Arvon’s Diary 3

+106/2, AST

Well, despite the missing trump paintings something seems to be going right around here. The modernization effort is actually ahead of schedule, probably because the castle is actively cooperating with it. The phones are already installed and operating. Gavroche took the opportunity to call up the Tribune offices and “unban” the newspaper, telling the staff that the ban was only a political maneuver and that they could publish again – as long as they didn’t embarrass the royal family too much. I think he’s hoping one of their reporters knows something about what’s going on. Maybe he’s spent too much time out in shadow, he seems to really believe in this investigative reporting stuff. On the other hand, maybe he just needs a laugh. Being king in Amber isn’t really much fun I think – it’s no wonder he’s so eager to work off a little tension when I saddle him up. How my various pets manage such total compartmentalization of their minds is beyond me. They knowjust what they are, but it never affects their public behavior in any noticeable way. Ok, mostly it’s subconscious, but even so, their “super-human” psychic resilience has to have somethingto do with it. ANYway, Drax is back in Amber and is trying to stir up some tension between it and the Courts by claiming that “Relations are Strained!”, and that he’s talked his clan into staying neutral – as if anyone would care. For a minor chaos creature, Drax is incredibly self-important. It seems to come with being a dragon. Maybe I should make Gavroche an unbreakable leash and muzzle for him, leaving him tied in a corner of the castle for a few days might get his real status across to him. On the other hand I’m not entirely sure he’d get the point. Maybe I should just find him a new brain. The one he has just doesn’t seem to be working. Oh well. I took a few minutes (amber time) off to try a few experiments with the focal points. They seem to be initiatory, broad-scale manipulative, and grant the appropriate powers used there almost “infinite” range. They also seem to have interacted with the wards I set up while they were developing, making any kind of link with them impossible and access difficult – especially for anyone else. Even if they get into the appropriate shadow, they have to break through the manifest powers of the locus. At least you’ll only have to do it once, reaching the nexus attunes you just enough so that you can get through with an appropriate power word. Oddly, lots of the local shadow-dwellers seem to manage it. I think they’re “naturally” (partially) attuned already. The Light and Darkness loci are especially interesting – they only exist on the astral level. I think that it’s because they’re both “partial” aspects, and just don’t have full reality separately. Flynn’s out of training as well. He took a little longer then usual, I finally had to make “neutered” one of his alternate forms – he got distracted so easily. He was acting like a dog, so I made him an Averin for his basic form, he was really sort of disgusting as a “human”. He’d go for virtually anything the hotline located, so I had an Averin were-bitch call him up, and transformed him en route. Quite a satisfactory experiment really. I let him attune the Jewel to lock it down, but that was no trouble.

When I got back, Gavroche was yelling “AARRVOOON!!! HEP ME! HEP ME! SOMEONES TURNED FIONA INTO A ZOMBIE!”. “I WAS TALKING TO HER – AND THEN SOMEONE TOOK HER OVER AND TURNED HER INTO A ZOMBIE!!!”. Can’t I go away for an hour or two without something going wrong? Gavroche turned out to be about right when I checked on things, although the trouble had spread to Bleys by that time. He apparently just started over in the middle of being told about the problem, and seemed to be really stupid and quite absentminded, neither of which is typical of him. I put their bodies in my hospital, picked up the “matrix” from Fiona, and ran a few tests. It seems to be some sort of spirit/vitality transfer. Most of “Fiona” is caught in the matrix/pattern gem (her her link with it seems to have taken priority – especially since she got to it first), but she seems to be stuck there. The mysterious “thief” got little or nothing from her, but Bleys seems to have been almost completely sucked dry. Our “thief” seems to be very strong and very fast, but doesn’t seem to be especially skilled. He, she, or it, simply has an immense “psychic suction”. This could be a pretense – but with that much power, why bother? We (Me, my pets; Jaen, Gavroche, and Flynn, plus Brand) got together to consider things and tally up the list of the “sucked”. So far it’s; Dierdre, Bleys, Random, Julian, and Llewella. Benedict is out of touch, Caine and Eric are dead at the moment (I really must remember to do something about that), Brand was attacked but he broke the link (good reflexes on that guy), nobody had the nerve to try for Corwin or Dworkin – and Gerard got attacked but broke the link. I asked pops how he did that, but he just smirked and flexed his muscles. Strength on the metaphysical level? That’s ridiculous. Only pops could possibly come up with something like that. Still, just maybe he wasn’t quite as crazy (or drunk) as I thought when he wanted to wrestle those antimatter hounds, but it was still a stupid idea. Even if he’d squeezed most of the pack into submission or nothingness, the entire place would still have been blown up by the remainder. That accounts for all of the usual elders in residence, except Oberon – and he hasn’t been seen since Gavroche brought him back. It’s not his style anyway, he likes to set everyone at each others throats, not leave them wandering around blankly. About the only clues we had to go on were a set of anonymous, handwritten, notes – The one I got stated : “They’re much nicer people now. They won’t mess up anybody’s lives. Why don’t you just leave them the way they are ?”. Gavroche got one too; “You’re king now. You should have no more problems.”. We couldn’t identify the handwriting, but that doesn’t mean very much. Anyone with “recognizable” handwriting would doubtless disguise it, have some secretary write it, or type it. We called in Jaens specialized, highly trained-from-birth, “graphology team” to analyze it on the off-chance that they could tell us something about the writer. Oddly enough, they could. They said that the author was probably; nuts, 275-280 years old, very strong, with slow neural responses, and knows us a bit (we could have told them that). It’s on conjured paper and probably comes from a Victorian shadow (how in the universe they could tell thatI’ve no idea). The notes are also about 25 years old. Somehow I get the feeling that Martin is the one doing this – his cybertrump bit seems to fit the bill. While we were awaiting results, a page came and told us that the gallery is empty again, so I had Jaen draw a trump of the trump painting which he made of Bleys (it worked too, I wasn’t sure that it was possible) and Gavroche used it to go after the other paintings while I kept an eye on him. The “collection” turned out to be in a massive vault – suspended in the abyss. Yes, our enemy definitely has a sense of humor. If anyone can find something in, penetrate, and resist the influence of the abyss a vault isn’t going to stop them… Gavroche looked at the abyss and said “I don’t know how my father/brother did it”. Well if he doesn’t know, I do. The question is, why would anyone want to do it voluntarily? Gavroche I really didn’t know what he was getting himself into, but II would, and doesn’t want to. Good. He’s finally developing a little sense.

