shadow, leaving Gavroche as de facto king. Jaen doesn’t want to be a bodyguard and wants to work as a doppleganger, he seems to be terrified of Fiona. Gav admits that he was the one doing the blank trump calls and Rick has disappeared. Oh well, that’s fairly normal around here.
Wonderful. Gavroche takes over and things instantly start going down the tubes. I knew this would happen. Gavroche held an audience to announce his regency, and accidently squeezed a hidden stud in the throne, dropping the ambassador from Torath and his staff into the ocean. I suppose we could blame it on Alfred, since if he hadn’t oiled and cleaned the mechanism the trapdoor wouldn’t have worked. Even so, it’s going to be bloody hard to explain this to them. I suppose it’s no wonder the elders are a bit crackers. Oberon must have been a raving paranoid. Lord of the universe, weilder of the jewel of judgement, master of power, expert in mayhem, guarded, and safe in the heart of amber, and he has to have trapdoors. Well at least the the ambassador from Karnles seesm to be amused. I suppose it’s reasonable, they’ve been fighting over the borders with Torath for generations. We also seem to have the first government in amber that the hereditory usuper (???) of Lernik is willing to talk to. They seem to regard any government which keeps the same person in charge of something important for more then a few months as being inherently untrustworthy (it gives them time to get up to things) And I thought our family was weird. Mabra still wants to talk about the sea food trade, something about Drax and the great white herring?. I’ll have to tell Gavroche to keep his pet on a leash from now on. Jaen asked me if I was “planning any major improvements on the jewel of judgement” Clown. I said I’d have to study it a bit first. Alfred promptly, and formally, informed me that “Sadly for Dr. Frankenarvon, Gavroche will not lend it to anyone for the moment. He is too busy playing with the weather”. I think Jaen put him up to it. It’s hard to tell with Alfred, somehow he always manages to keep a straight face. Well, snow on Mt Kolvir will make the bobsled team happy anyway. Jaen didn’t say much otherwise, he seemed to be sulking over being back on bodyguard duty. Gavroche gave him a little time off, so he took a vacation on a “dude ranch”. That’s Jaen, always horsing around. Teran (Actually Teransolyinskoristvis, if that’s how you spell it – Dworkin only knows how it can be pronounced), seems to have a new, and very young, king on the throne. Gavroche took shameless advantage of young King Lerin while he was negotiating the trade treaty with the unfortunate kid. Whoever heard of one-way tariffs? If I find Lerin stuffed in a closet somewhere I’ll know how he did it. The body would be easy, despite the furry pelt, but would he have to steal the clothes too? It’d be like mugging a teddy bear. Still, it was a private meeting until Lerin came out with the treaty, and I didn’t see Gavroche again for some time… Lerin seems to have disappeared a few hours later, but may just have gone off to play with Sabre. Potentially that’s just as bad – I can just see trying to tell the kids nobles that they can’t have their king back since he’s too busy being one of Sabres pets.
Well, now I know what Suhay and Mandor wanted to talk about. They want me to “reprogram” the logrus so that it won’t run amuck if something happens to the king. A very interesting problem. Merlin showed up about then, apparently he’s the new king. The strain of that mess with Greast and Terror must have been too much for old Swayvill. He wants it fixed as well, if only to annoy anyone who tries the same trick again. A but of study showed that the problem is that the logrus has no real method of “sorting” operations, it relies on the kings mind to set priorities and provide an operating framework. Hmmph. An information-processing “system” with a a chaos-mathematics basis and fractal “hardware”. Ouch. It obviously can’t store information in a primal chaos matrix, the next likely place is the nearby shadows of chaos. A check there revealed that most of the shadows nearby were humanform, and had smoothly varying tertiary laws. Just wonderful. It’s analog. That means that the operating commands and “programs” are going to have to be stored as harmonics, most likely in the morphogenic fields. Just then I noticed that Suhay and Mandor were looking at us (Merlin and I) like we were completely and utterly crazy. Well – they called us in, so what does that make them?
Ambassador Drexall and “Vinnie” showed up for their appointments a bit later. Both of them were extremely cagey about what they actually wanted. Drexall seemed to be just getting a look at me, and even used several minor divinations. Spiritually oriented ones at that. How very unusual. He did ask me to restrain Drax, keep him from being too great an embarrassment, and get him under control. OK. Fine. Another dragon to keep under control. Why me? Testing Cerwil was interesting too, but that belongs in the experimental log, not here. I still have no idea what that business about my “birthday” was all about – but it’s probably not important.
