Amber: The Next Generation

Episode 5
Hell and Hellriding

In which…

If you can’t pull off God, Gold works too.
A train robbery goes off without a shot fired, but is hardly bloodless.
It’s called hellriding because you ride through hell.
A Prussian landsknecht explains the headless hesse.
Wyvern blood is not good for the complexion.
Maternal bonds are not always what a son might hope, but a rescue is planned.
Sorcery reveals true colours… or is the detector displaying the nearest match?
Portals just need an anchor.
Wolves defend the green heart.
A discussion is had, of theoretical metaphysics, and other things.
The king’s whereabouts are neither here nor there, but both sides of the fence.
A would-be general leads his army home in chains, and a general in chains awakens.
Fiona gives some practical instruction instead of object lessons.
Hell-maidens welcome us with open armes.
A flight from white, into shadow.
The best way to find out if there’s a snake under a rock is to put your hand in and feel around.

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The diary of Zurehn - Chapter 7

It was time to explore – I was here for a reason, a purpose.

I spent an hour travelling along the most well-worn path, going to find whatever it is I was meant to find – but about an hour later I could’ve sworn I was going round in circles, being sure I’d seen these trees before, I could also have sworn I was further into the forest.

Obviously this place was unusual, and possibly connected to Eric, so – time to give him a Trump call…

He never had a home, and the only place he thought of, outside of Amber, is both sentient and has powerful guardians so it’s likely the intruders didn’t get into the place.

I thought I’d spend one more hour investigating the place and about half hour later found some clearing with no incoming footprints, but the corpses, or at least the pieces of corpses, of about a dozen of the intruders – with no footprints around the area.

I spent some time investigating the area until I could feel myself being watched and when looking over I saw the eyes of a wild animal.
A large wild animal.
Some sort of very large, very miserable looking wolf.

And, whilst I was keeping eye contact on the wolf I could sense several more pairs of eyes coming up on me.

Now, breaking eye contact is unlikely to go well, and, as far as I know, the only way to get a Trump call active is to focus on the card, so the only way I could ask for help would be to try the magical orbs that Fiona loaned Aron and me.

I tried to reach out to the orb with my hand and mind, and focussed on reaching Aron.

It seemed to have worked because there was a whoosh and a thump from behind me and when I said hello I heard the friendly voice of Aron greeting me, before the unfriendly “voices” of the wolves joined in as they leapt at us.

Luckily Aron was able to defend us whilst I Trump called Eric for a way out.
He retrieved us as I tried to explain that we didn’t want to slaughter the guardians as they’d been protecting the place from the intruders.

Eric seemed surprised that Aron came back with me, so we suggested he speak to Fiona.
He said he would do so, and then Aron and I went for a walk.

A long enough walk to head out of earshot of anyone.

We took the opportunity to investigate the orbs we were given – I could reach his, but he couldn’t reach mine.
Interestingly I could reach his through his, when I had ownership of it, and he had ownership of mine – the orbs are tied to us, bound not by ownership but something else.
When I reached his my colours, grey and red, were shown. The colours of Finndo.

We also discussed how it was odd that the army camp hadn’t moved on, that Benedict (the great tactician) couldn’t be healed and was held in chains in a tent, that people had been attacked via Trumps but yet they were willing to give out new Trump packs to Aron and myself, that Trumps were dangerous but they still used them rather than the magical way that Fiona constructed for Aron and myself, that Osric was gracious and safe when Aron and I spoke to him, that the only person who attacked me via Trump was Fiona, that my colours seem to be those of Finndo, that we are not being allowed to talk to the people we need to, that those who are family to the King were not willing to travel through the small reality shifts that Aron and I were able and willing to do so.

Our grievances were many and varied but Aron wisely counselled that we keep this distrust to ourselves.

We decided we should maybe look at the wrong end of the deck and maybe speak to people we’ve been told not to trust.

I decided we should try to call the King, after all I was told to find him.

