January 30 2020

Oberon orders that plans be formulated for the elimination of the Sorcerer Kings as a threat. With Oberon's approval, Benedict assigns Jericho to spearhead the project. After being briefed, Jericho attempts to Trump Lowen, but can't get through.

After Bridgid returned from the Primal Music, her father, Finnegan, gave her an enchanted sword to help her protect herself. As long as she sings to the sword, it guides her movements, greatly increasing her effectiveness in combat. The Unicorn and Dworkin recently assigned Natasha to be Bridgid's bodyguard. Natasha starts training Bridgid to wield her sword more effectively. Dworkin is also training Bridgid in her powers.

Following the revelation that she is not a fragment of the original Brand, but a product of a machine that scanned him, Bree has an existential crisis and questions her mission of restoring/becoming "Brand as he should have been". She meets with Clarissa, who tries to reassure her and calls Bree "my favorite child". Clarissa tries to convince Bree of her authenticity in several different ways. She believes Bree can be strong enough to walk the Pattern and can be recognized as Brand by the Pattern without being overwritten by the Pattern's memories of Brand.

Gerhardt talks to his mother, Circe, about the device that produced the copies of Brand and Oberon. It is called a shadow nexus cyclotron. She assisted Osric in its construction, but Dworkin repeatedly made mysterious modifications to it on his own. Osric and Dworkin had different purposes for it. The recording crystals were provided by Dworkin and provide a link between the device and the Pattern. The broken and partial copies of Brand and Oberon circumvented local security to escape and spread through Shadow. Around that time, Dworkin put Erewhon in Bleys' charge as a check on Osric.

Jericho travels to Lowen's shadow, mows through his security, and meets with him to plan the downfall of the Sorcerer Kings. Lowen combines his Abyss and Fae powers to work on a horrific new minion.

Each of the twelve Sorcerer Kings, of whom Lowen is one, bears a mantle allowing them to access a limited portion of the Source. Each tends to linger near their access to the Source, because they are strongest there. Only the Emperor of the East, the 13th, has access to the full power of the Source. The Emperor can adjust the amount of power available to each Mantle, but usually would not, as that would change other parts of the system. The Emperor encourages rivalry among the others and expects them to want to take him out. He looks like a shrunken old man, perhaps 5'2", 98 lbs. A coalition of five Sorcerer Kings was sufficient to pose a major threat to Amber several years ago. The Pattern was created on top of something important to them, so they wanted to destroy it.

Jericho and Lowen discuss replacing the Sorcerer Kings with their own candidates, potentially thralls of Faerie. Eventually they decide they should destroy the Emperor and capture or destroy the Source. For this, they need more intel.

Lowen, as a Sorcerer King, can and should present himself to the Emperor. The Spheres of the Sorcerer Kings are networked, but Lowen is not part of the network. Being acknowledged by the Emperor could result in being admitted to the network and gaining information. Typically Sorcerer Kings bring retinues of about a thousand when presenting themselves, so he can bring large numbers of Amber agents into the Emperor's court. Usually, presentations go smoothly, but three times out of about a hundred that have happened, the Emperor annihilated the entire contingent. The Emperor does not bother with guards or an army, only keeping a small staff.

Lowen feels that the minds of Amber's agents need to be protected against psychic spying that would reveal Amber's intentions. Jericho feels that Isabelle could "box up" and hide compromising information.

Oberon was only contracted to be married to Titania for a span of time and Dworkin did not fully restore Oberon until after the contract period had expired. So Oberon is currently unmarried.

Due to Natasha's much greater strength, Bridgid finds her training overly rigorous and Trumps Gerhardt, electing to join him in Erewhon and not tell anyone where she was going. Hearing of her interest in a private rest break, Gerhardt uses his power over Erewhon to prevent anyone from being able to find her.

Bridgid listens to Gerhardt's Music, finding it exactly what she expected and perfectly what it ought to be. She found this suspicious, so she focused harder, finding that her mind fights hard against concentrating on it too closely. After she brings this up, the Music stops sounding suspicious. Bridgid is introduced to Circe, whose music sounds like a couple of different melodies that have been stitched back together. Bridgid gets a meal, a massage, and a nap. She has a dream that she is strapped down, that Gerhardt takes off his face, revealing a field of stars within, and that he reaches as if to remove her face as well.

