From: Allen Edward Veazey 
Subject: [AM] Just a suggestion...
When morning came, Orbus awakened to find the golden princess smiling 
into his eyes.
"You'll be leaving Amber again, won't you?" she asked tenderly. "To find 
the other side of your heritage."
His eyes opened wider.  She had succeeded in surprising him once again. 
He said nothing, merely waited.
"I know about the metal balls, Orbus.  One of the first things I did 
when I arrived in the True City was to read the chronicles of Prince 
Corwin and Prince Merlin.  It's not so long ago that I didn't begin to 
remember about Mandor."
"I'm not ready to talk about that, Laura," Orbus said seriously.
"And I won't press.  I mention it so that you will realize that you have 
someone here who knows and accepts."
He nodded, feeling pleasure at her words, but not ready to share.  She 
was, after all, still family.  He was still smarting from what he 
thought of as his mother's betrayal.
"Thank you, my dear, for that and for more.  Yes, I must leave again, 
but I will return as soon as I can.  You are surely a draw to the 
Castle. Still I have to leave for a while."
"But not just yet," she suggested, pressing closer to him.
"No," he whispered, "not quite -- just -- yet." His lips descended on 
hers, starting a lingering kiss that quickly turned passionate. His 
hands began to wander territory learned the night before, and it was 
almost with regret that he leaned back to break the kiss. As Laura 
archly lifted an eyebrow, he poured the last of the wine into the goblet.
"Not really." His hand cradled the goblet as he softly chanted several 
syllables. A short spell, not one that really needed memorized, but 
certainly effective. The glass cracked and frost appeared as the wine 
froze into a flat conical shape. He plucked the frozen ice out of the 
Laura pressed against him again as she felt the slight chill in the air 
from the spell. "I had thought you would teach me certain spells later, 
Orbus dear."
"I shall. That was not the purpose." Laura jumped as he lightly slid the 
wet ice along the back of her neck, then down between her shoulder blades.
"That's cold! Mmph..." His lips closed on Laura's again, then down her 
neck to the hollow of her throat. "An interesting dichotomy," he 
mumbled, feeling Laura respond to his kisses. "Heat and cold 
together...don't you think?" Looking into her eyes, he popped the ice 
into his mouth and continued his attentions.
"Fascinating," Laura replied, her stomach already jumping as he 
methodically moved over it. Her breathing hoarsened, became gasps as he 
moved to her hips, her thighs, filling her with pleasure...
It was with a much springier step that Orbus found himself wandering the 
halls of Castle Amber later that morning. He whistled a complex tune, 
something out of eighteenth century Earth, when he finally strode into 
the library. He was shocked to find a pair of eyes staring at him from 
over a large book. Shock turned into recognition as Random closed the 
tome with a sigh and placed it before him.
"My liege!" Orbus sketched an elaborate bow.
"Cut the crap, nephew." Random's voice had the precise degree of tired 
exasperation to make the statement humorous. Depite his carefully 
cultured act, Orbus knew the king had a deep commitment to Amber and was 
quite an effective ruler.
"It's good to see you again, Orbus. It's been too long."
"Only five years this time."
"Everything is relative...your mother has been here through most of that 
Orbus suppressed a wince. "Indeed. I suppose the subjective time seemed 
much longer to you, then." Random chuckled.
"I've been meaning to get a hold of you. You know how rumors fly through 
here, and I've gotten an earful from several sources. A lot of them 
lately have concerned you, and incidentally Fiona. Care to tell me 
what's going on since you came back?"
Orbus sank into a chair. "That's...a long story."
"I think it'll be worth it." Random drummed his fingers on the table. "I 
have plenty of time."
"Are you sure? It's not the best of subjects for me..."
"When it comes down to it, Orbus, I think it may have implications for 
our new-found enemies. That's one of the rumors, an ugly one. Now's your 
chance to clear the air."
Orbus frowned. "You suspect me?"
"Not really, think of it as tying up a loose end. I'm doing you a favor, 
something that most of your relatives won't do. Instead of just 
suspecting you and adding to the gossip, I'm confronting you directly 
and letting you tell me what's going on. Then I can decide if it has any 
bearing at all."
"All right...I found my father."
"The mysterioius man from shadow?"
"More than that, it's like this..." and Orbus told the story from his 
return to just before his trip to Tir-na Nog'th. 
"Amazing," Random said after he had finished. "So, tell me more about 
"I can't. I know she's my sister, that's it. She wants me dead, and she 
doesn't have a hell of a good reason, in my opinion."
"What are you planning to do now?"
"Laura told me she had read a reference to Mandor in Merlin's 
chronicles. I haven't read them. I figured it was time to start."
"And then?"
