The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 189 PDS 8:00 PM:
It appears peace may soon be at hand. Our attack on the Gheneshian emperor went extremely well and I am happy to report we lost no family members. I am very happy with everyone’s contribution. Everyone took part and did their jobs flawlessly. The emperor was taken on and slain by several family members shortly after their entire power channeling system collapsed. I had trumped to the mirrorverse where I slew uncounted enemy trying to flee into shadow. It did get rather intense for a while and some number of Gheneshans did slip into shadow. Overall we will be mopping up for some weeks.
There appears to be no organized counterattack from shadow forthcoming. It appears that what Gheneshans have established themselves out in shadow have no interest in further conflict with Amber. They seem to be relishing their freedom too much to rock the boat any time soon. We may have future difficulty with individuals from time to time, but our days of dreading the Moonriders appear to be over for good.
Chaos is still in chaos and no matter who emerges from their civil war as the victor, they will be too weak to pose a direct threat to us for some centuries. We seem to be getting stronger. Most surprising, our friend with the duplication machine has succeeded in creating a new body for Benedict’s spirit. He is still learning his new body and is working out everyday to try and recover his prowess. Dara and I both took the opportunity to work out with him, smacking him around while we can. Unicorn knows he will soon be too fast to defeat again. Damn it is good to have him back, even if he does look slightly different now.
I sent a note off to chaos, thanking House Helgram for making the final defeat of our enemy possible. That ought to stick in their craw. Time now for another bottle of Benedict’s best vintage.
Day 200 PDS 9:00 PM:
Mop up is over. A victory celebration took place a couple of days ago in Amber. Everyone who is anybody was there, even Queen Moire. We still do not have a monarch and it appears Gerard will hold the regency for the time being. That works for me. Bleys is enjoying himself recounting his assault on the Ghenshian emperor. Osric and Finndo have been getting their kudos as well and I think they are adjusting well. Thirteen appears to have come to terms with his mother and Sabine. Dara is enjoying her limelight and Benedict’s gratitude. She and Tori seemed to be inordinately pleased about something. A little bird told me they finished off what was left of Diego who appeared to be beyond saving. Clark has taken up the family mantle and so far I have no complaints with him. Tori still kills Gheneshans when no one is looking…she was really pissed that they almost killed her mother (who is recovering nicely). Flora is still grieving for Chumley but she will be alright in time. Galena got smacked around a bit in the mirrorverse, but we got her out OK and she is much better now. She and I spend a lot of time playing music together when circumstances allow. Jacob dropped in long enough to sample the booze but is off again wandering shadow as he prefers to do. My brother is here for a while, but he too will be returning to his binder duties before long. I gave him directions and access to father’s shadow so that between us we can keep it safe for the family.
In all the revelry, I succumbed to the charms of a notable Rebman personage who shall remain nameless here. Our affair will remain extremely discreet but for me life is good right now. I have the respect of my family and the people of Amber, a number of important friends in shadow, Rebma and Tir, and most importantly I have helped to make the realm secure. I feel that I have expunged the stain of Father’s madness and for once I don’t cringe when I hear his name in public.
What lies in my future? There is much that still needs to be done. I have gathered most of Diego’s progeny under my protection. I have the Chanicutt children to raise. I have all of my retainers, employees and allies to nurture. At some point I will likely need to think about marriage and my own offspring, but I think I can hold that off for a few decades at least. In the meantime there is much exploring I want to do, many paths to travel. A little adventure without the fate of the realm riding on my shoulders sounds like just the thing. I wonder if I can catch up to Jacob? Calvin needs a good outing and Werewindle is restless again.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 185 PDS 5:00 PM:
The assault on the tower started well enough. It took a little ward manipulation from Rinaldo, but we got inside through the upper window and proceeded to work our way downwards through the interior of the tower. I was worried about wards inside the central elevator shaft and it turned out my fear was justified. We finally set off an alarm whilst cutting our way to a lower level. All hell broke loose with defensive elementals hitting us from the walls themselves until Rinaldo was able to tie them down. The rest of us killed most of what we encountered, taking only a few prisoners before we were done. Almost to the bottom, we felt a psychic disturbance that heralded the arrival of two unusual shapeshifters. They briefly questioned us about Pandalume and explained they were relations of his and were looking for him. I had thought him dead already or trapped with Tualua, but we soon found his murdered body at the bottom. The swine who had taken over the place had fled but took just enough time to cut Pandalume’s throat. The crow-sisters were extremely pissed and I had the feeling they were in Dworkin’s league. They left to chase the culprit while the rest of us cleaned up.
I kept my word to Lirazel and allowed her to attune to this power in payment of her services. Most of the tower had collapsed above us in all the excitement, but she began to reform things and establish control. We found a handful of other interesting people frozen in cells at the bottom. Mostly ex-masters of the tower. Some may prove useful in the future, but until we know more about them they are going to stay frozen.
Day 186 PDS 10:00 AM:
With my return to Amber, we had a family meeting to plan the attack on the Moonriders. It is a simple plan…blow the shit out of their power channeling monoliths, kill the emperor and then kill as many in the mirrorverse as we can lay our hands on.
I will be called upon to open a trump gate and allow a Moonrider monolith to be toppled into it. The goal is to set up a cascading failure with the tremendous power surge through a few channels at once. Two or three other monoliths will be dropped by others (Tori and Flora). Once that is done, the shadow will be flooded with ravening hordes we bring in from various shadows. I will then be trumping to the mirrorverse to help Martin and Galena seal it. It should work.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 184 PDS 11:00 AM:
I tracked down Dara and had her summon Benedict’s ghost. I wanted to pick his brain about the enemy and what we should do. From what we have gathered, they are spreading out in shadow and targeting minor power sources. The first step seems to be to cut them off in the mirrorverse. I also decided to warn Bel about the likelihood of being targeted. I have an idea about a useful spell that may assist on some of the lower tier Gheneshans.
Day 184 PDS 6:30 PM:
I met with Bel and he has taught me a new ultraviolet light spell that should come in handy. I will be disseminating it throughout the family for the next few days. Time is likely short and I will need to get on the job against the Gheneshans as soon as I can.
Toriana has called a family meeting to discuss the situation. This should be enlightening.
Day 184 PDS 10:00 PM:
The meeting was fairly productive. Clark is providing an army to help, as are Osric and Finndo. I will be teaching the spell and preparing a force to go around and take care of minor power sources that may be targeted or under Gheneshan influence. First off will be Jelorek’s old hang outs. I will need to talk to Lirazel and see if her new adoptee can help in that regard. Zhartra would also like to meet with him….I’m not sure if to size him up for later elimination or recruit him. I trumped Mother to give her the latest information. Zhartra has agreed to help defend the Well, so I am not going to worry about that. I also trumped Ky-Tung to make sure she is not caught unawares.
Day 185 PDS 7:30 AM:
I contacted Lirazel and laid things out for her. Her continuing subtle efforts to seduce me are amusing, but we got down to business. I will have Basilisk assistance for the Ice Tower that Jelorek once used as his stronghold. The price is allowing Basilisk to move into it (with equal access by Amber when needed). We agreed and will be heading off to the place later today.
Day 185 PDS 10:30 AM:
I have discovered that Renaldo is already casing the tower. I trumped him with the intention of filling him in, but he is already on the job. I brought my new squire Calvin Channicutt along to give him a first lesson in how civilized people tackle a problem. It will be good for him to get a little exercise and excitement as well. Renaldo tells me one of Jelorek’s old lackeys, a fellow named Rennick is in charge of the tower at the moment. He seems unwilling to negotiate as has a plethora of nasty creatures guarding the base, so we will assault the place with a mix of Basilisk, Amber rangers and Weirs. Entry seems to be most favorable through a window high up in the tower. Vrykos should prove very able for this job and he or Lirazel will be trumping us up very soon.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 179 PDS 5:00 PM:
We got “Lucy” the garou cleaned up, dressed properly and established with Valeri. A disturbing sidenote…our shapeshifter sniffers seem unable to sense anything from her even though she has shifted in my presence. Most troubling. I have an appointment with Sir John in a while to discuss the matter and a couple other things on my mind.
Day 179 PDS 6:30 PM:
I met with Sir John in the sauna to discuss things. He was a bit beat up from being caught in a riot in Kashfa. The fact that Sir John thought it necessary to check up on Kashfa in person while so many other things are going on is a bit troubling to me. He would not be there unless he had information of some import about the goings on there. I will need to keep half an eye on mother it appears. Sir John is subtle…this is his way of telling me I need to watch things there more closely. I will do so when time permits.
I gave him all I knew about Lucy and what I had done about the situation. He recommends having Tanitheel check into it. Lirazel and her status in Amber came up. We more or less agreed to grant her freedom in hopes of maintaining some semblance of good relations with Basilisk.
Our final topic was Clark and the mess that is Vulnavia. Clark seems to have made a sufficiently positive impression that he will be allowed into the family. He seems anxious and willing to take up the job Diego made such a bungle of, i.e. “scientist of Amber”. I hope he has more success.
Day 180 PDS 8:00 AM:
I have begun the process of moving a training legion of Remans to my father’s shadow to rebuild. They have started in on general construction and I am bringing in more advanced specialists to construct steam catapults to guard my shoreline. Times are busy here. The Emperor’s people are sending out a peace feeler whom I intend to receive on the morrow. Tents have been erected to receive them, though I shall not put in a personal appearance. Let the fuckers sweat a little bit.
Soon I will need to check up on the Chanicutt brats as well. Hopefully Moire has them well in hand by now.
Day 181 PDS 7:30 AM:
The envoy from the emperor arrived yesterday and explained away the “misunderstanding”. The emperor hopes to avoid future conflict. As the price for my agreement, I have demanded five hundred peasants to farm my lands. It was agreed. They have already begun arriving, seized from the nearest villages no doubt. I’ll weed out the spies and put them to work building up some semblance of a society around here.
Day 181 PDS 6:30 PM:
I only found three spies. I executed one, turned the other two and have set up a program of disinformation as required. I have made the traditional offers of land to retiring Remans so they should be motivated for a while.
I trumped Mom to ask about the riots in Kashfa. Apparently it is in vogue amongst some of the younger rabble rousers to stir up trouble now and then. I have the feeling they are being used as tools by an outside agency. It will require some subtle investigation. Perhaps I shall have Mr. X go back to school as it were and try and infiltrate the royalist network to see who is really behind it.
In the meantime I offered to take a few of the more troublesome people underwing for political re-education. She is thinking about it. Speaking of re-education, I’m off to Rebma to follow up on the brats.
Day 182 PDS 9:00 AM:
Moire’s people are at their wit’s end. The little shits are completely out of control. The oldest one, Calvin, seems to be presenting a bad role model for the younger ones. I have had them all drugged and have imposed upon Bleys for temporary cells in Avernus to hold them until I can make alternate arrangements. It was apparent to me that the Rebmans were approaching the matter from a standpoint just too alien for the little bastards to adjust. I have decided to take a more gradual approach, one that has more resonance with their prior upbringing. I have decided to separate the three from each other, utilize a couple tricks to break their resistance to new ideas and just plain establish my superiority to the oldest one. When he wakes up, I am hauling his ass out into shadow and setting the stage.
Day 182 PDS 12:30 PM:
I took Calvin out into the countryside, just he and I alone. I tossed him a sword and bade him kill me and escape. He made a game effort. When he was exhausted, I explained to him that I felt obligated to undertake his training as a young noble of House Chanicutt. First order of business was that he would swear upon the honor of his house to serve faithfully as my squire. I needed to make sure it was witnessed, so I contacted Lirazel and brought her through to record the proceeding. She gleefully did so, and gave me a bit of disturbing news (in return for a trump of course). Enemies hitherto unknown have discovered the mirrorverse and were spreading out through it. They are shapeshifters but do not appear to be any known chaosian house.
Galena will need to be informed. Just when things seemed to be quieting down, more problems come up. Damn. I hope to hell it’s not the Moonriders.
Anyway, I thanked Lirazel for the info and made official her release from parole. Once I had done that, she prodded me for my position on the fate of the vampire Vyrkos. He was the one that shot Gerard under the control of Jelorak, but then broke free of control and slew his master. I don’t feel the need to mess with him, and I relayed that opinion to Lirazel. She was relieved, as Vyrkos was being offered adoption into House Basilisk. I am not sure how I feel about that, but I gave no concerns away.
Day 183 PDS 9:00AM:
I got hold of a very tired Galena. She was in the process of learning some Pattern technique that Lewella uses to travel through shadow extremely quickly. I gave her the rundown of what I had learned and she is returning to Amber. We discussed her interactions with the Unicorn and Dworkin. She seems to be tapped as the favored disciple in some way. Good. She is the only person I would trust not to be corrupted with the knowledge. Her recollections have been confused, so I advised her to jot down her thoughts and memories in a journal while they are still fresh. I hope to meet with her on the morrow and formulate a plan to deal with the mirrorverse interlopers.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 177 PDS 2:00 PM:
More worries have cropped up. Today I was checking in with Flora to find out how the new uncles were behaving when something happened in Amber. Flora pulled me through and we investigated a massive magical disturbance. It originated from a ship out in the bay which we could see was in the process of dissolving. Further investigation revealed our Helgram prisoners are all dead, slain by unknown means. Flora is contacting everyone to spread the good news. I am going to sail out and check the ship debris for clues.
Day 177 PDS 4:00 PM:
From what we can tell, a mass of coins were burned off and focused with a minor power to penetrate the castle wards. It seemed to act as a carrier wave, transmitting some sort of signal that killed the prisoners. Thirteen is looking into it in more detail….I need to go to my banquet or risk pissing off Admiral Chang-Ho.
Day 177 PDS 10:00 PM:
Just when things seemed to be going well outside Amber, some asshole mucks things up. In hindsight I should have been less effective in sacking the city. I seem to have alarmed my erstwhile allies to the point where they did something foolish.
I attended the banquet with a tiger and mage in tow. Things started well enough but as the evening progressed I sensed some anticipation on the part of my hosts. The banquet room seemed suspiciously well guarded as well but I put it down to thoroughness in security. Then I detected the poison in my wine cup. Observing my hosts, it was apparent that several of the top people were attempting to get rid of me. I covertly pulled out my trump, warned my attendants and got the hell out of there. Both my spellslinger and tiger were wounded by crossbows before we all got out. I have attended to both and they should recover. It’s time to teach these cretins what it means to cross me.
Day 178 PDS 11:00AM:
I watched from the mirrorverse as the city stirred in search of me. Chang-Ho and company retreated to his flagship under heavy guard. I notice everyone is giving the palace wide berth. Fine. This calls for more personal attention than a military action anyway. I have good mental imprints of the key players and its time I educated them in the use of trumps. I think Tori might come in handy here.
Day 178 PDS 5:00 PM:
I am going to need to take a very hot bath tonight. I had no difficulty recruiting Tori who seems to be tight with Dara these days. They both were more than happy to come help kill a few traitors. Dara even brought a nice strikeforce of hellmaids to help. We made a few trumps in her artistic shadow, then I trumped the General, taking over his body for a while. I used him to kill much of the general staff, one by one, stacking the bodies in his cabin like so much cordwood. The others finally caught on, so I released him just as they shot him down like a dog. I had Tori do the same to the Admiral, and we proceeded to trump in the hellmaids for a little shipboard action. We trashed the place. As other ships approached to counterattack, I had a little magical theatrics cast to make me appear like a manifestation of one of their demons from folklore. Hopefully the demon won’t mind…I think I did him proud. I killed the Admiral in view of his fleet in particularly gruesome fashion and then we left. I feel tainted somewhat, but I’ll get over it. Hopefully the next bozo the Emperor sends will show a little more fidelity to our agreement.
Day 179 PDS 11:30 AM:
I got a panic trump from my old friend Valeri. He was convinced he was being stalked and wanted my help. I returned to Amber, invited him to my manor and watched. Sure enough, a scruffy looking woman followed and was watching from just outside my security perimeter. I had the brownies keep an eye, and I trumped Thirteen who surprisingly was in the sewers dealing with some menace. He allowed me to use Kirsten and Genevieve to ambush the lurker. The woman proved tougher than expected but when I showed up was willing to talk. She is a garou, sent by the beast to learn more about Valeri. Apparently he impressed the Beast when Jacob used him as an intermediary. The Beast wanted to find out the nature of mortal courage and the garou was to observe Valeri to report. Since she was made, I suggested that she might as well accompany Valeri since his normal behavior was already compromised. Seeing the sense in not angering the Beast, she agreed. She was filthy, so we had her washed and clothed a little more appropriately. I think Valeri will be busy with her for some time to come.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 170 PDS 2:00 PM:
We have reached the seas just off of the pirate port where Osric and Finndo look to be massing their force. With the remaining hours of sunlight I hope to parley with one or the other. Our ship has run up my colors, though they will mean nothing to my uncles. It occurs to me that backup may be wise so I will pull in Dara.
Day 170 PDS 4:00 PM:
Osric agreed to meet with me on a neutral boat. We rowed out and with a bit of time, I was able to demonstrate that I was indeed of the blood. I believe I have successfully explained the state of affairs in Amber and Osric is willing to come to Amber to observe it from a distance with suitable precautions and a hostage. We shall see just how reasonable they can be.
Day 171 PDS 9:00 AM:
Things went far better than I had planned. Dara summoned the spirit of Benedict and with his help Osric and Finndo were slowly convinced of things. Today we are taking them around to make the introductions to the remainder of the family. The two will have some culture changes to get used to but they seem to be suitably impressed by Gerard and Bleys. With luck, they will not press their claims for some time to come. Part of establishing the pecking order seemed to be sparring in the practice room. Both uncles would likely defeat me in a long man to man fight from what I can determine, though neither would come away unscathed. I shall have to redouble my training to maintain parity with them if I can. It would help if several of us earned their respect to keep them in line and martial prowess seems to be the key to their respect.
I shall have to return to Father’s shadow soon to check on the progress of my overtures to the Emperor’s forces. I have sent ahead an emissary bearing gifts and a proposal. We shall see what happens.
Day 173 PDS 11:00AM:
My initial contacts seem to have gone well. I am meeting with the Admiral of the Emperor’s Divine Fleet later this evening. Indications are he is interested in what I have to offer but trusts me not a whit. Further abasement will likely be needed and I hope my pride does not get in the way of what needs to be done.
Day 174 PDS 9:00 AM:
Negotiations appear to be successful. I have undertaken the task of removing the local warlord from control of a nearby city as a show of my desire to serve the Emperor. It will prove a nice diversion for the Remans who have been getting a tad bored of late. A jaunt through the mirrorverse ought to be just what the doctor ordered. I plan to strike tonight.
Day 174 PDS 11:30 PM:
The collapse and sacking of the city is well underway. My mid day tomorrow it should be open for the arrival of the Admiral’s forces. I am allowing the Remans to sack the palace and a moderate part of the city. The raping and killing has been kept within reason so far. I hope I can keep things under some degree of control.
Day 175 PDS 11:00 AM:
The Admiral Chang-Ho was flabbergasted at the speed of my conquest. I have kept him in the dark as to how I accomplished it. The Imperial troops are moving in to take over from my Remans. I will need to arrange for the Remans to slip out as quickly and quietly as possible. I want there to be a certain degree of fear in the minds of my erstwhile allies so that there are no future “misunderstandings”. He does seem pleased with the result and I expect to make the fountain available to him soon to purchase his loyalty. In the meantime, I want to reward a few of my current allies with some rejuvenation. Bono, Eugen, Dad’s wizards and the tigers all take precedence.
Day 176 PDS 2:30 PM:
After making the rounds, I have managed to rejuvenate Bono & family, Eugen, my palace staff and all the tigers. The tigers were especially pleased and in the worst need of it. I will also be importing some more supplies to rebuild the support base around the palace. I suppose some of those taken in the city sacking may be useful as serfs, though I doubt their loyalty would suffice. I will likely need to import my subjects from elsewhere.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 166 PDS 3:00 PM:
I am taking steps to avoid future difficulties with the local warlord. It appears that if I make a deal involving access to a source of longevity, I can reconstitute the arrangements Dad had with the locals. I chose a gift amongst the various items lying about and sent Mr.X and an escort of tigers to approach the Empire. Hopefully something amicable can be arranged with the Emperor himself to re-annex the local region.
I also arranged for a large number of cattle to be trumped in to feed the tigers and staff for a while until I can rebuild a self sufficient economy hereabouts. Morale needs to be improved and the whole situation reversed to one of growth rather than decay.
Day 167 PDS 11:00 AM:
I did some more research into how shadow has changed. I think I have located some of the old shadow paths and can rebuild them. I need to establish a new one to the fountain of youth to keep my people happy and also to check on Osric and Finndo. I have an idea of the region they may be trapped in.
Day 168 PDS 1:00 PM:
The meeting with the Admiral of the Empire seems to have gone well. Of much more concern is the fact that I found the shadow where Osric and Finndo had been imprisoned. It was a mess and obviously had spilled it?s contents some weeks ago. Time to alert the family that we have two possibly disruptive relatives on the loose. I trumped Thirteen for help in tracking them and we are well on the way to finding them. I also need to report to Flora and Bleys. Probably Toriana too.
Day 168 PDS 4:00 PM:
Everyone who needs to know now does. Toriana and Dara had quite the surprise for me. It seems that Benedict?s ghost is flittering about keeping an eye on us. He has no Pattern abilities anymore, but can manipulate the transformation energy now. I suspect other peculiarities as well, but for now at least we have access to his advice if not his blade. When he arrived, I asked if he wished to remain as he is or if he would like us to reconstitute a body for him. With the duplication lab going, perhaps we can construct a new body of sorts. Worth investigating.
Benedict gave us the lowdown on what to expect from Osric and Finndo. They are much closer in temperment to Corwin or Bleys it seems than the rest of us. I expect strong ego?s and impulsive behavior. We are going to have to make sure they respect our strength if we are going to get anywhere with them. I spoke at length with Flora about this. Hopefully she can make a positive impression without having to knock them around too much. They appear to be working towards the overthrow of Oberon and may be gathering a fleet as I write this. Time is short.
Day 169 PDS 1:00 PM:
While I was conferring with other family about the whole situation, Thirteen , Sabine and Kirsten had tracked the uncles to a pirates hold and had tried to bluff their way through. They seem to have made a bad impression on the locals. As I trumped in, a rather violent altercation was in progress on a ship. We commandeered one and sailed off with a zombie crew far enough to rendevouz with Ky-Tung whom I trumped in via gate. Her ship is much better than the local stuff and we are now sailing towards the marshalling area of the uncles. This will be interesting.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 149 PDS (Amber Time) 3:00 PM:
The barbarian raids continue to be successful and I have gathered a substantial number of tribes anxious to get in on the glory. I have coordinated with Sullus and have chosen a target for the grand finale. I have arranged for a substantial amount of alcohol to be present in the town when the barbarians attack. By the following morning they should be ripe for slaughter.
Day 152 PDS (Amber Time) 11:00 AM:
The smoking remnants of the town are literally carpeted in the mangled bodies of the raiders. Outside, Sullus and his legions are gathering spoils and preparing to occupy and conquer the nearest tribal lands. A few days ago I had to kill a challenger to my position with the tribes. Once I did that, all resistance to my manipulations ceased and I was hailed as a descendant of some local diety. I led the attacking force to sack the town, then trumped away to join Sullus when the legions arrived. The battle was very one sided and Sullus should be cemented into his position for a while. We are arranging a tribute for him upon his return to Remia. In return, I will be taking the first legion to Amber for training within a month. Sullus is happy, I have a steady source of excellent troops and all seems well. I have kept occasional touch with Amber and have calibrated local time to be about twice as fast as Amber while I am here
Day 160 PDS (Amber Time) 8:00 PM:
I took over the leadership of XII Legio and have begun the process of shadowwalking to Amber with them in tow. It will take a bit of time acclimatizing them to the true nature of reality but the process is begun. I have arranged for a combination of Royal Guardsmen, Jacob’s Remians and rangers to set up a training regimen. Once they are satisfactorily trained I will make sure to find a minor skirmish to test them, arrange for some lucrative looting and return them to Remia to collect the next batch.
Day 163 PDS (Amber Time) 9:30AM:
Upon my return to Amber and getting the Remians settled into training quarters, I learned that Toriana and Dara have returned from the mirror realm where they claim to have found the remains of Diego. Their story is that he was slain by Geisels. I am skeptical but will hold my tongue. I can’t help but remember Tori’s recent proposal that we hunt him down and tap him for Amberite blood to make artifacts. I will need to contact Sorack and make sure she is looked after. I may need to round up all the other concubines and make sure any of Diego’s offspring they are carrying are under my protection. It would not do to have them whisked away by chaosians or slain by others with a grudge. Better I see to their welfare I think.
Day 164 PDS 2:30PM:
I met with Sorack. She seemed unsure how to react to the news. I let her know I would make sure she was protected regardless of events.
Toriana and Dara have been tasked by Flora to arrange the memorial. They are using some of Diego’s own décor to construct the monument, though they have contracted the job to the lowest bidder. I anticipate an eyesore and I am sure that is their intent.
Galina is somewhat recovering from her week long sojourn with the Unicorn. When she has had sufficient time to collect her thoughts, I will sit her down for the story.
I have not seen Jacob or Thirteen for a while. Dara and Toriana seem to have gotten thick with each other and are often in each other’s company these days. I have not heard much on Gerard’s progress, but I presume no news is good news.
Day 165 PDS 7:30PM:
I sought out my father’s shadow to get away from the memorial preparations for a while. I brought Mr.X and a handful of my samurai. I found a somewhat desolate area surrounding a palace, patrolled by the dreaded tigers and manned by a few of my father’s servants. I took possession after proving my pedigree by drawing Werewindle. What I found inside is very interesting and will require careful study over the coming months. First, I need to secure the place as some of the local warlords are getting pushy and may need to be driven off before long.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 99 PDS 3:00 PM:
I woke up this morning (alone thank goodness) having been put to bed by the Rebman servants. I made a cursory check of my gear. Werewindle let me know Moire was examining him visually for quite a while, but did nothing out of order. My head hurts a little, but activity should clear that up. I hate relying on drugs or magic to clear my head. I figure if there is no pain involved, you did not really drink enough. I have an appointment in Belkin today, so I had better get moving.
Day 100 PDS 11:00 AM:
My business in Belkin is done. I now need to attend to my official duties and see to Avalon and Arden. I hope Benedict’s men are receptive to Amber oversight. I really don’t want any unnecessary complications right now. I have too much to do to get the Amber army back into some semblance of order. I will need to visit each noble house to get an accounting of what men at arms they are willing to admit to in the event of an emergency. I need to make sure we cover glaring deficiencies (flying creatures comes to mind). I need to keep Bleys’ grubby mitts out of my command structure if possible and I need to make sure Flora gives me enough room to operate effectively. Micromanaging is the last thing I need. She does not seem to be the type, but time will tell.
Day 100 PDS 8:00 PM:
I met with the generals in Avalon. I think we can work together effectively as they exhibit the same no nonsense efficiency I have come to identify with Benedict. I inquired if they had established control over the major sources of the gunpowder. I am assured they are quietly exerting control over a handful of other newly discovered deposits. I will need to monitor that. I want to make sure we cover every base possible to avoid enemies getting their hands on the stuff. I may need to eventually take up residence there myself, but for now Benedict’s men will have to do. I have undertaken to make them a number of trump sketches to assist in their communications.
Arden is slowly recovering. I checked into the hellhound population and learned they are mostly dispersed since no one effectively controls them. They may become another long term project. I would like to reconstitute the pack if we can somehow control them. The tigers are still a slight problem, but most of the really stupid ones are dead now or relocated to Ruin.
Day 101 PDS 11:30 AM:
Toriana contacted me via trump to ask for backup on something she was investigating. It turns out Jelorak had an alleged descendant also in the Brotherhood. His name is Turjan and he seems to have a reputation as a creator of magical creatures. Something similar to what Diego was doing, though based more on magic than shapeshifting. Tori pulled me through the contact into a castle. We sought out a servant to show us to Turjan. He was afflicted with frogginess and was forcibly restrained in his bed. His beautiful companion consented in allowing us to cure him without hindrance after we informed her of our pedigree. A fine loyal woman. In the event, the cure was not overly difficult with both Tori and I participating. He was suitably grateful. Tori and I looked at each other and made an unspoken decision to recruit him ourselves. I did most of the talking. He agreed readily, though for a moment he was concerned when Tori insisted he move to a different locale.
I guess my next task is to find a good place to install our new mage. His talents may come in useful when we need specialty creatures or troops.
Day 104 PDS 12:00PM:
The search for a suitable shadow took some time. We wanted a place off the beaten path, high magic with a faster time flow than Amber. We found Yari. I have identified a stronghold that we will seize. The current occupant is something of a scumbag and is reviled by most folks in the area. I will assault the place using the mirrorverse to gain entry and try to keep it as bloodless as possible. My experience in Perzia should prove useful for this. I figure a couple dozen samurai should do the trick.
Day 108 PDS 8:45PM:
It took a while to locate the proper mirrors and a while longer to acclimatize my samurai to the mirrorverse. We managed to take the place quickly and are now in control. The former occupant’s body was passed down to the village where I understand they have hung it from a pole by meathooks. The fall of a despot is never pretty. Tori is bringing Turjan and his gear through via a trump gate. His companion and a handful of serving creatures are coming as well. I have decided to assign Sinon here as well to assist and will keep at least ten samurai posted here to assist with more mundane problems that might arise. A number of interesting magical devices meant to influence the local mages council were confiscated. I allowed one to be kept by Turjan for study. The rest I have moved to my warehouse in Amber until I can find a better place for them. I intend to study them myself and keep them on tap for use if the local chapter of mages gets unruly. Speaking of…I shall need to pay them a visit tomorrow and make sure they understand the new reality.
Day 110 PDS 5:00PM:
The mages had to dick with me a little, so I exhibited just enough power to earn their respect if not their fear. If they continue to get cute, I will make an example of one or two and make it look like Turjan did it. I have decided that any time more than three wizards get together, the collective scum factor goes up exponentially as they try to gain an edge over each other. It kind of reminds me of our family in older days. I will have to stick around a couple more days to solidify control of the area, but it is about time to see to my plans in Remia.
Day 112 PDS 7:30PM:
Tomorrow I head out to Remia again. Today I took a brief respite and accepted an invitation from Flora to spar with Galina and herself. It was fun. Normally I would disdain wrestling around with a woman, but if you are going to do it you can’t complain about doing it with Flora (or Galina). I worked them with swords (neither proved to be a match for me, though together they got me pretty good) and then they worked me with chairs, lamps, etc. I call it chair-fu, Flora calls it advanced social skills. How to kick someone’s ass with a dinner setting, no weapons allowed. As I said, fun though of dubious value to myself.
Afterwards I invited Galina to the music room. She joined me there after getting a rubdown and we spent the afternoon playing music. Very relaxing. She asked me about the whole blood artifact business. I let her know that I am not particularly interested in shedding my bodily fluids, especially given my lack of magical knowledge. Werewindle is enough for me. I expect to be gone a while, so I have given instructions to the brownies, Nellie in Rebma and Mr. X to keep them profitably busy during my absence.
Day 114 PDS 10:00AM:
Sullus was pleased that I was willing to have him slow down his efforts a bit. He truly fears me and was perhaps pushing things along a little faster than needed. I explained that a thorough and careful job would please me more, so he is adjusting his plans accordingly. In the meantime, I have gathered the swanmays and will be heading up country to begin the process of stirring up trouble. I have adjusted my appearance, started growing a beard and should easily pass for a barbarian in a couple weeks. My entries in this journal will likely be sparse for a while. It would not do to be seen writing where I am going.
Day 128 PDS Noonish:
I made contact with what appears to be a suitable tribe. I bribed my way into their councils and have started filling their ears with tales of loot just waiting to be plucked from the northern provinces. Some of the graybeards have had their asses kicked by the Remans before and are skeptical. The youngbloods are more than willing to believe me. A little gold spread here and there should swing the council to my whim.
I had to say the swanmays were my wives. It has caused a couple awkward moments in the communal house, but so far we have been able to fake amorous relations. Not that I would mind giving them the business for real, it is just that it is a bad idea to fraternize with one’s subordinates to that degree. It leads to discipline problems I want to avoid. I let them know it would be OK with me if they released their tensions discretely with the locals as long as they don’t get overly attached. I certainly intend to lie with a number of local women. To do otherwise would raise suspicion. The things I do for Amber!
Day 134 PDS Morning:
The fires from last night are still lighting the sky as the sun rises. With a force of about three hundred tribesmen, we sacked a small Reman town belonging to Sullus’ chief rival Mortus. I feel regret at the loss of life, all for the sake of political gain but I am resolved to finish the plan. The tribemen are ecstatic at our success and are now bickering a bit amongst themselves over the spoils. It will be extremely difficult to exert any sort of martial control over these people. I will have to satisfy myself with this crude club of an army where I would prefer a fine rapier. Oh well, it will make Sullus’ eventual victory even easier if I encourage this loss of discipline.
Day 145 PDS Evening:
More and more tribes are joining the horde. We will soon be ready for larger targets and more serious damage. Another month and I will be ready to set the stage for Sullus’ ascendance to the consulship and the climactic battle. God will I be glad to get out of these smelly furs and into something resembling civilized clothing.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 95 PDS 8:00 AM:
I really feel like crap this morning. I can tell I am going to have to go detox somewhere safe for a while. Lynxia is out, too many damned frogs still unaccounted for. There is some concern about Baden-Baden, so I think I will avoid that place as well. Perhaps Inakhos will do. I need to check up on the household anyway, it might as well be now.
