To Her Royal Highness, Queen Moire of Rebma,
I wished to offer congratulations on the successful strike against House Channicutt and beg an indulgence from your Royal Highness. Let me begin by complimenting your military commanders. Once again the forces of your kingdom have proven themselves the masters of their foes and force for all to reckon with. I recently received word of the victory from Princess Torianna and further descriptions from Princess Galena. I wish I had been there to watch the strike but a recent attack on my family had me otherwise engaged.
With regards to the boon I ask, it has come to my attention that three minors of House Channicutt were taken into custody. As someone who can understand the issues of growing up under the cloud of one's parentage, I humbly ask that they be taken underwing, educated properly and freed from the cycle of hatred. It should certainly be justice enough to hold them for the same period of time as Princess Llewella was incarcerated. Given access to fast time shadows, the time could be stretched to a much greater subjective length allowing for the civilizing process to take root and the hostilities to be overcome. By showing generosity and mercy, it may be possible to eventually tame some of the passions directed against us once they are returned to their homelands.
I wish to offer the use of my manor in Rebma in any way it may be of service towards this end. My staff is at your disposal should you wish to make use of them. When not otherwise engaged in missions for Amber, I also offer whatever assistance I may provide in tutoring the young captives (under Rebman supervision of course). I feel that we have an obligation to at least try and salvage the youngsters. I hope that you will agree.
Prince Fineas of Amber
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 90 PDS 10:00 PM:
I have neglected to write in this journal for a couple of days Amber time. Actually it has been well over a week in subjective time as I have spent an extended period in Lynxia. It's time to catch up.
I went through a mild episode of panic when Mother contacted me to inform me her trumps had been stolen during the Chun episode. When I pressed her for an accounting, I learned of a couple of Father's shadows I had not known about. Trumps were also missing of the Keep and palace. I immediately ordered the trump in locations to be altered sufficiently to render the trumps useless. Of more concern was how the trumps of Rinaldo and myself might be abused. I must make some security adjustments now.
With regards to the unknown foe, my musings in the last entries appear to have some validity. But before I get to that, let me tell about the wonderful new prisoners brought back from the assault on House Chanicutt by the brave forces of Rebma.
Dara and Toriana returned from the assault with a pair of Helgram spies they captured near Chanicutt ways. When I was contacted with an offer to be allowed to sit in on the interrogation, I heartily agreed. While I am not as talented at beating or mentally forcing information from enemies as my more "delicate" cousines, I seem to have a talent for knowing what questions to ask. Tori in particular seemed quite pleased with herself, though she sported unaccustomed bruises and scrapes from her adventure. Rumor has it she subdued one of the Helgrams in melee. Very surprising from a woman who has a reputation for disdaining physical conflict. Dara's influence no doubt. Here is some of what we learned after extensive probing:
1. There is at least one Helgram who has mastered the Mirrorverse to the same degree as Galena. The others apparently have not.
2. The Helgrams went on a killing spree in the MV to subjugate or eradicate as many shroudlings as they could. They will have no friends there.
3. The Helgrams intend to frame Amber and other houses for the assassinations, then advance their position by "helping" the devastated houses.
4. We learned a few particulars about how Helgram command and control functions. The same strengths (cell structure, severe compartmentalization of information) they exhibit can also be weaknesses. I intend to exploit that.
About this time we had a surprise visit from a severely injured Thirteen. He had to be rushed into a healing tank, having been subjected to what appears to be a flash freezing of his extremities. He could not talk, so I made a trump contact with him to learn what had happened. Thirteen had picked up the trail at Dom Daniel and attempted to contact Pandelume, the subspace specialist. His entry into the shadow of said wizard revealed the presence of our missing abyssal badass. For once Thirteen had made the trip alone and had to flee in short order. His injuries resulted from forcing his way out of the shadow through some sort of inimical environment. He expected pursuit but was able to trump away in time to avoid capture.
This brings a couple of possibilities. One is that Pandelume has turned on us and is behind the troubles. More likely in my view is he took on a student who betrayed him and seized the subspace power source. In any case, the abyssal critter is either working for the current boss of that shadow, or has in turn become the boss and is now calling the shots.
Jacob was alerted and I in turn was advised that Sand and Delwin's supposed remains were in fact clever fakes. I was not even remotely surprised. I am now convinced that either Sand and Delwin have been suborned, or they are being kept prisoner by our unknown foe and are still alive. In either case, they must be drugged, too far away or sufficiently altered from their trump images to be unavailable to trump contact. Since I have been unable to figure out how they could ignore their oaths, I suspect they are held prisoner in the subspace power region. Time is of the essence, but knowledge of our foe is critical to any hope of success we may have. I impressed upon Jacob the need to talk to Dworkin about how to combat this particular creature. He has not yet returned.
