Red Sword Calls-FB Posts
- 1 Timeline of Jeweled Amber
- 1.1 5242-Desri in Nu Yark with Zicatalas of Azcala
- 1.2 5244-Xolotl and Zentalas
- 1.3 5245-Xozla and Cihalas
- 1.4 5245-Jopin, Mitcholt, and the Arrival of The Forces of Tosa
- 1.5 5245-Lop and Palace Commons
- 1.6 5245-Bleys warns Random
- 1.7 5245-Lop and Fort in the Palace Commons
- 1.8 5246-The Arrival of the Cult of the Savior/Slayer.
- 1.9 5246-Jeremy and Fiona at Tirna no'gath
- 1.10 5247-CHAD vs Azcala-Battle of Trudana Felik
- 1.11 5261-Doings at Thin Whip's
- 1.12 5262-Family Details in the Library with Arloxedra
- 1.13 5265-A Conversation in Trasidy
- 1.14 5266-Drums and Duty-Random & Truman
- 1.15 5270-Jurt Ponders
- 1.16 5271-Musings on Bursain- Vance
- 1.17 Hibbit-The Boggie
- 1.18 5280 Truman, Tom, & Bob
The Timeline of Jeweled Amber is becoming an increasingly useful way for me to keep this stuff straight. As I have said, much of this Amber stuff is for my own writing entertainment, and as an attempt to jump start my writing out of the doldrums its been in, as well as to run a bit of gaming. Its funny that as a historian and a history junkie it never occurred to me to create a strict timeline but rather relied on a general sense of this event happening after that. As the man aid, "Serves me right for not being musical."
Although the headings for this are looking a little "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra". Oh well, His eyes wide open.
5242-Desri in Nu Yark with Zicatalas of Azcala
Looking out the window over the city of Nu Yark, she chuckled softly at how strange this vasty lands were compared to the magical realm of her birth and her struggles. Its towers, its magics, its technology. What required all her powers to manage in the healing of her own body on her home world, was done in clinics on nearly ever block in this mighty world. What they could do in their cutting edge hospitals was beyond her belief and only cost money she could gather with ease in this brutal world.
She thought of her sister, Lady, and the other Nine the Dominator took. The flawed creatures Lady had taken. Mighty they all were. Yet none of them had ever sipped champagne looking out on a scene like this.
A couple thousand feet below, at street level, the masses of people went about their business unaware of the realms around them. She could only look out the window and let her mind boggle.
Pouring thirteen ounces of tequila she walked to sit in the chas-lounge on her balcony.
Bringing the bottle with her because she knew her guest would be thirsty too.
Her silky negligee clung loosely to her frame as she settled beside the bronzed god of war. His scent lay heavy on her body. Sweat and other scents, her nose could lightly detect.
“Gold wing for your thoughts?” Handing him the bottle.
“My thoughts? Desri, I am afraid all good things must come to an end. Gold wing or not, my thoughts turn to my father and war. “
“Ya, I figured they would, but I don’t understand why? The devil knows I’m no fan of Amber but I don’t see the percentage in attacking it. Its not like you can destroy it. “
He turns on the lounge, picking up the bottle and chugging off a draft.
“My father thinks there is a percentage. He thinks destroying Amber means supplanting it. He thinks the balance that Random has created between Amber, Avalon and Mandalay is going to rend his realm of its powers. He is almost certainly right.” Taking another chug he drops his head to the bottle’s rim.
Reaching over to grab the bottle and his hand, Desri says, “I can’t follow you. I'm no pawn of Random and I'm new to having family but I don't share your father's beliefs. I don’t want to fight you.”
He nods, gently pulling the bottle from her hands, drinking, and passing it back to her. Standing he pulls her into his embrace, she comes into it eagerly, again.
Gripping her left teat gently, he drives the knife hard into her chest, cutting left and right to pull the heart from her bleeding chest.
His hand pulls from her chest a rubber facsimile of a heart, marked "Property of Lebek High School"
She looks to him, frowning, in pain, with a scowl of betrayal, “Ah, Zictalas, did you think I kept my heart there after I learned who you were? Go…Leave this realm now. When I see you next, you had best be armed.”
Stepping back, nodding in regret hearing his true name from her lips, dropping the toy heart to the ground, “I must have the real one. Many of the real ones, dear. In time”
Turning he steps into shadow.
Picking up the bottle, drinking deeply before pouring the fiery liquid on her open wounded chest, she says aloud, “Your place or mine, lover”
5244-Xolotl and Zentalas
The blackness was strong, the screams of pain deafening around him and the wrongness of the thing he created was dragging scars across his soul. Sparkling lights crashed up around him as the work he did wounded the inscription below him and the imprint within him. He fought his powers and his soul.
To the side three people watched as the fabric of the universe was torn before them. Lives ruined, worlds crushed, earthquakes, tidal waves, rains of fire, rains of toads, rains of molten cinnamon candy.
They drank the blue agave nectar and watched.
In time he completed the arc, his footstep leaving the red stain behind him. Echoes of horror flooded through shadow as the warriors of the Jaguar filled the gaps forged in shadow. What had been a deeply broken pattern of Amber was now a fine shadow of the Sigil of Azcala, though its tinge was not quite as red and its blood-lust not quit so fierce yet.
He staggered to the ground, caught by the Woman in Feathers.
"You magnificent man! It worked! It can be done! It can be carried out to the Halls of Amber itself!"
Looking up, the great sorcerer shook his head. "Not by me you crazy bitch. This nearly killed me. I can't say I'll recover now. If you think this can be done to greater shadows, or shadows of the pattern itself, you are more insane then I ever imagined. But know this; What I did today, is mine. This place. It is not of Amber, nor is it of Azcala, and if our family wants it, they can come against me. I claim Founder's Right. It may be a small thing, but its mine. Now.. Go.. or die"
The two men disappeared immediately, leaving the Woman in Feathers alone.
She yelled, "You can't mean that? After everything it took to get this far? Tonacat will reward you with sacrifice and hearts and ..." She began to scream as the fire started at her feet, racing up her calf.
He rose, slowly, scowling but healing. The shattered realms forgetting their pain, embracing their lord. giving unto the creator in his need.
The Woman in Feather and Flames turned and stepped into shadow.
5245-Xozla and Cihalas
Traffic on the overpass was stalled as usual. LA traffic could be challenging at the best of times.
The Plymouth Barracuda's great engine idled lowly, angry that it had no running room. Its driver reclined at ease, letting his cigarillo burn and scent the air with tobacco and other herbs. Beside him on all sides the commuters sealed their econoboxes tightly and blasted air conditioning to fight off the blistering heat. He basked with the window open, he liked the sun. So does the tiny cat sitting beside him
A tingling sensation tickled at his mind, bringing him to immediate attention. He had not felt the touch of a trump in centuries. Seeking down the paths of the contact he felt the tender touch at the other end. Opening his mind the image of a raven haired woman with crystal blue eyes fills his vision.
"Sister. How wonderful to see your face after all these years. To what do I owe the privilege? Have you taken up the knife again?"
"In truth it occurred to me when I thought of seeing you, but you needed to know." She sips a tall glass of clear liquid, relishing it.
"What's happened?" tossing his cigarillo out the window, coming to full alertness.
"Tonacat has ripped hearts on the Alter of the Serpent of Chaos at the Fane of Zilla. The Cats are loose. The Bird has landed at Cabra. Tona has the Key"
"Well, Fuck...Zictalas and Zentalas? " he growls.
"They have gone to retrieve Toci. They will answer Tonacat's call when he makes it"
"And our kids? "
"Aztalios is with me, Husband . Untara? No clue. " She finishes her drink. "Will you answer the call?"
"Cihal, you know I like a good fight, but this is all such ancient history. We barely avoided getting sucked into the Patternfall fiasco because the realm was sealed and tonacat was in Chaos. I like it here. I see no reason to pick a fight with Amber's new king just because Oberon and Swayvil couldn't get along. "
"Xozla...You know its more then that.. Its our home. We can go back..Please.."
Frown, looking out from the Sepulveda Overpass to the 405.
"Ah hell...When could I deny you anything. I'll come. For you, Cihal, for you. Not for them..They may rue inviting me. Quez and I always got along. " He closes his mind to forestall the argument that would have followed.
"Well Cholla, it seems Zictla awaits us after all.. Pity. Terrible place, but my love will be there and she will soon forget that she hates me. If she will be there, so shall we"
The cat looks up, nearly grins, and makes a neigh of approval that a horse would approve of as well. It dreams of being a horse again.
5245-Jopin, Mitcholt, and the Arrival of The Forces of Tosa
Morning breezes waft over the docks of Amber with the scent of salt and fog heavy in the dawn.
Out to sea a mighty man in the autumn of his years stands on the rocky shoals of the isle of Cabra. The waves crash at his feet and feel like a lover's caress to him.
Out in the east a kayak cuts through the fog. Seeing it, the man raises a deck of cards into his view and concentrates. "Yes, my liege. They are here."
The small vessel pulls up to the isle. Looking up, the man in red leathers and red scale armor asks, "excuse me good sir, beest thou His grace, Duke Sir Jopin of Cabra? "
"I am. And you? "
"Goodly Duke, I am Sir Micholt Kandif. My liege comes anon and seeks the harbor thy liege has called to be our resting place. From here we go north, correct?"
"Yes, and devil take you sir had I my way. But I do not. To the north you will see dolphin in the livery of Rebma. They shall take you to the new docks above North Riding." Scowlingly he points north.
"By faith, I gat that thy will holds ill will towards me, though I fain have set foot on this fair land? What cause have thee to ado with me or mine?"
"Go north God of Lust, if you set foot on my rock I'll gut you like a sturgeon and eat your eggs on toast."
"Ah...I shall go north then, an my faith vilify thee. Seek me in Amber, wretch, if thy gut allows thee to take to the lists rather then hiding here like unto shellfish."
Guiding the craft to the sea, the Fletcher of Tosa paddles hard and sure. Behind him ships come from the mist. Tall, many-masted, flying the colors of blue and gold. Thousands of banners bear the arms of knights and kings and saints of battle.
Ships of many designs sail in smooth course past Cabra. Jopin, though angered at their intrusion is yet moved by the styles and the skill of the sailors that guide such strange and marvelous ships. Hours pass as the armada passes by. In his youth he would have born Amber's flag at sea and took battle to them, rather the watch them pass.
"The sea will run red getting them out, now that they are here"
As the ships pass a mighty barge comes in their midst, fueled by sorcery and witcheries, it glides through the seas like a glacier. On its bow stands a cadre of giants, 12 feet tall, clad in shimmering blue/green reardan scale, armed with the shadow weapons Jopin has only heard of. The Deathwheelers, 9' long, with 3 rows of spinning speartips. Each warrior holds his at attention. Jopin notes that the giants are not all men, nor do they all have only 2 arms.
Among the giants a titan stands boldly. Heads above the others in runescribed blue green reardan scale, long blond hair framing a gigantic squared jawed face. Jopin meets eyes with the creature even he must call a man. Three silver trees embossed on his brow beside a stone that shifts colors quickly. A dark blue cloak that covers his shoulders bear 12 sigils of the Saints of Battle, and the arms of the royal house of Tosa. He stands against the seafoam with his hand on the pommel of a mighty greatsword, glowing with blueish white light running along the rune-scribed blade.
Jopin catches the titan's eye as the ship passes.
Behind Jopin a thin man in brown comes to stand beside him. The titan turns and salutes the pair in passing, though all three know that if the man in brown had remained hidden, no salute would have been given.
Jopin speaks,"so that's Alexandir kosKorag?"
Benedict nods." Yes. War God, Premier Saint of Battle, and King of Tosa. I may have to kill him someday. It will take some doing. Hopefully he will die well fighting Amber's foes."
Nodding, Jopin agrees. "I'll get a crypt ready. I can think of few enemies of Amber I would rather see dead more then this ally."
