Amber: The Next Generation

Act 3, episode 21
Branded Blood

In which…

Zurehn draws a sketch of Phil and recalls him to the war room when he’s trying to escape the palace on a knotted rope.
Aron and Dara exchange images of places of power.
We break into Brand’s room and find magic-null paints.
Two princes stab a prince.. or one of them is not a prince.. or it was all Caine acting alone.
Phil definitely did not throw a dagger.
Aron keeps Brand from bleeding out until Bleys can save his life.
Caine thinks he is high, and asks to be knocked out.
Bleys and Zurehn do blood magic and trump summoning to recall some more of Brand into Brand.
Phil gets to be bait, but we have to use Brand’s blood instead.
Caine is blind because Brand is using his eyes.
Suhuy or Swayvil joins the contact, having eaten one of the Brands, and we have to break the spell.
Random would not accuse anyone of being unoriginal, even if Suhuy is a mad dwarf in charge of Chaos’s power source.
The King has stern words with Bleys and Fiona has to fix things.
Her Jinn are escaping their cages (or her Gin is loose from its Tantalus?)

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Z-diary

(king asked me to help Random with a sorceror, which I did, even though it ended up being Fiona)

We ended up returning with everything we needed.

So I spent some time reading a book in the library that Dworkin suggested even though most of it made no sense.

Random came to take me to the war room to talk about things – we need to take Phil to find IMPORTANT THINGS for IMPORTANT REASONS!
So Random will take me to find some Brands, we’ll take Phil because he’s nice and useful, and Aron because Aron will be an amazing hero.

Apparently I’m funny to Caine, which is nice, and I figured I’d take the time to see if I could put some of the book learning into practice.

Caine suggested that Random check Brand’s room in the castle, so got Corwyn to keep me in the right place in the war room.

I spent some time working on a sketch of Phil, and was able to make it work like a trump!
I found Phil on a rope outside the castle, so got permission from Corwyn to bring Phil to the war room, which I did, and then Corwyn Trumped Random and sent us to him.

We ended up outside Brand’s room with Caine opening the door.
We ended up inside a room, and there was some sort of magical-anti-magic camouflage powder.
Turns out there was a hidden Brand that Caine and Random and Phil all hurt enough – so Random pulled him out of the room and I pulled and pushed the spell of the dying Brand.
I was ordered by Caine to call Bleys, which I did, so he then came through to ensure Brand didn’t die.
Caine then collapsed.

Then I pointed out that Fiona needed to know about the paint and Random told me to get on that.
I trumped Fiona, who wanted me to go to her room with the paint.
I got a sample, then headed to Fiona’s room as various magic and anti-magic things kicked off.
I explained to Fiona what happened, and left her with the paint, and she explained the better way of undoing spells was to remove the power source.
I also checked for anti-magic armour for Aron, and Fiona said that the best would be to be a mage.

I went back and passed on the information.
We took the indisposed bodies of Brand and Caine to the gymnasium, where Bleys suggested we set up some protective circles and showed me how to do that.
Then has asked me to set up a trump of Brand inside the inner circle, so I set to drawing a sketch of Brand on the floor, where indicated.

There was some complicated plan involving powering up a trump to convince Brand to come here.

Then a Brand started coming through the chalked trump on the floor and it turned to me and welcomed me as an ancient mortal (and I’m far from ancient), and it only looked to be wearing Brand in white lines in a void.

Sounded like the other king.

Long story short everyone else made the King of Chaos go away by punching me and throwing stuff at him until he went away.
And then we were told we had an important mission to do.

So we had to go get some horses and ride off for glory!

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Act 3, episode 19
Honey and Machine Oil