As the details of the duplication of the heads came to light, I decided to make use of the technique on our two captive Helgrams. They would not have been missed yet and I wanted to make it appear they had been killed in the MV assault rather than captured. I made contact with Holrune and a pair of the more trustworthy Lynxians to arrange for a lab to create duplicates of our captives. I called in the tame Logrus master from Tir Tarngir to lend assistance in providing the appropriate power residue and we damaged the bodies as realistically as possible, even allowing them to mortify just long enough to accurately depict a time of death coinciding with the Chanicutt assault. Dara agreed to plant them in the MV for me and allow them to be found by Chanicutt scouts. Helgram's agents within Chanicutt will do the rest.
I must think on the best use of our captives at this point. They will eventually develop a tolerance to the drugs keeping them docile, so I may need to make alternate arrangements soon. I would prefer to keep physical abuse out of the equation. Although these are enemies at the moment, a clever person finds ways to turn enemies into allies. Dara is the best example of what can be accomplished if you think fast on your feet. I will need to think on how best to accomplish the same feat with these Helgrams. I love a challenge.
Sub-space: Obviously, objects stored there don't freeze solid. 13's surface froze fast; he wasn't in there more than 20-30 seconds. The effect is either related to being 'deeper' into the dimension, or in a different quantum layer, or an attack by the hostile elementals that live there. If the latter, it's a sort of area attack because 13 felt no beings around him --- though he was extremely distracted at the time.
The Rebmans: [via Morwyn] Managed to not lose any cousins (though two are in intensive care) and had low casualties overall. They got maybe 1/5 of the Chanicut archives -- oblong data crystals -- before the fortresses remaining defenses could be fully activated and Chanicut troops arrived in force. Griv's rebel forces took higher losses -- they're not nearly as well disciplined and split into species factions -- but picked up lots more freed demons than they lost. The rods used to free permanently-compelled slaves are three-coin pez sticks with little blood-diamonds in them to power-glitch the geases, made by Llewella, good for about 25 shots each. (Specs available.)
They have three Chanicut children in custody; Morwyn doesn't elaborate. Galina, who saw some things, says that Baron Taran (royal scout commander, roughly equivalent to Sir John Gaunt's job, Toriana's second cousin and Fineas' drinking buddy) refused to execute children and invited Llewella to do it herself. She... didn't.
13: Sabine comes up with a nice little spell that quiets the itching without excessive numbing. Warm soaks help too.
Fineas: a messenger steps out of the Dark Well in the Keep with a package for Fineas -- three small oval cut diamonds.
Helgram ID: They all learn a 2 pt Specialization (based on SS:Animal Abilities) for doing blood tests by taste, with an emphasis on ID'ing family members.
Dara has invited me to travel with her to her other family and help her with some negotiations to get her Hellmaids. We also decide that Moirwyn might enjoy a break from her overbearing mother and family duties. We give Heinrich time to gather the things he needs and agree to meet up a couple hours later. I am very excited about this adventure. It is either this or stay in my happy trump place doing work, yeah it is not a hard decision.
Her family is different sure we all have that one family member, our is Diego, they have at least one too. The negotiations go well and Dara gets exactly what she wants without giving up more than she is willing. I am not sure if she had her dad’s blessing but that is between her and him and certainly non of my business.
Things here have gone off far too peacefully so we decide to go make some trouble but the Helgrams are not cooperating. They are off hiding out with their tail between their legs, ok well maybe not but one can hope. I am not sure what we are going to do next good times with the girls what could go wrong?
Sabine decided that I was in need of a vacation. I really had no idea what this was There was no such word as "vacation" in the Village vocabulary. She told me that "We" need a break from all of the work we had been doing. This of course puzzled me because I had found all of this so far very Entertaining, but she had looked a bit frazzelled as of late so I asked her to find some things that might be fun to do.
Before I left, I Had some things to take care of:
- Kirsten needed to be fixed. I took her to Jacob and had him bind her. She wasn't too happy about that, but the fact that Jacob's blood has a part of the process, and that his blood "aged" her up to her late teens more then made up for this (When I took her to weir for some training she kept showing off her breast's for any body who would look).
-I went on a mission to find and retrieve Augustus's wives and children. This went very well. He is very pleased with his "station" in life, and agreed to keep things running smoothly in Limbo. I also promised to take a few of his children to Amber to be educated.
-I put Derkon and Badger in for Knighthoods for their service to the crown. Token's really, but I've been told that they carry some prestige with them. So that's good.
-I talked to Zherevyev about going for Broken Pattern. This both scared her and made her very happy. It is unknown if she would survive or not, but she feels that she has lived a long time and this would either be a new adventure, or the paying off of a life debt. She wanted me to take her back to her home to train and to get ready for the Test.
-Jurgen and Gertruda were given a little well deserved leave. I put them in for promotions.
-Finally I made deals to with the troops that I recruited to go home, but to make themselves available in the future if I needed them.
-got everything situated in Purgatory. Johnothon is working out well, Bricktop is going to keep an eye on things, and we have a trump of the Helgram contact. Life is good.
So, time to do nothing.