Flora has trumped me asking me to meet with her at the Grove. I have a pretty good idea what she wants to discuss. Bleys. My head hurts already just thinking about it.
Day 95 PDS 10:00AM:
Flora is looking pretty rough today too, but she cheered up considerably when I promised to back her for the regency. For now at least she is the best choice. We talked about Bleys and are going to offer him the Admiralty. I will likely be given charge of the army since I have experience now and am apparently in high regard with the troops. We discussed getting Mirelle back into the official family and I said I would try and get Thirteen to ask her to return. That may be a trick in and of itself, but I am counting on Thirteen's logical turn of mind to recognize the necessity. I am sure he will not be enthusiastic about it, but he does what he thinks is the best for Amber as far as I can see. I informed her of my offer to Moire to help oversee the Chanicutt captives and she had no issue with that. Lastly I asked her about the possibility of getting Great Grandmother Amalthea into a active role. She was uncertain about how to proceed, but the thought bears investigation.
Day 97 PDS 2:30PM:
I gathered a few brownies to watch over me and collapsed into my bed in Inakhos a couple days ago. I have been expunging heavy metals and other toxins from my system since then. It has been no fun at all. Boris has become enamored with my brownies after his initial shock and has devised a scheme to use them in some minor thefts in the area. Not really something I want to be part of, but if it keeps my brownies and him happy, so be it.
I returned to Amber to report for duty this morning. Bleys accepted Flora's proposal and she is now regent. She asked me to take the troops out in Arden under my charge and find out what needs to be done. It is busy work, no doubt to keep me from mischief while she gets things under control, but I am happy for the job. The rangers are reporting some problems with local intelligent tigers, so I have decided to cull a few out. I am moving some of the excess troops to Ruin until I can arrange a garrison shadow in a more amenable location. Dara's hellmaids seem to be restless, so I am using a few of them to solve the tiger issue.
The hellmaids seem determined to make a sexual snack of me, so I ran them hard to reduce their desire. It would not do to fraternize with the troops in the way they wish. Certainly I would not be able to command any respect from them if they continue to think of me as a sex toy. The end result was a very tired group of hellmaids with one careless example in the infirmary. I suspect they will not attempt to seduce me any time soon now. Good thing too, as the constant attention was beginning to get distracting. I resolved to release my tension with a trip to visit Ky-Tung as soon as possible.
Day 97 PDS 6:30PM:
A visit to the giant shadow to see Ky and Azvan was interesting. Ky was enthusiastic about turning the place into a resort of some sort. I offered to make a solid shadowpath and give a license to her family to exploit it. She accepted of course. I would personally be more interested in the place as a source of new toxins and foodstuffs than recreation. Some of the nastier insects could prove useful. In any case, I succeeded in reducing my tension and filled them in on recent events. Before it gets too dark here, I need to get back to Amber and see to arrangements for my other duties in Rebma with the Chanicutt brats.
Day 98 PDS 8:00PM:
My mind is really not on the days events, but I want to jot a few down before I get too drunk to hold my pen.
I set up Nellie in my Rebman manor to act as my agent here when I am away. She was amenable to the duty and should do a good job. She wants the inside story on the brats of course. The brats themselves are going to be a challenge. I met with the Queen and we discussed the matter in some detail. We laid out objectives and a simple plan before we got the terrible news from Llewella.
Benedict is dead.
The effort undertaken to reconstitute him failed to preserve his life. Moire brought forth the finest vintage from Benedict's vineyards and we gathered what family were in Rebma to drink to his memory. I am unsure of the details of what went wrong and why. I can't help but feel I should have stepped forward to make sure the effort was made properly. It was Dara's right, but her impatience is well known and a delicate operation of that sort needs some patience.
As I drink with the Royal Family of Rebma and my relations, I have resolved to compose a lament dedicated to my uncle. Amber will never be so blessed again and our loss is crushing.
Day 98 or 99 PDS, No Fucking Clue about the time.
Lament for Benedict
Child of Barimen, who once was
Defender of hope and our just cause.
Where are you now, our bastion of right?
Felled by the evil of the Abyssal night.
What fell fate layed it's hand upon thee?
To result in our sorrow for what now will be.
Our protector for ages, none could stand before you.
Not warlords or mages, even our fears you could subdue.
Now we are laid bare, our great armor is gone.
Our great flame has gone out from what Tualua has done.
Where roams your great spirit, we may never know.
Nevermore shall we sit and bask in your glow.
Too drunk to continue for now. I should ask Corwyn for the tonalities. I wonder if he knows yet? Where the fuck are my trumps?
To His Highness, Prince Fineas of Amber,
I was distressed to learn of the vile attack on your mother. Please convey my sympathy to Queen Jasra. She is welcome to use the royal hospital in Rebma as my guest should Lynxia be compromised.
After much reflection I have decided to use the Chanicut brats as you recommend. Princess Llewella and Count Taran urged me to do much the same. Honor and practicality outweigh the strict enforcement of certain declarations made just after discovering what had been done to my sister.
I accept with pleasure your offer of help in educating the spawn of Chaos. This should consist primarily of making clear to them the might of Amber and the strength of our alliance. You might endeavor to help them grasp the difference between “subject” and “livestock”. Thus far they’ve only managed to learn that damaging my subjects – my property, in their view – will earn them pain.
Grieving for your uncle,
I have thought upon your words spoken over the quivering mass of Tualua and have decided to offer you my counsel, as impertinent as that may seem. I only ask that you hear me out and think upon what I say.
I could sense your desire to step up and prove your worthiness to rule Amber. Of those who are left I have little doubt you are the most fit to rule the realm. I must ask you to wait as now is not the time for you to take up that duty. Memories are too fresh amongst the noble houses and commoners of the losses they incurred during your past assault upon Eric. You have not yet been forgiven and any move to take up the regency on your part will result in immediate dissension within the realm. You would be seen as a usurper, even though you are the logical choice for the regency. House Helgram, who is known to have an active agent here, would immediately seize upon that emotion and we would see no end to the troubles.
My advice is to make an arrangement with Flora. Allow her to take up the regency again with your backing. In return, ask that she designate you Lord Marshall and we can begin the work to rehabilitate your support within Amber. Visible service to the greater good of Amber will go further than anything else to win hearts and minds. This will not be a quick fix. It will take some time and careful manipulation of some key personalities who currently hold a grudge against you. But it is absolutely necessary if you are ever to sit on the throne in anything resembling a unified realm.
Likely Flora will turn over the regency to Gerard upon his recovery. Your unselfish support to Flora would impress Gerard the most I think and he is looking for any excuse to turn over the reigns of power to someone else. Prove yourself to him now, and I have no doubt he will tap you as the regent as soon as public opinion will allow it. A smooth transition of power is critical to our long term survival. We have too few family left to lose in more infighting.
Should you take my advice to heart and wish to discuss particulars or request assistance in any arrangements to be made, I am at your service.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 93 7:00 AM:
The plan is to make our attack on Pandalume’s shadow sometime tomorrow. A number of preparations are under way. Several of the family are constructing Amber blood-iron artifacts to use on Tualua. My job will to be to see what assistance can be gleaned from Bel or the Bright Lady. Flora and Sabine will be accompanying me.
As far as our plan goes, we have decided to Pattern teleport in with several hit teams while yours truly raises a stink with Toriana to draw away attention. Werewindle makes me an obvious target, so my role will primarily be that of a goat staked out to sacrifice.
I suggested we plant a mirror in the shadow as well and allow Galena to activate it and create a path to Amber. It won’t be done in time for an attack, but it will serve as an escape route if necessary. Anything we can do to avoid exposure to the deep subspace region is helpful.
I have contacted Mother and asked her to be prepared to channel a lot of energy my way. Werewindle is still drained and needs a recharge as well, but first thing is first.
Day 93 11:00 AM:
Bel proved quite anxious to be of assistance. He has imbued Flora and myself with the magical ability to teleport at will for a limited time. That should help keep me alive. He also arranged a meeting with a thief diety who is also looking for some payback. Benedict and Rinaldo have been imbued with super stealth power, also for a limited time. Werewindle was recharged courtesy of Bel and I am more or less ready to hurl myself into the fray.
Toriana approached me with a disturbing proposition and a welcome bit of news. She asked if I would be willing to help track down Diego and drain some of his blood for use in artifacts. She did not mean ask for a willing contribution either. I declined of course. I do not have any desire to make an implacable enemy of Diego, he does not really deserve to be treated in such a manner, and from a practical standpoint there just isn’t time. The news was she had successfully sabotaged Jelorek’s staff and he would not have it for our impending encounter. I was very pleased with Tori at that point.
Rhonda and Marcus have agreed to allow the use of the Tir jewel to bind Tualua should we succeed, as has Queen Moire with the Rebman jewel. With our jewel added, we hope to make a stronger binding than would otherwise be the case.
Day 93 6:30 PM:
The order of battle has been determined. Toriana and I will make one team and Flora with Bleys will make a second decoy team. The main hit team will be Benedict and Rinaldo who will go in first. Thirteen and Jacob will follow with the same goal. Dara, Martin and Galena make up another. That will leave Gerard, Mirelle and Llewella to guard the home fires if necessary.
I went to check on Petra, Phaedra and Sinon in the event I could use a little illusion ability. Petra and Phaedra have turned froggy and are at large. I took a very worried Sinon under my patronage and have sent him to report to Chango to learn the ropes. I am leaving Mr. X and Nellie to watch over my estate in my absence. I plan to get a good nights rest tonight. I think tomorrow is going to be very trying.
Day 94 8:45PM:
In retrospect, I don’t think we could really have done anything much differently. Benedict and Rinaldo successfully slipped into enemy territory undetected. Half an hour later Thirteen and Jacob slipped in under cover of the noisier trump entry Tori and I made. It did not take long for the enemy to react. Tualua himself started spewing his noxious stream of transformation power at Tori and I. While Tori created the appearance of opening a trump gate, I tried to keep the crap off us. Unbeknownst to us, Jelorak and company decided to make their attack on Amber while we were tied up with TuaLua.
A false Semirama and Jelorak were quickly killed, but Tualua proved a handful. Partway into the battle, Tori got an alarm trump from Kelamon letting us know an assault was underway against Amber castle by the real Jelorak and Semirama. Tori quickly trumped back to help. I needed to stay to use Werewindle on the big ugly thing.
The cost to us was very high. Benedict was caught in a last gasp desperation blast of transformative power from Tualua. He turned into a crystalline substance and was shattered into many pieces. We subdued Tualua shortly thereafter. I was positively covered in gore from stabbing Werewindle in up to the hilt. As advertised, the damned thing just would not die. It finally grew weak enough that the binders could get to work. We pulled in Moire and Rhonda and got to work as soon as Jacob and Moire finished arguing. We gathered up Benedict’s pieces in case some sort of recovery is possible, then bound the creature as planned.
I returned to Amber posthaste once I was no longer needed with Tualua. The news there was grim as well, but we proved victorious in the end. Tori was able to engage in mental combat with Jelorak at an in opportune time for him. His control of his vampiric assassin slipped and the fellow promptly hunted down Jelorek and snapped his neck. Semirama was eventually gunned down before she could escape. Our losses were high. Gerard is in unknown condition after having been shot by the sniper. Morwyn lost a Triton or two before she learned they were not suited for ranged combat. A majority of the castle guard has been wiped out from the transformation blasts from Semirama. The Jewel of Amber was safe.
I spent much of the day securing the castle, putting the bodies of Jelorak and Semirama in quarantine and mopping up enemy leftovers. The main vampire slipped away after killing Jelorak and I was not inclined to try and chase him down. I am exhausted, both physically and emotionally. I cautioned the others not to say a word about the fate of Benedict. We need his reputation to defend us for a time yet. Moire thought he may still be alive in a fashion, but I just can’t see how to bring him back. On top of that, Bleys is making noises like he wishes to claim the regency while Gerard and Benedict are not capable of ruling. While I am not sure Bleys would not do a good job, I do not think the populace will give him the benefit of a doubt and I foresee civil troubles should he sit in the regent’s chair. The one thing we can’t afford right now is civil unrest. It looks to me like Flora will need to do it. I can’t see Mirelle handling the responsibility either unless I am greatly mistaken about her personality. God, it really makes you appreciate Gerard more when it becomes clear how badly he is needed.
A thought has occurred to me. I wonder if Amalthea might be approached to rule. I am not sure just how alien her thought processes are, but it bears investigation. If only I could figure out a way to discuss the situation with her.
Well, my head and body are throbbing. Time to sleep.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 91 PDS 12:00 PM:
Things have been hopping this morning. Following Thirteen's debriefing, it has become apparent that I may be uniquely equipped to penetrate the subspace shadow and survive to make a trump impression of the shadow beyond. Dara will be accompanying me to help in opening subspace holes. I have to admit some degree of trepidation about this arrangement, but I have taken as many precautions as I can. Werewindle will be protecting me from the psychic assaults of the elementals, I will be wearing an environmental suit and air supply, and Dara is there to provide a distraction should I need to escape quickly. I leave in an hour.
Day 91 PDS 2:30 PM:
My departure was delayed by another emergency. It seems Dworkin has repossessed the Jewel of Judgement and took off with it, presumably to take on the enemy holding Sand and Delwin. He put the whole castle to sleep, apparently blew through all of the protections in place to keep it safe, and headed off into shadow. Alerts have gone out and Werewindle is acting agitated.
Day 91 PDS 4:30 PM:
It did not take long to resolve. We found Dworkin at the Binding source with the limbless Sand and Delwin, both still alive but badly injured. Dworkin had summoned Werewindle to him shortly after my last entry, used it to get into the prison where they were held, slipped them out and brought them here. It looks like we have some more payback to dispense.
Day 91 PDS 6:30 PM:
Sand and Delwin are in Lynxia for treatment. Dworkin and Zhartra chased us out of the Binding power so we brought them here. Both have had their binding abilities removed by Dworkin and they are suffering brain damage from their treatment. There is really going to be hell to pay for this one.
Day 91 PDS 8:00 PM:
I have returned safely, though greatly fatigued. I now must decide if I should create the trump myself, or pass it on to Toriana. I am too tired at the moment to reliably pass on the impression I was able to get while in enemy territory. The trip was dangerous. Big and nasty things are lurking in deep subspace and I felt the urge to avoid them by moving as quickly as possible. It was tiring for Werewindle as well, so I plan on retiring early tonight and dealing with it in the morning.
Day 92 PDS 2:00 AM:
So much for getting some rest. I found myself being stalked in my room in the early hours by an unseen assailant. I quickly grabbed Werewindle and trumped out in my skivvies. A quick alert later and the complex in Lynxia was in an uproar. We are still learning details, but it appears some of the staff have been mutated by the transformation power and are now hostile. Lynxia is no longer safe. I have made immediate arrangements to move Sand and Delwin to safer facilities as the problem appears to be widespread in Lynxia.
Day 92 PDS 9:30 AM:
Bleys has agreed to allow his personal healing shadow Baden-Baden to be used. It is a three to one time ratio to Amber and is much more scientifically oriented than was the case elsewhere. Sand and Delwin have been brought in, along with Tanitheel and are now being treated.
Word has it that Enrys Feldane was assassinated in Lynxia by more mutated Brotherhood mages under the control of the enemy. All signs are now pointing at Jelorek being involved, either as a puppet or as the instigator. His beautiful sidekick is rumored to be Samara, an ancient priestess of Talualua. She is the one wielding the power, most likely as a tool. They stole the archives of the Brotherhood, gained access to the talismans they all wear and are happily mutating the mages into froglike minions. The devastation is not confined to Lynxia, so I must contact Ky-Tung to make sure Azvan is not turning against her.
Day 92 PDS 1:30 PM:
I made sure Ky was safe and confirmed Azvan was under psychic attack. I used Werewindle to free him from the link to his talisman and will probably be busy doing that for other important wizards for some time.
I remembered to get the trump impression back to Tori rather late, so I trumped her and was shown a strange trumpy shadow where she apparently works. She did not seem surprised that I was able to provide a trump image. She accepted it and got to work right away on producing more. I'm off to go help clean up more of the mess left by the Brotherhood. I curse the time this is giving the Helgrams, who are trying to blame the chaos assassinations on us. I gave Lirazel the lowdown and expect her to get word to the other houses that the Helgrams are the true culprits. We shall see what Basilisk can accomplish.
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.
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.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 79 PDS 10:00 PM:
The expected attempt on Lirazel's life took place. She was safely away when a number of the odd cultists I had noticed following us the other day decided to strike at her manor house. They were quickly captured. A number of street scum were involved as well, no doubt stirred to their crimes with a combination of fiery rhetoric and plain greed. I paid a visit to them in the city jail after the capture and welcomed them to Amber's service. In other words, the street scum were impressed into my "Expendables" and shipped off to Ruin where they may be put to some sort of use. The cultists themselves I welcomed into my personal service. I explained to them they had inadvertently disrupted my plans to use Lirazel for disinformation to chaos, but that I deeply empathized with their antipathy towards the chaosians. I more or less impressed them into service as my own core of fanatics and set them up as a sort of "ideological commissars" to oversee the spiritual and ideological purity of the settlers in Ruin. I have no doubts they will cause any number of headaches for the simpler houses of chaos who may want to come that way again. I dare not use them against Helgram as they are far too easily manipulated by anyone with half a brain. I considered trying to backtrack with them to find out who directed them to attack, but decided that the Helgram agent was likely competent and would have covered his tracks. I did not want to waste the time.
Day 80 PDS, 8:00AM:
The cultists and thugs are safely in Ruin now, settling in to their cozy new surroundings. I will need to check on them frequently but they should be busy enough for the next few days that I will not need to hover overhead. Flora has invited much of the family to her shadow to partake in some family bonding over fast vehicles, guns and other adrenaline inducing toys. I shall have to attend of course, though it makes me very nervous to be gathered in one place at a delicate time. I shall have to remain alert and do not plan on following the program to the letter. Better to be a little unpredictable.
Day 80 PDS, 11:00PM:
I showed up at Flora's redneck jamboree and did spend some enjoyable time learning evasive driving techniques. The whole motorcycle/off road vehicle thing did not catch my interest as it did the others. The large caliber and high explosive weapon course was interesting, though I did not spend a great deal of time on it either. The other family members there were thoroughly enjoying themselves, but I could not let my guard down knowing there were a number of men surrounding the complex armed with long range weapons that were not under my command or control. I have no idea how easy it would be for an enemy to infiltrate the guards, Ghurkas or not. As soon as I could gracefully slip away, I left the compound and made my own way into the shadow to learn a bit more about flying. With sufficient outlay of cash, I took a few remedial lessons and will be returning for more when occasion permits. Unannounced deviation from plans or schedule seems wise these days.
Day 81 PDS, 10:30AM:
I have work to do in Remia and I learned things there can't sit for too long without oversight. My client has enemies and my absence makes him vulnerable. A number of rivals have begun picking away at our assets and arrangements, so I have decided to make a couple of examples. Tonight there is a dinner where at least one of them, a particularly heavy and unhealthy individual, will be attending. I hope he has made arrangements for his family.
Day 81 PDS, 9:00PM:
Quintillus Portus seems to have choked on a chicken bone at dinner tonight. Perhaps he was distracted when his partner in making things difficult for my client keeled over with an apparent angina attack. The third man vying for my wrath is even now trying to pass a kidneystone the size of my thumb. I feel good.
Day 82 11:00AM:
Word came to me that the angina attack turned into something more serious last night and the reveler is even now fumbling for change to pay the ferryman to cross the Styxx. I have carefully begun the rumor that my foes seem to suffer bad fortune while my friends prosper. It is so fun to manipulate such a superstitious society that I find I have to restrain myself from overdoing it. Too much of a good thing will lead to mobs trying to beat down my door and burn me as a witch. Instead, I am passing it off as the "will of Jupiter". Isn't religion wonderful?.
Day 83 12:00PM:
Some people have taken to wearing amulets when around me to ward off evil luck. I was tempted to increase the probability that they fall ill, but have decided to have mercy on them. The next bastard that tries to undercut me is going to have the worst case of acute appendicitis that I can arrange, amulet or not.
I have begun formulating my long term plans to catapult Sullus into the Consulship. Once there, I have to turn him into an apparent military genius to make sure he stays there. The first step is to nullify the real threat to Remia (an eastern despot with a vast but easily corruptible empire) and manufacture a new threat under my secret control. Nullifying the eastern empire should not prove too difficult. I have asked Sullus to provide all the intelligence he can about the royal family. If I knock off the competent members and set the nobles to competing between themselves to control the new weaker emperor, they should be unable to mount any sort of offensive action against Remia for some time to come. The Mirror power may actually prove useful in this situation.
Manufacturing the new threat under my control will be the more difficult task by far. To the north are a number of barbarian tribes, fractured and disorganized. I plan to go amongst them, unify them under a charismatic puppet if I can and start raiding Remian possessions (especially those belonging to Sullus' rivals). Once a cry has risen in Remia to address the threat, I try to arrange a great battle to settle the issue. I make sure the Remans win handily and Sullus becomes politically cemented into the Consulship. That's the plan anyway.
Day 86 PDS 4:30 PM:
The last couple of days I have been lurking in the mirrorverse around the royal palace of the eastern empire. The first night I slew the current emperor. The following day I dropped two of the other dangerous contenders. Fear and paranoia are running rampant throughout the palace. It looks like I have sparked a nice little civil war that should keep them busy for a bit. I am now returning to Remia with three royal heads, the better to keep Sullus under my thumb. His doubts about my ability to kill anyone, anywhere at any time needed to be put to rest. Hopefully any thoughts he may have been entertaining about betraying me at some point will be quashed. I don't have time for nonsense.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 76 11:00 PM:
I managed to finally get my social event taken care of in Rebma. It seemed to go well and I spent a fair amount of time getting to know who is who in Rebman social circles. The excuse for the party was a thank you to the people of Rebma for their support during the war. Things seemed to go well and I was able to spend a number of enjoyable hours visiting with Morwyn without the bodyguards hovering over us. I look at her and become even more convinced that I would not want to sit on a throne. She has my deepest sympathy.
Day 77 PDS 5:30PM :
Interrogation of the Helgram prisoner has revealed she was coming to Amber to make contact with a Helgram agent already here. She seems to be under Tori’s mental domination, so we decided to allow her to make contact as she was supposed to in the hopes of identifying another agent. She was to meet the agent in a tavern, so we set up as circumspect surveillance as possible. I utilized my brownies and set up a very covert net to watch the comings and goings from the tavern.
Day 78 PDS 1:30AM:
The meet went off without any apparent hitches. We determined the agent was an individual I tracked to the seedy part of town where he disappeared into a building. Perhaps we were a little too circumspect. I rather wish now I had pulled the trigger when I had him in my scope. Our charmed Helgram reported the conversation of the meeting and we learned the agent was apparently planning a hit on some annoyance in the very near future. My immediate guess is that he plans on knocking off Lirazel. That would ordinarily not bother me so much, but I did promise to protect her if possible while she is in Amber. I will need to arrange her safety, at least until such time as we no longer need connections with House Basilisk.
Day 78 PDS 9:30AM:
I met with Lirazel this morning and invited her out for a walk. I revealed to her my suspicions that she is targeted and suggested she take a vacation for a while. Her response was to offer to appear to be more involved with me than is the case. I declined of course; my political position would suffer and I certainly don’t want to encourage anything with a chaosian. She decided to ask Flora for protective custody and I expect she will be taken care of. In the meantime, we will set a trap in her room to make any assassin’s life miserable.
Day 78 PDS 3:30PM:
There has been a lot of activity around the castle today. Poking around, I found out Tori was due to be initiated into the Mirror power and there was some scrambling for personnel to make sure she was protected. I have been dreading this, but I have come to realize I will need to initiate myself as well sooner or later. I might as well do it with Tori…she can cover me on the magic end of things and I can protect her physically far better than anyone else available at the moment. We are heading in shortly in the company of two shroudlings. This ought to be good for giggles.
Day 79 PDS 9:00AM:
We both survived the initiation, though we became separated in the process. I was forced to evade one of the indigenous creatures as I ended up deep in chaos and only had my shroudling companion as an ally here. I trumped Llewella and joined her briefly before returning to Rebma via trump to Morwyn. Gads am I tired today. Way too much going on and the stress is beginning to wear on me. I think it may be time for some R&R soon. One last thing…during the initiation it became apparent that my martial sidekick Werewindle had become initiated to a greater degree than myself and Toriana. In the back of my mind this worries me somewhat. Part of me fears Werewindle, but part of me wants to embrace it and become one with it in purpose and desire. I may be heading for a sort of crossroads and I need to think on what it is I want to be. I need advice, but there is no one I feel confident in at the moment to provide answers.
Day 79 PDS 2:00PM:
When my doubts begin to plague me, the answer for relief is a little violence. I was contacted about some unfortunate events at the site where the strange elderkin had been impaled. My services were required for some pest control and I found Werewindle to be anxious for the chance to be put to use. I came, I saw, I killed bloodbeasts. The elderkin has escaped and is off causing mayhem. Mild amusement for Werewindle, deathly terror for me. I was successful in destroying some of the creatures, but it is hardly going to be the solution to the problem. I do not envy Jacob his job right now. Still, I had better lend a hand where I may and there is an elderkin that needs rebinding. Or at least a serious attitude adjustment.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 73 PDS 9:30AM :
Flora has me on a short leash today. With Bleys recovering more quickly than one might expect and everyone else who has a clue about maintaining order out on a lark somewhere or laid up, she wants me close at hand. I am making my presence known amongst the population to settle jangled nerves. Rumors of a dire threat involving mirrors have spread throughout the city. I can see the anxious looks amongst the people in the street. My walking amongst them seems to have a calming effect so I have undertaken a walking tour of the city for my morning’s exercise. Occasionally someone will gather the nerve to ask me about it. I smile, lie cheerfully and tell them there is nothing to worry about.
On a couple occasions I noted people handing out handbills or pamphlets on streetcorners. When they saw me approaching, they made themselves scarce. I did find a crumpled handbill denigrating Diego as a vile sort of chap. This was not my doing. I am beginning to think my fabricated propaganda about chaosian agents fomenting trouble may in fact be happening. I suppose it could be local supporters of Flora or Toriana. They certainly have reason. Still, I am expecting another publication entirely and will probably have to resort to agents or a disguise to obtain it.
Day 73 PDS 6:30PM:
My afternoon has turned out to be a bit more amusing. I decided to get in a little sparring after lunch and made my way to the practice rooms. There I encountered our two guests from the shroudling realm. Saia and her companion were busy sparring with the guards. I joined in and gave them all a good workout. Soon the conversation turned to amusements and “action” in Amber. I have experts on tap for that sort of thing so I trumped in Breggor to act as their guide to the finer points of bar hopping in the city. He was more than willing to undertake the task. After a quick bath, I paid a visit to Bleys and Toriana. He is doing much better and seemed to be getting a little restless. I thought getting him involved in my intrigue my be just the ticket to speed his recovery even further. I asked Tori to check on the shroudlings a bit later and obtained agreement from Bleys to help investigate the handbills I saw in the city. I promised Flora that I would look after Bleys and she agreed to let him out for a bit. We donned magical disguise and headed back to the city. Before long we were approached by one of the solicitors. He was handing out the Valeri diatribe I had been expecting. Bleys interrogated the fellow thoroughly and we found out the extent of the operation. We returned to the castle and reported our findings to Flora. She has sent a courier to request Valeri to present himself for questioning.
Day 74 PDS 8:30AM:
After a pleasant night’s sleep last night I journeyed to Kashfa to make an appearance there and to discuss Amber politics with Mom. She has arranged a social gathering for this evening. It should be diverting. I intend to discuss the improvement of relations with Begma with her once she has been placated.
Day 74 PDS 11:00AM:
An unexpected event has occurred. Although, thinking upon it now it should not have been unexpected. Zhartra was ambushed in shadow and lies critically wounded in Lynxia. Whoever did for Sand and Delwin apparently is still on the job. She was shot with a large caliber weapon and sustained massive damage. Diego is nowhere to be found. I had a brief conversation with him a couple days back and he had asked me to check in on his concubine’s people now and again to make sure Marcus keeps his end of a bargain. At the time I thought nothing of it, but perhaps it foretells a lengthy absence from Amber for my cousin. In any case, Tanitheel is doing the healing this time and several of the family have donated blood or energy to keep Zhartra alive. I have been asked to contact her agents at the Keep to let them know what has happened. I am leaving now.
Day 74 PDS 3:30 PM:
Kurgan, her lackey watching over the well, accompanied me back to Lynxia. He was visibly shocked and angered that Zhartra was injured so badly. He was correspondingly grateful for the help we were providing. He is a big burly fellow with a mean look to him and I am much relieved that he views us as allies at the moment. I donated some blood (I seem to be doing that a lot the last few days) and returned to Kasfa to keep my social appointments there. I will need to rest before the event.
Day 74 PDS 12:00AM:
The party came off to Mom’s satisfaction. We discussed a great many things and have reached an agreement to improve relations with Begma, to begin placing allies in Amber’s social institutions and to keep an eye out for trouble from whoever is trying to knock off the binders. Rinaldo is on that hit list and I really would not like to be put in the position of avenging my brother. Tomorrow is Kasynovich’s hearing and I would not miss it for the world.
Day 75 PDS 11:00AM:
Valeri presented himself and his proof. It is currently being analyzed. I await the results with great relish. He really is a decent fellow deep down, he is just blinded by bigotry and intemperance. I shall try to rehabilitate him after his inevitable ruin. No one writes what he did without consequence.
Day 75 PDS 2:30PM:
The documents provided by Kasynovich have been shown to be forgeries. He immediately fell to his knees and begged the mercy of the court. It really was a bit sad to see. I felt a moment’s regret, but only a moment’s. He has been exiled from Amber until such time as the regent deigns to pardon him for his slander.
Day 75 PDS 4:30PM:
I have approached the Kandives with an offer to buy half of Die Tageszeitung as a gesture of support for their family. The old hag Mara readily agreed, probably assuming they would maintain total control and it was just a whim on my part. In any case, I will be paying a visit to the paper tomorrow to set that house in order. I also penned a letter to Valeri offering my assistance in obtaining the earliest possible pardon for him so that he may return to Amber. I explained that I believed he was the victim of a chaosian plot and was in fact loyal to Amber. He replied most gratefully, so I shall have to see if I can salvage his citizenship as soon as I can get an audience with Gerard. If I can find out who is slandering Diego, perhaps I can pin the whole thing on them as well.
Day 76 PDS 10:00AM:
My first meeting as a media tychoon went fairly well. I gave them a stirring speech about maintaining journalistic integrity and freedom. I encouraged them to continue publishing the news from the common man’s perspective, to take up Diego’s banner and only admonished them not to print stories that can’t be documented thoroughly. A minor member of the Kandive house will be taking over the editorial duties, but I intend to oversee a certain amount of the business. I think it safe to say the days of targeting myself and my brother as objects of undeserved scorn are over at Die Tageszeitung. I will wait and see what effect this has on The Herald Unicorn before embarking on any further journalistic vendettas.
Day 76 PDS 2:30PM:
The expedition into the Mirrorverse has already returned with a chaosian prisoner. She is a Helgram as I feared. Worse, they have a number of Mirror Masters within House Helgram and obviously have a head start on exploiting that realm. What to do?
Salutations Aunt Flora,
I hope the annoyances of the regency do not weigh upon you too heavily yet. I have been thinking about the discussion at the last family meeting regarding the knighthoods. As you know, I have relied heavily upon a couple of individuals to support my activities. The first is Liam of House Miramon. Although he prefers to stay out of the limelight, I would like to make some gesture of gratitude for his assistance in supporting me in the field. I am not sure a knighthood is the appropriate venue for that gratitude and would like to ask your opinion on the matter. The second is my paramour Ky-Tung.
She has already done good service to Amber and has indicated a willingness to continue doing so. I would not offer her a knighthood immediately but I would certainly want to make sure her ongoing efforts are noted. In time, a knighthood for her may become appropriate but at the present time it would be construed by the public and possibly Ky-Tung herself as a mere perk for warming my bed. She will want to feel that she has earned the honor and be seen to have earned it. Accordingly I intend to make a great deal of use of her skills in the service of Amber in the months to come. I only ask that her performance be noted so that when the appropriate time comes there will be no question as to her worthiness. It is my hope that she eventually earn the higher order of knighthood for service to Amber.
I thought about recommending a couple of other shadow dwelling allies be recognized as well. I would suggest that some lesser honor than knighthood be created for such allies as Emperor Bono, Prince Eugen, Badger and possibly even Derkon (though any honor granted to him may have consequences).
Your Nephew Fineas
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 71 PDS 2:30PM :
How quickly a day can turn to shit.
I had begun the preparations for a brief celebration in Rebma, meant to thank the Rebman people for their support of Amber in what appears to be a concluded war. I was called to Amber when I was informed of events deep in chaosian shadow. Cousin Diego had successfully rescued Uncle Bleys and had brought him with Llewella’s help back to the safety of Amber. This in and of itself did not concern me as much as you might think. In fact, I salute Diego’s guts and ingenuity in accomplishing the feat while maintaining his hide intact. No, what well and truly fucked up my mood was the information that during his rescue he encountered an apparent agent of chaos within the mirror realm.