"Mayhap, old friend. But Azcala comes too and we may have cause in time to hate them more. By the way, King Random sends you his greetings"
Turning to Benedict, the old admiral pales. "No..I'm retired."
Chuckling, a sound unusual from the Marshal of Amber, he says ," Ya, so was I, Duke Jopin. Oh,my error, Admiral Jopin."
Scowling at his old friend as the armada sails past.
The lighthouse keeper of Amber says," well, it will all end in tears.
5245-Lop and Palace Commons
Looking around the vast empty space, the plain looking man in brown and gray, his hair in red and yellow, turns to the foppish man in green and asks.
“50, 000 square feet in the main building and another 100, 000 in the surrounding ones..that’s a lot of space even for the industrial district of Amber.”
The plain but well-dressed man wandered about looking in among the rafters of the gigantic empty space.
The foppish realtor responded, “Yes, and you could triple the space in here with clever construction. 150k of ground level and another 300k if you have a clever contractor. The question is, Sir, can you afford it?”
The man settled on a barrel top and lit a pipe. “The civic consortium paperwork is in order I assume? Mine will not be an underground place like Thin Whip’s”
The fop nodded his head vigorously. “Yes.. the usual…fees have been paid.. ah.. you have some connection with the Royal family I assume. Certain barriers were paper thin."
“Bribes you mean. Bribes. Good dragon gold I spent on bribes. I have paid the appropriate bribes to the Civic Consortium, to the Mayor’s assistant, to the director of the planning commission, and to the Harbor Master for some reason I don’t understand”
“Well, the harbor master oversees the..”
“SILENCE!!! I care not a fuck. Have I paid off everyone or do I need to go ask King Random who else I need to pay off to buy land in the City of Amber?”
The foppish man pales at the thought of his personal funds being audited by the crown and by its merciless men. “No Sire, All the papers are in order and more. Several invitations have been extended as a courtesy to such a large investment in land and manpower”
Laughing he tosses a bag to the over fed functionary.
“Then that’s the last bit.. For you. The rest is at the Bank of Amber. Leave..I have work to do”
The fop weighs the heavy bag of shadow’s gold and bows out..
Pulling cards from his belt her draws one and opens it. “Fort, It’s done, I think, Hard to tell this far north. Come ahead”
A thin man in fox browns and blue steps into the room through the trump. Looking about the gigantic room with a critical eye.
“Well, Lop, the dimensions seem right. We can get the crew in tonight and start building. The stuff is staged. These cards seem to work.. Whoever gave them to you knows his stuff.”
Nodding, Lop examines the card, “Yes, masterworks.. They got us this far from York..Who would have guessed?… Still. It cost.. No sense complaining now. Get Guinness and Ox and some of the boys out there to get a sense of this place. There is a lot to learn.”
Fort nods, pulling cards from his belt. “Hey. Ya. Lop has the place.. Get Barlo and Trevout and Vomil ready to bring stuff through. The boss wants you to start hunting the dens of this place”
Closing the trump Fort looks over at his friend, “Ascorbic is about ready at his end. It will be quite a place. For all of us. “
Lop walks a bit away, looking up into the rafters, seeing the building as it will be. “Yes.. For all of us, here…In Amber, Finally”
5245-Bleys warns Random
Bleys walks through the castle corridors into the family quarters. Looking about quickly clearly worried, seeing him nervous makes the Elite’s hackles rise up.
Passing on, an Elite asks, “Prince Bleys? Is there something wrong? Anything we can help with?”
Bleys snaps his head to look at Sargent Roger. Breathing in deeply, “No Sargent. I’m looking for the king though.”
“His Majesty is in Sea View Gardens, Sir”
Nodding, “I should have known, off my game.”
Walking off quickly, Sargent Roger taps his ear piece, “All Points. Red Dog is agitated”
Walking out onto the Sea View Gardens Bleys moves quickly to the King’s reserved tables. Seeing him with several nobles he takes a spot in Random’s view. His stance and his hand signs motion for immediate privacy.
Random stands, “Gentleman, this issue won’t be settled today but it’s time to let the middle men hash out the details. Thank you.”
Standing the men shake the kings hand and leave most nodding or bowing in passing to Prince Bleys.
Random waves for table clearance and sits, as Bleys slips in next to him. Glancing at the waiter he asks for coffee and bourbon. “Bourbon for breakfast, Bleys? I thought you were over that phase of things?”
Looking about carefully, “Random. I just came through town. Are you out of your mind? There’s a Palace Commons in the Harbor District! It’s on the corner of Broad Isle Blvd. and Landon Way. Right in the friggin border lands of the City and North Riding! That’s your turf. You sold a corner like that to fucking Lop? He’s setting up a friggin CHAD Hall right here in town!?! “
Random puts his hand on his brothers wrists, “Calm down.. Yes I sold Lop the building and several more as well. A dozen town houses around there too. And since you ask, I also leased him a big swath of land above North Riding to build a bit of a harbor.”
Bleys leans back as his coffee and bottle arrive. Taking the bottle he takes a deep chug..
“You sold Lop a neighborhood? By the teats of the Unicorn, Random, are you mad? We’ll have Tosian-Yorkists up to our arses! “
“I know. I invited them.”
“WHAT?!?!?! Oh hell, Random, why? We’ll have rabid elephants running loose in the streets! They're all raving psychotic madmen!”
Shrugging, “Shadow is full of those, Bleys, and you know that.” The king sticks his finger out pointedly. “ Besides, I thought you liked Lop? Fortunadas and Venki seem to get along well with you last time they were here”
“Fortunadus? Venki? Lop? Sure, swell guys.” His voice rising to a bit of a hysterical pitch. “ It’s the people they know.. Venki’s father? His uncle? That monster Zatonic and his rock breaking wife? And Alexandir Kos Korag?... Criminy Random, we’ll have that obsessive egomaniac here all the time..he’s a friggin king or god or something.”
“He’s a God of War in Tosa and King of the Tosian world. So what? I think that he might make a nice Golden Circle King in time.”
Visibly paling, the protocols of the Sea View Gardens precludes diners fleeing but when a Prince of the blood is that worked up walls must be defended in all quarters. Conversation slows as they try to carefully watch the brothers argue in public.
“You want 'Tosa as a Golden Circle Kingdom? Really? What of York? It’s a shade of Amber isn’t it?”
Leaning over to speak quietly to his brother, “York isn’t a shade. It’s a Pattern of its own; the Amber in that realm was destroyed. You know that well enough. You traveled with Hazarda and Timothy Elhue. The king of York and I are on good terms. Why are you freaking out? It’s not like they hate us, and we are going to need them. It’s not like they are violent xenophobic psychotics like the Regorians. They aren't pacifist treehumpers like in Mandalay. They aren’t isolationists like Corwin and his Avalon crowd. They aren't weaseling shapeshifters like the Chaosians. Mostly they are not heart ripping massmurders like the Azcalans, and it’s Azcala that’s coming to war with us. We have either a Puma Cult or a Jaguar Cult here in Amber ripping the hearts out of shopgirls! Putting some Tosian warriors on the street looking for cultists will keep our hands out of it for a bit longer. If the center cannot hold, things fall apart. I’m at the very edge of the blood-tinged tide, Bleys. I need troops and Lop has them.”
“Benedict doesn't have enough troops?” The wild eyed Bleys asks.
“Benedict suggested inviting them in.”
“Of course he did. Kos Korag is either a shadow of him or a shadow of Gerard, right?”
“Worse. Benedict says he thinks Alexandir is a shadow of Osric, if not Oberon himself!”
“Look Bleys, if Ben brought Elites or the Dangral or any of his pet warbands in and posted them around the city people would go insane. It would be tantamount to declaring a police state and I have enough trouble with the gentry as it is! Having the CHAD warriors wandering about popping bubbles of trouble will deflate the opposition to some point or force them to make a move.”
Shaking his head Bleys relents, “You’re the boss. But I want it on record that I opposed this. When the city erupts in chaos and the Tosians and the Azcalans go to the mattresses I want to be able to say I told you so with my dying breath.”
“Objection Logged. I understand, Bleys, really I do. A CHAD hall in Amber? But it’s not the first mercenary guild here, though it’s the only one with a million mixed powers adventurers crawling around the worlds near the Stone of Skulls. I've hired Lop specifically to put feet on the Jeweled Road as both a military force and a police force. Somewhere along the way the Azcalans will pick a fight with the wrong group of CHAD soldiers. They will fight it out and we can come in and clean up the aftermath, hopefully Tonacat will decide to stay in Azcala for a few millennia.”
Bleys looks at his king and rolls his eyes and slumps further into the booth. “Sure, sure.. What can go wrong?”
5245-Lop and Fort in the Palace Commons
A large man dressed in browns and greens sets a chair on the corner of Broad Isle and Landon Way. It is heavy and high backed. He quickly nails it to the cement with a few long spikes. Settling in he scans the street menacingly. His broad shoulders and heavy brow are enough to make people give him room on the street but the arsenal he carries is excessive even for Amber. One does not see two handed mauls outside of construction sites around here.
Lop walks out and puts his hand on the man’s shoulder. “Well Vomil, we seem in business. Don’t scare away too many people. The spells are ready. Just keep the public out of our hair for a bit."
Lop walks back in and takes up his tankard of ale from beside the door. A thin man in fox browns sits near the door overseeing the chaos within. Workman of all types move lumber, sling mud, toss nails and drag cables. The construction works are extensive and the workman skilled. Fort chuckles as Lop settles into the booth beside him.
“Its big, Lop. Bigger then Alexandira and New Wall. It will seat a thousand in the main hall and that many in the smaller ones. The CHAD hall is damn big too. It will funnel a lot of troops. “
“Yes, Lots of troops. Random wants lots of troops. He isn’t telling us everything. Not by a damn sight. It smells of fear out there, if not war. He needs dragonfodder. That’s us. Well, we can get him fodder for the furnaces but it’ll cost him. He wants roadmen to watch that ugly sparkling road of his. It’s a big job. Bigger than anything we have ever attempted.”
“Yes. But the reward will be bigger too. Not just dragon gold this time. The jewels of shadow.” He picks up a Mandalay stone from a bowl of them. ‘These are big magic. Big. But I can feel them now. Taking that Broken Pattern was worth the risk.. I can feel the sorcery coursing through my veins. Finndo is a hell of a teacher.”
“He is. But he is an Amberite, Fortunadas, never forget it. Venki and Jeremy are with him now I assume?”
“They are; as are a few of our other spell casters. It’s a lot to learn.”
“Its our pay, Fort, for services rendered. Land and magic for blood and toil. Amberites understand little else. The king thinks to use us. In time only death will dislodge us. I intend to live here till something eats me.”
Fort nods, pouring a new drink for his friend and hands it to him .
“A toast then, Lop. May we live in Amber Forever”
The old friend clink glasses and chuckle slightly as work continues around them.
5246-The Arrival of the Cult of the Savior/Slayer.
In a dark corner of the new vasty Hall of the Palace Commons a small group of gentles sit and drink of the Whiskey of Amber.
One small man in fox fur leans against the back of the booth with a plain man across from him. The pair smoke thin green cigars. A Centaur sits cross-legged on the ground beside the table, but his height is towering over the others. His massive upper body a fierce collection of scars of long black ink under the skin, which one might assume were tattoos if one was unfamiliar with the jungles of Tosa. In his hand is a massive tankard sloppy with dark foamy ale. The last of the group is a halfling of a clearly disreputable sort.
Striding in quickly with a frazzled frown to them is a light tall man with a musical walk. His walk might be called discordant and in a minor key. His friends see the Bard of Tosa approach and fight hard to restrain chuckles.