Sabine called it skiing. It was very odd...but fun once I got used to it. the better I got at it the less I needed to use my powers to aid me. Sabine was a natural, and she later told me that she had done this a few times before. As the days went by, I only need to use probability to make sure that people were not in my way, and to make sure that the ski patrol folks were looking the other way when I went down the hill.
I learned this a bit late in the game when I got a Ticket for "Skiing out of control" The woman would not see my point of view that I was perfectly in control the whole time and that I was not a danger to anybody. Luckily, the court date is a month away...so no biggy.
A few day's later Flora trumped me and said that she was setting up a training session with modern equipment in her shadow and that everybody was invited. Diego had not responded, but she didn't mind to much about this.
People came and went. The training went for about a week. Sabine was really enjoying herself. She was pushing her abilities to the limit. Mom was giving everybody a run for there money in the "I'm the biggest git" award.
Mom tried everything, including firing the Boys while riding a motorcycle. It took her several times (and lots of cuts, bruises, and broken bones), but she succeeded.
She had a grin a mile wide when she finally pulled it off.
Dara showed up for a few. Her and mother caught up on all of the things that had been going on since Inferno.
Later that day SJG showed up for the fun. Later he joined my up on the veranda to some nice cool long necks. We talked about the possibility of Zherevyev walking the pattern. He figured that if Tanatheel made he couldn't see any reason as to why Zherevyev couldn't.
Good to know.
While staggering back to the Spa portion of Flora's little set up looking for Sabine, I find my Mother. She informs me that sabine has gone off to the "isolation" room for some quite time while cocooned in blankets and wraps and all sorts of oddities. Mother was fussing at the masseuse, and told herr to step aside and ordered my to take her place.
I am going to have to work with her on the concept of boundaries.
The reason that she did this, I feel, was as some sort of a test...to see if I would balk, or argue, or whatever odd test of loyalty crossed her mind at the time.
We discussed the disappearance of Deigo, and his orientation. It was decided that Benedict had denied him some boon and that Diego had gone off to sulk for awhile.
The next morning Sabine and I left to go back to Amber. We decided to stop over in Dom-Daniel and meet people that she gone to school with. The made us a great dinner.
The next morning I met with the leaders of the August moon school to let them Use my royal seal as part of there charter. This was to lend some importance to there standing. I also donated money to both the Old citadel and the August moon schools.
Also while staying in Dom-Daniel we kept hearing the oddest stories about Diego. He lives on at least in Memory here. Sabine had a wicked thought an said that we should take over his old hotel. That was some funny stuff. We went to go check it out.
Casa de Deigo was filled with treasure and bad taste. The treasure was divided between Amber, The Old citadel, and the August Moon schools. The bad taste was sent packing with the servants. On a lark we went over to check out the "burning Crab School's" fortress of solitude. Sadly, where the coin machine had been, was note saying that it had been confiscated by Amber Security. Too bad, it would have made a fun acquisition.
Sabine wanted to hang out with her friends for a few more days as part of her vacation. I went to check in with Benedict as to what was new on the radar scope. Trumped him and after several hours discussion with him and Rinaldo, it sounded like either Brand or Deirdre had escaped from the Abyss and were having fun at our expense.
Where is everyone:
Llewella is using sprites for scouting in the mirror verse. She wants Dara, Toriana and Moirwyn to help with the next rush against Chanicut. The attack begins and the rebmans give us a trump to reach where we need to be. Two of the were's and Hienrich get poisoned on the caltrops. They are trumped to safety. Anarchy continues after the Helgram and Toriana is able to close a mirror they are trying to open. A group a gru is coming after the team. There is a flurry of spells and Anarchy creates a frozen slip-and-slide and kill anything that comes close.
Jacob considers to himself about Jelerac and if he is behind everything. He is going to find the heads of Delwin and Sand to do further testing and see if they really belong to them and if he can use the heads to find the bodies. He finds the heads in the tombs where they are supposed to be.
Thirteen finds Sabine and they look for Holrune to talk to him about Delwin and Sand. Holrune has been trying to trump Delwin and Sand for months but they are not answering. Thirteen is given the trumps. They talk about the loose abyss beasts. Thirteen asks about the subspace people and if anyone is knowledgeable. They discuss names of people who might be able to help or know something. Thirteen talks to Sabine about talking to Shealba. Thirteen is going to test the spell he was given. He finds some open space as instructed. A strange almost elemental type being carries him away after he gives the code word. Thirteen is falling 15 feet into a field of flowers. Thirteen throws a rock in the air to use pattern to see which direction he should go. This is not as effective as he would have liked. He decides to sit down and use pattern to scan for power.
Fineas gets a trump call from his mother's chief flunky. The man tells him that Jazra's trumps were stolen. He contacts his mother for ths list of missing trumps. He makes sure the castle is changed enough so that the stolen trumps do not work. He talks to his mom about why this might have happened and who might be behind it. Jazra is pissed off. She plays with Werewindle for a bit. Fineas asks about the oaths of Delwin and Sand. Dworkin is the only one who knows the exact oaths of Delwin and Sand.
