From: Linden Tree 
Subject: [AM]A Feeling of Power


"It was a graceful design, too big to take in at a glance; and a feeling of
power seemed to pulse outward from it."--Lord Merlin of Chaos, Prince of

Jono waited for the other diners to disperse before she headed for the door.
But as she reached for the handle, she felt a hand on her shoulder and

He frowned at her, his eyes glinting with anger. "It was not wise of you to
go off on your own like that. You're still injured." She shrugged it off.

"I'll be fine." She could already feel the change in her wounds; they were
rapidly scarring over, and soon would be no more than a memory. "I was
visiting Father in the Courts."

"What's new with Merlin?" Random looked at her narrowly, as if wondering
exactly they had conferred about.

"Not much. He sends regards." Not exactly true, but she said it anyway.

"I wish," Random said. "You would have at least mentioned your little trip."

"I left a note."

"That is hardly sufficient." Random gave her a withering look. "I am
currently occupied with more important matters, but I will want to speak to
you again later. Understood?"

Jono resisted the urge to salute. "Yes, sir." Random turned his back smartly
and headed back over to where Vialle waited for him. She had a feeling she
knew exactly what matters. Brandi. Obviously a fascinating person; Jono
couldn't wait to be introduced to her. But for now, they both had their own
things to think about. At the moment, Jono found her personal safety more of
a concern than an eventual attack on Amber. The Amberites had the power to
hold the enemy in check.

Jono went back to her room quickly, and changed into more comfortable
clothing: her usual blue tunic and black leggings with her boots. She
rapidly tucked the deck of cards in her secret pocket and belted her sword
her waist. On the way to the door, though, she spotted something unusual on
a table and paused to pick it up. It was a Trump, but a new one she had
never seen before. It depicted a stand of trees, with one large one towering
about the rest, and in the center, something silvery....She squinted, but
still couldn't quite make out what it was. Nice drawing though. Who had
broken into her rooms just to leave this mysterious card? Still puzzling,
tucked the card into her pocket and headed downstairs towards the was about time she got reequipped.

Once there, she asked the arms master about bows, and he showed her racks of
them, all finely crafted. There was every conceivable variety of arrow, too,
long, short, barbed, all well-made and gracefully flighted. As she carefully
drew the strings of one bow after another, the arms master asked, "And how,
Lady? Are you taking a journey?"

"No," she said truthfully. "I wasn't planning on one. But I need a new bow,
and it's best to be prepared." Drawing a long, slender arrow from one stack,
she nocked it to the string of the bow she held and pulled. With a swift
she judged her mark and let go. The arrow struck the exact center of the
practice target on the other side of the room. "Good. I will take this one."
She found herself a quiver and filled it with long arrows. She put the now
unstrung bow in with them and slung the whole thing over her shoulder. "My

And she again headed for the stairs. This time, she descended far, far into
the dark depths of the Castle. Felt like a million steps at least, and it
seemed to take ages before Jono stood at the right door. In one hand was the
lantern the guard had given her. In the other was a great key. She twisted
it in the lock, replaced it on its hook, and pushed the huge door wide.
it was.

The Pattern eminated a soft blue glow, enough to light the entire room. Jono
set her lantern by the door and took a slow walk around the Pattern. It was
as immense, beautiful, and powerful as she had been told. Moreso, in fact.
Such wonders lost impact in the telling. And inside, she felt a subtle
tugging, a demand. A desire to walk the thing rose in her, but she quelled
it. Now was not the time. She walked to its edge and sat there, crosslegged,
gazing across it. The desire was stronger now, and Jono realized, to her
shock, that the push was coming from the Pattern itself. And why shouldn't
it? The Pattern was sentient after all.

"Push off," she said aloud. "I'm not walking you." In due time, the Pattern

"To walk me," it said in an other-worldly voice, "Would bring you great

"I've already got some, thanks," Jono said cautiously.

"Of course," it said with what seemed like distaste. "You are the Logrus'

"I'm not ANYBODY's creature!" she said hotly, offended. "Are you going to
the same crap you tried with my father?"

The Pattern seemed to sigh. "I had so hoped you would prove more reasonable.
You had such potential....damn Merlin!"

"Why is it Merlin's fault?"

"He condoned your walking of the Logrus. He denied you your heritage and
birthright, to walk the Pattern. He would not even allow you to know who
mother was."

"My mother?" she asked suspiciously. "You know her?"

"Oh yes."

"Who?" Jono was deeply excited. Finally, someone who might be willing to
reveal the information she had longed for her entire life! It had always
seemed to her that without a mother, she was incomplete, part of her empty

"Not now." Jono sighed in disappointment. "We have other, more important
matters, to discuss."