Venki speaks quickly, almost out of breath, “Well Lop, he's finally here. They are riding down the concourse in full panoply. All of them. He didn't just come to talk to us, like the lunatic said he would! He brought his whole legion. 5500 Knights of the Savior Slayer on armored horse. That's more mithril then the Bank of Wall and more rearden then in all of Amber.”
Taking a chug from Jake's tankard, he races on, “I watched for awhile! People are either fleeing in terror or hanging out windows to watch. There is a growing group of Amber Elite following them trying to decide what kind of invasion they are? A captain of the Elites is with them and he looks.... pissed. Reltorious has been refusing to turn to speak to them of course, just marching here. I had really hoped to be on the road myself before when he got here. He always treats me...well... you know... like..like....... ”
Fort chuckles “Like his God of Wind and Music? I wonder why? I know the feeling though. He can be a little hard to deal with. Hibit... Go find Guinness, get him to go meet them. Have him see to their horses at least. He knows where they go. Then... make yourself scarce”.
Standing and finishing off his tankard, the halfling heads to the exit, “Sure thing. I'd rather not have to listen to him anyway.”
Jake nods, “I've fought beside him and his lunatics for centuries and I still can't stomach spending time with him off the field. Their camps are like museums without the camaraderie. On the field though.... pragmatic...his people are very ...practical.”
Venki stars up at the massive centaur in panicked eyes, “Practical? Methodically bloodthirsty you mean! Harriet has her clerical core follow them on the field to heal them immediately so they don't dispatch the wounded! I watched one of them dispatch a wounded foe because he had a broken arm!”
Entering the great tavern is a armored warrior topping six and a half feet, resplendent in mithril plate armor and a flowing green cloak.
Lop “Did you march here dressed like that or did you arm when you got here? Please tell me you transported here through the trumps we gave you?”
Reltorious-”Yes, Sir Lop, we arrived by the North Riding trump. After which I took them on reconnaissance in force, under arms, cloaked in our Guard of Silence. To assess the surrounding grounds. We marched out the Northgate, west then, down to the West Gate. On the march we briefly skirmished with what I assume are Amber Regulars and only a splendid man in White Armor restrained them. Prince Julian I assume from the cards. Then we had a unremarkable scuffle with the City guard after they took offense to our casting of coppers to the beggars at the gate. So far I have found these Amberites to be sore in need of the Word. I shall endeavor to teach them the ways of gentle company and the might of.....”
Suddenly the paladin's eyes go wide.
Stopping in mid sentence, the armored man notices the Musical bard in the company at the table, trying to hide beneath a cloak. He begins to kneel as Venki rises, “Blessed Venki of the Song of Glory, I greet... “
Venki' stand quickly, moving a slight bit closer to the warrior, ” Damn it Reltorious! Stand up this instant! By Grog's Broken Tooth, I told you to not do that here!.. And for the love of … How many times do I have to tell you?!? That's going to really piss off the Amberites! Ask Alex if you won't listen to me!”
Relt nods humbly, “My apologies, Great Venki whose Song Floats on the Wind.. His Majesty has made it clear that our genuflections and salutes should reflect the local practices. It was a reflex. I shall let my troops know that you are here and to accord your Tosian respects in manners the locals use to respect their gods.”
Lop sighs and chuckles softly as Venki whimpers and puts his head in his hands.
Lop, “Very Good Relt, just be careful. King Random is lord here and even Alexandir has accepted that.“
Venki, looking rattled, blurts aloud, “I touched a rock! OK, Reltorious!!??!! It was just a powerful rock!!! I'm not a god anymore then you are, you stiff backed crazy...” The great hand of the Centaur pressing the bard to the bench.
Jake, “Ya.... we all know, Venki. You just touched a rock papa Jeremy gave you. How were you to know? Its not like you're a Thrice Crowned Bard, holding the power of the word and the way in 3 realms or anything? Its not like daddy isn't one of the scariest creatures i've ever met, including ones i've killed. The Fairhands are all charming fiends. I'm sure you missed a book someplace. ... Sit down and pour us a round.. It'll keep ya busy”
Jake looks to Lop “So, boss, am I dealing with this fanatic or is he your business? Technically speaking they're not CHAD. But they are here.”
Lop, “I'll handle them, Jake. After I sort things out they will probably be under your authority.”
Relt speaks to the master of the hall. ”Sir Lop, if thou wishes me to follow this horse I will, but CHAD is of no interest to me and mine. We have come to do good work in the name of the Great Powers. We come at the call of the God of War and Emperor of Tosa and he told me to report to you. We hope no blood will be spilled of course but should it be so we shall execute the woes of war as deeply as needed”
Fort laughs knowingly at the Paladin of Tosa, “Ah the Savior Slayers at their finest. You're a credit to your madness, Sir Reltorious.” Leaning on Lop's shoulder softly speaking, “ I cant wait till they argue theology with the Unicorn Priests.”
Relt frowns “And thee, Bondmate of the Fox? Hast thou bowed to the Unicorn? Is she your muse now? I shall listen to the Children of the Unicorn as is their due. As I have been directed by the God of War to ...”
Venki' shouts “HE TOUCHED A DAMN ROCK, RELTORIOUS! I WAS STANDING RIGHT FOOKING NEXT TO HIM!!!!! He was born a blacksmith's son dammit and he's told you so himself!! ”
Lop and Jake yell in unison, “We KNOW!!!”
Fort chuckles as he puts his hand on Venki's shoulder, earning a scowl from him before settling down.
Fort, ” Venki, my friend, you really can't blame Relt about this. You did touch the rock. Jeremy touched the rock. Dolki, Alex, Mitcholt, Zatonic, Geata, Merceno, Harriet, Digan, even Caland all touched the rock. I declined to touch the rock, you will remember. Relt is just responding to the magic of you folks having touched the rock. For the love of Mac's Bar you and I both know the difference is semantics. So shut the hell up about it, please. ”
Venki rises, drawing a deep breath before speaking softly, clearly holding a tight reign on his panic.
Waving a shaking hand toward the mithril tower, “Fortunadus, the problem isn't just Relt. Its his followers and the fact that they are infectious. Their conversion imprint is a terribly dangerous thing to have at work in Amber. Its dangerous to have something so dynamic at the center of Shadow.”
Lop turns to Fort, “Wait... What does he mean, Fort?”
Venki starts to speak but a soft fox gloved hand lowers him as Fort rises. Looking at Venki, he twists a curious concerned lip.
Fort whispers, “I see it now, Venki. You're right of course. Lop, bide a moment.” Lop bides.
Taking a deep drink from his tankard, for dramatic effect as much as refreshment, a bard's trick.
“Ya, Lop.... my hysterical friend may have a point. It might be safer to march the Cult of the Savior Slayer out to Diaga or Diega Raks or some side way off the Jeweled Road. Someplace out of the immediate vicinity of the Primal Pattern of Amber. In York, Tolknor used Founder's Right to limit the influence of the Savior creed's magic. And in the Tosian sphere the Savior message has hit a sort of balance already. The total mass it can and will infect, as empowered by the Rock Venki keeps yakking about.”
Taking another sip and settling next to a wide eyed Venki.
Lop ponders, a frown of understanding starting, “And their being here means a sudden rise in the Cult among Amberites. A religion rising in Amber that venerates Tosians is bound to piss off Random.”
Fort nods and continues, 'Well yes, there could be local issues but that's not the problem. Even our being here, in such numbers, will reverberate out into shadow. The multiplicity of shadow means the Cult might pop up in places the Savior Slayer Cult never preached, as a function of the reverberation of the Pattern. Even their being here briefly is dangerous. Our SSC venerates Tosain rock-touchers but what might the SSC mode venerate in shadows removed from the original?”
Frowning, Fort looks up at Reltorious.
“ Crap....., I can't believe I missed it. Its worse then that... Lop, I recommend you contact Digan immediately and transfer Reltorious and his whole cadre as far from Amber as safely possible. In fact, I have to insist. We weren't going to use them here anyway. Headquartering them here could be disastrous. Their effectiveness in battle does not outweigh their infection in peacetime. Alexandir must be told as well. He probably has another 3 legions of the SSC on the way.”
Jake grumbles, “Damn... I knew you wizards were going to mess this up. I was really looking forward to heavily armored cannon fodder. But if groups like them pop up worshiping other things? Bad.. It took a lot to get Kirgor deprogrammed after the SSC whacked him with this conversion rant. They gotta go.”
Nodding, Lop looks to the shinning Paladin, “What do you think, Sir Reltorious?”
Nodding slowly, “As thou dost ask me I must swear truth. Great Fortunadas and the Divine Venki of the Wind in Glory and Song Exaltant make a valid point. Our truth is realized often among our listeners. Even now children of this warrior realm admire our mithril panoply and wonder what we are? Soon they will hear our sermons and like moths in all realms will seek our flames. My men are at attention now, and speak no word. But by faith it shall not remain so."
Frowning, " If Great Fortunadas and the Divine Venki Who Touched a Rock speak truth, then my brotherhood must continue to march today. But rather then magical transport, let me lead them by the Arden road out into shadow. We were meant to march that colorful road. Let us start it here.”
Lop looks to Fort. “What do you think?”
Fort, “They have been marching up and down the county as it is already, under their marching vow of silence I assume. If they march out in silence then it might be safe but I think they have been here long enough to effect things as we have. I'll go with them. Find them a nice niche somewhere up the road.”
Jake, “Much as id prefer not to, I'd better go too. Make sure the lunatics don't start trouble before we get them secured someplace.”
Lop nods to Jake. “Right then. Sir Jake, Take Sir Reltorious and his men on the road. They like the fast run, so take them fast. Ill contact Prince Julian to give you an escort and a free path. Fort, Ill contact Alex. You get them a few days past Diaga and find a station of some kind and post them there. Ill probably have to speak to King Random as well.”
Jake pats Fort's shoulder, “Well Foxman, mount up. We'll be on our way.” Fort nods and lightly leaps up on the centaur's back and the two leave, with the armored paladin in their wake.
Venki looks about at the departing notables..”Hey... guys?.. He called me Venki Who Touched a Rock?.....Did Reltorious just make a joke? Please tell me one of you heard him make a joke? ”
5246-Jeremy and Fiona at Tirna no'gath
Standing at the top of the pinnacle the two men look down over the fairy lit city below. Beside them sits a man in the Uniform of the Elites, smoking a cigar with a hint of thyme. The city sparkles as the evening werelights start lighting in the gathering dusk. Traffic seems to change as they watch from the wagons and press of the daily commerce to the coaches and conveyances of the evening.
One man is tall, thin, to the point of emaciation. Bones, skin and bones, skin and bones of well-loved dark magic. White haired and light skinned, he wears a close cropped beard streaked with red.
Around his fingers and neck are thousands of tattooed symbols that shimmer slightly with power. He wears wizard’s robes in blue and black. At his side is a heavy blade unsuited normally to the practitioners of the magical arts.
The other is tall as well, powerfully built with a heavy black beard surrounding a heavy chin. Dark eyes look out over the city from under deep brows. He wears what might be fatigues if one wished to hide in a jungle of purple and gray. Around his waist is a thin rapier and a heavy caliber pistol. The thin man comments, “Amber at dusk. It seems so peaceful. Hard to believe it is the center of things this side of the Abyss.”
“Yes, and I was once its king, if only for a short time.”
Above them a shadow of the moonlight filters down between the clouds. Stairs appear at the top of the stone beside them. Looking up the two watch Tir-na Nóg'th appear in the sky above them.
Rising, the Elite turns, “Sire, I have to contact my superior. Routine. You should have a few hours unless one of the other royals decide to come up here. The Pattern Guard should be there by now.”
Nodding to the Elite he pulls his deck from his belt. Drawing a trump he concentrates. “Yes.. Bring us through.”
Stepping through the Trump, Finndo grips the hand of the pattern guard, thin, and deceptively frail. Looking her over, he nods, “Sister Fiona. Well met, as Random said to expect.”