The ocean murmurs, waves bathing the warm, tropical beach, as the third, shimmering, blue-green moon rises above the horizon. The soft, friendly, breeze carries the mingled green scents of the jungle, and bears away the smoke of the small fire nearby. The fire-sprite in the coals is keeping dinner hot, but not burned, until after my swim with Melissa… Probably longer. Nothing could possibly go wrong, unless that really is someone trying to get through on a trump. You’d think that using a shadow with a time-rate this high would suffice, a week off here only takes minutes of ambers time, but noooooo. It feels like the castillan again, that idiot has the most incredibly bad timing. Does he call when I’m reading or something? Noooo, he always calls when I’m… Err… Well. ANYway, it seems that after having talked so much about the economy, Gavroche is throwing a big party as his first official act. Some people. Is there a rule or something I missed about this? Corwin. Random. Gavroche. Probably Merlin. If Dworkin started this tradition I can see how we all wound up descended from the unicorn (if you swallow that story). Undoubtedly they were both drunk. What’s more, he’s inviting everyone, including the ones he’s been trying to kill. Bleys is coming, apparently just to introduce his son, Flynn, to the court. Another relative. I wonder what this one’s like ? Lerin showed up as well, apparently he was off in wonderland puffing on the “caterpillars” pipe. Gavroche had to get the caterpillar to detoxify him before we could send him home. I suppose that it’s one way to get an edge in negotiations – but it’s kind of unlikely to inspire trust in other dignitaries. The ethical stance is just “a bit” shaky too, I mean, even leaving most normal standards out of it, it’s just not very nice to drug an eight-year old. I guess I’ll just have to cover their losses on that deal until it comes up for renegoitation in ten years. The rumors have it that Jaen snatched one of those “Dworkins” to practice on. It took the place over of course, and turned it into a sanctuary and prison for trump gerbils, at Gavroches request. Surely he has better things to do? Alfred has infuriated Llewella by redecorating her rooms in deep, flowing, purple (she hates purple) – and Jaen has been fired as bodyguard but hired as trump tutor. All this was fitted around Gavroches incredibly pompous speech. No one paid much attention to him, especially after he let Bleys introduce Flynn. How anyone who spends that much time chasing anything female and alive ever managed to learn advanced pattern I’ve no idea, but somehow he managed it. Flynn spent some time wandering around the party, muttering about how neither Random nor Gavroche is worthy of the crown and how it should go to someone more suitable. Well I can’t say he hasn’t got a direct approach to things. Gavroche asked Jaen and I to spy on Flynn for him, since he said it was all right, I guess I will. Jaen made a great point of it, following Flynn around with a notebook. Clown.
After the party, Mac’aran, crown financial advisor, suggested that Gavroche’ should look into setting up a trading agreement with Kornavar – a shadow which seems to have an unusually adaptable technology. Much of it even seems to function in Amber. Naturally enough, the first problem is to find out what they want, so we can supply it. Random was supposed to have found out, but Fiona was the one who suggested the deal – and who had done all the research. Since she wasn’t available, the entire project was up in the air. Oh well. I’d wanted to take a cross-country trip for once anyway. Even if Flynn comes, I don’t think he’ll be able to disrupt my plans any. Somehow he just doesn’t seem subtle enough.
An early morning start. As if it made a difference. Time is pretty flexible out in shadow, so why start so early? I hate mornings. Oh well, all of the preplanned stuff should work anyway. I wonder how many others are going to be putting things in the way? I tried to keep my scenes short, I hope they did the same. Otherwise, we may never get anything done. Oh well, I only set up a few scenes. Jaen can’t miss getting the point, he’s got his trump sensetivity up high enough to sense anything to do with trump energy without looking. ANYway, the scenes I set up go something like this:
-A narrow section of trail, winding around the side of a steep cliff – too close to amber for the easy use of Pattern or Logrus. When everyone is well strung out a small avalanche will pour down upon me and, instants later, the trail will give way – plunging Dernfara and I into the gorge below. As we recover from the fall, a powerful energy blast will be directed against us. The attackers will be detection-screened and will immedietly teleport out. The powers to be demonstrated include :
1) Force Fields (To keep the rocks off)
2) Ionization (To repel and/or blast the rocks
when they pile up on top of the force field)
3) Kinetic Shunting (To halt the fall)
4) Animal Powers (Lark, to fly back up)
5) Energy Shunting, Radius (To block energy blast)
6) Physical Energies – Solar (To “return fire”)
7) Reality Tapping (To let Arvon fix the trail
easily with home-realm geological magics)
8) Extended Senses (To check the other potential
-An unfamalier section of the forest, again too near amber to allow easy shadow shifting. This requires an unfamalier choice of routes and a clearing in the woods, found just about when it’s time to camp for the night. The powers to be demostrated include :
1) Skill and Knowledge Tapping (Route to campsight)
2) Mass Transfer (To clear debries from campsight)
3) Worldshaping (To set up campsight)
4) Strength Projection (To gather firewood)
5) Energy Generation (To light the fire)
6) Illusion Generation (To screen the campsight)
7) Auric Disguise (Shunt scans to somewhere else
to screen campsight, W’ Radius effect modifier
8) Matter Tapping (To send out for dinner)
6) Matter Generation (Saddle, in the morning)
-Somewhere where we stop for a few minutes, whether in an inn, along the side of the road, or whatever. It doesn’t matter, as long as it’s a bit too warm or cold and the local forage is dry and weedy. Dernfara will look at it mournfully, and then look at me. I will say “Well, if you don’t like it don’t look at me. You know how to change it”. The powers to be demonstrated include :
1) Endurance Projection (Create warm or cool field
of air as appropriate)
2) Adaption (Teeth and Digestion to local standards)
3) Formshifting (Projected, to change the weeds
into something more appetizing)
4) Mystic Energies (Tapping into nature magics to
freshen up the grass (or whatever it is that he
likes to eat)
-I Say : “Hmmmph. Showing off are we ?”.
