The night passed somewhat uneasily, something I imagine is not too
uncommon when you are alone in a strange place, in an unknown situation,
with a creature growing inside of you. Matters were not improved by the
manner in which I awoke. Mok, or Dworkin, it becomes difficult to tell at
times who is in charge there, began to go from teepee to teepee, yelling,
"Wakey, wakey," in the most irritatingly cheerful voice. I wished
heartily for a large weight to drop on him. This did not happen, of
course, but Claudio apparently had similar sentiments, for he began to
chase Mok around the camp. Unfortunately, this did little to shut him up.
I relegated the noise to the background, straightened up as best I could,
and emerged from my teepee. My stomach reminded me strongly that
breakfast was in order. At least my abdomen had not increased too much in
size during the night. It would not do to have people noticing that I was
pregnant. I found a comfortable spot and began to eat breakfast, thankful
that conjuration, at least, still worked well enough to be serviceable.
Which was when the background noise suddenly intruded on my peace once
more. Tired of annoying everyone by yelling in their teepees, Dworkin had
shifted to annoying them by whining for food. My food, of course. I gave
in and conjured what he asked for. Anything to silence him and get us on
our way quickly. I wanted this over and done with. I did not like the
idea of being away from Chaos while Kaedric was in his...condition.
We finally broke camp and began riding again. And riding, and
riding, and riding... It seemed like forever, passing Shadow after
Shadow. Interestingly enough, many of them seemed to be having conflicts
of the sort we had witnessed the previous night, with the users of magic
fighting the users of technology. Given the state of sorcery, the
sorcerers were usually on the losing end. I was briefly concerned about
Ixaxis, then recalled that Kaedric had shut it down after we left for
Mayfair. It, at least, should be unaffected.
Mok's announcement that we had nearly reached our destination was
greeted with no small amount of relief, and I took a closer look at the
Shadow we were in. It was winter, and the land was barren. There was a
medieval feel to the place. I am not sure what I was expecting the Plane
of Trump to look like, but this was not it. We did not have much time to
inspect the area, however, for as we approached a crossroads, the quiet
was abruptly shattered by the sound of three men on horseback, racing as
if for their very lives. For a moment or two, it was not clear what,
precisely, they were fleeing from. Then *it* appeared. Living in Chaos,
one gets used to seeing all manner of strange creatures, but it did not
make the sight of this one any easier to bear. It looked like some vile
cross between a spider and some sort of reptile, all legs and claws. It
began pursuing the riders, and was quickly joined by another two of its
ilk. I did not feel any particular need to draw any closer to either the
creatures or their victims, so I called a halt. My companions felt more
charitably inclined, however, and proceeded to wade into the fray. Except
for Mok, who seemed to be trying to conjure a bow, and failing miserably.
Oh, he managed a bow, all right, but it was suitable only as a child's
toy. Not that it mattered. Caine, Claudio and Sky made relatively short
work of the creatures, then rode to join the men who had been fleeing,
along with their reinforcements who had arrived sometime during the fight.
I decided that perhaps someone should investigate the site where the
creatures had appeared, lest more show up to inconvenience us. Given that
no one else seemed to be paying any attention to this possibility, that
someone would have to be me. With a sigh, I made myself invisible,
thankful that the trip to Ivory had provided me with a means of using
sorcery at full strength, at least for a time.
The site did not take long to reach, but I could discern nothing
unusual about it. There was no trace of power that I could detect. How
aggravating. My contemplation of the problem was interrupted by the
arrival of Mok, riding in my general direction and calling out my name. I
wondered who had sent him after me, and why? It is not as though I am not
capable of taking care of myself. I was still trying to decide whether to
reveal myself, or watch him ride in circles for a little while longer,
when suddenly I sensed something. A disturbance. It was Trump energy,
but not used in any way that I could comprehend, much less circumvent. I
moved away from the site, and not a moment too soon, for more monsters
began emerging and racing towards the now joined groups. I was
congratulating myself on the foresight of turning invisible, when one of
the creatures turned and began sniffing the air in my direction. My smug
expression faded somewhat at that. I would have to work on improving my
shapeshifting enough to eliminate my scent in the future. Or perhaps a
spell... Of course, first I would have to avoid getting eaten.