"I'm going to find him again. It's time we had a talk...alone this time, 
without the shapeshifting games and without interference."
"Do you think this Jacinth may have orchestrated or been involved in the 
attack on the unicorn?"
"I certainly don't know. Why would she? Her grievance appears to be with 
me, not Amber."
"Still, you're one of the magical experts around here. Your magic comes 
from the Pattern. Where does her spell casting come from?"
"You mean her power source? I believe she is an initiate of the Logrus."
"...And it was a chaos-mark on the arrow that struck the unicorn, 
remember that."
"There are a lot of people in Chaos, I believe."
"What, are you defending her?"
"Not hardly. I just don't understand her motivation, and until I do I 
can't say whether she could be responsible. She seemed to be fanatic 
"I don't like it, Orbus, not one bit. It sounds like you're walking into 
trouble. I don't have to tell you that with recent events, things have 
deteriorated a bit between here and the Courts. Your running off there 
isn't going to help things at all."
"He's my father, and I'm a big boy. Are you saying I can't go?"
"No, I'm suggesting that you don't. What's your problem?"
"Let's just say Mother and I haven't been getting along lately, and it 
seems to me that she might have a hand in this conversation."
"If you knew Fiona and I well enough, you wouldn't say that. We don't 
get along well, either." 
"I'm going. He's my father, I've got to talk to him. I've got to know 
what's going on." Orbus crossed over to the appropriate shelves, started 
looking. "This is a good place to start."
"And I was there. I'll be available. If you have any questions, I'll 
make time to answer them. I think you're getting in over your head, 
Orbus. You ought to lay low for a while."
"I'll keep that in mind," Orbus replied stiffly. He heard the footsteps 
as the king turned and left.
Great, now you just acted snotty to the king, he thought. What a way to 
ruin a day. He found the books he wanted, started skimming, then began 
to follow up in earnest. He was fascinated by what he read; it appeared 
that Merlin had run into similar circumstances. Orbus sighed, closed the 
book, and fished out his Trumps. Not that one, not that one...there it 
was. He concentrated, stepped forward...
...and turned the knob. Everything was just as he had left it. He 
entered the cottage in which he used to study for finals, closed the 
door behind him. The best thing about the place, he mused, was that the 
time stream ran about 8 times as fast as Amber. Perfect. He crossed to 
the table and his favorite chair, sat, and began to read...
By the evening of the second day, he was finished. Much more concerned 
than before, he put the book down and mused.
It was almost certain that the Zachary he saw on the Chaos side of the 
universe was a Pattern-ghost. Why had it appeared? Why did it warn him? 
Was the Pattern so afraid of him switching sides?
And Jacinth. There was someone to watch for, if he didn't know that 
already. A daughter of Mandor and Jasra would be formidable indeed. He 
had a new respect for his sister and enemy. It did explain some things 
though...position in the family was critically important in Chaos, 
especially among the royal families.
Ghost...a construct. A machine. Incredible. He should have gone with 
Ghost when he had the chance. Then again, he would have missed an 
incredible night with Laura...ah, well. There were trade-offs for 
everything, and Orbus believed he got the better of the deal. He would 
see Ghost...and Merlin. He had to. minute the consummate, charming Lord, the next a scheming, 
controlling power behind the throne. Which was he really? Both? Was 
Merlin's perspective skewed because of the circumstances? Only time 
would tell.
And Mother...she fell over backwards trying to give the impression that 
she was helping both him and Amber, didn't she? Hard to remember that 
once she was part of a trio bent on seizing the throne of Amber. Whom 
did he believe?
He saw it, now...his was a dual heritage, one of...what did Frakir call 
it in the Undershadow? One of great power? Well, there was
 no denying that. He stood at a crossroads, a nexus of choices before 
him. Finding his father was tantamout to exploring his Chaosian 
heritage. A choice that the Pattern didn't even want him to have. Going 
back, however, was to return to people who wanted to deny him his dual 
heritage...people who had lied and deceived him all his life. There was 
no one to help him decide, either, no one to give him advice.
Well, there was one person. One who despite his position had exactly the 
same outlook. He could help.
"Ghost? Ghost?!?"
The spinning incandescent hoop appeared immediately. "I've been waiting 
for you to call."
"Have you been watching me all this time?"
"Not really, just monitoring you from a distance, you could say. Merely 
waiting for you to call me."
"Right. And that monitoring included last night and this morning?"
"Somewhat. I am not a voyeur, if that's your point."
"Uh huh. Well, I'm ready to see Merlin now. Can you get me there?"
""Just hold your breath and count to 1..." The hoop settled over him, 
and they both disappeared...
More to come! :)
Allen Veazey
        "I'm not really bad, I'm just drawn that way."
                        --Jessica Rabbit