From: Linden Tree 
Subject: [AM] Project


"I find it somewhat distressing to have been involved in a calculated
project."-Lord Corwin of Amber, "The Courts of Chaos."

As Jono completed her first step, sparks flashed up around her, making her
momentarily start with surprise. The full enormity of her task came upon
she was walking a Pattern, a fantastically difficult thing for anyone to
attempt. Swallowing back fear and replacing it with determination and sharp
concentration, she pressed onward.

With the completion of her second step, Jono was suddenly catipulted
innumerable years backward; she could not determine if it was a world of her
own making or the fragmented images of her lost past she was now reliving.
She giggled as she pushed her way deeper into the foliage.

"Julia! Julia, come back here RIGHT NOW!" She ignored the woman yelling for
her and curled up under a bush, trying to laugh silently. Hide and seek was
such fun! "This is nap time, Julia, you're not to be playing games. If you
don't come out you'll be sorry!" A hand suddenly clasped her ankle. "Ah-HA."
She wriggled loose and took off through the woods again, laughing as she

"You can't catch me, mommy!"
Jono snapped back to reality with another step and a jolt that was almost
painful. 'Mommy? Well I'll be damned, I DO remember my mother.' Jono was
surprised: could the answers to her many questions lie within her own mind?
A warm, soft hand clasped her little one as the two knelt in the dirt. The
woman pushed her hair out of her eyes, and glared in concentration as she
scratched out a design in the dust. She sat back on her heels and sighed.
"There, Julia, now you finish it."

The young girl hesitantly touched the edge of the design. "I-I can't, mom."

The woman looked irritated for a moment, then said, "Don't think about it.
Just do it." Again the girl reached out a hand and slowly, carefully drew
last lines in the dirt. The woman looked relieved, then amazed as the girl
began to inscribe another symbol in the dust. The woman's face froze with
anger and with one hand she swept both marks away. "No, Julia!" she said
harshly, her face creasing into a mask of fury. "NEVER that one! Do you

Terrified at the change in her mother's demeanor, the girl slowly nodded.
Within herself, she began to surpress the side of her psyche which her
had so angrily deemed forbidden.
Jono remembered clearly now what had happened that day: her mother had urged
her to draw the Pattern, so deeply etched within her. The forbidden image
had drawn on total instinct was the Logrus. Her mother had been angry,
afraid; Jono remembered seeing these emotions on her face.

Her face! Why couldn't Jono remember her face?
The girl looked up from her game outside the tiny cottage to see a man
standing over her. She knew it was a man, she'd seen them in her picture
books. But who was he, and why was he here? No one ever came to the cottage.
He was bearded, and smiled at her with both his mouth and his kind eyes. He
squatted across from her. "What've you got there?"

"Stones." She carefully balanced another stone on top of the stack.

"What's your name?"

"Julia." She didn't even look up, but she heard him rising to his feet and
going into the cottage. She jumped up when she heard her mother's scream,
ran to the door. The two adults stopped as they saw her standing there,
watching the scene with wide eyes: the stranger stood in defensive pose with
his sword half-drawn, her mother was wielding a sharp dagger.

"For the little one's sake, at least," the man said quietly. "Forego the

The woman forced a smile at her. "Go play outside, Julia. We're fine."
Reluctantly, she backed out and went back to her stones. But she tuned her
ear on the conversation indoors, carefully seperating the two voices.

"You didn't tell me."

"I couldn't. I can't."

"She doesn't even know who her father is, her heritage, anything. What the
hell is going on here? You have a child and disappear? What are you up to?"
She recognized the man's voice.

"That's none of your business, Chaosian! She's MY daughter, and I have every
right to raise her the way I choose!"

"And she's MY daughter TOO!" There was a heaven, wooden thud. "DAMN it,
woman, I'd have at least liked to know you weren't dead!" The voice dropped
low and menacing. "It's the Pattern, isn't it?" Silence. "You can't pretend
you're not Amberite, I'd know an Amberite a mile away. Who are you really?
Another of Oberon's bastards? One of his children's, perhaps? You think it's
intriguing to meet a half-Chaosian; you make love to him for two months and
then dump him without a second thought? And for WHAT? I should have listened
to what I was told about Amber women: that they were conniving, self-
centered, murderous WHORES."

