From Sun Jan 12 00:50:28 1997
Subject: [AMBER] A Pattern Emerges...(Intro for Orbus)
 nrpg: I'll do the intro in 1st person....I always wanted to do this! :)
        A Pattern Emerges
        It pulsed.
        That was about the only way to describe it. It was red and it 
glowed with a sickening light and it pulsed as if it were alive. About 
the closest description I could come to it was a plateful of living, 
rotting spaghetti...or maybe thousands of giant snakes caught in a 
struggling knot. Ordinarily, that would only serve to ruin my appetite; 
however, when one is caught in the middle of such a living maze as this, 
one's attention is a little more focused. I struggled. I fought my way 
through feet of huge sticky rope, traversed dripping, writhing tunnels, 
only to have my way blocked again and again by the thing. At the 
damndest times it would writhe and I would be stuck behind another knot 
of tubes where open space beckoned to me moments before. Caught in its 
three- dimensional embrace, I screamed in near-madness...
        "Hey, doc! Doc! Wake up, man!" Rough hands shook me as pulled 
myself back into consciousness. The side of my face felt wet. My eyes 
winced and blurred from the harsh doubled light in front of them... 
until they resolved into one bright neon beer image. Raising my head 
from the bar, I looked around. Yep, hadn't gone anywhere. All that had 
changed was the man shaking me and the spilled puddle of beer that I had 
apparently been lying in.
        "You okay, doc? You looked like you were having a hell of a 
        "Yeah, yeah, I'm all right." I looked up at Bob, who had been 
serving drinks to me ever since I came to the shadow Earth. Fixed an arm 
he had broken a couple of years back, too; the man had taken it upon 
himself to look after me ever since.
        "Thanks, by the way."
        "You need to go home, doc. You really didn't have enough to 
drink to be passing out."
        "Back-to-back shifts will do that to you. Matter of fact, I was 
thinking about going home. Oh, thank you, miss." I smiled back at the 
brunette who handed me my jacket from its customary heap on the floor. I 
watched her leave, and smiled at the extra glance I received as she 
opened the door. I braced against the chill of the winter air.
        "Sure wish I knew how you did that."
        "Did what?"
        "Attract every girl in this bar."
        "It's the hair, I told you."
        "You did? I don't remember. Guess my mind is slipping."
        Bemused, I thought back. Even Mother had commented on it....
        **"What happened to your hair?!" Mother asked as she embraced 
me, a rare event. She did not look very pleased. We stood on a rocky 
gnoll, the city of Amber spread out below us, her red hair unbound and 
blowing in the stiff breeze. 
        "It just...well, turned that way over the last few years. It has 
been almost 4 years since you've seen me, you know."
        "I guess it has." She still didn't look too happy. "Indeed."
        "Maybe it came from my father's side," I remarked.
        "Don't start that again," she snapped. "Be a good boy and help 
me with this spell..." **
        That was Mother. Always brimming with affection.
        Sighing, I stood. At least my little nap at the bar had done me 
some good. I wasn't nearly as tired as I had been before I came in. It 
was a trade-off, though; I could feel the twinges in my neck and back as 
I walked down the sidewalk, a bitterly cold wind blowing into my face.
        Passing a streetcorner, the view before me brightened a bit; it 
went along with the wind, which had suddenly died down. As I walked, I 
reached forward with my will again, making the streetlamps more rustic, 
bringing a small park into view where none had been before...
        I, Orbus, child of Amber, initiate of the Pattern, Fiona's son, 
had decided to go home. 
        The stuff of Shadow continued to change and warp as I sifted it, 
looking for just the right probabilities. The wind hit me in the face 
again as I dropped comfort for speed...the park widened, extended off in 
the distance...the sky, once in the late evening, suddenly became the 
dark rose-pink of dawn. Hearing a neigh, I stopped the shadow- travel to 
detour over a small hill. There, tied to a fence-post, was the horse I 
had looked-for: a large piebald, strong muscles bunching under her skin 
as she pulled nervously at her tie. At its feet lay a scabbarded sword; 
short, with a thick blade for parrying. Just exactly what I wanted. I 
spent a few minutes making friends with the horse, feeding it the sugar 
cubes which had miraculously appeared in my pocket. 
        I glanced at my watch, which had transformed into a large-faced 
bulky thing with strange squiggles for numerals. It appeared almost 
luminous in my spell-enhanced vision. Of all the gifts Mother had 
showered me with over the years, I appreciated this the most; a number 
of small 'enhancements' she had placed on me as a child and again after 
I had walked the Pattern for the first and only time. Cat-like vision, 
quicker reflexes, a trance-like concentration...powered eternally by a 
source off in Shadow.  Almost by reflex, I summoned the sign of the 
Pattern to see it; a ghostly glowing tendril of power leading off into 
nothingness. Of course, the toys were no comparison to actually seeing 
her more often, but she had done well with fostering me. I could 
understand her willingness to hide me from the rest of the family for a 
while, especially after meeting them. 
        Well, if I didn't continue I never would. Mounting the horse, 
whom I had decided to name Nightfall, I strapped the sword on myself and 
clucked Nightfall into motion. We glided through the different shadows 
at an easy pace, not only letting the horse get used to the effect but 
just enjoying the ride, not straining my willpower to its utmost.
        At least until I noticed I was being followed. Not too far off 
in the distance, either; a mounted figure along with strange shadowy 
bipedal figures who seemed to flick from place to place, always 
half-hidden. I shrugged, and moved faster; losing them from sight after 
a few minutes, I rapidly changed things, switching from shadow to shadow.