The other Chaosian teleports in and Toriana has to jump out of the way and releases the first Choasian and throws a fake trump gate behind the second. While the second one turns Toriana stabs him. Dara is able to get to the first one subdued. Anarchy goes back to the Rebman camp and see to immediate healing. They then get gated back to Amber. Benedict greets them and calls in Gerard. The girls retell their glory and drink from Benedict's private reserve. They find out that Moirwyn isn't DIego's sister after all. He is Eric's kid. The girls go out for partying with Martin. They wake up in Lynxia with a 'I won' in lipstick on their forehead. They get to Amber for the interagation of the Helgrams. Toriana trumps in Fineas for this and Fineas trumps in Golena.
Jacob pops an eyeball out of each skull and puts it in the mystical mix he has concocted. He instructs the people in Lynxia to examine the heads at a molecular level. .The heads are duplicates atom by atom. Jacob swears roundly. Brotherhood has the technology to be able to do something like this. Techinque used on the heads has not been popular for the last 600 years. Jacob trumps Holrune for information on Sand and Delwin to see if they were in the botherhood and they were. Jacob finds out that Thirteen is gone to see Pandaloon. He tries to trump Thirteen and there is no ability to do so.
Thirteen is moving towards the power sources in the area. He gets about half way to the source and something does a fly by and heads to where Thirteen came in. Necromantic thing moving about ranger a quarter mile out. Oversized vulture snakey type head flys overhead. In the hazy distance he sees a palace and a cleared area with a pit. He thinks he has half an hour before he is found. Thirteen brings up pattern when the beam from the pit starts to zero in on him. There is a tingliness about him and it seems to be dampening his pattern. He tries to send out a tether out towards the area where he came in. The world disappears around him and he starts bleeding from the eyes. His eyes start to freeze. He does manage to burst out the other size. He feels crappy and trumps to Jacob. Jacob feels the trump and Toriana opens the trump and pulls Thirteen through into Amber and then trumps to Lynxia with him.
Fineas follows to Lynxia and talks to Thirteen. Thirteen tells him what is going on and Fineas talks about the critters around there. Fineas asks Toriana to contact Zhartra to tell her what is going on. He asks Zhartra about binding the creatures. Jacob finally answers the call and comes through to the party in Lynxia and the party line trump with Zhartra. They discuss what to do about this creature and that time is short. Jacob tells everyone that the heads are fake. Jacob takes Fineas's suggestion and tries to get access to Dworkin. Flora gives him a trump of the guy who looks after Dworkin. Jacob looks through a window at Dworkin's yoga class that is about half over.
Dara trumps Toriana who brings her into the party at Lynxia. They point and giggle at Thirteen and how he had a worse day then they did and didn't even bring back a prisioner. Dara, Fineas and Toriana trump to Amber for the prisoner interigation. Fineas trumps Reynaldo to look after Thirteen. There is a male chaosian and a female. The trio discovers the top 3 -10 people in each house are slated to be assisinated. The Helgrams were going to try and grab a couple Rebman's for trump artists. One Helgram has mastered to the third level of the mirrorverse. They had planned to plant evidence to incriminate other houses. No one is really ruling Chaos right now. We ask about the antidote for the poison they were using.
The assisinations were to all be done at one time. They were planning a gradual overtake of the thrown. Fineas suggests the duplication process for the prisioners. Fineas trumps Holrunen to Amber to talk abouot the duplication process. He is put in touch with people who can do what he needs to have done.
Dworkin is flirting with 3 of his younger classmates. He introduces Jacob to the girls. Dworkin says the creature Jacob is describing doesn't sound like Pandaloon. They talk abut the subspace stuff. Dworkin says you have to use a gem to stop him and then once you stop him he can be bound. He says you should try and lure Taralora out of the shadow.
Benedict, Gerard and Mirelle come by to visit. He thinks that Sabine came by to visit. His eyes are ok but his ears are very messed up, and he's suffered a lot of surface-level cosmetic damage that skin grafts are used to deal with. He is very pink and itchy. Mama Mirelle give him a hug when he gets out of the goo. Sabine gets ahold of him afterwards and freaks out just a bit.
Flora and Thirteen work out a big trump push (mandala, coins, Jewel oF Amber, etc.]. They are trying to reach Delwin. After pushing through the subspace static, they reach a mind that is very badly drugged, much like Thirteen was a few days ago.
Lynxia's secret lab.
Fineas fills in Kai Tung on Thirteen's misadventure. Kai's been studying with Ahzvaan, whom Fineas questioned about Pandaloon, found out how he did business and that sort of thing. There's some speculation about how someone might have replaced Pandaloon and taken over his holdings and the pocket Shadow. Fineas makes a point of not mentioning the current situation with the Helgram captives, but does drop a few 'loose lips sink ships, and your future careers' hints.
He makes a note to ask Tori to ask her 'pet Helgram' if they can set up new callsigns for Helgrams ini the area and that sort of thing, possibly using the Helgram as a way into the the Helgram network.