Why is this so bad you ask? Consider that we now have a relatively unexplored route straight to Amber and its environs for an army of chaos to take if they so wish. A route which we do not have adequately covered and that may not be guardable in any meaningful fashion. Even by destroying mirrors in Amber, they will be able to approach much closer to Amber without interference than had been the case through normal shadow. My only consolation is that they probably have not had sufficient time to exploit this path with the civil war in chaos dragging on. As soon as there is a winner there, our goose could be cooked unless we can somehow plug the route.
Even if a chaosian army is not yet enroute, they could do immense damage to our realm by creating an exit for the Moonriders of Ghenesh to ravage our lands once again. We can only hope they have not found the way to that dire land.
Day 71 PDS 4:30PM:
This day just keeps getting better and better. Benedict has decided to engage in some ill timed genocide of the Garou in response to the maiming of Dara by one of their lords recently. Normally I would consider Benedict one of the cooler heads in the realm, but his indulgence seems foolish given the news we have received. My estimation of his wisdom has dropped a notch or two. To compound the folly, he has taken Gerard, Martin and Mirelle with him, leaving the throne under the oversight of Flora.
Bleys was in need of untainted blood, so I donated some of mine to help him through the detoxification process. He is a mess. Diego was working with him for a while but had to rest after the toxins began to effect him as well. Toriana was called in to help in keeping Bleys under some form of control. I have been splitting the watch duty with her, but Flora has called a family meeting and I will need to attend shortly.
Day 71 PDS 8:30PM:
The meeting was relatively short. All those not off killing Garou were present. The information about the Mirror threat was repeated for those not yet in the know and some discussion took place about the binder’s business. I advised we prepare a military force for immediate action in the mirrorverse. To emphasize the degree of the threat, I was less than diplomatic about what I saw as the necessity. After the meeting, I set my brownies to work building a trap for anyone trying to enter my manor from the mirrorverse. I then spoke with Flora about what should be done. I am being sent to Tir Tarngir to bring Rhanda’s father to Amber to assist Kelamon in attuning to the mirror power as well as negotiate an alliance against the new threat.
Day 72 PDS 11:00AM:
I spoke at length with Marcus & company about the threat. They are reluctant to commit any of the shroudlings to scout out the chaos area without backup. The problem is an Amberite must not be seen there or the enemy will respond before we are ready. On top of that, there is concern that Kelamon’s attunement might result in her ending up in chaos. One idea involved having a trump escape route available if that occurs. I know Llewella is scouting chaos, so I trumped her and explained the possible need in the near future for her to be ready to pull out Kelamon and Rastafas. She was agreeable, especially after I offered her my help in the blood feud with Channicutt if she needs it. When we finished our discussion I brought the shroudling chief to Amber as instructed.
Day 72 PDS 3:30 PM:
It was my turn to watch over Bleys again, so I read to him aloud the wondrous verse of Oberon that I found in Tir Tarngir. I think he failed to appreciate its finer points, but he was lucid enough to ask me who I was. I told him I was a nephew but no more, then expounded on my theories of hidden meanings within Oberon’s verse. He responded “just shoot me”. I might have been tempted but for the fact I think we are going to need him well and ready for action in the all too near future. Diego is nowhere to be seen. With Flora in nominal charge and Toriana usurping the treatment of Bleys, I am not surprised. I will need to find him to talk about further scouting of the chaos mirror area.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 67 PDS 11:00 AM:
After our afternoon's entertainment yesterday, Thirteen found an invitation to contact that Helgram bitch Incarnadine on the network. He did so and she negotiated a meeting with him at a time and place of his choosing. Since I refused to pledge my nonaggression, I disinvited myself from the proceedings. Probably a mistake, but it was all I could do to keep my mouth shut during the conference call. Instead, I chose to arrange to fly to Yabmob to check out the computer and programming facilities there. It seemed to me to be the most likely headquarters for the Helgrams in this shadow. A long history of cultural mysticism, a burgeoning software industry and a large population steeped in poverty seemed the natural breeding ground for what the Helgrams are looking for.
Day 68 PDS 1:00 PM:
Well, at least I got to do a brief tour of Yabmob before I was called off. Thirteen contacted me to let me know that he had cut a deal with Incarnadine for the Helgrams to leave the shadow in a couple days after they have gotten what they wanted. Personally I find the whole arrangement distasteful. I have zero faith in the Helgrams not to continue their exploitation of our shadow in the shadows. At best, we can claim a victory for public consumption. At worst, we have given Helgram the time they need to win the throne of Chaos while maintaining tendrils of corruption in Purgatory. I would feel much better about the arrangement if we had dealt them a stinging defeat somewhere along the way. I still don't feel like they respect us and I can't help but feel we will pay for that sometime soon. Time to return to Amber and get a few things done. I want to check on the progress of my plan and possibly begin the next phase.
Day 68 3:00PM:
Things in Amber are still quiet so I have begun the project of reclaiming the shadow I dubbed "Ruin". I have gathered the expendables and will collect Bono's former enemies to repopulate the shadow. With some help from Fangorn, a few dozen trollops from shadow and the natural biological urges of my men, the necromantic taint of the place should be replaced with something more tolerable. Supplies are available from the Chandora campaign so that should not prove to be a limiting factor. It feels a little more satisfying to begin the construction of a world than the usual destruction that occurs in war. At some point in the near future, I will need to seed the place with colonists of a less criminally oriented aspect but for now this should get things started.
Ky-Tung left me a message and we spoke about her offering service to the regent. Except , with the usual female logic, she did not want to offer formalized service. I explained that making the offer would in fact place her at the beck and call of the regent as any other agent. If she wanted to help, it should be done much in the way she has been helping. That is, helping me when I need it. She seemed bored, so I asked her to take a force of three ships along with Azvan and explore/claim the area around the giant shadow she had found. Azvan was up for it, so I arranged things and sent them on their way. That should occupy her interest and Azvan can help her to learn her Broken Pattern abilities on the way.
Day 70 5:00PM:
I decided it was time to make an appearance at Remia, so I dropped in and began the arrangements to throw a party for the powers that be. I made the acquaintance of one of the poorer patrician families and have made arrangements to back one of their upcoming stars for a run at the consulship. His name is Sullus. I felt it prudent to enlighten him somewhat on the nature of the universe and what I wanted in return for backing his family with gold. He took it well. We formalized the agreement over the usual feasting and civil entertainment (though I am so tempted to import musicians with skill beyond the lyre or harp).
I will finance his rise to office and he will make available two or three legions on a rotating basis for my use in shadow. I am sure he intends to exploit my help as much as possible. That's OK because I really want about five legions and am prepared to work him hard to make that possible. With our own war apparently drawing to a close, I intend to spend much more time here to cement my position. In time I will need to find a good source for technologically advanced troops but for now a few legions will do. I will have to see what the barbarians of this shadow have to offer as well.
Day 71 10:00 AM:
I felt it prudent to check on the progress of my new abode in Rebma, so I dressed down and made my way to the soggy city. I was not there long when I got a trump asking for assistance in slaying a few pesky peasants. Intrigued, I accepted and joined Thirteen and Jacob somewhere out in deep shadow. Apparently some infestation from the abyss had taken over a number of locals and they needed to be exterminated. It was a straightforward job and only took twenty or so minutes to chase down all the ones that needed killing. A large number of unhosted parasites were then located and I watched as Jacob and Thirteen dithered over what to do. I suggested they simply bind the creatures into the ground using a binding circle and Jacob's new power. In the end this is what they did. I was glad, since I did not relish digging down to them to kill them and I did not feel like chasing them all over the shadow if they emerged and scattered.
I agree that as peace approaches we must be careful not to fall upon ourselves in internecine strife. In the case of the local press trying to exagerate or factionalize the differences between family members, my own detractors do so from a misguided belief that the war between Begma and Kashfa in decades past has relevance to my service to Amber. The Op/Ed editor of Die Tageszeitung insists on dragging the politics of that shadow conflict into current Amber politics. As far as I am concerned, there is no reason to continue that conflict in Amber. Hence, I have ignored his attacks against Rinaldo, Jasra and myself. Hopefully he will learn that I am not my mother and have no ill wishes towards his native Begma. My patience is not infinite however. If he continues his character assassinations of my family, there may be economic or political consequences to Die Tageszeitung and it's ownership if I have anything to say about it. I can take legitimate criticism but I will not tolerate unfounded insults or outright lies. In the case of The Herald Unicorn, I have learned that the attacks against me are simply an extortion attempt aimed at getting me to buy them off. They will be sorely disappointed.
With regards to the idea of a central bank, it is an interesting concept but I am not sure how well it plays in a medieval society. Since we have no modern free market mechanisms such as a stock market or regulated lending entities, we would need to start from scratch to re-invent the economy in its entirety. If the practical difficulties of avoiding the mass importation of goods and services outside a royal system of controls can be worked out, something along those lines might be attempted. The social dislocation of Amberites (or Kashfans for that matter) if we implement such a system would need to be studied so that we step on as few toes as possible. I will certainly forward your ideas to my mother for her study. In the case of Amber, obviously any such plan would need to be approved by the regent and get the buyoff from all the family. If you would like my assistance in putting together a proposal for Benedict, I am at your service.
Good Morning Uncle,
I wanted to bring up a problem we have been encountering in most of our battles with the Chaosians. Too damn many of them are getting away or interfering with us via magical teleports. In our most recent engagement in Purgatory, an enemy force was teleported in to delay us while the object of the mission was taken away. If we had some method of backtracking the spell to its origin, we could have killed another Helgram. Being able to chase them as they flee would also be useful.
In your experience, has any magical method been developed that would enable tracing a teleport spell to either it's destination or it's origin? Is this something we could task our family spell slingers with developing? I realize this subject has undoubtably been raised countless times over the centuries, but has it been explored since the repair of the Pattern and the creation of Corwin's Pattern? Perhaps the physical laws of existence have altered enough to enable another go at it. Just a thought.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 60 PDS 9:30AM :
After writing a letter to Diego, Die Tageszeitung and Mother, I have decided to put a plan into motion designed to result in the discrediting of Die Tageszeitung and Kedric Kandive. Initially I had suggestions planted amongst the investigative reporter community regarding the mercenary nature of certain press organizations. I wanted them to look into the cash pumped into the industry and write about how the public perspective seems to be for sale to the highest bidder. This should bear some limited fruit in the coming weeks, certainly setting the stage for the main portion of my plan. I have hopes that by making an example of Die Tageszeitung, I may be able to avoid having to ruin the Herald Unicorn as well. In the past they had been relatively friendly and I hope to encourage them to regain their old perspective. We shall see.
Pursuant to my plan, I wanted as few people involved as possible. I will need to hire two shadow dwellers and put my intelligence director to work at most. No one else is to be intimately involved. I have asked Elmore to come perform a security sweep of my property this morning. Once that is done, I will send Nellie off on errands so she does not get underfoot.
It is now time for Galena to walk the Pattern. I promised to be there to cheer her on and so I shall. She has strengthened herself considerably since I brought her to Amber and I have little fear for her.
Day 60 PDS 12:30PM:
Galena succeeded admirably. I have no more regrets bringing her to Amber. She has adapted and I anticipate her contributions to enhance the stability and prosperity of our people. Her excitement was evident as she completed the walk and she obviously wanted to put her powers to immediate use, at least until she noticed how utterly tired she was. She is sleeping it off now.
Elmore found nothing but a few periphery spies from the press watching my comings and goings. Certainly nothing serious. I have sent Nellie off to Kashfa to obtain the complete writings of Valeri Kasynovich so that I may better understand my enemy. I set the initial stages of my plan into motion.
As I was working on a trump in Lynxia, I was trumped by Benedict asking me to attend a training session in the Mirror Realm to learn how to operate there. It would take up a couple of days of my time, but I really saw no alternative so I cleaned up and reported for duty.
Day 62 PDS 8:30PM:
My training is now more or less complete. The Mirror Realm offers some interesting challenges and possibilities where combat is concerned. All in all, two days well spent. I found myself enjoying spending quality time with Benedict and Sir Bors. I studiously avoided the subject of Amber politics for which I am sure Benedict was grateful. No one likes a whiner and I will do my best to avoid being seen as such.
Now that my time is my own again, I have a great deal to do in a short time. My entries shall be sparse until these tasks are done.
Day 64 PDS 11:00PM:
Up to this point my plan has gone smoothly. In an hour the hook should be set and Valeri Kasynovich firmly walking the path that will result in his professional doom. Should he prove more unpredictable than I anticipate, I have a backup plan as well. One less satisfying but possibly better from a political standpoint. I must be patient and wait to see if Valeri hangs himself with the noose I have arranged for him. If he were a conscientious and unbigoted man I would have great concern for the success of the plan, but since he exhibits many of the very worst traits in those regards I am confident he will run off the cliff like a good little lemming.
Day 65 PDS 7:30 AM:
My night was very busy but everything so far has come off smoothly. Today I shall get back to more important business and see what I can do to help Thirteen with the Helgrams. I also want to enlist him to help fortify the Keep area against unwanted intrusions from the assassin of Sand and Delwin. Nellie has returned and I have sent her to enlist a few specialists from Dom Daniel to assist in my own manor's periphery alarms and defenses.
Day 65 PDS 9:30PM:
When I met up with Thirteen he was in Flora's shadow doing research. I joined him there to find Toriana and Jacob were also in attendance. They had learned the papers found with the heads in the box were fakes. I was not in the least surprised. We discussed a few matters and I was able to impose upon both Tori and Thirteen to see the the Keeps defenses while Jacob helped me by enchanting my scabbard to muffle the emissions of Werewindle. I think Werewindle gave Jacob a bit of a fright when he examined it. At one point he turned even paler than usual and quickly handed it back to me. I guess the notion of handling a chunk of Dworkin did not appeal to him.
When all were finished, Jacob went off to take possession of Delwin's keep while Tori, Thirteen and I are heading back to Purgatory to attempt to rescue a couple of locals involved in the Helgram program. I anticipate failure, but it should be an opportunity to screw with the Helgrams. It is important that they not operate with impunity in our sphere of influence without paying some sort of tribute to Amber. I intend for that tribute to be in blood.
Day 66 PDS 2:30 AM:
Well, the headlines in the papers of Prewtna Purgatory should be interesting today. I had a brief moment of regret when my white phosphorous grenade incinerated an innocent bystander instead of the Helgram it was meant for. The rescue failed as I expected and both young men were executed by the Helgram who's head I now hold as a trophy.
It started well enough when we teleported to the campus area. We were greeted by a magical hologram of Incarnadine who more or less shot her mouth off once too often. I destroyed the transmission with Werewindle in my annoyance and the hunt was on. We were soon met by a delaying force of mercenaries but they proved of little difficulty. We shot our way into the building but our quarry had fled through steam tunnels towards the center of campus. Thirteen and crew followed through the tunnels while I ran overland to try and catch them as they emerged. We were a little late and they had reached a sports car before I could stop them. I shot up the tires, but they were of the solid variety and that did not stop them. I resorted to Pattern to shut down the engine. It was at that point the two men were executed and a Helgram took off on foot.
The chase was fun but somewhat devastating to the local population. I thought I had caught our Helgram inside of a van, but my grenade went off too late and only killed the innocent driver. Thirteen was able to hit him with his damned cannon as he scrambled out of the van. He was pretty much blown in half. If he was not dead, he would be shortly so I quickly decapitated him before he could work some last bit of mischief. The information he carried was destroyed in the van fire and a large retributive strike was on its way from Incarnadine so we trumped the hell out of there before the bomb hit. End result was one dead Helgram (their first of the war I believe) and the setback of their operation. Incarnadine is still loose and likely very pissed. I am sure we will see more of her soon.
Your reclaiming of the throne was masterfully done as I expected. Now that you have had a while to consolidate, I wanted to bring an opportunity to your attention. I am anticipating an opening or two on the staff of the Amber Enterprise Institute relatively soon, perhaps within a few weeks. I would suggest that a Kashfan scholar of loyal outlook be advanced as a candidate member. If two openings or more occur I may put Nellie forth as a candidate, assuming she would be interested as well.
As you may be aware, a Begman expatriot with a poison pen has decided to engage in a campaign of slander against Rinaldo and myself. Please do not take any action yourself, I believe I have the solution under way. If my solution turns out to be unsatisfactory, I intend to rely upon a backup plan that will require an agreement with Diego. He has a somewhat similar problem, though his is of his own making. In either case the body count will be kept to a minimum and there should be no backlash towards Kashfa.
With regards to another matter, I have sent the preponderance of my samurai to the keep to assist in its defense. I am concerned that an unknown agent has assassinated Sand and Delwin and may find the Keep a tempting target if he learns of it. I will be making future additions to the defenses and will need to set up a headquarters there. I apologize for any inconvenience, but I believe the danger to be real. I would like to enlist the aid of Thirteen and possibly Toriana in strengthening some of the outer magical defenses with your permission. Please let me know if this is acceptable.
Your Loving Son,
I read with some dismay your characterization of events during Gerard's regency in your article ""P. Gerard's hamfisted attempts to make P. Diego into a General instead of using his considerable talents wisely"
First of all the article implies that Prince Diego is not suited to military command. I can assure you that is not the case. His leadership has been proven in combat against both the Gryphons and the Hendrakes in recent months. Whether or not some wish to acknowledge it, he is a fine general and always has been.
Secondly the article seems, shall we say, ungrateful for Gerard's long service holding the scum of Chaos at bay. I wish to point out that over a decade passed with only Gerard to oppose their landward march on Amber and Queen Moire to oppose the seaward advance. The greatest blows to stop the forces of darkness came under his regency in the last few months. A little appreciation of his service to Amber is in order. I hope that such appreciation is more in evidence in the future.
Prince Fineas of Amber
I hope this note finds you well. My mother, Queen Jasra of Kashfa has detailed your desire to remit the services of Nellie Amor to Amber for inconveniencing our war effort. Accordingly she has authorized me to conscript the services of Ms. Amor for our cause which I have done. I have attached her to my personal staff as a sorceror for the one year period you requested. I will keep her out of your affairs so that you may operate unimpeded in the future. She seems relatively competent so I am sure I will be able to get a great deal of utility for our war effort from her services.
Further congratulations are in order for the successful opening of your new clinic in Amber and conjury school in Dom Daniel. If I may be of assistance in any way with security matters or investigations into recent unfortunate events, please let me know.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 53 PDS 4:00 PM:
The next time I decide to jump bad with a creature thirty times my mass, somebody slap me.
The cyclops is dead. I have a few lacerations, bruises and a couple of cracked ribs. I was lucky the fellows I decided to recruit were there to distract him or I would likely be dead. He had knocked me off a small cliff with a barrage of rocks and boulders kicked up by a near miss with a tree. The Greeks were amazed I lived with so few injuries. I was able to get even by hamstringing the cyclops and finally skewering his vitals.
We celebrated by desecrating the body in time honored fashion, then tried to find his lair. It was closed off by a huge boulder that would be difficult to move by hand. I organized them long enough to chop down a tree to use as a lever and we at last entered his cave. The odor was indescribable.
I claimed a bronze helmet found among the refuse as a souvenir. We found a vile concoction the cyclops had made but it was undrinkable as far as I was concerned. When I asked the Greeks about their ship, I found they had wrecked a short ways away but could make repairs in a few days. I told them I was a lost adventurer looking for men to aid me in my quests. Promises of gold and glory seemed to interest them so I began my pitch and will keep at it until we repair their ship.
Day 56 PDS, 8:00PM:
I just spent three days fixing the ship with a bunch of unwashed and unrefined bronze age braggarts and thugs. If I had to listen once more to the doings of their illustrious and divine ancestors, I fear I would have snapped and shown them some real wrath of the divine stuff. We pushed off and I began shifting shadow to waters enveloped by fog. I was seeking an island of my desire, one that would support these goobers until I have need of them. I wanted a decent sized place inhabited by peaceful natives, lots of food and no way off any time soon. Finding such a shadow took a while, but I succeeded in arranging our ship to wreck again within swimming distance of the island. I have taken the opportunity to escape and am now back in Lynxia for a bath and civilized company.
Day 57 PDS, 11:00AM:
Upon my recovery I decided to undertake Ky-Tung's training. I instructed her in shadow walking and let her try it on the way to Remia where I intended to set up shop. She picked it up fairly quickly but found it very tiring. Before we reached the capitol I hired a number of servants and guards. I only had to kill three of them later when they tried to rob me. The rest seem suitably cowed and unlikely to cause problems. I leased a villa and am beginning to set up shop here. It will take time but the initial steps are underway to become influential here. Ky scouted the naval facilities and I sent her home to see to her own ship. Now I need to go have my talk with Benedict. I want to ask for his permission to recruit one or two more of Tanitheel's people for Amber. I don't want to haul an entourage there, but I may need help so I also want his advice on who to take. I am mostly healed now, but I don't want to do it too soon either. I will probably need Mom or Rinaldo to help get me there and they are both occupied at the moment.
Day 58 PDS, 2:00PM:
I met with Benedict and we discussed things. He seems willing to give it a try but wants me to take along a decent sorceror. To make a long story short, I will be asking Thirteen for aid during the mission and Diego for backup. I was able to contact Diego and he was eager to offer his assistance. He has made available a wide variety of interesting weapons and toxins and has medical services on stand by. I have not yet contacted Thirteen but intend to do so shortly. I imagine we will first have to get some degree of resolution in his campaign first so I will offer him my help to wrap up things against Hellgram.
Day 58 PDS, 6:00PM:
I just relaxed to catch up on local news and to my dismay see that a ham handed campaign of character assassination against me has been undertaken by nearly all the press organizations. Most curious. A sudden plethora of articles extolling the virtues of Diego have also appeared. Knowing Diego, he would not be able to arrange such a drastic PR swing on his own. I also don't think he would be petty enough to target me for any slight I may have offered. Some other agency is at work here. I will need to watch and wait to see what is transpiring and who feels I need to be denigrated. In the meantime, I will continue to operate as before. I can't afford to be distracted from important tasks at the moment by Amber politics. There will be plenty of time later to take care of this.
Day 58 PDS, 9:00PM:
My day just keeps getting better. A short while ago I was trumped by my mother. She showed me a letter from Diego demanding that a reporter for the Royal Way be remanded into Amber service for a year because she inconvenienced him. Mother was more or less perplexed at how to reply. Obviously it would not do to turn a loyal subject over to the ministrations of what appears to be an unbalanced personality. I offered a way out by taking responsibility for Ms. Amor, in effect satisfying Diego's demand while protecting the prestige of Kashfa and not incidentally giving myself the services of a spell caster and reporter. Nellie was there with Mother so I discussed the situation with her, showing her the letter from Diego. She was more than happy to accept my protection under the appearance of being disciplined. I set her up a room in my manor and we discussed her new duties. She will be more of an asset than I first imagined.
Now, what to do about Diego? Is he truly out to get me or is he just flailing about blindly? He will bear close watching. I hope he can be reasoned with and will try that tact with him at first. If he can be made to realize I am not conspiring against him or out to ruin him perhaps we can avoid future problems. If I become convinced he is becoming an enemy to either myself or Amber in general, direct action may be required. For now I will give him the benefit of a doubt and see what he does with it..
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 51 PDS 11:00 AM:
I trumped mother to discuss Llewella's interest in meeting her. She indicated that she would be more than happy to receive Llewella as a visitor. She then proceeded to unload on me with regards to Kasman and his latest persecution of her remaining friends in Kashfa. She informed me that she has decided to take back her throne and expected Rinaldo and I to help. Great. I promised to confer with Rinaldo and the regent to get sanction to intervene in Kashfan affairs.
After our conversation I was in a pissy mood so I decided to take a break and spend a little time working on trumps of Marcus in Inakhos. Boris was kind enough to point out the few bugs that had been planted since my last visit, so I put some music on the turntable and have been painting off and on all morning.
Day 51 PDS 7:30 PM:
I realized the coronation and wedding were imminent so I took a brief trip to Franc to obtain something tasteful in the way of a wedding gift. Bono was quite accommodating. I picked out some fineries and art objects, then discussed his progress in consolidating power. He inquired into trade arrangements, so I directed him to Liam to preserve the Miramon monopoly I had promised.
I contacted Ky-Tung next and invited her to the ceremony. She went into a mild panic and had me take her to Lynxia to get new attire for the occasion before going to the Tir. I sometimes forget the extra preparation required by the opposite sex, but I am sure she will forgive me.
Day 52 PDS 11:00 AM:
Coronation Day. The wedding was brief, the coronation less so. Lots of dignitaries including the White Tiger and the Unicorn. I kept a relatively low profile but was able to discuss Kashfa with Rinaldo. He still has contacts there so he will be doing the investigation of the political situation. There was a very slight disturbance which turned out to be the discovery of a disturbing bit of debris from the Jesby wreckage.
After the ceremony, several of the family were called to a small room where the debris was displayed. It was a small chest, containing two preserved heads that were identified as my missing relations Sand and Delwin. They were reputed to be responsible for maintaining the bindings in our end of things. Zhartra was trumped in immediately and made aware of the find. She was manifestly unhappy with the vacancies in her organization. I sort of volunteered Rinaldo since he had indicated a need to take the binding power in any case. He went off with Zharta soon thereafter to begin his initiation. I am not sure who else will get stuck with the job. I would prefer it were not me. Tori spoke up about possibly having a lead on who might be responsible. She provided simple sketches of a man she claimed had been messing around with Sand and Delwin's people. It was no one I recognized. The remains were given over to Diego for examination in Vulnavia.
I foresee being called upon in the near future for a monster hunt. So much for helping Thirteen to any great degree. The first thing I will need is a retinue of assistants. I broached the subject of the Broken Pattern to Ky-Tung after some soul searching. She eagerly took the offer and will be walking it later today after I can arrange it with Gerard.
Day 52 6:00 PM:
I can breathe a sigh of relief. Ky made it through the initiation. I thought I was going to have a coronary before she was done but she had no real trouble. She is sleeping it off now. Soon I will have to teach her how to use it. I intend to bring her with me as my back up when Zhartra calls for help.
I took the time to speak to Gerard about Kashfa. He has given the OK to assist mother as long as the bloodshed can be moderated. I let her know shortly thereafter via trump. She was already in Kashfa, plotting away in some inn. I gave her my conditions for help (minimal bloodletting) and she accepted. We went over her death list and I trimmed it down substantially. I advised her to let Rinaldo's agents finish their reconnoitering before striking. I hope she listens.
Day 53 9:00 AM:
I went from Kashfa out into shadow to seek more monster hunting assistants. I decided I needed men with proverbial balls of steel so I sought out a classical bronze age magic shadow, rife with heroes and monsters. I have come across a score of men in dire straights with a twenty foot tall cyclops. I am about to jump into the fray to help them and make a favorable impression. Wish me luck.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 49 PDS 11:00 PM:
I find myself basking in the glow of a job well done tonight. The stench of cordite still clings to my skin but my skin is whole and that is what is important. I almost feel like I should have had a religious experience. You know, the life changing kind that everyone talks about in fairy tales. An hour ago I met the White Tiger, brother to the Unicorn and therefore my great grand uncle. He apparently has sired a race of were-cats who occupy a realm outside normal shadow, or at least they have the ability to move from place to place in this realm. It is reachable through enchanted mirrors found throughout the palace complex.
My other great ancestor Zhartra will be saddened to learn that I shortened her list of descendants by a couple more tonight. I slew two more Gryphon lords during a several hour running battle through the palace complex. My rangers put a serious dent in the sub commanders as well. I and Vayla found occasion to put one of the younger Flora spawn to dangerous work, luring the Gryphons out with his fledgling Pattern use. Powell is his name and he is a brave and cheery lad. Luckily he survived the ordeal and I look forward to seeing more of him. After four hours we had driven off all surviving Gryphon loyalists and a great show was made of unmasking the chaosians in the court. The White Tiger made his appearance with a female descendant and proclaimed Marcus as the rightful heir to the throne (after marrying Rhanda of course).
Marcus is much like I imagined him, except shorter. It is apparent he and Vayla are close, Savaton less so. Rhanda claims to be descended from both the White Tiger and Morganna of the ancient royal family. She and Marcus will marry soon, shortly thereafter to be coronated as the new emperor of Tir Tarngir. Rhanda is toting around the Jewel of Tir and is apparently attuned to it. I will need her help to drive off the Jesbys if their force makes it this far. No word on that yet.
Day 50 PDS 9:00 AM
The cleanup in Tir continues. I trumped Gerard and Jacob last night before I rested. The Jesbys have fallen on hard times in Johrom but a sizeable fleet escaped on a feeble black road. They should arrive soon. I learned that Rhanda did not know how to use the Jewel so I took it upon myself to instruct her. She trusts me little as yet. She is now brewing up a nasty storm with some elemental additions. If Jesby shows they are in for a real treat. Marcus and I got acquainted. He should do well if he can get organized quickly enough. I have to remind myself that he is a ruthless man when I chat with him. His half brother's body is barely in the ground and he shows no remorse at the necessity of killing him whatsoever. He grilled me on a variety of subjects, mostly concerning security and likely servants. He showed an unwelcome interest in Tanitheel and her people. I shall have to watch that he does not pursue that interest too avidly.
Day 50 PDS 12:00PM
The Jesbys arrived. They have been crushed utterly, though Rhanda over exerted herself and had to be taken away to rest. The White Tiger spoke with me a bit more and wished me to convey his greetings to his sister. I explained that I had never seen the Unicorn and frankly did not expect her to come at by desire. Nonetheless I shall drop by the grove when I return to Amber to at least make a nominal gesture. Rinaldo has arrived and is busily making points with all and sundry. I suspect he has designs on Vayla, so I will return to Amber soon and give him space to operate. I have people to brief and other plans to set in motion now that this one has come to fruition.
Day 50 PDS 1:30PM
I gave a lengthy report to Gerard and Benedict upon my return. Gerard is very pleased with developments and allowed me to directly inform Queen Moire. I am surprised he did not do so himself. I wonder at the ramifications of that. First I wanted to speak with Flora so I trumped her and gave her the full report. She agreed to make an appearance at the wedding and coronation provided Benedict escorted her. He agreed. It was time to move on to the next stop.
I trumped Queen Moire directly and was allowed to report to her in person in short order. I gave her the full report, leaving out nothing other than the limits of Rhanda's knowledge of the jewel. The mirrors were of great interest to her as I expected. I also broached the subject of trump tutors or artists for Marcus. I have a suspicion she plans to send Gwynneth, but I may be mistaken. I used the opportunity to request permission to establish a residence in Rebma. Moire granted permission. I have no doubt the site will be well seeded with intelligence gathering tricks but that is precisely what I want. Moire asked me my impression of the Florians so I gave her the best estimation I could. After a few more pleasantries I begged off to continue my rounds.
Llewella was next. I found her deep in shadow making a shadow path from Rebma. We had a long conversation that somehow turned to my parentage. She stroked my ego a bit before hitting me up to meet Jasra. I have to admit I enjoyed it though I could sense what she was up to. I promised to broach the subject with Mother when I saw her next. Llewella seemed pleased and I left in a good mood. At least until it was time to trump Diego.
He answered with curt politeness, a sure sign he is pissed at me about something. Probably not bringing him in on the deal in Tir from the beginning or maybe busting a cap on his ill bred half brother. Either way, he deserves to know everything so I gave him the full report. He kept his cool, which is an improvement of sorts. Perhaps he is learning to adapt finally.
I continued on to Thirteen who asked if I could offer any assistance against the Hellgrams. Apparently Baran has gone missing and Thirteen can't find him. I told him I would help any way I could and had a few suggestions about how to proceed in Purgatory.
Between killing folks and scheming with Marcus, I have been thinking about the Hellgrams a great deal. Why are they still poking around our territory? They can't hope to overthrow us now. It must be because they can get things from our shadows that give them an advantage in Chaos. Things like big nasty garou are obvious, but what could they want in a shadow like Purgatory? Then it hit me. Hellgram is an information gathering house, much like Basilisk. They must have an enormous amount of raw data coming in from all their agents throughout chaos and shadow. A technological shadow like Purgatory offers the wonder of computer processing. Computational theory, information system architecture, data sorting algorithms, all these things could be a breakthrough for a culture steeped in a tradition of manual data analyzing. Dump the scribes and conjured processing creatures with their own personalities and agendas. Utilize high speed technology to sort that intelligence data.
I could see Hellgrams infesting the academic institutions of Purgatory, learning the science of computers. They could be establishing a data processing center there or simply learning how to create a magical analog of their own for use in chaos. The place to seek Hellgrams is not the halls of political power, but rather the places where information and technology are concentrated. Universities, think tanks, corporations involved in data processing and software developers are the places to look.
I will need to sit down with Thirteen and get a better picture of Purgatory. Together I am confident we can do some serious damage to Hellgram aspirations.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 49 PDS 6:00 PM:
Things have been a little hectic the last couple days so I have not kept up on my notes. It started with my fulfilling my obligation to Bono to help him conquer Britane. In the event it went pretty smoothly over a couple of days. The burning of Lundun was kept to a minimum but there is only so much you can do to curtail the enthusiasm of victorious troops. My direct participation was minimal beyond the transportation of the army and a few instances of probability control to cause problems with the enemy fleet in the river. Bono was beside himself with glee once the palace was captured. I did not ask what became of the prior royal family but I suspect it was not pleasant. He will be busy establishing the new order for some time, but I let him know I could be called upon for further assistance if necessary. Despite plentiful opportunity I did manage to appropriate a few nice items to furnish my manor without killing anyone. Redistribution of wealth is always a messy business upon the conclusion of a war but I did not want to partake in the more vindictive looting taking place all over the city. One of the more unfortunate customs of war I am afraid.