Phil and Zorehn: The way of wyverns

Phil gets a warding tattoo from Fiona, to prevent his skin breaking again if he does something reckless like damage the hedge maze in the King’s gardens.
This does mean blows will hurt more instead of cutting him though.
Zorehn wakes up in a field, again.
A four armed person riding a wyvern throws him an amphora of wine, and it smashed on the ground in front.
The next amphora, he catches, and the wyverns circle upward.
He first sends a weasel to Phil to ask how to fight wyverns, then realising an answer is not forthcoming, trumps Random.
“well throw something back?”
He throws a rock, piercing a wyvern’s wing, and they fly off.
Phil awakes with a weasel on his chest carrying a note.
He tries to tie a reply on, but the weasel bites his finger and runs off.
Lots of pain, but no blood.
He reads the note to Fiona, whose room he was unconscious in, and she contacts Zorehn through the orb.
He responds with a trump, apologizes for wasting her time as he’d already seen off the wyverns, and she sends Phil through.
In a vineyard, they disturb the peasants by having 4 arms between them instead of each.
And putting the caught amphora down seems to scare them even more – but there is no understanding of each others’ speech.
In the open, they are set upon by a large flight of wyverns, and arrested.
The wyverns fly them along the black road to a camp where they are directed to a tent that feels very wierd and uncomfortable to Phil, but does not bother Zorehn, who concludes it’s like the veil and steps through.
Inside is not a tent, but a vast cavern, in which a distant dragon takes off and flies toward him.
Behind is an empty fog, Phil can see him but not communicate.
As the dragon approaches, Zorehn tries to teleport out, and to make a trump call. Both are countered by the dragon’s power words.
Finally, he resorts to pushing through the difficulty and summons a weasel.
This makes the dragon very angry, it speaks of bringing anathema into this place, and the rebel Dworkin.
Finally, the dragon states that Zorehn was sent here by a neutral party, and banishes him far through shadow.
For Phil, the gate at the tent has snapped shut, leaving just a normal tent.
The wyverns and their riders halt and catch fire.
After burning the rest of the camp at Fiona’s suggestion, he sets out through shadow to find Zorehn.
This leads him to Kalenwic – the place where universes intersect, but a sniper shoots his horse from under him, also hitting him in the leg but not breaking the skin.

Random and Aron: Eyes on the road

After visiting the war room, Random is summoned by the King, and ordered to take Aron to find his father and sister; and to return with all three. However, he is not to tell Aron where they are going.
Alone in the palace, Aron wanders the gardens, noting the light construction so the courtyards can be easily cleared for defending the castle. This is a fortress, not a home, and in particular not his home.
Looking for Random, he finds Caine in the war room.
“Your father is a proven traitor and rebel, your mother was last seen tearing apart the farm where you grew up. So I don’t see why I should tell you anything”
“My father is not a traitor”
“No.. .your father is not a traitor, but he’s stupid.”
“What’s his excuse? I didn’t know she was a shapeshifter, the second time around.”
“I think she’s my twin.”
“There’s conflicting witnesses on that.”
Caine offers to set things up so Aron can make a difference, but can’t do it out of altruism so Aron will owe him. He says it will take a couple of hours, and shows Aron the door.
Aron trumps out to unicorn grove instead.
Whatever was being set up is pre-empted by Random with an urgent mission from the King.
Aron contacts Caine to let him know he’s been sent on a mission and he won’t be around for Caine’s minions to find.
Caine disapproves, and hands Aron a human eyeball on a silver fork.
Aron hands the fork to Random, “present from Caine”, and Random casually eats it.
Aron can’t believe he actually ate the thing, but says nothing.
Random can’t believe Aron would visit the unicorn grove lightly.
An hour later, Random is projectile vomiting. “What’s a little poison between friends”
Caine approves, and gives Random a smug lecture about cannibalism.

Riding on, we find ourselves following a green and gold bird alongside a tarry black road like we’d previously seen in Arden.
Random used the plausible lie that nobody tells him anything anymore because of Osric to keep the mission secret.
Something is wrong with the horses, so Random dismounts and continues on foot. Aron shifts his horse into one of the carnivorous chaos horses he saw previously, and finds himself yanked elsewhere.
The horse is now plodding down the centre of the black road.
Aron opens his mind to discern the direction of the road, and hears an unfamiliar voice “come closer, my child”.
The horse won’t obey his commands or leave the road, so he shifts it back to a normal horse. This does not go well for the horse, and Aron tumbles into the sticky grasping black grass.
In chaos form, the grass obeys his will enough to let him wade and force a path to the edge of the road.
As he returns to human form, Random finally catches up on a hard push through shadow.
Aron speculates that the road would be the fastest way to get where we’re going – which while true if we had been sent to negotiate peace with Chaos – is a terrible idea.
Skirting a camp that the road widens to accomodate, we stumble into the middle of a battle.
Our arrival shifts the odds in favour of one side, and the other soon breaks into a rout.
Behind the troops, we find Benedict’s command tent, which makes Aron angry and apologetic.
Benedict reveals he is fighting with Lintra, Hendrake’s general, and she has more troops can he can muster.
There’s an argument about bringing Benedict’s daughter back to Amber, which only Random thinks is a good idea. He also thinks bringing Mireille to Amber would be a good idea when challenged by Aron. Benedict points out where she’d fall if the King decides to enforce the purity of the family bloodline.
Parley is discussed, Benedict suggests capturing one of them and beating the meaning of parley into it.
Outside, Random calls Caine to report in.
Aron simultaneously calls Lintra to arrange a parley.