Does a quick check in Remia and Ruin to make sure that things haven't gotten out of hand too far. Luckily the religious zealots are satisfied with the hellish nature of Ruin, so much so that they don't usually enforce universal flagellation most of the time.
Trying to be a part of both Amber and Chaos can be adventurous. As for my relatives in Amber, there are non that I dislike, but then I haven't been around them long enough to make any true decissions. As for my Hendrake kin, there are a few, I despise, but one of the two I hate is dead. That bitch of an Aunt of mine, Duessa is dead, thanks to the power of mirrors. Tor helped me eliminate her, and the best part of it all is Helgrum will take the fall for it. Now, if I could just get rid of Luke. As far as I am concerned Belissa should run the family. Luke needs to die and Rianna just needs to back down. As for me, I have no interest in the throne, especially after being grommed to be the puppet queen. Loyalty is hard to find in my family. My father Benedict, killed my mother Lintra. Merlin, my son was killed by his father,Corwin. So in my opinion blood is not thicker than water. I know to watch my back and trust no one but myself.
I've taken back my mother's Hellmaids along with their homeworld. I convinced the Hendrakes to return what is rightfully mine, or so that is the legal claim. The reality of it is I bribed them. I went to Belissa, Tor and Palatime and offered them a power that the Helgrum's have in exchange for my place in the family, the Hellmaids and their home. Each of us had something to gain. It all went over rather well, at least on the surface. It's great to have Amber family with me, especially the Regents daughters of both Rebma and Amber. We were all just together having a good time, with no authority of our parents. But the Hendrakes did not know that. That's what they get for underesjtimating me.
Torian, Morwin, Galina and I went on a search through the miror world, looking for Helgrums to take out. We found some, along with a small strong hold. I'll alert Tor, and let him do with the information as he pleases. I would like to get to the Helgrums, before they are ready to attack my family. Cathching people off guard is my form of amusement. I've also discovered a oan mirror master. I'll be catching up with her later. It appears the Helgrums have assasingated the others that were known. I'm just know waiting to capture a high ranking Helgrum in the chaos that is erupting between Chenicut and Helgrum. If both families knock themselves out, the better.
Delia, Alena, Riena and Alexia have been watching over the other hellmaids. I will have to find a new shadow to make their home. Their homeworld is to boring for the girls and the ones who have been away. They need to train, and be away from the influences of my family. They can not be abused and used as they have in the past. The hellmaids will become my elite army.
Cry Havoc- Session 36
Dara and Toriana (henceforth known as Anarchy Incorporated) begin by rounding up an appropriate retinue to travel to Hendrake Ways and negotiate the disposition of the Hellmaids still under Hendrake control. Tori decides the Heinrich must come and initially wants to bring Badger. Dara brings her four main Hellmaids. They then together decide to invite Morwyn along as extra muscle. In the end, Badger does not come along but a couple of extra weir do as well as Morwyn's bodyguard of two Tritons. With help from Galena, Dara contacts Tor and begins the negotiation. She learns her Hellmaids were split between three Hendrakes. Some were used up, but Palatine and Riana both have significant numbers of them that might be negotiated for.
A meeting is set and Anarchy Incorporated meets with the Hendrakes, successfully trading initiation into the Mirror Power in return for Dara's reinstatement into Hendrake and all remaining Hellmaids. Morwyn's presence lends an unanticipated weight of authority to the negotiation, a fact that is not lost on Tori. She tries to make sure Morwyn realizes she was not being used intentionally. Surprisingly, no deaths result from the whole proceeding and three of the Hendrakes (the friendlier ones of course) are initiated into the Mirror Power. Dara begins collecting her Hellmaids. Dara is pleased. Tori is pleased. Morwyn is amused. Hellgram will not be pleased.
Fineas completes delivery of the Persian heads to Sullus and begins planning for the future in Remia. He is interrupted by an urgent cry for help via trump from his mother. Fineas races to the rescue, arriving in Kashfa in time to prevent his mother's murder but not her maiming. The vile Chun had blinded her and was about to make off with his booty of eyeballs. Fineas goes into swashbuckler mode and kills Chun in a one on one fight in the courtyard of the palace. Fineas is not pleased. Werewindle is pleased. Jasra is most definitely not pleased. Fineas takes her to Lynxia where he meets up with Rinaldo. They examine evidence and discuss motives while Jasra is attended to.
Thirteen spends some quality time with his mother Mirelle at the tail end of Flora's Redneck Jamboree. Thirteen postulates theories about Diego's suspected homosexuality, his disappearance and what Gerard will do about it. The discussion turns to the family in general from there. Some of the strange goings on are discussed and Thirteen decides that he should keep a closer eye on Dom Daniel. He bids adieu to Earth and heads to Dom Daniel
Jacob continues his investigations into which bound monster may have been moved. He checks on one notable entity and discovers a different one was moved to it's location to cover for the disappearance of the original prisoner. It is not actually bound, just incapacitated with poison and drugs. Jacob is not pleased. He quickly binds the creature while it can't resist. He examines the various energy signatures and engages in a generally unsatisfying discourse with the abyssal creature currently subdued. It tells him it was moved there by a bipedal power-using creature. Since all humans look alike to monsters, it is unable to give a better description of the culprit.