-At some point during the trip, drifting spheres of silver light will appear. These are the “shapeshifted” astral forms of some of the “Seekers Of The Way Of The Sword”, a sorcerous order of monks from out in shadow. They have quite impressive magical and psychic powers, and have been “directed by their goddess” (At least as far as they know) to make a quick, probing, assault on the group. They will begin as soon as they are probed by anyone, “They don’t seem to like being recognized”. After throwing around some “flashy” spells and psychic assaults – mostly concentrating on Jaen – they will be driven off according to the sequence given below. They will, of course, have been given the necessary orders. The powers to be demonstrated include :
1) True Sight (Monks, in “Astral Form”)
2) Power Resonances (Magic and High Psyche)
3) Anchoring (Versus teleportive spell)
4-5) Counterforce Tapping and Back Propagation (To
project a cancellation through the projections)
6) Link Tracing (Fails, they weren’t using a trump
based link to begin with)
7) Enviormantal Awareness (To locate their base of
operations in nearby shadow via alien presnece)
8) A reality-locked trump portal (To get us there)
9) Residue Focusing (To use the “residue” of their
own teleport spell to follow them with)
10) Barrier Penetration (To break into the shadow
where they’re spell took them, since it will be
barriered against us)
11) Warp Rebound (To return after its apparent that
they’ve used a maze of shadow trails and travel
through fast-time shadows to make persuing them
12) Acclerated Healing (To “patch up” any injuries.
While there won’t be any serious injuries there
will certainly be some scratches somewhere.
-Optional Scene : When / if Jaen decides to take a “closer look” at Dernfara – whether instrumentally, on the psychic level, or via trump. This is not so much a demonstration as a ploy – since it will leave Dernfara with a defensive advantage, but with slightly weakened psychic offensive abilities (that won’t resemble Jaens patterns). Jaen should get the impression the Dernfara has a greatly inferior psyche rank, but is using trump energies to make up for it. This is true enough – save for the fact that the inferior psyche is the one being tapped off in shadow. Since it will be concealed in a variety of ways, power #2 below cannot be said to have been demonstrated in this fashion. On the other hand I suppose I’m contriving demonstrating enough powers for this session.
1) Psychic Backup
2) Psychic Energies
3) Amplification (Of tapped psychic energies)
4) Aura Shifting (To somewhat more ordinary horse)
Surprisingly, nothing else actually showed up until we’d nearly reached Kornavar. At about that point, we were diverted to some shadow under Fionas control, and had to deal with the pattern-energy shield surrounding it, a nearly endless staircase, and some other gambits designed to seperate us. While that shield “generator” was fairly interesting (It was a midtech biotechnology construct with a purely artificial interface) Mr Flynn went and edited it out of existence before I was done. I had to use postcognitive spells to get a look at the mechanism at all! Someone ought to put a leash on the idiot, disposing of the information source is just not helpful. Of course he might have been in on it as none of it seemed to surprise him any. ANYway, Fiona pushed me about thirty years forward in an attempt to stop me from interfering with her assaults on Jaen and Gavroche. I came right back of course, but since she had asked I sat it out, while her black knight kicked both of them around for a bit. They eventually got rid of him – and Gavroche made peace with Fiona – by blaming everything on Jaen. Apparently she decided to let me try to catch Jaen, so she let everyone go on to Kornavar. The place was fairly typical for midtech shadows, except for the fact that a lot of it’s natural laws tended to shift a bit, forcing them to use lots and lots of really weird backup systems in their machinery. No wonder the stuff will work almost anywhere. Setting up the trading deal was pretty simple, although I did manage to show off a few more of Dernfaras abilities. I couldn’t stay very long, I had to get back to Amber and get those kids from Hilura Ku through the pattern in Tir-Na-Nagoth without anyone spotting them. No big deal really.