Zorehn: Neutral territory

Zorehn wakes up in a field, again.
He is being nuzzled by a (thankfully not carnivorous) cow.
A short distance away, Rhett is watching over him.
Rhett spells out to Zorehn exactly how he betrayed Finndo, and how he should have protected him.
Rhett reveals that when he created his isolated universe he wanted a messenger to carry information back and forth. For that purpose, Zorehn was made, and the teleportitis cannot be cured without unmaking either him or Rhett’s world.
The weasels can be cured but it would mean inducting Zorehn into Rhett’s power source.
Zorehn argues the case for his own destruction.

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Act 3, episode 18
Price of Peace

Zurehn was studying magic in the library, and discusses his findings with Fiona.
He asked her what kind of magic you’d use to disguise yourself as somebody else like Aron, and got the “it’s complicated” answer.
Zurehn gets a new mission from the King: negotiate peace with Rhett, take Random and Aron with you, and you don’t need to bring them back.
Aron isn’t answering Trump calls, so he goes through to Random… but something interferes with the call. (later suggested to be something of Chaos)
Random sends a bird to Fiona to warn about the trump interference

Fighting talk

After hearing the mission, Random wrapped up Greyswandir in its scabbard, and gave it to Zurehn to pass to Deirdre.
When Zurehn mentioned the mission to Deirdre, she instructs him to punch Random, and gives him orders to discipline Random as he sees fit.
Random’s reaction to being punched by somebody who’s not a prince is to stab them in the leg.
Which means Deirdre has to get involved and stab Random back with one of Zurehn’s shivs.
After a petulant squabble involving water cannon spells and the dagger being thrown in the bushes, we move on.

Half a pound of tuppeny rice

Zurehn wants a trump card too, and Dworkin’s trump is pointed out to him.
(it was in the “never call” section, along with Osric and the King)
Dworkin says yes, he could do that, and drops the call.
A few minutes later, he calls back and explains that if he were to give Zurehn a card, the pattern would imprint on him even without having walked it.
But there’s another solution…
pop a weasel jumps through the trump.
(( when Zurehn looks for a weasel, and sometimes when he does not, a weasel of destiny will appear. These work a bit like birds of desire, but with comic effect ))

Interlude in Kalenwic

Random takes us to Kalenwic, refusing to share any knowledge about Rhett or precisely where we’re going.
Things are a bit wierd in Kalenwic, with a screen up around the tower site to discourage the sniper. The guards talk about “the boss” and say the king is 200 miles to the north if you want to arrange an audience. (The king of this shadow really does have a palace 200 miles to the north)
Random doesn’t like being told he can’t go and look at the tower, the guards want him gone.
In any case, he heads off into shadow for a bit.
Zurehn makes a casual death threat to figure out the chain of command, and goes off to talk to the man at arms.
Aron contacts Benedict to ask about Rhett, since it’s not a name he’d even heard before.
Benedict was just a boy when Rhett was written out of history, and is also tired of Aron being used to manipulate him.
With Aron in Kalenwic, he asked him to go for a walk, and then called back, stepping through to a side street and disappearing into the night.

Journey into the north

Random knows where we’re going, but wants to avoid running into Osric on the way so takes things slowly and tries to avoid notice.
There is a wall across the road, with a checkpoint gate. As we approach, Zurehn sets up a teleport to carry us to the hills behind in case of trouble.
There is trouble, a high powered rifle shot from behind us takes out one of the guards, and the gate is closed in a panic. ((OOC I suspect Benedict))
Teleport fires, and we move on while the guards’ attention is on the road behind us.
People get taller, the road becomes a railroad, and the giants are suspicious of our horses but do not bother us when we walk on foot.
The only station is a military depot, and we didn’t see any trains.
In the land of the blue people, there is a lynch mob.
In the land of the green people, there is also a lynch mob.
They’re mostly interested in stabbing Zurehn, because he isn’t green, and he isn’t stabbing back. However a water cannon spell tears the green people apart.
We find ourselves in Finndo’s city, where the palace is crumbling and it is evening.
The gravity is particularly unpleasant, even stronger than the courts of Chaos.
Random declines to steal a tank although he looked it over with avarice, instead purchasing horses.
The sun sets, and everyone drops dead as we’re travelling out of the next shadow.
In a German great war trench, Random doesn’t understand being told to surrender, but understands a pointed gun as the universal sign of a challenge.
Aron shifts shadow before the whole trench is up in arms.
In a British great war trench, they’re not sure if we’re spies or a practical joke, still dressed in Romanesque togas from Finndo’s city.
After talking Random down from trying to take out all the snipers personally, and establishing that they don’t know what a tank is here, we move on…