Upon my return I had a chance to meet with a few people that I had not spoken to in far too long. I met with Liam and arranged to grant House Miramon primary access to Bono's shadow in reward for his good service. I will probably set up some sort of ambassador there, perhaps a Miramon to facilitate contacts. I ran into Thirteen in the castle and got caught up with him. He is confident the Hellgrams have vacated at least one shadow but are still firmly entrenched in another. Still work to be done there. His operations appeared to be near the point of infringing upon events in Tir Tarngir so I briefed him privately on what is transpiring there. A short while later I was trumped by Jacob who wanted to discuss new developments in Johrom. His intelligence indicated the Jesby's were preparing to create a black road and hit House Gryphon as a new priority target. All well and good if they hit anywhere besides Tir Tarngir. Unfortunately the Tir is their most likely objective.
I filled Jacob in on Tir events and urged him to prevent the Jesbys from attacking the Tir at all costs. I then trumped Vayla to find out where they were at in their program and to warn her of impending Jesby interference. She told me that Marcus had assassinated Illyan and the coup was in progress. Fighting was going on as we spoke. I offered Amber's help and she allowed that a very small force, disguised as her retainers, would be most welcome. I told her I would get a few men and come to assist with weapons and ammunition.
I have to admit I am not entirely happy about having to go there by myself. At some point risks must be taken and the goal of a friendly non-chaos controlled Tir is worth a lot of risk in my book. I want to leave Rinaldo behind primarily to cover my backside but also because I want Marcus more beholden to me than my brother. I also feel a bit braver knowing Benedict is free to exact retribution should any treachery arise. I trumped Benedict to alert him to what was going on and gave him temporary custody of Werewindle. It is much too obvious an artifact to take to the Tir and Uncle Ben may find it useful in interdicting any black road that does get generated. It's ability to hold a Pattern defense up for me while I fight is extremely desirable, but in a low profile mission it is more hindrance than asset. I will need to spend more time learning to use it before I commit to carrying it with me into all situations.
I now find myself wearing some ridiculous outfit that Vayla's retainers commonly attire themselves in along with five Amber rangers. I brought Savaton, extra weapons , ammunition and Charlene. We are in the Tir proper awaiting the opportunity to strike. If I survive this day I will continue to document events in this journal. If not, I hope the reader will convey this journal to my brother Rinaldo who I name as my heir. I just pray to the unicorn that if I meet my demise here I have enough time to strip off this degrading attire and issue a suitably vehement curse upon our enemies. Tally Ho!
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 43 PDS 9:30AM :
The first thing I did this morning was round up Gerard and Benedict for a pow-wow before Benedict rests up to walk the Pattern again. I showed them the letter from Marcus and we discussed the situation. It did not take them long to agree to give Marcus the chance he claims he needs. Gerard will make an introduction to Queen Moire on my behalf and I will lay out the situation for her as soon as possible. I have an awful lot on my plate in the next few days so I hope she is agreeable and I can get on with other things soon.
Day 43 PDS 1:00PM:
It was a little amusing watching Gerard spiff up before he trumped Queen Moire. It sort of reminded me of a teenager getting ready for his first date, minus the panic. When he was ready he made the trump contact and soon I found myself in a private audience with Queen Moire. Well, at least as private as any conference with the Queen ever is. I am positive I was being watched (and covered) since I was allowed into her presence bearing Werewindle.
I got down to business quickly and explained the situation with Tir Tarngir, leaving nothing out. As I expected, she immediately saw the wisdom of dividing House Gryphon and made allowances that the new borders could be worked out over time after the coup succeeds. She also suggested we have a few specialized teams ready to assist the coup. A very wise suggestion. I will get with Benedict to see what he advises and learn if he would be amenable to leading the Amber contingent or if it should be delegated.
Her interest soon turned to my sword. I allowed her to see it and explained it was a family heirloom. I saw no reason to elaborate further and she seemed to respect my privacy in the matter. I soon took my leave with only the minimal pleasantries (I did not wish to take up any more of her time, we both have lots to do) but overall the encounter was an instructive and pleasant one. Perhaps some day soon I will have time to enjoy the hospitality of Rebma in more relaxed circumstances.
Day 43 PDS 8:30PM:
I returned to report to Gerard and obtained his approval for the things discussed so far. My next task was to find Rinaldo and seek his assistance in contacting Vayla/Alexa in order to pass along a response to Marcus.
Rinaldo was in Lynxia, taking advantage of the time flow to work on a trump of Vayla. Apparently he wanted to “discuss” things with her and had already finished one trump with another in the works. We chatted a bit and he explained Vayla had already contacted him and they had reconciled in a sort of way. Rinaldo did not seem too pissed at her so my curiousity was greatly aroused. I asked to use the trump and made a brief contact with her. She was unable to discuss things openly but said she would contact us when she was in a safe place.
Two hours local time later (probably twenty five minutes later her time) she contacted Rinaldo. I saw no way or real reason not to trust him with the information, so I passed my letter to Marcus and two trumps of myself on to her and we discussed a few things without getting into great detail. Vayla indicated Marcus would be taking the new throne of the Tir and those who were in on the plot wished Flora to attend the coronation (as a legitimizing factor I am sure). I would need to tell Flora about things soon, but not quite yet. If there is an elder Gryphon spy attached to us anywhere, it is most likely amongst her entourage.
Vayla is a real hottie as my less couth acquaintances would say. Far more attractive than the Alexa persona she took in Amber. I can see Rinaldo’s interest. I think perhaps Caridwen may have to find a new main patron soon if my hunch is correct.
Day 44 PDS 1:00 PM:
I got around to relieving Tanitheel in Pax Remia this morning. She has done stellar work as usual. She informed me that she had trained two of the swanmays in using a faster hawk form. I made a trump sketch of a safe area so that I could return later to continue Reman recruitment activities. I will need to reach the capitol and learn the political situation to best determine how to recruit a legion or two more. Perhaps I will be able to use a variation of the Bono scenario here. In the meantime I am ready for a break and I promised Count Taran I would visit soon. Time to collect Ky and take a day off to recreate.
Day 45 PDS 10:00PM:
I learned a very strange new sport today called skiing. One straps a pair of long narrow boards, curved upward to a dull point in the front to one’s feet and slide down a snow covered mountain at relatively high speed. Ky was familiar with it already and had a lot of fun teaching me the rudimentary skill. I still sort of suck at it, but by the end of the day I could make it to the bottom of a fairly steep hill with a minimum of personal damage.
I had a nice chat with the count about his adventures in Chaos. It sounds like it was an exciting mission and gleaned some useful information about that end of things. The nature of shadow there is different apparently and it becomes easier in some ways to travel between shadows using sorcery as opposed to other powers. Broken Pattern becomes more difficult to use apparently. Good to know. Speaking of Broken Pattern, I almost brought the subject up to Ky this evening. As I was working myself up to it, she distracted me with a sudden and liberal application of sexual activity in a hot tub we were resting in. Perhaps I will get another chance soon to speak with her about it soon.
Day 46 PDS 12:00PM:
Some of the gossip I heard yesterday about Rebma and certain of my cousins made me realize that I need to keep better tabs on things. I need a private information service so I don’t get blindsided. I have an idea about how to go about it and will pursue the initial steps this afternoon. I will probably start with getting more information on Flora/Diego/Toriana since that is the most likely source of problems. That means getting people into Rebma, Earth, Vulnavia and probably Dom Daniel/Belkin. Earth and Dom Daniel/Belkin should be easy. Rebma will be a bitch. Vulnavia is probably somewhere in between. I may need to approach Lirazel and Dara to see what chaos has to offer in intelligence gathering.
Once that is accomplished, I will certainly need eyes and ears in the new Tir realm if Marcus succeeds. I may need to debrief the brownies more thoroughly. Certainly I will need to contact the Tiger if I can. So much to do!
Day 46 PDS 6:00PM:
I obtained permission from Gerard to brief Savaton on what is transpiring. He is doing better but is obviously still uncomfortable and is kept quite full of anti-shapeshifting drugs. I outlined our communication with Marcus and we discussed alternatives. We settled on leaking information to Lirazel that he was killed trying to escape and moving him out to a safe shadow under parole. Either we can trust him or we can’t and this will be a good way to find out. I have secured agreement from Gerard to move him to my residence in Inakhos where he can continue to observe how things work in our end of shadow. It will not hurt to have him in my personal debt as well so I will arrange that his stay is as enjoyable as possible.
In a side note, I had an interesting bit of information tossed my way by Tori. It seems eight more of Flora’s eggs were used and we have eight more novice cousins in House Gryphon. Seven of them have already taken Pattern. I have to assume Marcus has taken them into account and has already either suborned them or arranged for their removal. If not, we could have a great deal of difficulty in the near future.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 39 PDS 9:30AM :
While I waited on Jacob to contact me to visit the Reman home shadow, I decided to make the rounds and check on my various interests. First stop was to visit the samurai and dragoons. All is well there though I will need to find them a little light action soon to keep them sharp. Then I checked in with Bono to see how his plans are coming along.
It is obvious that some of the Amber mannerisms and customs have rubbed off on him. He seems to be exuding a more confident manner with less ostentatious display. He is also ready for the final conquest of Franc and Britane and needs my assistance with some troop movements. I agreed readily of course. His good will is vital to my plan to recruit medium technology troops in the future. I plan on a rotation system similar to what I have implemented with the samurai. Recruit a few thousand at a time, train the crap out of them while using them for my current campaigns, then send them home much richer to spread the good word about service to Amber.
Day 41 PDS 11:30AM:
I spent the last few days moving the troops Bono needed to finish his consolidation of Franc. I also paid a covert visit to the shores of Britane to scout out the invasion sites near Lundun. Towards the end, some of their agents tried to tail me so I led them to a loyalist noble's manor before giving them the slip. Nothing like sowing distrust and discord amongst one's enemies for a lively afternoon.
Bono will not need me for about a week while he makes final preparations so I have time to check up on Galina and see how she is doing.
Day 42 PDS 8:30PM:
I have had a very busy day. I checked in on Galina and took her on a personal tour of the realm, concentrating on the city at first but making sure she learns about the unicorn. She could feel something at the shrines I showed her and the discussion turned to Amalthea. I wasn't sure how best to explain that one so I took her to the library and showed her pictures of Amalthea in human form. I explained shapeshifting as well as I could, asking a swanmay to demonstrate. The light of belief is slowly taking form in her eyes.
We discussed her taking the Pattern. I tested her psychically and estimated her strength and will as best I could. In my opinion she would survive right now, but to increase the odds I recommended a regimen of exercise for a while before making the attempt. I asked her if she wished to meet more of the family. She was eager and chose Flora as her first contact. I trumped Flora, who was finishing an inspection of one of her zeppelins. She seemed pleased to meet Galena and joined us immediately. Flora was a bit filthy from crawling around in grease coated areas, but she wanted Galena to see that "at least some of the family are not afraid to do actual work". I had to smile to myself at her comment. She certainly is working to shed the bubble headed blonde persona she was forced to cultivate in the past. Good for her.
I left Flora and Galena to their privacy. Some things a man is just not meant to hear.
I trumped Count Taran to see how the shadow hopping was going and to make apologies for my absence. He and his guests were involved in some high speed boat racing today. Not my cup of tea. We discussed future revels and it sounds like the more interesting stops are still to come. I told him I hoped to join him soon but had a few affairs of state to attend to first. He seemed OK with that so I left him to his racing.
The next trump was to Diego. He is starting to look like hell, even darker circles beneath his eyes than usual. I gave him a quick rundown on the Alexa situation, told him what I knew of the shapeshift inhibiting drug and recommended a round of physical inspections for all who had contact with her. He agreed but seemed somewhat preoccupied. He asked me about the bastard list so I invited him to meet me to go over it. It was not something I wanted to do over trump. He seemed to lose interest suddenly. I hope he is not cracking. The man seems entirely too fragile for a member of the royal family but he is the best we have at what he does.
Enough time passed that I checked in on Flora and Galena. They were finishing lunch and were about to head off to meet Llewella. I was wanting to meet her myself so I imposed upon them to allow me to join the for that portion of their afternoon plans. They politely agreed so I joined them and soon we were off to Rebma. Once in Rebma, Jacob finally contacted me letting me know he was near the site he had recruited his Remans from. I asked if he could delay my joining him for a while and he agreed. He was going to find a city where we could learn more about them and where best to get more troops. I told him I would trump him as soon as I was free.
Llewella seems a wonderful lady. I felt a strange pride that a relation of mine could rebound so well from the atrocities performed on her. I spent a delightful afternoon getting to know her but was finally interrupted by another trump call. This one was from Zhartra. She asked to meet with me about the exposure of the Keep and what mother wanted to do about it. I made my apologies to Llewella and explained who wanted to meet with me. I promised to let her know what transpired as soon as I could.
At home, Zhartra met with me and explained that Benedict had been released, Corwin had been found and contacted along with his three children and as a result, Mother's ownership of the Well was now suspected. We discussed what to do. I recommended that Mother make herself known and make adjustments to the security of the Keep. After a while, that was agreed upon and I was tasked to make the necessary introductions in Amber. I was also presented with Werewindle. Zhartra had been true to her word and I intend to be true to mine. If I can assist her in dealing with the horrible nasties from the abyss, I will do so to the best of my ability.
Werewindle is much more than I suspected. It is intelligent in its own right. I am told it was constructed from Dworkin's blood, a great deal of it in fact. It seems to be able to judge the worthiness of its wielder in terms of loyalty to the Pattern and Amber. It expressed regret that my father, who had started out worthy, had slipped into madness and became manifestly unworthy. It accepted me as its new wielder for which I am thankful. When I hold it, it feels as though another lobe of my mind comes into existence. I will need to research it carefully to find out its potential.
I returned to Amber in time to greet the newly liberated Benedict as well as Corwin's three children Douglas, Dierdre and Vialle. Also present was a recovering Martin. I contacted Jacob and arranged to pull him in to meet his brother while having Tanitheel keep his place in shadow. My cousins seem like decent folks so far. Much more stable than Diego. I guess Corwin finally decided to act like a father and the difference shows. Diego and Tori seemed to be having some disagreement and soon both disappeared from the get together. A short while later, Gerard was called away to deal with someone's hissyfit via trump. I am not sure if it was Tori or Diego. From what little I overheard, I suspect it was Diego. Gerard soon rejoined us and was obviously exasperated. I did not query him on the problem.
I spoke with Martin a bit and offered my apologies for my father's actions. He seemed to not hold a grudge against Rinaldo and I. I look forward to getting to know him better in the coming days. Douglas is obviously a chip off the old block. Personable and quietly confident, I don't think I would care to test him with a sword. Dierdre seems the more rebellious daughter. In some ways she reminds me of Tori, in others Morwyn. She should be an interesting relation. Vialle is the quiet scary one. Way too perceptive for comfort. We definitely need to keep on her good side from my initial impression.
The highlight of the reunion in my eyes was finally meeting Uncle Benedict. He is more impressive than I had begun to imagine, and not just in the martial sense. Somehow I need to convince him to take the throne of Amber. No one else is suited. He is the only one of us universally respected. This is not going to be easy.
Finally, about an hour ago I got one more trump from Zhartra. She handed me a letter. I immediately knew it was from Marcus of House Gryphon. I opened it and read his plea. This will bear some thought. I will need to get Benedict and Gerard alone to discuss this as soon as the reunion is done.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 36 PDS 12:30PM :
I have brought Galina to Amber and tried to keep her arrival as unobtrusive as possible. Gerard had other ideas and now it is widely known amongst the castle staff (and by extension various spies) that a new family member has been brought in. I made arrangements to have her attired in garb less conspicuous in Amber and gave her a brief tour of the castle once it was clear all secrecy is lost. I first brought her to the castle parapet where she can survey the surrounding countryside. I pointed out landmarks, described the extent of the realm and then began filling her in on the current state of the family (at least in my view). She will have to make up her own mind about them individually, but I gave her my most tactfully worded opinion on each member. She will meet them soon enough I imagine. She asked me a great number of questions regarding the welfare of the people, how we rule and what kind of regent Gerard was. It is my hope she can bring a bit more civility to the family. I encouraged her to pursue interests that will directly benefit the people such as charity organization, improved education and better living conditions if she decides to stay and join us. I feel that she will.
I next took her down to her father’s rooms where I had his possessions withdrawn from storage for her inspection. I hoped that by putting a more personal face to her dead parent she might find a stronger sense of connection to Amber. I also wanted an excuse to find out more about Caine myself. Rumor has it he was the one to slay my father and I have conflicting emotions regarding the man. I wanted to test myself to be sure I could regard both he and his progeny with objectivity. I now feel that I can. I sense he was as complex a person as my father and I wish I had known him. His personal belongings showed his deep connection to the sea, a feeling I can empathize with. His astounding collection of knives showed his darker nature too. In some ways he may have been much like my father before the madness of the Well took him. Fascinating. I could tell Galina was intrigued as well and we spent most of the morning going over his things.
Day 36 PDS 3:00 PM:
I made arrangements for a personal bodyguard for Galina and will leave her to her own devices for a while. I am sure she will want to speak at length with Gerard when he returns from Avalon. In the meantime a very disturbing bit of news has surfaced. I was alerted by a city guard that Alexa (with whom my brother has been greasing his weasel) was witnessed to have changed shape and flown away about the time of the Avalon battle. I ordered an immediate investigation and alerted Sir John at the first opportunity. The investigators are combing her apartments as I write this. I fear that she may have been the one to discover the location of Avalon and set that whole sorry affair in motion. This will reflect badly on Rinaldo once word gets out. I need to warn him so that he may both help in the investigation and mitigate any political damage he may suffer.
Day 36 PDS 6:30PM:
Rinaldo was not pleased at the news. I convinced him to ply Lirazel for information on how the enemy avoided detection from the sniffers. He seems to think he can and is eager to make good. I have left the investigation to Sir John’s people. My own involvement in an investigation would only serve to heighten its publicity, not something that is wise to do. I imagine a lot of the nobility and possibly a couple of my cousins will be feeling a bit uncomfortable. The spy has probably slept with quite a few of them. Certainly medical examinations are in order for those involved. I will bring it up with Diego next time I see him. I can’t bring myself to trump him this evening. In my mood I am likely to say something I will regret and I don’t feel it prudent to alienate him while this war is still ongoing. Tomorrow I will be offering some of my troops a chance to return home. I try to brighten my spirits by the thought of their triumphant homecoming but deep in my heart I recognize that I am only planting the seeds for future recruitment for entirely selfish reasons. Its hard to feel better about things when you know yourself so well.
Day 37 PDS 8:00AM:
I am about to lead about half of my samurai back to their homes. This morning I assembled them and presented them with a choice. Either they could continue serving me and heap more honor upon themselves or they could return home with my blessing. I presented each man with a ceremonial dagger emblazoned with the unicorn of Amber and a small bag of gold. Those returning have plenty of loot from our few campaigns in any case and will be moderately wealthy upon their return. They are certainly better trained now and will command great respect from their native lords upon their return. The half who chose to remain will become the core of my personal guard. I will reward their faith in me in every way that I can.
It is my hope that those who return spread tales of our glory (exaggerated no doubt) and facilitate future recruitment from their homeland. I have no doubt I will need their services again.
Day 38 PDS 9:30PM:
I spoke with Rinaldo late last night. He was drunk as a skunk but had news from Lirazel about how the shapeshifter was able to avoid detection. They have developed a drug that inhibits the ability to the point of undetectability. We will need samples of the drug and have to find a way to detect its presence inside a body.
Not long after my conversation with Rinaldo I was trumped by an old friend in Rebma. Count Taran wanted to congratulate me on my elevation to the royal family. He has been away scouting for Rebma for some time, presumably in chaosian held territory. Our relationship is interesting. I know he is a defacto agent for Queen Moire. He knows that I know. Neither of us care. Still, alarm bells went off in my head when he invited me to a shadow hopping drinking binge to celebrate his return/my elevation/Martin’s return. This seems a particularly imprudent time to get hammered into insensibility, particularly in shadow. I can’t forget that he has been in enemy territory for an extended time and could theoretically have been replaced or turned by one of our enemies. The only way for me to find out if my old friend is still worthy of trust is to accept the invitation and be on guard.
Earlier today I was contacted by Ky-Tung and asked to haul her and her crew to safety. They ran afoul of what I take to be a Gryphon naval patrol and lost the ship. They were in the vicinity of the giant creature shadow and had a number of trophies with them. Bobcat pelts as large as bear skins and such. She set about her mercantile hobby in the homeland of my samurai where I had been repatriating my men all day. Things are well here and it looks like I will have an amenable relationship with the local lords when it comes time to recruit more men. In fact, I have a few already wanting to come to Amber. I will take forty or fifty back with me and begin their training.
I told Ky-Tung of Taran’s invitation. She will attend, suitably armed as my backup. I also will invite Breggor along. I have been neglecting him a bit and I need to renew our relationship. The question is, do I broach the subject of the Broken Pattern to Ky?
Day 38 PDS 11:30PM:
One last entry for today. I am feeling in a recruiting kind of mood and have been wanting to get some more Remans under the Amber banner. I trumped Jacob to ask where he obtained his men. Jacob was in the process of peeling off some strange commando garb but was quite flush from the recent joy of “blowing shit up” as he put it. Johrom seems to be going well and he was in a good mood. He agreed to take me to their shadow once he has a bit of time and nothing else needs demolition. I sort of envied him his simple pleasures. I have not had opportunity for gratifying destruction since Tulun, and even there I was not personally demolishing anything.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 24 PDS 9:00 PM:
I spent most of the day trying to put Tori's information out of my mind and arranging affairs for my new residence in Inakhos. Gold in the right hands works wonders for speeding things up. That and a little shadow shifting has made it possible to actually stay here for some length of time in relative comfort. The local cuisine will take some getting used to, but the people are straightforward in their motivations and the climate is acceptable. I chose a medium size abode, one which indicates some degree of wealth but not so much as to draw unwanted attention. It has a music room, a library, four bedrooms, a large kitchen, a dining room and a sizeable parlor. I will require a couple servants for upkeep, but beyond that I should need no other staff. Tomorrow I begin my search for an assistant and a housekeeper.
Day 25 PDS 2:00 PM:
I approached the man I deemed to be the best source of information. His name is Karl and he is the manservant of the Director of Intelligence for the area. The Director is something of a klutz, but Karl knows his stuff and was willing to set me up with his cousin Olaf. In return for undocumented payments in gold, he will assist me in establishing an identity as a foreign importer on the lam from an unspecified hostile power. He will create a history for me, salt my file with mundane and uninteresting data and insinuate it into the official record. Olaf's job will be to handle my security and personal assistant requirements. I intend to pay him obscenely well to keep him loyal.
Day 27 PDS 3:00 PM:
My house has been established. Olaf has arrived and taken up residence in one of the rooms. I have given him free reign of the house and explained my simple requirements to him. So far so good. I have stocked my library with suitable material and will begin creating a trump of it this afternoon. My first lesson with Galina will be in a few days so I have time to brush up on my cello and violin beforehand.
Day 27 PDS 9:00PM:
Even when I am on vacation fate conspires to run me ragged. A few hours ago I was trumped by mother with a rather disturbing message. She had an unusual visitor who had arrived unannounced through the Well. It was the Queen of Air and Darkness. She had requested a meeting with me to become acquainted and hoped I could come see her right away. There was a definite hint of urgency in mom's voice so I agreed, begging for a few minutes to clean up. I quickly changed clothes, drafted a short letter explaining what had occurred and trumped Jacob. I briefly filled him in on what I was about to do and asked him to open the letter if I did not get back to him in a day or so. I then trumped into the Keep to face the music.
Mother was there and unharmed, though I could tell she was walking on eggshells. The Queen was there, dressed in black and exhibiting some unusual physical characteristics. She had feathers of a sort rather than hair but otherwise appeared human. She had a handful of thugs in evidence. I had no illusion that any sort of feat of arms could get me out of her clutches if she chose to become hostile. Accordingly I treated her with utmost respect without fawning over her. She would not respect weakness, so I showed as little as possible.
Our conversation began with a brief introduction and she asked me for a synopsis of my life up to now. I kept it brief but accurate as far as it goes. Before we got into too much gory detail about my personal life, I began to turn the conversation to her background, function and reason for looking me up. She explained that Benedict was interested in the new crop of cousins and had got her interested as well. She seemed to imply it was a desire to know the family for sentimental reasons. I did not buy it for a second. She obviously is evaluating us for potential usefulness to some scheme of hers. I hoped to divine what that might be so I inquired as to the nature of her power, her function in chaos and her exact relationship to the rest of us.
Her story is that she is the grandmother of Dworkin, forced by an ancient geas to spend her life protecting shadow from entities of the abyss. She explained that the binding power requires an oath to guard shadow and is the last power someone can take if they become an initiate. She is currently studying under Benedict and wants to keep him as happy as possible, hence her visit here. More likely she is discovering that Amberites make better grunts to hurl against the critters in the abyss than chaosians and wants to use or recruit us.
I learned from her what had happened to Bleys. He has been grafted to a parasite that continually keeps him drugged to drive him insane. To help him we will need to separate him from the parasite. He is very dangerous now and the Queen (who prefers to be called Zhartra) thinks only Benedict could safely approach him. Food for thought.
Other interesting tidbits of information confirmed that the unicorn (Amalthea) is our ancestress and also a creature from the abyss. She had an ally, some sort of catlike creature that I took to be the White Tiger reputed to have helped the inhabitants of the Tir, also a creature of the abyss.
I learned that Dad's sword Werewindle had been recovered and was held by a chaosian lord. She did not share with me who that was, but I struck a bargain with her. If she can recover it and present it to me, I will help her on one of the nastier creatures she must face. I will certainly regret that offer, but honor requires me to recover the family heirloom if I can. This seems the only way at present and I will need it if I am going to be afflicted with Logrus masters in every battle I attend.
The most troubling part of our conversation concerned my mother and brother. Both are minor initiates of the Well. According to Zhartra, it will eventually drive them mad as it did my father. She has offered an amulet for each that will use a bit of the binding power to keep their sanity intact. I believe her. I am sure that it will have an additional effect of establishing some amount of control over them and if I did not have a good reason to avoid taking that power before, I certainly do now. I will have to remember not to rely on either my mother or brother should I ever need to oppose Zhartra in the future. I will need to screen Werewindle should she return it to me as well.
Day 28 PDS 12:00PM:
I had almost finished with my trump when I got another trump. Gerard this time. Looks as though the Gryphons are attacking Avalon, the source of Amber gunpowder. I would dearly love to find out how they discovered its location and importance. We obviously have a traitor somewhere in the ranks. In the meantime I need to round up some troops and enter the fray yet again. Galina will have to wait.
Day 29 PDS 11:30AM:
After a hurried mustering of cousins and troops from a variety of sources, we beat back the Gryphon incursion. The bastards got away with some material from the mine before we could kill them all. In the event we snuffed one of the Pattern users and captured a second. They are down to three now, making it more difficult to justify allowing them to hold on to the Tir. We may just have to exterminate them all now and get it over with.
After the fight we had an impromptu meeting of the family to discuss the ethical treatment of prisoners. Between interjections of “kill them all!” from Diego, the more reasonable among us carried the day and decided that depending upon the house involved, we would treat prisoners relatively well. All of this discussion was witnessed by Zhartra. I can’t help but wonder what impression we have each made upon her. I decided to test her a bit and suggested she might make a good medium for exchange of ambassadors (and perhaps later prisoners) with each Chaosian House. She agreed to undertake that task with a few minor stipulations. Good! That should keep her relatively busy for a while, hopefully delaying the inevitable recruitment spiel.
I’m off to Inakhos yet again now that the fuss has died down a bit.
Day 34 PDS 6:00PM:
I have spent the last several days getting to know Galina. It has been nice not having to look over my shoulder very much and engage in civilized discussion with someone who has no inkling of my status. I almost feel normal again. Sadly all this must change as I have resolved to at least make her aware of the option open to her if she is willing to pay the price. Tomorrow I will contrive to catch her attention to realize I am more than I seem, much as she is.
Day 35 PDS 8:00 PM:
I have just made Galina aware of how things are, where she is from and what is required to take up her inheritance. She has requested to see Amber and see for herself how things stand. Now she has met Gerard, albeit in an embarrassing way and I can only assume others will soon become aware of her unless I can arrange to maintain her anonymity with Gerard’s connivance. May the Unicorn have mercy on my soul.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 19 PDS 7:30AM :
I trumped Ky-Tung to house sit for me while I hunt down Jan Van Eyck and put a slug through his brain. Of course I did not tell her what I was up to, merely that I had urgent business in shadow later and I wanted someone to keep the brownies busy. She seems to relish the thought of playing mistress of the manor and I certainly don't mind indulging her. Things are good between us, but I have a lurking fear that I may have to either break off our affair soon or risk losing her to the Broken Pattern. It would not be fair to her to lead her on about our future. The bottom line is I don't want to marry a woman who will die of old age long before I get my first gray hair. Either she must take the Broken Pattern to extend her lifespan or we should just end our affair in the near future before she becomes too dear to me to say goodbye. I dread broaching the subject.
I have an appointment with Feldane this morning to discuss his bug collection. I had made the promise earlier when I shanghaied Tanitheel from him and I want to get it over with. Hopefully he has an adequate liquor supply to keep the subject interesting.
Day 19 PDS 11:30AM:
I'm done at Feldane's and it was less painful than I expected. He is a bright fellow and the discussion turned to various natural insect venoms and their antidotes. Potentially useful information and after a while I got into the spirit of the discussion. The superb wine helped. Next stop; Flora's shadow Earth and checking on my ciphering project.
Day 19 PDS 8:30PM:
I got a trump to Earth via Aunt Flora and got an update from our specialists. They are finding some hidden information, but so far none of it has been of serious nature. Mostly hidden jibes, jokes, etc. They are still working so perhaps they will find something more interesting. I learned that Van Eyck had escaped prison yet again with the help of his female lawyer and had fled to a nation called Germany. She is dead of course. He is currently residing in a city called Hamburg, running some kind of illicit gun and drug smuggling operation. Coincidentally there have been a number of murders of women matching his prior exploits in that area. It will be a kindness to put this mad dog down. Due to my unfamiliarity with this shadow, I have arranged local transport. An airliner is what they call it. Very interesting.
Day 20 PDS 6:00PM:
I arrived in Hamburg and established myself in a hotel. Flora's agents have supplied me with gear and the latest intelligence. I have managed to take up a position outside Van Eyck's warehouse and am waiting for him to emerge. If he does not show within a couple days I may have to resort to different methodology.
Day 20 PDS 9:30PM:
Van Eyck is dead. It was not one of my better efforts. I had hoped for one clean merciful shot but in the event I had to take four shots at him, one at his van and one at a guard. He emerged from the parking area in a tinted window vehicle, accompanied by three or four men. I used a little Pattern to cause the alternator belt to break as soon as it emerged. One man ran back to get a replacement, but the others stayed in their vehicle for far longer than I had hoped. Eventually they emerged and I took my first shot. I incorrectly anticipated Van Eyck's first movements and only blew off his ear when I had been aiming for his temple. My second shot hit him in the torso, but did not appear to be fatal. He was drug behind the van by a bodyguard, so I shot through him into my quarry once more. My next shot exploded the gas tank of the van which served as an admirable distraction while I shifted position to get a clear shot. I finally got the clean head shot and dropped him for good. I retrieved the body and trumped out before the local officials could arrive.
Day 21 PDS 11:30AM:
I was just finishing my burial of Van Eyck on a deserted beach in another shadow when I got the tingle of a trump call. It was Jacob, so I took it. He asked to come through, so I pulled him in. He was obviously a little perturbed and was taking hits off a bottle of whiskey when he looked down to see Van Eyck's hand poking from the sand where I had been tamping down with a shovel. I gave him a very brief explanation and he seemed OK with the fact I had just offed a potential family member. He proceeded to fill me in on a few new bits of information that had come his way. It seems he had been in trump conversation with Gerard and got pulled in to an office where he saw Oberon sitting. Only Oberon wasn't Oberon, he was actually Dworkin. Except Dworkin had part of Oberon in his head as part of the fix that repaired Dad's damage. I took a swig from Jacob's bottle and listened to more. Apparently there was some grave danger to all of us and the whole thing had been plopped into Tori's lap to spearhead. I drained the bottle.
Jacob wanted to tell everyone, so he next trumped in Thirteen. Thirteen brought quite the retinue with him, including Dara. We more or less told the hangers on to take a midnight stroll along the beach while we talked. None mentioned the body I had been burying. We talked at length about the situation, brought in more booze and had an impromptu beach party complete with bonfire. Very surrealistic when you think about it. I somehow think Van Eyck might have been amused in his sick way.
By the end of the night, Jacob had gotten some papers that supposedly described the danger from a very petulant Tori. We trumped back to Amber to translate what we could, but it was soon apparent we would need help. We took a copy to Earth and put my numerologists and cryptologists to work. Quite some time later we had some interesting results.
Translation is not yet complete, but we have information implying the Chaosians have developed a sort of logrus based madness bomb. It appears to be devastating in effect but requires the sacrifice of a Logrus master to create. It also requires the strange power wielded by the Queen of Air and Darkness. Peachy.
