A Bride for Merlin
Session XIX, 29 September 2000
In the Courts of Chaos Ghislain is having tea with Duke Flark. Flark expresses concern over the extreme lack of communication from Seonaid and Fendrith, and more recently from Shandor. He is also interested in Gracian. He would like Ghislain to go find them and discretely report back to him what has happened.
Feng, now the baron of KH!, is with Flark and is to be Ghislain's point of contact.
Ghislain returns to the Ways of Jesby. There he opens a trump contact to Shandor. He meets some resistance...
Shandor is in Corwin's library reading books with Suhuy. He just finished reading Zelazny's version of the Merlin books and was discussing matters with Suhuy. Suhuy asks Shandor to come with him, suddenly, telling him not to bring up the Logrus. Heading to the pattern Shandor perceives a Trump call. He asks Suhuy if he may take it, and is told, "Why wouldn't you?"
Ghislain and Shandor are connected by Trump. Shandor tells Ghislain that he is standing near a Pattern. Ghislain asks to come through, which Shandor checks with Suhuy. Suhuy says, "Well, it shouldn't hurt him any more than anything else he's been through." Ghislain comes through and is provided a Chaos Cloak.
Fendrith stands outside with Gracian, Merlin, and Corwin's Ghost, watching Seonaid walk the Pattern. Over Merlin's shoulder there has been a sparkly mote hanging over his shoulder. It begins speaking to Merlin in Merlin's voice. "Someone is trying to interrupt. I will check this out." It moves away from Merlin to hover near Seonaid.
Fendrith asks Merlin what the mote is, and is told it is "Ghostwheel". "He is a trump computer," Merlin elaborates.
"What does he mean, someone is trying to interrupt?"
"Well, if someone is trying to interfere, he may try to shield her. In a worst case scenario, he can trump her out of there."
"He's done it before, with me at least."
"I thought that would be fatal."
"He is... energized... with Pattern, among other things."
Fendrith notices a rainbow to the color of the sparks around Seonaid, and Corwin comments, "I better get ready, someone is trying to interfere." He vanishes, appearing at the center of the Pattern, not in Seonaid's way, but close to her.
Audrey-Manette is looking after Keliith. "Cool, you can be my Gun Moll." She just pats him on the head. They go off to dabble in the local real estate market and "stay out of trouble." ...Yeah, right.
Seonaid has made it through the First and Second Veils, passing around the Grand Curve, and moving into the Final Veil. Here, she notices a distraction that slowly grows, and soon notices that someone is trying to Trump her. Forced between accepting and stopping on the Pattern, she takes the contact and presses on. It comes with such ease, it could have burned through even if she had fought it off.
He has a green shirt, dark green pants, and a black cloak, closed at the neck with a clasp in the shape of a phoenix. Over one eye is a black eye patch. In one hand may be a card, and in the other is a crossbow. The crossbow is leveled at her heart. She recognizes Brand from Fendrith's description... this is one of the two people who was fighting Julia.
The contact becomes almost physical, more and more solid. She continues walking forward to finish the task before her.
Fendrith notices a prismatic image of the one-eyed guy with the crossbow appear in the center of the Pattern, the crossbow, and the danger. Corwin draws forth Greyswandir, slashing through the image of Brand as if he weren't there. Brand fires his crossbow. Ghostwheel expands into a swirling hoop of light as he drops down over Seonaid, vanishing with her.
Fendrith pauses to take this all in as Shandor, Suhuy, and Ghislain see all this from the Rose Garden.
"Well, that's something you don't see everyday," Shandor helpfully observes. "So, what just happened?"
Suhuy adds, "Many things at once."
Corwin's Ghost approaches, and is introduced to Ghislain by Shandor. Fendrith greets Ghislain (in draco-homid form). He makes note of the fact someone just left Corwin's Pattern and asks, "What happened to Princess Seonaid."
Corwin and Merlin exchange a look, and Merlin says, "I'll handle it." He tells Ghislain, "Anything you have learned here is hereby sealed to the Crown of Chaos. You. Will. Tell. No one. This specifically includes your patron, Lord Flark."
