Arvon’s Diary is a fairly lengthy in-character account of an old Amber campaign. Given the variable nature of Amber time, he liked to keep it in “Arvon Standard Time” – whatever he felt like at the moment. Arvon was a son of Gerard, with a bit of an inferiority complex about being born with mere human strength. His specialities were sorcery and trump artistry (with a variety of trump-powered sorcerous extensions that he’d developed himself) and his Runic Rings – a set of Artifacts that were to eventually become extremely powerful.
Another weird week. Even a private dimension is not enough to get some peace and quiet sometimes, I wonder if there’s such a thing as an unlisted one? First it’s mother, with her usual blue dot running on the trumps, wanting to know if I would mind taking over some silly fortress off in shadow for “just a little a bit”. Hah. Last time I took one of these “small jobs” I spent six months stuck in the middle of a swamp. Sounded like a lovely little trip to a war zone so I steered her onto Hengwyr, just his thing. That maniac will enjoy a war. Just the sort of thing I want to consider before going to bed. I may have to do something about these calls, a bit later it could have been downright embarrassing. Morning broke with a call from pop, how he can be that clumsy with the trumps after a thousand years of using them I’ll never know. Maybe it’s the drinks, although where he’d find some that could affect his physique is beyond me. The servants must wear gas masks when they open the bottles. Anyway, he had a “small job” of his own he’d like done. Two at once, the intrigue in amber was evidently heating up. Even if it was just another of his combined exercise courses and character builders, I could probably pick up some clues. I mean, look what happened last time no one was watching them, they just about let Brand destroy the universe. What the hell. I told Laura and Melissa I wouldn’t be back for a bit, got out my travelling gear, and trumped myself to amber.
The job turned out to be stopping a horde of shadow storms and weird events that were spreading out across a group of shadows. Not my field at all, and how Gerard heard about it is a total mystery. Maybe it was on the way to his favorite brothel or something. Met Fiona in the library. I’d been hoping to find something bearing on the problem, but OK, I’ll take what I can get. She wasn’t very helpful, but at least she introduced me to another relative, Jonathan/Bolo. 9″ tall, built like a gorilla, and dressed in powered battle armor. She told me that he’s my half brother, next thing you know I’ll be introduced to my cousin, the rhinoceros. I hope he never wants to be stealthy, I have a feeling he thinks anything below 3.5 on the richter scale is quiet.
It seemed I was to have a little help, another half brother by the name of Gwalmachai along with his party of adventurers. There must be some way I can get these people back into the asylum. I was told that he’d meet me out in shadow, so I headed off to hunt him up. The world turned out to be a one of those places that just demands that you drop in. I arrived all right, around 10,000 feet up. No wonder Gerard wanted to protect the place – sun, sand, bars, bimbos, brothels, restaurants, and such galore, it must be nice to be the prototype for every bodybuilder and beach bully in the universe. An interesting reverie, but I was still falling. A quick hang glider stopped that and gave me time to look over the line of nothing advancing across the landscape. So that was the problem. Either that or it was the idiot striking heroic poses either in front of the bar or in front of the line, who knows which. This turned out to be Gwalmachai, as I might have known. At least he lost the adventurers somewhere, thank the Unicorn. Probing the void revealed that it was (1) based on intershadow energies, (2) loaded with magical energy, (3) reactive when assaulted, and (4) had living creatures inside it somewhere. While Gwalmachai discharged various weapons into nothing in particular, I set up a trump link with one of the creatures in the void, It turned out to be the sorcerer Raistlin. I’d dealt with him before, He wanted a bunch of tame dragons for some reason. Except for an annoying habit of changing personalities at the drop of a hat he was all right. I asked what he’d used the dragons for – but this personality didn’t know. He said that the void was a side effect of the efforts of the dragon-goddess Takhisis to unite four shadows that held her aspects, greatly enhancing her power. Why do users always attempt to service their own realities ?. I painted a trump from Raistlins description of her, and used it to get in touch. It seemed easiest to just get her what she wanted, so we linked her shadows for her, and left her a trump to get in touch with Gwalmachai – if she “had any further trouble”. Don’t attempt to repair your shadow yourself, if you are having trouble please call a trained professional.
I must do something about these mornings. I wonder if it’s practical to abolish them and just have afternoons?. Hmm… Maybe not, I usually prefer to sleep in anyway. Even so, being awoken by the servants because a youthful dragon has taken over the back yard doesn’t make a good start to the day even without Laura having managed to cut off the circulation in my foot. Great, I’ll have to fight a dragon when I can’t feel my lower leg. How the hell did she manage that anyway, we were sleeping in zero-g !. At least it would be small, the adults have established territories already. I suppose that’s good, an adult might be a problem. Filling its brain with “good dragon” compulsions was easy, finding someone to take it off my hands was a bitch. I finally unloaded it on Amanda, she never could resist a stray.
Maybe the omens were trying to tell me something, a week or so later pops called again. Only he could get himself steamed over by making contact on the bathroom mirror while I’m shaving. Of all things, he wanted me to attend a birthday party for Amanda. OK, fine, so I found a present and trumped off to amber. How often do you get to see any young and innocent relatives around here anyway?. Well lets make it one less, it seems she needed a birthday party since she’d been visiting some fast-time shadow near the courts. The winsome six-year old was now nearly sixteen, accompanied by this great, bloody, enormous dragon. What a difference a week can make when you’re having fun. Quite a reunion actually, I might have expected that Gerard would have more kids then any of the others. Afterwards, I headed off into shadow with Gwalmachai and Jonathan, in search of one of their favorite nightspots, the club Niven or something like that. The things I do to stay on good terms with murderous maniacs. We picked up a tag-along in Arden, one Drizzt, son of Julian. If he’s an example of what you meet when walking the shadows I’m glad I travel by trump… Anyway, I let them do the navigating and got what I might have expected, they ran head first into a massive shadow storm and then wanted to investigate. A simply wonderful idea. I’m still trying to argue them out of it when Drizzt decides to jump straight in. Oh fine, we don’t dare lose the little wart. We headed in after him and found a sickly-sweet fairyland – phantasia at its worst, complete with a herd of pastel unicorns. I stuffed Drizzt down a pit to keep him out of trouble and pried Gwalmachai and Jonathan apart, although they never did manage to explain how they managed to “fuse” their arms together on the way through. They proceeded to argue with each other so I pulled some help through to search the place and keep an eye on them. The entire place turns out to be centered around a sword stuck in a rock. Riiiggghhhttt… Nothing would do but for the dolts to pull it out. They get just what they deserve, an endless supply of black knights. While they fought, I traced them back and found that they were coming out of the same gateway that was driving the storm.