She nods, looking over the elder brother she has only met a few times, “And you are as I was told as well. I would very much like to speak with you at length at your earliest convenience. Our paths have crossed so rarely. Only a half dozen times in a thousand years. ” She looks to the other man beside her brother. “And you are?”
He nods, “Jeremy Lockpick Fairhand. As far as Amber is concerned, I’m a member of CHAD.”
Chuckling, “CHAD? Sure... I’ve never traveled in York myself but I know very well who you are in those realms. Certain things are unavoidable to those of us in the craft, as you will find in time. I’ve met your son Venki though. I’d like to compare father and son.”
Smiling, a look that seems uncommon on his face, he laughs softly as he says “He is shorter than me, and far more gregarious, less prone to bloodshed and not as skilled in the sorcerous arts. He tends toward loving caresses and sweet words when he fucks while I prefer leather straps and a fair amount of crying from my bedmates. Anything else?”
Fiona moves away from the pair, scowling at the man with the dark reputation and the man who was once King in Amber.
Jeremy and Finndo walk behind her, observing the Pattern of Tir-na Nóg'th with interest. Fiona asks, “Why did you want to see this pattern rather than the one downstairs? The other is certainly more potent.”
Jeremy looks to Fiona briefly, then back at the pattern. “I have an affinity to things beneath the moonlight.”
Laying down beside it, Jeremy lightly lowers his hand above the pattern. He concentrates and small electrically bursts leave his finger tip to be echoed by sparkles and lightning from the Pattern.
A shape appears beside Finndo, bearing the Jewel of Judgement. Random nods to Fiona as they watch the prone wizard. He shows the slight strain of just having walked the pattern in Amber. A knowing nod passes between the two men who have sat the Throne of Amber.
Jeremy stands, and regards the pattern with respect. Turning to the trio he bows to the king.
“Sire, it’s been a very long time since I felt such avarice, but all of my magic cannot see me through that work. I know that some without the imprint of the pattern in his genes has walked the pattern but I would agree that the pattern desired that be done. Me it does not desire. I shall have to be content with the Broken Pattern imprint. Though I intend to hunt down a Woven Logrus as well.”
Random nods, “You pastimes are your own, Jeremy. So, how does it compare?”
“Much of what I have learned from your brother can be used in York, though I am unable to walk that pattern either. I imagine much of what the King of York can do, could be done here. I imagine that what you can do here can be done there, though it would be interesting to see how that pattern responds to you and your jewel. Once I see the Sigil of Azcala or Regor or Bursain, I will know more. York is far less potent then this pattern, I know that much for certs. I have examined the imprint of the Logrus carried by Digan, Jurt, Merlin, Nur ed Din, Koob and Tolknor. Digan, Jurt and Merlin bear the same imprint. Nur, Koob and Tolknor’s are of a significantly lesser order. A shade of the Logrus if you may” He speaks leaving his eyes on the pattern with longing.
“As powers balance, I would echo your advisers. I would learn at their feet like an apprentice, in fact. This pattern is dramatically more powerful than York and the Amber Fallen in its shadows. I have yet to see Mandalay or Avalon, of course. I will see Mandalay in time but I doubt Prince Corwin will allow me into his realm. Still, I can infer from context as much as I have. Do you still wish me to proceed?”
Random looks to Fiona, then to Finndo, receiving guarded faces from them both, he nods.
Removing the Jewel of Judgment from his neck, he passes it to the Archmage of Tosa.
Jeremy Fairhand takes the stone, gazing deeply into it, pressing it to his face. Shivering, he falls to the ground, the stone wedged to his left eye. The trio kneels beside him as red glowing sparks hold the stone in place. Random and Finndo grip his shoulder, channeling their combined attunements into the stone. Feeling it affect the dark wizard, they lose themselves in its powers for a time together.
The stone drops to the ground of the pattern room of Tir-na Nóg'th. Fiona picks it up as the room starts shimmering in the moonlight. Looking about she sees the walls starting to fade away, the ocean far below them becoming faintly visible.
Pulling her trumps out, she turns her deck face forward to herself, throwing her full force into the contact.
“BLEYS! PULL ME THROUGH! FOUR OF US AT DEATH’S DOOR!” A hand reaches out and grabs her, pulling hard. She grabs Finndo and Random, pulling them behind her. Secretly wishing the thin wizard’s death, she wills herself into the open trump.
Random, waking as he passes through the trump, grabs the Archmage’s hair, dragging him across the trump’s threshold as Tir-na Nóg'th fades away.
Falling, the five people pile together in the heated corner of a rushing river. The hot spring splashes as the bodies land in the water.
Tossing his hair as he comes up, the naked Bleys moves to the other side beside the drenched and equally naked Helene du Sarn.
The four start disentangling themselves and standing in the hot water. They lean back against the stone seats recovering themselves slowly.
Bleys glances on the sand next to the water and the empty bottles of champagne.
“Helene, go get a dozen more bottles, please. I think his majesty and his guests will be thirsty after whatever tomfoolery they have been up to tonight.”
5247-CHAD vs Azcala-Battle of Trudana Felik
Random looked out over the west wall to the lit city below. Its lights were new and set a different look to the city from the torches of his youth. Les smoke and tar, more fairyland glow. Like Disneyland with nightly bloodletting.
Beside the king on the battlements stood two people as he pondered the news. A third stood far aside, waiting. Bleys leaned next to the king, passing a blue bottle to him.
“Its not like we didn't know they were out there. They have been skulking the Jeweled road for twenty years since Swayvil released Tonacat and returned the Key of Azcala to him. Its a damn good thing he can't find his sword. One of the harbor gangs flushed out a Jaguar cult cell here in Amber and spiked them to the walls of the Harbormaster's shack. CHAD has been hanging puma cultists up and down the road since they got here. They've been working with Duke Yaro's Jeweled Walkers picking up hunter teams. Hell, it was that little nightmare Vonnilia that tipped us off to this troop movement in force in the first place”
Random sips and nods, “ I know, Bleys, it just is one of those burden of the crown things”
Looking to the shadow and the third person, waving him to come closer.
Walking forward, the small man in fox tweed bows to the king, moonlight glinting off the three green mithril trees on the right of his forehead. The four colored stones on the left of his forehead are barely concealed under his feathered slouch hat.
Random extends a hand. “Well met, Fortunadas. I expect you came to hear Prince Benedict's report of the performance of your troops?”
Fort smiles as he greets the king. “Yes your Majesty, and if there is a card game you know of, I'd like to hear about that as well.”
Chuckling, he looks to the tall dour marshal of Amber, “Alright, Ben whats the butcher bill? “
He steps forward and uncharacteristically takes the bottle and a pair of goodly chug before talking. His drinking surprises his brothers.
“We arrived by trump at Trudana Felik. The Azcalans were transferring a force of 150 thousand, all foot troops save their commanders. The CHAD scout, a dwarf assassin I'm sure, named Merceno, gave us the numbers. Marching them bold as brass balls down the Jeweled Road past Drisna. I put ten thousand of our troops on the field, mostly foot of the 12th legion with a thousand horse and twenty Elites. The CHAD contingent had something around six hundred. Their 3rd Force Command, under King Arin of Freestate and his bodyguard Sir Taroos, consisted of two hundred foot, a hundred horse, fifty of their Savior Slayer Corp under the corp leader Sir Reltorious himself. Twenty of their SSC's Armored Cleric Order. They had the healer group under the leadership of a very interesting woman, Dame Harriet. Two hundred clerics of Tosian origin. At the time it seemed like a token force and their healing troop looked very little like our surgical teams. They resembled something akin to singers for the dead or drunken camp followers. Its my first time seeing them in a large scale action on our behalf. They earned their pay, that's for certs. “
“I was hoping our force could follow the Azcalans and work the shadows to a favorable ground. Then import the rest of the legion and take them to battle at something like 5 to 1 odds. 30 thousand of ours to 150 thousand of theirs. But once Sir Reltorious saw the foe he and his Savior Slayers attacked. 70 against 150 thousand. King Arin and his half-orc companion were a heartbeat behind them leading a wedge of their knightly heavy horse. Apparently the Tosians trust the Savior Slayer battle lust. Their foot came swarming in like monkeys tossed off towers. Lastly this small ugly woman riding a frigging' dottle came up to me and asked if Amberites take ears? I told her we didn't and she rode off on that beast, leading the rabble followers with a Reardan cudgel in one hand and a tankard of mead the size of Gerard's head in the other.. The whole crew stank of mead, wine and fragrant smoking herbs.”
“I was prepared to watch them be slaughtered as a lesson in restraint. I was with my commanders when that red mage with his talking cat and your girlfriend, Bleys, that Vonnilia, rode up and sat with us watching, a crystal glass of wine in his hand, toasting them. “
“It was a pretty splashy mess. I don't think the Azcalans expected it. Not sure I did and I've seen them fight in Tosa.”
Random passed the bottle around to Bleys and Fortunadas, “Do tell.”
“First, I don't think the Azcalans had weapons able to penetrate the mithril and Reardan panoplies of the Paladins or their ACOs. They rained down edged hell and trampled the wounded. Beyond that the majority of the tosians were not...line fighters. Heros, like Elites. Irregular Heavy Elite A Infantry. Mixed weapons, mixed armors, mixed fighting styles, mixed battle cries. Noisy as fuck. The Azcalans kept trying to move forces in lines of battle to face them but they moved too fast. Hyper-fast almost.”
Bleys nods, as surprised by Benedict's cursing and drinking during an after battle report as the results of the battle, ”Adventurers from the Stone of Skull shadows in Tosa... Spice addicts. Tosian melange doubles one's speed. You see the blue in blue eyes on them and that's it Their wizards and their magics specialize in haste magic as well.” Fort nods, his own blue in blue eyes shaded by night and his foppish feathered hat.
Ben nods, “Indeed. The ones that were wounded, suddenly had one of the drunk clerics that Harriet led running into the middle of battle, swinging maces and cudgels to tag the injured, who popped up like jack-in-the-boxes and began rending flesh again. Its as if the clerics knew the moment a warrior fell.”
Fort nods, “They do. Its a clerical power of theirs to know the fading strength of those around them”
Ben's eyes widen, “That's certainly convenient. Anyway, after about 3 minutes of contact the whole center of the Azcalan ling broke. 10 thousand feathered troops running off the road into whatever world was there. That Red Digan tossed the leprechaun girl and the cat to the ground and they ran through the battle following the fleeing troops. He said we wouldn't need to worry about chasing those ones down. I watched his empty crystal goblet refill magically with wine.
Bleys sighs and responds slightly agitatedly, “Frigging rabid elephants, Random, I tell you there will be rabid elephants in the streets.”
Random slaps his shoulder hard and waits for Benedict to continue.
“My commanders were anxious anyway and it was quite a sight. I admit my own blood-lust was rising. About then a commander of the Azcalans, likely a high noble in jaguar robes, came to the rear of the Tosians. Red Digan pointed at him and his flesh melted like boiled wax. He sat his horse bereft of flesh and looked up at us like he felt betrayed by the gods of war. Then his skeleton fell apart. His horse came trotting up to Digan like a puppy. I had to let my commanders go or they were going to mutiny. So we took battle to them at 15 to 1 odds against. “
“12th Legion lost perhaps 2000 troops immediatly, 6000 wounded in the first few minutes.. But those drunken healers started riding among us healing our people like nothing I've ever had the power to use. It was....extraordinary. “
Bleys “That's high praise from you, Brother. I've rarely heard you so keen with your regard.”