ANYway, back with those trump “paintings”, we tried to trace their links with their subjects and the user, and got dual directions and residual links. One end went off into the Matrix/Labyrinth reality, while the other went “everywhere”. Great. That really narrows it down. We substituted some phony pictures in case the “thief” tried to use them again, but he’s probably either done with them – or has already copied any he still needed. In either case the vault seems to be a dead end. While we tried to eliminate possibilities, Flynn got a trump call, but Brand broke the link when he tried to answer it, and said that it felt like what our thief was trying to do. Reallygood reflexes on that guy. I wonder if he used trump to eliminate neural transmission lag? It would be a neat trick and would certainly accelerate his reflexes quite a bit, but the biological complications are considerable… Oh well, I’ll look into it later. That “everywhere” business sounded a bit familiar, but there don’t seem to be any “nirvanites” at the moment. Ok, they’re not in the trump field – but maybe they’re in the Abyss? Just what I needed. If this turns out to be one of Greasts schemes again, I could become really annoyed with that man. Ithought things were confused enough – but somebody obviously didn’t agree, as Trent called to tell us that yet another army was coming. He didn’t know who was leading it, but it’s probably some idiot named Eric. Brand chose this moment to introduce his son Damion – possibly thinking that things were so busy that no one would think about what his other kids were like. Jaen is all right – but he predates Brands tinkering with the abyss. Since then what have we got? Terror. Wrath. Damion. The names alone do not inspire confidence. He’s also an abyssal master. Wonderful. As of my last count Brand acquired abyssal powers and tried to wreck the universe. Greast acquired abyssal powers and tried to… Terror acquired… Gavroche Iacquired abyssal powers, but only slightly damaged the universe before absent-mindedly wrecking himself. Maybe there’s something about abyssal powers that makes this kind of thing seem natural, although I must admit that none of them were exceptionally stable to begin with. Even so, I think I’ll keep an eye on this Damion fellow. In the meantime, the castle said that some magical or seismic disturbance was coming. This turned out to be sappers digging tunnels beneath the castle walls, so I told it to pour water down the tunnels and wash them out. That should take care of that and, with luck, nobody will get hurt. Damion muttered something uncomplimentary about this procedure, and announced : “Fine, but if the bloody thing farts I’m out of here”. A peculiar attitude he’s got, but it seems to go with the weird accent somehow.

Checking around with the Jewel of Judgement to back Gavroches trump calls revealed that; 1) Eric is indeed dead, even more then before, 2) Osric isn’t available, 3) Finndo isn’t having problems, isn’t willing to help out, believes he’s safe, and may be back some time. He also has a nice, smooth, spherical mind, whatever that means, 4) Merlin has Ghostwheel trying to find out why the heads of some 35 of the major houses of chaos have melted into mindless, nearly devitalized, puddles, and 5) Gavroche really can be polite to people, if they’re important and powerful enough. In the meantime, Jaen has failed to see any armies from the battlements, while a trump construct of some kind is sitting on the ceiling and spying on us. Business as usual. Someone did something about the trump construct, which is too bad in a way – I have a feeling that listening in on this group in conference represents a net loss of information. We speculate so much that listeners may wind up with less knowledge about what we’ll do then they’d have if they didn’t listen to begin with, and will certainly have a lot more possibilities to worry about. I diverted the discussion back to Martin, since I steel feel he’s our best suspect. Ok, so it’s nothing but intuition, maybe you ought to listen to it sometimes if you’re going to be a wizard… Using the Jewel to check on Martin gave us a look at several hundred of him, engaged in a wide variety of activities. Only about a hundred and fifty were actually solid, but they were of various ages, in a variety of shadows, and equipped with a variety of odd cyberware. They were painting, studying cybernetics or other subjects, meditating, getting into zen, and otherwise keeping busy. No wonder we got a crowd scene when we tried to give him a trump call. The “mental-ghost” versions are tele-operated as well, so at least some of them are multitasking. We tried for Dara, since Flynn wanted to talk to her, but he never got a word in. She just snickered, grinned, and said; “Oh, so you’re Flynn. Your reputation proceeds you”. Flynn promptly went off with Dara, well I did give him a couple of power words which should prove most enjoyable…

Back at the conference, Gavroche got an “impression of danger” from Blackwand. Justified enough I suppose, since Trent came in, attacked Gavroche, and started to fight with Blackwand. I tried to calm things down, but someone’d apparently loaded a “success or death” selfdestruct program into his cyberware. He exploded when it became apparent that he wasn’t going to win. Nasty. Fairly permanent as well, since I can’t resurrect him. A trump ghost mustbe up-to-date, the resonance effect requires it. Well, if you really must have neuralware, be verycareful about what you let anybody upload into it. Back to Martin I think, Trent went off with him at one point – and all of this cyber-stuff seems to be in his line. The Jewel says Martin began multiplying some ten years ago (amber time), it lost track of him for a while, and when it found him again he was a mainframe. It’s also the only one with pattern imprint. Well, the only places the Jewel can “lose” a pattern initiate in are the center of the Logrus and the Abyss. A shielded shadow may keep it from getting exact information, but it will still know you’re in there. Back to the Abyss. This is looking like one of Greasts backup plots. This could get really annoying.

ANYway, that mainframe has been used every so often by one of the duplicates, so we went to look at it. It was in some sort of university – and acted just like a normal computer, at least until we “undeleted” Martins program file. It looks like Greast simply annihilated his body and downloaded his mind into the system, very smooth, very fast – and very nasty, since he installed a set of override programs designed to auto-execute if Martin tried to do anything and block his personality. We fooled around with the professors, campus security, and students, for a bit, but the place was basically a dead end on that level. The Martin-Computer had simply been downloading their minds and shooting them down to an abyssal-shielded vault that was programmed to fight back when anyone tried to get in. Putting Martin back into a body was easy enough – he went off to “party” a bit more. Oh well. Getting down to the vault was easy, we just took the elevator. There were lots of traps of course, but none we couldn’t deal with. Oddly enough, they all missed me somehow. The room “held” an abyssal computer, which wanted parameters, data, and Greast in that order. Gavroche shapechanged and “did Greast”. He then spent some time debating with himself. I played a hunch and tried “Veronica” as a password. I got Veronica the simulation, who debated with Gavroche/Greast for a while. While interesting, this still wasn’t getting us anywhere. There was no download program, and it didn’t know its operating system. Bother. Damion examined it, found that it was powered by Trump, Abyss acted as the insulator, the components were made of Pattern Energy, and it stored data in the “fabric” of the abyss. Weird.

Sadly the hardware told us nothing. It was too well shielded and too weird. I ran en experiment, downloading a hamster labelled “Gerard”. It’s memories were simply compressed, encyphered, and shunted through a “phased” spot out into a pocket dimension in the abyss. Damion tried to “follow them” in pure abyssal form, moving by sheer force of will. He went through enough military-type junk to make Hengwyr delirious with joy before he hit the center of the pocket dimension/trump construct and found a room full of computer equipment. Pure mad-scientist stuff; vacuum tubes, electric arcs, and so on. I didn’t know Greast was fond of B-movies – but I have to admit I’d hardly met him. If we get attacked by the Frankenstein Amberite, I’m going to know who to blame. I hope we don’t have to follow him – we’d probably end up in the cineverse or the late, late, late show. Jaen went through to help him out, but the best we could do was to download the files before the place blew itself apart.