Awkward Negotiations

In the mountains, Random recognises Rhett, dressed as a goatherd.
Introductions are called for:
“Prince Random, of Amber”
“Aron, son of Benedict, of Amber”
“Zurehn, some people say I’m Finndo’s”
After establishing we’re each an opportunity that comes with too much trouble attached, Rhett set out his terms:
He should be recognised as heir, and the King should abdicate in his favour.
Rhett temporarily opens the trump barrier on his “not exactly a shadow”.
After Zurehn relays the terms carefully, the king rejects them with a formal wording “We hear your terms, but Amber does not accept them at this time”, and says he would not be executed if he returns to Amber.
Rhett says he has been here a long time and doesn’t believe Chaos will come here even if Amber is destroyed. He hints that he might return to save Amber in exchange for the throne, but isn’t really interested in an open war with us. However he will not control Osric in this.
He allows us to leave after mentioning casually “I don’t think I’ve heard ‘it looks like rain’ used as a threat before, but Osric has been known to hang the ‘Ravage’ spell from time to time.”

Apologies

Zurehn apologises to Deirdre for letting her believe Random was leaking plans. And for the weasels.
Random is convinced by Caine to let Zurehn know he probably owes him an apology.
Zurehn: “likewise.”

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Zorehn diary - some more

I’ve been studying for some days – learning more spell-craft.
Fiona has been saving the world – or at least doing something important in order to not sleep.
There was a period of almost day light, inside, which must’ve been down to the lack of sleep and caffeine for myself.

Oh and the king came back.

He requested my presence – he had a mission for me to go broker peace with Rhett. Apparently Random and Aron are expendable.

I tried to trump Random, he took a while to answer and said it was being listened to or interefered with.
I tried to reach Aron, and there was no answer.

I went to the War Room and saw Eric & Deirdre arguing, so I trumped Julian.
Went through to Arden, not the right place.

Teleported to where I saw Random (spell 1).

Went off and spoke to Aron – he’s confident the block Fiona put in place is still present.
I told him we have a mission to broker peace.

We went and spoke to Random – he said before we left I need to speak to Dierdre, and hand over a sword.

I trumped with Dierdre, handed over the sword and explained why and she said I should punch Random, and get an order to do so.

I did, and he stabbed me.

Dierdre said the punch was for Random leaking orders.

Dierdre used my shiv to shiv Random and he refused to give it back.

I used water teleporting spell to fire a cannon of water at him unti he gave it back – but he didn’t give it back but threw it into vines so I stopped the spell.

I retrieved the shiv and teleported back out.

We went off to head in the right direction.

Aron realised we were heading near his farm so we stopped to talk.

The end result of that discussion was that I should try to speak to Dworkin about getting a trump.

I did so, but apparently without walking the pattern it can’t be done, and the only card now would be of my corpse, which would have future complications.
He suggested I have an animal with me to send messages, and suggested badgers, but then I had weasels appear.

The next suggestion from Random was that we try to get a card for Rhett from Dworkin, but Dworkin said the cards he had stopped working when they thought he was dead.

We went to Kallenwick. The tower is boarded up.

We found a soldier keeping guard of the place.

Random wanted to find out who is in charge and when told the king, who was 200 miles away was, wasn’t able to progress.
I asked the soldier who would be dealing with things if the soldier was murdered and was told it was his sergeant, who, we later found out, was just his man.

I tried to get the weasels to tell Random that he shouldn’t be distracted and that we needed to maybe not upset these guys.

Random rocked up and we sat in a tavern.
I told him this, and he asked to speak to the original man, but when I asked him he was on duty.
I retrieved the sergeant instead – and Random handed over the gun.

We slept for the night (I tried to find armour for the legs, and got my thigh sorted out).

We rode out and found a border crossing control area.

I set up a spell to get us across and we rode up, a shot fired out from afar and the guards scattered, so I took us across.

Random took us further and further into lands of giants, then blue people, where there was a lynch mob for us, then a different place with green-skinned people also gunning for us.

We fought – Random used a gun and sword, I used a water cannon.
I got stabbed in the left shoulder.
We survived and got on.

We got to Finndo’s land, and Aron was suffering in particular.
Finndo’s (dad’s?) castle was looking in a worse state of repair.
We tried to find some horses and get out rapidly.

As the sun fell everyone died, and then Random took us away.

We ended up in a trench and Random killed them all.
We rode off to another trench.
Random wanted to take out some snipers but I convinced him we should move on.

He rainbowed us out, swapped chocolate for grenades, then rainbowed us out again.

We found an apparent goat-herd, who Random recognised as Rhett.

He asked us for introduction and recognised that who Random and Aron was, and referred to me as the person who betrayed Finndo.

We told him that peace was desired, but he didn’t seem keen on the idea.

He wants to return to Amber, and he’s happy being an official heir, but wants the king to abdicate.

