From: Allen Edward Veazey 
Subject: [AM] Destiny
NRPG: Orbus asked if he could tell this one. Who am I to argue? :)
No sooner had Ghostwheel's hoop settled around me than I found myself 
standing in an elaborate dining room, a table set with china and silver 
before me. Across the table, a man I could have sworn was Uncle Corwin 
extended his hand. Well, almost sworn; this man had a beard and from the 
wrinkles and eyes I would have guessed an older Corwin.
"Orbus! Have a seat. I've been waiting for you. When Ghost told me you 
were coming I had something prepared."
"A sandwich and a cold beer would have been fine. Excuse me, but 
I gave a small start. "Sorry, I didn't think. With all due respect of 
course, you look even older than Uncle Corwin."
"Time differential, of course. Time passes very quickly, at this end of 
things. I've been waiting a very long time to meet you."
"After some thought, it occurred to me that I needed to talk to you, 
too, ah, your Highness." I tried to remember the correct bow for royalty.
"Just sit, please. I appreciate the effort, but the last thing I'm in 
the mood for is a lot of pomp and crap." He waved me to the seat in 
front of me, then spent a minute peering at me as I sat. Uncomfortable, 
that. I fought the urge to fidget.
Finally he asked, "So, what do you know about me?"
"I just finished reading your chronicles. They knocked me for a loop."
"How so?"
"Mother never took the time to explain to me who my father was."
That made *him* fidget. "Aha. Well, I can't say I'm too suprised, Fiona 
has always kept to herself. Not to tell you, though...I never knew she 
and Mandor had gotten so, ah, close, either."
"You knew who my father was?"
"No, but there's no need to guess. You look almost exactly like him."
A small dish of sorbet was placed in front of me as my wine glass was 
filled. I bypassed it and drank from the water. Merlin smiled, had his 
glass filled, and tasted it in front of me. He tipped the glass before 
setting it down. "There has to be trust at some point. Even if I *am* 
your cousin. You have my word it's safe."
I couldn't do much better than that. I started on the sorbet, found it 
excellent. The wine, too. I was starting to look forward to the meal. 
"No better guarantee," I said with as much grace as I could muster. 
"I've been wanting to meet you, especially after reading your story."
"I've wanted to meet you as well, Orbus," he replied. "It's strange, 
realizing that you're Mandor's son. I had a lot of things I wanted to 
ask you."
"Funny, I have a lot of thing I wanted to ask you, as well."
He cocked an eyebrow. "You want to trade?" I nodded. "You have something 
to trade with?"
"I just came from Amber...I daresay that I've got a few things that I 
could pass on. As long as they wouldn't compromise Uncle Random, of 
course," I added hastily.
Merlin smiled. "Don't teach grandma how to suck eggs."
"Beg pardon?"
"Meaning I know all that. So tell me, where is Mandor? I haven't seen 
him in a long, long time."
"The last I saw of him, he was in a shadow where magic was almost 
rampant. Everybody used it. It was also the first I saw of him. Almost. 
It was only a couple of days ago, Amber time."
"Your turn. Mind telling me where the Logrus is? I'd like to see it."
"That can be arranged, of course...and you'll want to see Suhuy, too. 
He's not quite passed on yet. Of course, you're not nearly ready to 
traverse it, you have to prepare. Train, almost; it's no fun. Tell me, 
have you noticed any signs of Chaosian heritage? I mean, can you-"
"I can change shape," I interjected. A salad was passed before me, the 
dressing white against orange and purple leaves. It too was excellent. 
"Ah...I had to ask, you understand. It wouldn't do to have you fried the 
second you started. How did Fiona handle that?"
"She didn't. She hid it with a spell. I only discovered it when my 
father showed me it could be done. I knew I would be able to, though."
"So, is it easy to keep the peace with Amber on this side of things?"
He chuckled. "I suppose so. I keep in touch. Things have broken down a 
bit, though, since several of the Rim lords are becoming unhappy with 
other families and I've spent a lot of time here putting out fires. I 
try to keep my hand in things, though."