I called the King – the connection was that shifted/distant call, similar to when I spoke with Osric, or when I called Fiona from beyond the shift in reality. He appeared to be in some distress, some form of magical battle, that the metaphysics of the world were under attack, but he seemed to be comfortable speaking to me and understood the offer of assistance but that Aron and I were better suited to assisting from “this side”.

Aron and I spent some time talking about how the faults in reality might be explained, how people can walk to places that neither of us can, and that there is some sense of “distance” that doesn’t make sense to us – I suggested it might be like the concept of “up” to an ant, who got lifted aloft by a bird. This distance would be like walking along a piece of paper and the intruders are able to fold the paper – those who know how to walk along the paper know the distance is a large amount but to those who don’t understand the paper the two points that touch when folded are right next to each other.

Aron also suggested that perhaps Osric was trying to create a new central world, a new Amber, and was trying to hook up/tie together existing worlds to the new place. Those worlds with a figurehead were able to “fight back”, so those figureheads were attacked.

We needed to understand more about these faults, these folds. Perhaps if we knew some more people who could help us understand these faults. We needed to perhaps find some minor members of the family who would not be missed. Unfortunately there aren’t may of those. There are many people on the Trumps, but it’s not easy to get someone to just sit through and explain everyone.

All conversations to get information would be likely to end up with us having to have a conversation with Fiona & Bleys, so we decided to start it on our terms.
Aron and I approached Fiona, and let slip that I had spoken with the King. We had a conversation about the risks of Trump calls, and how to attack via Trump conversations, and how to defend ourselves from them Trump attacks. Certain fears of ours were put to rest, but more questions were raised.

Fiona was pretty confident she was better than me, which is almost certainly the case, but I’ve noticed that she gets tired very quickly and all I would need to do is outlast her.
Still, I learned a basic way to attack and defend, as well as some other tricks she used against me.

I agreed to let Aron get some training and, as I’d heard Phil had arrived, I went to speak to him. He was not looking at his best, after going up against a wyvern, but I talked him into helping us investigate the tear in Aron’s city and we agreed to meet later.

I went back to find Aron being trained by Fiona,

I decided to intervene, calling Fiona on my own Trump card – Fiona seemed delighted at my interfering. She seemed to threaten my safety so I tried to explain that currently I was the only person to have been able to directly contact the King. Fiona pointed out Deirdre had been contacted by the King, but, when I asked some further questions, Fiona admitted that Deirdre got broken shortly after – strengthening my point that perhaps her harming me wouldn’t serve her interests.

It was agreed I’d bother the King, again, in order to find out where he was, which I did (in a cave was the information he wanted me to pass on), and he also pointed out that I had been incredibly loyal toward him and that he was sure Fiona wouldn’t harm me during any training. I was sure Fiona got that message.

So, I got Aron to go meet with Phil and we agreed to go investigate the fault in Aron’s city.

Phil only knew the way to the farm, but Aron was sure the fault was there, too, so off we went.

And, when we got there, there were several naked white and blue ladies ready to attack us, so we left.

We took a more circuitous route to the city and Phil told us the fault looked like some glowing colours that hurt his head – yet another difference in what people see.
We attempted to see if Phil could interact with things across the barrier, but that didn’t work.
We had a few more things to try but before we could get to them Phil walked over and shoved his finger across the fault and promptly sort of smeared out and vanished.

I guess it’s just as well we didn’t try this with one of the minor nobility or something.

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GM Notes - Episode 5
Ow ow ow ow ow

I had a horrible headache, and I thought I might have to bail, but a player reminded me to rehydrate, and there were painkillers, and it left eventually.

This made the game into what for me was almost perfect. Most of it was light touch. I was struggling in conversations with significant NPCs, and so when the PCs were talking to each other IC, I didn’t interupt that, and that was probably a really good thing. I spent some time listening to various theories, attempts at science, conspiracies, treasonous blurtings, and terrible ideas, and didn’t put my oar in at all. I’m always happy to amend my world if the players come up with better ideas than I’ve had, so I took the chance to listen.