I sent weasels to Dierdre saying Peace was unlikely to be on the table, and to both Fiona and Dierdre on how to reach me if they wanted me to trump them.

Random seemed to suggest this wouldn’t happen and the conversation started going circular.

Rhett turned off the thing blocking trumps.

I trumped the King and relayed the offer – which the king acknowledged and declined, but said we wouldn’t be executed if we returned having failed the mission.

I trumped back to Amber castle.

Took the time to explain to Fiona and Dierdre about the weasels.

Explained to Dierdre about my error with the plans (and that it wasn’t Random), and that I wanted to know why Rhett thought I betrayed Finndo.
And get the wound in my shoudlder and thigh properly dealt with.
And find out about the super destructive spell Osric had prepped

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Act 2, episode 17
Return of the King

Jungle Fever

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.
((possibilities…
– 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.

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Act 2, episode 16
Pride and Peyote

Spycraft

Aron treats Zurehn’s injuries, a bit, and leaves him to figure out the local magic in a rented room.
Despite looking a bit like a local, he wanders around like a tourist, even stopping to watch a ball game.
Random heads down to the river, which stinks, and pokes a floating head, getting admonished for it by an urchin.
With a few coins, he finds out who a Spy would talk to if they wanted to find out what the Sun-Prince was up to: a “Nico” and arranges a meeting.
“Nico” is a walking mummified body, who is willing to talk for an eye, or a square foot of your skin, or 1000 feet of linen.
Random prefers the option that is most illegal in Texiban – the linen.
Phil actually knows about investigating cities, and it doesn’t take him long to discover the presence of an under-city.
Naturally as a hard-boiled detective, a speakeasy is the place to start investigating.
One drink leads to another in a back room, and a bitter draught down below.

Spellcraft

Having failed to discover the undercity, and finding Zurehn’s hollow pyramid theory to be less than ideal, Aron returned to Zurehn.
The least worst option seemed to be to prepare the warding spell inside the vertical shaft where sacrifices are thrown down one of the smaller pyramids to the flowing river below.
During the preparation, Aron gets a sense of dread, and prepares to evacuate.
Fiona doesn’t have time to inspect the spell, and there’s a sound of flapping leathery wings overhead, so they step sideways back to the ruined city and grassy slopes again.
Zurehn calls into Random, finds out something is going down, and after throwing Aron through to Nico’s lair, takes everyone’s advice to go back to the castle and get his hand seen to properly.
Flora finds him a physician and makes a show of looking after him.

Bad Trip

Phil just drank a bowl of peyote, and is feeling the effects.
His arms are too long, or is it his hands… or are those the hands of the demon he dreamed about?
He staggers towards the centre of the room, where a rope ladder leads “up”, deeper into the undercity.
But as he climbs the ladder it turns into snakes, and he drops down, followed by lots of little wriggly snakes.
More snakes appear, and he hears the demon voice. Turning, he sees the demon behind him and climbs the snake ladder anyway.
The snake ladder becomes steel rungs and a sewer lid, from which he emerges into a market square in a black and white city.
Everyone stared at him, because he’s in colour…
As he walks across the market towards a bar, the sewer explodes, and the demon is behind again.
Now sobering up a little, he tries to lose the demon in alleyways.
A special skill, but the demon can fly, and perhaps cheat in other ways.
“I am Hendrake and I answer your challenge”
Five seconds later, Phil finds himself thrown through a wall.

A sequence of duels

Hendrake demands of Random a worthy opponent, doubling down on the stakes.
Having just dispatched a lesser demon with a pattern-charged blade, Random decides on Brand Corwyn and Greyswandir.
Corwin is pleased to take the challenge, but less pleased that he’s being asked because Benedict wasn’t answering.
Hendrake takes a few minutes to beat the snot out of Corwin.
Caine’s thrown daggers pepper Hendrake, but before he gets a sense of location, Benedict shows up and asks to jump the queue.
During the fight, Random retrieves Phil’s trump deck. *(Hendrake will remember that.)
When Benedict skewers Hendrake with a sword, he yields.
“What’s the life of Hendrake worth?”
“…Your daughter.”
Benedict leaves the sword where it is, and strides off into the jungle.

Aftermath

Aron: I think I’ve met her.. she never said who she was, but I sort of knew. Unlike the others she can hold a conversation.
Benedict: So could your mother, that’s what makes her so dangerous.
(Benedict declares he will lose himself in shadow, Aron says he’ll ask people to leave him alone)

Random: With Corwin out of action, who’s the officer in charge?
Caine: Assume I am.
Random: I’d like to report there’s another half-breed, and apparently we’re getting her.
Caine: I’ll inform the king.
(Well played, Random, Well played.)

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Diary of Zurehn - chapter 10, or something

I was arrested – apparently the story about how the death of the Prince was my fault was so good so I was taken to gaol.