The other end leads to this huge medieval castle in a “heroic fantasy” shadow. Since the place was overrun with black knights we crashed out of it to regroup. It was already besieged by someone – either Osric or some unknown amberite who could answer Osrics trump and use the pattern. I hope it was Osric, the alternative is a bit frightening. He seemed decent enough, if a trifle arrogant, did some quiet probing for information about the current court, and hinted about a possible return. Well that would stir things up. I called for a picnic while we discussed things. The storms were the work of an undead sorcerer, bait to catch an amberite that the mage could possess. Unfortunately the conference took too long, the mage managed to find Gwalmachais mind on the astral plane. The ensuing battle took place on the psychic and physical levels, as we tried to exorcise the mage while restraining Gwalmachais body. The resulting disaster left Drizzt in critical condition, Gwalmachai in a coma, and Osric resorting to destroying the shadow, so I trumped out with the casualties then pulled Osric through after me. Overall, not a success, both of our casualties needed a month or so of neural regneration. Good thing I own the hospital, the bills would be outrageous. Osric cleared out a few minutes after we got them checked in, he never did explain how he got mixed up in this mess.
What is it with trump contacts, do they always come at the most inconvenient possible place and time ? OK, maybe it’s just selective memory, but while I’m coming up after a scuba diving expedition? I mean, it’s just not the time. ANYway, it turns out to be the castilian at Amber inviting me to Randoms coronation. The entire family together in one place. Swell. I’m not sure that there are that many protective spells.
When I got there I found that things weren’t as bad as I expected. They were worse. OK, they’d unearthed twenty or so minor relatives from wherever they’d been hiding through the patternfall war, I’d expected that. They also invited a hundred and eighteen lords of chaos, and were using the feast as a peace conference. Fine. Ok. I can handle this. Maybe. They can’t be much worse then my other relatives, I mean, when I arrived Julian was about ready to start a fight with Wrath, something about him riding his flaming motorcycle through Arden, beating up a dozen hellhounds with a chain, and otherwise making a pest of himself. I got Julian to settle for sending him a few years of smokey the bear dreams, at least as long as he stays on the road. Ten thousand years and I’m the first peacemaker in the bunch, where did they get these genes anyway, a rummage sale ?
Stage set, actors ready, the curtain goes up on the great hall of amber, revealing chaos. Ok, so were some elder amberites, a few minor relatives, and a dozen or so of the younger generation, but they still outnumber us about four to one. The rules say “no major weapons showing” so I’ll keep my gloves on. The most miserable looking fellow in the hall seems to be one Gavroche, a son of Random and current heir to the throne. He seems to think that the entire court of chaos hates him and is just waiting for a chance to assassinate him. I loaned him a shielding charm to cheer him up, in this crowd a fear of assassination is only natural, I’m just afraid it will be a mass attempt. They sat Gavroche next to a young lady from the courts – maybe they’re planning to seal the treaty with a royal marriage?. I did a quick trump sketch in the gravy and called Gavroche to mention the possibility – maybe I should have left well enough alone, he nearly fainted. Drizzt and Charten have, of course, managed to gravely offend at least one lord of chaos, they’re off to a great start, usually that sort of thing takes even them a couple of minutes.
Dinner has almost settled down, the third course is in session, when Brand arrives. Bloody wonderful, the place is just waiting for a trigger and in wanders the biggest loose cannon in the multiverse. The miserable bastard is supposed to be dead ! Judging by the number of spells and things I can sense being readied, he may well get it right this time. Unfortunately he may take all of us with him, any more energy in here and it may undergo gravitational collapse – due to the equivalent mass. Brand seems completely unconcerned, and strides right up to the head table to offer his allegiance (!) to Random when the torches turn into spiders and attack, by some miracle, this does not trigger a cataclysm. I decide to stall, and throw a stasis spell on Brand and company in hopes of sorting it out later. The spiders are slowed but not stopped – and Gavroche leaps to the rescue. With political sense like this I hope he never has to be king. That thought is still running through my mind as Brand flares and vanishes, taking the whole high table with him. The residual energies are weird, both spiders and the flash left energies like those of the abyss, a sort of mixture of pattern and logrus. It then sinks in that Gavroche is at least regent. Great. I called him via a quick sketch in the pudding, and told him to clear the field, start an investigation, and to try to split up the chaos lords before the shock wears off. What does the bastard do, he appoints me chancelor and leaves me to deal with the mess. I appealed to their fear and paranoia, after all, if something could do that to the elder amberites, what else could it do? At least I got them separated and surrounded by guards before the shock wore off. About half stayed to “help with the investigation”, about 25% went home to either investigate or to prepare for a new war, and about 25% were simply scared. I tried to put a good face on it, after all, if they wanted to leave they’d just roll on over me at odds of ten or twenty to one. Besides, from the gossip, they like it here, we have better service, more stability, and a lot more people to order around. With that and their status as noble guests, why should they want to leave? The place was in good shape, they might as well have won…
In the meantime Drizzt got a message from “Julian”, and ran off into Arden to meet him. Gavroche gave his guards the slip and headed off after him with Charten, leaving me to “keep an eye on them” via trump. Drizzt found morgenstern and got carried off into shadow, but Gavroche and Charten ran into a pack of hellhounds and took a ride on some of them after making a speech. It didn’t seem politic to mention it – but hellhounds are not noted for intelligent response. I let them go anyway, you never know when you’ll find a clue. Next time I checked on Drizzt he’d found Julians sword – and was following its lead through shadow. When Gavroche found out that the wolves were heading for the courts he had me pull him out and ship him after Drizzt. Drizzt was on the edge of the abyss, arguing with the sword about whether it would be wise to jump in. Since it insisted that Julian was at the bottom he decided to jump in. I barely managed to pull him out before he dissolved. As the sword seemed to be unaffected I let it go, it just might be right about Julian. Since I had no knowledge of the abyss I tried calling Dworkin, but he seemed to be slightly out of his mind at the moment. What tests we could run on the abyss showed that both pattern and trump offered some protection against the abyss, so we charged up a golem with pattern and trump energies and sent it in with our wills backing it. Everything fell apart when Gavroche got an urgent call from Amber, the “court of the abyss” had sent us a formal deceleration of war. OK, we tried again and got a golem to the base of the towers of the abyss – before it fell apart when Charten had to pull out of the group to answer another urgent call. This time it seemed that Amber was under attack by a modest force of “flame creatures” wielding fireballs and time magics. Jaen showed up with a bunch of trump-powered “street samurai”, which were promptly wiped out. The flaming things were easy enough to stop with some rain, a few tornadoes, and a spray of helium II. Annoyingly one of the chaos lords at the court had used the diversion to kill a guard and steal the jewel of judgement. Charten felt a disturbance of the primal pattern, so Gavroche went to walk the pattern in amber to reach it. Jaen wandered off again – but at least I now knew who had been poking at my privacy spells. OK, I’ll have to come up some keyed specifically to him.