Ben nods to his red-haired brother “I'm used to a certain level of cool professionalism among my troops. Calm regard in battle saves lives and allows for a smooth flow of battle toward victorious ends. CHAD, well, lets just say they approaches it differently. Its rarely been my experience to see that kind of enthusiastic bloodshed. Amber has had its eager killers, its barbarians, even its beserkers. We do what we must in battle and some of us love it too well. I've seen Gerard, Dalt, Osric, even Caine and Borlak, and all have gloried in battle and reveled in bloodlust. I am guilty of that sin myself at times. Bleys, you and Corwin fought one of the finest battles I ever witnesses to gain the courtyard of Amber up the Kolvir Stair. But these warriors take joy in battle to a fairly insane point. Little or no unit cohesion but bloody work and enthusiasm. This group had few wizards but their clerics were incredible. Dame Harriet guided the clerics to provide a kind of stability to their battle. Their clerical magic was powerful and direct. Its a hell of a shame we don't have anything like it. “
Random quietly asks, “How did it end?”
“There came a point in battle where we began taking surrender. As soon as that began Dame Harriet's clerics snapped to and each went to a member of the SSC and healed them completely. I have heard of their tendency to execute the wounded and the prisoners but it was interesting to see the cleric swarm them to insure their mania didn't lead to organized murder.”
“Once the Azcalans loss morale they either fled or surrender. We killed perhaps twenty thousand. Another 60 thousand were wounded. Ten thousand fled into shadow and when we found them they were dead or mindless in madness. We took 60 thousand uninjured prisoners.”
“That's when that Harriet came up again. She said there was time to raise the enemy dead if we wanted. I declined. She then asked if I was sure about the ears? I thought she meant from the dead. While I am not a fan of mutilating the dead I told her to go ahead. “
Fortunadas took the battle, holding up his hand to request a pause and passed the bottle after his drinking from it.
Fort breathed, “I know whats coming but go ahead, sir”
Ben looks to Fort then to hi kings, “So these clerics and the other CHAD go to the wounded, then to the prisoners. They went to each and clove their left ear from them and healed their wounds, telling them that if they were caught making war on Amber again they had loss the right to ask for mercy. Imagine, Azcalans asking for mercy...Random, I may have to ask your permission to marry her someday.”
Random spits the sweet whiskey of Amber and chokes briefly. Beside him Bleys and Fortunadas laugh.
5261-Doings at Thin Whip's
After a variety of escapades the scene evolves. Second Floor of Thin Whip's Place. in the Stick Shop area, we meet our heroes Bleys, Carisa and Nala, as they narrowly avoided being forced to brutally embarrass 5 notable members of CHAD. Custus, a reasonably high ranked Fighter, and his companions Vislar, the half-orc brute, and Grin, the Fighter thief, and Farsk, the half-human, half, something uncertain, and Emilis, the disgraced half elven fighter thief, have all all agreed to split a Tucker keg of dark ale, a couple pitchers of port, some lizard fries and a rack of rats and peppers.
Rats and peppers, it should be noted are actually strips of beef, marinated exotically and spicy, with, skewered with jalapeños and pineapple and grilled. Not actual rats on a stick, like one might find in Chaos. A rack is about 20 skewers.
Custus had invited Carissa to shoot some pool, while Nala watches and Bleys flirts with her.
Despite having introduced himself as Buddy Fish, even the dimmest of the CHAD warriors, for the record thats Farsk, are beginning to think they are having an evening with folks far above their pay grade.
From a corner Thin Whip seems t be overseeing the knife pits but his eyes keep glancing at the power trio, sensing opportunity ahead.
Carissa watches Nala for a moment to make sure she is ok. Finishes off her beer and pours herself another from the keg. She nods to
Custus, “I’ll play you. Have to show my new friend how it is done.” She says casually and calmly. He is clearly good at the game and their choice of recreational locations is clear quickly, he being the little groups leader. You get the impression that he chose to not mention bets or try the hustle, reasoning the 3 of are more then might be seen. He plays friendly, though his eyes do wander
After a time a trio of dice appear among the CHAD warriors and Bleys. Copper wings cross hands back and forth. Drinks flow. Laughter comes as the game at Thin Whips goes on.
Nala learns the rough points as Carissa and Custus play and trade games. In Time Thin Whip wanders by, looking over everything, a set of trumps ruffling thought his off hand, a drink in his other. Catching Carissa's eye he nods, "Care for a refill of the good stuff, Have that drink I mentioned? "
Cari plays eagerly. Not surprisingly she is good. She continues drinking and will help Nala learn how to set up shots and the rules of the game. At the end of the last game when Thin Whip comes up, she nods. “I think my new friend could use a break. “. She winks and heads off with Jurt. Finding an unoccupied booth, that looks like it was torn from a Parisian whorehouse / restaurant in deep and well cleaned but stained red god brocade. He twiddle card on the chipped and scrawled table as efficient waitresses bring over a carafe of wine, clean glasses and large bowl of herbaceous mystery meat fried bites.
Cari has travelled all over the world. As long as it’s not human she is not picky about meat as long as it’s well cooked. She accepts the food and nibbles. She hadn’t eaten during pool play, but now that it is leisure time. “So thank you for your hospitality,” she says looking him over carefully.
""I don't get up to the castle much these days but recently I noticed your card in my deck. I like to make my acquaintance to my kin as best I can. I doubt Ginger would have brought you here unless he expected me to drag you off at some point. His obligation to the crown for past sins is to watch over the cousins. While my own generation is further along then the grandchildren of Oberon I still am ranked in that kinship. You have an earth vibe, as so many of the Cousins seem to have. "
"Earth vibe?" she pauses, "Oh yes, Earth, that is indeed where I grew up. Yes, technological, non-magical, early space age. A gun age. I see the appeal of course, but I like my worlds a bit more frisky. "
"Corwin talks in his ego books as if he is the first Amberite to live in those. Frankly I don't see the appeal. Nu Yark is a far more entertaining collection of shadows with a lot more diversity. High levels of tech, frequent use of sorcery, nearly all the shadow magics. and manno...the rock wails.. stars and crashes and fire and rage...billions of people, hundreds of races, and little oversight...still, it is a bit too close to chaos for me. The last thing one needs is a disapproving lady of chaos dropping by while one is in the middle of a flying J, right? .Anyway... I didn't want to talk to you to encourage you to leave town...
She nods indicating he should continue. Inwardly, she thinks those shadows sound much more her style.
"What I did want to encourage is an open mind once the righteous prigs among the elders start harping on you about the dangers of Chaos, and the wicked foesman of their own blood. Such as me. My brother Despil is the Ambassador to Amber and as such is as much a politically correct nanny as any of them. But there are others. Despite our birthplace there are things about this end of shadow that are much more entertaining, even safer. Life is cheep in Chaos and royal blood is little defense. Here at least one isn't executed without due process and some kind of explanation.
"So, I am eager to put myself in the good graces of any Amberite I might. Some, well, its easy to see will be less likely to be open minded: Military types, fanatics of Ambers. Those that carry ancient grudges that they had no involvement in. Those kind look down their noses at hedonists like me. " All the while he's been running his hands through card riffs. You notice that he seems to fidget all the time, even in small ways, and is always in movement. Drinking sips of wine almost as breaths. Lastly he flips a card out and it glides expertly in front of you. It has his image.
"Thats my card. So you know, its a logrus trump. One need not be a initiate of the Logrus to use it, nor to transport across it."
flipping another next to it. It looks like a ice cream truck. "Thats Houser. A companion of mine. He has everything in his truck. Ice Cream, burritos, shot glasses, fine wines, good gin, assault weapons, cutting lasers. grenades, translation books, medical supplies, orc salves, nearly everything. If you need something quick, give him a call. He may be able to help."
Flipping a third cards, it has an image of a drinking armored bear. "And should you want a little muscle. To open doors, move cars, clear away hordes of orcs, This is Doveryat. He is very friendly, jovial even, and has an incredible capacity for honeymead. Just don't call him Pooh, its a sore point. He can rage through groups of foeman like few others. He is willing and able. "
Tucking the four cards together, flipping them around.
"Take those with my compliments. The only string on them is that someday someone might ask your opinion of me. In that unlikely occasion id like to have you think of me in a friendly manner and to have done a tiny service. You may think yourself of little matter in the powers of the universe, the battles between Law and Chaos, but we of the blood, regardless, are creatures of potential. "
He chuckles as he sees Bleys stand and eye the two of you.
"Ginger is about 30 seconds from coming over. One last thing. You've been seen in oracles of Chaos. You and your male companion. And Arloxedra, the dull stick, of all people. The three of you are connected in some work in the future. Should you need my blade or my spells, do not hesitate to call. I have a lot of karmic debt to work off and standing to battle with prophesied amberites would do me well. Don't let Bleys take those away from you. He'll try "
Standing, full glass in hand, he turns and walks to a group about to fight and quells ill humors then fades from view in the crowds of Thin Whip's Place.
She slides the card towards her and looks each over carefully. “We will talk again. That can’t be all you ask. I like this place. I’ll be back,” she says simply. “This is more my kind of place than the castle.”
She sticks the cards in an inner part of her jacket and finishes her drink and pours the last of the carafe into her glass. She gets up and turns looking at her uncle wondering what he’s really like. She offers him the glass. “It is quite good,” she says with a murmur.
Bleys steps over and sits on the edge of the table Custus and Nala are playing on. Custus starts to say to Bleys but a tiny glance makes him decide to change his shot choice.
Bleys chuckles "Quite charming, isn't he? Bear in mind the story of the turtle and the scorpion. Jurt is often his own worse enemy. He's sloppy too. Oh I like him. He reminds me of myself in my youth. He may have a bright future in Amber. He gave you cards...I won't suggest discarding them, but why don't you let me look them over? I'll make sure he isn't eves dropping through them. He easily could be."
She reaches into her jacket. "Seems like charming is in no short supply here." It's offered as an observation not a dig, she puts her hand in her jacket and pulls out the cards and hands them to Bleys. "He seems to want to make friends in high places," she offers by way of explanation. She keeps the prophesy comments to herself. Manage
Smiling as he takes the cards, examining them closely. Noting the faces with a smile, but quizzically at the lighthouse.
"Want to see something funny?"
Raising a tiny sign of the Pattern, he lays it around the cards. Then flicks them hard, like a hard flick to the ear.
From the far side of the room is a sudden shriek of pain, and a shout.
"DAMN IT GINGER!!!!!"
Handing the cards back with a chuckle, he turns and puts an arm around Nala and helps her pool shot.
Cari can’t but help laugh out loud. She sizes up the rest of the room and watches Bleys with Nula.
After the current game is done she will ask Bleys, “Play a game with me?”
"Of course. Its been awhile since I played before tonight. Ive been horribly polite and political for a couple decades."
Taking a stick, and sorting the balls, sets and racks them Cari nods, wondering how boring life must be when everything is too easy. She keeps the stick she was using and breaks. The balls spread with a crack. "Your break. Otherwise you'll just be watching."
In time, and with some reluctance, the Chad guys shove off, having survived almost picking a outrageously unequal fight and instead making an interesting set of contacts. Curtis say he hope to see you again soon. That he come to thin whips often and can be contacted at the Chad guild hall at the Palace Commons Tavern.
Cari flirts a bit on a low level. Shakes hands with Curtis and says she will be back. She's drunk a lot, smoked some and looks to Bleys and Nula. "Guess its time to shove off?" Somewhere deep down, she's disappointed that there were no fights. She has some energy to work off.
Bleys nods. "Well, I'm sure our Elites are hiding around here someplace. Since they didn't bother to be sociable and join us, let's Trump back to the castle and make them walk. Thin Whips may be a tough place but even here they are on their best behavior when I'm around. I have to go far from Amber to hang out in disreputable establishments and not be recognized. I made something of a well-known ass of myself during what Random likes calling my Drunk Ambition Tour. He's not wrong."
She nods with understanding, "We all have those periods." she says with a slight slur to her words. (Elites?)