"I suppose you're after all the half-bloods you can get these days, aren't
you?" Jono said, shrewdly grasping the Pattern's point. Orbus....Orbus was a
half-blood too! Half Amber and half Chaos, just like Merlin, who had been
original power tool in this fight. Did that mean that all half-bloods
belonged to this battle? That each of them would have to choose between
two heritages, while the Amberites and Chaosites were placed by default?
didn't want to choose between the two any more than her father had. But she
didn't say any of this.

"Those of dual lineage are infinitely more powerful, in theory, than those
are not. Merlin was important because he was needed to tip the balance at a
difficult time. Now there is danger again."

"To you?" Jono remembered what Brandi had said about the Unicorn being hurt,
and Amber, after all, was on the verge of invasion.

"To everything. The Abyss may break loose yet."

"What the hell does that mean?" Jono was not quite prepared to understand
this stuff. She wished she'd been introduced to her Amber family sooner, she
might've been more prepared to deal with all this confusion, which seemed to
happen on a regular basis here. Damn Merlin indeed! Jono was overcome by a
sudden flash of anger for her father as well as this obstinate Pattern.

It ignored her question. "And once again, the balance becomes important. The
Logrus throws its weight about quite effectively."

"Orbus walked the Logrus," she remembered suddenly.

"Yes," it said in annoyance. "Orbus was an idiot." Jono mused. Had the
Pattern lost Orbus? Then why had he been at the meal upstairs? This was all
very was she to know who was on whose side? "Why do you
refuse to walk me?"

"I'm not ready."

"You have always been ready."

"I mean I'm not ready to side with anybody in this just yet. And my walking
you would throw Order back onto offense, am I right?"

"No. The Logrus has had the advantage since Orbus walked it. Your walking of
the Pattern would merely rebalance the forces."

"So you would be in a position to make a grab for both of us? No thanks."

The Pattern said harshly, "Foolish girl, do you not realize that the
is on the brink of a titantic power struggle? Imagine what you know of the
last one. This will be a thousand times more violent, as there are more
players, more pieces, more power, and more risk." 'More players?' Jono
wondered. 'What the heck does that mean?'

Jono stood up and took a few steps back from the Pattern. "I'm not being
ordered around by anyone."

The Pattern flashed blue fire and she dropped to her knees. "Then you will
not leave here until you understand." She snarled at it through her pain.

A voice was in her ear, then, whispering, "Quick, Jono. The Trump, the new

"Construct!" the Pattern howled. "You have interceded on Orbus' behalf! You
will not interfere in my business!"

"Try and stop me." The whisperer expanded, until it was a disk some two feet
in diameter, hovering between Jono and the Pattern.

"Ghostwheel?" she gasped in shock. She'd heard of the construct from her
father, but never seen it.

It flashed at her almost merrily. "None other."

"Begone," ordered the Pattern. "This is not your affair." It struck out at
the Ghost with a blast of blue fire.

"On the contrary," Ghost said, smoothly blocking power with power. "This is
Merlin's daughter, and she is most assuredly my affair." Then to Jono, "Take
the card and get out of here."

Jono was not sure what the game was here, or where the card went, or even if
Ghost was fully trustworthy. But he was helping her for now, and she didn't
see that she had many options. She did the simple thing and used the Trump.
Hell, if nothing else she would escape the Pattern.

Jono tumbled into the grove, right next to the silver thing. It was--she
scrambled away. It was the Pattern again! But-- She looked around in
confusion. The Primal Pattern? No, couldn't be. That tree, the big one,
looked too familiar. Then it had to was Corwin's Pattern.
"Incredible," she whispered, gazing at it.

"Yes," a voice behind her agreed. Jono whirled.

"Rinaldo?" She was now thoroughly confused, but tried not to let it show.
"The Pattern ghost?" she guessed wildly.

"Yup," he agreed, sidling up to her. She hesitated before dropping her hand
from the hilt of her sword. "You're...Merlin's daughter?"

"Yes," she said slowly. "How'd you know that?"

"The Pattern told me."

"But what difference do I make to it? Whose side is it on?"

"My own," the Pattern interceded. She turned again to face it. "Your
grandfather created me to replace the original Pattern, but that is a
neither required of me or desired by me. I am nuetral."

"Then why draw me out of this? Don't tell me you feel some sort of loyalty
my family." Jono was surprised. Could the Pattern feel emotions like
loyalty? With all the back-stabbing in the two Courts, that was a feeling
people had any sense of.

"Why not? Corwin created me, Merlin sustained me."

"And what do you expect of me?"

"The same."

"Explain that, please." Jono sank to the ground against a tree. She was not
getting this at all.