"Funny you should mention that, it leads to a follow-up question."
"How about that. So, how did you know you could traverse the Logrus?"
"My sister did, at least I believe she did."
"Sister? Mandor and Fiona had another child?"
"Mandor and Jasra."
I waited for him to drop his fork as he sat with mouth agape. it was a 
near thing. As if on signal, the salad was whisked away and replaced by 
the entree', a beef-like dish. I didn't recognize the source. Finally, 
the shook his head, mumbled, "Magic," and continued.
"So what's her name?"
"That's a freebie. Jacinth. She and I don't get along very well." I 
filled him in, figuring that it only helped in my self-preservation if I 
got the king of Chaos on my side.
"Amazing," he said when I finished. The meat had given way to a thin, 
salty soup. I broke open a roll and buttered it. "Now, about keeping the 
"Did you know about the unicorn and the missing shadow?"
"I knew about the shadow that has disappeared, what about the unicorn?"
"She was attacked in that shadow. There's evidence that someone from 
Chaos had his hand in it. Now she's missing."
"What?! Ghost, where is the unicorn?"
"Hiding," a tiny hoop replied from the table, almost looking like a 
stray bit of reflected light from a glass. "Even I can't locate her when 
she doesn't want to be found."
"There's that omnipotence again. Can you try to find her?"
"I'll look, Dad, but I can't guarantee. Nice to meet you, Orbus." The 
tiny ring disappeared.
"To answer your question, no, I didn't know. I'll find out."
"Now, what did you mean by 'almost' the first time you saw Mandor?"
"He had been hiding, disguising himself. He kept a fairly close watch on 
me until recently." Dessert had arrived, and the wine had changed, 
sweetened considerably. An excellent meal; I felt stuffed. 
"I take it you didn't approve of Fiona hiding your abilities?"
"Not at all." 
"Let's take a walk and you can fill me in on life in Amber," he suggested.
"How about a walk to the Logrus?"
"Okay, although I don't enjoy jumping into a broom closet after dinner."
"I read that before. It's true?"
"Of course. You can even help sweep."
"No thanks."
We had reached the seventh turning before he stopped. "I have to go, I'm 
needed," he said. 
"Where do I go from here?"
"Follow that path until you feel the Way tug at you. On the eighth 
turning, ignore the flames- they can't reach you- and sit on the stone 
chair. The last is the chamber of the Logrus. I'll tell Suhuy that 
you're going, he'll meet you there. Remember, don't walk it!"
"All right. And...thanks."
"No problem. I'll see you later." He clasped my hand, then disappeared.
So that was the King of Chaos? Not at all what I expected, even after 
reading his chronicles. I walked, felt the Way pulling at me, fell 
-and regained my balance, squinting. The world was fire; the air was 
filled with flame that didn't burn, and there was no way to tell that I 
was standing on solid ground, other than I could feel something holding 
me up. Covering my eyes with my forearm against the glare, I headed 
Nothing. Even though I didn't feel the heat, the light produced by the 
world of flame was blinding. Even though my eyes were half-covered, I 
couldn't see a thing. I cursed my lack of sight; there was little I 
could do to escape if I got into trouble, as the flames would prevent a 
shadow- walk as effectively as total darkness. Inching forward, I was 
finally stopped by something pushing against my chest.
I could barely make out the form, but it was there in front of me, man 
sized and with the butt of a staff pressing against my chest.  "I warned 
you," he said.
"Zachary? No, I know you now. 'I am and I'm not' you said. The Pattern 
is really going out of its way, trying to keep me from seeing its 
opposite number. Am I really worth sending a Pattern-ghost all the way 
to the other end of the universe?"
"Of course you are! Son of Fiona, you have really disappointed us. Do 
you care so little for your family-and the Pattern- that you would 
directly disobey their wishes?"
"What are you so afraid of? Merlin was able to hold both images within 
him. He didn't turn against the Pattern."
"He did! He actively opposed it, at the end. The Pattern fears that you 
will, too."