Once the initiations are complete, the Hendrakes keep their end of the bargain and announce Lintra's will was found, leaving her property to Dara. The rest of the Hendrakes do not openly oppose the announcement. Dara is very pleased. Dara sends her Hellmaids to the borderlands where they should be safe, then the whole crew of Anarchy Incorporated decides to enter the mirrorverse to go looking for trouble. They storm around, encounter a few brownies, map some of the areas and generally have a good time. Not much else is accomplished as the Helgrams have made themselves scarce in the vicinity.
Fineas returns to Kashfa to get things under control and to investigate Chun's activities. Rinaldo had detemined Chun was carrying an item that magnified his psychosis, probably causing him to run amok. Fineas backtracks the trail of carnage and finds evidence of a strange subspace based power at Chun's apparent entry point. Fineas begins walking shadow, tracking the strange power until he finds a significant amount of it. Some time later he finds himself at the pit with Jacob and the abyssal critter. The power residue is very strong there. Fineas and Jacob look at each other and then at the creature. None of the three are pleased.
Thirteen travels to Dom Daniel where he learns Diego has been divesting himself of property. On a whim, Thirteen buys Casa de Diego as a residence and considers taking over ownership of the Burning Crab School. Upon reflection, he decides the school has been too thoroughly compromised to be worth bothering with and contents himself with stripping the mansion of the majority of the décor, removing a few bugs and magical backdoors and refurbishing the whole place to his taste. A major undertaking, but one made worthwhile by the opportunity to dismiss Diego's staff. Thirteen is pleased.
Jacob, Fineas and ultimately Rinaldo discuss the various heinous possibilities about what/who is behind the monster shell game and the murder of Sand and Delwin. The GM chuckles gleefully as the players give him all sorts of nasty ideas he had not considered.
The expedition encounters the stronghold of a hermit shroudling and spends a little time inconveniencing the local brownie population. They explore further and begin finding evidence of past battles in the vicinity. It is obvious the Helgrams have been working to subdue the area. A plan to go Helgram hunting is discussed but not yet acted upon.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 86 PDS 10:00 PM:
Sullus was skeptical at first that the heads I presented to him were in fact the emperor and assorted family members. I think he began to wonder after checking a few coins. No matter. I explained my overall plan to plop him into the consulship as soon as possible, then cement him into the position by arranging a series of victories under his leadership against the northern barbarians. I had him make up a list of his enemies' properties that would be vulnerable to barbarian unrest. I plan on giving them special attention when the time is right.
I was about to embark on a gold gathering mission to finance the initial steps when I got an alarming plea from help from Mother. She was obviously under some kind of attack and could not maintain the contact. I immediately trumped Rinaldo to inform him, asked him to check on the Keep while I went to Kashfa to see if the problem was there.
The palace in Kashfa was in a panic. A number of maimed bodies lay about, mostly blinded with their eyes plucked out. A commotion was coming from my mother's offices so I ran as hard as I could to get there in time to intervene.
Mother was lying on the floor in pain, obviously alive but she too had been maimed. The culprit was still present. He seemed vaguely familiar, adorned in a disgusting cape festooned with preserved eyeballs. He made a dash to the window and I followed. We fell to the ground outside and the fight began. He was obviously a shapeshifter of some sort, but was unequal to the task of holding me off. I was stronger, faster and completely determined to kill him. He realized this and tried to divert me by casting aside mother's eyes. I continued my assault unabated and with Werewindle's help dispatched him. It was Chun, the deranged wizard from Dom Daniel who had a serious eye fetish. He had somehow learned the ability to shapeshift but I had a good idea how he came by it.
I returned to the palace after killing him and searching him quickly, seizing a few items that might provide clues as to his motivation. I gathered Mother's eyes carefully, trumped her through to Lynxia for immediate treatment and contacted Rinaldo to bring him through. As soon as she was stabilized, I returned to Kashfa to put things in order.
Rinaldo had the items I collected examined. I collected the body for analysis and we soon verified that he had picked up shapeshifting from the Beast's blood. Another item he carried had been tampered with to increase his mania for eyes. It was a set up job, no doubt about it. I will need to investigate more closely. Whoever did this is going to pay dearly.
Day 87 PDS 10:30 AM:
I returned to Kashfa to trace back Chun's activities. It was not hard. At his apparent entry to Kashfa, there was an unusual energy trace, somewhat like the subspace trick my ring uses. It was apparently used to send Chun here from elsewhere. It was not disguised, a fact that was not lost on me. Someone is toying with us, or at least does not consider us a threat. I decided to seek out the source of the power by shadow walking through areas where the energy was part of the background. I eventually found myself in a tropical shadow at the edge of a pit. Jacob was there conversing with some vile creature that was bound in the pit. I explained what I was doing and we discussed the situation in some detail. Here are some observations I made:
1. The attack on mother was obviously meant to occupy Rinaldo, or at least direct his inquiries towards a certain direction.
