The Serpent's Bargain

Caine is ready to commence "highly invasive" investigation of the clone servant previously identified by Lowen. Jericho argues with him, saying that what he intends is inhumane and wrong. Elodie reminds Jericho that the clones had orders to kill and replace the entire elder generation and that stopping Caine from doing dark and disturbing things would be a fulltime job. He isn't persuaded, so she leaves. Caine Trumps in Benedict for back up and both of them attempt to convince Jericho that studying the clone is necessary for the security of Amber, and that he doesn't have the clearance to be told further details. Jericho learns that the servant is a single father with three young children and promises that the children will be taken care of. He eventually departs without the servant.

Gerhardt, in Erewhon, attempts to set up shadow scanning equipment to find Osric, based on the power signature he observed at the Primal Pattern. He realizes that the task is too broad, and contacts Merlin for help. Merlin is in a barely habitable shadow, to which he has just brought several crates of computer components. They work together to begin installing the Ghostwheel in its new home. Merlin describes two strange attempts against his life, one a few weeks ago, the other exactly a year prior, and asks if Gerhardt knows anyone in the family who might be mad at him. He also expresses a desire to have Ghostwheel finished before demonstrating it to the family, hoping to make a good impression. He is interested in representing trump images in virtual space, so Gerhardt offers to introduce him to Finnegan. Once the core Ghostwheel system is operational, Gerhardt uses it to continue his scan, identifying five similar power signatures, one near Amber, one near Chaos, and three deep in Shadow.

Elodie drops by her mother's apartment, hoping to speak with her privately. Llewella and Vialle are there for dinner and scheming, so she leaves word with her mother's butler that she wanted to talk to her privately, but that it wasn't urgent. The butler says that [[Flora]] had said she wanted to know immediately if Elodie stopped by. Elodie consents, but leaves.

While enjoying her regular spa treatment, Isabelle gets a Trump call from [[[Fiona]] asking for her assistance. Flattered by the request, Isabelle rushes to her side. It turns out that Fiona and Caine have finished examining the clone servant and have removed his sleeper agent programming to poison several people. Fiona asks Isabelle to hold his mind steady while she removes traumatizing memories of what was done to him, so that he can be returned to his life as if he were the original.

Jericho hears their conversation through his mental link and asks Isabelle to Trump him through. She reluctantly obliges. Jericho presses Fiona on what she learned, but she cites security concerns. She offers to arrange a meeting with the Triumvirate to discuss granting him clearance and he agrees. She Trumps out. Isabelle and Jericho snoop on the card she used and vaguely recognize a dapper white haired man as Mandor Sawall of Chaos.

Flora catches Elodie halfway down the hall and convinces her to have dinner with the other women. The four of them discuss politics. Flora and Llewella are scheming with Corwin against Eric on Random's behalf. Corwin has legal standing to contest for the throne, but doesn't want it, so he is planning to challenge Eric for it. Elodie proposes a Republic. Llewella seems interested in discussing it, but Flora is disgusted. Elodie also expresses surprise that Julian was chosen for the Triumvirate over Caine. Elodie isn't interested in back room manuevers, so Flora accuses her of being a bad friend to Random.

When Flora and Elodie are alone, they heatedly discuss Netherwing. Flora says that he can't be trusted and that Elodie should have nothing to do with him. Elodie says that Flora shouldn't have hidden him from her, and that knowing about him would have been very helpful in understanding the draconic side of her nature. Flora says that Netherwing attempted to steal Elodie as a baby and that she had gotten her father's help to stop him.

Eric Trumps Jericho and Isabelle nosily joins in. Eric has learned of Corwin's interest in blocking him from regaining the throne. Corwin is shadowriding in with a small force and is expected to arrive in a couple of days. Eric suggests Jericho shoot him before he arrives.