ANYway, the form of the encryption key is available here, it consists of 12 symbols/operations/ characters and three numbers. It seems to be a fractal encryption taken to a limited number of generation steps. Well we won’t crack that by number-crunching – so I’ll have to cheat. The elders life-force isn’t something that can be encoded, it’s only loosely associated with the universe in any case. Bodies, minds, and such merely act as an anchor for it. Thus all I need to do is transfer it back and rebuild their memories. The spirit and mind link would normally be stronger then the physical one, but encrypting them will have weakened it quite a bit. Their memories should be available in the Jewel. While it has privacy safeguards, we should be able to get by them for this purpose. After all, at the moment, they are effectively dead unless we can bring them back. We adjourned one of my hospitals, and began. I duplicated the elders memories and personality files en route – you never know when that’ll be useful. The lords of chaos are only partially recorded but in their case cellular memory should serve to reconstruct them. I duplicated that while I was at it, the data might be handy. Their reactions were kind of entertaining. Fiona gave everyone a funny look and said “Not Again!”. Random sort of listened to the explanation, and said “Uh-Huh Bye” – but at least he gave everyone tickets to his next show (it seems he’s leading a good Jazz quartet). Bleys woke up and frantically grabbed for a weapon – so I handed him a quasar in the shape of a sword. Bleys promptly dropped it, but he got a bit less frantic. We explained a bit and Brand started gloating at him, along the lines of; “Yeah! We saved your hash and shit!”, so Bleys bamphed out. Brand says this being young again is fun, and wants to “hang out” with us. Well, it’s fine with me anyway. Julian was a little harder, I had to fix the radiation poisoning first. It seems he never got treatment after that antimatter blast. Well, maybe he got his brains a bit rattled, it was pretty drastic. He wanted to know; “What happened to the forest???”, summoned Morgenstern right into the hospital, said; “If you need me; call”, and teleported himself off to Arden. Llewella said “Hey babe” to Jaen, who promptly escorted her to his apartments and made a date to see a movie with her. At least he didn’t try to show her his etchings. Well he knows not to have sex in his real form except when I put him out to stud, so he can’t possibly father any children. Merlin said those lords of Chaos are doing “reasonably well”, and invited us all to a banquet in the courts, at least as long as we keep Drax away. It’s in a week.

Florimel came and got herself enchanted, although I had to start her boyfriend nibbling on her to distract her from making conditions. Sending him to her worked a bit better then I anticipated, I hadn’t expected her to show up for some time yet. Still, fast-time shadows do make these things hard to predict. They really make a lovely pair – although Florimel does tend to “knead” when she’s in cat-form. Gavroche has decided he wants to marry Veronica the Computer and wants me to get her back into a real body. Since she was willing, and said she wanted to be a “decent match” for Gavroche, I made her a spaceling as well. Actually this has given me an idea. If I give Minerva copies of the memory records I made “she” should be able to plan a “campaign” to lure them into pethood. It’s probably worth trying, they’re really kind of dangerous to leave running around without any kind of control on them.

+128, AST

Well, that was simple enough. It only took Minerva a few days to come up with ways to get Julian, Martin, and Bleys to ask to be enchanted. Ok, so Martin wasn’t much of a challenge (anyone who would voluntarily go and meet Greast for a secret conference after he’d already tried to annihilate the universe once just hasto have taken too many drugs) but I was kinda surprised at how easy it was to collect Bleys and Julian. They seem to have gotten a “bit” obsessive about their specialities over the centuries. Monomania anyone? I hope Idon’t get like that. Well, I’ve probably got too many things “talking” to me all the time to get too fixated. Maybe Challenger has the right idea. ANYway, as none of them know it’s possibleto permanently transform a “pattern initiate”, all I needed to do was find the right bait. Julian wanted more hunting abilities and powers over the forest, while Bleys wanted defences against all of the new powers I’d been handing out. Both easy enough, so I dropped a few clues here and there, and both of them got in touch with me inside a week. Julian wasn’t that much fun to train – he’s so fixated on forests and hunts that he takes everything literally. He doesn’t seem to have a sense of humor either. On the other hand, all I had to do was reorient him from “pack leader” to “pack member” to make him an excellent hunting animal. Bleys was lots more fun, he’s really taken to his trickster- fox form. Well, he always did tend that way psychologically. I made Martin an otter, they seem to spend as much of their time playing as he does. Random was the only one I couldn’t collect – apparently he hasn’t got any real “needs” at the moment. I suppose it comes of being newly married and on vacation. While Minerva has a long-term campaign running to collect him, I’d be lots happier if I could speed it up somehow. Well, the way things seem to go around here, something will probably come up sooner or later. Fiona asked me not to collect Llewella even if Minerva came up with a plan, it seems she’s fond of her. Benedict is still sulking and feeling miserable, so I sent Myrna, one of Florimels children, to be his companion. I boosted her natural talents for warfare up to somewhere near Benedicts level, but only gave her basic combat training. Between the attraction of a truly talented student, youth, beauty, her innate abilities, her social skills, and Benedict’s maleness, she shouldn’t have too much trouble. That should cheer him up, or at least it should once he decides that she really hasn’tgot any secret motives. With his talents he should figure it out quickly enough – provided that he trusts his own abilities that far. Still, Benedict has never seemed to lack self-confidence. I’ll see how it works out. I must say, Flora’s pups have turned out really well, I’m glad I had her bred. Jaen showed up, wanting to combine his power over shadow with mine and wanting to learn (of all things) shamanism. OK… The bit about combining our influence was one of the ideas I mentioned when he was wanting to know what “he could do for me”, but the shamanism was all his own idea. He turned out to be a “natural” for a “horse totem”, real big surprise. I took him for a nice gallop afterwards, that may have been what he was really after anyway. He did enough better then usual that I took a few days to run him through his basic routines, it seems that that horse-totem business enhances his natural abilities in horse-form, and may even carry over a bit into his human one – although he’ll probably have to experiment a bit more with it to find out for sure. Maybe I’ll take him to a few shows in one of “my” shadows for a treat – he dearly loves to show off how superior a mount he is…

On the other hand, those thirty-five lords of chaos represent a problem – I don’t know them well enough to pick appropriate basic forms. I guess I’ll make them a flight of griffons, their innate powers should be useful to all of them, and Bergenholm really seemed to take to that form. He (and Kelwin) got out of training some time ago, and are really very handsome animals. Perhaps I should find something for them to do. Did I mention that Eric and Caine also finished training a while back? Caine really took to being a warbeast – the form seems to suit him perfectly. He does show a slight tendency to jump on things unless I keep him reined in – but he always did tend to be quick with a knife, I guess he’s just enjoying having a paw full of them. Eric seemed a bit confused at first, but settled down quickly enough after a good meal. Teleportation seemed to confuse him a bit too, but he really took to the vibratory powers. He’s got an annoying tendency to stand and fight when he really ought to pull out (probably what got him killed the first time) – but the teleport should handle that. Other then a tendency to be a bit grumbly, he makes an excellent mount. He also happily “updated” his “file” in the jewel, which had worried me a bit.

