A Bride for Merlin
Session XXXI, 2 March 2001
[A Bride for Merlin is GM-ed before shooting a live audience.]
Shandor is in the medical lab he recently added to Shandorways, checking on his patient. He is told by one of his trolls that a House servant is waiting for him in the entry chamber.
Floating serenely unconscious in her regeneration tank, Julia seems to be stable, and Shandor leaves a note for her outside the tank where she can see it, in case she wakes before he returns.
Upon Shandor's arrival in the entry chamber, the servant greets him. "My lord, the King has commanded your presence, as you are next in line after the Duke."
"Yes." The servant does appear to be carrying formal robes of state for Shandor.
The servant leads Shandor to the Grand Throne Room in Thelbane, draping the robes on him as he goes. A Rod of Office rests across the Ducal Seat of House Sawall, and he takes his place nearby as the Regent of Sawall. The House Elders stand to his sides, and offer advice about when and what he should say and do.
Duke Flark is in his suite at Thelbane, having returned from the war. His uncle has been briefing him, when a servant arrives with Lady Felara in formal robes. Additional robes are provided for Flark and Baron Laan, and the trio goes to attend an emergency session called by King Merlin.
When Flark arrives, "Regent" Jendo Helgram is not sitting at the Seat of Helgram, but instead stands before the Throne of Chaos. Duke Despil Sawall is nowhere to be seen, and standing before the Seat of Sawall is Flark's old buddy Shandor. The other Dukes have all assembled.
Eventually, Merlin and Seonaid enter, followed by their retinue, and a guard force led by Gilva Hendrake and Lord Kalten Hendrake (Commanding General of the Forces of Chaos). Merlin announces that the forces of Chaos have been victorious, though at great cost. However, persons unidentified have committed High Treason during the recent crisis by attempting to stage a coup in Thelbane. He publicly acknowledges Duke Jendo's efforts at repelling the coup and formally recognizes him as Regent of Thelbane.
Merlin continues. "One other has displayed great loyalty and dedication in this repulsion of traitorous forces." He then recognizes Gilva Hendrake, leader of the Hell-Maid Legion in Thelbane, which likewise handled the invading forces.
Jendo is not pleased by this additional proclamation.
Flark thinks, "Well good. Let him stew."
"I have found a way that Lady Gilva's efforts may be rewarded, in a way that also solves a recent source of conflict." When nobody objects, he informs Lord Kalten Hendrake that he will accept Lady Gilva as his bride.
With this public declaration, "There will be no further reason for ongoing conflict among the nobility," and therefore he lifts the Black Watch he had placed on the nobility.
Merlin moves on to another matter. "During the recent attempted coup, many of the nobility that were under the Black Watch fled." He commands all such persons to return to Thelbane, and that they will be relieved of the onus of the Black Watch after suitable determination. "Until such time as Duke Sawall returns to Thelbane, his heir, Lord Shandor, is hereby recognized as the Regent of Sawall."
After this, he dismisses the audience. Princesses Gilva and Seonaid accompany him out, followed by the retinue.
Flark goes to congratulate Shandor. Lord Andreas Chanicut, recently appointed as an Elder of House Chanicut, comes over to congratulate him as well. Flark suggests meeting with both privately, and they proceed via a Logrus tendril to Shandorways.
Shandor checks on Julia, who is still unconscious. Most of her flesh has been regenerated, though she has a little way to go still.
In the Null Chamber of Shandorways, Lord Andreas has been looking for something suitable for celebration. Three snifters and cognac are passed around. Flark mentions his plans for a large party for Shandor.
"I want to go kill Jurt," Flark says, in passing, "would you like to join in?"
Andreas turns to Shandor, and Shandor chuckles at Flark's forthrightness. "Um, it's okay since he's outlaw, right?"
Andreas says, "Yes…"
"Would it be against protocol, as if he weren't outlaw he'd be regent now?"
"Well… tough shit," Andreas observes.
[GM: "It sucks to be Jurt."]
Shandor says, "I can clear my calendar, then I'd be willing to help."
Flark returns to the Ways of Jesby to make preparations for Shandor's party on the next Turning. He also takes some time to observe the Shadow Storm, and to plan a method to travel through them. If successful, he hopes this will let him get the jump on Jurt.