One of the players didn’t have much interaction with the others, so I ran more for him, but in his down time he wrote up his diary, and he didn’t mind the lay-out of the session. Next week I have a player with a habit of doing interesting things that need a GM, so the style will be different, but I’m going to try to stay distant and well back, and see if that works.

The bad stuff character got rolled on by a wyvern, taken prisoner by his own mercenary company, and was then blown up a little. The good stuff characters got attacked by wolves.

Good Stuff Guy, with his massive dose of good luck, had a terrible plan. I felt it was incumbent on the universe to stop him from doing that, so he had a chance to talk with someone he trusted. I think this will keep happening if he keeps on having bad plans in public. Obviously the universe is conspiring to keep him alive as a grand sacrifice, and I can’t argue with that.

Later the headache went away and Much Excitement Was Had By All.

I like leaving the game at a cliff hanger. With a really regular group you can do that, and I’ve got a really regular group for once. No scrabbling to make sure of who’s coming /this/ week. Getting one of the players to deal with that as a contribution was a good thing.

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GM Notes - Episode 4
Hardly any ranting at all

Back to the pub. Different table. Three players, so people had more time.

Individual plots started popping up. I’m very bad at writing short arcs and short campaigns.

I did push people together again, but I’ve also let them know that they don’t have to go together. As long as they are OK with down time, I’m OK with giving them that. They’re also free to use that time to flesh out the world, work out what’s up, write up diaries, talk to people if those people are available, and the like.

This means I need to sort out proper comms methods for those who are not core to the setting. I’ve started on that, but I can see a bidding war where various sorcerors and magicians try to be the one to provide that service. It’s a little inconvenient for the PCs not to be able to talk to each other, in a universe that’s the size of Amber, but it’s also not necessarily right to make sure they can’t. The problem is, my first attempt at fixing this gave people the ability to talk to the really big guns of the campaign, so I let that horse escape.

Crippling half of the big guns and making the other half dangerous to know may have been a bit cruel. May have.

The communication/travel balance is the one I want to work out next, I think. It’s part of the going-off-on-your-own that makes Amber into Amber. The PCs have autonomy. They don’t have to have ease, but the players shouldn’t be screwed over. Ho-hum.

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GM Notes - Episode 3
Being even less ranting, but some more notes

This session we settled into a house we’ll probably use a lot. (Thanks, host!) There was cake. There was arguing. One of the players didn’t like some IC stuff that was crossing over a bit.

Context: One of the players wasn’t new to the campaign, and he was playing someone with hooks and a ready-made personality. It made for a slight difference in how his PC worked compared to the others – he was more able to dictate how the world went. Another player took exception to that, and left.

I don’t think there was much I could, or even should, have done. I’m alert to the fact of this PC dictating the world, although I should have made it more clear that it was only his interpretation he was dictating. This was the same player who hadn’t liked how his character turned out under the mechanics of the rules. He hadn’t paid much attention to my proposed solution, or come up with his own, and he’d missed a week. I was already struggling to keep him fed with stuff to do while not being unfair on the others, so now I no longer have to balance that.

ETA: The next week, one of the players mentioned the potential difference and how he could see it could be a problem, but that right now it wasn’t. I’m aware of it, but I should make sure I’m not pushed back towards just agreeing with the old hand over how the universe is, for the sake of ease.

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GM Notes - Episode 2
Being some slightly shorter notes than the last episode, I hope

This week’s session was in a pub. It worked well enough, but it was a little cramped. I ate a lot. Bribes to the GM usually come in the form of tea I have already paid for and someone else has made, but I’ll accept pizza as it turns out.

The session shook down things that had been started the session before – we had a stub of an adventure to continue. For this session, I kept people together, and I’m not too worried about that. There were some episodes where they were apart, and they got a bit of plot each before they started or during the game, but mostly they were kind of together and kind of doing the same sort of thing. This makes it easier on me and gives them less down time, but it also gives them less autonomy.

