Wed Feb 26 18:14:59 1997
Subject: [AMBER] Old acquaintances...and new ones
Orbus rose and strapped his sword to his side. "Well then, cousin, lead 
the way."
Suprisingly enough, they were not accosted by anyone on their trip back, 
even walking throught Death Alley. Whether or not that was because they 
were on guard or because one or the other was recognized, Orbus couldn't 
say. As the sky darkened, the chill breeze coming from the sea began to 
die down, and a cold fog began to roll in. Orbus shivered within his 
light jacket.
It was not unnoticed. "Are you cold, cousin?" Zachary asked. "We can 
always Trump to the Great Hall..."
"No thanks. I've always found it not make quite that 
grand an entrance."
"Like mother, like son."
Orbus grimaced. "Something like that. She is here in Amber, isn't she?"
"Yes, I saw her just yesterday."
"Good." His voice belied his words. Meeting Mother was at best a nervous 
experience. "I was going to ask you about our new cousins, and of course 
ask about what Dalt appears to be doing."
"Funny, I was going to ask you about what you've been doing, and your 
troubles during your trip."
Orbus smiled. "So much information...perhaps if we traded it a bit at a 
"Aha. Well, what would you like to start off with?"
"How long has Mother been here?"
"Quite a long time, actually. Of course she comes and goes..."
"Of course."
"...but to my knowledge she has been here since you left. Where did you 
"The shadow Earth. I went to medical school, like I kept threatening I 
would. Went through residency. Who are these cousins I am to meet?"
"One is Laura, Flora's daughter. The other is Brandi Blackswan."
"I don't think I've had the pleasure."
"Brandi was here the last time you visited, I think, but I don't believe 
you were introduced. As I said, we will be meeting them shortly. Your 
trip back intrigues me. You said that a giant was waiting for you?"
"Yes, and that disturbs me greatly. So do the shadow-like things that 
pursued me. I am very sure that I did not let them follow a trail. Some 
one moved them through shadow to meet me, or they moved themselves."
Zachary stopped in the street. "That is not good. Did you see anything 
else about them?"
"The giant burned when I killed him. Also, black magical tendrils were 
present along their path."
"Not good at all. They sound like creatures of Chaos. Why did they 
pursue you?"
"To kill me."
"You said that, but why?"
"I don't know. I was just a student. I didn't do anything to provoke 
"That is more than a little disturbing. Perhaps you should tell my 
father about it."
"I would rather find out a few details about it, first. If they were 
Chaotic, then I should have little trouble from them in Amber."
"I should point out that they followed you to Arden, or close enough."
Orbus shrugged. "True, but plenty of things make it to Arden, and the 
forest is a lot different from Amber. I'm just asking for a little 
time." Zachary nodded reluctantly.
Soon enough, they had climbed to the lower reaches of the castle. 
Zachary paused, then pulled out a case of Trumps. Riffling through them, 
he concentrated on one, then another.
"Oh, my. It seems that we have a problem, cousin. I can't raise either 
Laura or Brandi by Trump."
"Please excuse." Orbus reached forward and touched the card, a lifelike 
rendition of a stunningly beautiful blonde woman. "As usual, your 
drawings are excellent. You really should open a gallery. I wish I could 
do things like this."
Zachary chuckled. "You do well enough-I've seen your work."
"I can feel Pattern forces swirling through the appears she is 
still working with the forces involved. That would explain not being 
able to reach her."
"We could of course reach Brandi..."
Orbus held up his hands. "It's all right, cousin. To be honest with you, 
I'm beat. If it is all the same to you, perhaps it would be better if I 
met them tomorrow. I would be in much better shape then."
"As you wish. See you tomorrow, then." They parted, Orbus climbing 
stairs to the third floor.
There was the door. Orbus spoke three words, twisting his hand through 
the required gesture, collapsing the geometrical abstract space...and 
the ensorcelled key dropped into his hand out of thin air. Opening the 
door, which was not too far from the bannister which overlooked the 
library, Orbus closed the door behind him.