About this time Dworkin called, something was going on at the primal pattern. He pulled me through, and I went to see. Veronica was walking it with the jewel of judgement, so I trumped Gavroche through, from halfway through the pattern (that looked painful), and flooded the pattern. Since she refused to be washed safely off the pattern, Gavroche hit her with a blunt quarrel and let the pattern destroy her. I used telekinesis to get the jewel about when Dworkin showed up, (soaking wet), and trumped us to the throne room. Greast was there, and promptly tried to kill Gavroche when he announced that he’d killed his sister (and I thought that Gerard lacked tact). Jaen jumped into the middle, so he got shipped to a slow-time shadow with Greast and I had to waste a spell to get him back.
About this time the sword called from the bottom of the abyss and Drizzt – having learned nothing from his trip to the hospital – trumped through to it. The air there was a thick as soup and the area was in slow time, so we had to play trump hopscotch to get to the top of the tower in a mere three days. For our trouble we got twelve empty coffins, two smashed. The spells on them were designed to contain amberites, whom we determined were stashed in a shadow near the courts. Gavroche got on his high horse and headed straight for them, giving me the job of monitor duty again. While some pest put a number of shadow barriers and an annoying high-gravity shadow overrun with giant snakes in the way, they were no match for three amberites and the spells I fed thru them. We finally came to a barrier guarded by a chaos lord and a doorway that was really a trump trap. Three opponents proved to be too much for him to handle, and Drizzt got in a shot with Julains sword. The mage went to primal form while still burning, looks like Julians sword does destructive damage to chaos creatures, real big surprise. Unfortunately, in primal form it didn’t stop him – although we eventually managed to split him in two. I dealt with one half, Jaen blew up an entire shadow to get the other. Meanwhile Gavroche had headed into the “door” trying to find Random. Brand showed up and threw out some phony bodies, Gavroche got so upset that he charged right in – and got mangled by Dierdre. Meanwhile we were trying to deal with Brand, which was not easy. I spent a year and a half channeling spells through Jaen and Drizzt to keep Brand under attack. He just went intangible and concentrated on trump defense, but at least we’re keeping him pinned down. I shipped Gavroche to the hospital, after Drizzt KO’d Dierdre in psychic combat. Eventually Fiona and Benedict showed up and got Brand, good. I was very tired of casting those spells and equally tired of Gavroches, Drizzts, and Jaens, brains. Free access to another amberites brain is very rare, but after a few months each I’d almost memorized them. With any luck I won’t see any of them for again for months. Hmmm. Never mind luck, Ill make sure of it by visiting a fast-time shadow for a while.
Well, I guess that restaurant won’t want more of my business, arguing with yourself for ten minutes is bad enough by their standards – trumping out probably left half the customers fleeing in terror. Okay, so it’s a royal summons – they could still give enough notice to finish dinner. What with all the fuss I was expecting a major disaster, it turned out to be a “formal” court function. Given this family, that may qualify.
It turned out to be a reception for the new embassy from the Courts combined with Randoms attempts to sort out who does what. No surprises for the most part, at least not until he got down to the younger generation. Julian acknowledged Drizzt, who’d have thought that he would be willing to admit to fathering the little wart in public. Random commended Gavroche and confirmed him as heir to the throne, this kind of decision just will not make for a great reign. Gavroche was so obviously planning to run off that Gerard, Benedict, and Fiona set Jaen to “bodyguard” the poor kid. That would keep anyone from sneaking off, it’s hard to sneak when you are being followed by a clanking seven foot suit of ultratech armor. Charten got appointed to be captain of the guards in castle amber, which ought to keep him out of the way. The miserable bastard then appointed me to be the “backup defender of amber”. Great. Why didn’t he just give me a label saying “TARGET”, with “Secondary” in small letters. Fiona had a private talk with Jaen, maybe she talked him out of making a profession out of spying on the most powerful and paranoid people in the universe – or maybe she warned him about all that junk he’s using. I’ve never seen so many weird compulsions, conditions, triggers, and purposes. I wonder who planted the stuff on him, you can’t just “find” anything based on a primal power. Whoever it was is good, the forces bound into the stuff are enormous. I tried to warn him but he just didn’t seem to hear me. I wonder it that’s part of the geas ?
Anyway, the members of the embassy moved into their quarters and began drawing up a treaty. I promptly got drafted into the mess, I suppose that’s what I get for spending all that time interviewing and negotiating with them when all the elders were missing. Seeing as it’s the embassy from chaos, I guess it’s only natural that all five of them disagreed violently on everything. I need another vacation. I just hope that I can get out of here before Random finds out that another nine have settled themselves in the guest wing and show no signs of ever leaving. For someone styled “the inertialess”, Lord Bergenholm certainly settles in massively, but at least he seems to be sane. Some of them even make the other amberites look normal. I hope this doesn’t go on for too long, I need to recheck Aristotles programming before it hits full selfawareness, if its not too late already.
Drizzt used “his” nice new falcon to spy on Julian, but never seemed to consider that the horse I gave him is doing the same for me. Stupid wart. He decided to come and pester me next, so I diverted him to a pleasant and obliging shadow of myself, whom he promptly shot and critically wounded. I told the servants to quit watching since they found it upsetting. I heard that Julian pulled him out of his mess later, knowing Julian, that should about exhaust his patience with the idiot.
