From: Linden Tree 
Subject: [AM] Exit From the Labyrinth


"My exit from the labyrinth took the form of a narrow alleyway between a
of dirty brick building."-Lord Merlin of Chaos, Trumps of Doom.

"Wait," Jono said, gathering up her thoughts like so many scattered pebbles.
"Weren't you going to send a copy of me back to Amber?" Jono remembered from
her father's tales that any of the Patterns and the Logrus could create
images, ghosts, of the people who had walked them. This Pattern would only
have a small selection of images, as compared to the Logrus or original
Pattern. The image was frozen, it did not change in the same way as the
actual person did; but since Jono had walked the Pattern only minutes ago,
Pattern-ghost would be almost her exact duplicate. In any case, it would be
enough to fool Random and the Amberites for as long as Jono found it
to wander.

"Done and done," said the Pattern. "She's been sent on her way. Ghostwheel?
You would do the honors?" But Ghostwheel remained silent.

"What is it?" said Jono, tensing. Rinaldo started forward, but Ghostwheel
suddenly spoke.

"Something is wrong. I am picking up a lot of movement near Amber...many,
many Shadow-walkers....." Of course Ghost would know something like that,
Jono realized. Ghostwheel had after all been originally programmed to
activity in Shadow. "And something else: a presence....darkness."

"The Abyss," the Pattern intoned. "It is Brand."

"Brand!" Jono cried. "But-" She paused as she recalled Brandi's
announcement, of which she had taken little heed. "Brand moves on Amber?
Someone has to warn Random. My double-"

"Don't expose yourself hastily," Rinaldo warned. "How to explain your
knowledge of Brand's advance?"

A good point. Jono warred with herself, trying to decide: her own
safety...or that of Amber? "Random must be warned," she decided. "Even if I
must go myself." She set her jaw.

"Not necessary," said the Pattern. "I have informed your double. She will
see to it." Rinaldo looked exasperated.

"But you're making a mistake," he concluded for the Pattern.

"We'll see," said Jono. "Ghostwheel?" It was still spinning rapidly; lost in
thought, it seemed.

"I have to go," it said suddenly. "I'm needed." Ghost suddenly cried,
"Orbus! Take care, Jono!" It was gone.

"Hey! Wait!" yelled Jono. But she was, of course, too late. "Isthen kirst
eft," she cursed and kicked at a rock. Rinaldo winced.

"Enough," said the Pattern. "Forget Ghostwheel; I will send you. Please step

Jono slowly obeyed. "Where are you sending me, exactly."

"Deirdre. I'll get you as close as possible, but you'll have to do some
travelling to get to the spot she's been hiding out in."

"She's a hard woman to find these days," said Rinaldo, leaning against a
"Her hiding spot is spell-protected like you wouldn't believe; fortunately,
most of the spells are designed to prevent entry by Trump or
Or so I'm told."

"Why not Orbus?" Jono asked, still itching to talk to her mysterious half-
Chaosian cousin.

"Orbus is otherwise engaged," the Pattern said.

"But if he's in danger...." Jono trailed off. "That's where Ghost went."
She paused to think, then ammended, "No, strike that." It ached to leave
behind an opportunity to help a potential ally in danger, and yet it could
hurt her in a more real way to go after Orbus. The decision tore at her,
young and inexperienced as she was, and Merlin's stories had never said how
hard it was to make such decisions. "If Brand is there-and he doesn't know
about me-I should stay away and keep the advantage of secrecy, yes?"

"Now," the Pattern said smugly, "You are learning."

'Exactly,' Jono thought. 'When I'm ready for it, I can spring on Brand the
nasty little surprise that he has me to deal with.' Jono wondered how the
Pattern knew so much, and what it couldn't or wouldn't tell. It was fairly
new in comparison to the Logrus and the original Pattern, and probably knew
little as Jono, comparatively. Was the Pattern as cagey as its opponants? Or
hadn't it learned that skill yet? "Well," she said with a sigh. "Let's

In a moment, Jono felt herself fading out, peculiarly; it was not unlike
Shadow travel, in its way. "I'm sending Rinaldo with you," she heard the
Pattern call after her. "You may need help...."

And as she went, she thought she heard a familiar voice chuckle.
Jono was coming into view of Corwin again. He trotted through the forest,
blissfully unaware that another followed.

'Or not,' Jono thought, as he suddenly whipped his mount into a headlong
gallop, trying to evade her. Jono leaped ahead, barely staying with Corwin
he shifted through several Shadows in quick succession. She focused on
Corwin, thankful that her horse could keep the pace.

