Phil is cut and feverish in the jungle. Aron returns and dumps a bucket of river water on him, asking what he thought he was doing challenging a princeps of chaos.
Corwin is broken from the duel, being attended by a physician from the castle.
Random sends Aron and Phil through to the castle to fetch a stretcher for Corwin and get aid for Phil.
Caine trumps Random, and comes through with several broken bones – having followed Benedict and gotten beaten to a pulp for the trouble.
They discuss war on two fronts, and whether to negotiate with Rhett or chaos. (There’s a bit of confusion over which “other side” they are discussing at any time)
Random suggests sending Aron after Benedict, which Caine is vocally against – Benedict may go over to the other side, and he doesn’t want Aron following (or not being around to give Benedict a reason to return)
At this point, Caine says he doesn’t want anyone in Amber to have seen him in this state, and exiles the physician from returning. Random tries to negotiate for the man’s life, pointing out he’ll be picked up by the enemy if left here. “You bloody fool, I want him picked up”.
Random lies to the physician, then returns to Amber with Corwin, leaving him in the courtyard.
Returning to his rooms, he summons Caine and offers his substantial stash of hard liquor.
Your Majesty, I wish to discuss the matter of my sister.
Aron asked Fiona some things about Hendrake and chaos factions, which she responded “I’m not qualified to comment”.
Aron goes downstairs, breaks his ward, walks the pattern, and sits down at the centre to call the King.
The king asks if he’s ever been to the courts of chaos, then states “We’re going somewhere I’m not welcome. Expect violence, and I expect you to survive.”
This court of chaos is an open plain, above which stars hang in the auroras of a multicoloured sky.
The gravity is strong, and Aron needs to adjust his body to compensate. The king does not.
On the horizon, a needle rises and pierces the heavens. If you look directly at it, it is a tower filling your view. Demons crawl over the surface and fly about it.
“A million people, and a quarter as many souls. Demons need their attendants.”
The king goes on to explain factions of chaos are focused and single-minded on that focus (as we’ve seen from the hellmaidens who think only about war).
“You’re embarrassed and afraid. Forget what you are embarrassed of, and tell me what you fear”.
“That my sister would be considered irretrievably compromised.”
As a small army approaches, Aron tries to intercede on behalf of his sister. He does not try to intercede for his father.
“You are young and full of hope. This should fill me with the joys of spring, yet I find it does not.”
The army arrive and send out two riders to duel us.
Aron assumes chaos form (when in chaos…), the approaching rider stops and salutes, before charging with a levelled lance.
Aron steps aside, grabbing and grounding the lance to unhorse the rider, before making short work of him with claws. Naturally the king has already dispatches his opponent, and now calls on the rest of the army.
Aron defends himself, while Oberon unleashes epic amounts of sorcery and uses his sword only defensively.
“This was a patrol. Many of the factions are represented, they work together because they don’t want to give each other a chance to gain advantage”
The Helgrave are sorcerors, and also magic resistant – these were the most troublesome.
Mandragora are plant people. They live in the sun and only get up for something important.
Those ones that shapeshift constantly.. they were thrown in the sea of chaos as soon as they were old enough to have the will to survive.
A lone rider approached, tall and pale with white hair ((A relative of Lintra’s?))
“Away is over there”
The king shoots his horse, and then teleports us out back to the chamber of pattern in Amber.
Meanwhile, in Amber
Phil has just walked Fiona home, Random is still with Caine in his chambers.
The whole sky lights up with the colours of the pattern.
They all rush to the pattern chamber, except Caine who stays in bed and tells Random to call him when he finds out what’s going on.
Random gets there first, sacrificing dignity for speed by sliding down the stairs on a shield, where he is joined by Eric.
The pattern is flaring up, with flames and sparks as though somebody was walking every part of it at once.
Eric dares Random to walk the pattern while it’s flaring.
Random calls into Caine, who tells him to question the guards.
Fiona suggests toasting marshmallows to see if they are wholly destroyed or turned into delicious goo.
She also explains the flaring as somebody drawing directly on the power of the pattern, who could only be the King or Dworkin, who drew the pattern.
The only guard on duty, “Roger” says he saw Aron about two hours ago, followed by Caine, a rat, a bat, and a spider. “we’re very thorough”
Fiona is looking tired on her feet, so Phil puts a hand on her.
For a moment, it feels like a trump contact, and he sees the King fighting side by side with a demon.
No Good Cop
Caine casts doubt by questioning where Finndo’s body is, and wondering how many shapeshifters are in the palace.
He suggests a narrative where Benedict didn’t really kill Finndo, allowing his escape.
Random isn’t buying this, but brings up Roger and Aron for questioning.
Aron explains he needed to speak with the King after what Lord Hendrake said, and gave a truthful narrative.
However he refused to elaborate on what he and the King discussed or where they were (Caine didn’t push this either)
Aron recognised the name “Roger” from the guard on duty when Random threw him down the stairs.
Caine seemed to lose his flow at this, but suggests Random probably put Roger on duty that day.
– Benedict faked the execution, and faked being blood cursed
– Finndo regenerated, and escaped disguised as Caine. The blood curse was real, as he expected to die.
– Roger is Caine’s man, and he set this up for political reasons, having disposed of Finndo earlier))
I dream of You
Phil has more disturbing dreams.
The King tells him “it’s not your fault, but I’m going to blame you”
Brand is in under-shadow, trying to put the universe back together after he gave it a little tug and it all fell apart.
Bleys has a champion theory:
we all belong both to Amber and to somewhere else.
– Phil, under-shadow
– Aron, chaos
– Zurehn, Osric’s universe beyond the veil
– He got stuck with Random and called him pure-bred… but that’s ignoring Rebma
He also says that when Phil chose Amber, it might have been better for Amber if he did not.
Phil wonders what would happen if he grabbed Brand in a dream and then woke up.
Bleys loves this idea, and casts a spell on him to send him back to sleep.
When triggered, an image of Brand that he was hugging appears, but then vanishes leaving Phil with burns (and late for his meeting with the King?)
Fiona smashes up Bleys’ room with a poker, and brands “idiot” onto the inside of his door with it.
The King in Amber
There is a public breakfast at which most of the Royal Family are present. Even Julian left Arden for a while.
Random and the King have a private meeting where Random suggests negotiating with “Osric’s Boss”. The King says no, and tells him to go out and hit chaos hard.
Phil arranged a meeting with the king outside the hedge maze. When he described what he did with Bleys, the king storms into the palace and returns with a “scientific instrument”. After examining Phil with it, he approaches angrily and throws Phil into a tree, from which he lands upside-down in a hedge.
The black road
Random and Aron head out into Arden, collecting troops from Julian to hit the place chaos troops had been spotted.
Shifting is easier than it should be, and we discover a black path of wet, marshy ground, with strange grass.
A procession in parody of a midsummer rite is spotted on the black path.
Aron sets up the troops in ambush, while Random goes in to draw out the force.
Random is still carrying Corwin’s pattern-infused sword Greyswandir, Bleys told him it was okay to borrow it.
(Bleys also said he’d tell him how to make his own, if he brings Brand back)
Wierd stuff starts happening – a number of chaos shapeshifters turn into dolphins and flop about on the floor.
But tangling vines also appear in the trees, attacking Random and our soldiers.
We prevailed, but greyswandir set the vines ablaze, and the forest canopy with them.