From: Allen Edward Veazey 
Subject: [AM] Confrontation
Orbus walked past a green leafy copse of trees, pausing only to sniff at 
the scent of honeysuckle. Nearby, bees busily worked at gathering 
nectar. All so normal.
Or was it?
The air was...fresher, somehow. The grass was greener, the sun was just 
a shade brighter, and there was definitely a sense of well-being. All 
enough to set Orbus on edge; it was too good. Only once before had he 
been here, and he had been too busy listening to his mother to pay much 
attention to the wonders around him.
The real Amber. The seat of power for the Pattern. And, for the moment, 
his mother's hiding place. There was a rictus grin on his face, now, the 
stress of the impending meeting showing itself in a clenched jaw and 
too-bright eyes. Turning again at a familiar rock formation, he turned 
again to see what normally would be covered by miles of rock. The 
Pattern gleamed in front of him, pink swirls set in marble-like stone, 
so different than under the castle but then again so much the same, and 
on the other side...
Fiona looked up at him, suprised. "Orbus! I did not expect to see you 
"Yes, there have been many suprises the last few days." Fiona looked at 
him strangely, then continued.
"This place is a wonderful respite from Castle Amber and some of 
the...your uncles." Fiona sighed. "Maybe I should take a longer 
vacation, at least after we find out what the threat is against the 
"You know about that?"
"Of course I do. I keep informed."
"Yes, you know a lot that you haven't been telling."
"Really, Orbus, this is the second inference you've tried to make. All 
of us have our secrets. If you want me to understand what you're saying, 
you're just going to have to come out with it."
"All right, I can do that, although you haven't. I found the meaning 
behind that little metal ball."
"Did you? That's nice, dear."
"Yes, it is. I went places that you likely searched when you left. Right 
after I showed it to you. You knew what I had."
"The ball again. That little ball was a child's toy, it could have come 
from anybody."
"Hah! How can you stand there and continue to lie to me? It's not a 
child's toy. Not in Mandor's hands, anyway."
Fiona had no reaction, which of course meant that her inner reaction was 
great, indeed. "So, someone told you about Mandor."
"Mandor told me about Mandor. I've met my father. And what's more, I 
know my heritage. Everything."
"So, you would believe the word of a creature of Chaos you met over 
mine? I thought I raised you-"
"How dare you stand there and lie to me!!" Orbus thundered. "I know more 
than you let on, I know it all! How can you mistrust me so deeply?!?" 
Orbus advanced on Fiona, stopping only when he saw her raise her hands 
in one of the Pattern twistings. She was ready to manipulate magic 
against him. Somehow, that made him even more mad."
"You will *not* take that tone with me, Orbus. I will not tolerate your 
Orbus reddened, breathing hard, his fury barely contained. Almost 
without thought, his awareness moved to certain points on his 
body...lengthening, growing, fangs lenthening...
He howled, even as his mother lowered her hands.
"*You* don't understand. I know. Everything. I walked the Pattern to 
track down the owner of this ball. Your little pet spells, your little 
LIES, they were gone when I met my father. I know my other destiny, now. 
I am a child of Chaos as much as a child of Amber. And you, you tried to 
hide it from me. Did you think I would never find out?"
Fiona sagged a little. "It is not your destiny, son. It is merely a 
path. One that you don't have to follow. A dark, treacherous path, one 
that the enemies of Amber walk. I tried to protect you from it." She 
squared her shoulders. "I have no apologies."
"You must really hate my father, to do this. You must fear him, to lie 
to me about him all these years. Why? What do you fear?"
"He is treacherous, your father. Dangerous. A Chaosite. They are not to 
be trusted."
"I'll tell you one thing," Orbus lisped, shoving his half-feline face 
close to hers. "This treacherous man, he had the balls to tell me the 
truth, while you had me living a lie. He let me choose my own destiny 
instead of holding me to his version of the truth. He gave me a choice! 
You gave me nothing."
"I did it for you, for your protection. You are not ready to handle this 
yet, Orbus. And Amber is threatened, probably from the Courts. Would you 
be one to join them against your own family, your own past? Your own 
Orbus looked at Fiona a long moment, one that stretched... "I have no 
mother." He turned and walked away.
The wind was picking up as he trudged his way up to the peak. The sky 
was moonlit, and he could already see a few stars coming out. The wind 
whistled and howled, an eerie noise that gave a voice to the dark 
roiling thoughts in his head. Orbus paused, looking up, seeing the 
wind-whipped figure above him. 
"A strange place to be, Laura." She jumped.
"Orbus? Is that you? What are you doing here?"
"I came to visit the City of Dreams...I thought that was why you were 
here. Actually, I was to meet Benedict, but he obviously is late."