Currently, the outer regions of the Black Zone are still changing, and beyond that, Shadow seems closed, even to a Logrus Master, unless one has a pre-existing connection.
Flark is not satisfied with Seonaid's explanation of his heir's wounds, and wishes to track Keliith down. He finds that the Black Road to the Keep of the Four Worlds is still in existence.
Once the party in Shandorways is over, Shandor re-secures his residence, making sure it is clear the invitation was one-time-only. This is standard operating procedure for his household, and when done, he returns to check on Julia.
Once Merlin and Seonaid leave the audience chamber, he asks that, when she leaves the takes some of the Black Watch with her. She says she may head out in a little while, and will keep that in mind.
Merlin then designates five of the Black Watch to escort her when she departs.
Gilva politely interjects that it would be better to take one of her troopers. Seonaid readily agrees, and Gilva seeks an understanding that this person will not be left behind.
Seonaid readily agrees, and leaves them to their devices.
Seonaid needs to contact someone. The Trumps are still inoperative. Hydra is still absent. Leaving her the power to return to the Keep of the Four Worlds. Once there she seeks out Audrey-Manette.
At the door to Audrey-Manette's quarters, she meets Vincenzo, Audrey-Manette's father. She follows him into the room, and find Audrey-Manette a little singed, as if by an explosion.
Vincenzo explains that they were visiting Prince Corwin's universe, and it exploded.
Seonaid notices a super-Hydra near Audrey-Manette. She addresses it, asking first for communications to Julia, and then to Corwin. Both are unreachable at the moment, and Seonaid waits for Audrey-Manette to awaken.
Audrey-Manette wakes with an extreme migraine, compounded by an excruciating sunburn, both being far worse than any she could previously imagine. She finds herself in her bed. She moans, "Kill me now."
"Not today," Seonaid says.
Audrey-Manette opens a weary eye, and feels her skin crinkling as she does so. She calls upon the power of the Keep and uses it to heal herself through her shape shifting. She knows it is working, but though in pain and tired, she can get about without feeling crispy.
Seonaid takes her hand and asks if she is feeling well. This hurts.
"How's it going Seonaid? Who's alive, who's dead, what's new?"
"Oh yes, weren't you under the Black Watch?" Vincenzo inquires.
"That has been lifted. It seems that Lord Despil has gone missing following a coup attempt..."
Vincenzo interrupts intelligently with the word, "What?" and Seonaid continues.
"Lord Jendo has been recognized as helping put down this attempt by persons unknown on the throne in Merlin's absence during the war. I might add that Merlin was very appreciative of Lady Gilva's assistance in the same matter, and has declared his and her engagement."
Audrey-Manette is shocked, "But what about Julia?"
"Well, as she is technically still married to the outlaw Jurt..."
"As soon as I get my skin back, we have to kill that bastard," Audrey-Manette interjects.
"My thoughts exactly, though we should check with Shandor first; he has been made acting regent of Sawall."
"Have you found Keliith?"
"No, I haven't been able to reach him. Since the Black Watch has been lifted, I expect Flark will be looking for his Heir soon enough."
"Seonaid, why don't you go find Keliith?"
"Well, I would, but there seem to be shadow storms, a fallout of the war, and I don't know what I can do," Seonaid says.
Audrey-Manette asks Johnny Hydra to find Keliith. Seonaid suggests that it be given top-priority, and Audrey-Manette asks that he send additional Hydrae this way, should he find any.
She asks her father for food, and he grants her request, passing her a tray of Logrus-summoned food.
Seonaid asks after Julia, and Vincenzo explains that Shandor took her off to a medical shadow under his control.
Seonaid takes her guardian, and teleports to Shandorways.
Seonaid and her guardian actually wind her up in the Ways of Sawall, just outside the entry chamber to Shandorways. A servant who was passing down the corridor shows her to a library while he goes to fetch Shandor.
Shandor has been enduring the ministrations and unsolicited advice of the Elders of House Sawall. A servant informs him that Princess Seonaid wishes an audience. His advisors depart, and Princess Seonaid is shown in. Seonaid asks that the Hell-Maid remain outside. A glance confirms that Shandor understands what will happen to him should Seonaid be harmed.
