From: Linden Tree 
Subject: [AM] Journey's End


"I do not know what I willed or how I reached with it, exactly, but that I
wanted passage through this place of bright nothingness, to find my way once
more and move on to the journey's end."--Lord Corwin of Amber, The Courts of

The night was black and wet and cold. There was a uniform obscurity about
it; even the sharpest-eyed could distinguish nothing from it. Nothing
stirred but the storm winds. Suddenly, there was a flash of light, a shimmer
in the air. For a mere moment, a horse and rider were visible, racing at an
unsurpassed speed. For a mere moment, they existed in that Shadow. And then
they were gone.

Jono bent lower over the stallion's neck, urging him to an even faster pace.
She was shifting through dozens of Shadows per minute, but the blasted storm
still followed her. Obviously, it was one of the enemy's attempts to halt
her hellride. Fierce rain stung her skin and soaked her clothes. Gusts of
wind blew cold, seeking to rip her from her horse's back. 'Like hell,' Jono
thought viciously. She'd stop and fight the buggers before she'd fall off
her horse. She dug her knees into the horse's sides, wound the reins more
tightly around her right hand, and tried to ignore the cold. On they went,
black horse and black-shrouded rider, hellriding through innumberable

Jono was most troubled by the blackness. It wrapped around her, suffocated
her. But she could fight back. In her left hand was a light, stolen from a
Shadow magician. Once lit, it turned the carrier into a beacon, and its
flame could not be snuffed out. This was fortunate, Jono realized. The wind
grew stronger, and Jono felt smugly secure in the lamp's glow. It lit up her
path as she plunged on. Her satisfaction was wiped away by a backwards
glance. Just out of the corner of her eye, she saw her pursuers: black
shadows, formless and detectable only by their movement. She could somehow
sense their hatred and determination. But if they thought that they could
take her, they were sadly mistaken. In any case, they were bloody
persistant. Trailing her, they crossed Shadow upon Shadow without pause.
What kind of creatures were these, she wondered, that could Shadow-shift as
well as the Amberites?

The creatures filled her with fear, and she knew only one place to which she
might flee.

Merlin's stories were fresh in her mind. Jono sought within herself every
memory, every detail of that magical destination. Worry filled her. So many
times she had tried and failed to reach the city. She contemplated what
would happen if she failed now, and the thought made her shudder. Shift by
shift, she drew nearer. The resistance grew sharper, the transitions harder,
and Jono knew what that meant: she drew near to the True City.

Peering through the light, she saw green. Trees. She concentrated, held the
green, and another shift wrenched her gut. She felt about to explode, but
exhileration filled her; she had done it! Confidence, joy, and energy rose
up in a mighty shout. She galloped down a wide path under the huge green
trees. The Forest Arden. The path curved around Mount Kolvir. Her pursuers
howled in rage. They were falling back, she realized. With exhileration,
Jono echoed the words of another hounded traveller: "Get thee behind me,
Satan!" The air rang with her peals of delighted laughter, but she did not
stop her gasping mount until she stood before the gates of Castle Amber.

Jono reined in the animal and strode forward. With a massive strength, she
pounded the gate until it rattled in its mountings. She raised her voice
above the storm. "Hallo the Castle!"

Moments later, a guard peered down at her from atop the wall. Seeing only a
lone rider, he went down to the gate and opened the entry a crack. "Who
calls?" he demanded.

"I must see the Lord of the Castle," Jono said. "It is urgent."

The guard frowned. "Sir-"


"Lady, it is late. I do not know if his Majesty yet stirs."

"I must speak with him, "Jono insisted. "I am pursued."

The guard was uneasy. He held a whispered conference with another guard, who
ran off to locate the king. It was some time before the guard finally opened
the gate to her. "Come, Lady. His Majesty the Kind will see you."

Jono felt relieved when she finally stepped into the great Castle Amber. It
was even more elegant than she had been told, bright and beautiful. Her
magic light died as she stepped into the light. A servant met her at the
door, a young man all in brown who led her up an enormous staircase and into
a beautiful old library. King Random sat before a set of drums, not playing,
simply staring into the distance. Jono tried to find in him the man that had
been described to her. He looked competent, intelligent, perhaps even wise.
He seemed unperturbed by Jono's rather sudden appearance. The servant
departed, leaving her alone with him. The part of Jono's brain devoted to
combat thought how stupid they were. No bodyguards. What if she were an
assassin? 'But,' she thought, considering family history, 'Random can
undoubtedly handle it himself.'

Now, before this man for the first time, Jono felt shy. She shuffled her
feet as Random studied her. "M'lord," she began softly in her rich tenor
voice. "I have come to beg sanctuary." Random's face betrayed his shock.