Since the creature was beginning to move towards me, I proceeded
to move downwind of it with alacrity. I did not move far from the area,
however. The energy that was being used to transport the creatures
intrigued me. Who was behind it? And how were they managing it? It was
a power I would have given much to possess. Unfortunately, despite being
in close proximity to the gate while it functioned, I still could not gain
any insight into its power. To make matters worse, the one that had
detected me managed to call a few of its brethren back, and they were
beginning to make a more determined search for me. I shifted to my demon
form and took to the air, reasoning that even if they did manage to find
me, they would not be able to reach me, since they showed no signs of
being capable of flight. The creatures soon proved me right, for although
they stopped and sniffed at the air, they made no attempt to follow me.
Good. I took the opportunity to take advantage of my heightened vantage
point to see how the others were faring. Some 28 creatures appeared to
have emerged through the gate. Mok had wisely fled the area, apparently
soon after they began to appear. He seemed to have joined forces with
Claudio and his family, who for some reason had moved away from the local
inhabitants with who they had been conversing, and were moving in my
direction. Perhaps they thought they could more easily kill the creatures
as they emerged? I flew to Mok and suggested that Dworkin should
investigate the gate, much as it hurt my pride to admit that I could not
decipher it. My pride did not suffer for long, however, as Dworkin fared
no better than I. This made me rather uneasy, though. Who could wield a
power that even Dworkin could not understand? This was the man who had
rewritten the entire universe! I shivered a bit, thankful for my
invisibility once more.
Despite the large number of creatures, they were eventually all
destroyed, with the only losses coming among the Shadow dwellers.
Naturally. I asked Dworkin if we were at the source of the problem yet.
He revealed that we had a little farther to go within the Shadow. Since
this was in the direction that the men we had saved were traveling, we
decided to accompany them. The leader of the men introduced himself as
Castellan Lebbick, and referred to the area as Mordant. Apparently, they
had been plagued by monsters for almost a year, despite the efforts of the
local "imagers" to find the source of the invasion and stop it.
Unfortunately, the man had not seen either Benedict or Fiona come this
way. Pity. It would have indicated that we were on the right track.
Upon hearing that Claudio was a Prince, he promptly decided that we must
meet the King, it was not long before we approached a castle with a large
hole in one of its walls. Our guide explained that it had been made by an
armored seven-foot-tall man with a laser who several of these "imagers"
had found and pulled out of a mirror. The man immediately proceeded to
blast his way out of the castle, killing two of the imagers in the
process. Fools. To bring through someone equipped for war, and have no
means of holding him, is an act of sheer lunacy. My opinion of these
imagers lowered considerably upon hearing of this.
Lebbick spoke briefly to one of the castle's inhabitants, and we
were shown to an anteroom where we could make ourselves presentable after
our little skirmish. Claudio asked Dworkin if the mirrors being used by
the imagers were like Trump. Dworkin was not certain, claiming it had
been a while since he had been to the Plane of Trump. I began to wonder
if in restarting the universe, he had not lost a good part of his mind.
This did not seem like the man we had known before. He was still
annoying, certainly, but...much of his knowledge seemed to be lacking. A
pity. It would have been nice to verify my own suspicions about the
mirrors. Of course, the old Dworkin probably would not have shared the
We had not been in the anteroom for long, when Mok spotted Ragnar
wandering by and Claudio called him over. I cannot say I was particularly
pleased to see Ragnar, and wished Claudio had just let him continue on his
way. He is, by nature, difficult to predict, since it is impossible to
tell from day to day who he is working for. I feared his presence would
only complicate matters. Even I could not have foreseen how much havoc he
would wreak, however.
Claudio's purpose in calling Ragnar over turned out to be to hire
him as a bodyguard. For me. I found the very idea laughable. Somehow,
Claudio had gotten it into his head that Kaedric would kill him if
anything happened to me. While I must admit I found that thought rather
enjoyable, I was not quite naive enough to believe it would actually
happen. Claudio also tried to hire Ragnar to capture Job Wickling, but
Ragnar chose not to accept the job, claiming that even if he could,
Claudio could not afford him. I shook my head at this. One does not hire
assassins openly in a room full of people, especially when those people
are your relatives. If Claudio continued at this rate, he was going to be
eliminated before House Wickling was. Not that this would break my heart,
of course, but I did wonder what Kaedric was thinking, assigning Claudio
to do a job that required subtlety.
Eventually, we were joined by a man named Eremis, who claimed to
be the head of the imagers. He informed us that the King was not seeing
visitors, but offered to show us their room of mirrors. Naturally, we
excepted. From the sound of it, they used the images in the mirrors for
to help them with various crises. A mirror of a seascape, for example,
was used in putting out fires. Apparently they had been looking for
someone to fight the creatures when they pulled through the man who blew a
hole in their wall. I resolved that I would have to return here, once
things had settled down a bit, and learn more of how these mirrors worked.