Elodie Trumps to Corwin to consult with him about her Trump readings and warn him that Osric's next step may be to destroy him or his Pattern. She fills him in on a number of details of the clone invasion he was not familiar with. Corwin doesn't believe that Osric will be able to do much to his Pattern, but says he'll warn Merlin, the only other person who might could walk it or damage it. Corwin asks Elodie if she would arrange a meeting between him and Eric and she proposes Flora as a much better go between.

Isabelle seeks her grandmother Clarissa for comfort and before long Jericho barges in. They discuss healing Eric. Clarissa believes she knows someone who can heal him, if Eric can provide the right payment when he becomes king. She suggests the Jewel of Judgement and Jericho, somewhat appalled, turns her down. She suggests a pardon for Brand. Jericho Trumps Eric, who eventually consents, but is concerned about the political fallout of a pardon if Brand turns up alive. Jericho suggests that Eric marry Isabelle to improve his popularity and Isabelle is furious.

Clarissa, Eric, Jericho, and Isabelle Trump to the Cathedral of the Serpent in Chaos. Eric leaves his Pattern sword with Jericho, then proceeds into the empty Cathedral. The Serpent, big as a house, comes forward to meet him and they confirm their agreement. Eric is immersed in darkness and emerges whole and healthy.

Elodie Trumps to Fiona to consult with her about the "source of Brand's power", supposedly under Osric's control. Fiona thinks she knows where that might be, but wants to bring some manly backup in case of violence. Elodie Trumps Gerard, who doesn't recognize her at first. He's busy dispatching a pirate ship, so he asks for ten minutes before joining them.

Fiona and Gerhardt talk by Trump. The site he has chosen to investigate is the same as the one Fiona was taking Elodie to, so they arrange to all go there together. Gerhardt makes a quick stop in Amber, dealing with a trade dispute with a Golden Circle member over delivery of coffee. Apparently they received coffee beans and lack proper means of brewing them. Benedict lends him thirty special forces members under Martin's command and he Trumps to Fiona with them.

Fiona leads the party to a shadow of elemental fury — the Keep of the Four Worlds. They leave Martin's forces just out of sight to come across as less hostile and approach the keep. A blond haired man above the gate declares, "The Mistress isn't interested in guests at the moment." Gerhardt charms his way in, offering gifts. He goes inside, Trumps his Senschel in Erewhon, and sends for Tribute Package #3, which includes life-size clockwork ballerinas. He presents the gifts to Rinaldo, son of the local ruler, who is impressed.

Isabelle sets up a Trump conference call for Eric, Jericho, and the Triumvirate. Eric tells them he is healed and ready for the duel with Random. Julian is ready for bloodshed, but Benedict and Fiona are curious as to how Eric was healed. He refuses to tell them until after the succession is decided, on the basis of his enemies using the knowledge against him. Benedict is willing to wait, though Fiona is reluctant.

Lucas invites Fiona, Gerard, and Elodie to join Gerhardt in the Keep and leads them to a sitting room to wait for his mother, Jasra. Along the way, they pass the Fount of Power and Elodie examines it, fascinated. Jasra joins the party for dinner, greeting Fiona with considerable affection. Elodie inquired and Jasra said she was married to Fiona's brother. Elodie, dumbfounded, recognized that she meant Brand and that Lukas was yet another cousin. Gerhardt recognizes Jasra's clothing as Kashfan, though in passing she mentioned originally being from the Courts. He tells her that they are looking for Osric. Jasra says that Osric passed through a few weeks ago, asking about the Fount and her husband's research. Brand gained powers, when Rinaldo was a boy, by immersing himself in the Fount. It changed him, made him harder, but Osric didn't seem any different after he repeated the process. He took Brand's notes with him.

Isabelle sends her pets to find Corwin and they find him walking his Pattern. Jericho goes to confront him, hoping to extract a promise not to interfere with the succession. Corwin refuses and Jericho considers using the perfect weapon to knock Corwin off his path in hopes of killing him. He remembers Dworkin suggesting that the Pattern would protect its maker and decides against the attempt. Corwin finishes walking the Pattern and waves goodbye. Jericho flicks him off as he disappears.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License