"From what?" he asked. His surprise, wariness, and worry were so apparent on
his face that she wondered at his alarm. Why was he being so...wary? Jono
reminded herself that she knew nothing of Amber's current affairs. But what
could be going on to make him so darned suspicious? She lowered her hood
that he might study her thin face, her long braid of indigo hair, her indigo
eyes and tanned skin.

She answered slowly, not eager to reveal anything she didn't have to. If
something was going on, it was not wise to lay herself bare before potential
enemies. "I-am not quite sure, sir. Some strange creatures of Shadow, I
believe, though I saw them only as fleeting shadows, but I felt their hate
and rage, and heard their laughter. I do not know why they chased me. Nor
how, either, for I traversed many a Shadow ere I came to Amber."

Random was obviously distressed by this, though he tried to hide it. His
initial shock had let his guard slip, and his emotions shine through. But
now he was getting control again, becoming faceless so that a stranger could
not gauge his thoughts. "Why do you ask sanctuary here? Are you of Amber or

"A feeling I had," she said, avoiding his second question. There was no way
to prevent him from knowing she was of one of the powers, that she had
either Logrus or Pattern. But which should she tell him? Would a Logrus
initiate be welcome here? "I somehow felt that the creatures would not
follow me into Amber. And they did not, but turned back at the sight of the
Castle." She hoped fervently that Random would not notice her failure to
answer his second question.

"Who are you?" He had noticed, and it obviously upset him.

"I-would rather not say, sir." She knew her unease must be painfully
apparent. Random rose, walked to a window, and turned halfway towards it to
look out. Jono realized that he still had one eye on her. She had always
prided herself on being worthy of people's trust, and it hurt that he would
not turn his back on her. 'Although,' she thought. 'Neither would I, were I
him.' He suddenly turned to face her.

"Very well," he said. Jono jumped at the sudden breach of silence. "I'll
have someone show you to a room. We will speak again." Random went to the
door to call in someone named Maggie. The audience was apparantly over, as
suddenly as it had begun. But Random turned towards her again, simply
looking this time, gazing into her face. Jono stood there in her dripping
cloak, tunic, and trousers, arrayed in black and blue. As Random stared
hard, she frantically wondered why he looked at her for so long. Did he see
anything familiar in her features? He frowned as though he did, but smiled
again as Maggie appeared.

"You called, M'lord?" the young woman asked.

"Please show this lady to a room where she can spend the night." Random
nodded to Jono. "Good evening."

Jono sighed with relief. "My thanks, sir."

"Please follow me," Maggie said, and led her up and into the Castle's
residential area. As they passed one door, a tall, gorgeous blonde woman
exited by it, pausing to stare. She looked as if she were about to ask a
question, but instead, she nodded to Maggie and hurried off toward the
library. Jono didn't recognize her. 'How many new arrivals since I last had
news,' she wondered.

Maggie opened a door. "This way, Miss." The room was beautiful. It was
part of a small suite; this was a living room area, which led to a bedroom
and bath. Jono set down her lantern and wandered through, gazing at the
canopied bed, beautiful chairs, incredible draperies. A window was shuttered
against the rain. The bedroom and living room were decorated with tasteful
paintings. Studying them with an artist's eye, Jono recognized with suprise
a Picasso and a Leonardo among them. Who had furnished the art? She would
love to know.

Jono returned to the maid. "Do you have anything I could-um..." She gazed
down at her sodden clothes.

Maggie smiled and went to a bedroom wardrobe. From it, she pulled a
nightdress that looked like it would just about fit Jono.


"Not at all, Miss. I'll take your wet things, if you like."

Jono escaped into the bathroom, where she stripped off her clothes, keeping
from her attire only a pendant of indigo blue jewels, her long, narrow
with its sheath of inlaid blue crystal, and a case of playing cards. She
handed her clothes around the door.

"Shall I have them washed?"

The clothes were torn, muddied, and stinking. Jono chuckled. "We'd probably
be better off having them burnt."

"Certainly, I'll see to it."

"Oh, and I left some things strapped to my horse's saddle. Could you-?"

"Of course. I'll have them sent up."

"Thank you!" Jono called as the maid departed. She laughed with joy as she
saw the beautiful marble bath, and sang happily as she ran a hot bath, and
sank into the water. She hadn't had a real bath, with real hot running
water, in months! She's almost forgotten how it felt to be totally clean,
and she could certainly get used to this! When she began to drowse, she
finally climbed out of the now lukewarm water, and put on the nightdress as
she sang some joyous strain from a forgotten Shadow. As she returned to the
bedroom, clean and content, she noticed absently that someone had placed her
belongings just inside the door. Flinging herself into the bed, whose covers
had thoughtfully been drawn back, she wrapped herself in blankets and fell
into a dreamless sleep.

