A Bride for Merlin
Session XXX, 16 February 2001
Seonaid is floating bodiless in this dark, lightless void. Eventually she senses something in the void with her, a focus of light, heat, and energy that could best be described as a black star in the black void. This black star throbs, increasing and decreasing in size and strength in some unpredictable cycle. At the edge of the star, she sees hundreds if not thousands of pinpoints of light, that come into existence, or are consumed by the black star, depending on its stellar cycle.
After a small eternity, a microscopic, brilliantly red pinpoint of light appears out of nowhere, traveling away from the black star, and settling at a point where suddenly a blue-white star springs into being. This new star is strong and steady, unchanging.
There comes to be an invisible tug-of-war between the throbbing black star and the steady blue-white star. The advantage passes back and forth.
Eventually, a new star comes into being. This one is tarnished silver, and the contest becomes a three-way tug-of-war.
The more Seonaid watches, she realizes that, actually, there were two newcomers, that a fourth star came into being almost instantly after the tarnished silver one, though she cannot see this fourth star.
Watching the interplay of cosmic forces, she realizes that this is actually a four-way tug-of-war.
The dominant contest is between the black star and the blue-white star. The tarnished silver star is a lesser player, and the force it uses seems to be limited only to the amount used against it. It seems to her that the silver star wishes only to maintain itself, and to not obtain any advantage over the others.
The invisible star, however, seems intent on breaking free from the others.
A four-part spiral pinpoint of light comes to pass through the conflict. About this time, separately, a dozen or so pinpoints of light also come into being, drifting along in their own constellation which seems to slowly grow in number. At some point they drift dangerously close to the invisible star, or where she infers it would be if she could see it.
Part of this constellation is ripped free, and in its hemorrhaging, dozens if not hundreds of new pinpoints are created, and a sense of danger and panic washes over Seonaid as they continue to evolve, becoming a galaxy of millions of pinpoints in the thrall of the invisible sun.
The universe is shattered, and each star moves off in its separate way.
Eventually a voice says "Solution acquired," and Seonaid awakens.
Seonaid wakes in Thelbane, having rested during the conflict. One of the seven Hydrae floating over her head -- (...Seven? Weren't there five?) -- informs Seonaid that its attempt to infiltrate the Undershadow has succeeded. She asks for a report. She doesnít gain much enlightenment, but notices that three of them are smaller than the other four.
Asking why, the Hydra tells her that these are "newer iterations." Inquiring how many, she finds there are now about 45 million Hydra, where only a week ago there were just twenty (that's 20, not 20 million, just 20).
She contacts Julia to compare notes. Julia says that each Hydra consumes the dedicated output of an entire shadow. Seonaid asks how the shadows are selected, and what her careless order may have destroyed.
As the number of Hydra increase, Seonaid asks some to leave, and finds that each of them now has its own, rather annoying sometimes, personality.
A careless comment sends a homicidal Hydra off to commit genocide ("Hydracide?"), and she then asks the remaining Hydrae to go to contain its efforts.
Audrey-Manette, Vincenzo, Shandor, and Fendrith are at the Keep of the Four Worlds, partaking of breakfast.
Veritable galaxies of Hydrae, who request to play in the Fount of Power, surround Audrey-Manette. Though she denies the request, at least a dozen have already left. She soon gets a report that Hydra are playing near the Fount. She excuses herself to find Sharu Garrul zapping them. They snap, crackle, and pop, disappearing, but others appear, as though he were simply cutting the heads off a mythical beast.
Shandor tags along to watch the spectacle.
Audrey tells Sharu to let one in.
A fountain of fire starts erupting. She tells Sharu to shut that Hydraís access down. Audrey asks him to kill it, and it does not die. Audrey attempts to dispatch it and fails. Then a bolt of Primal Chaos takes it out.
"Thank you, Dad," Audrey tells Vincenzo. Then she asks him to take care of some of the rest, and he releases a wall of Primal Chaos, dispatching many.
Shandor collects one that is left, and talks with it about scholarly pursuits. Shandor invites it to join him in some research. It forcibly attempts to meld with him, forcing him to destroy it using Primal-Chaos.
Audrey finds the Trumps are still warm. She asks a remaining Hydra to contact Julia, then another to find Keliith. The two Hydrae proceed on their way.