In there I met another muskateer, Aramis I later found out, and we chatted about Porthos and so on.

There was the sound of slaughter from above so I bid Aramis pray, and was able to utilise sorcery to spring us from the cell.
Aramis went off to pick up a sword and kill anyone in his way – I spoke to Fiona and then Florimel to find out what the plan was.
Apparently an assassination attempt on the king which Random was dealing with.
We went upstairs to find lots of dead bodies, and guarding a cordonned off area a captain and Porthos.
I agreed to help locate a mop and 150 coffins, and then went to sit by the cell.
In the morrning Aramis came to put us both back, with a key.
Aramis explained a little more of what had happened, and then went off to make the wheels of justice turn more freely, leaving the key.
A while later some officers came up, surprised to see Aramis missing, and bid me to leave to speak with the Cardinal.
The Cardinal spoke to me about the death of a 2nd prince, who died outside his own land so wouldn’t rise up, leading to yet a different war.
The people of the land would invade other lands, sacrificing people until they found someone who wouldn’t die from the sacrificing.

I thought that maybe I should see whether returning the body would at least hold off the war for a while, and what the sacrificing ceremony entails and whether any of us could survive and what the political fallout would be.

Nobody had any information so I Trumped Random and he wants me to make sure Begma isn’t succumbing to the Chaos-based pink plague thing that Osric sent to the shadow I was at before.

Random wants me to keep the place clean, which might need Fiona to help.

I checked in with Fiona to make her aware, then got a room and spent some time setting up the aforementioned spell.

I got a black and white signal from my sphere so called Random to see if Phil wanted me, and Random said it might’ve been Julian, but Julian didn’t want me any more.

Random wanted to come through so I brought him and Aron through, and they went off to the morgue.

I carried on working on the deisgn of the spell until Random came to bother me – I told him to leave me for some more time (5-50 minutes) until I’d finished setting things up for Fiona.

I finished up in about half an hour and spoke to Fiona by Trump – she came through, agreed the work was good enough and powered it up with her staff and left it self-powering.
We then went off to the morgue, leaving a sign that says to speak to the Cardinal and some magic that Fiona set to protect the door.
In the morgue there was a body with an open chest, and a black stone covered by a cloth.
Fiona agreed the black stone was “gribbly” and magical and unpleasant and built to take things over.

We agreed that Random would go find a replacement prince.
Aron would head to Texaban.
I would somehow get the stone to Texaban.
Fiona would go rest.

Fiona sent us to Texaban.
Aron used some “Fiona Disguise Magic” to look like the Prince and we went walking towards the big Ziggurat.

Aron had a plan to get us out if we needed to.

We teleported to the Zigurrat and there was a 3rd prince (Aron as a copy of the prince, the dead one I was carrying). I dropped the body, as agreed, then we got attacked, so I fell to the ground and I used the last teleport spell to summon a storm to blow the guards off me.
I dropped the spell and Aron rescued me by shifting us to another shadow.
The plan was wrecked and we needed to report in.

I trumped Fiona whilst Aron would trump Random – Fiona took the news not so well and told me to tell Corwin.
I finished the contact eith Fiona and Aron said he is unable to trump anyone so I contacted Corwin, reported in, got told to find outif war was still going to happeen and report in but not kill anyone, and then spoke to Random.
We chatted about what had gone wrong and how to fix it.

The final plan is :
find me a room to set up the protection spell
be guarded by Aron
Phil and Random will hunt down the new prince and find out wtf is happening

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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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Act 2, episode 14
Fast Friends

Assassins of Kings

While Random cleans up a mess in a brothel, Aron continues staking out the palace.
A number of cardinals (including Richelieu) are seen entering and leaving the palace, together with somebody dressed as the Pope (Neither the Pope nor the Eastern Primate, according to Random and Flora)
A crowd gather in the street to see delegations arrive for a state dinner:
– The new “pope”
– A delegation from Kashfa, associated with the King
– A delegation from Kashfa, associated with the King’s elder brother (whose body Random moved to Texorami earlier)
– A delegation from Texiban, including their “crown prince” (poor translation)

Screams go up from the crowd, as the “crown prince” of Texiban is assassinated.
We observe a man in a ruffled shirt slip from the scene into the crowd, presumed to be the assassin.
Random pursues the assassin, while Aron takes advantage of the chaos (and exquisite tailoring) to slip into the palace with the nobles fleeing in that direction.
The assassin checks into our hotel, and enters a room on the 4th floor.
As Random moves to a balcony, intending to climb up that way, the assassin is seen leaving the courtyard dressed like a butcher (city working class)
The assassin knows this city like the back of his hand, and has an escape planned out.
Random is a cheating Prince of Amber, and shifts things into a similar but different enough to mess things up city, giving the chance to catch up.
Rather than pull the man from his horse, he vaults onto the back of the horse and joins him there, shifting the horse onto the path into Arden.

