February 20 2016

Unresolved Business and Other Loose Ends…

Caine has discovered a small breach in the barrier between Amber and Undershadow. He and Silas investigate it. They climb up a steep narrow tunnel in Undershadow, eventually emerging on the new elevated surface of Amber's Undershadow. Just being there is draining, but Silas makes his way as far as the analogue of the Pattern room, which looks very similar to the one in Amber, except for the absence of a Pattern. Upon further investigation, Silas concludes that the barrier is not on the Undershadow side, but on the Amber side, and that the change had to have been made by a master of the Pattern. Caine discusses with Silas the merits and drawbacks of using Undershadow as a prison.

Silas visits Bill Roth at his office in Amber for an update on the court case against him among the Summer Faerie. The case is still in motions and depositions, but there is no evidence to acquit. Bill thinks that the Queen might be willing to extend a pardon and receives Silas' permission to pursue that option. He asks if Silas has a noble title, which would exempt him from summary judgement. Silas tells him that he is the Viscount of Serpent Isle, a small uninhabited island in Amber bay.

Gerhardt, Elodie, Natasha, Fiona, Gerard, and Martin are at the Keep of Four Worlds. Elodie asks to see the Fount of Power. Jasra leads her to it, past a curious man-shaped coatrack. Elodie studies the Fount with Pattern sight and, unbeknowst to her, is studied by Jasra with something similar. They discuss some of the things Jasra has learned from Brand and Osric. Jasra believes that the Pattern records memories of the people who walk it and that Osric has discovered how to copy these memories into his clone army, allowing him to program them without access to the originals. Elodie mentions the servant who was replaced and Jasra sugests that in that instance Osric did have access to the original. Jasra offers Elodie Rinaldo's Trump, engaging in very obvious matchmaking. Elodie helpfully says that she isn't seeing anyone at the moment. Rinaldo joins them and makes references suggesting that he has studied abroad, but Jasra cuts him off. Jasra invites everyone to dinner. Fiona takes Gerhardt aside and advises him not to accept, that Jasra is untrustworthy and had a bad influence on Brand. Jasra and Elodie are getting along very well, so when Gerhardt pulls her away to tell pass along Fiona's message, she isn't interested in leaving.

Earlier, Silas had left the Envoy II in the Phoenix Empire for refitting, so he goes to pick it up. While there, he Trumps Gerhardt, who asks him for an excuse to get everyone to depart the Keep on urgent business. Silas complies and Natasha immediately joins him. Elodie is skeptical, so Silas comes through to talk to her. He meets Rinaldo and Jasra. He recognizes crystal from Kashfa. Silas and Jasra exchange Trumps and agree to have dinner together on a future occassion. She seemed to place great significance on Silas being Caine's son. Silas tells Elodie that she's being summoned by one of the Elder Amberites on a mission for Amber, but won't tell her who, or what the mission is, or why she specifically is needed. She refuses to leave and so Silas, Gerhardt, and Martin Trump to the ship without her.

Jasra tells Elodie that she is about the same size Jasra was before Rinaldo was born, and lends her a gown for dinner. The three of them have a very nice meal and conversation. Elodie says that the House of Sawall was her host while she was in Chaos and Jasra says she was Dara's handmaiden. Jasra talks about meeting Brand while he was politicking in Chaos. Brand taught Rinaldo Trump artistry and took him to walk the Pattern in Tir-na Nog'th. Jasra doesn't like Caine and doesn't trust Amberites. Elodie is sympathetic.

Martin doesn't want to rush back to Amber and be put to work by Benedict, so Silas leaves him at Medicus One, then sets course for Amber. Silas consults with Natasha about using her Pattern sword to cut through the barrier to Undershadow. Gerhardt examines the barrier with Pattern Sight. He tells Silas that the barrier was created by the Unicorn to protect Amber against invasion through Undershadow, that he was present when she established it, and that Silas no longer needs to consider its origin a mystery. Silas explores extent of the barrier and finds that it tapers off gradually, ending, by curious coincidence, at Serpent Isle.

While there they check on the old tower on the island (which is as ever full of venomous snakes including the dreaded gold mamba). En route they encounter a huge bearded Viking-like figure with an ax on his back, sharpening a blade. He introduces himself as Aerenmar, the new Master of the Hunt. He claims to be there to verfiy Silas' address for the fairy courts, but further specifies, "You're one of my potential prey; I know where you are at all times." Aerenmar gained his office by removing the heart of his predecessor barehanded. His predecessor was not Nark, who instead is now one of his hounds.

After dinner, Jasra plays her organ. Elodie borrows Rinaldo's harp and Rinaldo sings. They are able to identify a few songs that they all know. Later, Elodie watches Rinaldo studying and notices his textbooks are American. She addresses him wryly in English, but accepts his desire for secrecy. He alternates studying by working on a Trump, which appears to depict a Sphinx. She has excess energy to burn, so she flies a bit above the Keep, noting that the winds beyond its boundaries offer considerable resistance. She lands to find Rinaldo watching. He's impressed and she shares that she got the idea for them in Chaos. She heads to bed.

Silas returns to Bill Roth's office to tell him about Aerenmar's visit. Bill is incensed, considering it harassment on the part of the Fey. He mentions that the Fey provided him with a ledger to record certain aspects of the case, and that the visit suggests that they are immediately aware of what is written in it. He warns Silas to avoid the fairy courts until the case is resolved.