It seemed too close to Trump to be ignored, especially given where we
It was the third mirror that Eremis showed us that caught my
immediate attention. It displayed a man sitting next to a fire outside of
a cave. Which would not have been particularly interesting, except for
the fact that the man appeared to be Benedict. And he did not look very
pleased. I inquired as to where that particular mirror came from, and was
informed by Eremis that it was a new one. He would not pull Benedict out
of it, however, since it was against their precepts to pull someone out of
the mirrors, it being theorized that the people depicted therein have
their own lives. What a strange notion. Why picture the people in the
mirrors at all, if you are not willing to use them? Eremis did offer to
find out who had made the mirror, once I told him the man contained in it
looked like someone we were trying to find. It seemed that trapping
someone against their will in one of the mirrors was frowned upon, which
would work to our advantage, assuming the man was truly Benedict. The
assumption became more likely as we continued our tour, since the tenth
mirror we viewed contained a woman who looked much like Fiona, sitting at
a table drinking tea. Like Benedict, she also looked rather annoyed. As
with Benedict's mirror, Fiona's was a new one. Eremis agreed to find out
who had made that one as well. I contemplated what Benedict and Fiona
were likely to do to the guilty party, or parties, when they were freed,
and I smiled. It was not likely to be pleasant.
Our tour at an end, we decided there was little more we could do
until the imager was found. Caine made the sensible suggestion of getting
some sleep while we waited, a suggestion I heartily agreed with. I was
finding that the recent altercation with the creatures was proving to be
somewhat fatiguing, even though I had managed to avoid actually fighting
the things. The pregnancy's influence, no doubt. We were shown quarters,
which I noted to my relief contained no mirrors, and then left alone. I
used a more of my precious store of energy to cast some defensive wards
around the room, then fell asleep almost instantly.
Some indeterminate time later, I became aware of Claudio's voice
in my mind. So faint was it, that I initially dismissed it as the remnant
of a dream. When it persisted, I woke up enough to determine that there
was a correspondence spell present, and it was fading fast, so I added my
own energy to strengthen it. Claudio explained that he had been woken up
by a man by the name of Havalock, who appeared to be a Shadow of Dworkin.
Havalock had shown Claudio two large mirrors that were standing facing
each other, tilted horizontal in their frames so that one lay over the
other. Suspended in between them was a fragment of the Jewel. Claudio
had been warned that to look into either mirror would drive him insane.
It did not take a genius to realize that this could very well be the cause
of the problems we had been experiencing with Trump. I kept the contact
open while I hastily woke the others, prodding Claudio to learn more about
these two mirrors. He soon informed me of Havalock's latest revelation -
the two mirrors contained images of the Pattern and the Logrus. I wanted
to strangle the misshapen old fool. So he was the cause of all of our
difficulties! I relayed this new piece of information on to Mok/Dworkin,
while we searched futilely for the room in where the mirrors were located.
Dworkin urged me to tell Claudio not to break them, but instead to move
them apart slowly. Claudio, upon receiving this information, decided it
might be a good idea to subdue Havalock, before he realized that Claudio
did not share his enthusiasm for his creation. Surprisingly, this was
easily accomplished. Somehow, I was expecting more resistance from a
Shadow of Dworkin. Would that Claudio had thought to secure him once he
was down, though...
We eventually managed to arrive at Claudio's location, once he
told us that Havalock had led him to the mirrors via the wardrobe in his
room. Claudio and I immediately set about moving the mirrors apart, being
especially careful not to glance into them, despite Dworkin's assurances
that we would survive if we did so. I did not trust him any more than I
trusted his Shadow. Insanity can still be considered surviving, after
all. Having experienced a taste of that when I was Logrus mad, I had no
desire to repeat the experience. Once the mirrors were no longer over
each other, we carefully tilted them upright, and the Jewel fragment fell
to the ground. Well, more precisely, it fell into Mok's hand, but it
proved to hot for him to hold, and he dropped it. I would have picked it
up myself, heat not being a problem for a shapeshifter, but at that moment
I was distracted by the return of Trump to its normal state. One problem
resolved. I concentrated and raised the Logrus, determining that it, too,
was behaving as it should be. I breathed a sigh of relief. I had no
means of determining if Pattern had also been restored, but neither did I
care. It was not a power I could use, after all.