Awakening in the early afternoon, a rejuvinated Jono bounded out of bed,
simultaneously realizing that she was ravenous. She went to her stack of
belongings and began to sort through them. Her bundles were all
waterproofed, testiment to her frequent travels. She laid each item aside as
she examined it. First was her violin case, with the beautiful rosewood
violin. Then came the flat satchel containing her sheet music collection, as
well as paper suited for drawing. Beside these she laid the sword, with its
narrow belt, then her bedroll, rolled up in a tarp. Then her final item:
the black backpack. In it were rations from her last journey, a slim case
containing her silver flute, a book of matches that had somehow become
waterlogged, a purse full of golden coins from her last Shadow, a leather
paint set, and her spare set of clothes.

Jono quickly donned the black trousers and cloak, blue tunic, leather boots,
smoothing the wrinkles out as best she could with her hands. She slipped her
pendant, a birthday gift from her father, over her head and tucked the card
case into a hidden pocket in her tunic. Then she pulled from her bedroll a
thin knife, about a foot long and decorated in the same manner as the sword.
She threaded the sheath onto her belt. Jono did not wish to heighten
Amberite suspician of her by carrying a sword, but nor could she go unarmed
with good conscience. She refused to let herself forget that for now at
least, she was pursued by an enemy.

She chose not to disturb a servant, instead finding her own was through the
corridors until she found the kitchen, where the staff was just clearing up
from lunch. They all gave her peculiar looks and worked silently as she
fixed herself several large sandwiches, and took them with fruit and a
of white wine into the dining room. She ate like a starving bear, seated at
a great table, and soon was finished, her appetite sated.

Idly, Jono removed from her hidden tunic pocket the case, about four inches
long, inlaid with blue crystal. A fine craftsman of a distant Shadow had
created a tiny picture of musical instruments, with tiny musical notes
out in gold. Opening the case, Jono removed a deck of cards. She seperated
out the trumps, and there were a great many more of them then any
Tarot-reader would ever need. Then again, this was no ordinary deck of cards
she held.

Jono spread them out. On each one was a relative. She had scrounged up a
few Chaos Trumps for her deck, but she had far more Amber Trumps. She
scattered them across the table, then deftly arranged them into a sort of
pictoral family tree. Oberon at top, followed by his children, and then
those of his grandchildren whose cards she had. Merlin, of course, Rinaldo,
and a couple of others whose existance she was dimly aware of. She knew the
set was far from complete; from what she knew, one couldn't walk down the
street in any given Shadow without tripping over some knew relative. Off to
the side she set up the Chaosites: Mandor, Jurt, Dara, and assorted others.
Then she sat back and studied them.

With one forefinger, Jono seperated out her direct relatives, the children
Oberon and Faiella, and of Random. She stared at blood relations she had
never met, and compared herself to their likenesses and personalities as
related by her grandfather.

Eric first, handsome and dark. Those who had known the Prince had always
said that Jono bore a likeness to him which they could not name. She
suspected it was her eyes, just Eric's color of blue, deep and searching,
smiling when her mouth didn't. She felt a debt to him, for she had inherited
his hands as well. Jono knew him to have been a truly great fencer, and even
her grandfather had been somewhat afraid of him. She flexed hands that had
broken in doors, strangled large men, woven tapestries, and fingered trumpet
keys, and was glad to have such a powerful feature.

Next was Corwin. Grandfather Corwin, she called him, and was pleased that he
was such. There was not a strong physical resembalance between them, but she
felt she had inherited spiritual gifts from him. Jono shared his love of art
and music. Too, some of his proficiency was in her hands when she picked up
a blade. When she was young they would fence together, and she had even
bested him once or twice. Corwin had been surprised, then angry, then had
laughed and said he hoped to never face her as an enemy. She knew they would
not cross blades in anger; Corwin was her childhood idol and she adored him.

A third card. Great-Uncle Caine. Again, she was not very like him, except
perhaps in his sense of duty. Jono felt a little of this, and a love of
Amber existed in her easily as great as his. Then again, there were few
Amberites who did not love their true city.