(New movie: Dr. StrangeSawall, or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Hydra. ;-)
Eventually a half-dozen closely associated Hydrae dive into the Fount of Power in one swift action. A half-dozen fireballs eventually rise from the Fount and disappear.
Four very strong Hydrae settle around Audrey-Manette. She asks one to guard the Fount, and discusses sending another after the rogue half-dozen. That particular one wishes to know, "Whatís in it for me?"
Meanwhile, Fendrith eats breakfast.
Later on, Fendrith wishes to take the initiation, now, and Audrey reluctantly agrees.
After a few idle comments from Shandor, one of the Hydra attempts to create a physical body, which it decides is rather useless, and it returns to its original form.
Shandor observes the ceremony as Audrey and Fendrith proceed. Audrey informs him he wonít be able to reproduce things, should he try.
Vincenzo turns down the offer to take the initiation, and points out that it would only be polite to ask Shandor as well. She rudely turns away the idea, and her dad promises a future lecture on the subject of manners.
She concedes and offers Shandor the opportunity, which he defers, pending further observation.
And following his short drink from a certain Fount, Fendrith pops into the Kitchen of the Keep of the Four Worlds, raiding the pastry dish.
Audrey designates two of her Hydrae as "Johnny Hydra" and "Fonzie Hydra". She announces plans to visit Julia, and Vincenzo decides to come along. Fendrith stays as Captain of the Guard, after cleaning himself of pastry crumbs using his new power. Shandor also comes along.
The party arrives at Juliaís residence. The roof has been blown off, and there is a strong smell of smoke.
Audrey knocks, and the door creeks open loosely on its hinges.
Vincenzo walks in, calling "Hello?"
"Iím here, in the study... or what was the study..." Julia calls.
Julia is brushing herself off, looking like she was the epicenter of an explosion of some sort.
Audrey informs Julia that a half-dozen got into the Fount, and that one of hers considers the Fount to be an "insignificant power."
Julia blanches. After looking at Johnny Hydra, she explains that it is now powered by approximately 30 shadows, instead of just one.
Audrey asks Johnny for some privacy. They discuss plans for getting things back into control. Shandor contributes, suggesting disrupting their shadows. Julia admits making a few mistakes in her research. She suspects that the shadow-storm may have accelerated the time flow, causing the rapid evolution before she could intervene to manage the situation.
Audrey admits not knowing what to do. Eventually a Corwin arrives, followed by Dara, followed by another Corwin. Audrey retreats, becoming as unassuming as possible as this becomes a Corwin-Corwin-Julia matter.
Three Hydrae, Johnny and two others, return. One tries to sneak up behind Dara, but a glance from a Corwin sends it back the way it came.
Audrey attempts to herd cats (well, Hydrae, in any case).
One of the Hydrae leaves.
Shandor jokingly suggests it went to walk Corwin's Pattern.
One of the Corwins gets a look of panic and instantly blips out.
Almost immediately thereafter, Johnny Hydra jumps onto Audrey, shoving her down onto the floor.
The wall nearest the remaining Corwin then explodes.
Fendrith attempts to contact Audrey though Fonzie Hydra. As it establishes communication, a big cone of explosion comes through the connection and hits Fendrith in the face, sending him skidding back about 30 feet.
Fonzie Hydra seems disrupted, and takes a moment to sort out his condition. The connection seems to still be open.
Fendrith asks Johnny (through Fonzie) what happened, and Johnny says there have been causalities. Asking whom, Johnny says heíll get back to Fendrith.
Shandor has a wall atop him. A silver gauntlet shoves it aside, and pulls Shandor from the rubble, ordering him to help. He tells Shandor not to bring up the Logrus just yet.
The surroundings look like the result of a small atomic bomb.
Vincenzo pulls Audrey-Manette unconscious from the rubble.
Lady Dara seems to have escaped in the pandemonium. Corwin plans to go after her in a moment. When Shandor offers to help, Corwin comments, "Iíd prefer not to have any witnesses. Of course, I didnít just say that."
"Say what?" Shandor says.
Corwin eventually finds Julia Barnes-Sawall, badly bruised, two arms and a leg broken, and covered in a great deal of blood. Corwin begins CPR. Shandor begins modifying his full-heal spell for Juliaís non-shapeshifting physiology.
Eventually, Julia coughs a bit, but does not awake. Vincenzo brings a first aid kit, and tends to her wounds.