She felt bad about stealing her father's own mount from the stables, but
Cinder was perfect for her in size and ability. They seemed to have an
attraction to each other when they first met; Jono stroked his gleaming
coat, and both were in love. He was an experiment, molded from Chaos forces,
which made him the quickest and most powerful horse in the Courts of Chaos.
Merlin had also been curious to test him against Julian's Morgenstern, but
never got the chance. Cinder was also specially trained to endure Hellrides
and Shadow shifting without even a start of surprise.

It was that training which kept him calm as Jono urged him through the
Shadows. Suddenly, the kaleidoscope of worlds they'd run through paused, and
Corwin pulled his horse short. Jono dragged hers to a halt, and the two
horses danced around each other as Corwin grabbed Cinder's reins and
"Go home, Jono!"

"I want to come with you!" she protested, trying to jerk the reins away from
Corwin. His grip was strong, however, and she scowled. Cinder snorted in
protest, shaking his head against the pressure on his mouth.

"You are FAR to young to Shadow walk alone!" Corwin said. "And your father
would not approve of this at all! Go back, Jono!"

"Screw my father!" she cried with defiance. "I thought you'd side with me,
least! You gave me the Trumps, which my father had forbidden me to have."

"And I sincerely regret it." His anger and condescension stung Jono. Corwin
dragged Cinder around to point back the way they'd come. He drew his sword.
"Now GO HOME." He dealt the horse a hard blow on the flank with the flat of
his sword as he released the reins. Jono yelled in outrage and almost fell
from the saddle as Cinder took off. Dragging herself back up, she hauled on
the reins, screaming at Cinder to stop. But he was so maddened with pain and
fear that it was miles before she could pull the panting horse to a stop and
slide off, aching with humiliation. Grandfather was wrong, she told herself.
She wasn't too young! She couldn't follow him any more, but she could and
would find Amber herself, or die trying.

Determinedly, she took Cinder's reins and turned him around again. On foot,
she focused and prepared herself for the first shift.
With a flicker of rainbow light, the universe resolved itself, and Jono and
Rinaldo stood in a desert. Jono silently groaned. Of all the places.
Rinaldo seemed to listen intently for a moment, then turned north.

"This way. Say-do you think you could get us a pair of horses? I mean, I
know Merlin walked the Logrus and he did that kind of thing, so-"

"Sure, hang on." Jono focused, reaching into her mind and found buried deep
within it the image of the Logrus. Fishing through its mess of lines she
drew out the two ends. Manipulating them carefully, she sent the Logrus a
clear picture of what she wanted. In a few minutes, she felt the mental
"click" and tug on the Logrus lines which meant she'd found what she was
seeking. With a practiced mental hand, she drew the lines toward her.

Opening her eyes, she waved for Rinaldo to lead on. A few hundred yards on,
they came to a small oasis, complete with spring. Tethered to a scraggly
was a pair of horses, one a bay gelding and the other a chestnut stallion.
Both were saddled, bridled, and loaded with bedroll and saddlebags full of
supplies. Jono would've liked to bring Cinder along, but his absence from
Amber stables would be unexplainable, not to mention the fact that getting
something that specific with the Logrus lines could take hours. Without
hesitation, Jono untied the stallion. Rinaldo checked the bay's packs and
found a canteen, which he quickly filled from the spring. Jono followed his
excellent example, and soon they were off again.

Jono guided her horse across the sand at a steady walk. Damn her black
clothes! Stupid thing to wear for a desert. But she didn't want to waste the
time stopping to find something more appropriate and changing into it. So
two of them moved on under the two huge red suns, Rinaldo leading and her
following. 'Of course this place would have two suns,' she thought. 'But I'm
not bitter at all...of course not. I have nothing to be bitter about.' She
squelched that unproductive line of thought and tried to concentrate on the

Rinaldo called back, "This is most likely the first roadblock. Deirdre used
her little spell bubble to prevent people from getting too close...we're
probably inside of it now. That way, she can force everyone who wants to see
her to go through all her obstacles. This woman is either really paranoid,
really sadistic."

Jono grinned at that description, so unlike what she'd heard about Deirdre.
Deirdre was always described as sweet and innocent, as far as Jono ever
saw...But time heals all wounds, and creates new ones. 'My, what a fount of
negative catch phrases I am,' she thought. "So, have you met her?" she asked

"No, can't say I've had the pleasure. S'far as I know, she got dumped in the
Abyss before I visited Amber. Or whatever the hell happened to her, since
Pattern says she never entered the Abyss."

"You mean you don't know how she escaped?"