2. The whole Sand & Delwin situation makes no sense. More on that later.
3. The particular abyssal creature that is apparently running around loose would be militarily useful to someone if it could be controlled or manipulated.
4. The creature Jacob had been conversing with claimed the person who brought him to this location had some sort of power similar to Pattern or possibly Broken Pattern. Assuming it is not lying (a huge assumption I know), it means we have a traitor or an inimical shadow wizard with a hard on for Amber.
5. There is an awful lot of evidence tying things back to Dom Daniel. This may be on purpose, but it requires further investigation.
Whoever is responsible seems to be centered on the Amber end of things. The ties to abyssal creatures implies some knowledge of the abyss as well. Could it be Father? Dierdre? Fiona? I can't believe it could be Father. He would almost certainly have made contact with Rinaldo, Mother and myself prior to now. Fiona does not strike me as the sort of person who would assault Amber from the outside. If she wished power, she would simply arrange it from within the family. Dierdre never had the reputation as a power monger and unless she had gone completely off her rocker would not attack the family. That leaves unknown family with a grievance, an outside agency wanting to overthrow the established order or possibly Sand and/or Delwin working to put themselves in power.
Why would anyone go to the not inconsiderable effort to kill Sand and Delwin, then advertise that they had done so? Could it merely have been bait to draw Zhartra in so she could be killed for some unknown grievance? Could it have been faked so that we would not seek the real Sand and Delwin, allowing them to be used or to pursue some unknown plot of their own? Could the geas of Swayville have weakened the oaths they took to the point where they could be altered to allow more freedom of interpretation? What were their oaths?
If I am an outside agency seeking to use the abyssal critter as my ace in the hole, the last thing I would want to do is draw attention to what I am doing. I would have to put the local binders out of commission, but I most definitely would do it secretly so they are not simply replaced. Planting their heads where they will be quickly found would be stupid. Unless of course you are a corrupted Sand or Delwin and want to avoid being sought. But then how do you get around your oath and actually arrange an attack on Zhartra? Could they have freed the creature and then lost control? Could the abyssal fiend be calling the shots now or acting independently?
In my opinion, the best way to eliminate some of these possibilities is to find the bodies of Sand and Delwin and verify their authenticity. If they can be eliminated as suspects, then I would concentrate on those wizards with a known penchant for power mongering. Jelorek comes to mind. He had access to the Jesby front (allowing the planting of heads), he has access to Dom Daniel/Belkin, he has affiliation with vampires, he is at least a Broken Pattern initiate and he is the sort of fellow who craves power. And most importantly I don't like him. He bugs me. I trust my instincts and they tell me he will need to be dealt with at some point. Food for thought.
In regards to Jacob's and Rinaldo's oaths and what they HAVE to do to help other Binders:
You are dedicated to not The mission but Your mission. If it's a choice between Zhartra and you, you win. (Nothing in the oath enjoins you to obey her.) Her priority depends on your view of how useful she is to your mission. She's extremely useful and Jacob's risk, in helping her when she got shot, was of nothing but time and effort, so the geas gave him little choice. You're not so sure about the 2 unmet Chaosian Binders' mission importance; you don't know what they've been up to. Even if Zhartra swore up and down that they were exemplary Binders, you'd judge for yourself. She's been wrong before; she didn't notice Swayvill going bad.
Re: Swayvill. Rinaldo, as GM spokesman, speculates that he might have been able to convince himself that since as King of Chaos he could use the Courts as a whole to support his Binder mission, preserving the Courts (and his kingship) was more important than a temporary draw-down of the Binding power. After centuries of everyone toadying to him, he might have even convinced himself that Zhartra would agree.
At times I wonder if I do not love Amber too much for my own good.
When Prince Jacob (that strange, aloof member of the Royal Family about which most know so little) approached me with the possibility of putting myself back in the good graces of the Throne, I have to admit that any suspicion I might rightly have felt was far overwhelmed by the burning sense of hope; there are many bright and wonderful kingdoms in the vast expanses of Creation -- certainly, I am even born of one -- but Amber, that Jewel above all Jewels, burned more brightly simply because I knew I could not have it, that I had been banished. Thus, even realizing that it may mean my doom to involve myself in the machinations of the those who rule that golden realm, I agreed to help the Prince.
Would that I had more sense.
Come to that, would that I had been born blind that I would not have seen what I have seen this day.
My role was that of a sacrificial lamb, staked out to speak with a thing like an elder god, the likes of which I cannot easily describe. A great and terrible creature it was, bestial in form and the size of a great castle, swarmed about by insectoid hunters the size of wagons that shown with the gleam of greasy blood. There was some peculiarly abominable quality about them which made their destruction seem almost a duty, though I knew it was far beyond my own abilities to do so. For a moment, I believed that the entire horrific entourage would wash over and destroy me (or, worse, absorb me into their hellish mass).