Bree Trumps to Oberon's Dream to ask her father what Amber's greatest need is. Oberon tells her that Amber is mobilizing to end the threat of the Sorcerer Kings. The mostly dead god that Dworkin drew the Pattern on is connected to their power source. They might be able to use it to harm the Pattern. Dworkin thought that creating the Pattern would destroy them, but their power source "popped out" somewhere else. Bree mentions that most of the Sorcerer Kings have never harmed Amber and that Amber might want to avoid antagonizing them. Oberon explains that their Emperor is negotiating with the Dwimmerlaik, potentially facilitating their escape from the Void by drawing them through the Abyss, which is on both sides.

Jericho and Lowen return to Amber. Benedict shares information from Oberon about cooperation between the Sorcerer Kings and the Dwimmerlaik. Lowen discusses how the Emperor could help the Dwimmerlaik on a technical level. Jericho expects that they would eventually turn on one another. Benedict vetoes creating new Sorcerer Kings under fae control. Jericho wants Bridgid to listen to the Music of the Source. Lowen wants to evaluate the Pattern of Death for connections to the Abyss and relevance to the Source.

Bree knows that any major Amber effort against the Sorcerer Kings would involve Lowen, so she scries his Trump, finding that he is alone, riding for Arden. She Trumps nearby to intercept him as if by accident. He invites her to join him and they head together to the cold spooky cavern containing the Pattern of Death. He tells her about Amber's efforts against the Sorcerer Kings and invites her to join in.

The Pattern of Death is dark, but has a faint silver tracery. When Lowen summons Abyss, the Pattern absorbs the energy. Normal Patterns suppress and lash out at other powers. Lowen does a ritual, establishing that the Pattern is in the Abyss. He feels that walking it could send him to the lands of the Sorcerer Kings.

Bree detects the presence of ghosts and makes psychic contact. Some become visible. Her childhood music teacher addresses her as Brand and accuses her of not practicing. Lowen discounts Bree being called Brand, as many people have been. A little girl lost at sea in Brand's childhood latches on to her, causing saltwater to manifest in her lungs. An armored knight attacks her. Lowen dismisses the ghosts.

Lowen reluctantly Trumps Fiona, who doesn't want to work with him either. Fiona sees Bree and says she will talk to her. According to Dworkin's notes, the Pattern of Death was originally a failsafe against the Abyss. Fiona believes she and Lowen can replicate the ritual the Sorcerer Kings did to invert Amber, projecting the Pattern of Death to them, displacing their Source in the same way the Pattern did originally. But if the Source is displaced again, it is likely to manifest in the Abyss at Chaos, potentially causing catastrophic damage.

Fiona has a list of parameters she wants measured by the agents Lowen takes to the Emperor's court, with the goal of greater prediction and control of the results of the ritual, so as to protect Chaos and cripple the Sorcerer Kings.

Fiona inducts Bree officially as an agent of Amber to aid in the matter of the Sorcerer Kings and says she will speak to Oberon of her bravery.

Lowen shares his concerns about agents unwittingly revealing information at the Emperor's court. Bree offers to block or extract sensitive memories before they are deployed. Fiona says she will monitor the process.

Jericho is unwilling to allow Bree or Fiona access to his memories, so Isabelle protects his sensitive memories against Sorcerer King intrusion. Lowen decides Jericho doesn't need to know about the ritual until after returning from the court.

Brigid continues her visit to Erewhon, but eventually contacts Jericho and returns to Amber. Jericho recruits her for Lowen's retinue. She listens to his music, which reveals he is a naturally a force of chaos and destruction, restrained and channeled by his military discipline. She hears discordant notes which remind her of the Umbra. Jericho tells her about his mentor, the creepy little girl. The little girl intervenes, removing the conversation from Brigid's memory.

Jericho explains the Source and the Sorcerer King's history to Bridgid. She decides to look for traces of the Source still underlying the Pattern. After an hour lying down next to the Pattern trying to tune out the Music of the Pattern, she discerns a disturbing minor key that makes her feel cold, scared, and alone. She decides that the Source is still alive and present.

Bridgid tries badly to conceal from Jericho that Fiona is her mother. Natasha Trumps Bridgid and discusses more sword practice. Bridgid explains her sword to Jericho. They spar and Jericho is impressed.

Bree extracts memories from Lowen and several others, shaping them into cooing little furry animals. They can survive a week unattended. Fiona provides a secure slow time shadow to store them in, in case retinue's return is delayed.

Reviewing memories as she removes them, Bree learns that a female Brand Sorcerer King has been in Amber's custody for some time. Using various shapes, she infiltrates the facility where Brand is being held and speaks with her. Brand is bitter from captivity and repeated interrogation. She has worked out that Amber is going to strike against the source of the Sorcerer Kings' power and that their success will probably mean her death. Bree offers to help her, but will first need to practice shapeshifting through the security and shapeshifting her out, leaving a shell behind.

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