"The City of Dreams? What's that? I just felt drawn up here, I had a 
"Ah, I'm sorry. Tir-na Nog'th is the City of Dreams. It will appear 
here, soon."
"Oh! I've heard the name. I didn't know that it was here. Do you use it 
much?" she asked, looking at him from under long lashes.
"Not very much, although it has it's place. It looks like Benedict won't 
be showing," Orbus said, frowning. "Maybe if I Trumped him..." He 
reached into his pocket, fished out his Trumps, found Benedict's and 
started concentrating...
And the barest flicker of contact. Orbus could tell through the card 
that Benedict was somewhere in a strange time-stream. Suddenly, Benedict 
seemed to be aware of the contact and looked at him. 
"Benedict? Uncle Benedict?"
"Not now," the taller man stated simply. "I will return soon. I will 
have to walk Tir-na Nog'th later. I will see you." Then, the contact was 
broken. Orbus sighed.
"Bad news?" Laura asked.
"No, just unexpected. Benedict won't be coming, and Tir-na Nog'th will 
appear soon..." He looked into the sky where soon the misty outlines of 
the ghost city would appear. "Have you ever been in the City of Dreams?"
"No, but I've heard of it, of course."
"We always go in pairs if it can be helped. The ghost stair will form, 
right over there-see those three steps? One ascends into the city, the 
other spots for them in case moonlight is interrupted or if the traveler 
tarries until morning."
Laura peeked over the precepice, looking down at the sea. "It does 
appear to be a long way down."
"And a very cold swim." Orbus smiled. "I hate to waste a trip up here. 
Would you be willing to hold my Trump and watch out for me as I walk? I 
can think of none better to entrust with this."
Laura raised a perfect eyebrow. "Is that because I haven't been here 
very long?" Orbus left that unanswered."Of course I will. Just pull you 
out if there's trouble, right?"
"Please. And...thank you." He bowed, then fished out his Trump for 
Laura's use. Crossing over to the brink, he waited...
And was not disappointed. Soon enough the ghostly stair appeared, gained 
a measure of solidity. Withing minutes, he tested his weight on the 
first glowing step, grunted in satisfaction. "I'm off. I shan't be long."
"I'll be waiting."
It was a long climb, but in the circumstances time took on a whole 
different meaning...the ethereal stair sagging ever so slightly under 
his weight, the breaks through the scant clouds to see the ocean far 
below...and the brightness of the main gate before him.
He entered, his breath taken away as he glimpsed the silent wonder of 
the ghost Amber...walking through the streets, seeing the actions of 
everyday life as if through a silent movie...the castle looming before 
A touch at the back of his mind. Laura, checking up on him. well, he was 
all right for now. He continued, into the castle, brought up short by 
the scene in the kitchens...his feline self, the one he had just taken 
that afternoon, slaughtered and served for the amusement of his 
family...he ran away from the scene, ending in the back part of the 
great hall, seeing Fiona embracing an older, greyer (if possible) form 
of himself...his father...her hand snaking up, a bared dagger clasped in 
her grip...he shouted a warning, but it, like the whole world was 
silent, impotent..a glimpse of something, shifting, pleiomorphic, moving 
behind his father, controlling him...
**Orbus, are you all right? I felt a disturbance through the card.**
<> He advanced, looking into the 
chaotic shifting...seeing a smaller image within, himself this time, 
negotiatiating the mass of strands even as some nameless thing stalked 
him from outside...he knew, somehow, that his dream-self was searching, 
finding a prize that would stop the intruder, whoever it was...he 
concentrated on the intruder, seeing a mish-mash of images... Dalt, 
Fiona, Mandor, Random...he moaned with indecision and confusion.
**Orbus? Orbus! You have to leave! The city is fading...oh, why won't 
you move? Give me your hand...** Dreamily, he stretched his hand to the 
Logrus shape boiling in front of him, and fell....
...into a tangle of arms and legs. Carefully, he extracted himself from 
Laura, trying to to enjoy the experience too much.
"Sorry about that. I was caught up in the vision."
"What was it? What did you see?"
"My destiny." He reached up, brushed aside a strand of hair. Somehow, 
Laura's face had moved to within scant inches of his own. Lips parted, 
breathing quickened...Orbus found it impopssible to tear his gaze away.
"I, ah, thank you for the quick rescue. I might have waited too long and 
been in real trouble. Walking the City of Dreams is perilous."
"Yes, perilous." She was still close to him, and it had been so very 
long...yes, her beauty was another kind of peril, wasn't it? Oh so 
dangerous...Orbus dared the jump, scant inches seeming like a yawning 
gulf...he closed his eyes and leaned forward, pressing his lips against 
I believe the expression is tag :)
Allen Veazey
        "I'm not really bad, I'm just drawn that way."
                        --Jessica Rabbit