Gavroche swiped a minor magical sword from a small-time sorcerer off in shadow somewhere, and went off to fight ten or fifteen years of practice wars in a fast-time area of shadow. I wouldn’t care, except that Jaen left me stuck with watching him. Well if anything goes wrong, it’s Jaens problem, so I delegated the chore. I needed the time for some experiments in any case. Jaen used the time to get into Corwins pattern somehow, and at last has some interesting data to offer. Even with Corwin out of his mind, comparing differing patterns and their realities will probably be informative. All very nice, but Dierdre is also in there and is fooling around recruiting “real” troops. Corwins world seems to be a mix of arthurian legend and “popular” american culture (yuck) with a few werewolves thrown in. I thought that that was my schtick these days, but I guess copyrights don’t hold between universes. Jaen and Gavroche both had the marvelous idea of trying to infiltrate her forces, Jaen joined up as a grunt and learned nothing. What’d he expect ? No one tells the troops anything much before the actual attack is launched. OK, he got some superb basic training, but we’re sort of outnumbered here. It looked like a good time to stall a bit so I got Corwin to throw a month-long party for the entire realm. That should hold up any kind of military organization for a couple of months. Gavroche was having better luck, he was training Corwins personal guard and trying to sway them towards himself, but that’s only 400 out of lots. Jaen is moving his troops into Amber. That might help, but I doubt it. Gavroche got sticky about being spied on, apparently forgetting that he asked for it. If he wants to be nasty about it, to hell with him. What is he worried we’ll find out anyway? We switched to basic clairvoyant spells, but he blocked them as well just a bit later, after he fled to a new shadow with some 400 troops, all of Corwins personal guard. He said he was opposing Dierdre, but how did he spot the clairvoyance spell? I doubt that he or Dierdre has the skill. Could Dierdre still be linked to Brand? We were wrong about his death the first time. He also seems to have found a new relative, Corwins son, Luke Skywalker. AAAAAAGH. He seems to be working with Gavroche, but came running to Jaen and I with a story so full of holes that I could have taken an elephant through it. He’s either a total idiot or a lunatic, and has plenty of power. This we do not need running around loose, so we put him into cold sleep until things settle down a bit. I’ll return his stuff later. Hengwyr is still not answering his trump, just when he might actually be of some use. Where Bolo is only the unicorn knows, but there is a bright spot, it looks like Drizzt has managed to get himself killed at last. How he made it this long I’ll never know.
We still don’t know what Dierdre wants with all the troops, is she out to conquer Amber or Avalon, hit the Courts, or what ? She seems to want to replace Random on the grounds that he’s unworthy, while Gavroche says that the unicorn told him to support Random. We dumped the entire mess on Random, leading to the announcement that Random and Dierdre have made a deal, both want to protect Amber and have agreed to mutual defence. In the meantime, the elders tell us to hunt for Brand. Swell. I think I’ll accelerate my weapons-research program.
I must be slipping. I tried to catch a little rest in castle amber. I should have known better. At least this time there were only six booby traps in my suite. A bucket of whitewash, a spring loaded cream pie, some dribble glasses, a collapsing bed, the dresser drawers rigged so they all pop out at once, and coca-cola in the shower pipes. Whoevers behind its improving, the soda wasn’t actually inside the room, and so it didn’t show up on my sweep-spell. Maybe it really is Random, after all, he has the final authority over the castle staff. Now if I could only figure out who’s behind that weird clockwork golem with the axe that keeps wandering by. I’m just waiting for it to start chiming the hours…
Odd. You’d never know it from his rep, but Benedict has a tactical weak point. He tends to get taken aback whenever anyone makes an abrupt change in the “rules”. In a straight battle he’s marvelous, but just tell him that gravities just gone on vacation on his left flank while his opponents are now giant rubber geckos and he gets all screwed up. I think it comes of fighting all those variations on the same battles, he thinks of the “ground rules” as invariant. It’s no wonder his scouts never got near the courts during the war. I suppose I should have known it from his history – I mean, Lintra changed the rules from lover to opponent and chopped his arm off, Corwin put in “The vegetation is hostile” and knocked him out, he beat him again later when Benedict forgot that they were out of phase. He needed Corwins riflemen to win vrs the chaos cavalry, Brand paralyzed him with an unexpected weapon (the jewel of judgement) and fouled him up with it later during the battle at the courts. All in all a definite weakness. Still, I’m not going to be the one to tell him he missed something in three thousand years of training. I like living. If he hasn’t figured it out by now, it can only mean that he just doesn’t want to know. ANYway, he was still pretty informative, I’m glad I talked with him. If I ever do have to try to defend Amber at least I know what there is too work with and the basic plans. He even introduced me to somebody called “John” in case I needed tactical advice. Good. If anybody does manage to take Benedict out I’m going to want a lot of advice. Even with that weak point Benedict is sure-as-the-serpent formidable.
OK, so visiting the Courts is not exactly a direct way to look for Brand, but I like it. It’s hard to get much further out of reach. I think I know where he is anyway, but I’d rather not look. Think about it, he’s become a “living trump” and was concentrating on Trump Defense when Benedict ran him through and he just sort of dissolved. If he actually has merged with the Trump network somehow… What in the serpent could any of us do about it anyway? I think I can put it off for a bit longer, Random’s not too strident yet and the time ratio between amber and the courts is pretty high. At least I’m a bit more diplomatic about it then Gavroche, even if I was annoyed enough to slug Random I like to think I’m clever enough not to. Still, Gavroche seems to be blowing his top a lot these days, he told off Jaen and the universe in general. He stomped off (followed!) by Luke and Terror, a metallic horror that claims to be a relation. At least its not buzzing the place. Anyway, now I know they’re both nuts, Gavroche is obviously in no mood to put up with this sort of nonsense, and he’s good with his sword… About then I decided that being a long way away would be a wonderful idea, so I headed off to visit our new embassy at the courts.
ANYway, the courts are nice enough, or at least the younger segment of it is. None of them were ever very big on the war either, it’s like american kids and TV, say something about how nice it was before TV and they look at you like they would expect anybody that old to be decently fossilized and on display somewhere, right next to the trilobites. Some of the elders aren’t that bad even, I mean. old Suhay was nice enough, showed me the Logrus and everything after we’d discussed sorcery for a bit. He even wanted me to walk the fool thing, I told him “thanks but no”, the thing looks nastier then the pattern does. Between it and the abyss it gave me an idea though… If Benedict couldn’t kill Brand, it looks like you’d need an ultimate weapon to do it – and I think I might know how to make one. I’d better shelf that idea for a while, I’m not at all sure that it’s a good one. OK, so most of the “Lords of Chaos” are all right, while those who aren’t are mostly licking their wounds for the moment – but the courts begin to get to you after awhile. Not only is the enviorment unstable, but I keep getting glimpses of someone who looks a lot like me out of the corner of my eye. OK, so about half the time it’s a warped mirror, but what about the rest of the time ? Whoever it is seems pretty young, so it might be a chaos kid playing jokes, but I thought that looking like someone else took a lot of practice.