We did not have long to enjoy our success, unfortunately, for
Havalock chose that moment to regain consciousness and attempt to regain
his feet. He stumbled in the process, knocking over the Pattern mirror
and shattering it into countless pieces on the floor. Needless to say,
the Amberites were rather dismayed. I was merely thankful that the Logrus
mirror had been left untouched. This was not to be, however. Claudio,
fool that he is, ordered Ragnar to shatter the Logrus mirror, in some
misbegotten attempt to keep the powers balanced, and Ragnar did just that
before anyone could stop him. I was furious, of course. Balance? What
an incredibly idiotic idea. What is the point of power, if your enemy can
counter it? Just where did Claudio's allegiance lie, anyway? Were he not
Kaedric's brother, I would have marked him for death for what he did. A
Prince of Chaos cannot be siding with Amber. His allegiance must be to
Chaos. If he cannot do this, then he should never have accepted the title
Kaedric granted him. I resolved to speak to Kaedric on the matter when I
returned. Assuming we survived.
As the Logrus mirror fragments joined those of the Pattern mirror,
I tensed for some catastrophe to occur, but felt nothing. I carefully
summoned the Logrus, and it seemed normal. I found this disturbing.
There would surely be grave consequences from this. The fact that those
consequences were not obvious, only made them more dangerous.
I questioned Havalock as to what the results of Claudio's idiocy
might be, but he either did not know, or would not say. Unfortunately, I
believe it was the former. He did reveal that if the mirror fragments
were separated, a prophecy could be read. Wanting to salvage something
from this disaster, we set about separating the pieces. When this was
done, images began to appear in each of them, flashing by too quickly to
possibly see and comprehend all of them. I immediately cast a spell to
begin recording all that was displayed. It took the rest of my magical
energy, but in the end, I had a complete record of the prophecy. A fact
Dworkin seemed most interested in. He wanted the recording, so he could
discern the prophecy, but I refused to let it out of my possession. I
offered instead to allow him to study it in my presence at some later
date, providing, of course, that he shared this prophecy with me. He
agreed. I resolved to make another copy of the recording before then.
Just in case he tried to take it with him.
It was at this point that I noticed that the Jewel fragment was
still lying on the floor, unnoticed. Closer inspection confirmed that it
was, indeed, one of the Jewel fragment rings that Dworkin had made for
those of us who survived Ragnarok. Archimedes', to be precise. I
attempted to pick it up unnoticed, hoping to add it to the two I already
possessed. Much to my surprise, when I touched it I realized that it was
pulsing almost as if to a heartbeat, as was the ring on my finger. Before
I could investigate the matter further, Dworkin demanded that I give the
ring to him. I briefly considered refusing him. He had given up Mok's
body in favor of Havalock's, and Havalock was merely a Shadow. On the
other hand, Havalock *had* wreaked havoc with most of the major powers of
the universe, and as an inhabitant of the Plane of Trump, the fact that he
was merely Shadow was by no means certain. I chose, in the end, to
acquiesce to his demands, not wanting to risk opposing Dworkin if it was
not absolutely necessary.
Dworkin proceeded to send Ragnar and Claudio to strong-arm the
imagers who had imprisoned Benedict and Fiona into letting them go. Given
that the task required lots of brawn and no brain, they were certainly the
best qualified for the job. I was simply thankful for the excuse to get
them out of my sight. And it gave me the opportunity to ask Dworkin a few
questions about Ulysses' pregnancy, and the Unicorn and the Serpent's
linked cycles in that regard. Unfortunately, he did not know what
happened to the Serpent's children the last time it had given birth.
Naturally. That would have actually been useful. At least he did not
appear to suspect that I already knew far more about the Serpent's current
offspring than I was letting on.
We were soon joined by Claudio, Ragnar, Fiona, Benedict, and two
very unhappy looking imagers. Fiona and Benedict just looked irritated.
I cannot say I blame them. It is embarrassing enough to have been caught
by Shadows, especially given their reputations, but then to have their
fallibility witnessed by so many of the family... Fiona imprisoned the
imagers in a Shadow pocket, no doubt to torture at her leisure. Although
I was quite curious as to how she and Benedict were actually trapped, it
did not seem a wise question to ask at the moment. Or ever.
No one seemed especially interested in remaining, now that we had
accomplished our mission. No one except me, of course. It was very
tempting to stay and learn more about this place, but I was anxious to
return to Chaos and check on Kaedric's condition. I knew where the Plane
was, though. I would be back.
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