+130, AST

We seem to have a new lord of chaos visiting Amber, one “Lord Stormbringer”. Why do all the lords of chaos use aliases? What’s worse, half of them use impossibly melodramatic ones. Oh well. ANYway, he claimed to want to avoid getting politically “involved” on either side due to his dual amber/chaos heritage. I told him that if that was the case, he should stop calling Gavroche’ “My Liege”, which kind of implies taking sides, and to call him “Your Royal Highness” instead. I also warned him not to let Drax talk him into doing anything which was too silly, gave him a deck of trumps, and supplied some pictures of the people who ordinarily hang around the castle. The ensuing handshake sufficed to get the cell sample and gave my instruments an excellent “view”, but I haven’t got time to go over the data right now – I promised Jaen I’d enter him in the “formal dressage” competition. Even so, that sword / golem he’s carrying would be hard to miss. What a lot of raw power to sink into such a crude design. Another attempt to build the ultimate tool by adding more and more generalized functions. Don’t these people know you get better results when you use the right tool for a job? No, they’ve all got to go in for “All-Purpose Power Tool”. Oh well, if that’s what they want. To be fair, I suppose it’s true that most of them put far less effort into their tools then I do.

+132, AST

When Jaen and I got back to Amber we found a set of royal invitations to a formal banquet in the courts of chaos, given in honor of Gavroche, Luke, Jaen, Drizzt, and I. Apparently they invited the entire royal family of Amber – although they did attach the condition that we leave Drax in Amber. Not really much of a problem. Gavroche’ decided he wanted that unbreakable leash and muzzle after all, so we left Drax in the dragon-kennel (the castle made one just for him), and headed off. Jaen took pity on the silly creature at the last moment and installed some happy fantasies, sending his brain into never-never land for a while (not that it was all that much of a trip). He also made arrangements to provide “security” for Gavroches wedding, a team of specially-trained security guards (of course) – and a variety of wards. He also announced he was going to take Llewella outside our cosmos for an outing, which seems a trifle far to go on the first date. Well, to each his or her own, I’m told that horses appeal to women…

+148, AST

I actually seem to have gathered enough “influence” to get a week or so undisturbed, and here I was starting to think it was impossible. I got in some experiments, an, ah, interlude with Laura and Melissa, and spent some time with my pets. OK, I’ll admit to using a few trump projections and a shadow with truly weird natural laws to exaggerate the time I spent with them, but it keeps them all happy. ANYway, the banquet at the Courts was still on schedule – which is pretty unusual, since the place invariably tosses a few random “monkey wrenches” into any plan. Maybe things have settled down a bit ? Gavroche called to ask me what the best method of getting there was – so I told him that it would be polite to ask if logrus transport was available (and to leave the Jewel of Judgement at home). I’d barely gotten the words out when a logrus-construct “escalator” appeared in the throne room to pick us up. Obliging yes, but it seemed to upset Gavroche. He doesn’t seem to like the idea that the logrus can “casually” extend a construct into amber itself. Well, it is much more focused now, but I suspect that the pattern could have disrupted it if it wanted too… In any case, we decided to take it up on the offer and climbed aboard. Gavroches bodyguards almost blew up the wall when it headed into it, but we restrained them in time. What use Gavroche thinks they might be is a complete mystery, we’re going to be just a little bit outnumbered if someone’s after him. Maybe he’s expecting solo attempts, but is the little bit of protection they offer worth the political price?

The trip was pretty “colorful” actually, apparently we’d been assigned the scenic route. The guards nearly panicked when we took a short cut thru a solar corona, but Gavroche felt “right at home”. He certainly ought to. We got glimpses of quite a lot of shadows, some of them pretty weird, before we arrived at the courts. We were met by one Narvall (of the house of Beckar), High Chamberlain of the Courts of Chaos, who offered us our choice of rooms. Gavroche requested “separate” suites, as if anyone would want to sleep in the same room with him and his dozen bodyguards. It’s no wonder Veronica wanted her own room. Gavy thought it was because they weren’t yet married, but I doubt that they could shock a court that was used to the Enchantress… That weird clockwork golem that’s been wandering the halls showed up as well, apparently it followed us on the escalator for some reason. Why does that thing seem so familiar? Maybe it was wandering around back when pops was still taking me to castle amber for visits? It would explain why I can’t place it anyway – I was only eight when he decided to move into his estate down by the harbor for a few years. Most of the visits after that were by day only, and it only seems to show up at night… Now where did it get to anyway? It was around here a moment ago. Vanished again. Oh well, no doubt it’ll turn up around the place. ANYway, I asked the chamberlain for my old suite and found that it had a new doorway in it. I put my head out, and told the Logrus “thanks, but not at the moment” – although I appreciated the offer. It seemed to be disappointed, but I’ve got too many other things going on at the moment. The Courts seem to be far more stable then they were before, it seems that the Logrus is channeling its energies to where it wants them, instead if radiating them at random. The chaosians are a lot happier as well, their meals can be depended on to stay on the plate, they don’t have to search for their bedrooms every night, and people don’t get transformed by coincidental chaos-flows anymore. I suppose that in itself is a good reason to feel more relaxed, but they actually seem to be happier about the minor stuff. It probably comes of being habitual shape-shifters, or is it the other way around? Shapeshifters. That clockwork golem. Something about that combination… Dworkin. Oh by the six powers. I knew there was something familiar about that thing. I couldn’t have been more then what, three? I’d been playing hide and seek with a servant and stumbled into the old secret passages… I wound up in Dworkins chambers – and got into one of his spellbooks before he noticed me. At that age, how would I know he didn’t want some puffs of purple smoke? Or that that’s what the few words I could sound out would do? He was really very nice about it, and he made “Sir Armor” for me to play with (and, I now suspect, to keep me out of his books). He was a sort of combined playmate/nanny/ bodyguard/tutor, and a lot of fun until he disappeared a few months later. I suppose pops stuffed him down a well or something and he didn’t get out until after we’d moved out of the castle. He never did approve of anyone teaching me sorcery, the stubborn old rockhead. I was upset for a few weeks, but forgot all about him in a few months, what do you expect from a three year old kid? I think I’m a bit old for him these days, maybe I can convince him to play with Sabre. Come to think of it, I think I saw Gavroche headed off after him – with his usual set of tribune reporters in tow. Aagh. I can just see the article now. Oh well, what with the level of meditation necessary to recover those old memories, it was too much to expect to catch them… It must be almost time for the banquet to begin though.