Fendrith wonders, "Where did Seonaid go?"
Merlin focuses on a card. "I'd ask Ghostwheel, but I think he's still rebooting."
"Corwin, what do you think?" he asks.
"I say we wait a little bit, and if she doesn't turn up, we go look for them."
Shandor asks, "Is there a way to triangulate where Brand's pattern might be?"
Suhuy butts in, "Well, actually… during the aftermath of Patternfall, we did do some observations, and did determine the general area of this other locus."
Fendrith decides to go look now. He wanders off.
Merlin is consulting his cards.
Shandor asks Suhuy for more detail. "We could get to a certain distance from this disturbance, and could go no further."
Shandor continues discussing cosmology with Suhuy.
Ghislain looks over Merlin's shoulder; there is a trump of Seonaid in the center of his reading, appearing to be drawn by his own hand, perhaps drawn following the Commencement gala.
Keliith says, "You know, this was fun a couple of bags of money ago... I have an idea… Fendrith is heading off that way, let's go follow him."
Audrey-Manette suggests they should rather return to the villa. Keliith insists his idea would be "more fun." He ends up giving her the moneybags and heading off alone.
"I'll just leave these in your room then," and she wanders back toward the Villa. It is an awful lot of money. Once in sight of the Villa, she turns the load over to servants, which take two thirds to Keliith's room and a third to her room. She lingers near the Rose Garden, and seeing Suhuy and Shandor out there, goes to join them.
Noticing Merlin is occupied she hangs back.
Fendrith is off at top speed, to put as much distance between him and Corwin's world as fast as he can. Once out and away he begins seeking Seonaid.
Shandor asks Audrey-Manette where Keliith went. She pauses before replying and Ghislain introduces himself.
Shandor re-asks his question, "So, Audrey-Manette, where is Keliith."
Audrey-Manette looks around for a new distraction. "Uh, he left… he asked me to take some things to his room. I'm tired of following that little boy around."
"And how did you get here?"
"And how did he get here?"
"Was he following someone?" Ghislain asks.
"No, and why am I answering you?" Audrey-Manette continues, "This all started when we wanted to find out what happened to her when her concert was canceled."
Everyone stares at each other for a minute.
Fendrith is flying along. His danger sense begins tickling him about being followed. He flies faster, and the feeling fades. On occasion the feeling returns, as he works on making progress on his goal. Eventually, after the sensation goes away for a while, it returns, this time in front of him. It's not a threat, just a worry.
On the horizon he spots a familiar-looking canine. He salutes and wiggles is wingtips as Keliith changes to human form and flags him down.
"May I have a lift?"
"I was looking for your sister."
"I know, she's that way, you were headed in the right direction." He puts on an aviator helmet and goggles, wearing Suhuy's bomber jacket, and climbs on Fendrith's back. They set off.
Back at the rose garden, Merlin is finished with his cards. "Well, right now she's still alive, but injured. I have no word from Ghostwheel, so I'll go get some stuff and go track her down." He goes inside and retrieves some scuba gear. Opening a Trump, he leaves.
Audrey-Manette goes back to her room and counts her (very real, as she discovers) money.
After an hour or so, a sparkling light opens and out steps Merlin carrying Seonaid. Seonaid has a crossbow bolt in her chest and appears partly frozen. There is a crust of ice over her, and a few crystals hang from Merlin's clothes and skin.
Medical attention arrives from the house staff.
Out in shadow, Keliith says, "She just moved. I think she went back. ...You can take a shortcut through here, to get back. Look for the purple cloud." Almost immediately he spots the mountain village on the horizon.
"Can you teach me to do that?"
"I wish I could, it doesn't work all the time."
"Can we buzz those rabbits? Just for fun?"
"Sure... flame on..." He swoops down, torching a couple rabbits for no good reason. Thinking he's a little hungry, Keliith points out a cow, and the dragon is fed.
Seonaid is thawed, the bolt is extracted, and the hole is patched, and after a very long while her consciousness is restored. She has an ache in her chest, and is lying in bed with an IV, administering whole blood.
The only one in the room seems to be Fendrith.