And sighed.
Of course he didn't cough; even though he had requested the room be left 
alone during his absence (almost three years now, Amber time) it had no 
dust; a spell linked to a trickle of power from shadow-tensions kept the 
invisible butler going for him. Snapping his fingers, candles lit around 
the room. Just as he had left it. 
Not that he had ever been here for a long time, either. The place, well, 
it just didn't have 'his' look...but it did have all the necessary 
anemities. Soon enough, clean, dressed, he looked presentable again. 
Opening his closet door, he pushed the few clothes to the side, reaching 
for the back...Pattern Sight before him, extending with magical feelers...
And stepped through into the small room. It had been very hard, folding 
space. Just understanding the magical and mathematical principles had 
been hard enough, but exercising his force of will to encompass the feat 
had been especially draining. Mother had said the practice would do him 
good, though, and as usual, she was right. Looking around at the 
assorted junk he had collected here through the years, he smiled. Well, 
at least everything was still here. Picking up the red-edged black cloak 
and his favorite ruby clasp, he exited the nether-room and finished 
dressing. Not too shabby, he decided, looking in the full length mirror. 
Black was a somber color, for clothing, but his white hair and red 
accounterments set it off well. Pleased, he turned back towards the bed 
to pick up his favorite blade.
Then he crouched, the Sign of the Pattern bright blue before him. He 
could see the small object roll out from underneath the edge of the bed 
where his foot had tapped it. There seemed to be no magical properties 
or residue from it whatsoever; looking around, he could see that the 
wards were still in place around the room where he had set them. It 
didn't make sense, how had someone gotten in? Even a key shouldn't have 
worked, only his magical one. Orbus reached forward and picked the 
object up. It was a dark metal ball, about 2 inches in diameter. Its 
polished surface gave away nothing; neither did the floor under the bed, 
which was now clear. What the hell was it? Orbus pocketed the thing for 
later study. Grabbing his favorite sword and sheath from its rack, he 
headed back downstairs.
As usual, the first floor managed to impress him greatly. It was huge, 
and meandering back to the kitchens was quite a trip. He had almost made 
it to the kitchen, where wonderful smells wafted out to greet him, when 
he was hailed from a smaller dining room. Orbus looked in, and 
immediately broke into a grin. 
"Uncle Benedict!"
The tall thin Royal who always reminded him of Ichabod Crane and 
harvest-time, stood and extended a hand, a slight smile at the corners 
of his mouth. "Hello, Orbus. I didn't know you were back."
"Yes, Uncle. I finished my residency." 
Benedict raised an eyebrow. "Already?  Three years for us... yes, I 
suppose it has. You look much different. Your hair..."
"Yes, uncle. It turned soon after I started. I kept telling people it 
was the formaldehyde." Orbus chuckled. "I understand you came back 
because of Dalt."
"Let's discuss it another time, Orbus."
"Yessir." Benedict had been suprisingly open with him during the time he 
had spent in Avalon, but he recognized that voice; it brooked no 
argument. "Well, I'll just sneak in and get a snack. I'm glad to see 
you, Uncle. It's been too long."
"Contact me before you go."
"Of course." That was Uncle Benedict. Not exactly a verbose man.
Not seeing anyone in the kitchens, Orbus grabbed bread, cheese, cold 
meats and ale from the stores. Wolfing them down wasn't exactly polite, 
but no one was around and he was hungry. Not meeting anyone there, Orbus 
eventually meandered to the library.
And there she was.
Mother had not changed a bit. Small, petite, her fiery red hair was in a 
different style, but other than that she was unchanged from the last 
time he saw her. She seemed engrossed in a large tome, but Orbus had no 
doubt that she was aware someone was coming long before he saw her. 
She looked up. Orbus had never seen that expression before; her eyes 
widened in shock, then a steely glance took over. Finally, she smiled 
and stood, approaching him with open arms. Her hug was brief but tight.