The banquet was really quite well attended, most of the major houses were represented. Several of my chaos pets attended as well, although some of them have been “replaced” by other clan heads. It seems that spending a few weeks as a puddle leaves you open to undermining by your rivals… I guess the relative timerate was on the fast part of its cycle. Most of them are still in fairly decent positions though – their new powers seem to be extremely useful to them. There were quite a few amberites as well, including Amanda. So this is where she’s been hanging out – it’s no wonder I haven’t seen her for a while. Apparently it’s only been a few weeks for her. I suppose her favorite shadow has an inverse time ratio or something. I guess chaos hasn’t changed all that much after all. She’s apparently picked up an attitude and discovered sex, at least she keeps making cutting remarks and trying to vamp people. She’s in for a surprise, and an education, if she keeps that up here. Somebodys obviously already noticed, as they’ve seated her with Lord Vingulf of House Valenti. I hadn’t seen Vinnie for a bit, but he seems to be doing OK. He also seems to have dumped the silly accent for the evening, honestly – he sounded like a mobster movie from shadow earth. Well, she’ll probably never realize that she’s been labeled a “gangsters moll” – unless of course the newspaper picks up on it. Caine and Julian showed up as well, but seemed pretty annoyed at being seated at the lower table. The arrival announcements took some time, so I spent a moment inspecting the “decorations”. The walls were intricately textured stone, which seemed to be portraying the history of the Courts (mostly interhouse warfare) on one side and the history of Amber on the other. Ambers side includes a snide poke, as it’s quietly implied that, with enormous effort, valor, and sacrifice, amber has barely withstood the efforts of a few small houses, with “casual” assistance from one or two of the great houses. It’s a fairly subtle dig, but the full scan/evaluation sweep turned it up. I wonder if Merlin knows his decorator doesn’t like his guests? Still – I’d only really start to worry if the sly digs disappeared or got blatant. Casual malice, talented or not, isn’t especially unexpected after the patternfall war. In the meantime Amanda was invited to “visit” the estates of one Lord Corella, (Minerva? He’s not one of mine, but what have you got on him?), who has recently seized control of his house. His reputation is that of a ruthless and ambitious man. A skilled shapeshifter, he has successfully negotiated the logrus and either is, or controls, a skilled sorcerer. His accession a month ago was the result of the deaths of his father and elder brother. His father reportedly died of “chaos cancer”, but poison is commonly suspected. The brother died in a “freak accident” in shadow. His only surviving rival is his uncle, Lord Sangor. Current betting is three to one in favor of Lord Corella. He is especially skilled in “melee”, but his tactical skills are unexceptional. Probabilities include; a personal power base in shadow (93%), Darkness Mastery (48%), True Immortality (23%), Faerie Powers (18%), Weird Science (11%), and assorted possibilities of 10% or less. Probable margin of error in this evaluation is +/-12%. {Did you want his entire file?{ [No, that’s quite enough for now. You’re really gotten into those chaos-lord memory files, haven’t you Minerva?] {Well – they are quite a database. There are a lot of distortions and blatant contradictions in the material though.} [Well, it’s from the Courts of Chaos after all.] {True}– and is apparently considering it. It could be quite “educational” for her since, despite that “come-hither” wiggle, she’s obviously young and inexperienced. Besides, over and above the pleasure of a little “sport”, getting a “Princess of Amber” into his bed could be quite useful to Lord Corella politically. Amanda seems to be asking Vinnie for advice and information on Corella – the right idea, if not necessarily the right person, (From her later remarks, he told her about Corellas reputation and added the comment that “he would be easy to frame”. Trust Vinnie to consider that angle.), after which she apparently took him up on it. Lets hope Lord Corella won’t resent it too much if she turns him down, some men get really irritated if women make promises with their body language and don’t deliver on them. Gavroche’s finally being seated, so I suppose we can eat now… Caine and Julian really seem miffed at not being seated at the high table. Caine is scowling at his plate, and growling a bit, while Julian is busy looking silent and deadly. Well, the banquet is supposed to be in honor of Gavroche, Jaen, Luke, and I – since we “saved the universe” during that mess with Greast. Why this bothers them I don’t know, since the “high” table is loaded with hero-worshipping younger sons, recently promoted kids, and a few surviving lords too senile or too bored to make excuses. I knew the casualties among the logrus masters were pretty bad (I mean, the throne went to Merlin), but this looks genuinely awful (82.3% casualties Father) [I was only making notes, OK? What did you do anyway? Check the link status on all their trumps?] (Naturally Father) [By the way, you might set up a memory block and try those logrus-programs again, they may be more amenable now]. Merlin took the chance to talk to Ambers minister of trade, it seems they can get “rareties” easily, but they have trouble obtaining large shipments of anything at all. Just the opposite of Ambers trade problems. Well it would be. ANYway, we got feited, feasted, toasted, applauded, and cheered. It actually appeared to be genuine for the most part, the younger lords seem to appreciate being saved no matter who did it… Caine is still scowling – ignoring both the food and the illusion-casting mage who’s providing the entertainment. Gavroche accepted the invitation to stay for a while, probably because he wants to try the intrigue on this end of reality. I could have told him that it’s pretty much the same flavor everywhere – but why be a spoilsport? Jaen exercised his usual paranoia by scanning all over the place and managed to locate a group of conditioned thugs lurking in the hallway, led by an equally-conditioned minor lord of chaos. Julian also noticed them when he went to take a look – he got an “uneasy feeling” about them. Since they’re waiting by the exit, I suppose something is going to happen on the way out. Good. I hate interrupted meals. The thugs were ill-disposed towards one (or more) of the “guests of honor” – but Jaen can’t tell their specific target, or even if they’ve got one. Gavroche got all nervous and tried to call up Benedict (he didn’t come) – but found that he was blocked. Amanda has agreed to meet Corella in the “Garden Of Delights” afterwards, Merlin invited us to go hunting later in the week – and when Gavroche mentioned the “hit team” said “They’re not working for me. I wonder who they’re after?”. Fiona has decided to stay for a bit as well, at least partially for a lunch with Mandor. Still, even twelve-course meals must come to an end (thank goodness), and on our way out someone outside triggered that attack squad – which went after Lord Corella. Corella went to chaos-form, Jaen thumped a few thugs over the head – and Amanda became a gorgon and started petrifying people. That won’t hold a shape shifter for long, but a few minutes are all she needs. I threw a protective shield around Corella (ten to one didn’t seem fair), and got snatched by Orb, Aristotle, and Ch’in because “you might be in danger”. I appreciate the thought fellows, but I think I could have managed, OK? Back at the party, Lord Corella had “ripped apart” three of his attackers, Amanda had stoned four – and the rest had collapsed from exhaustion – apparently due to Lord Corellas use of an exotic poison. The stuff makes the victim shapechange at random until exhaustion in a small dose, large ones induce chaos cancer, but either precludes a shift to chaos form. Fairly nasty. Corella thanked Amanda for her help and took his leave while the other lords of chaos were settling bets. It seems this was the sixth attempt in the past month. Jaen tried to get in to see him, but he’d “retired for the evening”. He also managed to “insult” Llewella, who says “You go off, not even with me, and then say that I’m boring!”, went off in a huff, saying”Don’t even trymy Trump!!”. Jaen chased her all over shadow, tried lots of classic ploys, and eventually got her to say that she’d consider forgiving him.