Keliith returns to Audrey-Manette's room. "Fendrith and I went flying."
"Did you find Seonaid?"
"No, Merlin got her first."
"Um, there's a guy here you should watch out for. Ghislain…"
"Oh I know him, he's weird. If you see him with a trump of Seonaid though, tell me. He's not supposed to have one of her."
"Okay. What will you do now?"
"Oh, stick around, keep Seonaid out of trouble."
The stick around the place, hanging out.
Shandor is hungry, and looks for food. Corwin agrees, and Merlin tags along. The go to rustle up some steaks. Gracian, Suhuy, and Ghislain all arrive for dinner, as well as Audrey-Manette and Keliith.
Seonaid stirs, tries to sit up, fails. Fendrith is here and notices she's awake. She groans.
"I bet you're hungry."
"Did you get the license plate off that asteroid?"
"No asteroid this time. Do you think you can stomach some steak."
"Small bites… or stew…" she moans.
A servant is summoned and goes for pillows and chicken soup. She is propped, and has a cup of soup at a time from the generous tureen. Fendrith stays, "Ghislain is here."
"Oh, is he?"
"Doesn't that seem odd to you… here of all places?"
"Oh, yes, I suppose," she says weakly.
"Oh that's he was working for Flark... he was working for Flark?!" She looks a little more awake now. "Do you think he knows already?"
"He saw you on the pattern."
"He's not stupid. I don't see what we can do about it now."
"We could kill him."
"On the other hand that might anger Flark."
She sighs, groaning at the discomfort in her chest.
"I think we should visit my mother's Shadow."
"Are you up to traveling?"
"If you can make sure I don't fall off, I can get attention when we get there."
They depart, using Seonaid's Trump.
At the dinner table are Merlin, Audrey-Manette, Keliith, Shandor, Corwin, Gracian, Suhuy, and Ghislain. Shandor talks with Keliith.
"You are getting drafted, how'd you like to help?"
"What are you offering?" Keliith doesn't make any effort to be covert. He turns to Audrey-Manette, "Want to be my agent? I'll give you 20%..."
She says, "Okay. "
"Good." He looks at Shandor's plate. "Are you going to eat that?" he asks.
"Just try it," growls Shandor.
Keliith says, "Okay!" and stabs a piece of steak. Shandor attempts to parry, failing. Information is learned.
"Regardless... you seem to be skilled in finding paths. How do you do this?"
"I just do it."
Shandor discusses metaphysics with a ravenous seven-year old.
"Could you find your way to another Pattern?"
"Can you clear this with my mom and dad?" he replies with a smirk.
Audrey-Manette watches Merlin, who is a little shocked that Keliith parried Shandor's fork. She tries flirting with Merlin, who remains Merlin (clueless). Audrey-Manette actually does try to play footsie(!) with Merlin. Merlin is momentarily distraced, Audrey-Manette is perfectly composed, no sign of her sub-table antics. Merlin, being Corwin's son, starts talking more to Audrey.
Shandor notices this. He interrupts, "Merlin, I have a question for you. Ghostwheel is capable of high level computations... can he search for Brand's Pattern?"
"After he completes his emergency restart, we will work on that." Merlin says, successfully distracted for the moment from the young girl next to him.
Shandor turns to address Corwin to discuss more Metaphysics.
Audrey-Manette turns to Merlin to discuss more pleasantries. Keliith whispers quietly to her, reminding him about dancing at the Casino. She invites Merlin out for a date.
Merlin considers the offer. "Don't take this the wrong way," he whispers. "But I think you're a little young for me."
She replies, "That doesn't mean I have to dance with you."
Shandor hears only whispers.
Ghislain talks to Suhuy, asking after the Iron Wastes. Suhuy explains they are good sources of power for artifacts and constructs, hotly contested between the houses.
Midway through dinner, Keliith pauses, looks up, and nudges Audrey-Manette.
"Yes," she asks.
"They're gone," he says.
"We should retire," she says, and he nods.
"I'm going to the casino…" Audrey-Manette says. Keliith indicates he's into that (even if Merlin was reluctant).
"You want to follow them?"
"Not like there's anything else to do here."