Enough was enough, So I headed back to Averos to do a few experiments. Weapons. Bah. So many interesting things to experiment with and I’m wasting my time with weapons research. There are quite a lot of unexplored possibilities for trump based weapons, but it’s hardly basic research. Still, it seems to be necessary and you never know, I might find something interesting. I kept the time ratio high just in case and spent a few weeks tinkering before checking in with Amber again. I found that Jaen, Gavroche, Luke, and Terror were just checking in themselves, apparently after traveling through some slow-time shadows. And they claimed that they were in a hurry. Some people. Anyway, Jaen headed off looking for something called an “Ultimate Nullifier”. I think he read about it in a comic book somewhere. He’s got a very powerful mind, why doesn’t he turn it on?
ANYway, I pulled Jaen out of near-stasis in a world where he thinks he’ll find the thing, he might have in another 10,000 years. Nobody wanted to wait that long, so I used a snatch-spell. Listening to him you’d think I used a “Stream of ultimate corrosive” spell instead, did he want to be lost for some millennia? Discussion time showed that following Gavroche had become a three sided chase, Terror chasing Luke chasing Gavroche, and an absurd melee around the base of Ygg, where Gavroche had ended up. Gavroche ran them off and talked to Ygg, who told him “Brand is everywhere. He also follows you in groups. There is safety in numbers.”. Just fine, a cryptic tree. I might have known a vegetable would be smarter then Terror and Luke, but I hoped for more out of Gavroche. While we tried to sort things out, Terror continued his pursuit of Luke, riding his “motorcycle” through the halls. Benedict halted that by cutting the cycle in half and confronting Terror. I stayed safely out of the way, but Jaen stupidly got in between them, and got chased all the way to the edge of Arden. As a conference, this was turning out to be a flat bust. As Gavroche went to look for Brand in the abyss I decided that there wasn’t any choice. If Brand was everywhere, he must have merged with the trump network. Nothing I had could affect him there. If he was still dangerous, I could only think of one thing that might. I departed to forge Skadwhe’. I still think that this might be a very bad idea, but what choice have I got? Meanwhile I got Luke to take a nice, friendly, intelligent raccoon thru Corwins pattern in Avalon. It got pattern powers. Neato. A “synthetic” amberite – and a kinder, gentler, pattern. I think I like it better then the original. I guess that Corwin is lots more mellow then Dworkin is. Or maybe his pattern is just younger, friendlier – and fond of small furry animals. I wonder if this kind of attitude is going to undermine Dierdres army a bit?
ANYway, after the conference Gavroche headed for t’ abyss to look for Brand, scans it psychically, and finds that while someone’s in there it isn’t Brand. He’s all around and everywhere. It seems to be Greast in there. Oh great. Jaen contacts Brand in the trumps, and finds he’s trapped, is having “trouble” keeping his thoughts together, and can’t do much of anything. Fine. Brand’s achieved nirvana and wasn’t ready for it. Even for this family that has to be a new one. He wants us to draw a subtly distorted trump of the unicorns glade to create a gate for his return. What it will lead to is a good question, it would seem to create a “pocket” link with a reality with freer “rules”. Meanwhile, Gavroche has stopped off to speak to his tree again and has been told “Only Skadwhe’ can kill Brand”. I hadn’t even finished testing it yet, and already trees a million shadows away have heard about it. You’d think I was making the Axe of Paul Bunyan. Maybe there is something to this tree business after all.
OK so it’s conference time again. We even called in Terror, which shows how desperate we were. That showed us part of why he’s so unpopular, he was flying around in the abyss scaring the abyss divers, men whose lives depend on their concentration. I admitted to Skadwhe’, and was immediately assaulted by demands from Gavroche and Terror to allow them to attune it. Great. A choice between attuning it myself or allowing a champion hothead and/or a total lunatic to do it. Worse, Gavroche says the user must be skilled with a sword. That lets me out. Eventually they wear me down and I let Gavroche do it – a very long ways away. Neato. It destroys the shadow he occupies, trump cards of him – wherever they are, and everything he’s carrying. In fact it destroys him too, but puts him back – without his pattern powers and with abyssal powers. Skadwhe’ can burn out pattern imprints. Aaagh. Well Gavroche seems pleased, if a bit emotionally blank, but what is Random going to say? I may have just disqualified the heir to the throne. At least I can truthfully say that I only let him have it under duress. We trumped through to amber to let Fiona and Random have a look. They confirmed the diagnosis and look at me very oddly, well fine. Fiona can put a lot into a quick “look”. She tells me to consult her about any further experiments. With any luck she’ll be a bit less reluctant to tell me anything. I don’t think I’ll attune it, I don’t want to be an abyss sorcerer. Thank the Unicorn I didn’t let Terror near it. I don’t even want to think about what he might have become.
So ANYway, we went off to the grove of the unicorn, had Jaen draw the trump Brand wanted, and got Gavroche ready with Skadwhe’, just in case. Brand came through, very dazed, and Terror said “Hi Dad”. I really should have known. Brand says that that was strange, he saw a lot of universes. Otherwise he seems to be OK, I guess that this was about the ultimate in shock therapy. He seems sane and has nothing but trump powers, but seems just a bit simpleminded. Fiona took charge of our new Boddhisativa with Randoms consent, I suppose she ought to know if she can handle him. About now, Terror tried to “go through” the gateway and merge himself with the trump field. Just what the universe needs – Terror as an omniversal presence. Of course everybody jumped him instantly, Jaen blocked the gate, while I isolated him from trump. We weren’t quite fast enough, a “part” of him got through. Great. Fine. Wisps of Terror strewn across the multiverse. A haunting in every pot. Each and every wandering wisp linked to the power of trump, the power of creation. Ghostbusters meets the multiverse. AAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHH! I hope he hasn’t got a link to all of them. I’m not sure I could stand him being able to “see” wherever something frightening is going on, he’s got enough horrible ideas already.