Writing this a couple of weeks later, when the system is no longer new to them, I’m glad I herded them a bit, and I’m going to try to herd them less.

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GM Notes - Episode 1
Being the public rantings and notes of the everyone-who-is-not-PCs

Episode 1 was mainly character creation. For those who don’t know, Amber is a diceless game, and you have a limited number of points that you can spend on attributes, powers, and things, with the ability to over-spend and go into karmic debt, or underspend and be lucky.

I did a quick explanation of the rules, for those who hadn’t read them, but the combo of the rulebook and the unique setting meant people were a little unsure. If I wanted to improve that, I’d pre-prepare a setting guide. However, the best way to deal with it would be to make sure everyone had read the appropriate bits of the rulebook before we started. In this case, I was making an intro game, so I didn’t force that.

I messed with the rules a bit, and used a mechanism called ‘pit of vipers’ where after everything else is done, you get to award downgradings and upgradings to other people. I could have refined that by drawing names from a hat to ensure that everyone was supported and pummelled equally. Some people were hit harder than others. I was expecting a short campaign, in which I needed to get RP hooks in quickly, so the unfairness of that would not have a long time to congeal. For a longer campaign, it would definitely be best to draw names randomly, both to ensure points fairness, and to make sure that hatreds and friendships were not restricted to people who were sitting next to each other. The Pit of Vipers is not a part of the core rules, but it did shape our intro, and I think it was a net gain. I could do that better.

We had a short game, and one of the PCs didn’t like what he had built and how it worked in the world. We put that aside to deal with the next week.

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Episode 4
Hot and Cold

In which…
A mystery box remains mysterious, and Chekhov’s sword is left unfired.
An angry Random visits Rebma with questions about the family tree.
If the Queen went to very great length to lose somebody, please don’t go looking for her.
Fiona overwatches a polite conversation, and gives an object lesson in mental domination.
Texorami is too dangerous, hellride to the farm!
A shadow path is pulled aside, conflict on the planet of the apes!
Aron dodges a spear in the ribs – after all he couldn’t have twisted aside after being hit.
Random is surprisingly good with a sword – just like on the ship, the little guy is the one to watch out for.
Kalenwic is attacked by pale skinned war-maidens.
A war-maiden’s sword is too cold to handle.
Hamstrung prisoners can still leap at you.
Bleys’s blazing blue blade is the hammer on the knights shield-wall anvil.
Pattern cannot pierce the veil between realities, but others can step through if they are not decimated. Aron and Zurehn are barely discomforted by the experience.
Traveling by telephone is not entirely as advertised.
Aron and Random push each others’ buttons, again.
Fiona is once again our strongest asset, and once again driven to exhaustion.
Back to Texorami, a riot is in progress. News at 11.
Back to Texorami, this is no normal riot – Finndo, clad in blood-red battle dress is taking all comers. One at a time or all at once, it’s all the same.
Three of Amber’s best are no match for Amber’s best, but we’re not to refer to him that way… or preferably at all.
There is a Random shaped hole in a casino wall, and a crushed ankle to remember the experience.
Good stuff averts a greek tragedy.
Zurehn follows the money and gets rather lost
Random explains twin theory in a morphine haze. If he’s right, where are the sisters? If he’s wrong, it’s bad news for his twin sister.
Random doesn’t have a twin sister, there’s no such person as Mireille, if you heard otherwise you shouldn’t repeat it.
Now would be a good time to go to medical school.
Benedict is kept in chains in a hospital tent, more like a prisoner than a patient.

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The diary of Zurehn - Chapter 6

I spent some time quietly trying to find out if there was any kind of mechanism to break a Trump call if Osric took over my mind whilst I spoke to him but nobody understood what I was trying to ask for.

The only option, therefore, as previously recorded, was to wait for Fiona.