"Someone is being picky."
"He told you you were too young?"
"Someone who needs to get married shouldn't be so picky."
Keliith makes a derogatory comment towards adults.
"Let's just go see what's up…" and they depart.
Fendrith arrives in the Ways of Minobee with an invalid Seonaid. They ask after Kalto and Anakara, and a Troll directs them to Kaltoways. Seonaid asks to borrow Anakara's fast-time Shadow, and Kalto says no. "We're keeping you here and we're accelerating this place."
Eventually, Kalto asks if anyone has told Jurt about Julia.
Seonaid and Fendrith both say, "No."
"Do not volunteer to be the one to tell Jurt."
"As in he'd kill the messenger?"
"Jurt has been jealous of Merlin, and has made attempts to kill Merlin. I think it would be a bad idea for you to tell him."
On the first day of her recovery, Fendrith goes off to investigate Ghislain.
Eventually Keliith and Audrey-Manette and a few dozen large bags of gold arrive at Kaltoways.
"I finally brought him back."
Keliith shows off his funds.
Kalto asks, "You come by that honestly?"
"He did," Audrey-Manette insists.
"What will you do with it?"
"Save some, play with some..."
Kalo nods his head approvingly.
Seonaid helps count Keliith's money. She gets a 5% cut for the money handling. There are a few funky coins, just enough to be worth the trouble.
Suhuy, Ghislain and Shandor discuss the possibilities for Seonaid's next Pattern Walk, including using her to locate Brand's Pattern (rejected out of hand as too risky). They also discuss options for backtracking Brand's Pattern, and other ideas. Suhuy doesn't expect any more interference in her future attempts.
Shandor leaves, Ghislain stays.
In the Courts of Chaos, Shandor investigates his uncle, Nethozhen Vrell of House Helgram. This man was a Master Sorcerer and an Adept of the Logrus, and possibly an Initiate of Trump as well. He was involved in a private scandal and fled Chaos before he could be punished. The Shadows he frequented no longer exist, and his personal Ways have disappeared. He was an associate of Shandor's elder brother, Cjereg. Both of these people talked to Robaird, Ghislain's elder brother, who died about the time of the scandal.
Nethozhen was a specialist of demonology and necromancy, with several Shadows of the Iron Wastes tied into his personal Ways. These places were utterly destroyed (or consumed) by an unspecified method.
Shandor goes to Thelbane to visit Mandor.
"Shandor, what a pleasure, do come in."
"Is this secure?"
"Did you know my brother?"
"Did you happen to know Nethozhen?"
"Are either still around?"
"I have not seen them since their disappearance."
"Do you know the details of the scandal?"
"Nothing I am at liberty to discuss. In my personal opinion what I know of what he did was not detrimental to the ways of Chaos."
Shandor thanks Mandor for his time and returns to the Sawall library to research some Genealogy. Nethozhen studied with Vnu Elricson-Melnibone, the current guild master of Sorcery, and with Duke Arioch Helgram.
Fendrith returns to Ghislain at the Library at Corwin's Pattern. Ghislain is reading the Merlin chronicles.
Fendrith begins, "How is Lord Flark doing?"
"Well, Duke Flark is in Thelbane like a caged rat."
"That's got to be galling for him..."
"I would assume, he doesn't tell me much."
"That's not in his nature. So, what brings you here?"
"I was just going to talk to Shandor... He was doing so many interesting things."
"Funny, I thought maybe you were here to see Seonaid."
"No, she's... No, she is a really nice person but I was here to see Shandor. I assume you took her back to her parents? Is she alright?"
Fendrith continues, "Have you discovered anything more about her Pirate recordings?"
"I had to take a side trip for Flark, since then I haven't learned anything new. I updated Hraalk, I just haven't had the time… official duties, and now I'm just taking a break. Why is Shandor here?"
"Can you tell me where Shandor is?"
"He said he was going back to Chaos. Can't you find him?"
"Sometimes I get lucky."
Fendrith is talk to Merlin. "You know of my duties as Seonaid’s body guard. Are these surroundings secure?"
"As good as could be expected."
