Amber: The Next Generation

Act 2, episode 15

The black heart of Texiban

Zurehn’s time in Begma

To keep up appearances, Zurehn was arrested for disturbing the peace at the hotel. All the noises in the night were his fault.
He shared a cell with Aramis, until the coup kicked off upstairs. After instructing Aramis to pray, Zurehn arranges a divine intercession to put them outside the locked cell.
Following Aramis’ lead, he eventually catches up with the trail of destruction left by Benedict Random Aron.
Following a discussion with Fiona, he begins setting up a ward against chaos blood disease in an empty room in Begma’s Palace.

Brief Debrief

Aron updates Flora on the situation in Begma, sharing suspicions that the King and Richelieu may be subtly influenced. Flora offers a religious explanation for the cardinal’s phrasing, but dismissed it as politically naive.
She does decide after this conversation that she ought to visit Begma in an official capacity.

Phil gets a letter from Julian addressed to Random, and tries a couple of times to pass it through a trump to him.

Random updates Osric on everything we’ve been doing, under the guise of Osric taunting him with the choice of which part of the Golden Circle to ravage first. When Random refuses to chose, Osric say’s he’ll choose randomly, and makes a show of rolling dice. When Osric tells him to “keep talking”, he shuts up, but dodges Aron’s kick. At that point, Osric drops the subtlety and goes for a full brain lock.

Caine asks for a slow motion replay of the knockout punch to make sure Aron did it properly. But then offers tips on how to crush a man’s skull under your boot.

After Random gets a mental decontamination shower from Fiona (in her nightgown, lacking sleep), Caine discusses the Texiban situation and explains a flower war. “They like war in Texiban, they believe their fields are more fertile for being soaked in blood”. Random, with the knowledge of chaos blood plagues, concludes that Osric would start spreading it from there.

A flower war would wreck half the golden circle, as Texiban is on the far side from Begma, and they’re unlikely to try the shortcut through Amber.
To avert a flower war, we need to replace the dead prince before three days are up.

Plan “Nope.”

“Aron, can you survive having your heart cut out?” – Random
“Can’t we just kill everyone?” – Zurehn, channeling his father

Plan A

Julian could construct a double, but to do it on time, would need to start from something he’s worked with before, i.e. a divided soul like Brand.
Phil sets off to find one half of Brand, with the understanding Random is going to find the other.
The horse bolts during the hellride, Phil moves with it, and finds himself falling through endless sky.
Shifting to “above water”, the horse splatters on impact, but cushions Phil’s fall. He gets to watch the sharks come in for a feed.
Attempts to charm a shark through psyche contact are swiftly aborted in favour of punching the shark and swimming away.
The lead boat in a yacht race is somewhat surprised to find a man in the water clinging to a saddle.
On shore, there’s a god-emperor Brand cult going on, with a whole Amber based pantheon.
“Julian, the destroyer”, “Witch-Queen Fiona” etc.
The priest tells Phil to stay for a service if he wants to talk to Brand.
Surprisingly Brand shows up in person and offers Phil a cigarette.
However, unimpressed with flim-flam, he trumps random and sends Phil through.

Plan B

“That’s plan A. Plan B, I need to get a look at the prince’s body” – Aron.
Aron and Random return to Begma via Zurehn (who’s annoyed to have their ritual interrupted)
Looking for Porthos, they instead find a slimmer King’s guard named Aramis, who lets them know the location of the morgue.
Random dissects the corpse to confirm the story about the stone heart. When Aron handles it, it feels disturbing, and horrible, and comforting, and warm. That gets dropped and covered up right away.
After some discussion, Random goes up to fetch Zurehn to examine the heart.
Which gives Aron time to do what he came here for: study the prince’s bone structure and musculature – and practice copying it.
Zurehn insists on finishing the ritual first, at which point he brings Fiona in to inspect the work before powering it, as previously agreed.
The three of them return to the morgue, where Aron has finished practicing.
Fiona admonishes us for interfering with the body (and playing with necromancy artifacts), and puts the black heart back inside, getting Random to sew it back up.
Random sets off to resume plan “A”, and Fiona teleports us (and the entire contents of the morgue) to the jungle of Texiban.
With help from what we’ll politely call “Fiona’s magic”, Aron is disguised as the Sun-Prince, and strides confidently into Texiban.
This gets a lot of worried looks, like the prince wasn’t expected to come back looks.
Finding a large crowd around the central pyramid, we make a flashy entrance via teleporting to the top.
But somebody else already had the same idea, and is using the same disguise – it’s like looking in the mirror, except their chest scar is fresh.
As the other imposter orders their bodyguard to attack, Aron unveils the dead prince and throws the body down the pyramid (there are now three sun-princes in regalia).
Zurehn gets the brunt of the attacks – he’s definitely not the Sun-Prince, so it’s safe to spill his blood.
A storm spell pushes the attackers away after inflicting some wounds.
And the two of them flee down the steps of the pyramid into shadow, stopping on a grassy slope.

Wing Attack: Plan R

After having Phil dumped in his lap by an annoyed Brand (this one doesn’t know why copies of himself keep trying to kill him), Random abandons plan “A”.
Instead, they find a shadow of Texiban, and steal their shadow of a Sun-Prince.
After a few day’s processing by Julian, we should be able to make the switch… Oh.

Corwin orders us not to assassinate the false Sun-Prince, but instead to observe and determine if there will be a flower war or not.
Also, Zurehn will need to return and set wards – he seems unconcerned with the glass spear-tip penetrating his hand.

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shanek

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