Day 22 PDS 7:00AM:
We passed our translation to Amber for relay to Tori since she seems unwilling to take Jacob's trump now. If she won't take his, she sure as hell won't take mine. She probably already knows the information anyway, but I want to make sure we have all bases covered. I briefly considered bringing in and informing Diego, but decided that all of Rebma did not need to know this information just yet.
Late yesterday I made my way to Inakhos to research Galina. I have learned she is teaching at the University so I plan on enrolling in her class today and observing her up close.
Day 23 PDS 11:00 AM:
I have met her and learned a few things. For one, she has three or four students in love with her. Evidence of Caine's charisma no doubt. She is talented (of course), relatively attractive and is definitely of the blood in my opinion. I watched for any sign of surveillance and have identified two watchers. One is the fellow employed by Amber and the other is a low level secret policeman. I plan on tailing the policeman to find his office and burgle it tonight. I would like to see their files on her.
Day 23 PDS 11:30PM:
The break in was easy. Her file was there and I learned a few things. She takes her pacifism seriously enough to allow rioters to beat her up a while back. She healed completely and quickly. She had at least one affair recently but has turned down at least two marriage proposals. I sense she is stricken with the same fear as I, outliving any spouse. Perhaps she can be approached using that knowledge.
Day 24 PDS 2:30AM:
I don't think I will be able to sleep tonight. I am too agitated now. I was preparing to retire for the night an hour ago when I got a trump call from Toriana. A very drunk and naked Toriana. She proceeded to inform me that Diego had turned Tor over to Moire in return for a dinner date. Dara had mentioned that negotiations were in progress to release Martin, but I had assumed that they had been initiated by Diego. Apparently this is not the case and I am quite wroth at Diego right now. The fellow absolutely thinks with his dick. What a waste of resources. I could see it if he were getting troops or ships or trumps or anything useful, but a dinner date? I can only hope Tori is playing a joke on me. I had noted the missing library globe had been returned a couple of days ago and my opinion of Diego had climbed accordingly. Now I just don't know what to think. If this latest gossip is true, I hope she can keep it to herself. We don't need the family becoming the laughingstock of the news rags
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 14 PDS 7:30AM :
The Hendrakes reached the environs of Tulun two days ago. I have kept Bono’s men restricted to the city proper where their numbers will not be evident. I have assigned Flora to the right wing of the Aquitainian army, Prinz Eugen to the center and kept the left wing under the Aquitain commander Luis. In a short while they will be stepping off, hopefully appearing at once and with surprise. On the east side my brother has taken command of twenty thousand men and will be driving into the Tandu forces that are scattered across that area. I have positioned Diego’s clackers on either side of a peninsula overlooking the bay to cut off the enemy assault there. Ships are at standby to assist both Diego and Rinaldo when the time is right. I have Jacob as a roving hit man, tasked to do as much damage he can to enemy commanders. Numerous Broken Pattern initiates are ready, split between the armies. I anticipate having to adapt my plan as we go, so each group will be in trump contact with me as the battle progresses.
Earlier this morning, I sent up a little surprise for the pesky razorbeaks. We have strung thin high tensil line between the buildings in town and have already succeeded in killing a few of the miserable birds. More amusing was the hot air balloon packed with explosives and shrapnel I sent up to draw them in. As expected, they attacked it en masse and the resulting detonation and feather cloud was quite a spectacle.
Looking around the table at my aides and officers, I raise a toast to victory and an end to this miserable war. I give the order for all fronts to advance.
Day 14 PDS 8:30AM:
It is very different leading a battle from the rear than fighting it amongst the men. I must rely on the talents of so many people when I desperately want to do everything myself. Our scouts are reporting the enemy movements, there is no sign of overt Logrus use (they appear to have learned from past encounters) but my instincts are just screaming at me to grab a rifle and go add the weight of my lead to the fray. I must not do this and it is perhaps the hardest lesson I must learn from this whole affair.
Flora’s force has moved smartly and seized the right hillock overlooking the fields surrounding the peninsular forts. The enemy has split off a large force of thralls to challenge her. The numbers and terrain look to be in Flora’s favor there and I have no fear she will hold. I am somewhat more anxious about Eugen’s force in the center. I purposely gave him the smallest and least experienced force, knowing of his reputation of doing more with less than anyone else around. So far he is holding, having taken the other hillock. More thralls are moving against him and that is the point I am most worried about. Luis has moved quickly and seized a ruined town where he is making his stand protecting Eugen’s flank. A number of roving mercenary cavalry appear to be massing to hit his cannon, so Jacob is bringing in his Persians to play with them. This should be interesting. In the east Rinaldo’s men are behind schedule. I should not be surprised. Rinaldo was forced to coerce them with a variety of recreational drugs to get them pumped up for the fight. Consequently they are a little slow to get moving but should serve to pin the eastern forces until things are settled in the west.
Day 14 PDS 9:45 AM:
Things are hopping now. Jacob has apparently called upon the talents of Tori to open the trump gate and all hell is breaking loose over there. The first Logrus is being used, but so far things seem to be under control. Luis and Eugen are holding and Flora has made mincemeat out of the thralls attacking her. I ordered her to advance upon the beastmen investing the peninsula forts. Things are getting dicey there, so Diego has given his clackers the orders to attack and ships are in position to pound the ground around the forts. Things are still a little confused, but it appears that great slaughter is being wreaked upon the enemy there. Rinaldo’s men did not lure the Tandu into the other peninsula, so I ordered them to attack head on to keep them busy.
Day 14 PDS 10:00AM:
Logrus is being used on every front now, but so far it has not been sufficient to blunt our attack. Jacob’s Persians are doing nicely and it looks like Tori has decided to indulge her latent talent for destruction. The zombies are taking the brunt of it. It looks like that area will see the first Hendrake vs Barimen encounter in personal terms. Flora has cut off the peninsula so I feel confident that part of my attack is working to plan. Diego and his troops are in the thick of it and are acquitting themselves well. Several men-of-war are pounding away at the beastie boys and no enemy reinforcements are in evidence. So far, so good. I have Bono’s men ready to move quickly onto the attack should an opportunity present itself.
Day 14 PDS 10:10AM:
It appears as if Tori has drawn some interesting attention. Luis contacted me asking permission to fire upon what appears to be an enemy commander. A very large and strong enemy commander. I told him to concentrate his heavy guns on the bastard and ordered every available Pattern or BP user to think appropriate thoughts. He reported a direct hit, blowing the bastard into pieces with a 24 pounder.
From what is being described to me, it looks like a coin or two went off in that area. I hope Tori was not caught up in it. Gerard would have my nuts on a platter if she snuffs it or is captured.
Jacob has led a force against a body of beastmen moving towards the hill forts. That fight is still developing.
The peninsula fort is still holding and it looks like we will carry the day there. Both Flora and Diego are doing well and we may capture a Hendrake or two there.
Rinaldo is slowly advancing but not rolling over his foe. I may need to sally forth to give him a hand soon. I have given the order for twenty thousand of Bono’s men to be ready to move in a few minutes.
Day 14 PDS 10:20 AM:
We appear to have won. Enemy commanders are bugging out from all over the battlefield. Rumor has it the big burly bastard we blew into little pieces was Chinaway. Enemy resistance is still active, especially amongst the Tandu and beastmen, but the remainder are crumbling. I sent out Bono’s cavalry with some infantry support to assist Rinaldo. Flora and Diego are still attacking the peninsula force but the end is not in doubt. I poured myself a slug of whiskey and congratulated the Prince of Tulun on keeping his city.
Day 14 PDS 4:00 PM:
Chinaway is presumed dead. We have captured one Hendrake lord, believed to be Lord Tor. The remainder of the Hendrakes have fled the shadow from what we can tell. We are chasing down scattered Tandu and beastmen. I have ordered every last one of them put to death. We are sparing the thralls who appear to have emerged from their mental slavery. What few mercemaries we captured will be interrogated and likely turned over to Eugen for his judgment. We lost no family members, no major commanders and relatively acceptable numbers of troops, with the exception of Jacob’s Persians. They took a hard blow when Chinaway’s coins cooked off courtesy of Tori. Still, the Oscray and surviving Persians are being feted in Carnival by a grateful Jacob. We are planning on a nice crab feast on the peninsula. Diego has asked for Tor as his prisoner and I have granted that in recognition of his vital contribution. Flora will be returning to Johrom to continue her work there, but I made sure to warmly thank her for her help as well. Tori is OK and quite pleased at having been instrumental in Chinaway’s demise. I thanked her as well and learned that she has been learning more about our surviving family. More about that later.
Day 15 PDS 9:30AM:
Mop up is continuing and will be for some days to come. We are moving with a strong force to reclaim Chandora with Eugen in the van. Tori will help shut down the necro gate and with that we should be able to stabilize this shadow entirely. I sent dispatches to Gerard to keep him informed and invited the Prince of Tulun to Amber in order to spread the good word about what we did here. We may need good press to help our efforts in Johrom and elsewhere.
Bono and I discussed appropriate awards, ceremonies, etc for the troops. I am learning a great deal from him about how to keep an army happy, loyal and useful. He has indicated a desire to build his strength a bit before committing to his own campaign. I suspect he is stalling, having seen the eternal city and developing a taste for our company. My hope is to install him as an ongoing source of middle technology armies for Amber in shadow. If I can make him emperor again and perhaps instill some sense of responsibility into bettering his subjects, he should prove a valuable resource for the future. We shall see how events have altered his expectations out of life.
Now, about Tori’s information. She has claimed to have learned the fates of Corwin, Bleys and Benedict. She warned me that it would be better to leave Bleys alone. He is apparently insane, extremely powerful and wandering free in Chaosian shadow. Great. This will bear some thought. I think it unwise not to at least try and channel him into some secluded shadow, preferably a slow time shadow, where he can recover his wits in peace. I know I would hold a grudge if I were left to rot by my own family with no attempt to mitigate my condition. I have not learned the details of Corwin’s fate, though she said he had indeed created his own Pattern and implied that is where he might be found. Benedict we already know is in the tender care of the Queen of Air and Darkness. I’m not sure what to do about that except open a channel of communications with her and negotiate his eventual release.
Day 18 PDS 10:00AM:
It appears things are under control for the nonce. I have asked Gerard for a short break from my military duties and he consented. We discussed some of the bastards and I revealed to him my desire to remove one of them from the toils of life. He seems to concur and I have undertaken his planned demise as my next project before some Helgram finds him and puts him to nefarious use. I will not rely on Flora’s agents to do the deed. I plan on doing it personally. At least that way I can make sure it is done humanely and competently. If any repercussions are to be had from Corwin for removing his mistake without his permission, I accept them.
Gerard and I agreed there may eventually be some hope to find a place for Galina. She will be my next stop after the serial rapist/killer is taken care of. It is not believed she is aware of her heritage, so I must be careful in how I approach her and to what extent she is educated about the true nature of the universe. She intrigues me from an intellectual point of view and I look forward to meeting her.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 5 PDS 7:30AM :
Just met with Le Empereur Bono. He seems understandably anxious to have his wife and son join him in freedom. I told him I would see to it immediately and we sat down to discuss whom I should contact amongst his former commanders. He came up with six names. Not as many as I had hoped, but it was a start. I resolved to start by contacting one currently commanding a regiment held in garrison away from the center of things. To ease my mission, Bono penned a few letters explaining that I was acting as his agent. I thanked him, arranged to have him visit our local physicians to treat a stomach ailment he was experiencing and left to find Tanitheel. I planned to utilize her skills in freeing the wife and son as soon as possible.
Day 5 PDS 11:30AM:
Tanitheel was receptive to my request and I took her to Franc to get acclimatized. I had rescued her from the tedium of listening to one of the Feldanes drone on and on about his bug collection and she seemed eager for action. Bono had provided information on where his family was held, so I filled her in and sent her on her way. I think this is the sort of mission she likes. She certainly seemed to relish the thought of making the locals feel like idiots. I learned she had been invited to yet another of Diego’s parties, so I promised her she would be free of my service to attend as soon as possible. She seemed to take my mission as the more important duty, but I did not want to cause her any grief with Diego and she certainly deserves a break. I will let her loose as soon as I can.
Day 6 PDS 10:30AM:
Tanitheel proved to be her normal efficient self and trumped me when she had custody of the family. We brought them through unconscious to avoid hysteria and I immediately brought them to Bono upon their awakening. They were disoriented but the family reunion was strangely touching. Bono’s wife is an interesting woman. She certainly knows how to put on the airs once she settled a bit. I contacted Liam to locate a suitably luxurious abode for them to stay in during their time in Amber. Things are progressing nicely but it is time to knuckle down and recruit my army. Tanitheel and I will be returning to Franc tomorrow. I plan to spend the rest of the day planning my approach and getting a quick tutorial on the customs of Franc from Bono.
Day 7 PDS 2:00PM:
I returned to Franc and sent Tanitheel off to locate my prospects. She soon found the first fellow in garrison, so I joined her there and sent a dinner invitation to the regimental commander. He has replied in the affirmative and I look forward to meeting him tonight. I spent some time wandering about the town. Issues of sanitation come to mind and I must educate my troops on the very basics it seems. Exposure to Amber should have an enlightening effect on Bono, perhaps to the point where he will introduce enhance sanitation methods upon his return to this world. I have hopes for the people here and would like to see them prosper. A long term source of medium technology troops would seem advisable in our war effort.
Day 7 PDS 9:30PM:
My dinner went well. The commander seems fond of his days under Bono’s empire and was able to give me a fair warning about one of the names on the list I am using. Scratch one regimental commander, but the remaining names are viable according to this fellow. We agreed that he would arrange an exercise for his men, enabling me to get them on the way to my staging area. We exchanged pleasantries most of the evening but I learned a great deal about the local situation. It seems my proposed commander of artillery is in a bit of a bad spot and I will need to hurry to get him under my wing. I sent Tanitheel ahead and look forward to meeting the man tomorrow.
Day 8 PDS 10:00PM:
I was very busy today and am only now able to scratch down the day’s events. I met with the artillery commander, arranged to slip his force out under fog cover and sent them on their way with a minimum of fuss. I likewise collected the garrison troops successfully. The next couple days I will gather the others. I trumped Jacob and helped him move some supplies towards my men with the timely assistance of Dara. He has done a great job, getting all the consumables I could possibly need. Dara helped greatly in moving the stuff much quicker. I owe them both.
This recruitment is all just so easy, much simpler than I had expected. I am learning a great deal about logistics, politics and the egos of men. On the down side, intelligence from Chandoria indicates the Hendrakes are on the move, advancing on the southern port cities in search of fresh necro fodder to power gates. I must oppose them sooner than I had wished and will need the assistance of some of the family to be effective.
Day 10 PDS 3:00PM:
My force is now adequate and I have had a little time to acclimatize the men with Bono’s help. I contacted Flora, Rinaldo, Diego, Jacob and a minor host of Broken Pattern initiates. I have given Rinaldo command of the Eastern forces (which I do not expect to play a great role), Jacob is with Prinz Eugen in Aquitaine with his forces along with Flora, and I have taken the southern center with Diego as my aide. Clackers are positioned in the waters nearby, I have my samurai ready for a surprise low tech reserve and Bono has undertaken the fortification of the city and will have tactical command of his troops. I plan to oversee the whole operation at a strategic level. Soon the enemy will be in striking distance and we shall see what we shall see.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Day 2 PDS (Post Death of Swayvill), 9:00 AM
I wanted to get something accomplished before the Gala of Diego (henceforth referred to as the Fiasco), so I took command of a fast sloop and headed out into shadow. I had read a bit about a fellow from Flora’s pet shadow who sounded like exactly the sort of chap I needed for Chandora. He is long dead of course, but I should be able to locate a facsimile somewhere out in shadow. This man had spread like a plague over a continent using exactly the sort of armies as exist in Aquitaine. His world was inexperienced with magic, but that shortcoming is easily overcome. He understood maneuver, logistics, morale and most importantly had guts. His ego was formidable, but if I can deal with Toriana he will be child’s play.
During a lull in this man’s career, he was exiled with a loyal guard to a small island guarded by his enemies against his return. I wanted to catch my facsimile in just that situation. He must be eager to return to power and have an initial cadre of elite troops to start with. I would offer him the chance to defeat his greatest enemy in return for some service in Chandora. I needed his charisma and reputation with his army to ease the recruitment of a professional force, already veterans and not likely to break under pressure.
I sailed for many hours, shifting shadow to seek out my man. I felt I was getting closer but time had run out before the Fiasco was to begin, so I had the ship’s captain lay in at a convenient port and instructed him to trump me in 12 hours to continue our mission. I returned to Amber via trump and began cleaning up for the day’s activities. The ceremony was to start early afternoon with the investiture, followed by some crass treaty signing forced upon Gerard by Diego. Word had gotten out that a speech was scheduled and I was somewhat apprehensive about Diego’s choice of subject matter. At times he is socially clumsy and I had anxieties that he would put off some of the nobility or family when everyone’s support is critical now.
I contacted Mother and informed her of the Fiasco taking place. She indicated an interest as attending as one of my staff. I reluctantly agreed. She wanted to visit the library as well, so I made a brief inspection tour of its progress. I was rather annoyed to discover Diego had taken one of the globes without asking or informing me. After a few minutes, I decided that he more or less deserved one for his participation and my annoyance abated. At least until I trumped him and learned he had immediately presented it to Moire. We will never see it again. I hoped he at least presented it to her as a gift from Amber to Rebma, but given his lack of political savvy I have no doubts he just plunked it into her lap like a bouquet of flowers from a suitor. His complete lack of distinction between the interests of Amber and those of Rebma is disturbing. I shall have to remember that he can not be trusted with confidential intelligence.
The library itself was adapting to the globe shortfall, though some of the less important works will not be kept track of. I will need to establish some better security soon and I will speak to Gerard about it.
Speaking of Gerard, he was as good as his word and I was given access to the “bastard files”. The term holds dual meaning, believe me. The synopsis of each makes clear why they were not deemed suitable for elevation into the accepted ranks. I do think it would be amusing to introduce Diego to his other half sibling. I can’t help but giggle at the thought that Flora of all people holds the key to making such a meeting possible. Her temptation must be extreme. Still, if it were up to me I would have him eliminated before he becomes a problem.
I think I shall take the time to meet one of them, Galina Ostreyeva. She sounds interesting. It would not do to bring her to Amber, but she would be a fascinating aquaintance in some ways. Perhaps I will take up the piano and spend some time with her as a student. I would not want to inadvertently lead the Chaosian spies to her, so I will have to make sure my backtrail is very clear before I pay a visit to her shadow.
The other female cousin detailed sounds like a lively lady. Too dangerous to have an immediate use, but I may have to explore a relationship with her as well. She sounds like she may be a fount of interesting ideas that might have utility in Amber. I wonder if she has been made aware of her parentage and potential? If she has, then I fear she may eventually require termination as well.
Time to pick up Ky and head to the Fiasco.
Day 2 PDS, 2:00pm
It is a good thing everyone was heavily armed and halfway expecting trouble at the Fiasco. I did not put my submachinegun to use, but I did end up having a date with Charlene. A short while after the speech (which was not as horrible as I feared, though Diego took a clumsy jab at Flora), the sniffers reported a problem. Then Logrus was used from within the milling crowds, drawing large enchanted Manticoras to the plaza and setting them off on a killing spree. Predictably, much of my family ran to the defense and tried to put the creature’s down. I immediately advised Morwyn (in attendance with Triton bodyguards) to return to Rebma quickly. I admired her spunk for wanting to stay and fight at our sides, but the potential damage if she were hurt was too great to risk. It’s a shame more Rebmans are not like her. She did finally consent to leave after I appealed to her bodyguards to apply pressure on her. Once she was safely away, I pulled out my trumps to check on the status elsewhere. It was obvious to me that the manticoras were a diversion from the real danger. Sadly, I think I was the only one of the family present to realize this. As I was conversing with my agent in Arden, I sensed a malevolent approach out of the corner of my eye. Not waiting, I grabbed Ky and stepped through the trump contact before my assailant could react. I caught a few phrases of Chaos lilted Thari as we trumped away.
In Arden, I stripped off my uniform and got into my kill suit. I picked up Charlene my blessed sniper rifle and the ammo I had not used in Tir Tarngir and trumped Rinaldo to return to commence my hunt. He pulled me through and I informed him that we were targeted by assassins. He grew grim and endeavored to cover my back while I surveyed the crowds from a concealed rooftop. I watched the centers of action where I could see family engaging the monsters. I watched Diego in crab form playing with one, but I felt he had it more or less under control so I held fire. Manticores were of no interest to me. Looking for stalkers, I finally identified one sneaking up on Gerard as he fought a manticore. It looked like he was about to strike, so I shot him in the head. I was rewarded with the flare of chaos blood and magic. He had obviously had a shield of some sort up, but dear Charlene was up to the task. He dropped and burned a bit. I could see no others, so I shifted position to try and get a bead on some other gunfire I heard in a different direction. It sounded like Jacob’s pistols. By the time I got there, I found another dead assassin and no sign of Jacob. I then heard a distant boom that I thought might be one of Thirteen’s favored weapons, a god awfully big anti-tank rifle. Some more shouting resulted and some sort of pursuit took place towards the docks.
By the time I got to that area, the fun and games were over. Thirteen had winged an assassin but it had crawled into the sea and Morwyn had been called back to deal with it. She lost another Triton doing so, but the assassin was slain. Word had gotten out that Jacob had killed one but had been injured in the fray and trumped himself away. If he could trump, I was not overly worried about him. He’s a pretty tough bastard and from what I could tell only had a leg wound of some sort. The one I dropped was not dead, but was comatose with my bullet in his brain. We hauled him off to the castle then tried to get things back in order. I oversaw the establishment of order, had the dead removed and had the carcasses of the beasts attended to. The final casualty list was not as severe as I had feared. As an attack, it failed utterly. We learned that they were from House Manticore and were the last of the ones sent into our end of the universe. Since I was already targeted, I resolved on a bit of bravado and returned to the castle. I inquired into the likelihood of my prisoner recovering from his brain injury. It seemed unlikely, but we had no means available to handle someone that dangerous so I made a decision to finish him off. I had his head removed, enchanted and packed in salt. I then crated it up and turned it over to House Basilisk for delivery to what remained of House Manticore in chaos with a note “Courtesy of Prince Fineas”. That should annoy them. If they are going to try and assassinate me, I might as well give them a reason.
Day 4 PDS 9:00am
I returned to the sloop and continued my search. I found the man I am looking for and spent a while infiltrating his compound and making contact. “The Emperor” was amenable to my offer after I proved to him what I could do. I offered to rescue his family as well, so I will be spending some time shuttling back and forth between Arden and La Belle Frank. I will be gating his personal guard first to Arden, then to a marshalling shadow nearer to Chandora. In the coming days I will be absconding with entire regiments with his help until I have the force I need. It should be fun. A nice break from dealing with the family and politics of Amber.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
3:00 pm: I can't help but feel time is slipping away from us. I recognize the political necessity of all these celebrations and galas, but I fear our enemies are not occupied by such frivolities. Yesterday I learned that Rinaldo had arranged his investiture for this evening with a public celebration to follow. I find this not particularly onerous, but taken together with the incredibly gauche display that Diego has planned for his gala in a couple of days my patience for Amber society is wearing a little thin. I have not had enough hours strung together back to back to accomplish any of my recruitment goals for the upcoming campaign against the Hendrakes. Instead, I have been forced to attend to Tir Tarngir (admittedly a priority) and attempting to keep my various relations happy (not really an urgent priority).
Jacob is still on the outs with Gerard to some degree and his assistance is missed. More than anyone, we need his help now in gathering strength and he is lost to us because of politics and egos. Thirteen has a huge responsibility with the Helgram front having been neglected for too long and I am loathe to increase his burden. Diego is preoccupied with Rebman relations it seems and despite his assertions to the contrary does not seem to devote enough time to the Gryphon front, his designated sphere of responsibility. I do not think he has done so much as to speak with the prisoner yet. Toriana is never long in one place it seems. She helps with interrogations and occasional trumps but is apparently wrapped up in her own private world much of the time. I can only hope it is in fruitful pursuit of our goals. As you might have guessed, we are not in each other's confidence. Rinaldo is my hope for getting things done around here. He is still eager to please and has only run afoul of Toriana so far, which everyone does.
6:00pm: I have spent the afternoon getting ready to attend Rinaldo's ceremony. I trumped Ky-Tung into my villa and we spent a few hours outfitting ourselves in appropriate attire. I sent word to my publicist that I would arrange for him to be in attendance and would get him access to the inner circle so to speak. Gerard has left word that he wishes to speak to me about something. Now, standing solemnly at Rinaldo's investiture he gives me no indication of what it might be. Rinaldo is really enjoying this whole thing I can tell. He arrived with not one but two ladies in attendance. Perhaps he intends to vie with Thirteen as the ladies' man of the family. Toriana, Jacob and Diego are all missing from the ceremony. That ought to set the tongues wagging about in-house jealousies.
8:00pm: Well surprise of surprises! After the ceremony Gerard pulled me aside and asked that I consider attuning to the Jewel of Amber. The trinket could come in damned handy I understand so I immediately said yes. The process was not especially difficult, much less so than walking the Pattern itself. While I took a few minutes to recover, I tried to get a take on what Gerard's feelings were about dealing with the remaining Pattern initiated Gryphons. He seemed to have no strong opinion one way or another. I guess I'll have to take them on a case by case basis. Gerard did let slip that he had pored through Oberon's files to locate likely family members able to take Pattern. He deemed some unsuitable for the honor but was willing to get a second opinion. I asked if I could review the files myself. He was agreeable and gave orders that I would be allowed access. I left feeling a little better about things and rejoined the celebration.
10:00pm: Well things have gotten VERY interesting. We had a brief panic about an hour ago when we all felt a strange psychic "pop" from Chaos way. My first worry was that the vile chaosians had figured out a way to gate directly to Amber and an attack was imminent. Further study revealed a local source of the strange power at Lirazel's residence. I gathered some men and went to investigate. I encountered Tori chatting with Lirazel, both in strange spirits. Tori informed the family that Swayvill had "taken the coda" as my musician friends say and the geas had lifted. We returned to the party which had just become much more festive. I can't help but wonder what are all the ramifications?
11:00pm: Pardon my ramblings here... the wine is hitting harder than I like and my mind is awhirl with possibilities. As I scribble these notes, Ky-Tung is getting a bit frisky and is doing her best to distract me with ear nibblings and whispered suggestions. Suggestions I fully intend to take here very shortly, but first I need to catch Flora before she slinks off with her victim for the evening. I have been occasionally perusing Oberon's prose and some thought occurred to me in my present state... what if he has hidden tidbits of encrypted information in his writings? It would be a fun exercise to see if anything can be found, real or imagined. I'm gonna go chat with her and see if she has any Earth folks that could help. Damn! I just knocked over my drink! Oh, and Diego finally showed up and looks intent on getting his ashes hauled. Good man! He needs to loosen up a bit! Now, if I can get the server to bring the next drink a little stronger....
12:00am: Did I mention my Ky has a fantastic ass?
1:30am: Made it home. Not sure how. Ky-Tung is sleeping soundly now after a good bout starting in the entryway, moving to the kitchen, through a couple of halls and finally ending up on my bedroom floor by the fireplace. Time to pass out.
8:30am: I woke up about an hour ago feeling famished, so I imposed upon my brownies to prepare a hearty repast. Ky-Tung is still sleeping. About half an hour ago Jacob trumped me to apologize for missing Rinaldo's party. He seems in better spirits now than he did when he left. I pulled him through and had the brownies whip him up something to eat. The poor guy looks like he could use a square meal now and again. He just left again, but we were able to discuss things of substance. He has recruited or is recruiting a large tribe of low tech warriors and he seems confident of their fidelity. I asked him for help in getting the supplies I will need to feed my intended army and he said he would help. He seems happier when busy and not bothered with the politics of Amber. Between the two of us, we should be able to scratch together a couple of decent armies to begin our counterattacks. I need to get a take on where best to use them now.
11:00am: Got Flora's staff working on my numerologist/cryptographer search. I've been thinking about what we can do to shape Chaos to our advantage with the departure of Swayvill. At first glance, the Gryphons looked like a good horse to back, but the more I think on it, the worse that idea seems. Do we really want another House to have control of both Chaos and Tir Tarngir? I think not. Competition is good, but too much of a good thing is bad.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Today was a long but satisfying day. The Gryphons are even now combing through the damaged palace we left behind for them. I envision one of them finding the letter I left for Marcus of House Gryphon, reputedly one of the more clever of that brood and smile to myself. I suspect the enemy will be disappointed that so few of our forces were destroyed, especially when counted against the cost they paid to retake the place. As I soak in my bath before undertaking my next project, I find myself wondering what is going through the enemy’s mind. Is he angry, sad, relieved, all three? I thought back on what had transpired.
The day started like most other days recently. I was contacted early in the morning by one of my cousins, Diego in this case wanting my help. Thirteen and I had moved the entire library and there was nothing holding my interest to Tir Tarngir save the chance to slay a few Gryphons. Jacob, Diego and I had discussed the plan to defend the palace in some detail the night before. All of us realized there was no profit in holding the place for any length of time. Diego was adamant about making at least a symbolic fight of it, using the opportunity to weaken the chaosians as much as possible. Jacob was pretty convinced it was not the best way to use his troops and intended to withdraw the Remans as soon as possible. I agreed with both of them. I wanted to try and use a minimal defense to draw out a few of their Logrus wielders so I could take a whack at them. I did not want to risk losing the majority of the Remans, but since Diego was bringing in some of his own troops, I agreed to help him with his effort. Rinaldo also indicated a willingness to assist.
When morning came, Jacob made arrangements to have his troops trump gated back to their barracks in Hunac. Diego was not pleased to say the least but took it in stride. He brought in his motley group of personal guards and crab creatures and somehow managed to recruit Toriana for some magical assistance. At a minimum I wanted a few personal enchantments available to me, so I took temporary leave of Diego and returned to Amber to make preparations. I had intentions of going on a Gryphon hunt and I wanted suitable weapons and ammunition. I met briefly with Sir John and we discussed how to hold and interrogate Dante. He also briefed me on what was learned from the pleasure slaves that we had liberated. Their information was grim when it came to raw numbers. The enemy forces detailed were potentially quite huge and likely to get bigger. I was even more determined to put a dent in their effective power users, preferably the Logrus users. I harbored hopes of reasoning with their Pattern initiates and so resolved not to kill any until I had at least made an honest effort to recruit them.
Sir John agreed to approach Tori on my behalf to obtain some suitably enchanted bullets for the sniper rifle Sir John made available to me. Tori was not around but Thirteen was so I enlisted his aid along with that of Badger and Sabine. I explained what I was looking for and he seemed pleased to help. It was apparently a subject he had studied closely in the recent past and knew exactly what had to be done. We would need to perform most of the enchantments I wanted in the palace, but there was something that he needed to get done first. I was invited to come watch Sabine become an initiate of the Broken Pattern with assistance from the Regent and his Jewel of Judgement. How could I pass that up? I had heard of the jewel of course but had never seen it. This was an opportunity to study it close up, plus I genuinely liked Sabine and wished to assist her in any way I could. I joined them and took a brief journey to a strange monastery where it was to be done. The resident monks were less than enthusiastic about allowing a mere woman to use their Pattern. Gerard’s glower silenced any criticism. For a moment I thought perhaps Gerard would allow us to attune to the Jewel, but he did not make the offer and I did not press.
Sabine succeeded aided by our Jewel and a judicious amount of probability control. She was very happy, but somewhat tired. We gave her a couple of hours to rest before returning to work on my enchantments. In the intervening time, I took my new rifle “Charlene” to a unicorn shrine to be blessed. Hey, you never know! It did not take long, and I sensed some sort of beneficial effect when it was done. Something to ponder. I rejoined Thirteen and company in Tir and asked them for help in strengthening the palace wards, adding teleport blocks and altering the interior to inhibit the enemy from waltzing in past our defenses. Badger seemed very interested in some of the techniques Thirteen was using and enthusiastically added his expertise on my sniper suit once we returned to Tir Tarngir. Once there, we were joined by Rinaldo who had been busy on defenses while I was gone. He and I discussed the battle and I was made to remember he had not taken the Pattern yet. Damn! I advised him to seek Gerard and get it over with ASAP. He would be hard pressed to recover before the battle, but I had hopes he could get back before the Gryphons made their move. In the event, it was not to be.
When Thirteen was finished, he gathered his aids and bid us adieu. He was off to the Helgram offensive to raise some hell. I wished him luck and began final preparations for my mission. I composed a brief letter addressed to Marcus offering he and his fellow Pattern users sanctuary from the pogrom Swayvill was certain to launch against them sooner or later. I explained the demise of Komorra, making subtle reference to the fact that just one of us was able to take her out. Let him think about that, even if it is not precisely true. I made no mention of Dante. I tried to sound reasonable and respectful of his house without seeming intimidated. I sealed the letter, placed it where it would certainly be found after the battle and headed off to establish my position in the sewers. The enemy was by now beginning their attack.
Toriana arrived just in time to begin actively defending us. Rinaldo was still recovering in Lynxia but had successfully taken the Pattern and made his oaths to Amber. Diego took overall command and began issuing his orders. He quickly asked me to contact Dara for help, so I did so. She actually answered me this time and was prepared. She requested a rifle with ammunition. I deferred to Gerard, but recommended she be allowed such. He agreed and she soon trumped in with twenty of her hellmaids to help Diego. I took up my position in the sewer, looking out through various grates to try and get a shot at a Gryphon lord.