Something very like fright had overcome my person and I would have fled were I not held in place by the iron will of the Prince, who intended I speak with the creature. Though I knew it could not be the case, in my heart I called him coward, that he would not stand before the Thing himself. I see his plan, however -- while he might have been able to retain something of his honor in the face of such a degrading horror, he would have too been precious a prize not to devour -- I was the perfect ambassador to this Nightmare: too insignificant to destroy, with just enough of the Voice of Authority to hear out. Using me was a brilliant stratagem, and I hated him for it.
The being from outside time and sanity flapped toward me in a shocking, impossible way on membraneous wings, the odor arising from its body quite intolerable, its eyes as it looked down on me filled with a darkness almost solid in its material -- so dark it was almost a presence rather than an absence of light, obscuring brighter sources within that screamed of aeons of captivity and pain.
My thoughts and speech wandered from anything approaching coherence when it paused above me. I felt my body slump down into unconsciousness, only to be driven back to its feet by the will of the Prince, though it was not my rightful faculties that looked out again upon the scene.
It is, I should note, only reconstruction of flashes of memory and inferral that allows me to recount the following.
I was insensible within the shell of my own body -- I had no remembrance of my indentity or my past, though somehow I thought it were a poor thing to allow the creature to know. My eyes gazed strangely at the thing before me, and my facial muscles seemed altogether unfamiliar.
Even my speech seemed awkward and foreign, my vocal organs clumsy and groping, my diction curiously ill-at-ease in my mouth, as if I spoke some strangely accented derivative of Thari that I had learned solely from books. The pronunciation was alien, while the idiom seemed to include both scraps of curious archaism and expressions of a wholly incomprehensible nature.
What I spoke of to the beast I cannot recount. I know only that when the ordeal finally ended, the creature moved on in its ineffable route and I yet lived, if living you could call it. The Prince came to me and took me by unknowable paths through a hundred worlds, dulling the horrors of what I had seen with crude alchoholic concoctions -- rude but effective in their chemical composition.
We came at last to the great golden city of Amber that I love too much and my heart’s ache eased. The Prince assured me that I was once more welcome within the Realm, that he would speak on my behalf. I nodded absently as I looked over the city and he departed. It was a great kindness to be in the place that was my one true home once again.
Yet even as I looked over visual cacophony laid out before me, I remembered the stone-like solidity of the darkness within that creature’s eyes -- a darkness that now seemed to lie behind each shadow.
I wondered if I would ever see the world truly again.
I wondered if I was seeing the world truly for the first time.
The family doesn’t really need me right now other than trump making for the mirrorverse. I am one of only a few people who can make these specialized trumps. They take longer than normal trumps and I grow tired of sitting around doing nothing, but at least Diego is not around to undermine this effort. I feel oddly comforted by the fact that family secrets are staying in the family now. The more I sit here thinking about drawing more trumps the more I think there has to be a better way. I know Dwarkin’s trumps are better than mine and I want to find out why and how he did it. I begin to study his trumps. I mean really study them they seem to be identical, far too identical. I realize after looking at the clock that it has been a long day and I am weary.
Morning comes and I have decided to find the answer I need that I need to talk to Great Grandfather. This seems really simple until you realize that he is crazy and dangerous but I think it is worth the risk. I contact Flora for assistance and she tells me where he is and helps me get to him. I will just show up at this concert and if he talks to me I know it is a good day and if he ignores me I will know it is a bad day and to keep clear of him. I have no intention of pushing the situation. When the concert ends he turns around and motions me to come sit by him. Cool he is having a good day. We talk for just a bit then he trumps me to his room and looks at me, the way only family can and finds there is something in me he doesn’t understand. I explain the mirrorverse to him and he makes me show him how to use it. I do and in short order he uses the binding power on his mirror to close it. I make a note that I must remember to tell Jacob that this can be done.
Dwarkin agrees to help me in finding the secret to his trumps and how he did it. He tells me about it and then puts something in my head to help me find my place and leaves. I hope he resolves his sanity because I really care about the old guy.
It takes some time but I find my place. I am not sure how I knew it was ‘my’ place but somewhere inside I knew it was. I take some time first to draw the trump of this place. It takes my breath away to look at it. I setup things per Dwarkin’s instructions and it goes remarkably fast and why start small? I lay out the makings for a dozen trumps. I decide Golina is the best trump to do for the mirrorverse. I am tired by the end, but I do it and it feels good. I fall asleep with a smile on my face and it has been a long time since that has happened.
In the morning Dara trumps and asks if I will come with her to Chaos and help her free her hellmaids. I agree to this because I have been meaning to spend some time with her and got sidetracked last time that was the next thing on my list. It sounds fun and dangerous. I trump back to Amber to prepare for the journey and to hand out the trumps. Flora instantly recognizes that there is something different about the trumps and starts the full court press but gets distracted by something else and I assure her we will talk about it sometime in the future but I have to prepare to travel to Chaos and I need to give Hienrich time to gather his things.