Bleys at some point would have said-Elites are officially body guards, unofficially observers. Family members are assigned them and some serve for years, they end up essentially over-trained messengers. The Elites are the First Cohort, First Legion, of Amber military. They guard all the important things in Amber, including us. Every castle guard is an Elite. Trained as best Benedict can, veterans of Nasty Place, some hero's on their home worlds. Officially established by Oberon when he decided to have an army. Triple tough. But guarding us is an honor gig, not really dangerous since the people they protect are often people like Gerard, Caine, and I. No offense meant, you are new here, I recommend you not ditch yours too often.
"Let's go back to the castle and then we can see Nula safely back to wherever she is staying," Cari offers. "So did you like the evening out?" she asks with genuine curiosity.
Nala glances sideway slightly, at belys, then back to you with a small smile, "Oh yes. Delightful. I hope we can go there again without so many chaperones. Let me know when you want to play with those cantrips. Im almost always in hte Rebma Embassy."
"And I'm hanging at the castle, feel free to give me a call...I mean visit or note," she says.
"Before at the beginning and.." she gestures to her face. "You saw something, what was it,” she is drunk and speaks boldly.
Bleys leans against a wall. "You have not been here long. I doubt Random has walked you through the pattern yet? Nor have you gone to Fantalin for your year of Royal Rights education, correct?"
"I was told that you would be walking the pattern after your year at Fantalin. Its the way its been for the incoming cousins. From everything Random has said you hadn't walked the pattern. So I looked... But you have been through the pattern, Its inscribed in your genes already. So I accessed a certain awareness I have through the jewel. it showed me Gerard walking you through the pattern when you were young. Thats tricky. We sometimes forget Gerard can be clever. He must have had a good reason at the time to do something so radically unexpected. I imagine you probably don't remember it, or it comes as a vivid dream or reflected when you took acid or drank to much as the universe being overly colorful. It would have given you greater dexterity. Powered your endurance. It would give you a sense of internal power that probably fed your normal self-confidence. Im not aware of others who walked the pattern as young as you have. When you walk it again, perhaps you will discover why you don't remember such an experience. Still....Its something you might want to speak to Gerard about"
Cari combs back into her memories but can’t remember ever having met her Father before or having walked the Pattern. She shakes her head. “We will have a talk,” she mutters. “He claims that he didn’t know of me till relatively recently. “. She smiles sardonically, but her words are sincere. “Thank you for taking a stir-crazy woman out tonight. I appreciate it.”
He laughs, "Oh, the pleasure was mine! Till I ran into you my plan was to go check on my horse and make sure they were grooming him to my standards. Maybe get in some sword practice. A visit to Thin Whip was the furthest thing on my mind. As for Gerard....If he lied to you about that, don't hold it against him. We've had a lot of reasons to be secretive over the years."
He gives you a short nod and a wicked smile and goes off on his business.
5262-Family Details in the Library with Arloxedra
The Story as told, during an interlude in the Library of Amber by Arloxedra, to cats and kin.
Well, its a tale worth telling. First of all, Oberon was not wild about bringing his children here. He pit the elders against each others in the hope that the strongest group, that cooperated best, would be the most likely to rule well. A strange point of view. However, Oberon set a powerful destiny trap like a rushing river to keep certain elders from being part of that contest.
So in Amber you had Benedict, Corwin, Gerard, Caine, Fiona, Flora, etc,etc.. the others he all but banished, in my opinion, as unworthy. Oscric, Finndo, Borlak, Orosala, the monsters, Giovanni, and a host of others, were left in shadow, deemed unworthy.
A few had been brought to Amber, acknowledged, and then left of their own will and for their own reasons. Delwin & Sand were born in shadow, raised there and brought to Amber by Oberon as adults. Ill-treated by the others, they left when their mother aged poorly. Elfwine had lived in shadow for centuries and when brought to Amber he handled certain royals poorly. He disappeared with Dworkin and never returned.
Evelyn is said to have been frail, and sad, a recluse, even in Amber. She spent her time in the forests, where she made friends with the deep Fea of Amber. She and Corwin were close for a time, traveling in shadow together, but in time she did not return. Nina and Emile were brought to Amber when Julian and Gerard were young and the four had some adventures together. There is some notes suggesting Oberon was considering setting aside the Consanguinity Laws for the four but they didn't bond in that manner. Its something of a sore subject for Julian and Gerard. Then one day the pair were gone. This much I know of them from reports and stories of the time.
The stage was set for the battle royale and when the war came it spiraled out of Oberon's control.
So Patternfall comes and it all plays itself out. Oberon goes into the Tomb of the Ancestors of Darkness and Random gets his chair.
In the early days after the Patternfall War the new king, Random of Amber, had to learn to do a dozen things at once and found he needed help.
He convinced his sister Flora to tend to the nobles and the newly arriving dignitaries flooding in to swear fealty and meet the new king. They all seemed to come bringing chests full of formal wear and eligible daughters.
Next he coerced Benedict into accepting the role of Marshal of Amber. He ordered Benedict to expand the standing army and to develop technological defenses.
He put Gerard in charge of the Navy, with Caine as his third in command. That Caine was really the new Spymaster of Amber was one of the worst kept secrets in the kingdom.
He became a very active monarch and he used his siblings to help improve many aspects of the city, kingdom and empire of Amber.
His well known renovations included indoor plumbing, magical street lighting, puzzled stone roadways. The roads were transformed by the creation of Mandalay so that wasn't his doing.
Time went on. Merlin having come to Amber after Patternfall, went out into shadow to gain a liberal education and while doing so met Rinaldo, known as Luke, son of Brand. They had some adventures...
Dalt turned up, a son of Oberon and Delee the Desecratix, a friend of Rinaldo's.
Benedict and Gerard ran across Borlak deep in shadow, and reminded Random of him.
Coral, the daughter of a Begman noblewoman, surprised Merlin by walking the pattern. She was a by-blow of Oberon's, apparently his last.
Chaos sent Despil, the son of Dara and Gramble Sawall, to Amber as the Ambassador of Chaos and his brother Jurt, followed him and started running a dive bar in the city. Despil quietly informed the King of a collection of Hendrake nobles, descendent's Benedict, of which Dara was one.
Suspicions arose that Osric and Finndo might not be dead, and this reminded many people that two of Oberon's oldest children were alive as well; Cymnea, and Orsolla.
And of course it was well known that Delwin and Sand were somewhere in shadow, avoiding the whole lot of the kinship. Though Benedict had found a son of Delwin's, Vance, who had a love of baseball, military endeavors, going fast & flying things.
Lastly, Rebma sent their new Ambassador in the person of the dapper Rene Mior Royi, who happened to be the son of Corwin and Moire.
Random told a small gathering about his own full siblings, Mirelle and Giovanni. This caused Gerard, Caine and Julian to bristle when they were reminded these two probably still lived. They did not say why but it is known that the sons of Rilga have little reason to love Random's mother.
When in exasperation Random asked, rhetorically, how many children did bloody Oberon have? Dworkin calmly answered 47. Random took Bleys and disappeared into shadow, telling the court he was going out to get a drink.
This was Random's first long vacation from the Throne. Almost a year in Amber. He refused trump calls so efficiently that suddenly they were being answered by Lady Carly, his Trump correspondent.
What happened on his return is documented in several places but the story is essentially the same in them all.
When he returned in the 20th year of his reign he called a family meeting and included several of the oldest family retainers such as Dame Margot, Duchess Solange Charenton, Lady Ain Breakwithe-Smythe, Hymal Urien, as well as William Roth (newly created Counsel to the King), and of course, Queen Vielle.
The family assembled, including such as Llewella, Merlin, Martin, Rinaldo, Dalt, and myself.
Random was clearly pissed when he arrived. He came in dressed in his finest royal robes, wearing the state jewels, the coronation crown, Oberon's blade, and the Jewel of Judgment.
Bleys, clearly drunk and nervous, was dressed in his finery as well. Before him glowed the Sign of the Pattern, visibly present, an act so unprecedented among sorcerers who usually leave their Sigil invisible. Freshly hung spells shimmered in the glowing frame. Sorcerers with the talent to tell which spells hung in the frame saw that they were strong dueling spells.
Dworkin took a seat quietly in a high balcony, smoking a long pipe.
Random announced a decree to the assemblage. He demanded that all those of the line of Bariman, descended from Dworkin, through Oberon, would come to court and make themselves known. Those who wished to be in the king's good graces and remain in fealty to Amber would write an Article of Submission. Those who did not wish to write such an article were welcome to go about their business but the King would meet them and know them.
He looked at his siblings and said, "Olly Olly Oxen free. All come home. Bring your children in. The time for hiding them is over. Hiding them was necessary before but now its simply too dangerous not knowing who is out there, perhaps keeping a dark hatred for Amber. I consider them a clear and present danger to the security of the realm. You will tell me of your progeny and we shall discuss how to proceed with them."
He turned to Bleys and said unequivocally. "Do it."
Bleys walked up to Julian, placing the glowing sign between them and said, "Julian of Amber. Do you know of any children of the blood not in Amber?"
He did. His own son Duncan who had been secretly raised in Arden. He also knew of Eric's son Derek, deep in shadow. He believed Eric had another son as well.
Fiona was next, though she flirted with raising her own sign briefly, she demurred. She admitted to having a son named Marke and a daughter Emma. She admitted to knowing where several others were. Doria, a daughter of Benedict; Dashel, a son of Finndo, and Galvar, a son of Osric. She also knew where to find Sand and Delwin, Orsolla, Evelyn, and Josef. Delwin had a son and Sand had a daughter, though she had not met them.
Bleys admitted he had a son. He also knew something of Benedict's children with Lintra; Maylon, Doria, & Desri though they lived under other names themselves.
Flora fainted, but no one was convinced. She revealed that she had bore a son named Zachary and fathered a daughter named Elayne. She explained that she had learned to shapechange in her youth but had kept the skill a secret. Fiona remarked that her having such a skill was remarkable, unexpected, and explained a great deal over the years. Soon after this Flora began teaching shapechange skills to siblings who had thought little could be learned from her.
Gerard had children of course and trumped Truman in on the spot.
The evening went on and more names were given. Lists were compiled.
In the end Random sent Bleys and Gerard and Caine out to collect the Kin of Bariman. This did not endear him to his siblings.
Sheepishly, and not without a fair bit of worry, his siblings brought their children to court.
Random met them, assigned Fiona to over see their magical instruction, Gerard to over see their martial training, and Bleys, despite his adamant and ultimately pointless refusals, was to be who the Cousins sought out with questions of other natures.
In time Random swore them to Amber, saw that they assayed the Pattern, gave them a set of his new Trumps, and wished them well on their adventures.
Yet since the initial call, more children keep coming in.
5265-A Conversation in Trasidy
My question is will it work?” He sits against a carved siege of ebony and pearl. The other lords sit in their own sieges, decorated to their desires.
“The logic of creation strongly suggests it. Ours is a completed work. Done in the right lights and with the Jewel of Judgment. Being correctly finished ours may be reopened and added to. I think” The diminutive wizard speaks with an enthusiastic cantor.
“What happens if it works?”
“Ours is a simple single realm, with no shadows save pocket dimensions. It would raise us to a level equal to Azcala or Regor at least. Maybe more. It would gain us from a few shadows to thousands of shadows. Our population could move into shadows almost certainly filled with the raw materials of construction. New realms might even already have castles and complexes and cities waiting for our people. Of course those shadows might have people in them. Also, nearly all conversations on the path would agree that the realms of Bursain itself would not be destroyed but added, possibly each gaining shadows of their own, creating elements of internal Sway...Our own Golden Circle even... Lands...Suns...Space... Perhaps even galactic space! Shadows with galactic space, we might have millions of worlds!!... with a star fleet of our own we could explore it, billions, trillions even.. we could..”
“And if it doesn't work?” He interrupts with a voice like an executioners sword.
Stopping, his excitement disappearing.
“Well, we could all die as the inscription shatters and our bodies become the dust of shadow. I would probably insist the realm be emptied of souls when the attempt was made. ”
Leaning back he frowns..