Rinaldo snorted. "The Pattern doesn't tell me everything, just what it
I need to know. Typical, eh?" Jono found herself in heartfelt agreement.
"I'm just an adopted Pattern-ghost after all. Nothing special."

"Speaking of which, does the Pattern ever employ its Merlin and Corwin ghost
capabilities?" This was something Jono had been wondering about for a while.

"Yeah, sometimes. We do guard duty and such, the Corwin ghost tends to
a bit."

"Mmm," Jono said noncommitally, gazing across the sand dunes. It must've
nearly eleven hours since they arrived, by her reckoning, and the suns had
barely moved. Time seemed to crawl here....Not that a longer day bothered
her. She could go on quite a while, and so, she knew, could Rinaldo. They
had stopped a couple times to rest the horses at the tiny oasises they found
here and there. But it was clear to Jono that this truly WAS an obstacle,
a formidable one; only an Amberite with a superior horse could've come this
far, this fast.

Hearing a noise, she perked her ears and then realized the sound was coming
from Rinaldo.....He was singing a few bars of a song to himself, and she
listened in. "Sweet dreams are made of these." The next line was inaudible,
then, "Travel the world and the seven seas; Everybody's looking for

Jono grinned, recognizing the tune, and joined in, "Some of them want to
you; Some of them want to be used by you...." She chuckled. "Excellent
parallel to the Amber Royal Family, don't you agree?"

Rinaldo turned in his saddle to stare. "You've been to Shadow Earth?"

She shrugged. "A couple times. Or a shadow so like it as to not have any
real distinction at all. I visit a lot of places. I was particularly pleased
with some of the music and art I found in that shadow. Handel, Mozart,
Vivaldi...truly masters. And Bach! Some of the finest violin concertos I've
ever had the pleasure of playing. I was also particularly pleased with the
art from that period called the Rennaisance. I'm told Grandfather Corwin was
visiting the Shadow at that point, several hundred years ago. Pity I missed

Rinaldo nodded. "Yes, it is a fascinating place. Although I was more into
the athletics and the modern arts, like computer science. So was your
I recall." Jono stiffened a little and tried not to think some of the rude
words she had tucked in the back of her mind to use next time she met her
darling father. She'd have a word or two with him then!

Her attention was abruptly snapped back to the world around them as it
and changed. The two horses snorted and danced about as their riders tried
hold them in. Jono now viewed an entirely new place with a cry of
astonishment. Instead of bright red suns, a calmer, yellow sun shone on
The air was cool, and they were completely surrounded with greenery. Maybe
not completely. To what Rinaldo had called the north there was an opening in
the dense walls of the maze; Yes, Jono decided. Definately a maze. Dammit.

"The second roadblock," she said flatly. "Let's get cracking, this might
a while." This time Rinaldo fell into the rear as she led the way toward the
* * *
Hours of twistings and turnings later, Jono was hot, sweaty, and irritated.
This was unlike any maze she'd ever seen. The way was always open, there
never any intersections. "This CAN'T be right!" she exclaimed. "What happens
if we get to the end and there's nothing there? Were we supposed to go the
other way?"

"What other way?" asked Rinaldo. "The only way is steadily north through the
openings being provided."

"Oh yeah?" said Jono, sizing up one wall. "We'll see about that." Drawing
her sword, she attacked the hedge with it, and a few minutes' effort
her with a sizable hole. "There." But to her surprise, the hole sealed
itself in seconds! "ISTHEN!" she shouted, letting out all her frustration.

"Merlin didn't teach you to much self-control," Rinaldo commented benignly.

"Yes he did," snapped Jono. "I simply don't choose to exercise it. I'm HOT,
and TIRED, and FRUSTRATED, and I'm having a narking bad day! It seems like
all I've had since I first went to Amber are bad days! I'm almost sorry I
ever thought about going there! You'd think-" Jono's eyes popped open wide.
"Ah-ha...." That made a little more sense. It was only to the advantage of
the Powers if she lost her temper, it made her easily controllable. Is that
why Merlin had been so careful to teach her the value of self-control?
'Things that make you go hmmm...' Jono thought to herself, temper rapidly
cooling. "Oh, forget it. Let's just get moving." Again, she led the way
toward the single opening.
* * *
More hours passed, empty and irritating, despite the small amusement
by harmonizing to Rinaldo's renditions of various Earth pop tunes. Jono was
humming distractedly along to "Longview" when something small and hideous
plunged out of the bushes and scared the hell out of her horse. Jerking his
head around, she drew her sword with difficulty and faced it. Rinaldo had
broken off his song and drawn his own.