In the meantime, Amanda was spending the “evening”, or whatever you call it out the Courts, trying to Vamp Lord Corella. According to him, the rest of them “Just don’t like the fact that I’m successful” and he suspects that his eldest uncle is probably behind the attempts. At this point there’s a large explosion, as the uncles castle explodes, and Corella says that he doesn’t feel that he’ll need to worry about it any longer. He asked Amanda a few questions about Amber, and found that she wouldn’t tell him anything of any use or“put out”, so he found an excuse to leave… Jaen had been listening in, and had pulled the uncle out when the castle blew. The fellow made quite a fuss, but apparently decided to “lay low’ for a bit.

+149/2, AST

The next morning Merlin took us all on a hunt for a “rare chaos creature” called a “deer”. Apparently the local species does have limited chaos powers, but it’s non-sentient. What a nasty way to get rid of somebody that would be, I wonder if it’s ever happened? {Twenty three times in the past century. Lord Savan of McAndry was very fond of using that method of disposing of his rivals, while simultaneously framing someone else, and did so at least eight times. He was killed in the same way when he tried it on someone with a stronger mind.} [Oh thanks, I’m not sure I really wanted to know that. I think I’ll scan that “deer” before anyone shoots it, just to make sure.]Merlin made a lot of snide remarks about Drax while we were hunting (Jaen made them right back), and seems to feel that he’s trying to take over the Courts. The news that we’d left Drax kenneled and leashed back in Amber really seemed to amuse him. Jaen made the silly deer invulnerable when we’d found it (I checked, it was just a deer) for a bit – but got tired of it soon enough. The festivities continued for a week or so (long enough for everyones private conferences), but eventually we headed back to Amber, to prepare for Gavroches wedding. I promised I’d be back soon, since Suhay and Merlin wanted to discuss and/or celebrate my reprogramming of the Logrus over a meal. Jaen went to look for Benedict, and found him sparring with a woman who actually disarmed him at around 70% of full speed. Benedict looked like he was delighted, the swords vanished – and they both began coming out of some sort of “zen combat trance”, which incidentally blocks all kinds of psychic probes. Jaen wanted to ask him for lessons in swordfighting, and Benedict actually said “Perhaps. I’ll be in touch”. Benedict must really be “loosening up” – Jaens grand total for words from him was five up until this point. Benedicts actually talking to Myrna, whom he obviously likes a lot. Myrna is, of course, in love with him… (She reminds Jaen of someone – but he can’t place who. Silly horse. I’ll take him out for a nice gallop later.) Well, I’m glad that Benedict seems to have taken to her. I thought he would. Most of them (the various elder amberites) have really taken to the people I arranged to introduce into their lives… It looks like matchmaking is easier from the outside – at least if you run a decent analysis program first. The only real exception seems to be Caine. It really looks like he’s genuinely constitutionally unable to sustain an intimate relationship for more then a few years. He just likes “tomcatting” (sorry) around too much… No single female save, possibly, one like the enchantress could expect to keep him interested for very long. So be it, he’s a nice kitty anyway…

+163/2, AST

Veronica (and, incidentally, Gavroche – but who’s a wedding really for anyway? It certainly isn’t for the benefit of the groom. The very name gives it away. The groome’ is supposed to let the women handle him like a horse…) decided to hold the wedding in Amber, due to protocol (Gavroche having the higher rank and the fact that Veronica was becoming queen of Amber), it being a lot easier to decorate, personal preferences – and the fear that the castle might decide to come anyway… It looks like it’s going to be quite an event. (OK Flora. We’ll have a big wedding for you too. I suppose “She’s yours. Have fun” does lack a certain something – but I was in a hurry. Besides – you and Magnus were in no mood to wait at the time.)They’ve invited all the current elder amberites, Merlin, Benedict (and Myrna. They’re going to get married too, but are putting it off until after the royal wedding), all the castle residents and a bunch of Lords of Chaos, the major amber nobles, the rulers (or representatives) of the golden circle kingdoms, and even Drax (apparently for comic relief). It’s a good thing that the castle can shapeshift – how else could they find a way to fit everyone in? They want me to give the bride away. I suppose that’s appropriate. She is one of my pets after all. Dworkin will perform the ceremony, and Suhay is going to witness it. I bet he forgets his lines… ANYway, it’s formal dress, no weapons (I wonder what Telengrim is going to do? He’s going to make trouble of course – he says that Dwarven formal dress is plate armour and weapons.) [Now there’s a question – why isn’t Veronica’s father going to give her away? Aristotle?] {He’s dead. Apparently men don’t last very long in house Karnate.} [Oh. You know, that really doesn’t sound good somehow, even if Gavroche is a lot more durable then the average lord of chaos…].

Everything went reasonably well – until the wedding actually began. Drax showed up via lightning bolt, ten minutes late as usual, and nearly toasted three of the guests. Idiot. At least Gavroche left his collar on… His idea of “formal” seems to be a samurai/lizard outfit. At least he’s consistent. He’s alwaysstupid and in bad taste. Maybe we could find him a nice horde to guard someplace out in shadow? A huge pile of really, really, stupid, cliched magical devices would probably appeal to the fool… He tore a huge hole in Florimels decorations as well. Well, at least it provided a good diversion from the fact that Dworkin has forgotten his lines (Jean tried to prompt Dworkin and/or do it himself – but simply succeeded in confusing things more). The result was an extremely mixed-up wedding service (that was duly witnessed by Suhay). Dworkin finally managed to pronounce them married, and wandered off to try the refreshments. I suppose it could have been worse. As long as Veronica’s satisfied with it… OK. She seems to be happy enough with it… In fact, they both seem kind of eager to get the ceremonies over with…? Ahh. She’s going into heat. Well – that should provide them with a memorable wedding night. Fiona laughed, cried, giggled, smiled, and so on… It looks like she opened herself up to the emotions permeating the room… That ought to be quite an “experience”, but I suppose Fiona can handle that kind of psychic overload if anybody in the universe can… They are kind of cute. Hmmph. Here I am getting philosophical. Either that or emotionally involved? I suppose I am to some degree – They are my pets – and they are linked to me to some degree. Most of the Elders (both Amber and Chaos) left while the gifts were being opened. I suppose they’ve seen this kind of thing quite a few times already… Most of theirs seem to be promises to help Gavroche’ redeem some currency. I guess that’s a recurring problem – having a treasury based on the personal abilities of the royal family is convenient in a lot of ways, but it gives the family a subtle hold on the king. If they don’t support him, it leaves him spending an awful lot of his time trying to pay all the expenses of Ambers government with his own time… OK, there are some taxes – but they’re usually pretty low. Fortunately, this is all possible because a pattern initiates time is incrediblyvaluable to any normal human being… Why am I explaining things to my personal journal anyway? I guess there’s nothing like an implant computer to make you longwinded when you’re keeping one…