ANYway, Gavroche seems to be lots calmer, and maybe happier, now that he’s got new powers and is out of line for the throne, lets hope that was what was making him screwy, with abyssal powers he’d be terribly dangerous if he’s still a nut-case. At least I got Skadwhe’ away from him and stashed it behind every defence and spell I could think of, It seems to upset Dworkin, and who needs that? I called Martin and told him he seemed to be the new heir to the throne. He said – and I quote, “Cool. I gotta go party.” and left using a cybertrump gadget. At least he won’t take it so bloody seriously, I mean, well, Oberon lasted for at least six thousand years, and didn’t pass on his throne to his chosen successor. The odds are sort of against it being important for a long long time. I hope things calm down for a bit, my blood pressure keeps blowing the gauge. Maybe I ought to try Brands nirvana trip for a bit, he seems happy.
Finally, a couple of weeks of peace. Nothing wrong except another eight silly booby-traps in my suite and a horde of cartoon creatures on the loose in the city. Okay, so Terror’s managed to spread himself across the universe, Dierdre’s finished training her troops (What for nobody knows), the chaos “olympics” are coming up, Caine keeps talking to somebody I’ve got no trump for, a dozen new routes thru shadow have appeared since the pattern was repaired, ten assorted lords of chaos have settled into the palace, and Gwalmachai had some of Lady Sophernias mushroom wine (and was last seen headed off into shadow)… OK, maybe the situation isn’t exactly stable, but nothings gone too terribly wrong in nearly two weeks, I mean, Gwalmachai’s capable of taking care of himself, Terror’s always been everyehere (if not so personalized), Luke’s managing the chaos olympics, new routes through shadow are no problem – until something nasty comes over them, the assorted lords of chaos are no stranger then the rest of us, and there are lots of people I’ve got no trumps for.
I wonder if I could make an “answering machine” for trump contacts? Just think of the benefits! You could get the information without actually having to talk to the our family lunatics. On the other hand, given how much an answering machine annoys me, it might not be a very good idea to introduce them. The royal family is unstable enough as it is, and I’d hate to be responsible for one of them running amuck. In any case… Where was I?
ANYway, I’d been thinking that I managed to get out of the way this time when Luke called me, of course he decided to call in the middle of an important business conference – just the time to fade off vaguely and start muttering to yourself. Ring, Ring, Ring. Just when I need to keep my mind open to pick up their intentions, this idiot won’t give up. For someone who is supposed to be attuned to the flow of the universal force, he’s incredibly dense. He seems to be incapable of getting the message unless you drill holes in his skull to let it in first. When I finally found the time to talk to him, it seemed that he wanted me to help him negotiate the setup for the chaos-amber olympics. Wonderful. I can see it now. I talked to the lords of chaos at the peace confrence/dinner, which got me stuck on the team that was haggling over the treaty, which got me tapped for the olympic negotiations, which will doubtless get me drafted into the next conference as Ambers resident expert… I can hear it now; “But you’re the one with all the experience…” Great. Fine. I’ll go this time. If I don’t, Luke will probably call me when I’m in the shower or something, and Melissa hates that. I suggested Pops surf and sand shadow for the conferance, it’s got a lot of decent resturants that deliver, and it can’t be beaten for a comfortable spot to lounge around in. On to the conferance.
I might have known, none of the chaos representives agreed on anything. Still, things went well until the universe tore open and Gavroche dropped in for just long enough to throw a few “sticky entrophy balls” at Luke, a fate that may be worse then swedish meatballs. What does the fool do, he tries to wipe it off. I lent him a trump to use and rescued him, maybe I should’ve just let him dissolve – but I need him until the conferance is over. It turned out that he’d “stolen” some 200 of the troops he was training for Gavroche and/or Dierdre and led them off on some stunt of his own. Is this any reason for Gavroche to drag Lukes entire home universe into the Abyss? I tried to explain to the Chaos Lords, only to find that this is about the first thing around here they find perfectly famalier. Great. Meanwhile in Amber, the stay-puff marshmellow man was attacking the harbor. We should never have taken Sabre to that film festival. Assaulted by enormous supernatural monsters, the first thing they do is send for me. I don’t know whether to be flattered – or to point out that I don’t like them either. So ANYway, I called in Terror to re-absorb this wandering fragment of his “self” before he got back to pestering Luke. I checked on my sources to see if I could find out why Gavroche is so upset. Lo and Behold, Gavroche’s been a busy boy. It seems that Luke was only “in charge” on the sufferance of Gvroche and/or Dierdre, that the 400 troops he was training only make up a sixth of them, rather then a third, and that he’s been having secret conferences around twenty 20 of the dissident house lords of chaos. On a lighter note, the raccoon has gotten two quorzl across Corwin’s pattern. Dierdre says that she’s only defending Amber and has put a block up, Hengwyr is reported to be moving his mercs into Amber, and Randoms being kingly. Half the others are all excited about the “olympic games”, they really seem to like the idea. Things seem to be moving along nicely when the abyss gapes open, Dierdres got most of her troops in one place, and Gavroche is making a (phony ?) attempt to swallow them up with the abyss. I set up some spells to pull out anyone who was about to become a casualty. OK. Lots of “casualties” but no injuries, and no one seemed very surprised to be still alive. Can you say “collusion” ? I thouthings gone too terribly wrong in nearly two weeks, I mean, Gwalmachai’s capable of taking care of himself, Terror’s always been everyehere (if not so personalized), Luke’s managing the chaos olympics, new routes through shadow are no problem – until something nasty comes over them, the assorted lords of chaos are no stranger then the rest of us, and there are lots of people I’ve got no trumps for.
I wonder if I could make an “answering machine” for trump contacts? Just think of the be around 200,000 gallons of jello to flood the throne room with if necessary (It wasn’t darn it). Luke attacked back, got his hand chopped off, and got captured. Fionas probe confirmed that he didn’t know what was going on but he was hiding something. Random settled him on Gavroche, punishment for both of them I think. I’m sure that he doesn’t swallow it – he’s probably just waiting to see what Dierdre and Gavroche are up to. Luke is too easy to frame for it to be sporting, it’s like kicking some small puppy. I wonder what Gavroche is up to with the Enchantress and that secret conferance anyway?