Seonaid grumps about the Hell-Maid deferring to Shandor and not taking her command as Princess, missing the point entirely, then asks Shandor if it's safe to talk here.
Shandor scans, finding several bugs, and suggests that they go somewhere else. The bodyguard falls in step as Shandor leads to his personal Ways. Once in a secure location, her guardian is excused.
"I understand that Jurt, had he not been declared outlaw--"
"--declared stupid--" Shandor interjects.
"--would have had the title of Regent. I felt I should obtain your permission before Audrey-Manette and I formed a posse to haul his sorry ass in for some serious butt-kicking."
"Well, I could give you permission, or I could invite you along with our expedition, which has already begun forming!"
Seonaid is happy, "We still think alike, I think we'll be happy to join you. Would you like me to invite Fendrith as well?"
"He would be a great asset."
"All right then."
"So how fine-tuned are your powers of the Pattern?"
"Actually I haven't had much time to play with them, being under the Black Watch."
"You could be a great asset, with the whole seeking things in shadow thing."
"Well, in the pop-novelizations of the exploits of Corwin and Merlin, one of the uses of Pattern is to think of something, and then find it by walking toward it."
"Do you have a copy of them, it seems I need to read the manual."
"I could get you one," Shandor offers.
"Well, there is the matter of Keliith, who could certainly help us as well. Perhaps I should try this to find him. All right, we have a plan. I hear you brought Julia to a medical resource of yours following the destruction of Corwin's realm."
Shandor nods, "The medical facility was not up to par, so I brought her here, and she is in the process of healing, right this way," and he leads her into the medical facility.
Julia is floating in a vat of gel, as she regenerates, and looks far worse than Audrey-Manette did when Seonaid saw her at her worst.
Seonaid asks, "Is she all right?"
"She's healing, slowly. She doesn't have the durability that we do, but she gets slowly better."
"Please notify me when she comes around."
Shandor suggests that Seonaid try farther from Chaos, if she is going to use Pattern to find Keliith. She takes her guardian, and returns to the Keep.
Shandor visits the Library of Sawall, and finds the novelizations, but they seem to differ slightly from what he read in Corwin's universe. He bookmarks the relevant sections and has the books delivered to Thelbane to Seonaid's attention.
Fendrith has other plans.
Seonaid appears in the Courtyard of the Keep of the Four Worlds. Fendrith is nearby, and she approaches him.
"Long time no see, your Highness."
"You're doing well, I take it you weren't in Corwin's Realm."
Fendrith says, "I got a taste of it through a communication channel when it went off."
"I'm glad you're okay. It seems that Shandor and Audrey-Manette have had the same idea, and it looks as though we'll be hunting Jurt. Would you like to come along?"
"Well, yes, that sounds like a worthwhile undertaking. Have you heard from your brother recently?"
"No, though Shandor suggested I use my new powers of Pattern to seek him. I haven't tried this before."
About this time, Vincenzo and Audrey-Manette come down the stairs to the courtyard. Fendrith is about to say something, then changes, saying only, "I'll be glad to help you find Keliith."
"Hey guys, how's it going? Did you talk to Shandor about Julia?" Audrey-Manette asks.
"You're looking well." Fendrith says.
"Thank you, I feel like I know what it'd be like to tangle with one of your kind now."
"I like my targets a little more well-done."
Seonaid explains, "I did. Julia is healing at Shandorways, but has some distance to go yet. He suggested I use Pattern to find Keliith, and I was just asking Fendrith to come along. As far as Jurt, Shandor suggests that we join his hunting party and make a reunion of it."
"Dad, while we go Jurt-hunting, do you think you could stick around here?"
Vincenzo asks, "Will you be careful?"
"Yes, I'll keep up communications, in case something happens."
Fendrith, during his recent patrol, noticed that out in Shadow, things are changing as the Shadow Storm recedes from the Keep. The disturbance seems to be weakening and one must travel farther into it to feel it's full force any longer.