“I see. And the odds?”
The wizard shrugged and smiled, “its a crap shoot. Hope for a seven” Sipping from his cup of steaming blood red port.
The seven other sieges, with people who have known each other since the birth of the stars, wait for the word.
“Where do we start?” their lord says.
“Well, Boss, that depends.”
“How much bloodshed we are willing to indulge in. “
“The odds? Who are the pieces?“
“Maylon Hendrake, Jurt Sawell, and Borlak the Ravager on one side. Arloxedra, Carissa, and Vander on the other. the strongest chance for is is Macsen, Dalt's son. Born here, of the blood of this council as well. Dalt might sway him but his home is here. Perhaps his loyalty will be too. And a wild card... Im not sure. According to the oracles its a piano player or a demon, maybe both.. ”
“What do you know of them?” leaning in finally more curious then terrified.
“Well, Macsen of course we all know. Beyond him, Maylon has been to Trasidy many times, as you know. She likes the bloody parts. Jurt does some trade in exotic animals, nothing profane. I've done a tiny bit of work with him. He's been here to find musical acts, magical oddities, yet, he comes from the same bloodline as Maylon. Borlak,..luckily we have not made the acquaintance of him and glad I am of it. I've seen what his horde does to cities. I met Arloxedra when Eric was crowned, as part of your entourage. Nebbish, nervous, critically flawed, with the mark of doom. The others, just visions. Speed, youth, potential. A spare heir, an infant war-god, in case a doomed prince was sacrificed by a pragmatic king. A girl child who walked the pattern holding her father's hand. A demon flayed alive by his brothers till he cursed and rocked the towers of chaos. I can't say which is more dangerous; devils we know or devils we don't. “
“Your advice?” The Lord of Trasidy leans in and asks.
“Roll a seven”
“Seek them out. “
5266-Drums and Duty-Random & Truman
Sitting behind the sort of drum kit that is worthy of the King of Amber, Random set the sticks aside and reaches for his tankard. Setting his cigarillo aside he looks over at the nephew he is about to dump a metric ton of crap on. He watches him sling his ax aside and reach for his own tankard.
Sighing, and lays out his cards.
“So this is the problem. The shadows ebb, flow, and swirl in ways that boggle the mind. I've sat in the Jewel of Judgment and felt the way things flow and seen the islands of stability like rocks in the oceans. Amber is a huge island. It has shadows moving around it crashing on the sand. Squiggles like Bursain, Trasidy, Alamond, and even Azcala, are their own rocks. Avalon is another huge island. Mandalay is another. Each time a shadow crashes it gains a little something and loses a little something.”
“Its an imperfect metaphor, but it will have to do. The shadows obviously don't move but its the perceptions of the powers regarding them that I saw while in the jewel. But there is an exchange..I need people to observe it. The exchange isn't rocks and brush and oceans..Its people, thoughts, music, art, architecture... it could be anything. I need people that will note little things, as well as big things.”
“Currently I have Cogswell Mal At Riess as the ambassador to Mandalay. Hes kind of a wackadoo but a loyal one. He's musical as well as military so I thought he was a good choice since as a veteran of Patternfall and a Duke, he seemed respectable in rank. But it turns out that he isn't a good at noticing things. I don't expect Mandalay to be a military threat but that's all Cogswell seems to think is important for me to know. I don't need someone who only knows one song. I need someone who can play lead, but can strum the rhythm if the song requires it. And I think I need someone not only of rank, but of blood.”
“Mandalay is the center of Shadow, regardless of how the ebbs and flows of shadow veils work. If trends are coming from Chaos to Amber they will pass by there. And visa versa. Things bouncing off the squiggles will show up there as well. I need a clever eye, a ready wit, and person able to sing lead, but still be able to work with the chorus.”
“I also need someone to hang out with Adrian and his collection of Lords and lunatics as a Lord of the House Bariman. He has seven of my own siblings as Lords; Orsoloa, Sand, Elfwine, Hamilton, and Joseph. As well as Fleece and the ½ of Deirdre that is bonded to him. Toss in some of your cousins, Nadine, Kenshin, Houk, Dashel, Tender and Ghost, and that's a lot of family firepower outside of Amber. His other lords are a collection of nature gods as well as lots of musicians and artists. And of course Fleece's pack of Chaos hounds that turned on Chaos when Fleece did.”
“I don't expect him to raise an army but I do expect an attack on our culture. He can export music and theater that can change public opinion. He has Orson Wells running a road company of Les Misérables that spent a decade in the Dramaturge and is in Thelusia now. It opens in Amber soon. Like I need an anti-royalist theater production now? Bleys practically made my reign a farce at the beginning when he was on his drunk ambition tour. Adrian has friggin' David Bowie scouting concert venues here. Warohl prints made in Mandalay are turning up in Amber art galleries and it would not surprise me if Adrian didn't have Warhol as a Lord already. Branch Rickey, John McGraw, and Juke Talwig manage a baseball league in the Dramaturge with 80 teams spread across 30 shadows in the Green Sway and they are trying to get minor leagues set up in a half dozen Golden Circle kingdoms as well as cities along the Jeweled Road.”
“The problem is that Adrian knows that music, theater, art, and sports are things I really can't thump. I just need to know whats coming better so I can plan for it.”
“Another problem is that Mandalay is officially neutral in the battles between Chaos and Amber. So its like Casablanca for agitators. The Blade of Bursain is lost right now and whoever finds it can do a heck of a lot of damage with his lordship of Bursain. I won't bore you with the magical details but I need to know if there are rumors about where the Blade is. Such rumors will be scrubbed clean by the time they get here but they will be fresh and new in Mandalay. Azcala has been sending Jaguar and Puma cultists down the Jeweled Road for 20 years now and while CHAD has been pretty good at keeping them out of the city they are infiltrating the Golden Circle kingdoms. Azcala has a friggin Embassy in Mandalay. Lastly, Borlak is on the move. He usually raids around Regor since those shadows protect him from Vance's starships and my riflemen. The last thing I need is Borlak bringing his Flowing Horde to Amber.”
“So...Truman, i'd like you to take the post of Ambassador to Mandalay from Amber. Go, hang out with the lords, chat up the family members, spend time in the Dramaturge. Hell, Adrian might offer to let you walk the Mark. I'll be encouraging your kin to drop by and visit you. With the exceptions of Bleys, Flora, Vance, you and I, few of the Amber side kin have spent much time in Mandalay.”
Sitting with a crooked frown, Truman does a one-hand roll and lights the wrap, with a offhand flick.
“Well now, Random, it sounds like I have little choice in the matter. Still, I have been through the Dramaturge a bunch. You know of course that Hamilton, Dashel, Vance, and I run a Famous Concert Tour business out of the place. I've done Woodstock a couple times with them, as well as some stuff at the Fillmore, some Dead shows, Mozart directing “the Magic Flute”, “Ajax”, staring Sophocles. Took a few tours to the games in Rome, but that was a bit...gruesome. Oh, and a really bizarre tour of Musicals with really bizarre combinations of actors in lead roles. John Wayne and Elinor Roosevelt in “Hello, Dolly”, Charlie Chaplin and Whoppie Goldberg in the “King and I”; That kind of thing... I suppose I could lead some of the kin around there without too much trouble. Dashel would probably better at that. He maybe a lord in Mandalay but he considers himself more cosmopolitan. As for the rest, I'll keep busy.”
Tapping off the wrap and taking a chug of the dark, he continues.
“I hate to be a greedy weasel about it Random, and I'll do it of course, but whats in it for me? I get a staff I'm sure. Valuable parting gifts? Copy of the home game?”
Random nods, “Of course.. Well, You'll have plenipotentiary powers of course... But there is one other thing. Tell you what, you go get your affairs in order. When you are ready call me.”
Hours pass as Truman gets his traveling kit together. Putting his blade on his belt, and his guitar on his back, he opens a trump to the King.
“You ready? Come ahead” Random extends his hand.
“Ya, I suppose.” Truman grasps it and steps forward.
Arriving at the flat rock plain, the crooked trees, and the glowing artifact of the Primal Pattern. Dworkin stands at the center of the pattern. Fiona and Gerard look from mouth of the cave leading back to Dworkin's apartments.
“Ah, well, this isn't what I expected.” Truman looks around the stark landscape he has only heard rumors of before.
Random walks to the start of the pattern. Reaching under his tunic, he withdraws the Jewel of Judgment.
“Come ahead. Take this and walk the pattern. When you get there Dworkin will guide you in attuning it."
"Ah, Random, ...You want me attuned to the Jewel of Judgment? Really? I know a few power words but its been years since I toyed with sorcery."
Ranom says, "I know. Im going to have Fiona come to Mandalay on the sly and tutor you on sorcery. I know this is a lot to dump on you but I trust your sense of Duty. And frankly I trust your father's willingness to turn you over his knee if need be. "
"Adrian is attuned to the Jewel, and got it on this pattern as well. Adrian will know how seriously I'm taking the post if I send someone known to be in my inner circle, hell in my garage band, who also has the same attunement he has. Dworkin and I spoke in depth about it and we think that if he offers to let you assay the mark you should, and you have my permission."“
Nodding, overwhelmed, he takes the stone and begins walking, feeling the strain of the effort an octave above his previous passages through the pattern.
Reaching the center, Dworkin takes his hand and the stone. “Concentrate on the stone. Look into it deeply. Transport into the center. I'll follow you in. “
The experience is musical, he feels the glow inscribe itself on his sense of self. Standing in the crimson center Dworkin is suddenly there beside him. The gyrating patterns around him moving like writhing snakes around him. Dworkin reaches out and grasps small broken sections of writhing snakes, drawing them together and passing them through the stunned Truman. Dworkin weaves expertly the writhing strands through the Ambassador to Mandalay. He feels the writhing inscriptions impose themselves on his soul.
Coming to awareness he stands in the center of the patter. Dworkin supports him as he recovers from his weakness. The stone on its chain hangs around Dworkin's neck.
“Go to the Dramaturge. Walk to Mandalay from there. Your patent of appointment is in your satchel.”
Moments pass and the transport completes. The new Ambassador to Mandalay contemplates the changes in his life that a few hours could make.
Thin Whip hadn't always been this nervous. He let his thoughts think aloud in his head.
Something about her scared him deeply and that had made the sex wild. It made waking up each morning an adventure. Would there be coffee on the table? Wine in a jug? A Puma Cultist nailed to the cieling? a knife at his throat? It could be anything!
But there was too much of the wild wicked crazy about her, even for him, and she was Random's problem now. Sitting in a cell in the dungeons of Castle Amber was probably not grounds for divorce. Of course he had married her in the tomb of Brand with a drunk Unicorn Priest and a collection of party goers and tourists. Friggin' Truman sat there playing the wedding march on that 16 string guitar. How was he to know that the shit would not only be legal, binding, and magically dangerous but sticky as hell?
Hell was something he knew about. It took a lot to make someone who had assayed the Logrus think that people from the Abyss were quaint by comparison. Turns out the Azcalan crowd was freakier then the friggin' Rim Lords and the Calrabon Butcher Wizards. He needed a divorce and quick. He'd would have liked an annulment but they had consummated like bunnies, bunnies on Old Mink, and people had watched. Maybe there was something on the books about not being in one's right mind. That he could get witnesses for.
He would have to hunt that human lawyer down and ask him a few questions. Maybe call in that favor and have him handle the legal case. Roth. Merlin brought him to Amber a frail aging widower staring decrepitude in the face. After a year he was sporting a short blade and brown hair, squiring Flora to the theater, hunting with Gerard and Julian, Fishing with Caine. Taking meetings with the King and the ambassador from the Courts.