There was a resounding SMACK and then total silence until her mother hissed.
"How DARE you address me in such a fashion? How DARE you? I needed your
child, I wanted her, and after bearing her, I was only too happy to retire
raise her where she wouldn't be affected by your influence, so you could get
back to your nice, happy, OPEN life! Don't tell me you searched high and low
for ME, you hipocrate, when we both know it was the child you're really

"But it was your game first. And that's what pisses me off! It was just a
GAME. You used me, just the way that bitch Dara used my father! It was all a
game. You got what you wanted out of me, a poor, innocent little girl for
to work your whims upon and bend to your will, and the will of your master!"
The man snarled. "I know this game well, so don't think you can fool me at
it. Our daughter is just a little girl. She's not a playing piece."

"That's what YOU think, Chaosian!"

"Don't screw with me, I'm in a VERY bad mood, and I wouldn't at ALL mind
leaving that little girl motherless."

"You wouldn't dare."

"Wouldn't I just?"

"I'll fight you for her, by the unicorn, I will! She's priceless, dammit,
she's well worth fighting for!"

"Match point to your side if she joins you, eh? I don't think so, bitch."
There was a scream from her mother, quickly choked off, and the man calmly
stalked out of the cottage.

She stood up again quickly. "What'd you do?"

The man smiled a little. "Oh, I just taught your mother a few manners. I
didn't hurt her. How would you like to go on a trip?" The girl shrugged, but
did not resist when he led her by the hand to his horse's side and lifted
into the saddle. He swung up behind her and turned the horse's head. He
kicked it into a trot, then to a gallop, racing through the woods. Then,
before she could blink, the woods were gone and an entirely new world was in
their place.
It was a shock to Jono: so she had grown up outside the Courts after all! In
a little cottage in a Shadow forest. But why was she hidden all the time?
What was the big secret?

Jono forced her way through the Second Veil; that memory had taken a lot of
steps to unearth. She sank in again.
"I don't care, she has to forget."

"You ARE a hipocrate, Merlin!" The older mage stalked past him and continued
to pace. The girl sat wide-eyed on the bench, watching the two men argue
her head. "Why is it so desperately important that she forget her Amberite

"I don't want her to forget Amber, it's just-"

"Confess, Merlin, you're scared." The man barked with laughter. "All these
years and you ended up serving the Logrus in the end. How ironic. No wonder
it let you live when all the chips were down."

"Of COURSE I'm scared, Mandor!" Merlin broke out. "Something's happening. I
know that bitch wanted my child for a reason, and I wish I knew what those
people were up to!"

"Ask Random."

"Random's not involved."

"Are you sure?"

"Positive. Random can't be bought, and the Pattern uses easily manipulated
people with weak minds. Something's getting geared up again. There are a lot
more Amberites than there used to be-d'you know Random has a son now?"
nodded. "That's what I mean....the odds are getting bigger. And I feel like
I'm the only one who doesn't know about it! I mean, really know about it!
The Elder Amberites do. That's why Random lost his temper with those Chaos
Lords and told them to get out of Amber and stay out, that's why Fiona is
looking so smug, that's why Julian and Gerard always have something better
do than talk to me, and that's why Corwin keeps disappearing to whereever
hell it is that he hides himself!"

"You are right." Mandor's voice was very even. "I sense it as well, an-
imbalance between the powers. I think that the last major struggle was at
best a temporary solution. One day soon, something will happen to blow this
wide open. And keeping your daughter from knowing it won't stop it."

Merlin said viciously, "She's not going to become the kind of tool I was. I
was her to try and live a normal life."

Mandor seated himself in a chair and raised an eyebrow. "And when the Powers
come calling?"

"Then maybe I'll have given her wisdom and courage enough to tell them to
a fucking hike!"

"My, you are nervous. I don't think I've ever heard you curse this much."

"I've got a good reason, believe me. Can you place the Memory Spell or not?"

"I can. But you better make sure you want me to. There's very little can
shred this spell, and I won't expend my energies later undoing your

"What can end it besides a direct order from you?" Merlin asked anxiously.

Mandor considered. "Probably a Patternwalk. A Logruswalk might push it a
little, but nothing brings back memory like that damn Pattern. You'll
remember your father's Patternwalk brought him out of five centuries of
amnesia. That's powerful stuff."

"It's worth a shot. And with luck, I'll be able to keep her away from the
Pattern; at least until she's old enough to handle the truth."