"Orbus! You'll have to stop suprising me with these visits. One of these 
days, you'll have to contact me *before* you come."
"Of course, Mother. It's just we haven't talked via Trump for a while, 
and I wanted to suprise you. Pleasantly."
"Of course you did, dear. What do you mean, pleasantly?"
"You didn't seem too pleased to see me."
"A mother is always pleased to see her son, dear." She walked back to 
the table and sat. "I see your hair has finally turned completely white. 
It's not unattractive, I'm sure all manner of girls flock around you."
"Perhaps." Was he actually blushing? How did she do that to him? Must be 
some different kind of magic, he thought. " I really resemble 
him so closely?"
"My father."
"Must you always bring that up? Yes, you resemble both of us."
"I'm just concerned. I didn't know you dislike my father so much."
"No, Orbus, it's not that. I...he was from Shadow, I felt very strongly 
for him, but we parted ways. That's all. He's gone now, so it solves 
nothing to dwell on the subject."
"Yes, Mother." Orbus looked at the thick tome Fiona was reading. "So, 
what have you been doing since I was away?"
"A lot of here and there, catching up on your final semester 
"Yes, I'm here to stay for a while."
"Wonderful!" Her smile seemed a little forced. "it will be nice having 
you around again."
"Hmm, yes." Orbus crossed over to the third floor bannister and looked 
up. "But for now, I'm beat. I guess I'd better turn in. You'll be here 
tomorrow, I trust?"
"Of course, dear. Sleep well." 
As always, a loving, emotional exchange. Orbus tried not to sigh as he 
prepared to levitate up to the bannister. Remembering the strange weight 
in his pocket, he pulled out the metal ball.
"By the way, do you know what this is?"
Fiona looked at it as if it was a poisonous snake. "Where did you get 
"I found it in my room when I returned. Why, what's wrong?" 
"Nothing...I thought it was something else. Never mind."
"What? Mother..."
"I said never mind." Her voice and eyes were steel. 
"If you know what it is, and it's dangerous, then why not tell me?"
"It's not dangerous. Just a metal ball, and I didn't leave it there. 
Perhaps one of the cleaning staff left it."
"Ah...of course. Well, see you in the morning."
"Goodnight, Orbus." She watched as he levitated up then crossed back to 
his room.
Now, *that* was an interesting puzzle. What had set her off so badly? 
Whatever it was, he thought as he undressed and got into bed, it at 
least had brought out some emotion-something sorely lacking in their 
exchanges over the years. That remained his thought as sleep claimed him.
He was awakened by the sounds of people walking down the hallway. 
Opening his eyes, he cursed; if his time sense was accurate at all, he 
had slept far too long. Rising and dressing quickly, he left his room to 
walk down the hall and look out the window. Sure enough, the sun 
indicated it was early afternoon. Orbus sighed. Must have been pretty 
tired, he thought. Well, his stomach was growling; perhaps Bloody Bob's 
was the answer again. He prepared himself for a long walk...
But then changed his mind. Why do that? Crossing to the stables, he 
saddled up and mounted a small lively horse the stablehand had named 
"Torch". Hopefully that meant it's fast, he thought. Cantering into 
town, he followed the long winding street to the water. It was not long 
before the road began to sharply dip and the denizens begin to look a 
bit rougher. Soon after that he could hear the cries of a boy running 
through the streets.
"Come hear the Lady Brandi sing!! The Bard of Amber performs at Bloody 
How fortunate, he thought. Moving at a fast trot, he maneuvered the 
horse to the building, where he tied it next to several others. Amazing 
how such a run-down place can serve such good food. Ah, well. Entering, 
he crossed to a tablefar from the open doorway and sat, motioning to the 
barkeep. Minutes later, food before him and a glass of Bayle's in his 
hand, he settled down to see what Brandi of Amber looked like...
nrpg: tag, y'all. I thought about doing the meeting the night before, 
but it would have been sort of forced. So, anyway, now you've got some 
well-dressed, white-haired stranger in the place :)