"I want to protect you, and I will not force you to do anything. But I would
prefer if you refused to take either side in this struggle, and perhaps even
join me in opposing the two powers."

"I thought you were nuetral!"

"To some extent." The Pattern obviously did not want to explain the
contradiction, so Jono dropped the subject.

"And Ghost?"

"We're not sure where Ghost stands," Rinaldo interceded. "He seems to want
protect you as Merlin's daughter. But as far as we know, he sides with no

"Though I've heard some unusual things about his doings," the Pattern added.

"Care to elaborate?" Jono asked.

"Not now. What is important now is your safety. Someone is trying to kill
you." The Pattern picked up the conversation again.

"I know! That guy attacked me in the forest, sent his creatures after
me....who? And why, for that matter? If I've got to fight someone, I'd at
least like to know what the point is."

"Someone with the power of the original Pattern behind them."

"I thought the Pattern was trying to convert me, not kill me!"

The Pattern seemed sunk in deep contemplation, so Rinaldo answered, "It is.
But Deirdre wants you dead. She feels that you are on the side of the
and that is reason enough to kill you."

"Deirdre!" Jono jumped up. "That's impossible! She friggin' dead! Or at
least suspended in the Abyss for good!"

"The Abyss may release what it once held. But that is irrelevent. Deirdre
never entered the Abyss." The Pattern was calm and matter-of-fact, now. Jono
was wild with panic. This....thing....was calmly throwing off what everyone
knew was the most basic of facts:

"Brand took her over the edge with him! Everyone saw it!"

"She was not there."

"But she was in the battle! Even Corwin saw that, she was fighting, and she
was unmistakable. How could all those people be mistaken about something so
basic?" She was calming down a bit from her initial shock, but the forward
denials of the Pattern were frustrating her. It was making complete nonsense
of the universe as she understood it.

"She was not there."

"Then where was she!"

"I do not know," the Pattern said with that infuriating calmness.

"Then how do you know that she wasn't at the battle, huh?" she demanded of
unshakable Pattern.

"I could sense it, young as I was, and even though the Pattern employed a
deception. Such a trick could fool mere mortals, even some of the more
advanced demons. It may even have fooled the Logrus, and it fooled me for a
time. But I am too close to the Pattern. I know how it thinks, and over time
I reasoned it out."

"Reasoned WHAT out?" Jono grew tired of all this prying and trying to reason
with the Pattern. 'I give up,' she thought.

"Not now," Rinaldo said suddenly. Jono growled. Is that the only answer
anyone would give today? "Look, it is important that you talk to Deirdre.
And to Orbus as well. You may discover a common interest between you."

"Between who? Orbus or Deirdre?"

"Both." Rinaldo took her hand and led her to the start of the Pattern. She
stared down incomprehendingly. "But first, you must walk this Pattern."

Jono balked. "Now wait a minute! Who says I'm buying into this game, anyway?
I'm my own person, and I refuse to be manipulated. Maybe I'd rather be
nuetral too!"

"You don't have a choice," said Rinaldo, speaking for the Pattern. "You're
already a part of this. Corwin's Pattern can help you, but only if you walk
it. So do it. Then it can send a copy of you back to Amber to placate Random
while we take care of business."

Jono glared at him. "Shut up and let me think." He was right, she was a part
of this mess, like it or not. But who should she trust? So far, Corwin's
Pattern seemed the most likely candidate. It had intervened on her behalf,
even if it was now talking complete gibberish about Deirdre and all sorts of
stuff. The original Pattern was a real jerk, she now knew from experience as
well as history. A manipulator, and a treacherous one. The Logrus, she
guessed, was no better. This Pattern seemed indeed to be her safest bet.
Partly nuetral, partly hostile to the other forces, and in any case willing
stand between her and the other powers.

Ghost? Sounded like the same deal. She wondered if her father knew about
this, or about what Ghost was up to in his spare time. Random? Just as
clueless, probably moreso. Another power struggle was upon them. More
players? The new Pattern had decided to assert its will at last. More
pieces? Herself and Orbus, possibly others, all the Amberites and Chaosites,
her attacker, the force that stood ready to penetrate Amber. More power?
Certainly. With each new piece, each new player, more power and strength
up for grabs. More risks? Every one of the above meant an added risk.

Questions still swirled in her mind. Who was on whose side? Orbus, whom did
he serve? What was Deirdre's connection, and was she really alive? Where did
Kail and the Chaos House struggles lock in? Was Fiona's hatred of her a
and whose side was she on? How did Brand fit into the big picture? What
would Amber's fate be? Banishing her thoughts to the back of her mind--for
now, at least--she cleared her head of everything. In a moment of sharp
decision, knew what she must do.

"Here goes everything."

She took the first step onto the Pattern.