ANYway, while I was busy digressing, things kept on moving along – Jean was scanning the gifts before they opened them (just to be sure that none of them were at all dangerous), and Drax had proudly presented his gift; a pair small, neutered, dragons conditioned to be good pets and to protect the king at all costs – Apparently a pair of his own children… That’s sick. You simply don’t do things like that to your children. I can see it now. “Hi daddy!” “Hi kids! I’ve decided to give you away as pets! Kamere and give me a hug while I condition and neuter you, then jump into the box…”. Yeeech. That does it. I’m going to keep Drax on a short leash until I think of something to do with him… The party seems to be livening up quite a bit now that the elders have cleared out, and Drax’s kids have settled down on either side of the thrown. While the wedding gifts are still being opened, most of them are simply things like art, fine wine, and other minor luxuries, (including a couple of gifts from some minor shadow-wizard called Legolas, apparently the fellow he swiped that silly magic sword from… Maybe that’s why Gavroche wanted a nice sword from me (I wondered why))… Wait a minute! That gift! It’s from who?!! Jaen you idiot! Don’t let Gavroche open… [POOF!] Never mind. That was an abyssal teleport… It was from Greast of course… He’s snatched pretty much the entire younger generation, including a bunch of minor lords of chaos – and Veronica. Everyone within a certain range of personal power… Yes Jean, that would include me (silly horse)… Now where? Ahh. Another universe entirely, somewhere across the abyss. Gavroche, Jean, and Drax, are all worrying about being attacked, but I don’t know… Greast always loved his sister… Would he attack her wedding and new husband? OK, so there are precedents, but his motive was always that she’d been killed – and I brought her back… Maybe this really is a gift… I’ll have to look around (and soothe the room a bit. It is alive after all, and this has got to be pretty painful. Fortunately, one room is only a trivial wound to the whole castle).

ANYway, on the obvious level – the local gravity is about 10% stronger then Ambers, the sky is blue-green, the day seems to be about twenty-six hours, the plants use some darker pigment then chlorophyll – and most of the local vertebrates have six limbs… Lots of trees, seas, and mountains, but litle in the way of cities or civilization. On the deeper levels, none of our powers are working quite right; pattern is nonexistent, trump has range limitations, abyssal powers are fine, logrus powers are a lot easier to use (Drax actually seems to have picked up some basic Logrus powers while I wasn’t looking (No you can’t go and explore you stupid beast. After what you did to your poor kids, you can stand by me and be a guard animal for a while yourself. Remind me to revise your genes when we get back to Amber. If you’re going to act semisentient, you might as well be that way. Put your muzzle on, shut up, and sit.)), and magic (except for those power words which don’t involve personal links) seems to be ineffective… at least at anything beyond contact range… Hmmm. Perhaps it can be used to manipulate matter on contact? It would seem to fit in… Yes… Transformations are permanent too, how handy. It looks like there’s some sort of gradual attunement effect as well, so your powers will quietly expand as you adapt over time. Jeans trump powers have a planetary range here, and his shamanistic powers are fine. This really doesn’t look like anything hostile – it rather looks like this trip really is a present – a honeymoon vacation. I told them all as much, prevented Drax from frying himself trying to bull past the range limitations (although I don’t know why I bothered) – and settled down to learn abyssal sorcery so I could check on what’s going on at home. Unless he’s got the time-ratio absurdly high, the pets/elders must be wondering what happened to all of us… The others couldn’t find anything hostile beyond the “spice” level – so they’ve mostly accepted the honeymoon idea. I tested the local matter-manipulation sorcery by “building” a small home for Gavroche and Veronica, while the others wandered off to explore for a while (the place seems to be designed for exciting travel, exploration, and fun). Jean’s gone off “adventuring” with some local companions he picked up – after using his horse-totem shamanistic powers to “conjure up” a mare (does he really think he’s fooling anybody?) to, err, use as a mount… They ought to be all right for now, so it’s back to my studies…

+187/2, AST

Well, that seems to cover all the basic techniques. Now to use my affinity with Skadwhe’ to tap the forces of the abyss… Oww. Nasty stuff that. Still, it seems to be working. First things first… Amber. Apparently it’s only been minutes back there. Still nothing (Shut up about being hungry Drax. You shut your kids up in a box for a week without any food.) hostile around here, I’m back in touch with home – and the others have gotten their powers fairly well straightened out. That pretty much settles it. The “honeymoon theory” seems to cover the situation… (Greast? Are you out there? I take it that with Veronica back and happy – and the multiverse restored to balance – you’ve renounced your vendetta and decided to make peace?) [YES] Now how in chaos did he get a mountian range to talk? True Mysticism?! I hate mysticism… Well never mind (Thanks Greast. Shall I put you in touch with Gavroche and Veronica on a smaller scale? Not until later on? Well, they are still quite, err, involved at the moment.) Ahh, amberite endurance.

+315/2, AST

Most of the other guests went home in the first few months (an hour or so in amber) after I set up a gate, but Gavroche decided to stay and farm for a while. Well, he can always take the gate back – the nexus is in his house… Even if it takes him a century or two to get bored with farming – that’ll only be a couple of weeks at home. I’d better get back to Amber myself though – I’ve got things to do and lords of chaos to enchant… I’ve also got to decide what to do with Drax. Gavroche is tired of the idiot (the baby dragons were the final straw I think), and I’m sick of him as well. He’s such a stupid beast…

(Eventually Arvon decided to revise Drax’s genes to the semisentient level. It didn’t change his mind that much – but at least he wouldn’t have any more sentient kids to abuse. He also gave him a horde to guard…)

+317/2, AST

As far as my pet-collecting goes did I mention that I’d found a way to collect Random ? I simply had some of my pet lords of chaos send minor menaces after him, progressively arranging things so that the same method of driving them off never worked twice… Random went to Benedict first – who (of course) taught him what he could, then referred him to me, as I could easily give him a selection of magical tricks, and had connections in the courts. Easy enough to get Benedict to give him that advice – while it’s true of course, I’d given him his instructions earlier anyway… That man does make me nervous, I’m glad I picked him up, even if I had to use Myrna to get to him… I suppose that wasn’t quite fair, but… Well, I had the pet-link with Myrna, so I experimented with working magic over the links without letting the pets realize it. Using Cerwil to boost the links let me work major transformations and enchantments over them – so after she had gotten intimate with him, and Benedict was used to letting her use sexual magics on him – I linked my magic to hers and transformed him while all his defences were down… Ok, so going “Ahh” when Myrna whispered; “I’m going to work some magic on you” while she’s wrapped around him stroking, licking, massaging, nibbling, and about to take him, isn’t reallyconsenting to be enchanted, but… ANYway, Benedict is a werewolf now, and he works for me… SO I CHEATED!!! SO WHAT! BENEDICT COULD’VE KILLED ME!