The truly hard part was maintaining a straight face through this mess, although I’d prepared a special set of power words, spells, and enchanted defences to stop Jaen from picking up any hint of my plans. My god, but my actors are stiff. Next time I set something up, I’m going to provide complete scripts or send everybody to acting school. I’ve never seen such flat, unconvincing portrayals. On the other hand, Jaen and the rest seemed to swallow it. I thought that Gavroche might have more brains, but since the entire sequence was designed for Jaen, this really didn’t matter. Jaen finally accepted his docile inner self, choose to be a horse, asked for training – and trotted along quite willingly when I lead him off by his bridle. It really was quite helpful of him to provide his own saddle and tack. He’s so docile and obliging that I spent a little longer training him then I’d planned. He’s so cute when he’s begging to be ridden that it’s kind of hard to turn him down. Fiona had him taught to bow very gracefully – at least for a horse. I didn’t know what to expect from the two years of his training I invited her to design – she had full authority to specify his training and treatment short of killing him. I suppose it depended on how vengeful she was feeling – but she was very nearly content with her videotapes of him being trained and worked. As she could have made him a trembling, broken-spirited, gelding if she’d wanted, I think it showed commendable restraint. I’d have reversed time for him if she had, but I’m not going to argue with Fiona over how she treats a horse. He did fairly well as a stud too, the mares complained about him being too strong, but I added an enchantment or two to those I’d been using anyway.
As I found out after reaching Gavroche’, things got even odder then usual while I was experimenting. Flora and Alfred were conducting a war of decorators in the castle hallways, while Gavroche had been given a sword named “Blackwand” by Brand, who seems to have aged his way back to being an adult again. He promptly used it to lock himself inside a crystal block, apparently the blades idea of a very safe place. I suppose it is, but it seems sort of limiting to me. ANYway, when I tossed a coin to see who I should have Cerwil try to contact, Gavroche came up, so I called him. It seems that being merged with crystal does really strange things to your time sense, so I had to fish him out. Brand showed up too – and seemed really annoyed that Gavroche gave the sword the control ring for itself. When Gavroche heard about what was going on back at the castle he asked me to go and calm down the castle. And here I didn’t even know it was capable of getting upset. I had to wake it up to soothe it, and the first thing it did was to try to get rid of Alfred. I can understand that. Flora is all right, but Alfred is simply impossible. Just after I woke up the castle, Fiona dropped by to tell me that C’hin had playfully jumped on her. She seemed somewhat upset, not so much that he had jumped her, but that he had managed to sneak up on her. She’d thought that it was impossible now that she had her gem finished. Back in Amber, Gavroche was back and had ordered the guards to throw Alfred over the cliffs – a rather drastic way to banish him. Alfred promptly polished off the guards by cleaning their uniforms and weapons to nothingness, and headed back towards the castle. Gavy met him halfway and had the drawbridge closed, so Alfred had a pack of those antimatter-loaded lizard-dog things charge. Gavy sent an emergency trump call out to everybody – and they all showed up (!), and were met with the pronouncement that “The Butler Is Attacking The Castle!”. He expects everyone to take him seriously when he acts like this?
ANYway, most of the elders said there really wasn’t much they could do about mindless energy constructs on fifteen seconds notice. Pops wanted to wrestle them. I know he’s a bit drunk, but even so… I disrupted the fields and let Cerwil take the energy away, blowing up a 22.5 ft radius of each one in the process. Hummph. I thought we’d agreed on a twenty foot radius. I suppose that’s chaos, give it an inch and it gets indeterminate. While this was going on “Alfred” slipped back into the castle, which promptly threw him out again. Afterwards Gavroche told me that he a) felt like a figurehead, b) wanted to meet Merlin, c) was appointing me ambassador to chaos, d) wanted me to look into whatever plots the elders were up to, e) wanted me to determine if Alfred really was (or is) Terror, f) wants me to find out who would be a good ally, g) thinks that all of the elders are manipulating him, h) only really trusts Blackwand, the sword of Brand, i) thinks that actually being king is a barrier to achieving genuine political power, and j) is completely crackers. I’m not sure he’s any worse then the rest of the royal family, but he’s definitely not sane. I’d suspected as much, but it would’ave been nice to be wrong. Julian lost Alfred somewhere in the forest, but he left some souvenir hounds roaming about in Arden. He upset Florimel too, by stopping at one of her shadows on the way out and redecorating the place. At least she’s willing to collaborate with the castle. Since things seemed to be stable for the next few days I took the time to look into “e”. It was simple enough really, I simply borrowed the Jewel (I kind’ve thought that he might complain and argue about loaning it to me, but he just let me grab it.), and checked back along his reality track. That led to the Logrus, so I headed off to the courts and ran a retrocognitive probe back. It seems that he emerged from the center of the logrus, a precaution that I had not really expected him to think of. Maybe Greast thought of it, as a pure shapeshifter Alfred had no way of opening the portal to begin with. Gavroche says that Caine wanted a twig and leaf off of Ygg and asked me what he might want with them? Why ask me? I can think of at least half a dozen possibilities without even trying. Use it as a sympathetic “link” to manipulate Ygg, use it to grow another “Ygg”, to merge with a shadow, to tap it as a power source, to put the shadow it equates to in his pocket, to manipulate some shadow storms, or for some more arcane purpose. There are probably dozens of things to do with it that would never occur to me, Caine has always had weird ideas.
