From: Allen Veazey 
Subject: [AM] Dreams in Reality

"Aren't you going to join me?" Orbus asked.

Laura shook her head. "Not just yet. What you need most right now is
sleep. But when you wake, you'll find the bed somewhat less roomy, I
promise. Let sleep come, Orbus. You'll think more clearly after you do."

He nodded, feeling the exhaustion he had fought so long winning its battle
at last. He had some warding spells hung and with them cast along with the
protection afforded by Argent and Laura's Bloodstone, they both should be
able to sleep safe. He pulled Laura's head down and as their lips met, he
did as she had bid and let sleep come.

Amazing, that she trusted so, Orbus thought as he drifted off. If she only
knew the hell that such trust could bring someday...


The swirling light and color was fascinating, not to mention the mists
that seemed to hug his person. Funny, there was something missing...
Argent. Of course. Argent wasn't with him. He had grown used to the
chain that quickly. Orbus looked around wildly.

"I know what you seek. You won't find it here."

Orbus spun to see Mandor standing before him, a slight crooked
smile on his face, his arms spread in a helpless gesture. The
surrounding colors shone like fire in his hair. It took an effort not
to attack him.

Again, his father read his mind. "You show a lot of restraint."

"I'd be willing to bet that it wouldn't do much good."

"You'd win that bet. Fighting won't do any good here."

"Where is here? And where is Argent?"

"The same place that my items are-in reality. I'm reaching you in your

"I'll thank you to leave my dream immediately. My property, you know."

Mandor chuckled. "Would that I could, but we have to talk. I went
to a lot of trouble to reach you here, and I'll have my say."

"Your dime, to use the did you get past my wards?
I had thought they were pretty complete."

"So they were. You're pretty smart, I think you can figure it out."

"Hmm...I'd say I was already under a spell." Mandor bowed in response.
"Placed on me during yours' and Jacinth's loving attentions, no doubt.
I'll certainly see to it when I wake up."

"I'm sure you will. More reason for us to talk. I've given you a gift,
and you have to understand what's going on before you start to ruin
things. Ignorance and despair are poor companions to power."

"And just what is this you see it?"

"You've walked the Logrus, far too early. You had power, but no
understanding of it. That could easily destroy you."

"Suhuy said that many times, there in the darkness of my prison. You
were there. It doesn't excuse your actions, or didn't you know Jacinth
was there?"

"I knew."

"Then why did you leave her to torture me, you son of a bitch?!"

"Power. Understanding. I knew you would gain them from her."

"I escaped."

"Only after you had taken from her what you needed. You would not
have been able to leave without learning from her how to manipulate
the forces of Chaos. Your training was brief, intense...and now you
are ready."

"You're insane."

"No, that comes from the other side of your family. I have prepared

"All right, I'll bite...prepared me for what?"

"Surely you realize your potential."

"No, I don't. Why don't you explain it to me?"

"You hold the blood of Amber in you as well as that of Chaos.
Your lineage is powerful. The Serpent has waited a long time for
you to appear. Accept what is offered you, and the universe can be

"Mine...I understand. You're forgetting something. Merlin rules Chaos."

"Merlin did not choose wisely. Happily, the choice can be made again."

"It can, huh? And who has decided that?"

"The Logrus. Merlin has behaved well enough, but..."

"Merlin is doing it on his own terms. You'd prefer a puppet."

"Not a puppet. One who is more willing to share the feelings of his

"And which subjects are those?"

"Don't patronize me."

"My dream, my rules. You haven't earned my respect, father. Quite
the opposite, in fact."

"You will. You don't understand what I'm offering you. The universe
can be ours. Together, we would be unstoppable. I can place you
on the throne, and you can take back what is rightfully yours."

"What? Amber? All of Shadow to rule?"

"It is possible, if only you try."

"You're forgetting one thing..."

"Which is?"

"I don't want to rule. Merlin is doing a great job, as far as I'm concerned.
I'm staying out of it."

Mandor's dream-face reddened. "How dare you refuse me!"

"You haven't done me any favors, no matter what you think."

Mandor stiffened. "I'm getting nowhere with this...we will talk again."

"In *your* dream, maybe."

He disappeared in a brilliant flash; Orbus winced, holding his arm
before his eyes. It still left him with spots to blink away. Suddenly,
he was surrounded by flame.

"The consequences for failing me are terrible," Mandor's disembodied
voice half-whispered in his ear. "Choose or perish. It is the only way."

Obus screamed from the pain of burning...


He awoke, surrounded by flame; he heard a thump as Laura rolled
onto the floor to avoid it.

"Orbus! Wake up!!"

He focused his thoughts, slapped at the burning air; the flames broke
into crystalline shards, then disappeared. Laura looked bleary-eyed
at him.

He shrugged. "I had a bad dream."

"Are all your dreams so...entertaining?" Laura asked, snuggling up to
him. As he moved, she tensed; but he stroked her blond hair until she
relaxed again.

"Not hardly. I was visited, in my dream. My father passed my wards."

"Oh! So you found him."

"Yes...not exactly the man I expected. I may have to leave, again."

"You're kidding."

"At the very least, I'll have to walk the Pattern. If I do, I'd hate to
it. I can think of someone I should visit."

"You had me worried, the last time. You should take better care."

"I shall," he replied, then turned his attentions to other matters. Soon
enough, their bodies joined...her scent in his nostrils, her touch on
his skin..heat upon heat...

He waited in the sleepy afterglow, feeling her breathing slowly move
to a sumbered cadence. Slipping out of bed, he dressed then summoned
Argent to him. Quietly leaving her room, he did not make it far down the
hall before he felt the itch of a Trump contact.

 Fiona's voice sounded in his

*Mother!* he thought in false joviality. *We certainly do! Why, it's been

*Alas, Mother, I have a pressing engagement with the Pattern. It's
almost important.*

*Let's ensure my safety first, then I'll work on Amber. I've had a hard
day.* He blanked his mind, breaking the contact, as he hurried down