Fendrith is rather worried. He checks the Trumps, which seem to be void. He considers the options he has through the power of the Fount, and canít seem to pull communication out of the hat it has given him. Still, he decides to use it to power a communication spell he has on his rack.
Trying for Audrey-Manette, he gets a walloping headache, and the connection fizzles. It did seem to connect for a moment. Once the connection is gone, so is the headache.
He tries someone else. He tries Shandor, this time.
Shandor detects an inbound communication spell, augmented by something, from Fendrith. Without the Logrus up, he cannot block it.
Shandor explains the situation.
Corwin suggests removing Julia from the scene for medical attention. Shandor explains their concerns about Brandís Pattern and Juliaís health.
Corwin excuses himself to retrieve his ghost.
Corwin returns, and Corwin Ghost blips in. Prince Corwin is rather singed, and Corwin Ghost appears clean and tidy.
Shandor asks Corwin Ghost if Brandís gift has been cured, and is told it is safe to take Julia away now. All traces of the imbedded Pattern are now gone.
Shandor prepares to carry Julia to a medical shadow. Fendrith decides to remain on station at the Keep.
Vincenzo stays with Audrey-Manette, saying heíll met back at the Keep. Prince Corwin departs to search for Dara, and Shandor says goodbye to the Ghost.
Fendrith works on racking another communication spell.
Seonaid finds Anakara in the courtyard. Some badly injured Chaosians are being triaged. Seonaid asks for a moment, and the two talk about her dream.
Anakara expects Seonaid could see the first three because she is of the blood of both Chaos and Amber, and of Corwin as well. Not having the blood of Brand, she should not have seen the fourth star.
Via Logrus the two attempt to cooperate to contact Merlin.
At the Keep, troops of Chaos continue to pass through the waypoint. The path to Brandís pattern has been closed.
Fendrith speaks with Duke Flark, a general of the forces. Flark reports he does not know if the Pattern has been destroyed or rewritten. There were several high-energy manifestations that attacked the troops. The shadow-storm destroyed whoever was not on the Black Road. It began consuming the road, and he and his troops barely made it back.
Fendrith reports on a rogue construct, stating that it belonged to Julia Barnes-Sawall. He describes it and suggests discretion, detailing their known abilities.
Flark inquires about Ghostwheel.
Fendrith mentions the explosion at Corwinís Pattern. Flark muses that they couldnít be lucky enough to have it obliterated too.
Flark promises a future discussion about not being kept informed about things.
[Franklin must add Flarkís detail of the battle, as related to Fendrith.]
Shandor, carrying Julia, casts a spell. He finds himself in a shadow storm, starting to dissolve. A quick teleport brings him to Shandorways, with a smoking body.
Julia is covered in worse-than-fourth-degree burns. Shandor attempts to stabilize her. As he works on her with the Logrus, he repairs her heart, and works out from there, critical areas first.
Julia remains alive, though barely, as he frantically considers where to take her next. He snaps a stasis spell on her, and goes to upgrade his fast-time pocket with superior medical capabilities.
He brings Julia to the new medical lab, and places her in a regenerative unit, waiting for her to recover. He re-racks his spells as he waits, now with two healing spells, one which does not require shape-shifting of its target.
Fendrith works on a second communication spell.
Anakara and Seonaid reach Merlin. They detail her prophetic dream, followed by the details of Juliaís toys.
Merlin claims he understands why she produced Hydra, suspecting it was to restore a balance of power between himself, Jurt, and Julia (and between Ghostwheel and the Fount, by association). Seonaid mentions it may simply have been to remove the labor behind sorcerous pursuits.
Seonaid returns Merlin to Thelbane via the tendril, into the courtyard where the rumors of his return begin.
He thanks Gilva for protecting Seonaid on his and Anakaraís behalf.
"The first thing we need to do is settle with Jendo."
"May I go check up on Audrey-Manette and the Keep?"
Merlin denies this request, Seonaid eventually pushing him into insisting on it. When she turns to walk away in disappointment, he says he wanted to settle things with Jendo immediately.
"And you need me for this," Seonaid asks, rather miffed.
"Oh, very well then." She turns back to him and follows.
Merlin escorts Seonaid, Gilva, and the entourage to the throne room.
[Audrey intends to send Johnny Hydra after Keliith, when she regains consciousness.]