Well, Gavroche’s done it now. He officially banned Alfred and the newspaper from amber. Alfred, yes, but as for the newspaper, this is just not the way to get any good publicity. They’ll probably just move the offices or something. After all, I happen to know that Dworkin finds the paper amusing, and he’s the one who’s really in charge around here. Benedicts gone missing as well, which doesn’t bode well for Ambers peace and security. No doubt every little warlord he’s terrorized over the last millennia will take it as a signal to start. This may calm down after a while – without Benedict to cast shadows and inspire warfare across the universe things may get calmer – but this kind of change takes a while to sink in. Wherever he’s gone, it’s outside the range of the Jewel and our other tracking methods – maybe he’s gone to visit that multiverse Orb and Aristotle built. Well wherever he went it seems to be outside our usual cosmos. There are quite a few indications that he went after Oberon. That would take him someplace “outside”, since Oberon got himself kicked out of our universe by the exclusion principle. Gavy used the Jewel to create a link between them before he left, but doesn’t really know what he did. Oh well. Well at least looking about the place for him revealed one interesting fact, there are nearly 500,000 “real” people in the universe, most of them descended from the lords of chaos.
ANYway, Llewella says that she’s been having really odd dreams about him, so she came to Gavroche with the idea that he’s in trouble. Gavroche consulted Fiona by giving her a simple mental “hello”. She returned this happy greeting and said he’s either not in this universe or is very well shielded. The royal archivist says an old portrait of Oberon (by Dworkin) is missing. Now if Benedict used that to trump after Oberon he’d probably find himself in Oberons private realm. Oberons got the total jewel imprint – but I rather doubt he can handle the energies to maintain a multiverse. Maybe something like a primal plane and some secondary shadows though. Trying to trace him showed that he was lost somewhere, in an 11-factor temporal fractal mess, and isn’t readily reachable. I heard that Terror tried, but couldn’t get to him despite trying all the powers. I think it just goes to show that raw power is useless unless you know what you’re doing. Besides, he “ran into” one of those shadows I put in his way. I watched and studied him a bit, but he was sort of nauseating. I did get a decent lock on his name and basic personality markers though, so I got Fiona and Drizzt set for a grand psychic attack on him next time he shows up. Gavroche heard about it and got worried, the painting was indeed used as a trump and he can’t make contact with Benedict. Jaen tried to “trump down” the fractal but pulled back when he began to “get thin”. Dumb horse. He’s good, but not infinite
So we “cut to” the conference scene. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned to Gavroche that Fiona had finished her new gadget, he seems to disapprove for some reason. Oh well, I already knew he was paranoid. Just as the talk was becoming completely silly, “Benedict” came in, but there was obviously something wrong with him. No basic metabolism. He also seems to be a very “early version” of himself. Huh. A logrus ghost. I gave him a body to stabilize (and regenerate) his energy structure, major shapeshifting to control the ensuing chaos cancer, and updated him on the history of Amber. Not a big problem really, but it did let me skip out on a few minutes of the silly debate. I guess the logrus is too chaotic to run a fully teleoperated construct at this point. What was truly interesting was that he appeared in the very center of the pattern. The last thing he remembers is that Osric just left. Either Benedict hasn’t gone thru the logrus recently or it sent us an older version for some reason. Why the pattern went along with it is an open question. It could just be that they want him as a peacekeeper or something, but maybe some old pattern directives are at work. Just afterwards, Gavroches old “girlfriend” from his moose days dropped in to visit and apologize, so Gavroche had her thrown into the dungeon below the castle when Jaen planted a knife on her. He went down to see her after a bit – it seems she wanted to apologize after she realized Gavroche wasn’t really a moose after all and followed him back to amber – but got caught in a slow-time area. Gavy asked me to give her something to protect her, permit easy contact, and allow her to walk shadow. Not much of a problem. Jaen got Random to proclaim that Gavy really is king – with the proviso that Gavroche can only abdicate in Randoms favor. Jaens special team of announcers and proclaimers proclaimed it – and Gavy threw them out of the castle. Testy, testy. The problem with Gavy calling Benedict seems to be that his call gets too diffused. Factoring in the pattern imprint eliminated six factors, and the chaos attractor of the logrus narrowed it down to just about a hundred possibilities. He tried to run a trump contact down those lines – but the right ones all seem to be unconscious and barred against gates – making it necessary to actually go there. Factoring in personal mental patterns narrows it a bit more, leaving only 20 Benedicts, but the number keeps changing. Oberon seems to be collecting the Benedicts, he never has less then one or more then 20, the higher numbers are rare, and of short duration. Gavroche decided to think about it for a bit and asked for a briefing on the Jewel. I had to borrow it for a while to check my theories, but it was easy enough to give him the “basic” version. Jaen went to check on Rick and Terror briefly gave up on pestering Benedict by mail to go and have sex with the Enchantress in some very weird forms. Well – different strokes for different folks I suppose, and you can’t get much more different then Terror. He also seems to be considering yet another new name, now he’s going to be Apocalypse, and is going to turn Florimels shadow a “Good scottish plaid”.