"May I borrow your trump of Lord Shandor?"
"Yes." He hands the trump to Fendrith.
Fendrith Trumps Shandor.
Shandor, in the library, makes them wait a bit, then takes the call.
Fendrith asks, "Did you call Ghislain to this place?"
"No, he called me."
"Ah. Via trump? As Seonaid’s bodyguard, I’m a little concerned... maybe even paranoid. How well do you know Ghislain."
"He was an art tutor when I was younger, typical artist."
"Well, maybe I’m just a little paranoid. It seems he has more than his fair share of chance encounters. I thank you for your information."
Fendrith returns the Trump to Merlin.
Seonaid, once recovered, says she wishes to return to Corwin’s. Her intentions plain, her father insists on coming along. She invites her mother too.
"I had these prepared." He draws Fendrith’s Trump, contacts Fendrith, and goes through to Corwin’s home. She asks her father to have extra Trumps made.
Seonaid takes everyone to see Julia. Fendrith tells Seonaid that Ghislain is still here. Seonaid asks her parents if they are familiar with Ghislain and they are. Julia is still unconscious.
Corwin agrees to a second attempt to take the Pattern. Suhuy joins the party to watch Seonaid's Pattern Walk.
Once at the center, Seonaid teleports to Jasra’s laboratory at the Keep of the Four Worlds. Jasra is not there. Seonaid casts an invisibility spell for her and Corwin’s Ghost, who accompanied her. Corwin’s Ghost inserts some special stuff to stealth the spell against Jasra.
They wait. Eventually the door opens. In walks a redheaded matronly woman dressed in blue and green. It is Jasra, and with no reservation, Seonaid snaps her neck. "I missed a chance once..." she tells Corwin’s ghost. Corwin picks up the body, and Seonaid Trumps Fendrith. They all come through.
Corwin walks the body over to the pattern and dumps it. What was once Jasra vanishes in a burst of blue flame. The only witnesses are Corwin’s Ghost and Fendrith. The Ghost says, "Never leave behind evidence, Granddaughter."
"Let’s go get some food." Seonaid leads the three to the dining room.
Ghislain asks, "So have you walked the Pattern yet?"
"Yes, I have, thank you for asking."
"Do you feel any different?"
"Kinda like turning 18."
"I don’t get it."
Shandor researches the Shadows that Cjereg frequented. A few Shadows in the Iron Wastes destroyed or consumed by some horrible accident that occurred about the time Shandor’s parents died. There is a place in Sawall kept for Cjereg. As the eldest surviving male relative, Shandor visits. The Logrus detects a spell on his door to notify Shandor, Despil, and Mandor. Shandor modifies the spell so they know it is him opening the door and goes in, closing the door behind him.
The place seems to have already been "sanitized". Clothes Cjereg has probably never worn... personal effects he probably never owned... etc. Exploring things, he finds a statuette with a stone inside it. Shandor recognizes the stone... it is a soul gem. It contains the psychic ashes of thousands of entities that it had once contained. It is burned out now, useless. Shandor takes it with him.
A brief search finds nothing else, he leaves and resets the ward. Returning to his time-accelerated lab, he investigates. The Gem once had connections to other shadows that helped power it. It was designed to use the life forces of the natives of that shadow and using them to its own means. It is certainly Cjereg’s work, and is older than Shandor. It seems to have been burned out in the accent he investigated. He cannot tell the last spell cast, but it seems to be one to channel energy from its source to a consumer of some sort. Shandor is not sure which shadows this was connected to, but they seem to be ones in the Iron Wastes.
Shadowy patterns are burned into the Gem that permit Shandor to reverse engineer the spells involved. It is far advanced of his current understanding, and he could study this for years. Just a glance points out flaws in the one he himself had made earlier.
Shandor knows Feng is newly a Baron of an Iron Waste shadow. Shandor goes to KH!, to "visit." All of the Gem’s shadows were near here. They are gone now, totally and utterly consumed. Anyone attuned to this device might have a resonance with this Shadow, it is so close.
Exploring with the Logrus, he searches for such resonance, but does not find them here.
Shandor returns to his lab to experiment and contemplate.