Ambushes in the forest

Random finds himself pursued by a pack of black dogs and a white siamese cat.
His personal revolver knocks back the cat, but doesn’t cause a lasting injury.
It’s effective enough on the dogs, but there are enough of them to overrun and injure the horse.
One emergency trump extraction from Julian later, Random turns over the assassin to Julian for questioning. “We don’t know who he works for, so leave him alive. Also he’s good enough to be useful to us”
Meeting up with Phil (and his newly acquired desert scouts) in the camp, they ride back out to attempt to meet the chaos cat with force.
Now there’s a competent commander on the field, they skirt around an ambush, to take an enemy camp from the flank.
These seem to be Osric/Finndo’s troops, rather than chaos, but they do not respond to parley.
Although random takes one prisoner, they are mindless thralls that are useless for interrogation.
The cat joins the fight, but realising she is outmatched, she sacrifices her dogs to cover an escape.
Phil declined joining Random on the return trip to Begma, he has his own mission.
((I had to bite my tongue during this bit.. but nobody showed sign of recognising a character I was hoping would return in the campaign))

Phil of Arabia

Phil is on a mission from Eric to investigate whether chaos troops are moving through the desert, and whether they have an advantage in survivability and combat in that kind of harsh environment.
After recruiting desert scouts in shadow, he went to the place on the war map.
After sending out scouts, he spotted vultures circling nearby and went to investigate himself.
On a rock by a dried riverbed, a whole village has been slaughtered / sacrificed.
A trickle of blood flows down the parched riverbed, too much even for the slaughter, and not drying up.
He discovers a “spring” where blood is welling up, and snake tracks a foot wide leading away.
When the scouts return, pursued by 300, they identify this as “Lamia”, a creature everyone thought was mythical.
Allowing them to leave to warn their villages “nobody will believe us, but we have to try”, Phil returns to Amber and researches Lamia in the library.
Rivers of poisoned blood, poisoned groundwater, poison in the air downwind of her… lots about poison and drawings of a snake with a woman’s upper body instead of a head.
Deciding this will need “fearless troops”, he set out into shadow to find some, no matter how weird.

A chequered past

While shifting through deep shadow, Phil finds himself shadowed by a black and white figure on a chequerboard horse.
He can’t shake the trail by shadow shifting, and every time he gets close to Arden, he is yanked back to a place where the trees have succulent spiny stalks instead of trunks.
When he tried to approach the figure, it retreated to maintain a distance.

Meanwhile, in Begma

The nobles, gawkers, and spies who fled into the palace are ushered into a ballroom.
With guards on every door, this is a glorified holding cell, to keep everyone until the situation calms down enough to sort out who’s who without causing too much offense.
When Flora starts working the room, all eyes are on her.
Begman Ladies’ fashion probably just got updated to be “like what the princess Flora was wearing”, and there will probably be duels fought over perceived slights on her honour in the morning.
Slipping out a door where the guards are paying more attention to Flora than their duty, Aron makes it quite deep into the palace by being properly dressed and obviously belonging there.
The king’s antechamber is properly guarded by professionals, but around the corner Aron encounters Cardinal Richelieu who insists on introducing him to the king.
“Lord Aron, son of Prince Benedict, of Amber”
The King picks up on the Prince thing and questions if there’s a civil war in Amber over a game of Piquet.
Aron assures him there is not, that we are at war with the banished elder brother.
Then tries to make Osric’s danger clear by putting the Stoke incident in human terms.
“He doesn’t destroy nations by conquering them to rule over, he destroys them by killing every person within them”
The game is interrupted by guards entering the room and insisting to the king that the cardinal summons him. A phrasing that draws immediate suspicion from Aron and the King alike.
Seeing their cover blown, the guards draw weapons and attack.
Porthos comes out of the closet (so to speak), as the king dives into the bolthole behind it.
Between them, they easily dispatch enough “guards” to drive off the rest.
They then relocate to a smaller but more defensible audience chamber with a fortified bedroom behind it.
Porthos decides Aron is trustworthy enough or has earned the information that the visitors to the king were asking him to send an army to the desert beyond Kashfa to deal with a force of destruction there. Not something he’s been willing to agree, since it would look enough like marching on Kashfa to provoke a war.