The small green topiary creature bared its fangs and snarled. "I HATE Green
Day!" It leapt on Jono first, and she easily impaled it on her blade and
flung it aside.

"That was challenging," Jono said sarcastically. The creature just lay there
oozing green fluids. Apparently it wasn't one of those irritating creatures
that came back to life every 30 seconds. "No problemo." She sheathed her
sword with a smirk. There was a rustling of branches, and the path was full
of small topiary creatures.

"And now?" said Rinaldo.

"Now we have a problem," Jono said. With a howling war cry, she plunged into
the group of creatures, followed by Rinaldo. But as they fought on, impaling
a new creature with each stroke, they realized that the maze seemed to hold
unending supply of the creatures. And then, they saw a wave of creatures
coming up behind them. "Oh-shit," said Jono. "Come on!" she yelled at
Rinaldo, and they turned their horses to the north opening and plunged
it. They raced through the maze, pursued by the tiny green creatures. "Okay,
girl, how you gonna get outta this one?" Jono muttered to herself, taking a
peek behind-

Just in time to see a fire erupt in the middle of the path. Topiary
screamed as they were consumed in the leaping flames. Jono glanced at
in surprise, mouthing, "Yours?"

Rinaldo shook his head, coughing from the smoke which was blown towards them
as they galloped through the maze.....and into the middle of the night.

A pale green moon bathed the land in a sickly glow. Both riders looked
about, but there seemed no impending doom facing them in any direction.
Relieved to find a respite, Jono slid off her horse and sighed. "Time to
camp, I think. We ought to keep a watch. Match you for it?"

Rinaldo waved a hand expansively. "I'll take first watch. You rest." With a
grateful nod, Jono quickly tethered her horse and dropped her weapons beside
it. Then she sank into a patch of grass beside a large, leafy tree and fell
into sleep.
* * *
Scant hours later, she was awakened by Rinaldo shaking her violently.
he cried as she came fully awake. "Thank goodness. I have to go."

"Go?" she asked, not comprehending.

"Corwin's Pattern is in danger. It's calling me, Jono, I have to help defend

"What about the Merlin and Corwin ghosts?" she asked, thinking quickly.
about mine?"

"It's in Amber, remember?" Of course, Jono remembered. "Merlin and Corwin
ghosts are already fighting to defend the Pattern. It said something about
Ghostwheel too, I think. And Amberites? I don't know, but it needs me
desperately. You'll have to go on alone."

Jono nodded. She could handle that. "Best of luck," she said to Rinaldo.
The ghost nodded grimly, and in a second had vanished. His horse was gone
too. Jono frowned and yawned. Dang, not nearly enough sleep for her liking,
but she was used to sleepless nights, and she had to stay awake. She could
just sit here and rest, wait the night out, then move on. She yawned again.

This place was very strange. So calm, peaceful....Something in the wind
almost seemed to call the word, "Sleep." Maybe she should. With a start, she
came awake again. No, had to stay awake. But the force was powerful, almost
like....magic? 'Who cares,' she thought, and finally gave in to the pressure
and allowed her mind to drift.

Jono felt moisture strike her cheek. She mumbled and rolled to her other
side. More moisture. She opened her eyes, grumpily wondering what the
distraction was this time. It was still almost dark out, but she knew she'd
slept for hours. Was this place in perpetual twilight? She propped herself
up on an elbow and reached up to wipe the liquid from her face. She sniffed
it. Clear, but not water, or wine either. It had a faint odor and was slimy
to the touch, almost like-

Jono jerked her head upward and another droplet struck her in the eye. But
didn't stop her from seeing. Saliva! Above her crouched something extremely
nasty looking with more teeth than she wanted to think about and a writhing,
serpentine shape. It dropped to the ground before her, bracing itself on
hundreds of thin legs. She felt for her sword to defend herself, struggling
at the same time to wipe the burning saliva from her eye. Dammit! She'd left
her sword a good twenty yards away, and she'd allowed herself to succumb to
this place's magic! Stupid, stupid, stupid! There was no way to make it to
her sword before the creature struck....and could she kill it bare-handed?

There was a flash of movement in her peripheral vision, and the creature
stiffened, gave a hoarse cry, and fell forward almost on top of her. An
elegant sword stood quivering in its back. An almost familiar-looking
sword....Its owner stepped forward and wrenched the sword out of the
creature's back. He calmly wiped it clean on the grass as Jono stared.

He shook his head at her and frowned. "I thought you were smarter than that,
Jono," he said. "Have you forgotten everything I taught you?" Jono just
shook her head and gazed with open astonishment on the man whom she had
expected to see.

It was her grandfather Corwin.