Whilst waiting I had nothing to do but review my current missions:

My retired mission:
0) Find out who set fire to Fiona’s House
1) “Save the world”
1a) find out where the invaders are invading from

Me current missions:
1a) find the King
1b) Help Ben
2) Find my heritage/parents

Fiona awoke and she approached me – I was finally allowed to contact Osric.

It was but a brief conversation, pleasant and polite. Osric’s visage was different to the few other times I’ve used Trump cards – the paint on the card itself seemed to be cracking and shifting.
Osric could neither confirm nor deny that I was related to him, or the rest of this family.

With the discussion of my sleep hopping from place to place Osric’s advice was to consider who set my missions, my tasks.
Who benefits from my missions, who would be happy with my work, even if it had me coming to the notice of the King.
His final advice was to follow the money.

There was some other quick conversation about how coming to the attention of the King isn’t wise. But, again, back to “follow the money”.

The conversation was so uneventful that I raised my query as to why people were so concerned and why I had to wait.

Fiona smiled, and demonstrated by having a conversation with me where I collapsed, losing consciousness, when I woke I found she had left a dagger near me. The message was clear.

I told her that the point had been made when she woke me to ask if I wanted to go to The Farm, but she said otherwise and whistled a part of a tune into my ear which then got lodged in there for a while.

I have never been taken out so easily – I must, therefore, learn how to defend myself from this new attack.

The other thing that this has done is show that Osric is apparently more trustworthy and safe to speak to than Fiona – and I had even helped her!

We rode off through Arden – Fiona, Aron and myself, all on horseback.

We were attacked by apes and Fiona asked for help, Aron rode off but Fiona then called Random for help.
He came through with a gush of seawater and waded (haha!) into battle with a slightly-rusted sword.

Aron and Random between them were able to wipe out almost all of them before another troupe of apes came from one side – Fiona was able to magically bind them before we moved on.

As we moved on it was decided we wouldn’t go to The Farm, but some other location that Random knew about. Texorami.
He called up a car and we moved on to this new place.

On the way Random had to concentrate and was looking scared, and suggested that this new place was under control of the bad guys.
Fiona looked out of place, ill and had to meditate to get herself under control.
I took the opportunity to carefully return her dagger – after all she might need it if she felt unsafe. If she took this as a subtle rebuffing of her earlier threat then that would be a nice and convenient side-effect.

Random decided to take us to another different place – as both Texorami and The Farm were suspected to be under control of the bad guys.

We came across a place full of battle – and Fiona appeared to be surrounded by blue.

Aron knew this place.
Random ran over one of the attackers, and then Aron drove us to the garrison to get an army of soldiers together to clear the city.
I, under instruction from Random, called Bleys who grabbed a sword, came through and also joined the fray.
Aron took his army of soldiers to clear the city.
Random got a mob of less-soldiery types to also clear out the attackers.

I went and, after verifying Fiona was safe, investigated an area of the city that had no battle.
A fifth of the city looked to be outside the bounds of where the fighting was happening.
The area was behind some weirdness – stepping across was like being stretched, completely unlike moving to the void, travelling through Trumps, or any other method I’ve found for travelling. It seems there are thousands of ways of moving from reality to reality but only the one that happens in my sleep is of concern!

I found a merchant and he seemed concerned that I was an attacker. I put that worry to rest and quickly found that 5 days ago there was an earthquake that destroyed some buildings and shook the ground and sky, and then this portion of the city seemed separated from the rest, with attacks on the other side.

The merchant confirmed that their senior general was called Tess, and I decided to head back to Aron and Random to pass on what I’ve found so far, and to verify that the two cities were the same place.

Random wasn’t answering so I got to Aron and passed on what I could, but believed that Random and Fiona would be better able to understand what was going on.

I found Random and let him know everything.
We, that is Random, Fiona and myself, got in Random’s car and headed toward the other part of the city.
We stopped by the “barrier” and Fiona and Random were hesitant to go across, even when I stepped across and back.
We came up with a plan – I took Aron across to go and make the citizenry on the other side feel safe, and tried to call Random, with no effect.
He was shifting in the card, like Osric was before.
I called Fiona who had the same sort of shifting, and she said I felt distant.
I stepped back and Fiona said she saw a mist through the barrier and not the city, and that the portion of the city didn’t exist for her. Random saw the same. As does Bleys.