"For one thing, keeping the truth from me is hardly the method for 
obtaining my cooperation. For another, are you sure that you know what 
the Pattern's motives are? For all I know, you've been instructed to do 
anything to keep me from the Logrus, and talking is the easy way out. 
I'm sorry to say that a Pattern-ghost isn't going to do the trick, 
"Say what you will, Orbus, but my job is clear. The Pattern is afraid of 
losing you, and you have to be made to see reason."
"So I was right. You have to keep me away at all costs."
"I...have to, yes. It's very important, Orbus, you have to understand."
I faded back a bit, to give myself a little breathing room and to try 
and remember everything Uncle Benedict had said about fighting someone 
with a staff. I needn't have bothered; there was a whistling sound, a 
gasp from the ghost-Zachary, and he fell to one knee. Again, there was a 
whistling crack, and he grabbed at his throat. Moving forward, I could 
see a strange whip with metal links had lodged around his neck; I looked 
up as a figure emerged from the flames holding the other end...
No. Not here. Jacinth smiled at me before yanking hard on the whip. All 
around, figures started to walk in from the flame, their shapes 
"More than the Pattern stands between you and your goal, brother," she 
said. I shook my head, uttered the guide words for the Astral Tornado, 
and watched as flames and shape-changers were blown backwards. I had 
another bonus, too; as the flames parted, I could see an enormous basalt 
chair about a hundred feet ahead. 
Jacinth had warded the spell, which took all of her attention for a 
moment. I guess the last thing she expected was for Zachary to grab the 
whip and pull. She went hurtling over his head and crashed to the 
ground, even as I rushed forward and pounded Zachary as hard as I could. 
My hand hurt and I felt a little guilty, but hey, he wasn't the real 
Zachary and you have to take your openings where you can get them. I 
grabbed the whip and sprinted for the chair, expecting at any second to 
catch a death-bolt in my back, but all I heard was Jacinth screaming, 
"After him!" I leapt onto the chair, fell into the Way, and stopped short.
Oh, there was the chamber, all right. There was the Logrus.
It pulsed.
Just like my dream, and you can bet that it's hard to describe. What can 
one say, other than a three-dimensional maze? One that changed width, 
breadth, and height with every passing second? One that writhed, 
changing colors along its length? Or perhaps mentioning that a pastiche 
of sounds pealed forth from it like an orchestra on acid?
I moved to the side, expecting at any moment to be joined by company. I 
wasn't disappointed. I cold-cocked one chape-changer as he emerged from 
the Way, but suddenly there were ten more, I backed away, slinging the 
whip around as fast as I could. A whip is a terrible weapon to have 
against more than one person; I cursed my lack of foresight in leaving 
my blade back at Amber. I snapped off another Electric Net, but it 
failed before reaching them; Jacinth had stepped through and was 
gathering energies. I dodged an Arrow of Force, loosed a 
mini-earthquake, warded a Wall of Flame, then magnified the spectrum of 
light and sound the Logrus was generating and threw it at them; the 
distraction bought me a few seconds. I backed up, nearing the image of 
chaos, and saw a glowing tendril of itself sticking out towards me, 
almost like an end of yarn that had escaped an impossible knot. It 
pulled toward me, beckoned...
Somehow I knew I couldn't be touched while within it. Here it was, the 
thing I had so recently found was a part of me, a thing that I had been 
taught to fear, the thing I had been dreaming of...and I hesitated. Why? 
Who knows? Maybe the warnings were finally having an effect. Maybe I got 
bad vibes from the thing. It was certianly noisy enough. I knew the 
instant that Jacinth fought her way free of my distracting spell, her 
scream of rage forming...
I took the step. The tendril embraced me almost as it swelled (or did I 
shrink?) into a path. I climbed, turned, slid...the chaos of sounds 
outside did no credit to the amplified noise that assaulted me within 
the maze. A cacophany of random, piercing whistles and bells, swelling 
to loudness, then failing...I turned, turned again, the path almost 
leading me on until I came to a nexus of crossed glowing paths. The 
Logrus twisted, writhed around me; the sound increased to another 
octave, and I covered my ears against the pain...I pushed against the 
knot, continuing on my chosen path, and the effort increased. I inched 
along, reminded of the First Veil of the Pattern, and I began to despair 
just as I broke through. 