Now who does that leave… Brand was easy enough to collect. He was young, trusting, and desperate to get some of his old powers back – I think he believed that the others were after him or something. Fiona has been dependent on her link with my “life energy” since Jaen killed her the first time, and is already a part of me in many ways… I keep an eye out for her – that kind of puts her under my protection… The lords of chaos seem to have hit the compound-interest point. They’re coming in to be enchanted and transformed so fast that I can hardly keep up with it. Osric tried to sneak into Castle Amber in disguise, but he never realized that I could truly transform a pattern initiate… He made a nifty dragon but the intelligent, animate, castle made him nervous and kept trying to put him in the kennels, so he left again. Corwin is still kind of hedonistic, so it was really pretty easy to persuade him to let me transform Dierdre into one of the Severin. He’ll enjoy that, the Severin make such superb sex toys. Actually, that only leaves Llewella (I promised Fiona not to try to get her), Finndo (Unless Osric brings him in), and, of course, Fiona, Gerard, and the “kids”. On the other hand, maybe I should look into the lost lords of chaos and amberites… It might be a good idea to add abyssal shields to those around the trump gerbil sanctuary, in case of accidents. Besides, I’ve got to stop in at my petting shadow again…

(Arvons “petting shadow” has some really weird laws of nature… Not so much physically, but in social and personal interactions and relationships. The frequency, duration, and intensity, of such interactions depends on the level of dependence and dominance. Both viewpoints are valid… A few, casual, pats for Arvon are days of close personal attention and activity for the pet. Arvon usually only spends much of his personal time with the pets he’s personally fond of, but he has his computers make sure that all of them get regular appointments in this shadow for a dose of attention and affection. It’s only fair, after all, he made them all devoted to him)

+116/3, AST

Well. That was unexpected. I never figured I’d get any volunteers from those few who know whats going on. Rick volunteered to become a horse – on Fiona’s advice yet. It seems that he couldn’t find any way short of a total transformation to bring his power under control, and at least this way he can have some kind of life… Well – I’ll make sure that he’s a happy horse. If he’d like, I’ll arrange a private harem for him…

Actually, Rick preferred to collect his own harem – but he happily accepted Arvons rebuilding a section of the stables to accommodate his doing so… Arvon asked if he wanted a stall next to Jeans (who had retired to Arvons stable, except for dates with Llewella, shortly after returning from the “honeymoon universe”), but he didn’t. On the subject of “retirees” – Flynn had also decided to retire to his kennel and harem, preferring to remain as a hound. From his point of view, it has huge advantages. A compulsive womanizer, as a hound he can lay around with his balls exposed without being yelled at, can smell potential, ready, partners, doesn’t need to take his clothes off, doesn’t need privacy or a bed (any corner will do) – and doesn’t need to bother with careful seductions – or partners who “have headaches”. Arvon collected Flynn through the “Flynn Hot Line” – a trump card setup designed to lure Flynn into traveling through trumps Arvon could manipulate, while accepting transformation along the way. Arvon just made it a bit more “through” then he expected on one of his trips… Arvon called on Flynn when he needed to use “advanced” pattern powers, as well as breeding him to produce his “pattern hounds”. He does usually have to order him to take his alternate, neutered, form when he wants Flynn to pay attention to something else…

+293/3, AST

Well, I finished collecting all the eligible pets – including the “lost” descendants of amber and chaos (the Jewel and Guantlet made it easy enough to trace them all down). That doesn’t leave anyone except Gerard and the kids below my “age of consent” as potential menaces to the universe – since Fiona has more sense, Oberon left to build a multiverse of his own (I gave him the blank jewel and primal chaos primer to do it with) – and Fiona said to go ahead and transform Llewella since she came and asked without being manipulated (unless Jean tried to encourage it, since she settled on him. I guess he might have, but he’s not especially subtle). Dworkin and Corwin can’t be transformed, but I found that they can be influenced through the jewel – so it doesn’t matter very much. I guess I’ll collect the kids as they grow up – and Gerard is just not the wreck-the-universe type.

(Arvon collected the kids as they hit adolescence – but eventually gave up on the dozen or so who’d gotten powers early enough to “refuse to grow up”, waived his personal “age of consent” requirement, and transformed them. In fact, Gerard eventually fell to the trap that caught Llewella – the lure of “free” power and Arvon’s 100+ points of good stuff. Gerard was the last (and most stubborn) holdout in the universe. Arvon agonized over whether or not to transform Gerard for some time – but with his complexes, the internal struggles outcome was never really in doubt. While this eventually led Arvon to resolve his complexes, even Arvon couldn’t undo his transformations or what he’d done to Gerard. Adding to his guilt, one of his final sweeps for imprisoned and/or transformed amberites and lords of chaos turned up his hero-worshipping younger brother (who had been trapped as a block in a stone wall by someone to whom he was a problem or bargaining chip) – whom he transformed into a pet without realizing who he was. In fact, he didn’t figure it out for several years…

+117/4, AST

AAAGH! How could Gavroche do this to me! He retired and turned the throne over to me! He even got all the elders and other amberites to approve first! I thought that he was happy the way it was! I DIDN’T WANT TO BE KING!!! [Face it Arvon. You are King. Virtually everyone of any importance in the multiverse is one of your pets. Let them relax the act a bit. It’s not like it makes any real difference, and it relieves the strain on them. I wouldn’t have encouraged it otherwise] (Fiona? But how can I be king of Amber? I’m not even a pattern initiate!) [So become one – or just use Flynn] (Oh all right Fiona. I’ll be king. But if i’m going to be king in Amber, I’m going to make a few changes) [As if you hadn’t already Arvon?] (Hmmmph).

(Gavroche retired to a system with an asteroid belt with curiously green and fertile asteroids, along with his mate (and fellow spaceling) Veronica afterwards… Arvon occasionally called on Gavroche when he needed a master of the jewel of judgement, but otherwise leaves him alone…)

The concluding summary given above actually covered the events of many years. Arvon had been king of Amber for about twenty years before he finished locating all of the “lost” amberites and lords of chaos, for thirty before he decided he’d just go ahead and transform the kids – and for nearly forty before he transformed, and eventually castrated, Gerard. During those years Fiona bore Cedric, her second son, out in shadow, and arranged for him to be raised in a “fantasy adventure” setting. Having accidentally conditioned her first child to utter devotion and slavish loyalty (Love Mommy? Be good now, and do what Mommy says…), as well as having pushed him into attempting to master far too many powers much too soon (forcing her to let Arvon turn him into a horse), she was determined not to repeat such errors – even if it meant having to virtually abandon the boy. At least she could arrange for his care and for him to “find” a few useful devices… His father would take good care of him… Maybe she could meet him when he was grown a bit more – when her mind wouldn’t accidentally overwhelm his. As for Rick… He was a horse. At least she could quietly arrange to soften the “rules” a bit for him… They wouldn’t count his having abyssal powers “against him”… – Although she forgot to tell him that. As for Arvon’s life… most of the really important events of this period involve Modrin, and are dealt with in Modrin’s diary – the next campaign.

+43/5, AST

Laura is pregnant. I’m going to have a son.(stupid grin). I’d forgotten that the low fertility typical of the various elder amberites results from their pattern imprints… He’ll be crown prince… I’ll have to pick out some nurses and servants and pets for him. As for his playmates… I’ll simply have to make sure that there are some other kids around the castle… I’ve got more then enough time to worry about that later. What am I (we) going to name him?


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