So it’s off to the chaos olympics. With any luck at all this will promote peace and friendship between the courts and amber. On the other hand, Gavroche, Terror, and a bunch of the elders will be involved. I suppose good luck is out of the question. Amber opened, their banners waving in unison, and their uniforms carefully color coordinated. Floramel strikes again. Chaos was a bit less organized, in fact I had to pull out one Lord Terasin for emergency treatment, another lord of chaos took the opprotunity to plant a poisoned crossbow bolt in his back. The other lords didn’t really seem to pay much attention, hows it go ? “This is supposed to be a happy occasion ! Let’s not bicker and argue about who killed who…”. Sigh. We started off with cross-shadow tag, chaos tried to play cheap by bringing in someones pet dragon – apparently in hopes that it would be able to track people across shadow. The thing wandered off into infinity completely at random – so I tracked it a bit and steered it away from lethal shadows. Damned if I’m going to spend too much time looking after peoples stray pets, from now on it’s on its own. ANYway, Amber won the tag competition, and we went on to the 3D Pool games. Some practical joker entered the dragon in this one too, I wonder who the prankster is ? It was worth the trouble though – I won a logrus artifact on a side bet. I’ve never gotten to examine one of those before. The dragon tried to cheat after it was obviously hopeless, it would. The day concluded with high-velocity snow sculpture, which was at least entertaining. Once again someone had entered the dragon. Some talent, but a monomania for dragon scenes. Oh well. My angel, ship scene, and “trump sculpture” of a forest festival went over well. Benedict made a perfect cube and a katana, which was neat, but rather minimalist and much too zen for a casual competition. Sabre got honorable mention for a snowman and a classic “snow angel”, but the real prizes went for shamelessly catering to the judges. I thought of it, but it was a bit beneath my dignity. So the first three games went to amber. I may have to get amber to “throw” a few events if this goes on, a clean sweep will not promote good relations.
Day two began with Terror assaulting the dragon. I know letting an animal play is something of an insult, but this seems extreme. After all, Amber won the war and can afford to let chaos be a bit sulky about it. Maybe its a diversion for something. Freeform conducting was fun, I got a medley of;
The Saints Go Marching In, Flashdance, Amazing Grace, The fourth movement of Mozarts Piano Concerto, Philip Glass, Altarian Combat Music, Klingon Love Ballads, T’ Yoda Theme, Kzinit Hypersonic Cheerleading, The Third Movement of the Infinity Concerto, Ergon Prices Whale Music, and Hells Bells by AC-DC
Most of the other contestants decided to give up after my performance, maybe it was the special effects. That infinity concerto is an odd piece – by the time it was over I had a new set of musicians. Terror got a medley but decided to do Mozarts requiem symphony with, added subsonics, and got rid of almost his entire audience. No dragon this time – it was shacked up with Tiamat to recover from terrors attack.
Bobsledding was fun. Never has so much primal power been devoted to such a trivial goal. A grand master of the force, a major power of the abyss, trump, pattern, more force, power words, and reality warping, all used to make the sled go faster. Chaos won, they managed to do the 300 mile course in 20.2 seconds using sorcery and a logrus slingshot. We hit a bump and left the planet the first time, but the second time we held it down – made it in 15.4 seconds, but got a five second penalty for damaging the course. The Mt Kolvir team consisted of Brand, Drizzt, and two other fellows. They vanished on the starting line to who-knows-where. Challenger of chaos was disqualified for using a warp drive and having too many “beings” on his team – his sled was sentient, making five. The silly dragon seems to have linked its life energy to Gavroches, I’m not sure he’s fit to own a pet. I suppose the dragon wanted its belly rubbed or something. That link is an interesting effect though, I’ll have to look into it.
+50, AST, Experimental Log: Well I’ve finally gotten Drizzt stable. I’ve got to try to remember why I bothered. Well I suppose I know, experimental subjects are hard to come by when they’re alive. Dead they don’t protest much. At least he won’t try to shoot me again, I hardwired in a set of loyalty compulsions. I suppose I should feel guilty – but when he tried to kill me that sort of made him “fair game”. An interesting experiment anyway. A new body seemed to be all he needed, although I’m not sure if he’ll fully recover from the shock of being killed the first time. His attunement to trump energy seems inherent, I guess it’s a side effect of the process.
It must be the start of another crisis. Usually the wierd stuff doesn’t start till after I get out of bed. This time it was an aura borealis invading the room, a possibility I really hadn’t considered. It didn’t seem to be one of Melissas magics, even if she was given to showing them off at odd times, so I got disentangled and probed it. It turned out to be the local manifestation of a huge shadow-storm, nearly damped out by the trump energy I imbued Averos with. Aristotle scanned around in shadow and found that they’re increasing in frequency and size. Unless it’s some sort of cycle, like sunspots, something or someone is fooling around with the largescale structure of shadow. Either way, trouble. Averos seems safe enough, but I’ll have to build defences for the other realms I’ve got friends/responsibilities in. Even in accelerated time, that’s going to be a genuine pain to finish quickly. Well I suppose there’s no time like the present.
Well at least that’s done – despite the visitors. I might’ve expected that getting everyone together would be taken as a chance to get a “head start” on the next milleniums intrigue. If I hadn’t sped up time, I don’t think I’d have gotten any sleep at all. Mother called first. At least she’s gotten rid of that blue dot, she simply pulled the old “illuminated from behind” bit to make herself into a black outline. How she pulled that one over a mental link I’ve no idea. I don’t know why she bothers either. I can get an excellent idea of how she looks by glancing in a mirror. I certainly didn’t get my looks from pops. She wants me to look into some anomalies out by the courts – something about a “fresh viewpoint”. Anomalies. Ha. The place is made of them. OK. Fine. I told her I’d look into it in a couple of hours, after I finished things up on this end. Vinnie was next, I seem to have won his undying respect as an even worse pool shark then he is. I’m not sure exactly what he wanted but I think it was support in some sort of power grab within house Telos. Why is my support so politically useful ? He didn’t seem to want any direct help. One Drexall, apparently a dragon, called to make an appointment for tea. Well it’s a new approach, most dragons don’t seem to think that way. I wonder what he wants ? Aristotle seems to have found a friend out in shadow, at least there’s somebody he opens gates for a lot. With Terror beyond the universe, and out of touch with trump, all sorts of floating wisps of his essence have gone independent. I chased them out of my shadows and Hengwyr seems to be dealing with those that manifest near amber. I wonder who put him up to it? Well it’ll be a new entry on his outfits resume – “ghostbusters”. Even Martin called, he and some “shadowrunner” friends were pinned by some chaos creatures and a dragon using local tertiary magic. That one was easy, I just sent a few spells through and collected the dragon. What am I going to do with this one?