The battle was different than most I had seen. The enemy wisely began trashing the wards with Logrus from some distance, only sending troops in after Tori and Diego were tied up with fending off the tendrils. They quickly began to penetrate the defenses of the outer towers. Through my sight, I had a clear shot at one of their more martially inclined leaders for a moment but I let it pass. I was after bigger fish and waited for sometime for a better target. It was apparent that a lot of carnage was taking place inside the palace. Eventually a Logrus master made an appearance, dashing across one of the bridges between towers in the midst of a gaggle of bodyguards. They were in my way of a clear shot, so I twisted probability to make a couple trip and fall, clearing my shot. He sensed my power use quickly and turned to face me. Before he could send his tendrils after me, I squeezed off a shot and hit the breastbone area. He fell in a gout of flame but was still moving. I worked the bolt and shot him again. Another hit. His troops grabbed him and began dragging him to safety but I punched a couple more rounds into him, one right through one of his guards. At least three hits in the torso and probably another, all with enchanted exploding silver rounds. I counted him as dead.
I figured it would be wise to shift position, so I moved as quickly as I could without exposing myself to an area with a view to where most of the action was taking place. When I got positioned, I could view a tower with a Logrus master and one of their Pattern initiates obviously inside. I got a couple of good glimpes at the Pattern user, but the Logrus master was in better cover. I resolved to be patient and wait for the Logrus master to present a target. It took a while, but I eventually got a shot at him. I wanted an instant kill this time so I aimed for his head when he finally showed himself. When I squeezed off the round, his head fairly expoded, burning furiously as he dropped. That was a kill for sure. The beastmen around his tower charged the area I was in looking for me. It was time to make good my escape, so I pulled out my trump of Arden and left.
I was only in Arden for a few minutes when Tori trumped me. She said she had another prisoner to bring back if I could help grab him. I did so and we began the final withdrawal from the palace in good order. Dara had killed one Gryphon Lord and was carrying his head as a trophy. Tori had captured one, I had killed at least one and probably two. Not a bad outing for the loss of seventy five of my expendables, three hellmaids and about twenty to thirty percent of Diego’s human troops. His crab-boys covered our escape and I am sure they paid the price. I gave my congratulations to all involved and made my way back to Arden.
I cleaned up a bit, gathered my surviving men and assembled my forces for a brief ceremony honoring the fallen and rewarding the survivors. When it was done, I resolved to get a few personal things done and saw to the housing of my brownies and establishment of my household in an old Miramar estate house. I spoke at length with Flintwick, brownie extraordinaire. He was pleased with our arrangement, but wanted to tell me a bit about his old masters. I listened at length and have decided they bear investigating in the near future. For now, I needed to rest and enjoy my new estate. It was located in an area near the Bayle vineyards and suited me admirably. The coast is but a short walk away, lovely vineyards all around and a peaceful atmosphere. It needed a lot of modifications to accommodate my brownie servants so I gave a list of what I needed done to Liam and retired to soak in my new tub. And here I am, wondering what the morrow will bring.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
The woman who had so recently come so close to killing several of us had slipped away via Pattern. My cousins and I discussed someone chasing her down while she was in a weakened state and removing her from the equation. I thought about how good she was, how she was all too willing to kill us and her apparent abundance of pride and arrogance. I did not want her tracking me down to take me as a trophy while I was engaged with the Hendrakes. The bitch had to go. We decided Jacob was the best qualified to catch her and he agreed to do it. I took him aside and advised him to make sure she does not come back alive. He looked at me a moment and agreed. At that moment I did not realize just how seriously he considered that request. Jacob gathered some things to prepare and headed off into shadow after the Gryphon.
The palace was a bit of a mess. I began searching various rooms for bits of intelligence before it was lost to a Gryphon counterattack. I do not believe we have the resources here to hold for long. Here we are vulnerable, being unable to maneuver or support forces sufficient to repel an attack. The enemy has the advantage of choosing the time of attack, has superior numbers locally, has both Pattern and Logrus at their disposal and is more familiar with the setting. The way I see it, we will lose this place within a week unless we abandon other fronts to defend it. This war is not about property (the Pattern excepted of course). It is about people. They have more and we need to change that. We should concentrate on capturing or killing the major players of each House until they are unable to continue. Sooner or later they will decide Swayville is the easier target.
In my wanderings through the towers surrounding the palace I came across a group of Remans holding a number of very lovely women for questioning. I was very impressed by the discipline they were showing. I need to find out where Jacob found them and recruit more soon. Soon I was joined by Rinaldo. He wanted to know the details of the situation and I filled him in as best I could. He listened, mentioned that Thirteen was upset about the clusterfuck and would likely want to know details as well. Rinaldo left shortly thereafter and I returned to ransacking another room when I heard Thirteen's voice behind me. He was offering to let the Remans enjoy the women but they steadfastly refused, citing the fear of angering Jacob. I chuckled to myself and returned to join in the conversation. I asked on the condition of Tanitheel and was informed her condition was grave. None of the rest of us were seriously hurt. Thirteen was obviously still agitated and told the Remans they could send a prisoner through a trump to Amber. He asked the women who was Dante's favorite. They pointed to one girl and she made a comment that it was her for this week at least. I spoke up and suggested they all be sent to safety in Amber. I would be happy to go first, arrange their safe passage to Sir John's care and return. Thirteen agreed and it was done.
We had learned the male Gryphon was named Dante, the woman we were chasing was Komorra and there were at least 5 other Pattern wielding Gryphons. The sick toys I had discovered belonged to Dante and apparently mostly were used on him by these lovely women. I was beginning to get insights into the characters of our foes. I invited Thirteen to assist me in searching the private chambers of the Gryphons and he agreed. We spent considerable time in each of the rooms. I discovered small caches of poisons in each room (which I kept). Komorra's room was sparse but showed she was engrossed in challenges, mostly against other creatures. She appeared to be the consummate huntress, a trophy collector. I began to fervently hope Jacob succeeded. Such a person is to be feared when they decide you are the next worthy challenge. I also found a few books regarding Amber, though written in an ancient dialect of Thari. This excited my curiousity, so I asked the Remans if they had encountered a library in their search of the palace. They had.
Thirteen and I went to the tower they said it was located in. We found it. A treasure trove of ancient tomes the likes of which Oberon had apparently banned or secured during his reign. We found a huge room with over one hundred thousand books on a variety of topics, all reeking with the aura of great age. Many I could not read, others were difficult but decipherable. I found a book of poetry, purportedly penned by Oberon himself. It had to have been in his youth. I pocketed it for later perusal. Being something of a closet Oberonist, I thought it would be a fascinating look into a hidden aspect of his character. It would be a hopeless task to identify all these books without some idea of their organization. I looked for some pattern to their placement and finally realized it was done by author. Not particularly helpful, since the vast majority of the names meant nothing to me. Thirteen drew my attention to a central podium on which rested four small crystal globes. He said one was active so we experimented with it. He determined that it was some sort of artificial intelligence, a catalog of sorts. We began asking questions of it.
"Who built this Library?who did it belong to?"
"It was built long ago by Queen Morganna".
"Who was Queen Morganna"
"The queen was daughter of Dworkin Barimen, sister of Oberon and Lir"
"What the fuck?"
"I do not understand the question. Please rephrase."
Thirteen and I just looked at each other then began asking questions on geneology of House Barimen. Most of the names were completely unfamiliar. This was information lost to Amber for a very long time, assuming of course it was not some kind of elaborate hoax. Thirteen and I began to feverishly copy down the geneology and had made good progress when we began to feel some major magical disturbances. Thirteen did not seem greatly alarmed at this. I made a quick check outside of the tower and saw nothing immediately threatening. We decided one of the cousins was working on something so we returned to our task. We were almost half finished with the family tree when Totianna burst into the room and demanded to know who Rinaldo was. I politely informed her that he was my brother and had come to help. She began to go into a tirade about how he was as uncouth as I and had no apparent loyalty to Amber or herself. I had enough of her bullshit and responded in an even voice that perhaps she would do better by treating others with the repect they deserve rather than berating them. She seemed surprised that I had the gall to criticize her. She switched topics and demanded to know why I was not leading the troops or doing something useful. She obviously had her panties in a bunch so I politely mentioned we had found some very interesting data. She went into another tantrum so to shut her up I went to reposition the Remans to hold the library area as the main redoubt with a secondary defense of the Broken Pattern.
After finishing this task I returned to the library and asked Thirteen if he thought we could move the whole operation to Amber. He considered for a bit, then confessed that he was unsure but thought we probably could. Rinaldo is good at the magic stuff, so I trumped him in and asked for help. His eyes bugged out when he saw the room and eagerly began to help us. He also informed me that he found evidence that the Gryphons had successfully sent a warning to the moon. Crap. I trumped Liam and asked for some logistical help. We would need to move all the books to an adequate building in Amber. It would have to be far enough from the ocean to inhibit mildew but readily accessible to the castle. Liam went to work and the Feldanes were consulted for access to scholars able to read ancient Thari. Gerard was informed of our find and made the necessary arrangements.
Rinaldo looked at me during these conversations and quietly pointed out that mother would not be pleased we did not bring her in to examine the library before it is moved. He was right, but we did not have the time for her to pick through the place at her leisure. I expected an attack to come within a few days at most. Manpower was turning out to be a problem. It was solved by recruiting the surviving palace brownies. They seemed pleased to work for a master who would not be eating them. Turns out the beastmen had some abominable culinary habits and were not above an occasional brownie barbeque. With their help rapid progress was made in trumping the crates of books to Amber during the next three days.
In the meantime Jacob returned, reporting success in killing Komorra. I was very pleased until I found out the circumstances. He informed me that he had needed to call upon the help of Morwyn to catch Komorra. Morwyn had brought in Flora, Komorra's mother. In order to carry out my wishes, Jacob had been forced to keep the women at gunpoint until he shot an unconscious Komorra to death right in front of them. I was inwardly shocked that Jacob would be that politically inept. His blood must have been up to threaten Flora and Morwyn in such a fashion and I worried about the repercussions for Jacob. I felt a surge of conflicting emotions. On one hand I admired him for having the guts to do what had to be done regardless of the cost to himself. On the other, I felt both shame and pride that he took my wishes to be paramount over Morwyn and Flora's. I began to wonder if I had helped create a monster, but the fact Jacob now recognized his error and was remorseful about how he handled it eased my fears. He had not become a psychopathic killer, just a desperate man in need of a break. I felt honor bound to do as much as possible to try and rehabilitate his ruined reputation. I also offered him sanctuary if it turned out he needed to lie low for a while. I had no idea how severe the consequences would be for him and he deserves all the help I can give him.
Before long Diego arrived and grandly announced his intentions to hold the castle against the Gryphons. By now, the first probings of Gryphon scouts were occurring. Flyers were seen probing the periphery and it became apparent the assault would be airborne when it came. Not having the jewel of judgement available for use meant we would not have air superiority. I stationed the Remans indoors in such a way that they would fight to their strengths rather than the enemy's. Toriana had already abandoned the castle, though initially we had decided she would be the best suited to run it. Her irresponsibility was likely to cost Diego his first Amberite command. If he was annoyed at losing a handful of guards I wondered how he would take losing hundreds in a crushing defeat, which I fully expected if he persisted in defense of the castle. I would assist him to a point of course, at least until he sees reason and abandons this folly. I wanted to be at hand to salvage as many of the Remans as possible. They deserve better. Jacob seemed resolved to their use in the defense of the castle and offered to throw them a party the likes of which they had never seen after the coming battle. I fear few will be alive to take him up on it unless I make some preparations for their evacuation.
I was pondering this when Diego brought up the twin subjects of Morwyn (his sister) and Jacob's disciplining of the mutineers. Diego requested that Jacob send a formal letter of apology to Morwyn for his conduct, to which Jacob readily agreed. Diego then began to verbally work Jacob over for impaling his mutineers and more or less demanded a policy be put in place outlining the ethical recruitment and disciplining of Amber troops. I spoke up at this, defending Jacob's actions as completely required in the circumstances and explaining the stupidity of trying to enforce a cookie cutter policy on the wide array of troops we will be forced to utilize to survive. It went right over his head I could tell. I noticed a cooling of his demeanor towards me immediately. Fine. I can deal with him on his terms until a hard decision needs to be made at which time he had better get the hell out of my way. I will allow nothing to interfere in the defense of the realm. To me, Amber is more important than quaint notions of ethics (which I find Diego's to be rather selective in their application anyway) or even the lives of my cousins and myself. A strange emotion for me and one I would never have felt a year ago. I began to understand what motivated Oberon and Corwyn to be willing to sacrifice themselves to repair the Pattern my father had damaged. I am changing in ways I do not fully appreciate yet.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
The strange moon hanging overhead was actually quite lovely, shedding its glow over the dunes of this world. In my mind I could hear the whispering of desert spirits and air elementals in the night as my cousin Jacob debriefed one of the friendlier ones in the cave we had occupied. I am not sure what my samurai thought of all this. They remained silent and watchful, bows ever ready. If this were not the land occupied by my enemy, I would happily spend some time in this place exploring. The duty to defend Amber came first and I shook such sentimentality from my mind as Jacob emerged from the cave to take a break. We shared a moment of silence before he filled me in on what he had learned. Toriana was still inside, concentrating on the power of this place to try and feel our enemy's activities.
The spirits spoke of a woman, one of the enemy, who emerged from the city periodically and wreaked slaughter on the natives who refused to submit to Gryphon rule. She was reputed to be extraordinarily lucky. I shared a meaningful glance with my cousins when this was announced. It had to be one of Flora's brats. With Pattern. Damn. I had harbored hopes that they had been unable to gain access to a Pattern. At least we had some forewarning and the hope that her level of control was limited from the lack of a teacher. Unless of course Flora was less than upfront about the amount of quality time she had shared with her brood. The woman must have a brother, possibly nearby and potentially a number of others if the breeding program were advanced. She may even already be a mother herself. Dworkin's dangling dong, that made things more complicated!
We decided not to try and target the huntress. She was reputed to be extremely wary and I prefer to hit people where they think they are safe, not where they are on alert. That meant getting into the city. As dawn arose we discussed this. Toriana broke from her concentrating and directed our attention to a glimmer in the sky a short while later. It appeared to be a spindly vessel of some sort, sparkling in the morning sun. It appeared to be following a ley line that spiraled from the approximate area of the city towards the moon hanging in the sky. It started moving quickly and accelerated to impressive speed as it shrunk into the distance. A shuttle perhaps? More stuff to ponder as we made our plans.
I was of the firm opinion that our mission must not change. We needed a prisoner as soon as possible and I felt the best place to obtain one was the city. I wanted to send Zariel into the city to a place suitable for trumping and bypass all the guards and wards around the city entirely. My view prevailed since the only other idea floated was a recon of the moon directly.
I was suddenly interrupted in our discussion by a trump call. It was Diego wanting to discuss his upcoming gala. I had not heard he was planning one until now, but I thought it would be very well timed. I was becoming somewhat grim recently and a party would make a nice diversion after our job was done here. Diego mentioned he wished to make the appropriate impression upon the nobles and rest of the court. Always a good idea so I encouraged him to do so. I offered whatever assistance I could and he reciprocated by offering a supply base at reasonable prices. Good enough, though I intend to spread the largess around to Feldane and Miramon as well. Before he bid me adieu, I thought it wise to let him know what we had found and asked for his assistance in scouting the city. Diego happily agreed, seeming to relish the chance to pit himself against the enemy. I explained that a small force would be preferable and he set off to make preparations. I thought about contacting Thirteen, but decided against it. We needed someone competent elsewhere in case things went rank here. I decided to leave him as a reserve along with my brother who was no doubt enjoying the rustic charms of Gerard's brutal headlocks in a training session. Being slightly less physical than myself, I suspect he will enjoy the experience even less than I.
Zariel went off to perform the initial infiltration. We were far enough away that it would take him half an hour or so at the minimum to reach the place. A handy creature to be sure. Jacob was obviously fond of him so I silently wished him safe journey and said a silent little prayer to the unicorn. Toriana was obviously excited to go. I began to suspect she was becoming something of an adrenaline junkie. She certainly seemed to loosen up a bit away from the confines of Amber and I was glad of her company. Strange I know. Jacob was relatively calm except for a while when it was getting close to the time to trump Zariel. He then began to absently spin the cylinder on one of his pistols while staring off into the distance. Diego soon trumped in with about 50 troops of two basic varieties. About half looked like somewhat devolved Hells Angels, all hairy and brutish looking. The others were proud looking fellows, apparently fierce warriors from his shadows.
We trumped Zariel and found he had located a suitable tower for us to trump into. I took five of my men with me, as did Diego. The tower was slender, graceful and quite high. It was also deserted except for us. I positioned my men near the top but out of sight and the rest of us descended to the lower floors. Diego began the process of shapeshifting himself and one of his men into the semblance of beast men. It was a rather nauseating thing to watch but instructive nevertheless. He then slipped out to scout, keeping a light contact with Tori via trump while he rambled around. Tori verbally described the tactical situation as things progressed. Apparently Diego was fooling around with her a bit because a couple of times her face scrunched up in obvious disgust. She never commented out loud when that occurred.
Zariel continued to scout and found a sewer entrance. Jacob ordered him to scout it out to see if it went near the palace we could see in the distance. It did, but Zariel reported the passage to be guarded by a water spirit. If Diego was unable to find another way in that would have to do. I suggested that Tori hang a "de-sliming" spell to use on us if we were forced to go through the sewers. It would not do to announce our presence by sense of smell when we emerged into the palace.
Apparently Diego had a close call and reported that the front gate was alarmed or warded against unauthorized intrusion. He was coming back, so we proceeded into the sewer. Before long we encountered the undine and sought to unbind him. Tori muffled the signature while Jacob splashed the critter with a cup of his own blood. It worked, and Jacob set about negotiating a new binding to himself. The undine was pretty intelligent and it took a while to strike the bargain. We passed beyond, encountering limited magical protections and soon found ourselves deep in the basement of the palace. A couple of times we had to send Zariel ahead then trump to him, but we were approaching the living areas of the Gryphons at last. We came to what appeared to be a much stronger ward. We had two options we could try. The first option was to grab a servant and remove any key to pass the wards it might have. The second was to draw a sketch of the hall just past the ward and trump our way in. I favored the second method since we had avoided detection thus far.
It was the wrong choice. We trumped in and found a side hall to hide in while Zariel scouted ahead. I soon became aware of attention directed our way. The enemy was quietly gathering force to attempt to seize us. I doubted they knew our numbers yet, so I advised Tori and Jacob to get the hell out, using a trump to get away openly. With luck, the chaosians would presume we had all left. I intended to stay and try to grab one once things had settled down a bit. I proceeded up the main hall a bit and stepped into what appeared to be a storage room for various entertainment aids. I was surrounded by torture devices, bondage toys, whips, you name it. My estimation of the enemy dropped a bit. Call me a prude, but reliance on such methods for enjoyment seems to me to be a weakness. Pain is not my pleasure.
I did not see what Jacob and Tori did, but the ruckus they caused was considerable. Apparently just trumping out was not good enough. There had to be property damage involved and I could hear a number of enemy guards try to engage. This went on for a couple of minutes then quieted down a bit. I emerged from behind a crate of Dworkin knows what perversions and listened at the door. I could hear nothing at first, but a few minutes later I heard a pair of voices nearby speaking in Thari. A male voice was defending his decision to get away while the female countered that she had things under control. They were speculating on our numbers, which was a good thing. The less they knew the better, though from their conversation I wondered if more had been brought in than I was aware of.
Very shortly I became aware that a strong trump gate was beginning to form in the hall. That could mean only one thing. Full assault was coming and I feared the Gryphons would simply flee and we would get no prisoners. Making a snap judgement, I emerged from the room, drew my envenomed dagger and made a hit and run attack on the male whom I suspected of being the less alert of the two. My throw was accurate and I hit him solidly. I bounced back off the wall to my original position in time to avoid the retaliatory bow shot from the bitch. She was fast, but not fast enough. About then I heard the first Remans come through the gate. I caught a glimpse of a cousin or two as well and shouted orders to the first ranks of Remans. We charged around the corner to find a magic barrier in place and through it I could see the two Gryphons limping away out of sight.
The Remans chopped their way through the barrier and we encountered some enemy guards. We dispatched them and continued our chase. I could feel Logrus being used, though apparently not to leave the shadow. They had transported themselves to a nearby tower and I suspected they were sabotaging the ley line vessels before trying to get away. I saw Tanitheel in bird form approach the tower with Thirteen on her back, but the Gryphon bitch shot her down with a well placed shot. Thirteen managed to latch on to the tower and drag her inside. About then, the bitch noticed I was looking and tried a shot on me. She had elevation on me but I dodged the shot. I began to suspect I was better than she at missile combat, but I was lacking a bow at present. I found myself wishing for my sniper rifle when I thought "why not"? I trumped Rinaldo and asked if I could have him bring me a rifle with Amber ammo. Gerard was there and handed me a large pistol to try first.
I had no idea if the powder would work, but it seemed logical to me. I whipped around the window and took aim. She saw me and managed to duck most of the way before I shot, but I saw a satisfying tuft of scalp and hair separate from the rest of her before she hunkered down. I started laughing with gusto, gleeful that I had a firearm that worked. A couple minutes later Rinaldo came through a trump and handed me my Barrett with a couple of clips of ammo. He had a sporting rifle of his own and we went Gryphon hunting. I moved to a different area and kept the tower covered while Rinaldo hit it with a spell to flush them.
They were hunkered down on that tower, but shortly a ley line ship started to take off. It looked of flimsy construction so I unloaded on it. I aimed for where I suspected the controls and seating would be and was rewarded with it faltering and crashing back down onto the tower. I knew Thirteen was in there so I just kept the tower covered. Soon, a flurry of elementals formed and tried to lift the two chaosians away. I aimed on the center of each mass and opened up on them again. I seemed to have some success, but I switched to trying to unravel their control with my Pattern and had more luck. I lost sight of both as they dropped behind the tower.
Soon it was over. Unfortunately Thirteen reported the female managed to use Pattern to escape. We captured the male, though he was severely messed up. Diego undertook to keep him alive and we rounded up the surviving enemy for questioning.
I was not pleased to learn there were now six Gryphons who had taken Pattern. We had met one. The others were elsewhere. This changed the priorities of things in my book. We stationed the Remans to occupy this place and there was some discussion of attacking the moon. In my view, our top priority must be to suborn, kill or capture those six. They can do more damage than all the Hendrakes put together. I wanted to get my campaign going in Aquitaine, but I know what my next task will be.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
I was sitting listening to one of the Aquitaine quartermasters drone on and on about how difficult it was to get adequate feed for my dragoon's mounts when I was trumped by Jacob. I excused myself with some relief and stepped into a private room to take the contact. Jacob looked, well, somewhat annoyed and embarrassed. He quickly informed me that a large contingent of his mercenaries had mutinied and taken a Hunac town hostage. Jacob explained his first inclination had been to slit all their throats on the spot, but had instead gotten some assistance and sleep gassed the lot of them. They were in custody and he was looking for advice on how to deal with them. He further explained that a few hundred had broken with the others and remained somewhat loyal. A complex issue to be sure, but one I had put some thought into in the event my own troops proved disloyal.
A commander must be seen to be fair, perhaps even generous to those who follow him through bad times as well as good. In contrast he must be seen to be ruthless when it comes to betrayal. Public displays of rewards and honors help fuel esprit de corps and help inspire troops to new levels of performance. Likewise public executions are to be used to make an example to others. I agreed with Jacob that adding to the necromantic energies of Hunac was inappropriate and even dangerous so I advised him to manacle the mutineers, march them into shadow a ways to an area devoid of natural paths or nexus links and have them impaled one by one. His Romanic troops would have no qualms about assisting in that and would likely gain a measure of respect for Jacob that they might not otherwise have had. Derkhon our pet necromancer should be at hand to harvest the ghosts into a useful force as an example that not even death can absolve our troops of their responsibility. Jacob took my grim advice and decided to confer with Derkhon to find out what was possible.
After my conversation with Derkhon, I decided it would be wise to look after the morale of my samurai. They were of somewhat similar outlook to Jacob's mutineers, though as a culture take their duty much more seriously. I returned to Arden to evaluate the situation. My men were edgy and in obvious need of female companionship. They had been training hard and well with the rangers so I ordered them to muster and follow me to a place of rest. It would take a couple hours to make ready, so I quickly returned to Amber and rustled up Breggor to accompany this expedition to Geisha-Land. He was enthusiastic about joining, so I checked in with Liam as well. I asked Liam for help in observing the consumption rate for my troops when on the move so I could better estimate logistics when it came time to campaign. Liam begged off on the trip, but assigned Telori of House Mirmon to assist. She agreed to join Breggor and myself and gathered her things. I still had some time to kill, so I checked up on Dara and Lirazel. Dara was doing fine but could not see me at the moment. I shrugged off the snub and visited with Lirazel for a short time.
Lirazel was looking much better, though she was chafing somewhat under the restrictions. I inquired if she had any news yet from Basilisk and asked if Basilisk had a spy in the security organ of Aquitaine. I warned her that I would soon be taking action against a spy I had identified and did not want to step on Basilisk toes if it was one of theirs. She claimed ignorance, advising me that her house operated using a cell structure so she had no way of knowing. She would send a warning up through her channels to be sure. We chit chatted for a while and I teased her about Thirteen's secret admiration for her. It was fun watching the little wheels spin in her head, though I can't help but wonder what permutations were taking place in her thoughts.
It was time to head out so I took my leave of Lirazel and gathered my entourage. I led the way to Geisha-Land and had almost reached it when I am trumped first by Diego asking for information about Dom Daniel and then by Jacob who informs me of his discussions with Derhkon and an altercation with Barran of the Hand and Jelorec. I referred Diego to Thirteen or Toriana since they know Dom Daniel better, but I was greatly concerned by Jacob's information. It seems Toriana had been impersonating Gwyneth out in shadow in an effort to draw out would be captors. Gutsy of her I thought. In any case, she was confronted by Barran (whom I have on retainer) and Jelorac. A fight of some sort ensued and Jacob was brought in to fend off the attackers. Jacob wanted to string up Barran and get Jelorec also. I explained that we needed Jelorac neutral right now and offered to let Jacob take care of Barran after I had gotten some use out of him. We discussed the situation a bit further and Jacob warned me that Toriana was likely to go after Jelorac immediately. I had to stop her if I could, so I thanked Jacob for the intelligence and quickly trumped Toriana.
I did not want to discuss things over trump, so I asked Tori to pull me through when she answered. It was morning in Lynxia where she was staying and she had just finished breakfast and seemed to be in a decent mood. I broached the subject of Jelorac and pleaded with her to save that fight for a later date. I explained to the best of my ability why we needed to concentrate on chaosians and not take on new foes who have congruent interests with us. She listened patiently and agreed to leave him be until we get chaos taken care of. I was surprised at how reasonable she was; not at all what I expected. Perhaps I should cut her a bit more slack as well. She mentioned that she was somewhat at loose ends at the moment, so I asked if she would be willing to help in the search for House Gryphon and the possible Pattern out in shadow. Ky-Tung could certainly use the help and I wanted to give Tori something worthwhile to pursue to keep her mind off Jelorac. Tori warmed to the idea, so I trumped Ky-Tung and told her to expect a visitor. I made Tori out to be worse than she is so that Ky-Tung will be extra solicitous of her good will. I made introductions and left the two to their own devices.
I checked in briefly with Breggor and learned the samurai were safely at their destination and were having a good time. My next call was to Rinaldo. I wanted to prep him for Amber and make sure we are in agreement as to how much to reveal of our abilities and background. Rinaldo was already in Arden, so I stepped through the trump and rode with him for a while. There were many things to discuss. We had not seen each other for a few years. We had not been close and had occasionally engaged in sibling rivalries in our youth, but we have both matured somewhat and I think we may get on better now.
I gave Rinaldo my opinion on the personalities and abilities of the family. I cautioned him that I had not advertised my trump ability, but that he should feel free to make his own abilities known if he deemed it advantageous. He mulled it over and initially decided to take it slow in revealing things to the family. He queried me on what was known of father's fate and who was responsible. I am not entirely positive on the matter myself, so I answered in very general terms. Rinaldo always had a strong sense of honor and I suspected he was looking for an excuse to vendetta with someone. Amber can't really afford that right now, but I wanted to make sure he knew that I take honor much more seriously now than I had in the past.
Your whole outlook changes when one day you become effectively immortal. You realize that everything you do will stick with you through eternity. Reputation affects how all view you and deal with you so to be effective, you must maintain a good reputation with the nobility and even the common folk. Your word becomes your bond and if you break it no one will forget, ever. It is the one true rule for which there is no exception. I pontificated on this philosophy with Rinaldo for a while and he seemed to understand. He will understand even better after he has walked the Pattern and had time to think on things a while.
We discussed mother and her unspoken plans for us. The consensus is she wants one of us on the throne of Amber and the other on the throne of Kashfa. I am ready for neither. I am nowhere near wise enough, patient enough and most importantly powerful enough to hold either position. Kashfa is frankly unimportant to me now that I have been welcomed in Amber. None who now live are suited to be king in Amber in my humble opinion. Gerard is, well, too easily swayed sometimes to be effective as a king. Flora has been compromised by Chaos and I do not think she would have much support from the family. I know too little of Llewella, but she has also been compromised and may be mentally fragile for years to come. None of my peers are seasoned enough for the position and several have fundamental dislikes of what it takes to rule. Jacob has zero inclination for social interaction or diplomacy and little desire for authority of any kind. Toriana has the imperious aura down cold but does not yet understand tact and tends to be impetuous. Thirteen has potential, but his strange background is limiting his development somewhat and one gets the feeling he expects to wake up from a dream someday and does not take the whole thing seriously. If he did, he might make a good choice after a few decades of experience. Diego is too new for me to understand him yet. He seems moody and more concerned with Rebma than Amber in any case. Morwyn is Rebman through and through. A pity because she is probably the best trained for the job of monarch of any of us. Rinaldo understands what it takes to rule, but in my past experience with him he places too much emphasis on what he wants, not what he needs. He has a firm grasp of how powers interact though and may someday have what it takes to be king.
We were drawing nearer to Amber and our discussion turned to what was needed. I gave Rinaldo a rundown of who was doing what. I suggested further research into the potential of a new Pattern in shadow, but he pointed out it was already under investigation. He volunteered to undertake the study of the chaosian geas to see if it could be broken without becoming subject to Chaos. Given the scope of his powers, he seems to be well suited for that since Tori is busy on other projects of more immediate urgency. As a strange coincidence, as I was thinking about her she trumped me from shadow.
Toriana and Ky-Tung had discovered an arid shadow that exhibited signs of a Pattern nearby. Our first hypothesis is that Tir Na Nog'th may have been found. Enemy forces had occupied a city deep in the desert surrounded by enslaved air elementals. Conversation with local free elementals revealed a chaosian force apparently fighting with a local force known as "Hunters". We decided to bring in Jacob, so contact was made and Jacob brought through a string of good horses to mount the ten Samurai I brought with me. Ky-Tung is left on the ship along with Barrett and the ship's crew. The three of us proceed inland with our small force and take shelter under an outcropping to gather more intelligence. Zariel , Jacob's pet elemental is summoned and sent for further recon. It returns with a better idea of what awaits and we sit down to figure out a way to do a snatch mission against House Gryphon.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
The progress I've made in Aquitaine has been satisfactory. I have arranged simple billeting for my dragoons and have begun the necessary bribery preparations to approach the Sultan to the east. I plan to use the easterners to initially demonstrate against the Hendrake forces, tying up as much of their attention as possible. My apparent main offensive will strike from Aquitaine with Prinz Eugen in nominal command. The reputation of Hendrake is such that I expect them to see this as my plan fairly early on. What I do not expect them to see is that I plan to strike with non-native forces on the eastern front, brought in a while after the Aquitainians move. I will lead that front personally and expect it to wreak havoc if I time things correctly. A week or so of maneuver with the inept easterlings, followed by a few days of serious attacks by Aquitaine and finally the real effort springing from the wreckage of the initial eastern probes. For this to work, I will need to keep my local allies in the dark. They must believe that the main thrust is the Aquitainian campaign and the eastern front just a diversion. I am counting on the chaosian spies to infiltrate the Aquitaine command structure and report back to Hendrake. Misallocation of their assets is key to my plan.
My hardest task now will be to raise an army capable of conquering Chandora in another shadow and moving it to strike suddenly and in force behind enemy lines. This will require two or three trump gates open simultaneously and specialized training for whatever troops I get to willingly charge into the gates. I will need to call upon Torianna, maybe Kelamon and probably Flora to manage the other gates. I would have loved to use Gwynneth as well, but rumor has it she will not be available any time soon. It may be that I have to call upon my brother and convince him to help. He will certainly be interested in taking the Pattern now that I have done so. Once he has walked it and lived, his interests and mine may finally coincide. If we work together, perhaps we will even be able to disguise the fact that both of us are competent trump artists. I was musing about this when I was contacted by Diego, the new cousin. I joined him through the trump and listened to his story.