Coup d’etat

When Random returned to Begma, he went to revisit the Salon to catch up on news of the assassination.
Shortly, he gets a trump call from Flora wanting emergency extraction from the palace.
She dropped the candle in the palace on the way out, probably setting it on fire.
Before returning to Amber, she puts on her best damsel-in-distress face to call in Benedict.
Random led Benedict to the palace back gate, and tried to bluff his way in using Porthos’ secret knock.
While this is failing to pass visual identification by the guard on duty, Benedict is already climbing the wall and slipping in a window.
They identify which set of guards in a pitched battle they have come up behind by Random saluting the king.
Answer: the rebels.
They cut through the rebels easily enough, Benedict like a wind through grass, Random like a combine harvester.
When pushing aside a barricade, Random uses his pistol to eliminate defenders in as noisy and messy a way as possible – hoping to demoralize and scare the others.

Meanwhile, the defensible audience chamber is under attack by halberdiers.
Porthos: “Do you want the left or the right?”
Aron: “You’ll notice I’m holding my sword in the left hand”
Reading the situation Aron realised they are vastly outnumbered, and Porthos would eventually tire, or the enemy would get lucky; he calls a retreat to the panic room, which has a smaller door they can bolt, bar and barricade.
Random and Benedict reach the audience chamber before the rebels manage to cut through the door. Benedict doesn’t stick around, and goes to find more fighting instead.
On questioning the rebel prisoners, either the king was going to marry a huguenot ((IRL: French protestants that fled to Ireland to escape persecution – possibly some of my ancestors)), or Maximillia of Kashfa.
Mostly they spat a lot and called Random “fils de putain”, which earned that particular rebel the right to die in a duel once he’s recovered enough to walk, instead of on the scaffold tomorrow morning.

Gorrillaphobia immersion therapy

Phil’s fearless soldiers turn out to be red-furred gorillas, giving him an opportunity to get over fear induced by Conrad’s “pet” gorilla.
They are in high spirits, singing and cracking jokes as he leads them to fight Lamia (who has now accumulated a bigger pile of corpses and a stream of blood to replace the trickle)
Hiding upstream in the riverbed, they wait for her to return and attack without warning.
Phil’s arbalest barely chips the stony armour of her face, and he only got a couple of good shots off before she closed the distance. His swords were essentially useless, and she barely noticed the gorrillas on her back trying to get blades between her scales.
However, Phil is a cheating Lord of Amber, and shadow shifted the battle out of the desert and onto a rocky plain where he could lead her into a sinkhole.
((Poisoned groundwater for twelve generations – Phil’s turn to destroy all life in an entire shadow))
The gorrillas are in high spirits, and only arguing about whether to eat their dead now or after they get home.
In any case, they’re very willing to fight for Phil again.

The Sphinx’s treasure

Random and Aron follow up the lead, shadow shifting to the desert beyond Kashfa, with a stop of the way for Random to update Maximillia on where to find the body now.
Maximillia expresses concern that this could rebound on Random, given his association with Texorami.
We arrive at a landmark in the desert, the Sphinx.
“When defeated, he sat down on his treasure and turned to stone out of spite”.
Unexpectedly, there is a thunderstorm and rain over the sphinx – in the middle of a desert, in an otherwise cloudless sky.
The rain dies down as we approach, but this has “Osric” and “Trap” written all over it.
Random calls in to Corwin for a map and we look for a nearby settlement.
The “map” consists of a blank sheet of parchment with “Ha Ha” written on it.
Aron: “Corwin thinks he’s being funny”
The nearest village is busy transferring the unseasonable but very welcome rainwater into storage cisterns. We help out a bit while getting information on the sphinx. Local kids spend the night out there for dares, but nothing ever happens to them. The rain storms are recent, and always start over the sphinx.
Returning to the sphinx, we climb the sunny side (which has dried off a bit), and discover a cave in the ear.
A cave with a strong odour of ozone.
Quite poisonous unless you’re a sorceror with an appropriate spell hung… or Aron.
The cave spirals down into a darkened labyrinth, through which one path has been heavily scorched and burned.
Aron explores with the light of a glowing rock retrieved by Random (because I’m not taking a naked flame down a mineshaft, especially one Osric probably half filled with hydrogen for fun)
At the end of the burned path is a treasure chamber containing several tons of gold, some of it fused or on fire, covering all the interesting artifacts. (Dragon’s egg, ivory statue, weapons…)
((I was half expecting to find a Way to another labyrinth that is definitely only for shape-shifters down there))
This obviously needs a sorceror’s eye, but “she’s busy”, so we get Bleys who joins Random entering the labyrinth with crappy rubber filter masks that perish and fall apart in less than an hour.
The treasure horde is all cursed. Except the gold – the gold is a counterweight that stops the curses triggering. As long as nobody takes the gold away.
Before too long, the storm starts up again, and we retreat to Amber before the treasure chamber turns into an arc furnace.

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