ANYway, I finished the barriers around “my” shadows and headed for the courts. The anomalies seemed to be nothing but an exaggerated version of the usual Logrus surges, so I began investigating it. I’d been planning to get to it in a bit anyway, so why not? Things were cut short by an emergency call from Gavroche, it seems that his friend the tree wouldn’t talk to him – and so must be sick. Ok. Fine. Simply considering something (anything) as a friend is a step up for Gavroche, so I went to have a look. Trumping there was a rough trip, revealing a major upheaval in among the primal powers. Since Ygg seems to be connected to everything throughout shadow it’s not surprising that he reflects it. We checked out Corwins tree and pattern, but they seemed to be unaffected. About then Luke called in his capacity as the amber olympic coordinator. The elder amberites hadn’t shown up. We headed off to amber to check, the pattern first and then the elders. The pattern seems to be drawing on every available source of energy, trying to counter a vastly enhanced logrus run amuck. Turning shadow upside down, destroying universes, and creating random weirdness. OK. Fine. Step two. I’m not Sherlock Holmes, I need a bit more evidence to work on. I used a vitality transfer and a drain-blocking spell to wake Fiona, I’ve been tapping trump energies to increase my vitality, so I guess I can spare some. Fiona wakes up and looks at me funny, I think I’ll start a collection of funny looks from her, they’re very interesting. She tries to look back along the energy-traces to find the problem and announces that the problem is not really the logrus at all, it’s that some abyssal power has driven the King of Chaos mad, setting the Logrus free of it’s limits. I should have known. The whole multiverse is sliding into the abyss, what could be behind it except Greast ? We headed for the courts to forcibly psychoanalyze the king and found he was missing. Worse, all his trumps had burned up, and he wasn’t to be found by normal means (or even by most of the abnormal ones).
It would have been nice if things were going fairly well in the courts otherwise. Unfortunately, they were a disaster area. The structure of shadow was shifting, the Logrus was running amuck, random energy flows were everywhere, and the overload had killed at least half of the current Logrus masters. Worse, Fiona was suffering from the effects of linking minds with a lunatic while keeping her mind completely receptive, and had retired to one of my hospitals/resorts to recover. Just when a psychic specialist would have been really handy. So we recruited some of the surviving logrus masters to back us up.
ANYway, our amazing combined deductive talents told us that the business with the trumps (blocked, burning up, etcetra) was identical to the effects we saw a few weeks ago, and was probably due to the same cause. Some master of the abyss was interfering with them. Well we sort of knew that anyway but it’s always nice to get a bit of confirming evidence. OK. Fine. But What to do ? We set Gavroche to interfering with the interference and grabbed the king. The King was encased in a caccoon of interwoven sorcerous, abyssal, and pattern energy, the abyssal power acting as an “insulator”. “Shorting out” the whole business seemed likely to blow up at half or more of the universe, as well as all of us. Not ideal. Eventually we settled on a combination strategy, where Gavroche would get the abyssal energy out of his head, Luke would try to get his mind put back together (with the help of Drizzt), and I would stand by to channel the pattern energy away, speed or slow time, and otherwise provide bcakup. Hopefully, getting the kings mind back together would reinstate the limits on the Logrus, and stop his logrus tendrils from draining all the pattern energy out of the universe. Greast, using a spikenard, decided that this was a great time to attack, and sent his abyssal forces through to pester us. This was very hard on the surrounding area, but a few trump barriers sufficed to keep it away from us. As the king had been able to drain pattern energies through Logrus tendrils I figured that the surviving logrus masters, helped by my trump sorcery, should be able to feed it back if we freed it up gradually. Meanwhile of course, everybody was doing four things at once, trying to block Greasts attack, rebuild the kings brain, drain off part of the power overload, sending magic back over Greasts mystic links to the king to pester him, shielding against the random surges from the Logrus, etc, etc, etc. Luke did a lot of the psychological work, as the only one we’ve got with much in the way of mental powers. Things were looking up when Terror (Although I hear he likes to be called Mayhem these days) reveals his true loyalty – to Greast and his program of annihilation. I haven’t got the time for this now, so I used a spell that I’d prepared for Greast, amplifying his own abyssal powers to the point of self-destruction, while setting Drizzt to scrambling his psyche. How he managed to gate himself out with these distractions is puzzling – maybe Greast pulled him out. Good riddance anyway. Just to keep him busy for a while I coupled an uncontrolled mass-energy creation nexus to the portal and fed a “big bang” into whatever was on the other side. We’d kept treating the king through all of this, at least Luke and the others had while I handled the defences, and the cocoon began to collapse as his sanity came back. The energy surges were impressive – but the logrus masters grounded them back into the universe safely enough, I diverted quite a bit to Corwins pattern since I like that one quite a lot better then the original version. In the aftermath Gavroche got to feeling sort of depressed, and retired to “merge himself with the abyss”, like Brands nirvana trip but from the other side. Luke seems to be heading home into Corwins pattern for a bit, and Drizzt seems to be slowly recovering from his “deathshock”. Meanwhile, I got the trump artists together (maybe we should form a union) and created a resonance effect in the universal trump field that should automatically seal off abyssal portals into and out of the universe. It may slightly annoy abyssal masters operating within the universe as well, but that’s life. Back home, Laura seems to have joined some “super-hero” organization as “Corona”. OK. Everybody should have a hobby. I hear Gavroche sicced that silly dragon on me for a practical joke before he cut his energy link with it, he would. As if I didn’t have enough dragon troubles, right down to that little one Melissa keeps for a pet. It keeps eating my shoes.
ANYway, things should be fairly quiet on the cosmic front for a while, sorting out the new political/house relationships in chaos should take a while after this, while amber seems to be settling down under Random. If Dierdre doesn’t decide to try to take advantage of the situation we may have a period of relative peace while everyone redesigns their intrigues to fit the new situation. At least the olympics still seem to be on, the survivors are too nervous to scatter just yet and it’s a splendid opportunity to see who’s left. There were a lot of deaths among the lords of chaos, both among the logrus masters, and among those who simply got caught by some chaotic manifestation. The upheaval did produce a lot of interesting effects though, I will have to look into them while they’re still reasonably fresh.