Diego confided in me that he was concerned by signs of Chaosian tampering with Llewella. He was greatly concerned that Flora may also have been the recipient of such attentions and wanted to make sure she carried no hidden surprises. His techniques sounded somewhat vile, so I advised getting Gerard involved to convince Flora to undergo some degree of testing. Diego seemed disappointed that I was not willing to grab Flora and hold her down while he checked her for implants. I sense issues between he and Flora though I can't imagine what they are. I promised him I would speak with Gerard and do my best to get Flora cleared of any problems. I returned to Amber to speak with Gerard.
It had been a while since I checked back in Amber. I spoke with Gerard at some length about the testing that Diego suggested for Flora. If I am to use her abilities, I want her cleared of any nasty surprises. Gerard is reasonable most of the time, so he had managed to convince Flora to undergo mostly non intrusive testing. She seemed to take it reasonably well and my estimation of her went up slightly. Diego seems to have ill regard for her, but she is slowly impressing me in subtle ways. I can't say that I will ever trust her completely but I will certainly cut her more slack now than I might have done a few days ago.
Our conversation turned to other topics and I decided to test the waters for mother and Rinaldo. I let slip that I had a full brother and Gerard pounced on it immediately. When queried, I admitted that Rinaldo would likely be willing to join the family but asked for privacy with regards to my mother. I had no doubt Rinaldo would accept the offer, but I had serious doubts that it would be in mother's best interest to step into the limelight. Her stewardship of the Keep would possibly be compromised and she is unable to take Pattern to replace it. Besides, it is always wise to keep a sanctuary available in case the universe turns to shit.
Our discussion finally turned to the geas Dara claimed was responsible for the invasion. Her idea to adopt Gerard and thus complete the terms of the geas seemed too easy. I was afraid that by doing this, Gerard could potentially fall under the geas or could in some mystical way fall under the dominion of that squatting toad ruling Chaos. More research is needed but I am certainly not the one best qualified to do it. I am sure father would know what would happen, but he never imparted that level of knowledge to me before his demise.
My little chat with Gerard ended and I found myself being trumped by the lovely Ky-Tung. She had acquired ship and crew and was ready to seek out rumors of strange happenings in shadow. In order to speed things along she requested that I plow a path through shadow for a time. I had a better idea; I stepped through the contact and plowed her for a few hours, then opened a trump gate for the ship to sail through. The effort was exhausting (the gate opening, not the plowing) and I dropped from the effort. When I awoke, I reminded myself to use a coin the next time. Opening a gate that big for that long was as tiring as walking the Pattern. We were safely in port, so I spent some time to recover and made a couple of trump sketches of the place to wile away the time.
When I found myself alone for a time, I trumped mother and broached the subject of Amber to her. As I suspected, she was tempted but not enough to give up the Keep. She was all for getting Rinaldo involved, so I asked her to contact him and let him know I would speak to him about it soon. Time was getting late and I had work to do in Aquitaine. I bade Ky -Tung a fond farewell and returned to Aquitaine to work on the plans to crush Hendrake.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
The trip I planned to Aquitaine was a pleasant diversion from the day to day grind of riding herd on my troops and family. I did not want to make a big splash at first. In fact, I thought a low key approach might be a bit wiser given the likely paranoia of those in power in Aquitaine. I would need a couple of scouts to find a suitable entry point since my knowledge of the shadow was limited to those areas now overrun by the Hendrake swine. Two of the Swanmays volunteered after a bit of persuasion and I sent them ahead with my trump under darkness to find a safe spot to enter the shadow. The lovely ladies performed admirably and soon I trumped in and began my search for lodgings with the morning light. Currency was an issue, so I used a little Pattern to "find" an inebriated noble and gently mugged him. Using the proceeds, I outfitted the swanmays and myself in local garb. We then sought out suitable lodgings for my stay in Aquitaine.
My initial residence was a small manor recently converted to a boarding house. I spent a short while listening to the local gossip and getting a feel for the political scene. With a modest outlay of cash, I had a formal dinner invitation printed and sent to the Prime Minister of Aquitaine as well as a few notables I had heard about in the local area. Fortunately for me, the man I mugged was not among them, not that he got a look at me in any case.
It was not long before I had an official visitation from the Aquitaine secret police wanting to verify my identity and purpose. Before the Prime Minister could agree to visit, his security concerns would have to be addressed. I happily turned over all security arrangements and offered every assistance I could to allay their fears. It worked. The PM accepted my invitation and I set the date two days hence, though I was forced to move location to a more suitable dwelling. I was assigned a liason from Aquitaine, a fellow who claimed to have seen me in action somewhere recently to assist in the preparations.
The dinner progressed well. After a pleasant exchange of converstion, we adjourned to the gentleman's lounge to get down to business. The PM grilled me as expected, wanting to know what my evaluation of the situation in Chandora was and asking about Amber's ability to hold off the hordes. I think he relaxed somewhat when I told him I expected to lead an offensive to retake Chandora. One does not go on an ambitious offensive when one is on the ropes. I mentioned that it was my intention to see Prinz Eugen placed on the vacant throne of Chandora and asked if the King of Aquitaine would see an advantage in having a deep debt of gratitude owed him by the future monarch of Chandora. It was amusing to watch the mental gyrations of the PM calculating how this could be used to advance his own career. He quickly saw the benefits and agreed to undertake arranging a meeting with the King to discuss the possibilities. To put his concerns about the health of Amber to rest, I offered to take my liaison on a tour of Amber to see for himself how things stood. Agreement was reached on all points before I began to get a trump call. I excused myself and answered.
It was Jacob, asking for permission to use one of my retained mages for a foray to Johrom to make problems for House Jesby. I thought this a capital idea and gave him my blessing. Time did not allow a full debriefing of each other, but I promised myself to get caught up with his doings as soon as conditions allowed. I was encouraged that Jacob felt the situation under control enough to leave Hunac untended and I resolved to grab the initiative from the Hendrakes in any case.
The following day I brought my liason to Amber to show him around. I did not dwell on the military defenses, but instead showed him as much of daily life as I could. I gathered Breggor and we made the rounds to many of the noble houses to make introductions and give the impression that all was under control. It is fortunate that my timing was such that we missed a great brouhaha erupting from the castle a short time later.
I had returned to Aquitaine with my guest and received the blessing of the King for a meeting with his council, Prinz Eugen and myself. In two days time we would meet and discuss my desire to retake Chandora with Aquitainian armies. A short time after this was arranged, I was trumped by Thirteen. He was somewhat agitated and requested my negotiation assistance with the chaosian spy I had captured. I stepped through to find myself in aqueaous solution. We were in Rebma, apparently in Torianna's manor house and the bedraggled Chaosian spy was under restraint but looked strangely triumphant. Thirteen explained that he and Torianna had undertaken interrogation of my prisoner and things had gotten out of hand. The spy released a chemical trigger into the atmosphere of the dungeon, activating a nasty neurotoxin that had been insinuated into most of the Amber castle population. She further threatened that if she were to expire, unspecified additional triggers would be released to finish the job. She needed to deactivate them within 3 hours or most of Amber's servants and guards would die.
At first I was inclined to slay her as an example of the futility of such tactics against me, but Thirteen was doing an admirable job of playing the heavy and had set me up as the good cop. I figured I might as well go along and listened to what she had to say. I wanted no interference from Torianna, so I advised her to contact Moire and explain what a spy from House Basilisk was doing in her realm. I had no doubt Moire knew already and I figured it was in Tori's best interest to be seen coming clean with the queen as soon as possible. I wanted to get my spy out of Moire's clutches as soon as possible also, so I negotiated in haste. In effect, I agreed to spare the spy's life, made available other chaosian captives for Basilisk to ransom and offered a limited alliance of sorts in return for deactivating the poisons, Basilisk help against Hendrake and intelligence about the other houses attacking Amber. The Basilisk spy agreed after securing my word that what I offered was in good faith. I quickly trumped us back to Amber and we began the decontamination process.
Once things seemed to be under control, I sent word to Gerard of my bargain and arranged to house the Basilisk spy outside the castle. I will need to check on her from time to time, so I left my minstrel with her as a liason. I figured he was the most expendable of my servants and I may need to sanitize him later if he becomes unduly under her influence. Gerard showed up to introduce yet another bastard cousin that Flora dredged up from shadow somewhere. Rumor has it he is the son of Corwin and seems to be a shapeshifter. My alarm bells went off immediately. The fact that Flora admitted to a couple of forced offspring likely to be shapeshifters and her fortuitous knowledge of Diego's whereabouts seems a strange coincidence. He will bear some watching, though he may be innocent of any harmful intentions. He seems a bit older than myself, though it is hard to tell when someone can alter their appearance so readily. I chatted with him briefly and he seemed to be a fairly normal fellow. If he is indeed the son of Corwin, he may be the obvious choice to go up against House Gryphon. He successfully walked the Pattern, so his interest lies with us now in any case. Before the afternoon was out, I had a brief exchange of information with Jacob. He will be moving against Jesby I think, leaving Hendrake to Thirteen and myself. Hopefully my new front in Chandora will gain us some initiative.
It was soon time to return to Aquitaine and meet with the king, so I stopped to pick up Eugen and a small contingent of his men and my dragoons. We arrived in time to meet the king and began deliberations. Our plan was eventually approved, though my staff sniffer detected something strange about one of the Aquitaine officers. I decided he would probably meet with an unfortunate accident soon, but I wanted to try and investigate him a bit further. We made plans, drank to the upcoming victory and set the wheels of state in motion. My next task will be to supplement the Aquitaine forces where needed and try to arrange for some additional allies.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Today I decided to put my worries about Chaosian spies in Amber to rest. I outlined my needs to Sir John and he put me in contact with Ambassador Philip, the crown’s representative to the wonderful realm of the Weir. Philip was most efficient in narrowing the field to three potential candidates for recruitment into my spy sniffing corps. I was introduced to Barret, a youngish woman possibly in her twenties first. After outlining that I required detection only and no actual combat, she seemed happy to sign on. The next was Otto, an older fellow who seemed to be very competent and also willing to serve. The last was Dietz, a very young man still learning the ropes. I accepted the service of all three and gave them a couple days to prepare. In the meantime I spent some time producing trump sketches of each of them as well as one of the embassy.
We returned to Amber where I summoned Breggor to join us in an afternoon lark. I explained that we were going on a shapeshifter hunt and I would introduce each of them as my secretaries or aides de camp. Breggor seemed happy, especially as I explained we would cover our true purpose with a number of social occasions or parties, and it would likely be a bit of fun along the way. The first order of business was to educate my sniffers with the scent of Chaos. I contacted Sir John and arranged to have my sniffers pay a visit to our captives as well as various friendly shifters to learn the difference.
I discovered that there were at least three different classes of shifters. There were mundane shifters such as Weir and Swanmays, another class a bit more powerful (Tanitheel for one) and finally the type exemplified by Chaos lords and Amberites (or at least Flora). I learned Hellmaids are not shifters per se… a fact I found curious. Once my servants felt they had a grasp of what to look for, we set out to tour the town first to see what we might discover.
It was not long before Otto picked up the scent of a Chaosian. We trailed it to the castle and immediately had the exits sealed as quietly as possible. It became apparent that the quarry realized we were on its trail, so we disdained further subtlety and set out to capture the creature as quickly as possible. We eventually cornered it in an upstairs room and sealed it off. I positioned men outside to prevent escape through the windows. They reported seeing a woman climb out, then change into a demonic winged figure and attempt to fly away. Unbeknownst to be, the castle was warded against flying creatures and the quarry was swept away out of control towards the city. I grabbed some guards and made pursuit.
The foe came to ground near a shadowite temple and fled inside. We stormed the place and effected the capture of a female chaosian. After hauling her to the dungeon for incarceration and future questioning, I decided to follow the backtrail. We did so and found one of the castle servants had been murdered and impersonated for at least 2 weeks. We found some coded correspondence and turned it over to Sir John for study.
It occurred to me Rebma was probably also under illicit scrutiny so I trumped Princess Morwyn and warned her of what had transpired. She seemed confident that no such spies could enter Rebma undetected. I found her confidence to be misplaced, but I held my tongue. I asked her how Aunt Llewella was recovering and she informed me her physical rehabilitation was coming along but they were worried about her mental state. She was unresponsive and they were unsure how long she would remain so. I offered a couple of suggestions, but they seemed to have thought of them already and had no success. I wished Morwyn well and decided to check on military affairs for a bit.
Prinz Eugen was recovering nicely. I discussed opening a new front in Chandora under his command with an eye to putting him on the throne there with my backing. Eugen seemed to like the idea (imagine that) and suggested he get backing from Aquitaine. Tomorrow we ride out to make contact with Aquitaine and make some deals.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
The days following our great victory at sea are spent on a counteroffensive, rolling up the Chanicut ports with swarms of Gerard's fanatics. To command them I had to arrange an illusion or two, but they proved remarkably pliable and we deemed it wise to expend them as quickly as possible before they caused difficulties to our other forces. Morwyn and I oversaw the initial counterattacks, but soon it was apparent that the Amber admirals could handle this duty on their own. I chose to get back to other matters after a time and returned to Amber.
In the port, we had been warehousing captured equipment and documents for study. I asked the investigating mages to see if a couple of personal defense magic items would be safely salvageable for my use. They were noncommittal, so I directed them to study the two items of my interest in great detail to check for dangerous boobytraps. They went to work and I left to speak with Sir John about my spy-sniffer concerns.
In Amber, I met with Sir John and we discussed the possibility of infiltrators from House Helgram or Gryphon having supplanted our sniffers by now. Given the unfortunate circumstances of Flora's forced breeding, I was concerned that her offspring could be insinuated into Amber. If it were me, the very first thing I would do as a chaosian is secretly kill the shapeshifter sniffers and replace them with my own fakes. To guard against this, I convinced Sir John to allow me to recruit a new one personally and set him/her to work clearing our sniffers and critical staff. Sir John gave me a letter of introduction and directions to the Weir shadow. At the earliest opportunity I planned to get this done.
Before I could get too far on my way , I received yet another trump from Thirteen. He informed me he was tracking down Dara and had encountered a sticky tactical situation that would likely require violence. I offered the use of some of my expendables and proceeded to gather four of the smaller deck cannons from the ship stranded in the ranger camp. Grabbing a few rangers for support, I trumped the lot of us to Thirteen's location and we made preparations. On a barren hil not too far away, two hellmaids, their dozen or so thralls and a score or more of beastmen were guarding a shadow path gateway. Sabine was there and informed me that they had wards up to prevent sniper fire. We discussed using my pikemen to draw them out from behind their wards and ambushing the hellmaids with ranger snipers and our cannon. After a little more discussion, Sabine pointed out that the wards did not look strong enough to stop cannon fire. I grinned. We loaded two cannon with exploding shot and two with canister and I laid the cannons in to hit the tents of the hellmaids.
When all was ready, I lit the fuses and got ready for the fun. Both rounds were hits, or at least near misses. One round made a mess of the thralls of hellmaid number one but missed her. The other appeared to have wounded hellmaid number 2. With their wards shattered, our snipers opened up and I picked up a rifle to help. The beastmen mounted a spirited attack in our direction which I blunted with my expendables. Adding a few cannon rounds into the fray, we crushed them all though it took a countercharge to catch the hellmaid before she could ride away. After the smoke cleared all the known enemy were dead and I had lost about 70 expendables. The survivors I tried to hearten by promoting them on the spot and praising their valiant effort. Thirteen and is small retinue continued on to the next shadow while I set up a defense of the gate using the cannon and my survivors.
The afternoon was spent quietly since no enemy showed up to challenge our position. I spent a little more time hiding some of our defenses and trying to make any counterattack as costly as possible. As it turns out, it was wasted effort as Thirteen soon trumped me again at yet another defended gate.
The next gate was a more serious proposition. Thirteen had identified five hellmaids and a number of support creatures hidden in trees around the gate. He sketched out their approximate placement for me and we came up with an assault plan. Since this new shadow made firearms useless, I decided to bring in my samurai. They are excellent swordsmen and superb archers, just what the situation called for. I returned to the ranger camp and gathered 250 of them for the assault. I would open a trump gate in the midst of the hellmaids and send groups of 50 samurai after each one. While the hellmaids were dealing with that, Thirteen and the weir would be shooting at them from concealment with crossbows.
Once again our attack came off without a hitch. We struck so fast the hellmaids were unable to flee or send for help. All were slain with relatively minor losses on our part. I sent our wounded back along with 100 of my samurai and again placed the rest around the gate for defense. There were a number of razorbeaks that had managed to get away and I expected a counterattack within a few hours unless we could finish our business with Dara. Thirteen a crew continued on to the next shadow to scout.
A few hours later, Thirteen called in to report he thought Dara was in a monastery in the next shadow. It was a mountainous region and the place was well defended. We decided a fast hit and run was the best way to proceed, so I gathered quite a few royal guards for the assault along with some rangers and the usual weir. Using his magic, Thirteen narrowed down her location to an acceptably small area and we struck yet again. I used another coin to power the trump gate and we poured in.
The fight was bloody and hard. A Logrus master was opposing us and cutting up our troops fairly badly. This was a no-frills assault and we simply charged in to overwhelm them with numbers. Chopping through defenders, Thirteen and I came up against the Chaos Lord that had been causing us problems. Thirteen took a swing at his face while I ducked and struck low. I hit home and completely severed his leg, which broke his concentration and allowed me to get behind him. I administered a quick coup de grace and charged into the final room. I found myself facing a pit fiend, a handful of hellmaids and a bedridden Dara. I had no doubt I would be cut to shreds if I charged in alone, so I delayed a bit, feinting against the pit fiend and spewing out accusations that he was a Helgram spy and I was here to free Dara. Lame, but it must have worked because they did not kill me before the rest of our force could get into the room.
Dara asked me why she should surrender. I answered that we were here to offer a deal to her and had enough people to take her regardless of her wishes. She thought a moment, realized I was telling the truth and capitulated under the condition I would offer her and her minions safe conduct and my personal word. I agreed. All rejoiced. We gathered our wounded, arranged for Dara to gather her peons and we gated back out, taking her to Lynxia to talk to Gerard directly.
In Lynxia, the two bedridden negotiators hammered out a deal. Dara would try to swing the hellmaids to our side and would assist us againdt all houses but Hendrake. Dara would be welcomed back to the fold and regain her position in Amber. She gave us information about what she knew of Amberite survivors of the Patternfall War. It may or may not be accurate. I am not convinced she will be trustworthy any time soon, but my disinformation ploy with our captive hellmaid should help to get her more firmly in our camp. I also intend to plant information to the Hendrakes to completely soil her reputation in their eyes. We can't have her defecting back to them after all.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Upon emerging from my chamber for the morning, one of the castle pages presented me with a letter, lightly perfumed. At first I thought perhaps Gwyneth was up to something, but when I opened it I discovered to my delight that it was from Ky-Tung, an old paramour of mine. We had pursued a long but intermittent relationship over a number of years when I was wandering about with various merchant vessels. Her family was minor nobility and ran some of the outfits I had taken employment with in my pre-Amber days. I had no doubt that her current interest was sparked by learning of my elevation to the royal family, but we had last parted on excellent terms and I looked forward to seeing her again.
The note requested a meeting and I sent the page scurrying back with an affirmative reply. I suggested we take a picnic and spend the day in the grove. My recent concerns about security came back to whisper in my ear again, so I arranged for a couple of the more discreet guards to shadow our meeting to make sure nothing untoward happened. I also set a couple to keep an eye on the actors we had screened to be sure they were not blabbing all over town. So many concerns and so little time to have fun. When the appointed hour approached, I met Ky-Tung in the great hall, gave her a brief tour of the less sensitive areas of the castle and then escorted her out to the grove.
Suffice to say the afternoon was pleasureable and I sure did not hurt my reputation with the watching guards. Between bouts, she and I discussed how our lives were changing and I more or less alluded to the fact that I intended to boost her family's standing in the realm. She was pleased and I secured a promise from her to keep her ear to the ground on my behalf amongst the lesser houses. Eventually we returned to the castle and bid each other farewell for the time being. It was time to get back to work.
I made preparations to return to Hunac and continue the work there. I stopped on the way to give instructions to my samurai to be on alert. Gerard had asked that I keep myself available for an impending fleet action and I had some ideas about possibly capturing a chaos lord for questioning. If I could catch one on board a ship, I wanted to see if I could somehow get him to involuntarily go through a trump gate to a place of my choosing. The momentum of a sailing ship should theoretically carry anyone on board right into the gate if it were placed in the path of the ship. I intended to trump such a ship to the practice field near Arden where my samurai would be waiting to swarm them. I did not tell my samurai precisely what to expect, but gave instructions for them to obey the resident rangers and be prepared for imminent action.
My next task was to find out how Thirteen was making out. While I had been with Ky-Tung, he had headed back into shadow presumably to learn more about the fate of Dara. I was keen to resolve that situation myself, so I tried to contact him via trump. He seemed unwilling to answer, so I did not push it. Unicorn knows how annoying an incoming trump call can be when involved in a delicate task, such as fighting for one's life. I waited a few minutes and was about to give him another try when I got the tingle of an incoming trump call myself. I could sense it was Gerard, so I opened my mind and took it.
"It is time to do battle boy!" Gerard grinned. He pulled me through to his ship where we got down to the last minute business of planning the battle. Morwyn from Rebma was present and was commanding a large portion of the fleet, thoughtfully provided by Queen Moire in support of Gerard. Gerard took the center and I was given command of one of the wings. We seemed to slightly outgun the expected enemy and Gerard was confident that the various family members who were being pulled in would tip the balance in our favor.
Gerard and Morwyn both knew what they were doing with regard to fleet actions. I knew the theory but has never commanded more than a single ship before. I discussed the situation with my senior commanders and we decided to concentrate our firepower as much as possible on a single ship at a time. I intended to use a lot of Pattern tricks to screw up enemy efficiency as much as possible and wanted to try the trump gate trick as soon as an appropriate target was identified. Key to my success would be not making myself an obvious target for enemy sharpshooters. I found a suitable position at a lower deck gun portal where my visibility was good enough to survey a reasonable part of the action and set up a couple or runners to convey messages back and forth to the captain. I laid out a few key trumps to facilitate communication and contacted my mother once again for some extra energy to use in the event I needed to open the gate.
It seemed like the battle took forever to finally get going. I decided to have a little fun and started causing havoc with the enemy line of battle by causing collisions, breaking rigging, causing freak bursts of wind or putting a ship "in irons". I seemed to be having some success at this as their formation became disarrayed, allowing my ships to keep up an orderly barrage on select enemy ships while their fire became less coordinated. I began to sense more and more Logrus being used and I tried to counter what I could. Torianna and Jacob began to take a more direct approach and before long the sorcery was flying fast and furious. Both sides began using expoding munitions, so I switch my tactics to causing premature enemy detonations and managed to destroy a number of vessels by igniting their magazines.
My end of the battle appeared to be the most orderly. The enemy had determined which ship Gerard was on and had been inflicting great punishment upon it. Morwyn's wing seemed to be doing well except for those areas where Torianna had been most active. Where she had been, both sides had suffered a swath of burning destruction. She had changed the character of the battle and both sides took heavy losses. In the end, we proved the stronger and the Chanicutt fleet was crushed. As they began to break apart, I located one nearby that had indications of a Chaos Lord on board. I summoned the trump gate directly in front of the ship, but it took just long enough to form that the chaosian saw it coming and fled the ship before it plunged into the gate.
I checked in with the rangers a few minutes later and chucked to learn the ship grounded in tha practice field as intended and my samurai had swarmed it like ants. No mercy was shown, but the ship was taken with all its cannons intact and with some intelligence on board. Not too shabby, and with luck the trump gate might be explained away as Flora's doing.
In the aftermath of the battle we drew near to Gerard's ship. He was severely wounded and was being evacuated to Lynxia for attention. Morwyn and I were left to organize the survivors, so we rallied the remaining ships and began finishing off cripples and salvaging what intelligence we could. I was able to obtain a couple samples of the mana coins the chaosians had been using, so I supplied one to my mother as thanks (knowing she would go hard to work duplicating the things) and kept one for emergency use. She was properly appreciative.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
I began thinking about the best use of Thirteen's captured hellmaid between bouts of trying to find out how Flora was doing. Part of our problem is we are so severely outnumbered by the enemy. Our strength is that we are not fractured into overtly competing cabals, at least not yet. Our best strategy would seem to be an effort to set the houses of chaos upon one another, thus diluting their efforts and possibly gaining some allies. From what intelligence we had garnered so far, I determined that Hendrake would be the most easily swayed to our cause. They seemed the least devious and probably were easier for me to directly manipulate than the others, simply because I was already directly opposing them.
My recent attempt upon the life of Dara could potentially be made to look like treachery from one of the other houses. I was reasonably sure I was not identified as the sniper and we had not used Pattern during the fight and our subsequent escape. Enough Logrus was being thrown around Chandora that I thought it reasonable to manufacture a story to leak to the chaosians and have it believed. Our captured hellmaid seemed a convenient avenue for spreading disinformation so I began to work on an idea. I settled upon a plan to fake an interrogation of another captured chaosian from a different house. It would need to be conducted in such a way that it would be believable to the hellmaid. We would need some insight on chaos from Flora for this to work. I resolved to ask her to compose believable responses to a list of questions I had prepared. Secondly, it would take place just out of human earshot of the hellmaid but within hearing distance of a shapeshifter. I had no doubt she was listening to everything she could while in captivity and I planned to use her natural ego and contempt for Amber against her.
An actor would need to be chosen, one who could properly mimic any accent of chaos we chose and who could give a realistic performance of someone breaking under torture. The accent we could probably get from Flora and there were a number of very excellent actors within Amber who would no doubt consider it the pinnacle of their career to perform such a service for the crown. I decided to enlist Thirteen's help again in picking the actor and performing the fake interrogation.
The story would be that agents of Amber were observing the battle in Chandora and had witnessed a chaosian shoot Dara. Of course we were interested in learning why this was the case and who was responsible as we had hopes of welcoming Dara back into the fold and wanted her alive. We would have the actor offer several obviously false responses under the simulated torture before apparently breaking and giving the answer we wished. We would blame the attempt on an agreement between Helgram and another house, possibly Gryphon to stymie Hendrake's advance against Amber. Since Dara was obviously a factor in the Hendrake advance and was despised as a half breed, she was targeted for assassination. We would then simulate an experiment for a new lethal poison and "kill off" the captured spy.
Thirteen and I spent some considerable time rousting the actors from their beds and arranging secretive auditions of the part. For the most part our choices were enthusiastic, especially when I offered a substantial cash reward. I felt some tended to overact the torture sequence, but we settled on one who captured the subtle nuances of the misery of torture without going over the top. We brought him in and were able to get a little assistance in the script and some voice coaching from a very tired looking Flora.
Our long preparations seemed to pay off. When it came time for the performance, I thought our actor did marvelously. I actually enjoyed acting out the torture and interrogation. I could tell Thirteen had some considerable experience in these matters and he added some very realistic touches. I resolved to reward this actor with my personal patronage as long as he kept his mouth shut after the fact. I would really hate to lose such a fine thespian due to unwise bragging in a tavern somewhere.
I learned more of chaos from Flora during our collaberation. It seemed a nasty place. It also became apparent that a breeding program had taken place and we should be on the watch for infiltrators able to take Pattern, or at least chaosians resistant to it. More food for thought. How many castle servants were what they seemed? I would need to talk to Sir John about it, after I figure out a way to make sure Sir John is himself. So many possible complications!
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
My day started innocently enough. I felt the tingle of a trump call coming in and with a little concentration I was able to determine it was Kelamon. I opened my mind to the contact and she quickly got down to business. She handed me two letters through the trump…one was apparently a request to sit for a trump painting to be done by Gwyneth, Kelamon's sister. Kelamon knew of the contents and I told her I would make myself available as long as the war had not broken out yet. I had heard something of the circumstances of Gwyneth's sanctuary in Amber and had detected some tension from Kelamon in that reguard. I decided to query her a bit further and voiced my own suspicions that Gwyneth needed to be watched closely.
Kelamon seemed to agree heartily and was pleased to find that I was of like mind. We discussed Gwyneth at some length. She apparently had annoyed the Rebmans sufficiently to be exiled to shadow where she made questionable friends and generally engaged in activities not considered suitable for the Rebman court. I was more concerned that her "abduction" was more of a clever ruse to get us to bring her to Amber. Her position as a court trump artist would be ideal for a spy and her loyalties were already suspect. Such a scenario is what I would do if I were the chaosians. I resolved to "make nice" with her and try to better determine her intentions. Keep your friends close but your enemies closer they say.
A short while after my discussion with Kelamon, I got another trump call from Gwyneth. I told her I would need a short while to freshen up and find suitable attire for the sitting. She seemed pleased that I was taking the sitting seriously. If the truth be known, I would not want to be seen by posterity as a grime caked slob anyway and that is what I looked like after working in Hunac for a while. I told Gwyneth to give me a couple hours and I would meet her in Amber. I issued a few final instructions to my workers and prepared to return to Amber to clean up and obtain suitable attire.
In Hunac I had been having the locals tunnel beneath the likely invasion points to allow me to stuff them with explosives. I intended to blow everything up when the Hendrakes made their appearance. A lot of work needed to be done, but I felt that I could take a few hours off and still get the job done in time. I was sadly mistaken as it turned out.
I chose some of Eric's finer clothing and added a few items of my own once I got to Amber and cleaned up. Making my way to find Gwyneth, I tried to come up with a suitable pose that would combine dignity and show my "compassionate" nature. I decided that one of the balconies overlooking Kolvir would be the best place. Finding Gwyneth, I escorted her to the appropriate balcony, carrying her easel and canvas for her and making small talk. The conversation slowly turned flirtatious, not a difficult task because she is a comely woman when all is said and done. I resolved to be as friendly to her as I could while maintaining enough distance to capture her interest. I have no doubts she wants to play me like a cheap guitar in the political games of Amber. We shall see who gets strummed.
My return to Hunac turned out to be a bit tardy. Shortly after I arrived, an urgent message came that the first gate was in the process of opening. My tunnels were only partially filled with explosive and had not yet been concealed. Damn! I had been looking forward to a truly spectacular victory but now all seemed in dire jeopardy. I rushed to the site and found that a couple of the Hunac leaders were agents of the enemy, or at least they were trying to throttle Derkan and Sabine. The shimmering gate was forming and swirling energies that I had seen before in Chandora were directing the gate formation. Several sorcerors tried disrupting it with spells to no avail. I decided to intervene with the possessed people and soon discovered a pair of strange psychic beings who were moving from body to body, disrupting things. I needed help and none of my cousins were handy. I tried using probability to isolate one of the beings and managed to enter into a mental combat with it. I was stronger. It died. The other fled quickly and I was unable to prevent its leaving.
I was unable to trump Thirteen or Jacob. The gate was growing and no one else seemed able to stop it. I felt a sinking sensation as I knew what had to be done. I slowly ascended the steps toward the gate and began to pull up my Pattern defense. Grimacing, I plunged into the edge of the gate where I would make contact with the chaos tendril. The pain was sudden, severe and somewhat catastrophic. I was flung back and bounced down a number of steps, mercifully out cold after the first impact.
Some time later I came to and noticed I was not dead. I could tell because every inch of my body hurt and I was looking up at one of the Hunac workers bending over me. Derkan and Sabine had recovered and there was no sign of the second psychic creature. The gate had pretty much collapsed with no force to direct it's formation. I sat up and felt around for my trumps again. This time I reached Jacob and told him what was happening. I was still a little fuzzy, but soon noticed Jacob, Tanitheel and Torianna were present. I explained what had happened and asked Tori if she could track down the second creature or come up with a defense against it. She agreed and went to work on the problem. After a while she announced the creature's trail left Hunac but she had an idea for an amulet that would ward off the possession.
Since the creatures had become privy to my plan with the explosives, it became useless. I ordered the powder removed from the tunnels and returned to the Kandive magazines. Jacob was still hanging around and he approached me with an idea of his. Jacob believed it might be possible to foment a rebellion in the heartland of Chaos, thus drawing off forces to deal with it. He seemed to think I might have some expertise in organizing and leading such rebellions. I can't imagine why. I replied that while that was a good idea, I had no personal experience in such matters. I thought I might be able to find a couple people in my expendable army who might know a little but thought he should broach the subject with Gerard as our best bet.
After things quieted down a bit I returned to Amber for a little medical attention. Getting cleaned up, I discovered Thirteen had returned from Chandora where he had witnessed the effect of my actions at the other end of the gate. Apparently it was even more painful for them and their ritual was disrupted for a while. He had also managed to capture a Hellmaid whom he had interrogated to some degree. I also learned that Torianna had successfully rescued Flora from the Chaosians and she was in decent shape. Things were beginning to look up!
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Bang! Just as I squeezed the trigger, my target adjusted her position slightly and my bullet impacted her in the upper breastbone area rather than the bridge of her nose where I had been aming. She flew backward in a massive spray of blood (not burning I noticed). A split second later Thirteen’s shaft struck her mount….it did burn. A moments orientation and I could tell they now knew where we were. Time to boogie as they say. The enemy troops begin pointing up at us and they start bringing their guns around to bear. Before they can ruin my perfectly good shirt, Thirteen, Sabine and I withdraw into the building and I make preparations to trump out. Sabine is not yet at home with the concept and she instinctively keeps running. Thirteen managed to stop her in time and we trumped out to Arden.