Gavroche wants to get himself enchanted, like Jaen. OK. Why not ? He wants innate flight abilities, some sort of force/enviormental shield, and some power words. Well that should be simple enough, I’ll simply have to pick a base form for him that has most of those innate to it. The spaceling form seems to fit – and is easily domesticated and trained to boot. Well, if that’s what he wants… He went through the Jewel again afterwards and locked it down. After that of course, he was eager to be trained. A lot of fun really – especially those atmospheric bounces and the gravity sledding. Oh well, all good things must come to an end, including riding, no matter how reluctant the mount is to stop.
Gavroche went off to play with the Jewel a bit, and I had a symphony to compose, so I only got to hear the summary. It can’t seem to tune in on me, probably due to my link with Cerwil. Benedict is not available, and Fiona seems to be hidden somehow (probably a limit due to her attunement to the blank version). Flora has it set on a delay/censorship loop – it can’t get her when she’s; mussed, in the bathroom, or without her makeup. Back at the symphony – the basic mathematics will have to be based on a chaotic fractal, self-similar only in it’s mode of dissimilarity, an upbeat “spiraling” kind of theme permitting endless variations. It should have some relationship to the surprise symphony and will be a bit heavy on the woodwinds (so I like woodwinds, OK?). It looks like it will also have to have a 24-hour base cycle, to match the serpents. Seven repetitions should do it, attuned to the seven principles associated with the logrus. Shapeshifting obviously has to be first so that the “CPU” gets recoded first, after that, I think Divination (both for the data accessing functions and to start the cycle), Darkness (to clear available “memory space” and to damp the surges), Light (to reinitialize the “system”, purge the darkness – and set things on a positive note), Storm (to match and try to control the major energy surges at the “midpoint” of the process), Psionics (to set the harmonic changes in the fields of the sentients involved), and Magic (the final and most subtle part of the cycle – as well as the one I’m most skilled in – in case I need to do some error catching. The magicians and I are enchanted against making errors, the place is sealed against the patterns interference, the horses are ready, the instruments links are ready, Random is watching for pattern energy surges (with the jewel), Merlin is in the audience, some healing spells are ready, and the wards are ready to seal off the focal points as soon as they manifest. I’ve taken the other obvious precautions, so I guess it’s time to begin… I’ve even extended my base hearing range so I can hear the entire thing. Merlin seemed to be coping until he fell unconscious, it seems that all the Logrus masters are going unconscious, all the pattern masters seem to be headed that way, and the focal points are established (and warded) after the first cycle. Shadow storms are running rampant near the “midpoints” of the cosmos and Ygg is blue, is not talking, and is “cycling” thru the spectrum). Dworkin is missing, and pissed, and the Jewel has reached the limits of its processing capacity. All of that is really about as I expected… Gavroche has decided to head off in the middle of this, he seems to be worried about Benedict. He’s taking Blackwand with him – so I guess I don’t need to worry about finding a weapon for him. He blitzkrieged down the dizzying, and indeterminate, pathways and found Benedict in a modern hospital with an IV and a bad case of varying substantuality. In the meantime, Random is unconscious, Jaen is off for a private meeting with Rick, and the Jewel is tapping pattern masters brains for backup capacity. I suggested that Gavroche “feed” Benedict pattern energy in an attempt to stabilize him. It’s not easy at this range – it helps, but its an effort. Benedict wakes up just before Gavroche would pass out, and wants to know “what are you doing here ?” Gavroche says “I had help on your link). Benedict, despite Gavroches exhaustion, insists on looking for Oberon. Benedict says the place isn’t exactly running smoothly, like the courts (as it goes to a formless gray void). I told Gavy to ask the matrix for help, as it has lots more power to spare at the moment. Oberon showed up and wanted to know how to get back, so I told him several different methods. He opted to try shapeshifting to blur the imprint, but is using most of his shapeshifting talents to “hold” this place stable. I sent Dernfara to help out by building a minor pocket universe to work in, as he’s one of the few without a role to play at the moment. Oberon went to chaos form. Gavroche tried to collect the resulting puddle and asked Dernfara to “make me a bathtub” – so he is for a few moments. That’s Dernfara, almost as silly as Jaen. Anyway, it works. Oberon returns, has no idea what is going on, goes on vacation (or something), and won’t take back the kingdom. Back in Amber, Caine and Drexall are in the infirmary in convulsions, with some sort of shapeshifting plague. They die, despite Jaens attempt to tinker. The plague seems to be an airborne creation of Terrors. Not very nice. Jaen may have sped the end, but I think they were pretty well doomed once the stuff was well established. Fortunately, a microbe with that kind of “shapeshifting” can’t sustain itself for long, so it dissipated. Either Caine and Drexall are really dead or they are blocking trump calls. Gavroche doesn’t want to be king any longer, but he seems to be stuck with it since no one else is willing to take it. Jaen is busy trying to straighten out Rick since Fiona seems to have conditioned him to absolute loyalty. She may or may not have done it intentionally, but Jaen is against it in any case. Funny. He likes his version of the same effect, he chose it willingly. I’m certainly glad that I learned multitracking a long time ago, I’m barely up to the beginning of the Storm section, and all of them keep calling me… If this diary wasn’t a file on an implant, I’ve no idea how I could manage to keep my notes on what’s going on up to date. As-is they’re a bit sketchy.