Mandor turned his fake smile on her finally. "Hold still, my dear, you'll
feel a little jolt, but it won't hurt." He reached his hand out and touched
her forehead. The jolt came, and she found her memories fading.
A spell! Her father had conspired with Mandor to use magic to inhibit her
memory! Damn them! Jono felt a wonderful rage coursing through her blood.
How DARE they? Inside, she raged as she flung herself headlong through the
final Veil and headed for the Grand Curve, or this Pattern's version of it.
If there had been any material objects handy, they'd be in tiny, tiny pieces
by now.

Jono was thinking hard and fast even as she focused on the Pattern.
"Oh yeah? Who the hell are you, pal?" The creatures must've been his. She
didn't appreciate that, and she didn't like sorcerors.

The figure chuckled softy. "No friend to any half-breed whelp of an Amber
Her attacker in the woods. Had to have had Amberite or Chaosian blood in
He knew her mother. Her mother was an Amberite!
"Father was so paranoid--he never told you all about me, and he never gave
the chance to see Amber."
Her words to Laura. True, he had never revealed her heritage, and now she
knew why! A Patternwalk could spoil her conditioning. And-he had been hiding
her! If her mother had been hiding her from Chaos, Merlin had been hiding
from Amber! And no one had ever thought to tell her how desperately,
desperately important she was to both sides!
"That," he said. "Is quite a piece of work. Attacked twice in two
days...damn persistant bastard." Jono couldn't help but agree. "Noone comes
straight to mind on this one, I'm afraid."
Merlin's words at their meal. 'I'll bet!' Jono thought. 'I bet I know just
who you thought of first, you jerk!'
"I think my brother Mandor knows more than he's telling about this Orbus and
the events surrounding his departure. And Uncle Suhuy's being rather
secretive as well."
Hm, Orbus disappeared, missing for days, and reappearing in Amber right
dinner, as she'd seen. All after walking the Logrus. If the Pattern was
being devious, then the Logrus was stacking the deck as well!

And the Abyss was somehow involved. But the Abyss wasn't a thinking,
entity. Was it? "The Abyss may release what it once held..."

Jono's frustration peaked as she round the Grand Curve. With every answer
came a flood of new questions! So many things still unresolved. But one
thing was clear in her mind: her entire life had been a deception. She was a
game piece, passed from side to side, kept a secret so neither power could
manipulate her, but manipulated instead by her own parents!

With one final flash of blue sparks, she was at the end, and almost in the
same instant at the Pattern's side again. Jono howled with frustration and
her furious need to rage and destroy triggered her change to demonform. Her
skin went black and scaly, her limbs lengthened. She arched her back and
spikes began to split her shirt. A tail grew, accompanied by more spikes.
Ears disappeared, lower face lengthened to become a snout. Hands lost a
finger, palms widened, fingers grew extra joints. And all the time, she was
growing bigger and her wings were growing larger.

The tremendous pain was not in conflict with her internal outrage and
and she let it all out with a roar which shook the trees. She stretched to
full 9 feet in height and bellowed again, flapping her wings for balance,
cutting gaps through the forest. Lost in her fury, she struck out with
diamond foreclaws, slashing down trees like so much kindling.

Her anguish suddenly found words: "They KNEW, they KNEW! Everyone knows who
my mother is except ME! Everyone has chosen the stand I should take except
last word, and with one great shove, she used her marvelous hind legs as
leverage to launch her into the sky. Flapping her huge wings, she arrowed up
into the sky. And kept going. She flew as high and hard as she could, until
the air begain to run short, she began to heave for breath, and it hurt to
inhale. Then she flipped and headed downward again in a straight nosedive.

Her travel was soundless, but inside she was screaming. She suddenly hit a
point above the forest quite away from the Pattern and braked herself by
spreading her wings and holding them out. With barely a few seconds of
freefall, she opened her mouth and let loose legacy she had stolen from the
dragon: fired singed a 300-foot-wide circle of trees. She flamed until only
ash remained in that circle. She then turned and arrowed back toward the
Pattern as fast as her wings would take her.

In a few seconds, she shifted back to her regular form. Totally spent, she
slumped against one of the trees she had rent with her claws. Rinaldo was
still standing in the same place, watching with a stunned look on his face.
Jono ordinarilly would have been pleased, but she was currently too
to concern herself. A soft whirring, and again the Ghostwheel was at her

"Feel better?" it asked in its silvery voice.

"Shut up."

"My, you are more unpredictable than Corwin ever was. That gives you a
sizable advantage, I think." It seemed to almost chuckle to itself. "You've
rested enough. Get up."

Jono managed to pull herself up. "Why?"

"It's time we took this show on the road."