Congratulating ourselves for a job well done, we felt we should return to Chandora and see the results. First I trumped Gerard and informed him that I had at least wounded the enemy Pattern wielder and possibly slew her. He seemed pleased. The next step involved was to get trumped back into the Chandriss compound in Chandora so we enlisted the aid of Torianna’s mother to return. The Chandriss compound was in some slight panic. Apparently they felt the fall of the capitol was imminent and they wanted the hell out of dodge. I wanted to rescue Prinz Eugen first, so I grabbed a small force and found out where he was being held. In the meantime, Torianna was imposed upon to help evacuate the Chandris compound and she began to do so.
Once things were organized, Thirteen and I began our journey to rescue Eugen. The city was a complete mess. Enemy fliers were about directing the vengeful ground troops to crush any organized resistance. We were given a look over and it became apparent we would be on their menu soon. We rushed to get there first, bypassing retreating Chandoran troops and fleeing civilians. It still took some time and we began to pick up a few stragglers who attached themselves to us since we seemed to know what we were doing.
We reached the compound safely and made contact with Eugen. He was being protected by his loyal troops, but had suffered somewhat at the hands of their idiot “doctors”. His foot had been amputated and he was very anemic from the application of leeches. I arranged immediate medical attention for him and once again called on help to trump gate the whole mob to safety. I just a few minutes, the entire retinue was safely transported to the Kandive compound in Hunak. Five hundred and fifty people made it out all told.
It was obvious we were taxing the Kandive facility, so I contacted Liam for help in finding a suitable barracks where the Chandorans could recuperate. He responded that his cousin Dorianna should be able to help. She owned a number of warehouses near Amber that would be suitable. The shadow had enough magic that the healing could be expedited and it was easy to arrange a sort of quarantine to prevent drastic culture shock. I had to promise more trade route help for the Miramon house, but it was worth it. Within a few days the Chandorans and Prinz Eugen were safely squirreled away for rest and recuperation.
By now Thirteen had taken his leave of me to do his own thing for a while, so I used the solitude to begin my recruiting of an actual army. If we were to fight in Hunak, I wanted expert archers who could also kick ass in melee. With this in mind, I began walking through shadow until I came upon a medieval society completely ignorant of Amber. They were basically caucasian looking samurai warlords with a deep sense of honor and not a lot of sympathy for their enemies. It would be interesting to recruit them, so I spent a number of days working nearly nonstop to set the stage. I had to appear to represent a higher authority, so I found a nearby shadow with a large army camped in garrison and used them for my backdrop. I sent an invitation to Lord Sakura and soon met him in front of this impressive army. He was recruited with promises of honor, lands and power. He needed a few days to muster his force, so I spent a day sleeping off my fatigue and three more arranging logistics for the move. When he returned, I led them off into shadow towards the Arden camp. It did not take them long to realize things were not as they seemed, but by now they feared my power and I made sure to treat them well along the way.
Once I had my samurai settled into a garrison situation, I set them to training with the rangers to learn how we do things in Amber. I had some time to kill, so I returned to Hunak to see how things were progessing. I ran into Derkon and got a status report. He had completed his device for monitoring Hunak and had made a lot of local friends in doing so. During our discussion, he mentioned that ambient power could be found at all the necromantically strong focal points here. I suggested that by draining off that power into some other use, we could effectively limit the number of entry points for the enemy. He agreed and set about doing so.
I asked around to see what kind of flying troops might be available here. I learned the local coatls would be difficult in the extreme to recruit and most other types of flying mounts could not live here. Only those with some sort of magical levitation effect could fly here. I resolved to try and recruit something on the order of Djinn or perhaps the oriental varieties of dragons and serpents. That would be for a future foray however.
Thirteen reappeared with a healthy stock of silver. When he asked what would be the most effective method of coating the local weapons, I suggested some form of magical electroplating. When the concept was explained to the local wizards, they seemed to think it could be done. Before long I heard that they and Thirteen and had success and a prototype plater was constructed. I soon found myself taking the technology and a stock of silver to Fanghorn for their use as well. All was still quiet in Fanghorn. I decided to check on my prison troops and headed off to find out how they were doing.
When I arrived, the rangers informed me that about a dozen of the more intelligent ones had more or less figured out their eventual fate and were beginning to talk. I had them quickly summoned and removed from the others. I met with them under private accommodations and congratulated them for passing the test. I offered to set each of them up n a business around the golden circle and provide them with a modest salary in return for their acting as my agents. All agreed readily, as they sensed their only real alternative was to have an accident or be returned to the prisons from which they came. I drew up a simple contract and had each sign in turn. I will need to get them set up in the next few days as I have other fish to fry and the chaosians have nearly finished off Chandora.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
Thirteen and myself continued our interviews of various spell casters in hopes of finding useful assistants. I had heard of the necromancer Derkon and wished to find out if he would be of use. That particular realm of magic seemed likely be to be needed since our foes seem to rely heavily on it. Asking around, I was told he could usually be found socializing with the ladies. Thirteen and I finally found him in conversation with an attractive young lady named Phaedra. I hated to break up his fun, but business is business and I introduced myself.
After some discussion, it became apparent to me that he had already been signed on by Toriana. This made things much easier and we got down to the nitty gritty. I asked him to accompany us to inspect the enemies use of necromancy and help us to devise a way to impede their efforts. He seemed eager to help and I found myself taking a liking to him. We arranged to meet later after he had time to gather his equipment. He scurried off and I found myself in conversation with Phaedra.
Phaedra was merely an apprentice, but her realm of magic would also be useful. An illusionist, I proceeded to recruit her help as well, although unsuccessfully at first. Once she found out I was a Prince of Amber her tune changed quickly enough and I asked her to bring her master to meet with me. A short time later, she returned with her tutor Petra and I discussed what I had in mind. I wished to be able to emulate the enemy bugle signals in order to sow confusion in their ranks when the battle came. It was apparent to me that command and control would be an issue for our opposition since the bulk of their cannon fodder consisted of enthralled locals in most cases. If I could sound the charge or retreat at a critical time, I felt I could break up their formations, particularly in lower tech shadow. Petra seemed intrigued by this and I assured her I would attempt to make her as safe as possible during the event. Together with the allure of what status she would gain as my retainer, this seemed to satisfy her. In all, I would get the services of herself, Phaedra and another apprentice Sinone.
As we waited for Derkon’s return, I got into contact with Jacob to coordinate our strategies and get a status on his efforts in Hunak. His description of Hunak began to sow seeds of doubt in my mind about the feasibility of making it the harder of the two shadows for the Hendrakes to penetrate. We decided that it would be best to bring Toriana in to approach the Hunak priest-kings and have Jacob concentrate on contacting the underworld elements of the society. Jacob seemed to feel the black marketers would be very useful. I am less convinced, but they should certainly be where the initial penetrations by Hendrake occur.
After I filled Thirteen in on what was decided, I slipped away for a bit to contact my mother. If I were to successfully open a trump gate to bring in the army at a critical juncture and still be fresh enough to function as a commander, I would need to power the gate from an external source. My first thought was to shadow walk the army to a staging area in my home world and power the gate from there with mom’s help. She suggested that she could feed me the power remotely without having my rabble messing around her gardens. This would be preferable to me as well, since I did not wish nosy relatives poking around my home, bribing the servants and whatnot. Mother also suggested I bring my brother in on the deal since he is the more magically inclined of us. I resist this temptation, simply because I would not trust him to not screw the whole thing up to annoy me. If I have to, I suppose I can tolerate his assistance, but I will keep it as a last resort. After mom dismissed me I contacted Liam for an update. Things were progressing, but we still did not have a suitable leader for the army. I told him to keep looking and continue his efforts.
By now, Derkon had returned and together with Thirteen we decided to pay a visit to Chandora so that Derkon could get the flavor of the power being used. We arrived in an out of the way spot and Derkon set up his gear. While he was doing so, a pair of enthralled enemy scouts chanced upon us. We easily dispatched the first and captured the second for more detailed study. Since no general alarm seemed to have been raised, we continued with our reconnaissance. Derkon began examining the area magically and seemed shocked at the magnitude of the effort being undertaken by the enemy. He was able to visually isolate the gate mechanism used to channel energy with some magical construct he had in his possession. Derkon suggested that one way we could halt or damage the gate was to use our Pattern probability control to corrupt the magic. He sacrificed a small item for me to try on and I succeeded in destroying it. Thirteen gave it a shot also and seemed more adept at that sort of thing than I. The next step was to see if we could effect the gate remotely using his scry device. Thirteen used his power to stabilize the device while I attempted to corrupt the flow of necromantic energies we were viewing through the device. I had limited success, but my efforts were immediately noticed and a strange tendril began seeking me out. I had heard of that sort of thing before so we broke contact and rapidly left the area before problems arose with enemy troops.
We fled directly to Fangorn where I had Derkon begin probing for areas where the enemy would be most likely to penetrate. While he was on this task, one of the late local leader arrivals asked to meet and discuss the situation. When I agreed, I found myself talking to a tree-giant hybrid of some sort who styled himself Lord Oak. He wished to see Ruin first hand so I once again took a small entourage to the place and let them see for themselves. Lord Oak went about it in a different way, utilizing elementals to scout, but he came to the same conclusion as the others. We returned to Fangorn and discussed strategy. Lord Oak informed me that the great local diety would not allow my troops to enter the forest in any numbers. Instead, the locals wished to be solely responsible for defense. After some discussion, I agreed to supply the locals with silvered weapons and logistical help. I warned them that if they were not up to the task, I would be forced to bring in my army regardless. Lord Oak seemed to accept that and he left to begin his people’s preparations.
In the meantime, I had Derkon examine our prisoner. It turns out that the enthrallment could be broken once away from the source. We questioned him after he came out of the trance but he was relatively useless as a source of information. I let Derkon know he would be needed in Hunak soon and took my leave to meet with Petra and company again. They were ready, so I took them to Chandora and met with the local Chandris representatives to get an update on the situation. I learned that things were not going well. The best military leader we had here , Prinz Eugen, had been wounded some time back and had been arrested by the Emperor. I resolved to rescue him and use him to lead my army and possibly a resistance effort in Chandora. I found out where he was being held and was about to undertake this task when a panic broke out. Enemy troops were in the capital and advancing on the palace. I had Petra’s people learn as much as they could and organized the Chandriss evacuation as quickly as I could.
Gunfire could be heard not all that far away and I began to feel the use of Pattern that I was not responsible for. No other family member was here, so I contacted Gerard with the news. We decided we either had a turncoat amongst his siblings, or it was Dara who was known to have taken the Pattern. This seemed an opportunity to put a kink in their plans, so I obtained a high quality and enchanted sniper rifle and contacted my mother to place ward piercing spells on a bullet. This took some time and the sound of battle was growing closer. When she finished, I hustled out into the city to take up a good vantage point. I found myself a hidden section of rooftop where I could see the action.
A battle line was formed in the street some distance away. I could feel the probability being used to render the defender’s fire ineffective. It seemed to be coming from a smaller demonic form protected by two larger demons just behind the enemy battle line. Loading the bullet, I took careful aim and waited for a clean shot. Suddenly, I received a trump call from thirteen and my concentration was broken. Somewhat annoyed at the interruption, I decided to bring him through for backup. He had his crossbow with him and he conferred for a moment. During this time I decided Dara would have more defenses than the obvious wards. I contacted Petra and asked if she had the ability to pierce illusions. She smiled and presented me with a pair of goggles. Putting them on, I observed the scene below. As I feared, my target was displaced some 3 feet to one side of where she appeared to be with the naked eye. I let Thirteen take a look and we settled down to take our shots, keeping a hasty retreat path open. I had a clean shot to her head and Thirteen was aiming for her main torso. Slowly my trigger finger squeezed….
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
The celebrations seemed to drag on a bit as I was forced through an endless round of introductions with various important people of the realm. I put on the best face I could and made special effort to favorably impress those who mattered in my grand scheme of things. I had made prior arrangements to head out with Breggor later in the afternoon, but I soon learned that Gerard had made other plans for me. I was presented with a set of trumps (which seemed adequately done, though I determined to investigate them more closely at a later time) and a short lecture on the military state of affairs. Gerard gave a brief rundown on which Chaosian houses were doing what to the four of us newcomers. Much of this he had already shared with me during my first interview, but I kept my mouth shut and listened for variations in his tale.
I was instructed to accompany Gerard, Thirteen, and Jacob to the ranger's training center somewhere past Arden. Putting on my travel gear, I tried to enjoy the ride as much as possible. I learned a bit more about shifting shadow and was pleased to discover my fellow inductees were not the annoying chatty sort of people I had expected. Both of them seemed highly capable and I decided to treat them as equals as much as possible. We reached the encampment and began training almost immediately.
My introduction to firearms seemed to go well. They are much like using crossbows and I had no trouble adapting. In other forms of martial training, the three of us learned that we are closely matched. Thirteen is stronger than I but I seem to be a bit quicker. Jacob and I are very close in ability. He may have a slight edge in personal combat. I suspect I am a bit more knowledgeable in mass combat. Together the three of us should be able to put a hurt on the Chaosians when they come to visit. Alas at the end of the day, Gerard felt it necessary to "instruct" us in hand to hand combat. I knew without doubt what was coming but I simply put on my best grin and took my drubbing in good spirits. In one variation, the three of us took Gerard on at once and managed to make a good showing. Afterwards, I resolved to never attempt close combat if I can in any way avoid it. It is much too painful the next day.
In the solitude of my tent I made contact with Liam and discussed his progress. It was much too early for any results yet but he was on the job. A good man. In the morning I met with Jacob and thirteen again and we discussed a plan. From our ranger friends we learned that the enemy were progressing from nexus shadow to nexus shadow, more or less skipping shadows in between for later. They currently are fighting in Chandora which leads to two likely possibilities for the next conquest. One of them, Fangorn, was a faerie realm more or less inimical to outsiders. The other is a place called Hunak and is a more tropical realm with an old and corrupt civilization. Jacob and I discussed the possibilities and came up with a plan. The idea is to render Hunak so inhospitable to invaders that they will choose the path of least resistance and choose Fangorn. There we would set a trap for them, using my expendable prisoner troops as bait and bring in a larger more professional force to catch them by surprise once they were engaged.
Jacob agreed to head to Hunak to lay the foundation there while I would begin preparations in Fangorn. Thirteen was relatively quiet on this whole plan, keeping his own counsel for the moment. He left for some personal time but was going to be available to assist me in recruiting mages from Dom Daniel a few days. Not wanting to be idle, I took a couple of rangers and followed them to Fangorn to begin my work.
Fangorn is a heavily forested land rife with generally unfriendly creatures. There is a settlement where Liam's family conducts business with some of the locals. I used their good graces to set up a meeting with some of the local leaders to convince them of our intentions on their behalf. I neglected to mention that we would be working to insure the enemy came through Fangorn and not Hunak. Resistance to any outsiders is strong there. Before any deals could be struck, the locals demanded to be shown the peril they were in. I agreed to take a few of them on a sightseeing tour of an overrun shadow. With the help of my rangers, I was able to shadowwalk to a place I dubbed "Ruin" and made a trump sketch of a relatively safe entry point. Returning to Fangorn, I met with a few of the leaders and used the trump to take them to Ruin. They were dutifully impressed and shaken by what they saw there. They quickly agreed to return and spread the word to their people and fellow leaders.
While they went about spreading the gospel, I made contact with Liam and found he had successfully rounded up a small prisoner force and they were ready to begin training. I returned to the Golden Circle to pick them up and began herding them out into shadow. I picked a handful of the rangers to implement training and arranged for basic logistics. New tunics were designed and ordered to outfit this "army". I found a relatively unpopulated shadow and set them to work on drilling and learning how to function as an army. With some effort, they may actually prove to be a useful force. I will give them a chance to prove their worth. The good ones I will keep around and reward, the scum will find themselves soon dead.
I need magical assistance if I am going to be successful, so I joined Thirteen again when he contacted me to head to Dom Daniel. He introduced me to a skuzzy looking fellow calling himself Badger. Badger claims to have been convinced of our cause and was willing to show us a short cut to Dom Daniel to recruit help He also wanted us to be made aware of a potential threat to Amber. He led us to a building in the outskirts of Baylesport wherein we found a large trump painting leading directly to Dom Daniel. This was apparently the threat he referred to. I suppressed my urge to slay everyone involved with the trump and thanked him for the warning. We agreed to take precautions to guard it without killing the Namparas who owned it. Stepping through, Thirteen, Badger and I stepped through and began efforts to recruit help. I had a bit of nervousness when I was requested to take part in a small ritual upon entry. I allowed a small portion of my energy to be sampled by an obelisk to insure my safety within. Not something I want to do every day, but I had no time to quibble.
Inside I was introduced to a mage who seemed willing to help for a price. Avram declared his support in return for a couple of trumps. I quickly agreed, knowing that if I could not pawn off the debt on Torianna or her aunt, I could probably take care of it myself. I also learned of two other likely candidates, Derkon the necromancer and Holruun. After successfully closing negotiations with the mercenary Avram, I and Thirteen went in search of Derkon.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
After breakfast today I had my first official meeting with Gerard with regards to my official duties. I asked him to outline the situation for me so that I might suggest where I could be best utilized. The situation turned out to be quite simple. Amber was under attack by four separate chaosian incursions, each directed by a different house and not necessarily cooperating with each other. One spearhead was led by the Hendrakes and seemed to be the most straightforward opponent. They were relying on brute force and intimidation to bull their way through shadow. It was said that a descendent of Benedict was involved in leading them. Another spearhead was led by the Helgrams and was advancing through political subterfuge, dirty tricks and a route through less well traveled shadow. Their progress was less clear but potentially more dangerous. Using somewhat similar tactics are the Jesbys but with a more direct component than the Helgrams. Finally House Chanicutt was advancing using primarily naval routes. This one seemed most intriguing to me at the start but I decided that the Hendrake advance needed blunting quickest.
I listened to Gerard describe the current conditions. It was apparent that my first order of business as far as he was concerned was to gather some sort of army together as quickly as possible. I rather gathered that Gerard intended each of the four offspring that had been found to address one of the spearheads. I still had no idea what the others were like and whether I could use them effectively. I decided to float an idea about using the prisoners in the dungeons to form a bait force. Gerard did not balk, though I doubt he was much enthused. I took some time to explain my rationale and he agreed to try it. I wanted him to know that I was capable of ruthlessness in defense of the realm. I think he got the message.
I decided to establish my initial base among the noble houses of Amber and work out from there. I asked Gerard about the various houses and which ones might have suitable young members that I could call upon for assistance. After talking it over I chose to recruit two young men. The first was Breggor of House Feldane. He has a reputation as a wastrel, but in my opinion his family's good graces are critical to my long term success. I decided that I should befriend him and slowly groom him for higher things as a favor to the Feldanes. The second was Liam of House Miramon. From what I heard, he is the closest in outlook to myself and his ambition will be a very useful tool. I sent invitations to each of the young men to meet me in the castle at their earliest convenience.
I wanted to properly set the mood for my two upcoming meetings, so I arranged for a bottle and some mild recreational drugs to be made available. As I was poring over a couple of reports, my first recruit arrived. At his knock I looked up to see a rakish young man obviously suffering a bit from lack of sleep and carousing.
" Hey there, please take a load off. Here, help yourself to a drink," I offered.
"Great….thanks!" he replied as he poured himself a stiff one. I let him take a long swallow before I began.
"My name is Fineas. They just hauled me in from shadow to take up some position here and I haven't really had a chance to settle in yet. I asked around and you came recommended as a guy who can show me the ropes and still have a good time. I'm not sure I'm ready for all this leading of armies stuff yet. I could sure use a buddy to unwind with to keep me sane. You up for a job that requires fun-seeking, excitement and maybe just a little troublemaking? Here, have a hit of this…" I offered. Breggor grinned widely.
"Sure! I'm your man! I know all the best places to have a good time. Cards, women, drugs, I am an expert on all of them. I wasn't sure what to expect when you invited me here. Frankly I had to be ordered here by my mother, but I'm glad I came now. You seem like a guy after my own heart" Breggor confided. "When do we start?"
" I need to talk to another guy that Gerard wants to push on me. Some guy named Liam. Know anything about him?"
"Ah, he is a major pain. You need to keep your eye on him.," answered Breggor.
"Well, anyway after I am done talking with him, I guess I need to go through some kind of investment ritual tomorrow and then get started on all that save the kingdom stuff. I figure that we can start late tomorrow. I am gonna need to go riding out in shadow, so bring a suitable supply of booze and other traveling supplies."
"OK, tomorrow it is then. I will see you at the investment…maybe introduce you around to some of the other guys before we have to take off." He nodded and got up to leave. I had a few minutes before Liam was due to arrive. I put away the booze and thought about how best to approach him. I decided to be as honest as I could and see if he wanted to come along for the ride. He appeared at my door promptly at the appointed hour and I motioned for him to have a seat.
"Thank you for coming. My name is Fineas. I am recently arrived from shadow to take up my position as a prince of the realm and I find that a daunting task lies before me. I asked for you because I heard that you are a man that can get things done and are not squeamish about what it might take. I need those qualities and I am ready to make a mutually beneficial alliance to get them. I need a right hand man, someone I can count on to cover my back and keep their mouth shut. In return, I offer political and monetary advancement for yourself and your house," I explained.
"I see. What specifically would be my job?" he inquired with a poker-face.
"I need someone to do some diplomatic work for me to begin with. My first task will be to blunt the Hendrake advance. To do this I intend to work on their overconfidence to lead them into a trap. I intend to offer them an army of misfits and criminals for sacrifice while hitting them from the sides and rear with a real army. To create my bait army, I want to empty the prisons of Amber and the Golden Circle, give them minimal training and gear and put them in harms way at a place and time of my choosing," I explained.
"How do I fit into this?" he asked.
"I want you to approach the Golden Circle kingdoms and obtain the release of the prisoners I need. Put any spin on it that you like. I will entertain any reasonable deal that it takes to get the job done. We will also need to find someone to lead the sacrificial army. Any enemies you need to dispose of or do you have any suggestions?".
"I am sure that there is at least one competent general being kept as a political prisoner out there. Perhaps we could offer an amnesty in return for service to those that survive? I think that having a political prisoner die for the cause is more palatable than making him a martyr by execution," Liam suggested.
"An excellent idea. We could make a general offer of pardoning any prisoner in return for 5 years service. Maybe throw in a promise of land as well. We would keep them ignorant of their function of course until it was too late for them to desert. I would even honor the bargain for any that happen to survive. Exceptionally gifted ones might even be offered permanent positions on my staff. Now then, what do you want in return for your service? A political position perhaps?"
"I have no great desire to enter the political arena. Rather I would ask your help in establishing a few new trade routes to enable me to gain an economic advantage. I am a trader by heart and my price is an advantage in trade over the other houses. I understand that you can create shadow paths?" he asked.
"So I understand. I have not yet undertaken such a thing, but I agree to its undertaking on your behalf. Stick with me and we both will attain great heights. But first we must crush this Hendrake advance or all our designs will come to nought. By the way, I have had to take Breggor Feldane under my wing as part of a long term strategy I have to tame the Feldanes to my will. I realize that he is a fool, but I must ask your forbearance while I babysit him. He may prove useful to our long term goals so I will be spending some time with him."
"I understand. When shall I begin?" Liam asked.
"Tomorrow after the investiture. Let me know what expenses you may incur and I will arrange for funds to be made available for your journey to the Golden Circle. I also would like you to engage the services of a news stringer to accompany us on our campaign. I want someone who is respected but ultimately able to be manipulated to put out the message we want to send. Public perception is vital to political power. Perhaps a minstrel as well. What do you think?"
"I would recommend a stringer named William. I will be happy to engage him on your behalf. As for a minstrel, we would want an earthy type who will appeal to the illiterate types. Perhaps Woodruff."
"See to it then. I will meet with you tomorrow before we take off. In the meantime, take my trump and feel free to contact me if you need advice or a decision. Until tomorrow then" I said, extending my hand for a handshake. He took my hand in return and took his leave.
The remainder of my day was taken up with the minutae of arranging supplies, getting fitted for the investiture ceremony and more research. The following morning I reported to the assembly area for the ceremony and met my cousins for the first time. Toriana seemed distracted and a bit spoiled. I tried to engage her for trumps for my command, but she put me off imperiously. A big mistake on her part. Another fellow simply answered to the name Thirteen and seemed wildly out of place. He was definitely out of his element but seemed bemused by the whole experience. When I spoke with him at some length, I learned he had been assigned as Toriana's bodyguard and had been off helping her recruit wizards. I asked for his future help in approaching the wizards myself and he seemed amenable. I have not figured him out yet, but he bears closer observation. The final cousin was Jacob. He reminded me of a sunburned crack addict. Definitely on edge much of the time and he had a well traveled look about him. He seems to consider himself a man of action and confided that he had intelligence to impart to Gerard about the chaosian incursion. I will definitely need to debrief him myself when time allows.
The ceremony was short and sweet. The nobility was present and I was able to meet a number of them I had only heard about. The rest of the morning was spent mingling and pressing the flesh. I can only hope that I was able to give a good impression at the proceedings.
The True Life Adventures of Fineas of House Barimen
Prince of Amber
The sun awoke me streaming through my cabin window, vying against the gentle sway of the ship trying to lull me back to sleep. Sadly the light won the contest and I reluctantly stirred from my hammock. I ran my fingers through my unkempt hair as I staggered to the washbowl I had prepared the earlier evening in anticipation of a raging hangover. I seem to have somehow avoided that fate this time, but the cold water served to further awaken me as I splashed my face a few times and stared into the mirror. In the morning light I searched my face for any unwanted hint of character and found none. A youngish man stared back from the mirror with piercing blue eyes and black hair. I closely examined my coloring and made a few touchups where it appeared necessary.
After a while I managed to successfully dress and emerge from my cabin to take up my duties as navigator for the ship I was currently employed on. The captain must have suspected something of my lineage because he seemed to cut me more slack than he did the rest of the crew. They had noticed this of course and came to their own conclusions. My friendship was sought amongst the crew as it was assumed that I was someone of importance. In addition I had earned something of a reputation as a savvy gambler amongst my shipmates. In fact most of them owed me money by this time. I tried to keep my fleecing moderated since I did not wish to wake with a knife at my throat before we made landfall.
As I emerged onto the deck, several deckhands turned and greeted me with wan smiles. The poker session the night before had been long, entertaining and had resulted in the last of the ship's stores of rum being consumed. Luckily we were due to reach port tomorrow afternoon by my calculations. Still, tonight's gaming would be done sans alcohol. I had resolved to arrange to lose a bit more tonight to cheer up the crew. With such thoughts on my mind, I was approached by one of the less savory deckhands, a fellow called Growley during my afternoon watch.
"Might I have a word with you Mr. Fineas sir?" Growley asked in low tones. I nodded my assent and prepared to listen to his apparent proposal. " I can't help but admire your skill at the cards sir, but I have noticed that you are not taking, er, shall we say full advantage of your ability."
"Why Growley, whatever do you mean?" I responded in as innocent a tone as I could manage without bursting into laughter. "How should I be taking advantage of my ability?"
"Well it's just that with a partner such as myself, the two of us could end the voyage with the majority of the cash on board split between ourselves fifty-fifty. All it would take is a wee bit of fudging on some bets. You know, a bit of teamwork during the evening's friendly game. A matter of a few signals sent and your own good knowledge of the game to line our pocket's smartly before landfall tomorrow."
"I see. So we form a secret team to clean out the rest of the crew. I will think on it…I will certainly get back to you before tonight's game to discuss it further," I responded. Of course I intended no such thing. I would not partner with a swine such as Growley for such pitiful stakes as a ship's payroll. It would take a truly impressive stake to interest me to the point of teaming with such vermin. I decided to curry a bit of favor with the rest of the crew and expose Growley. It never hurts to be popular with the lower classes and some occasional benefits may be found with the association of sailors.
By the end of my shift I had managed to speak to every crewman and alert them to Growley's plan. A number of them decided to take matters into their own hands and Growley was strangely absent for the remainder of the voyage. The sea and those who sail on her are unforgiving by nature. An important lesson to remember. I was careful to not win too much in that evening's card game.
The ship anchored a short distance from the Amber docks the following afternoon. I took the first longboat to the pier after receiving my pay and proceeded to my usual haunts to find a room and entertainment. I typically stay in middle of the road establishments…not too tame but not too dangerous either. My drinking tends to take place in the seedier establishments at first. It is best to gauge the mood of a realm by the demeanor of the lower class citizens. At Bloody Bill's the rumors were rife of upcoming troubles. The royals had embarked on a war to oppose the distant forces of Chaos and had apparently fared poorly. At least that was the rumor. It corresponded with what I had heard or surmised at home from my mother and her advisors. I know my brother seemed to have changed for the worse recently. Our latent rivalry had seemed to be forgotten as something weightier occupied his mind. He had left before my voyage and I found myself wondering at his current doings. As for myself, I intended to gather what intelligence I could to strengthen my position if it became necessary to announce myself to whoever ruled Amber these days.
The evening had turned out to be rather uneventful in Bloody Bill's, so I eventually decided to return to my rooms. I had been asleep for a short while when a loud insistent knock aroused me. Gripping a dagger, I observed the shadow of someone beneath the door.
"Who's there?" I queried. I silently glided to the door and awaited the reply. I did not have very long to wait and the voice seemed very sure of itself.
"A messenger from the regent Gerard. The prince wished to speak with you immediately," was the response. I held the dagger behind the hip and cracked the door open. Beyond was a youngish man dressed in official uniform. "Please sir, the matter is urgent."
"Very well…allow me to dress and I will be at your service momentarily," I responded. I quickly gathered some of my better clothing and dressed in the darkness. Shortly I emerged and followed the man downstairs where he had a horse waiting. It was light out, but not that many townspeople were about. He indicated that I should mount so I did so. He lead the way through the streets and some minutes later we approached the castle gate. I was curious at what Gerard knew of me. I had never been presented at the court by my father and had been under the impression that I was unknown to the royal family. Apparently I was mistaken and I began to feel a certain amount of apprehension at my reception.
Soon I was led inside the castle and taken to a sitting room where I was asked to wait. At no time was I searched or in any way manhandled, so I began feeling better about things. Perhaps it was time to claim my heritage and take my place among the royal family, whatever was left of it. Some time passed, perhaps half an hour. I was then led into an office where a very large an imposing man awaited. I immediately recognized Gerard from my father's trump deck. He motioned me to a seat and peered at me for a moment or two before beginning.
" I have reason to believe that you are a relative of the royal blood. I have brought you here because if you are, the realm has urgent need of your services. Take my hand a moment." He commanded. I did so and immediately became aware of the slowly building pressure as he tested my strength in an arm wrestling contest. A strange way to test parentage, but then my father had always had a rather uncomplimentary opinion of Gerard. He easily defeated me of course, but my effort was sufficient to make up his mind about the next step.
"As you may have heard, things have not gone well in the war against Chaos. Of the princes and princesses, only I remain free. We are attacked out in shadow and I need help defending the realm. I have done some research and have located a number of royal offspring scattered throughout shadow. I think you are one. There is a definitive test, but it is dangerous and will result in your certain death if you are not of the blood. I must ask, if you are willing, that you walk the Pattern and take your place in the realm. It is not a decision to be taken lightly."
"I would like to see more of Amber before I make a decision. Might I have a brief tour?" I asked. I wanted to feel out the situation before committing myself.
"Very well. I will have you shown around but I expect an answer before the day is out. Time is short," he replied. I settled back as he called for a page to show me around. I spent the next few hours getting a tour of the castle, including introductions. During this time I paid close attention to the demeanor and training of the guards and servants. Morale seemed relatively high and there was an air of confidence in everyone I met. Since I knew for a fact I was of the blood, I was confident I would survive the Pattern. I had intended to walk it at some point and now the opportunity had presented itself in relatively advantageous fashion. I had word sent to Gerard that I would agree to assay the Pattern in the morning. I was assigned temporary quarters and tried to get a good night's sleep before my ordeal in the morning.
After a hearty breakfast, Gerard met me in the morning and we proceeded through some rooms I had not been shown and descended a very long flight of stairs. We came to the Pattern room, exactly as my father had described it. Gerard gave me a few last minute instructions and I set off to attune to the power. It was more difficult than I had believed, but after what seemed like a century I reached the center. Gerard instructed me to wish myself out, either to his side or up the long stairs. I chose to place myself at Gerard's side,( the politically correct decision) and accompanied him back up to the top.
We discussed a few minor things as we walked. I requested Eric's old quarters and he agreed to make them available. He outlined a training schedule for me and I was to report to Sir John after I had rested for some evaluations on my martial abilities. First, I decided to make the aquaintance of the hot baths and the masseur. This I accomplished easily and then reported to the practice room once I was refreshed.
Sir John was an older gentleman but apparently one of the better swordsman in the guard. We started slow in the practice room, feeling out each other's limits. I decided to hold back, but in the end I was still defeating him easily. This seemed to impress the guards somewhat and I thanked my long sessions competing with my brother. He is a much more difficult challenge and I find myself wondering what he is up to at this very moment.
I found myself settling in to Eric's old quarters at the end of the day. I rummaged through his closet and chose what garments would fit and would be appropriate. The remainder I had boxed and placed into storage. He had some secondary armor and gear which I appropriated and I finished settling in.
I wondered about the other royal children and what they would be like. I was sure to meet them in the coming days and I needed to take their measure quickly. Well, tomorrow is another day.