Deirdre, her Great-Aunt, and a great beauty as well. In overall physical
appearance, she and Jono were quite similar. Deirdre's hair was as silken
soft as her own, she was told, and Jono's would have grown as long and
beautiful as her Aunt's, had she let it. Even cut close to her head, the
black hair was soft, and blue dye had not changed the texture of the longer

Her final Great-Uncle, Random, now king in Amber. Jono, despite the
differences of hair and eye color, bore him the strongest resembalance of
all. Jono had the same sharp nose and thin face as he. Her grandfather had
sometimes said in anger that he thought she shared his rebel nature as well.
Random had grown responsible in kingship, she was told, though he still
enjoyed wild music. Jono had often longed to play a song with him.

On to the children of Oberon's children. Merlin. Father. Her father. She
remembered nothing before the age of ten years, the age when she came to
with him in Chaos. Only one thing stood out in her mind about her early
life: her sudden flares of temper. It was Merlin, to whom she bore slight
likeness, that taught her to tame her anger, refused to indulge her, and
above all, taught her respect, self-control, and patience, three virtues
which she valued greatly and which still helped her daily as she strove to
hold her temper in check. Jono held him in extreme respect, a respect
untainted by her resentment of his secrecy, his avoidance when she wanted to
know the name of her mother. Jono loved and hated him at the same time and
thought nothing of it.

Martin, so of Morganthe. She knew he was wild and untamed, and though she
was not, Jono could respect, even admire, those qualities. He also played
alto sax, as she did. As with Random, she would have liked to play a set or
two with him.

Zachary, son of Vialle. How could Jono compare herself with a man she'd
heard so little about? But she did know he was a great lover of books and of
learning. Jono could respect and identify with that; she too was a perpetual
student. But rather than collect knowledge on every subject, Jono would far
rather let books instruct her in that which she might need to know.

Jono sighed, her thoughts done, and gathered up her cards. As she cased
them, a maid she had not seen before stepped into the room. "Yes?" asked
Jono, standing and striding towards her. Jono was the only one there, so the
girl was undoubtedly looking for her.

"His Majesty the King has respectfully requested your prescence at a private
dinner for the family," the woman said timidly.

Jono sighed inwardly. It was no less than an order, and she guessed that if
Random were as tense as he was last night, failure to attend could mean
serious trouble. No need to get on his bad side, anyway. "Thank you, please
tell him I will be there." The maid curtsied and departed. On a second
thought, Jono removed a single card from her case and held it in her hand.
Concentrating all her thought upon it, she let her mind go searching. This
might be a bad idea...she hadn't seen him in years. But before she could
reconsider, the card went ice-cold and she saw him before her.

His beard was neatly trimmed and his eyes were warm and friendly. He looked
the way Jono always remembered him, gentle and kind to those he loved, chief
among whom was her. His eyes grew wide and bright as he saw her. "Jule!" he

"Hello, Father," Jono said back, smiling as she so rarely did. Her anxiety
melted away. How could she have thought he would be angry with her?

"It's been so long...years. I haven't heard a word since you ran off all
those years ago."

She was surprised. "Grandfather Corwin said nothing?"

"No..about what?"

"A long story, Father."

He smiled. "We have many long stories to share. Come to me." Merlin
extended his hand. Part of her longed to take it. She did not.

"I am in Amber, Father."

Merlin looked as if he'd been slapped.

"I know there must have been a reason for your secrecy, but I do not know
what it is, so I will not let it rule me," Jono said quietly. She quickly
related the tale of her hellride the night before.

Merlin fingered his beard. "I hoped you would never come to be there."

"Why, Father? Why were we always such a secret? Who is my mother?"

"I only wanted to protect you. I wish you could understand..." He shook his

"Even now you won't tell me!" she cried.

Merlin sighed. "Calm down, Jule. If that is all you wanted-"

"No. I-Father, I'm afraid. Something's up. Everyone is so tense. I walked
down the hall earlier, heard the servants whispering. They were instantly
quiet as I went by. The kitchen staff was the same way. All of them are
polite, but- What do I say? How will they react to a Chaosite in their
midst?" She swallowed hard.

Merlin instantly went from father to emperor. "Hm," he mused. "Now that you
are there, you can no longer be kept a secret. It would be neither wise nor
prudent to hide your identity or to lie. They don't appear to be your
enemies at this point, but they will be if they catch you in a lie.d"

"What if they don't believe me?" Jono had heard of the acts Amberites could
commit if aroused.

"Random does not kill lightly, at least not where supposed Amberites are
concerned. He has his way of knowing if you are a relative, and he can speak
to me if that does not convince him." Merlin's even tones calmed her, as
they always had.

"Then I will tell him. Tonight."

"Good." He paused. "Take care of yourself."

"Father! I'm not a child any more!"

"No. But you'll always be my daughter, Jule, and I will always be here to
help you, if you need me."

"I love you," she said, and broke the connection.