The display is spectacular on every level, from the local storm and the storms across shadow to the corona effects around the instruments and the musicians themselves. The force of the storm can be felt even within my shields, we seem to be at the epicenter rather then at an eye. It’s a good thing the instruments links are also serving as grounds, otherwise the energy level in here would be overwhelming. At least Gavroche canceled the continious-update order he gave the Jewel, it’s no wonder it was overloaded. That’s letting the pattern-masters wake up – but the logrus masters are still out of it. They’re shapeshifting “randomly”, but it seems to be a subconscious defence mechanism – at least they tend to camoflague themselves and adapt to threats. I had Aristotle drop them off in nice, hidden, protected locations with a hot “box lunch” and a note of apology for any inconvenience(s). Ok – so it referred them to Merlin, but he’s the one who requested this after all. He can make an official statement or something, that’s his job, he’s a king. I hadn’t expected to get so many secondary event-vortexes though, the things seem to be feeding on themselves. Maybe the progressive cycle of the music allows them to gain energy from each principle in turn. I hope I can damp them during the magical cycle – who knows what they’ll be capable of after the progression closes? They might become self-generating. It would certainly be a major power source and they do tend to focus on individuals, but at least it would be murder to fully control. On the other hand, they might well develop individual personalities – the principles are all tied in with “life” after all… Hopefully the entire question is academic. A few odd transformations during the shapeshifting cycle and weird insights during the divinatory one are not unexpected – but the return of Terror and the deaths of Caine and Drexall during the darkness cycle are kind of disquieting. I’ve begun the storm cycle and already Benedict is sulking in his room, armies are stirring, several of the elders have awoken grumpy, Terror is still on the loose, and Gavroche’s (or my) silly pet dragon is sending 200 antimatter dragon/ bombs randomly out into shadow every hour, with orders to “get Terror”. OK, as long as they won’t blow up at anyone else. Then he decided to hunt for something to help his magic – not noticing that he used shadow-seek to do it. I guess it serves me right. I checked to see if he had a sentient brain, but it never occured to me to see if it was on. ANYway, he blundered into one of Caines old shadows and picked up his ring and some silly wand with some one-shot power words that just happened to match some of the ones I gave him. A psychological crutch I guess. Terror was pestering Drax – although I don’t know why he’d bother. I suppose he simply enjoys pestering animals. No doubt he pulled the cats tail as a kid (or whatever he was). Gavroche is making deals, with Drax, Terror, and Drax’s clan, as well as following Benedict .1, now known as Trent – and heavily cybered?
ANYway, he’s dumping all the busywork of being king on various flunkies, leaving him with most of his time free to intrigue. I’d think he’d feel more secure now, he’s been complaining that what the elders really want on the throne is a “trained seal”… At least Jaen is staying out of trouble, trying to recondition Rick. He may or may not succeed, but if Fiona really wanted the kid conditioned I think she’s got the edge in talent and experience. Jaen seems to be conditioning him so that he’ll go amuck if anyone tries to tinker with his mind again. At least he remembered (well maybe I hinted) to allow for trump contacts and contacts with his own mind, who needs a kid with that much power going berserk? He sent him out to investigate trade routes and such – so at least he shouldn’t be getting into too much trouble out on his own. It’s a good thing the “storm” movement is drawing to an end, things are getting kind of tense out there. I find it hard to believe just how busy the cosmos is all of a sudden, I mean, nothing happens for centuries, and now all these immortals can’t seem to let a day go by without doing six things… An interesting effect there, as the movement simultaneously reached a crescendo, died away, and “opened up” to allow for the cloud-piercing note-shafts of the woodwinds and sun. The things you can do using all of shadow as your sounding board… The first subtle, rippling, note-phrases, of the psionics movement spread across shadow, displacing and subsuming the last thundering stormnote, a transient mirror reflecting mind against the seething background of the wild magic. Within the lens of the shield woven around the orchestra the raw stuff of the mind is made manifest – thoughts into energy, concepts into matter, ideals into tangibility, and philosophies as “devices” of astral matter, unencumbered by grosser realities… At least things outside seem to be settling down a bit more on most levels – including the physical, psychic, metaphysical, and emotional ones. Everyone is following up on their schemes though, if a bit less frantically. Jaen is still working on Rick. I wonder if working on it during the psionics movement will have any effect ? At least working from the focus has got my perceptions up to the point where I can tell that there really are event vortexes on the loose. On the other hand I’m not entirely sure they’re at a significant level – I could just be seeing the things I was worrying about, it all has to be out there in shadow somewhere… Still, with the “magic” movement coming up last I think I can damp out the major disturbances… This file will just have to wait, I can’t spare the attention now that the last movement is beginning.