I worked with Aron to try to deduce if we could get a supply chain to get food to the other part of the city – but Aron assured me there were farms beyond the city on that side of the barrier.

We tried to understand what was going on with the barrier – because the barrier had connections to the attacks.

We called in Eric who saw the same thing (the mist and nothingness) that Random and Fiona saw.

Nobody had any great plans to find out more information and Random was getting more and more concerned about Texorami so we agreed to go investigate that place, leaving Bleys.

On the way we stocked up on guns, and Aron and I were given some special devices to allow people to let us know that they wanted to reach us. Small, golden spheres that pop up with the colour of the person trying to reach us, so we can Trump call them.

We made it to Texorami and found Finndo slaughtering the people.

It as an obvious trap to lure Random but he didn’t want to listen to my warnings so Aron said he’d go off to check in The Farm and I headed off to find if there was a barrier in this place.

I was able to find the epicentre of damage, where an earthquake seemed to have originated, and where there was a crack in the world, but no barrier.

I was able to confer with Fiona and she confirmed there had been a barrier here, but it had gone down. We investigated the populace and they confirmed about 5 or so days ago there was this destruction and some people died, and some others said they had trouble going home.

The timing matched that that we’d found at Ben’s shadow, with an intact barrier where Ben was out of action, and but Random’s shadow had been able to reject the barrier with Random back.

Fiona agreed with my assessment and it was suggested I check on Eric’s shadow – which was likely to be the battle at Arden.

I explained to Eric that I was trying to find where Eric thought of as home, so I could check for a barrier.
And then I headed off randomly and appeared to get lost.

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The Chronicles of Random
Chaan el Sheikh

After the big family meeting thing had the staff round up my crack team of rag-tag misfits (Aron, Z-man, Phil) and called through to Gerry to save us a long ride out through Arden.

Gerry didn’t want breakfast. Or coffee. The guys tried to trick me into getting punched in the face. Those guys, seriously. Always a riot. Anyway, borrowed some horses, rode out. We’re
going to try and find out where this army came from. Sent the horses back and traded up to some new ones we found on the way, the usual deal. I’d prefer a car, but I’m guessing that won’t fly where we’re going. [Note to self: Flying cars. Investigate].

Did the schlepping horses through the trees thing for a bit. Tracked down that sorceror guy (Conroy? Comrade? Conrad?) we left behind just before the Big Fiasco. He was no longer being followed around by a metal ostrich. He’d made himself a fire-breathing metal horse instead. Seriously. A fiery metal horse. Now I owe Jules an apology about that dig about overcompensating.

Explained he could not take that with us as we’d bring the giant army that almost killed us down on our heads. Didn’t go down well. Explained in smaller words. Still no dice. Considered shooting him in the face but Brand wold probably get upset as he’s one of his creations, or something. Maybe he’s art. Had to compromise and let him ride on ahead. Far, far ahead. Deniably far ahead.

Followed shadow path (which was weird – didn’t travel for long but went way past any of the normal skies). Did not pass through enemy camp as expected (which was weird, but convenient enough, so probably a horrible trap). Found small city on a plain. Sorceror-guy was (and I just want to record, for the record, that I bothered to sober up for this suicide mission) riding around the city on his fire breathing horse terrifying the locals while disguised (with magic, I assume) as the four horsemen of the unicorn-damned apocalypse. Tried to make the best of it and pretended to panic like the locals, signalled him to move off and keep attention off us. He grinned clippity-clanged straight over to us.

Straight over. With everyone who wasn’t screaming and panicking looking right at him.
I think I made a noise adequately transcribed as “Hnnnnrrrggnnngh”.

I get no respect. None of my brothers or sisters have to put up with this shit. Decided not to get into it while within sight of possibly the enemy stronghold and just rode off into shadow: Better than dying in a hail of arrows followed by a cavalry charge.