Jono found a servant to direct her to the stables. Firm in her resolve, she
was ready to see to her horse. Locating him, she whispered softly to Cinder
in Thari, stroking his nose. Calmly she ignored the whispering stablehands.
As she was grooming him, she noticed a red-haired girl nearby, gently
leading a big, wild-eyed horse. The girl had the bearing of an Amberite, and
Jono guessed her to be some royal, newly arrived in Amber. The two
horsewomen exchanged respectful nods and returned to their tasks. Soon Jono
was ready to saddle up the stallion and trot him out to an exercise ring.
She was too nervous to go exploring, and wandering might leave her open to
more uneasy speculation from the family.

So she spent several hours putting Cinder through his paces. Walk, trot,
canter, gallop. She posted effortlessly at a quick trot. The red-haired
girl was watching, but Jono ignored her. Everything faded, only she and the
horse remained. His reflexes were abnormally quick, his senses were keener
than any horse ever born of a dam, and his speed was, at the very least,
incredible. Jono could communicate with Cinder as though they shared one
body, and they were perfect.

Exhausted by her ride, Jono returned to her room to shower and dispose of
horsey clothes. Then she sat silently, arms outstretched, for full ten
minutes before she had managed to fish out new clothes, properly colored,
with her Logrus limbs. Putting them on, she marched down the hall to the
library, ignoring the whispering servants this time. In the library, she
found herself a book on art and curled up in a chair to read it. One person
was there, a young man who could only be the Crown Prince Zachary, and he
studiously ignored her. 'They're watching me,' Jono realized. 'All of them.
Random and the maids are the only ones who will speak to me. And the maids
never say more than necessary.'

The prospect of being watched so intently frightened her. Zachary departed,
and soon a maid came to tell her that dinner was about to be served. She
considered changing into formal garb; she knew that if her father were
he would be scandalized unless she appeared in a dress. She shrugged. 'To
hell with 'em,' she thought. 'They've been ignoring me all day. And if
they're offended by my outfit...well, tough.'

Minutes later, Jono stalked into the dining room. All conversation instantly
stopped. All heads turned to look at her. She felt a perverse pleasure at
being the only person in the room not in formal attire. But then she stood
under the collective gaze of the Family and wanted to melt. She didn't have
to be a mind-reader to see the wariness of all present, and the outright
hostility in some. Jono searched out the faces of the relatives she knew.
Only Gerard and Corwin missing. She wondered what they were up to.

A butler indicated a spot that was coincidentally between the red-haired
and the blonde. Zachary was further up the table, near his father. Jono sat
and dinner was served in utter silence. Not a word was spoken. Jono
suddenly realized that the whole thing was just an excuse for everyone to
the newcomer they'd been ignoring all day. And also, she knew, they were
trying to intimidate her. Suddenly Random broke the silence by asking,
"Would you please detail the events of last night?"

So Jono did. One man, whom she knew to be Julian, shot out, "How did you get
past me? I patrol that forest."

Smoothly, Jono replied, "It is likely that my noise was masked by the
ferocity. In addition, I was not long in the Forest Arden. I shifted into
it very near to Mount Kolvir, and I moved out of it very quickly." Julian
seemed satisfied. Other family members fired questions at her. Then Fiona,
a small smile on her lips, asked what Shadow she had come from.

"Erkyia," Jono said.

Fiona frowned. "I've never heard of it."

"It is a logical impossibility for one to know the name of every existing
Shadow," snapped Jono. She was being given the third degree and she didn't
like it at all. The table at which they sat looked heavy, but ten to one she
could lift it and heave it across the room. She insanely wondered how the
smug bitch across from her would react to that. Jono realized that she was
coming quite close to one of her fits of temper, and she struggled to
herself, taking several deep breathes.

A silence fell. Jono realized that now was the time to make her statement.
She got to her feet slowly, trying to work up her nerve. "I have a
confession to make." Instantly, Amberites were out of their chairs, drawing
blades. 'What a suspicious lot we all are,' Jono thought. She held up her
hands. "Please-"

"Sit down," Random commanded. "Listen to what she has to say. If any of you
touch her without my say-so..." He didn't have to finish his threat. The
others got the point and reluctantly sat down. The tense feeling was higher
than ever.

"I was at first unwilling to divulge my identity, but circumstances will not
permit secrecy. I lay myself bare: if you are not involved in my pursuit by
creatures out of Shadow, you can help me. If you are my enemies, I have
sacrificed myself. That is the risk I take. So now I tell you this with all
truth and good intention; laying my cards on the table, so to speak." Jono
paused. The room was a vacuum of soundlessness.

"My name is Julia Jonora Corey, Princess of Chaos. I am Merlin's daughter."