Memories assaulted me as I continued, happier times blending with grief 
and pain and snatches of childhood nightmares until I thought I would go 
mad...and there was the noise, always the noise, pounding at me until I 
felt the trickle of blood from my ear down the side of my neck... I  
knew as the discordant music became painful that this was the way; 
taking the lesser turnings where the music faded would be just as much 
suicide as leaving the path...I turned again and again, negotiating 
switchbacks, sliding, then climbing, shocked at one point to find that I 
had unconsciously switched to a half-feline form to claw my way up an 
incline...the Logrus writhed again, it's color changing, red against a 
white background, blocking my view of the outside world. I screamed and 
clawed at the offending strands, stopping only when I realized that I 
was somehow clawing at my face instead, gibbering...
I felt the weakness, just as strong as I felt when walking the Pattern. 
I felt the final hurdle, too, coming before me. I could sense, somehow, 
even through the chaos, that there was noise, confusion, fighting 
outside the maze. I could spare no time for it, though; I pressed 
forward, struggling against a hill, climbing, not wanting to think. 
Thinking was too painful, and I didn't want to dwell on the bizarre 
suggestions that invaded my mind from without. I dared not consider the 
possibility that they had come from within...
I pushed, struggled. My steps were leaden as I fought to overcome more 
than mere gravity. I cried, screamed in frustration as the path seemed 
to move higher at every step. The sounds deafened me at this point, and 
all I could do was to accept the secret message they told to me: there 
was just me, and the Serpent, and no one else. All that mattered was the 
Logrus, everything and everyone else a distraction.
Then I was through.
I crawled out to silence, something as deafening as the noises within. I 
looked around, but there was no Jacinth, no shape-changers, only Mandor 
standing before me in Ix-form and an old, tottering demonformed creature 
whom I didn't recognize. 
It was funny. I giggled in the silence, a mad tittering that faded away 
to a choked half-sob. My eyes darted around the chamber, as if proving 
to myself at every instant that I was really on solid ground.
But of course, I knew that was wrong. There was only the Logrus. The 
Serpent was All.
"Orbus?" my father asked. "Are you all right?"
"Of course he's not!" The demonformed creature grated. I guessed him as 
Suhuy, then marvelled that he still lived. "He was not prepared. What 
has he done?"
"I walked the Logrus," I said. How stupid was this man? Then my fogged 
brain recognized he was asking a rhetorical question, and I giggled 
again. Everything was so damned *funny*.
"It could have been worse," Mandor continued. "Jacinth could have been 
waiting here for him. He was lucky we showed up."
"Lucky but stupid. He wasn't prepared! He could easily have been killed! 
Of all the stupid things to do...and of all the things he could have 
taken with him, he took a damned whip? What the hell kind of artifact is 
The whip? I had forgotten...and I was as shocked as the other two when 
it curled around my forearm, a fine metal chain of woven links. One end 
danced, snakelike, regarding the two who stood before me. 
"It was much like the Pattern," I said. "I was prepared enough."
Suhuy sagged, defeated. "Perhaps you have. It's over now, and you've 
survived. Now put your fangs away and I'll teach you just what you've 
gained from this."
I  looked again. Sure enough, I had reverted to cat-form as I faced him. 
I hadn't even thought about it. It scared me, Suhuy scared me, and I 
sure as hell didn't like to be scared. After all, it was just me and the 
Logrus now, everyone else was against me. I shook my head, ready to 
fight, hoping that I could command the Logrus to send me somewhere, when 
a large metal ball filled my vision and whacked me on the forehead.
I faded to black.
More to come! *eg*
Allen Veazey
        "I'm not really bad, I'm just drawn that way."
                        --Jessica Rabbit