Could not shake the sorceror for a while, eventually Z-man and Phil decided to go back to the city with him. Figured that was a shame, they seem like nice guys. Even if Z-man can’t drive drunk at all.

Decided to scout out shadow nearby with Aron while the city calmed down. Called in to Deirdre with situation. She took it well, all things considered.

Spent the day checking out the local shadow approaches. Someone had twisted up all the local shadows, impossible to walk in by accident, difficult to do it on purpose, but found a way round. Got a call from Zed saying the city was locked down. Asked him to keep checking it out and call back in another 6ish hours.

Called back by Zed. Phil wanted to know if they should stay at the gate or go investigate the local trading post which wasn’t locked down. Was having a bad day so told him to Prince it up a notch and just take charge of the situation over there. They discovered it was the encampment we’d originally been expecting to find. Which put it on the wrong side of the city, which meant our enemy could just up and change shadow paths at will.
Not good, but good to know.

Eventually got into the city through the sewers. Z called in and said they’d made it too.
Genuinely surprised, as last I heard Captain Firehorse wanted to ride in and declare himself God-King of the place, so had assumed they’d all die horribly on the nearest altar.

Told them to play it cool and get eyes on the leader of this place (Chaan – Zed and Phil found that out, same name we got from the guy we interrogated before the Big Fiasco) and/or whoever’s puppetting him. Said we’d do the same.

Called in to update Deirdre, got same orders back.

Place turned out to be kind of a dump, city wise. Just a glorified fort with the Obvious Tower of Trapped Trappiness in the middle. Time passed. I don’t know magic and Aron said neither did he. Couldn’t get to the tower, so waited and watched. Saw Phil go by once. Got a report from Zed saying Captain Firehorse said he thing was totally magically sealed up and impregnable. Sadly, as no other experts available, had to accept his assessment. Phil said they’re getting supplies from outside, no way the city could have been self supporting.

Called in, woke up Bleys, he had a quick look and said support would be there in the morning, and call just before dawn. Napped.

Morning: Gated in Bleys and La Grande Fromage Magique herself. Got a call from Zed, told him to hang fire for 5 minutes and call back. Fi informed me we only had 3, so we might as well go Now!, cracked the wards and blinked out with Bleys.

Decided thinking wasn’t going to help at this point and charged in, with rest of gang bravely following far enough back to see if I died. Fired through jet-black doorway and then dived through, plan was stab first and ask later. Doorway turned out to be a portal with Osric (boo!) on the other side. He’d just been shot in the shoulder (woo!) probably by some incredibly dashing, brave and skillful Prince of Amber. He seemed upset.

Tried shoot again but no dice in whatever shadow I’d just popped to. Ran for it back through the portal. Tried to stop Aron heading in as I dived out, but couldn’t.

Rest of group (well, Zed and Phil: no sign of the Man Who Would Be God-King) still bravely guarding the empty square outside against an attack from the rear. Gave general order for disorderly reteat to Zed, grabbed Phil since I didn’t know if he had cards yet, started blinking out. Zed blinked out first. No sign of Aron. Decided I’d been brave enough for one day, had the info we came for, blinked out.

Bleys went back for Aron once briefed. Amazingly, Aron still alive. Having thought about this since, assume Osric put some kind of horrible delayed effect curse in him, although he says not. Clearly also been mindwiped.

Went to debriefing. Turns out it’s not just the Oz the wizard. It’s also his strategically shaved ape Finn. Kind of what we thought, would have been nice to be wrong.

Got a medal off Deirdre! Ok, it’s not an official medal till Dad or Ben says so, but I’m counting it: I shot Oz and mostly got away. If Corwin did that he’d write a damned ballad about it. Oh, wait, he did write a ballad about it. Brand tricked me into humming it in front of Eric once and I ended up hanging from a flagpole all night. Good times.

PS: Stop reading my diary, you nosy creep.

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