After a decade here he had an estate, a mithril circlet, a Grant of Arms, offices in the castle, a son in the military, a daughter in law serving under Flora, a granddaughter in the Page program, and one of the Urien Pack on his arm. Of course the Urien Pack had a well covered tab at Thin Whip's Place. So that's where Roth had come with his Urian girl and after 56 hours owed him a favor.
Writing favors-owed on the back of business cards was entertaining as hell. And Thin Whip had a pocket full of the peckers after running his roving rave in Amber for all these years.
Turning over his wife to the King had given him castle privileges again.
Maybe Arlo first. That twitchy bastard knew all the angles. He might see a way out of this for me. Well, there are advantages to being the brother of the Ambassador to Amber from the Courts of Chaos. His own Amber lineage kept getting him invited to family dinners too.
Withdrawing a Trump of a frazzled looking man leaning over a parchment, a smoking candle before him. Concentrating the contact opens.
Looking up, the man asks, “Yes, Jurt? To what do I owe the pleasure?”
5271-Musings on Bursain- Vance
Looking out of the fore-screen as the ship twisted itself to float downward Vance let the automatics manage the docking details. His crew was already getting their gear together to disembark. The tour had been interesting, but uneventful. Senior staff would go over the details in time, but now it was time to leave. They saluted as they left, letting the Admiral of the Fleet remain alone on his combat vessel before going below
The red and white striped Defiant Class ship gently slipped, hummed, into the docking station on the front of the disc of the gigantic Amber Class Star ship that served as the flag ship of the Amber Star Fleet. The data rushed back and forth as the connections made themselves felt. His personal vessel, the Lollipop, was known across shadow and the realms the Amber fleet traveled. But this realm knew it not. Below they looked to the sky in fear uncertain what the bright green vessels implied.
Ports for ten other Defiant class ships dotted the top of the disc. Spots for eight more on the underside. Docks for nearly five hundred fighter ships ringed the edges of the mighty ship.
The Walrus was a city unto itself, but it was a show of force, a place of power, a thing of beauty.
It might have another name painted on its bulwarks, but to Admiral Vance, it was the Walrus. Fear my warble, ye little men. 'I am the ship Ozymandias, ship of ships; Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
His moment of bliss over, Vance rose and walked to the exit. Benedict would not be pleased. Borlak remained deep in shadow, far from realms where a phaser could remove this thorn in Amber's side.
He contemplated the possibilities. Five trumps shifted in his mind. Could they convince them to join Star Fleet?
Vandor?-a future wargod- might relish the opportunity
Arloxedra?-He might serve out of duty, if Random insisted.
Vek?-A chaosian. What secrets could be told to one who is inherently a security risk?
Carissa? A pacifist, but perhaps thats what the fleet needed.
Jurt? A Chaosian... but none to happy about it. Willing to serve amber to stay free of Chaos.
And beyond that, the Blade of Bursain, a power in play..
What was seen on the planet below might make any of them toss their hat in the ring..
But could he manage the fallout?
There was much to consider. Perhaps he should grab a bottle of Old Mink and take Truman out surfing. Maybe he would know how to toss this bucket of kittens around.
"No,I'm not a frigging Hobbit!!!!! "The nattily dressed boggie yelled.
Lop's eyes tried to roll upwards and see the inside of his skull. Not for the first time he thought he really should remember to work in his private office.
"You know how many times I have to tell people that, Lop? Every iron-pot blood-mad sword-swinger from Tosa to Mac's Bar to the gates of Gazad Dun to the friggin' foot of Kolvir thinks the only tiny folks are those furry footed booze hounds. Frakkin' ale barrels with groggily eyes. I'm a frikkin' Boggie and I ain't ashamed of it!"
Lop ignored the fact that Hibbit usually drank more then any hobbit he knew, as well as consuming any form of magical or chemical concoction chemists, alchemists, wizards and spice dealers could supply him. He listened to his disreputable old friend on his familiar old rant. That during the rant he and Hibbit both smoked melange cigars to maintain the blue in blue eyes they both were addicted to he knew was high irony.
"It even worse here in Amber you know."
Looking up from his tankard and his paperwork it was like a horse stopping mid stride. This was a new complaint for the rabid little thief.
He mustered his long years of conversational expertise for the perfect rejoinder, "Eh? huh? ah.. why?"
Hibbit drew his short thin bugsticker knife and flipped it around his hand as he looked at Lop in surprise. His old friend was staring owlbear eyes at him.
"They don't have hobbits here. ok, four or five, but have you seen any wandering around this fairy tale city? They have a few of these Agoliths[] around but those aren't hobbits or boggies either. They are just half sized regular folks.. And the Amberites don't like them much either.[] Can you imagine what hobbits in those shadows must be like? They could wrestle ferrets. hmmm might be good gold in that."
Walking off a bit and tossing the first of his three knife set. Hitting the center, shivering in point, disappearing a fraction of a second before the next knife arrives to take the same spot. Again, again, again, each knife shivers and disappears.
"So if they don't ask if i'm an Agolith, they ask me if i'm a hobbit then they ask if i'm a famous hobbit? Apparently there has been a Frodo Baggins and a Samwise Gamgee and hobbits named Pippin and Merry here before so they ask me if i'm from the Shire? "How are things in Gondor?", "Are you from before the Ring was destroyed of after?", "Do you know Marke of Beleriand, ya know, Fiona's son?" At least on Tosa they had enough Halflings across the land that people would ask if I was a Standback or a Greentree or a Widefoot. Here they ask if i'm Frodo or Bilbo or a damned shaved dwarf. "
Flinging his short sword, when his anger wasn't satisfied by assassin's knives.
Looking up from the a collection of papers Lop sees Hibbit's warblade shivering in the wall as the dart board splits and falls to the ground.
Stepping back, Hibbit clamps his teeth around the red cigar, looking to Lop,
"Ah.. ill get a new dart board...Sorry 'bout that. But this Hobbit crap really pisses me off.. I'm a Boogie! We come from the Stye. My people crossed the Land of the Knee-Walking Turkeys, through Fordor and Folderol, down the east of the Mealy Mounts, across the Paper Mache Mountains to settle the Stye! My family has been hunting the Woods of the Tiny Pigs for ten generations! We have fought in the armies of Gonad against the Roitan and people of the Square Valley Between the Mountains! Our village had a genuine Ballhog skull! My grandfather sailed the Slime River to the Scum Harbor and to all ports on the Bay of Milhous! We've been places! We've killed things! Hell!, Ive eaten a Snickerdoodle after cutting its galumphing head off myself!! You were there!! Where the hell have these hobbits been? Hiding from Big Men? Sneaking around goblin lairs? Ok,one stabbed a Nazgul in the back of the knee, I respect that. But the rest of them are famous mostly for sneaking about!"
Not for the first time, Lop wished he had never adventured in the realm of Gonad where he met Hibbit in a nasty little city off the Anacin River, mugging a Lumbar warrior three times his size and half his speed. Taking wallet, watch and a rusty Glock 9 off him without the Lumbar noticing it was a testament to his skill and his level of inebriation. Considering the tendency of Boggie warriors to get taken out by drunk raccoons, Hibbit seemed like the Zatonic[] of boggies. In retrospect leaving him in his squallid shadow would have been wiser but at the time the group needed a specialist.
Sighing Lop knew he needed to head this rant somewhere safe or at least somewhere else.
"Now Hibbit, You know Amber has a certain draw for Heroes. Hell thats why we are here! If there happens to be a few notable hobbit here you know very well that we brought a huge number of halflings here with CHAD. You've long been accepted as a halfling by the Tosian Halflings. And, not to put too fine a point on it old friend but we have long had the ability to return to the lands of Lower Middle Earth but you never seem to go there.
Taking his tankard and downing the contents, refilling it from the pitcher,he shrugs his shoulders.
"Ya, I know. I know better then to go back now. How you gonna keep a Boggie down in the slime once he's seen New Wall?"
Walking up the stair to his cubicle he tosses the stub of the melange cigar in the hearth.
Lop smiles at his grumpy friend's back as he ascends the stairs. Not for the last time, wishing he hadn't sworn off using violence himself. Some backs cry out for thrown weapons.
"Twas pity that saved him. Pity I had no more bullets" Lop chuckled and leaned back to enjoy his cigar.
Bored of the Rings[]
5280 Truman, Tom, & Bob
Swinging his guitar behind his back he looked around the growing green land. His decrepitude was gone from his fingers. His blind eye was clear and they focused like they hadn't in 60 years. His muscles felt young and strong and his pace was long. The blue jeans felt familiar but new. A leather jacket over a t-shirt was comfortable and worn in. His hair was lush and running a hand through it he felt that it was wild and unkempt and felt like the lovely locks of his youth. His beard was scruffy but never did grow much better.
Patting his shirt pocket for a pack of cigarettes he found a harmonica. Looking it over it he almost shed a tear because it was the one Pete Seeger gave him at Newport when he had lost his own. The cigarettes were rolled in his shirt sleeve. He should have known. Stopping to light one he swung the guitar around to tune it and strum a bit he found it to be one he had had back in '69 that Morrison had traded him for a bag of reefer.
He figured this must be death, heaven, hell, the summerlands, or some place north of Woodstock, New York. The last thing he remembered was the hospital. Reporters in the hallways and the lobbies, awaiting his death like carrion birds. Now, he was walking like a young man.
B12, B12, and Out. Pennies to pay the ferryman.
Up ahead he saw a straw-topped boy sitting on a rock. He was picking on a Fender Stratocaster of all things. . He seemed to know his way around it well but for the life of him he could not place the face.. He should know it. Thin..In life he must have played with him. Sitting next to him was an acoustic guitar[] he couldn't quite see all of.
Walking up the two met eyes for a moment. The youth looks aside a bit and asks, "I should know you? Shouldn't I?"
The first man nods, " I think so too.. but.. I was in a hospital.. Then.. I was here. My memory isn't quite clear"
"I was on my bed at home I think. My knees were killing me. I was...going to have surgery... I think I overdosed. Then I was here. My two favorite guitars.. Both out of tune of course.."
Looking up, the boy says, "So we must be dead, and this is the road to hell?"
The first man nods, "I suppose. But I expected more harps or horns. Clouds, maybe a demon or two.."
A voice from beyond them says, "Nope...This is the road to Mandalay. I was asked by the boss there to get you both and bring you in. You were both on the threshold of death and both, in your personal universes, had a total disbelief in an afterlife. That combination often picks icons like yourselves from the vasty of shadow and delivers you here to the Vale of Song. In the infinity of creation there are millions, billions of each of you with variations in each of the worlds. You are only two people in a lot of those worlds where the different distinctions between the worlds had nothing to do with you. You both had long storied careers and your memories will come back soon. But in each of your worlds something different happened."
Pointing to the first man he says, "In your world a bolt of lightning struck a man in Scotland in 1527." Pointing to the kid, "In yours an archer killed knight templar in 1202. So nothing having to do with you caused splits in the universe. I know, I know.. its confusing. But so it goes. You guys were famous and had no expectations of an an afterlife while in billions of worlds you were famous and did have expectations of an afterlife. Its called the "If I'd died without hope of grace clause. The boss will explain it, I promise. I'm just doing him a favor, I don't serve him per se. I'm here to take you to meet him. I promise the beer is cold and the sound is hot. You won't believe the band the man has. "
The scruffy man asks, "Do you have a name or shall I just call you Beelzebub? I'm fairly lost but this doesn't look like Clarksdale, Mississippi."
"Its not, nor am I the devil. Well, not exactly." He says, extending his hand. "I'm Truman of Amber and I'm taking you to meet Adrian of Mandalay."
The scruffy man shakes his hand, "Robert Zimmerman."
The kid shakes his hand next, "Tommy Petty."
Nodding, with a smile,knowing them both well in other times and places, he slings his own guitar around, and strums, starting a familiar tune. They join in, Dove, Harmonica and Gibson.
"Come along Tom, Bob, I think you are going to like Mandalay. "