Gerhardt is on the deck of the Envoy II when he starts to vanish in a rainbow, not quite like a normal Trump but a like hellride version of a Trump. Pattern defense slows it, but doesn't stop it. Hearing outcries among the crew, Silas runs from below decks, lunges, and manages to catch Gerhardt's arm. Natasha catches Silas' ankle and all three of them disappear. Silas and Natasha are knocked unconscious by the journey, but Gerhardt arrives intact, appearing in front of Osric. Osric shares his grievances against Oberon, but claims that the whole family has been used as playing pieces in a game between the Serpent, Unicorn, and others of their kind. He likes Gerhardt and, as Cirso, enjoyed having family in his life that on a basis other than kill or be killed. He expects Gerhardt to have divided loyalties, but wants Gerhardt to learn his side of the story in more detail before declaring a side.

Osric suspects that Oberon betrayed him on the Unicorn's orders. He no longer wants to be King of Amber, but rather to overthrow the entire system of Unicorn and Serpent, Pattern and Logrus, and to rule everything. He believes the Pattern has a consciousness that is influenced by those who walk it. Osric claims to have no further animus against the family and that some of them may be able to learn how to use powers without the Pattern. Gerhardt says he cares about the Unicorn.

Gerhardt asks about Osric's son's injuries. Osric confirms the suspected relationship and says that he came through, though it was close. Osric gives Gerhardt a journal he wrote while traveling the Grand Stair and suggests Gerhardt check out the places described in it, especially those on the four dog-eared pages. Osric offers to delay his plans for a time pending Gerhardt's return.

Five minutes after their disappearance, Silas and Natasha wake up on the Envoy II. Silas has Gerhardt's Trump in his hand, so he uses it. Gerhardt tells Silas he spoke to Osric, who isn't planning to move against the family anytime soon, and that he is going to be away for a while looking into some things and doesn't want to be disturbed.

Elodie wakes up at the Keep. Jasra and Rinaldo are out, but there is a note from Rinaldo, who would have given her his Trump, but was embarrassed to hear that Jasra already had. She has breakfast, leaves a note of thanks for her hosts, contacts Netherwing, and appears before him in Dragonsport. Netherwing recognizes the Keep and remembers meeting Brand when he passed through years ago to take a girl on a tourist voyage through the Abyss. Elodie tells him about her conversation with Flora about him and he admits to having tried to take her and coming in conflict with Oberon. He says that Oberon, using the Jewel of Judgement and Netherwing's True Name, which he had learned from Flora, cursed him to be unable to leave the city without it collapsing into the Abyss. Even evacuating his people would not save them from destruction by the curse. He was surprised by the compassion that he felt for his people and stayed all these years to protect them. Elodie examines him with Pattern sight and sees a great black spike through his heart, anchoring tendrils that extend throughout the city. She expresses doubt in her ability to lift the curse, but says that she'll look into it.

Elodie also doubts Random's ability to defeat Eric in their duel. Netherwing offers to bind Random against dying if Elodie believes his life is in danger. Alternately, dosing Random with some of Netherwing's blood could make him temporarily faster and stronger. Elodie says Benedict will probably be watching for such interference, but that she'll consider mentioning the offers to Random.

Silas Trumps Elodie and asks if there is a way to use Trump to determine where in shadow someone is. She finds that her knowledge of Trump is sufficient to alter her view through an open contact, giving her a fish-eye perspective. This provides enough information for her mastery of the Pattern to establish the person's location in Shadow. She correctly locates Silas on a little island in the bay near Amber, thanks him for suggesting a new trick to her, and says it would be difficult to teach it to him.

On learning that Elodie is in Dragonsport, Silas asks if he could do his favor for Netherwing soon, rather than waiting for a worse time. Netherwing tells Elodie that he doesn't need anything specific from Silas now, but that Elodie could call in Silas, Lowen, and Isabelle's favors to him if their help proved necessary to break the curse.

Elodie, having overheard Fiona's end of the Triumvirate's Trump conference with Eric about his sudden recovery from a death curse, shares what she knows about it with Netherwing. She asks who besides the Unicorn would have had the ability to heal Eric. Netherwing confidently says only the Serpent. Elodie expresses doubt that even Eric would go to the Serpent for help. Netherwing says that the healing would leave a signature residue detectable with magical sight. He demonstrates by taking one of his kobold servants to the edge of death with a curse, then healing him, then removing it. Elodie watches the process with Pattern sight, fascinated. She asks how she could learn the Serpent's signature without having to face him. Netherwing brings forth a dagger taken from a Chaos Lord he had killed recently. By arrangement with the Courts, he is supposed to send such artifacts to the High Priest of the Serpent, who should bear the signature if he has recently been possessed by the Serpent, as he is for certain religious festivals.

Elodie doesn't think she'll be able to discreetly use Pattern sight while at the Cathedral of the Serpent, so she Trumps Merlin, who is on Earth, deeply engrossed in a video game. She explains the situation and asks if he'll accompany her, examine the priest with Logrus sight, and psychically transfer the information to her. He asks her if she believes the Serpent healed Eric and she tells him that the only alternative she knows of is that he transferred the curse to a first degree relative. Merlin reacts with sudden agitation, saying he wasn't able to reach his father by Trump earlier that day. Elodie shares her recent encounter with him, and that he is probably either still on his way to Amber or checking out his Pattern.

Merlin comes through to Dragonsport and observes Netherwing cursing and healing a different minion, which grosses him out. Elodie and Merlin Trump to the Courts, drop off the dagger, and Trump to Berkeley. Merlin extends Logrus tentacles into Elodie's brain to transfer the memory. While there, he accidently picks up the memory of Netherwing offering to help Random cheat during the duel with Eric. He reacts with disapproval and says that Netherwing shouldn't be trusted.

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