Llewella tells Aron she is both a princess of Amber and a princess of Rebma, and he would still be welcome in Rebma. Then she sends him back to the castle where he is summoned to Corwin.
Corwin orders him to go to the dungeon and execute Finndo.
Within the dungeon, he stops to confirm the order with the King.
Caine interrupts in the final corridor to remind him about blood curses, which gets a stoic response, and asks to watch.
There is a horrible shout from the cell, Finndo lies dead in a pool of blood while Benedict is slumped in a corner. The deed was already done.
Random is sent to go investigate the chaos plague, and take the usual suspects with him.
Aron points out this is a job for a sorceror, but Zurehn is already there as far as we know.
So we drive out to that shadow. The last shift is difficult, and the car pops out into the middle of the ocean, promptly sinking.
((in my headcanon, Random always drives a convertable or a 1920s soft-top))
There is driftwood and dead people and bits of roof.
Aron takes a dive to see if there are fields and villages down there, but hits the pressure limit where more drastic shape-shifting would be required.
Random calls up an abandoned sailboat, and the sea does start to flow out, washing us away from land masses.
We sail into the shore of the western landmass, and scale a cliff as storm clouds gather.
Everything is mud and wreckage and stranded fish.
Fiona gates in, and observes the storm is targeted at any living thing in this shadow.
You can’t fight in here, this is the war room
Speculation about just how enraged Osric is, and if he would see Amber destroyed and bring the chaos plague to the golden circle rather than try to rule.
Caine points out that’s what he would do… and come in as Amber’s saviour when all is lost.
In other news, chaos armies are cutting through the remnants of Finndo’s armies and making their own incursions.
Benedict is getting very, very drunk instead of commanding. And people who are not Aron don’t think he has a right to sulk.
As Random keeps pushing buttons, Caine keeps handing Aron knives.
Eventually this is worth a half-hearted toss to keep up appearances, and a public return of Random’s Finndo trump, “Not that it’s much good now”
Aron refuses to intercede with his father, and leaves the room.
(but then goes to his father anyway, to apologise for stuff)
Deirdre is chosen to go, leaving Random and Caine to speculate about the trump, and express surprise (Random) and disappointment (Caine) at the lack of effort with the daggers.
Random, Phil, and Phil’s Prussians, head out into shadow to capture somebody from chaos for interrogation.
They find a beastmaster, and separate them from their beasts with a combination of military finesse and cheating.
The unconscious prisoner is brought back and given to Julian for interrogation.
“Holy war”, “the apostate state” and so forth.
Phil only states “there are holy wars everywhere”
Some of the Prussians ask to visit home after this, and Random leads them.
shape-shifters young and old
Aron’s research in the library reveals nothing about chaos plagues, but the same conclusions about a history cut that Phil reached last time.
Aron contacts Dworkin to ask about a card.
Dworkin says it’s been a long time since he’s looked into a soul like yours, then asks after “the old shape-shifter”*. Aron asks when would be a good time, but Dworkin says he’s already done and cuts the contact.
After some time spent practicing finding advantageous environments in shadow, Dworkin calls back and hands Aron’s card (that he was using) through the call.
Aron’s card: It depicts the naive young man in a pastoral scene. But something about the lighting and shadow suggests the possibility of an oncoming storm.
Dworkin also suggested Phil should get in touch, but when he does, he makes contact with a fire breathing dragon; panics, and puts Dworkin’s card in the very back of the deck behind Osric in the “Never Call This Person” list.
“Why do you hate my father?”
Random awakes from a dream about being trump called, and finds his deck has been sorted with Aron’s card on top.
When he calls, Aron asks for a private chat and steps through.
“What did you see and who did you tell?”
Random’s story is that he saw pillars of flame, bat winged demons, something like a hellmaid, a cat, and other forms. He told Corwin, because Corwin was the “officer of the day”, and he’d be afraid to tell anyone else. Also even more afraid to keep something like that secret. It’s dangerous for himself, and he’ll always put himself first.
For some reason one of Caine’s daggers is sitting in a back pocket…
The other side of trump
After speculation about whether everyone else got one, Aron is attacked through the trump.
He awakens back in the castle, where Fiona explains that Osric tried to kill him.
Fiona tattoos his arm with a power word that will block trump contacts, but says “of course you can remove it whenever you want”. ((Aron has four methods in mind))
As Aron is leaving the castle (again), Flora makes small talk and asks to walk to the gate with him. She doubtless has her own reasons to be seen together, but there is no objection.