A good thing that’s over. I think I got most of the vortexes, if there were any, damped out, but I’ll keep an eye out anyway… The lords of chaos woke up, they seemed kind of preoccupied and puzzled, ate breakfast, read the notes, and departed for various destinations. I hope they don’t bother Merlin too much, I think that he could use a few days off himself. Drax wants to go and get Terror, it seems he sent a few of Drax’s silly dragons back – piece by piece. He also sent him a note inviting him to his private, prepared, shadow. Drax is planning to go. I really need to take him to a vet and have his brain checked. If he was human I’d say it was way too much testosterone, but I guess they don’t call it the “reptilian brain” for nothing. He went in with a million or so dragons with antimatter bombs, only to find that Terror had opted to become a dyson-seferetti surface, enclosing a modest cluster of stars. Between its sheer size and its rapid regeneration it was quite immune to Drax’s efforts, although Drax didn’t seem to be able to get the point. I think he’d be quite happy to run endlessly in a wheel… Drax had invited Jaen and I along as well. Jaen went simply as an observer – and to say hello to Terror – while I contented myself with monitoring them. Terror set up a safe spot for Jaen, and played with Drax – but given the what he’s been up to, the opportunity was just too good to miss. I raised a complete set of barriers around the shadow, pulled out my pets just before completing it, and used Skadwhe to cut the place loose from our multiverse. Terror left a “blood curse” as a parting gift (I always knew that he was a poor sport), and took the enchantress along as a consolation prize. Gavroche “found” it in the patterns RAM, it was directed against Drax, Benedict, and I, so he took off my name and Benedicts. You shouldn’t treat your pets like that, but maybe it’s a rivalry problem. He also ordered up a pattern-ghost of Caine – who made some obscure remarks about how he wanted to come back, but if he wanted cooperation he shouldn’t have gone to such trouble to become known as totally untrustworthy. Drax asked Merlin how to get Drexall back – and Merlin passed the problem on to me. I wonder what I’ll bring Caine back as? A panther perhaps – something dark and feline would seem to suit him perfectly. Gerard had a headache for a few days, apparently Terror was using a fragment of himself to cause the shapeshifting plague, but dissolved all the seperated pieces to stop me from using them as links to him. What’s upsetting Gerard is that the castle keeps moving the walls out of his way, instead of letting him break through them. Benedict .1 has changed his name to Trent – and got introducted to the rest of the family at Gavroches (Victory ?) party. Gavroche limited it to amberites but we got him to let Drax in in his capacity as Gavroche’s pet. Apparently Gavroche asked for Drax as the chaos court ambassador, doesn’t he know that Drax isn’t even a lord of chaos ? Merlin must be humoring him. Fiona, Rick, Ch’in, Orb, and Aristotle all decided to show up – but Benedict is noticably absent. I think he’s cranking about “modern” warfare. During dinner the city and castle were attacked by increasingly silly barbarian hordes – apparently as a diversion. Jaen decided to demonstrate his qualities as a warhorse, and held them off by himself for a bit, but almost everyone got in on it somewhere. I went to see who was using this absurdity as a diversion (while sneaking in the back way) but it was already too late. Someone had stolen all of the family portraits and spare trump decks. An enemy with a sense of humor. That’s a new one around here – and probably more dangerous then a straightforward one. People with senses of humor are a lot harder to figure out. Jaen made an equine ass of himself by hanging portraits of the younger generation to replace the elders, but at least put up pictures of the elders across the hallway. It’s still a major Faux Paus, but I don’t think anyone expects much of Jaen in any case – not with Dernfara around. Still, if we have another enemy around things could get dangerous. Since I’m sort of responsible for Fiona, I used my link with her to arrange a transfer-effect, to switch “her” life energy and psyche to a new body if her current body gets killed somehow. She’ll wake up in one of my hospitals, but that’s a lot better then not waking up. I seem to have started something with Jaen and Gavroche, several other amberites and chaosians have asked to be enchanted too. Well why not?