From: Allen Veazey 
Subject: [AM] What mad paths we walk

Orbus giggled.

It was not a pleasant sound. Even after what had to be a virtual eternity-
well, who knew? In the blackness of his prison there was no way to tell
how much time had passed- he still held the edge of madness in his

For a prison, his dark cave was at least livable. No exits, he could tell
and a circular pitch-black cave that had perhaps a fifty-pace radius.
There was even a small pool of ice-cold water bubbling up from some
unknown spring below. For some reason, though, he couldn't change
into some aquatic thing and make a run for it. Come to think of it, he
was still stumped as to how Suhuy and his father could come and go
as they pleased in the dark. There had to be a trick to it.

There _had_ to.

Argent curled tighter around his forearm in response to his distress.
He calmed, and it relaxed. No point in getting his arm squeezed off
in the process. He had learned that lesson on Jacinth's first visit.

He still burned with resentment. Betrayed! First imprisoned, then
learning the higher initiations under Suhuy's tender mercies, then
no visits at all...then Jacinth came to him, bodiless, boring into his
mind with her own, learning all his secrets. She knew everything he
knew about Amber now, everything. His skin burned with the shame
of it. She knew of his resentment, his hatred of his mother, and she
*laughed* at him. And it was just her mind, like a Trump contact
but somehow not, not even giving him a target to fight. Well, he had
a trick up his sleeve, something Suhuy had yet to teach him, but he
knew about it already. Just wait...

His thoughts were abruptly stopped by Argent's squeeze on his
forearm again. There were scars there already from the many times the
silver chain had done that to him. "That hurts, Argent."

"And this yes-no shit is really getting on my nerves, too."

"Why? What's the point? Do you just like to torture me? Have you
sided with my sister, too?"

He could feel it now, the prickle at the back of his head from a Trump
contact. Like and yet had to be Jacinth, ready for another bout.
His mind ached with the memory of it.

"Ready to tell me more, brother?" Her face filled his vision.

"I have nothing more to say. Why don't you just kill me?" He reached
with his thoughts, hiding his intention from her, searching...

"Soon, I promise." She had no clue. In their mental wrestling, he had
learned her mind as well as she had learned his. She just didn't suffer
for it, which was unfortunate. What she didn't realize was that Orbus
had recognized the power signature of the Trump contact...

It was powered by Logrus-forces.

And Suhuy...he must have been in on it, too, not teaching him the
final, terrible lesson of power, but Orbus knew it anyway. All hail
Merlin and his journals. Just at the worst moment of inattention, he
held her mind, his Logrus-sight swimming bright before him. As she
struggled to extricate herself, he tested the connection of the Trump,
fed power into it to strengthen the bond.

Then, he released the chaos.

His Logrus-sight turned midnight black, and he felt rather than heard
Jacinth's scream as she fled before the chaos. Her mind ripped from
his hold, but he could feel how he had hurt her. It was satisfying.
He contolled it, banked the power, let it resist against Order until
it disappated. It disturbed him, the power he had inherited,
focused by Suhuy and tested against Jacinth.

He held the link open, spoke the guide words to a spell he had worked
out and held ready for some time now, and followed the Trump out
of his prison....

...stepping forth into a dark alleyway. Well, it certianly did *look* like
Earth. That was just fine, but it bothered him that Jacinth had been
here. Just how many Chaos-things could walk in shadow, anyway? It
was a frightening thought.

Payback would be hell, that was for sure. His father would pay for
betraying him. Jacinth would pay for daring to torture one of Amber
and the Courts. And Suhuy...

Damn it, why had they done it? It made no sense. He could half-
understand being held because he had gone off the deep end, or
even to educate him 'for his own good'. But abandoning him to
Jacinth, that was betrayal of the highest order. It was as if Mandor
had gotten something from him and now he was expendable. Why?

He would find out. Orbus turned up his collar, willed Argent into
invisibility on his arm. He had no Trumps anymore, and it would
be a long shadow-walk home. He strode, turning a corner, knowing
that somehow a horse would be there waiting for him...