        Damned if they didn't find me again. Within minutes, I could 
hear the clopping sound of the pusuing horse in the distance. This was 
becoming more serious than I thought. Either I was pulling them along 
with me, which I doubted, or they were exceptionally good trackers, or-
        Or they had the power to traverse shadow, like me.
        I urged Nightfall to an all out run then, tearing through the 
thickening forest, the colors of the trees starting to approximate the 
colors of Arden, the sky dimming to a baleful twilight. Nightfall 
followed a rocky, forested ravine of my desire, and I looked back to see 
the pursuing rider with his friends; the flitting shadow-figures were 
eerily silent as they flicked from place to place. It was hard to count 
them that way, but there were many. We galloped down the ravine, around 
a curve, I was looking up, the rider was gaining...
        And I reached the place I wanted. Summoning the Pattern sign, I 
spoke the guide words of a telekinesis spell I had left hanging the last 
few days. The Pattern pulsed, and I could feel the force slam into a 
boulder high above at just the right spot.
        The small avalanche I created behind me was quite sufficient. 
The rider and his shadows were quickly covered by the mass of rock which 
rained down on them. I didn't even have to build a cairn for them, not 
that I had a great desire to.
        Turing Nightfall,  I was about to commence our little 
shadow-walk when I realized that perhaps I had been duped. The rider 
behind me wasn't trying to overtake me, just herd me into the figure who 
now stood, barring my way.
        Pale and hairless, the gigantic man-thing brandished a 
broad-bladed sword in his fist. He was easily 7 feet tall, maybe more. 
Runes on his blade glowed with a dull red light, as if red-hot.
        "You are Orbus."
        I wasn't feeling too courtly at the moment. "Who wants to know?"
        "I have been sent to slay you."
        "What a stunning conversationalist you are. Who sent you?"
        "It does not matter. What does matter, thing of chaos, is that 
you will die in this place."
        "Hate to disappoint you, bub, but number one, I'm from Amber, 
and number two, I don't care to play."
        He pointed his blade towards me and advanced. Oh, well, I was 
bored with the talking anyway. Sliding off of Nightfall, I held my blade 
up with two hands, parrying the wide slash which arced downward. What I 
didn't expect was for the sudden shift of direction, the huge sword 
barely contacting mine before moving under it, trying for an 
envelopment. I jumped backward, hand extended for a stop-cut. He 
continued to advance, thrusting with incredible speed, the heavy sword 
like a rapier in his hands. I'm no slouch in the fencing department, but 
the combination of lightning speed and the weight of the sword was 
starting to tell even on Amberite muscles. My arms were aching with the 
effort of turning aside his blade again and again. Finally, as I was 
starting to worry about ever extricating myself from the situation, I 
caught a bright flash out of my periphreal vision. The giant apparently 
caught the flash full on, as he covered his eyes with one hand. Needing 
no further signal, I beat aside his blade and lunged into his chest. 
Flames billowed forth from the wound, and the giant fell onto his knees 
and then his face, trailing smoke all the way.
        "Thanks," I yelled as I turned around. There was no one. 
Summoning the sign of the Pattern, I was able to see the fading glow of 
activity to the side; looking back, the giant was slowly being consumed 
by the fire. I sprinted to the site of the magical activity; all I saw 
was the faintest traces of small magical black tendrils which vanished 
even as I watched.
        All that was left to do was to continue. I mounted Nightfall and 
went on. I could feel the beginnings of drag in my manipulation of 
Shadow, tell the extra effort I was having to put in. Nevertheless, the 
light forest became just the right shade of green, the sky lightening to 
the exact shade of blue that I remembered from years ago...
        I don't know what sense prompted me to look behind, but when I 
did, I could see the shadow-things again, gaining rapidly. I toyed with 
the idea of leading them into a trap, but they would reach me long 
before I would attract attention from Julian's rangers. I spoke the 
guide word for another of the spells I had been hanging, clapped my 
hands, and became invisible. I pulled Nightfall to the side of the road, 
dismounted, and slapped her rump to send her onward. She continued down 
the road as I moved into the trees. 
        The shadow-things didn't pause, just turned off the road after 
me. I cursed and started running. Obviously, someone had the ability to 
track me, even when invisible. Well, enough was enough. I pulled a pack 
of seldom- used cards out of my pocket, feeing their coldness as I 
pulled several out by their edges. I grabbed at one and partiular and 
        Moments later, there was contact. Zachary looked through the 
card at me, the blue penetrating eyes as unsettling as ever. 
        "Orbus! It's been a long time."
        "Indeed it has, cousin. Too long. In fact, I feel the desire to 
walk in Amber again. Would you bring me through?"
        "Of course. Take my hand." I took his hand and stepped through, 
a rainbow after-image my gift to the pursuers who had almost reached me. 
I recognized the setting; Bloody Bob's. The remnants of a dinner lay on 
the table, a half-drained bottle of Bayle's next to it. Zachary 
continued to look at me, obviously having seen the pusuing shadows. I 
        "Thank you, cousin. Is the food here as good as I remember?"
        "I hope I did not disturb your meal." I sat down, drawing my 
blade partway from the sheath, as this place's decorum demanded. 
Zachary's glance took in the blood and scorch marks on the sword, then 
back to me.
        "On the contrary," he said.
Tag Chris!