Audrey-Manette suggests checking Brand's library for tips on using Pattern. She knocks on Keliith's door, and he seems to be absent. The warded area in what was Brand's library has been reinforced against accidental trespass. Audrey-Manette starts dismantling this, and finds she'll be in way over her head.
Seonaid asks for Fonzie-Hyrda to contact Lady Anakara. This fails, but Fendrith offers another trick. Channeling the Keep through a communication spell, he achieves a contact.
Anakara will be by shortly, and the group goes to arrange food while they wait. Audrey-Manette detours to the Fountain to check for Hydras or other strange occurrences. About the perimeter are huge arrays of constellations of Hyrda. She summons one. "You, I want to speak to you."
An evil-sounding Hydra approaches, "Yes?"
"Not you, that one. Go away."
"Why should I?"
Audrey-Manette ignores this one, and addresses the next, which is much more bouncy in attitude. She directs it to help guard the Fount. (Its designation is Kiki-Hydra).
Everyone moves to the Kitchen. Evil-Hydra follows Audrey-Manette there, and she continues ignoring it.
Vincenzo zaps the Evil Hydra.
Audrey-Manette suggests that Seonaid and Fendrith go looking for Keliith while she experiments with the remaining Hydras. Over her shoulder, a familiar evil voice says, "Did I miss much?"
Everybody turns to see the recently dispatched Hydra, looking very healthy in spite of his recent demise. Vincenzo says, "It seems if I kill it again, it will just come back again."
"How did you do that?" Audrey-Manette asks.
"I simply re-booted," the Hydra explains.
Flustered, Audrey-Manette mumbles, "What should I call this one?"
"Hydra will do," Hydra answers.
"How many Hydrae are there now?" Seonaid asks.
"Oh, about a trillion," Hydra answers.
Seonaid blanches. "What is the rate of increase?" she asks.
"Impossible to calculate," Hydra replies. "The rate of increase is exponential, but many of the newcomers are being consumed."
Just then, the wards of the Keep announce the arrival of Lady Anakara Minobee and the twins. Seonaid, her guardian, and Fendrith go to meet them. After hugs all around, Seonaid explains the situation. They go to Keliith's chambers and examine the cubbyhole.
Several hours later, Anakara and the twins are still at it. The twins, in cat form, are staring at it intently. Seonaid summon s a tray of food and water to offer them, but they wave it away, saying, "No distractions."
Audrey-Manette and Fendrith go to the Fount to check on the Hydrae. There appear to be millions orbiting the Fount now. Some of them have manifested black holes to suck each other in and increase their power.
"Fendrith, would you stay here while I go to get some help with this?"
Fendrith nods and assumes dragon form, hoping to intimidate them.
Audrey-Manette goes to tell her father that she is going to fetch Shandor to get rid of the Hydra. "This is beyond Shandor, get Suhuy," Seonaid suggests. Audrey-Manette agrees and immediately to Thelbane in which she can find Suhuy. A steward intercepts her and she says she needs to be taken to Suhuy quickly for it's an emergency. She is taken to the Cave of the Logrus. She is told to wait a moment, that he will be there shortly. So she waits.
"What have we here?" a sinister voice asks over her shoulder. (Re-designate this Hydra as Hannibal Hydra.)
"Absolutely, positively nothing!" she says, but it hovers towards the Logrus. She runs the opposite way, and literally bumps into Suhuy, bouncing back.
"Kill the shiny thing!" she shouts, pointing at Hannibal Hydra.
"Is this yours?" Suhuy asks, taking Hannibal in his hand.
"NO!" she says, and he puts it into a pouch, which keeps moving. "Okay. Um, is it Lord? Mister?"
"Okay. Suhuy. We have a problem with those shiny things over running the universe."
"I see. Take me to where they are."
"There's a lot amassed around the Fount."
"Take me there now," he requests, and she does so. The constellation of millions of Hydra has condensed to three or four dozen black, swirling things.
"That's the problem we're having."
"I'm so glad you're back, I was getting worried," Fendrith says. "If you don't mind, I have an experiment I want to try."
"Yes?" Suhuy asks.
"I would like to try to direct some of the Fount power through my fire."
"Do you know much about the Fount?" Audrey-Manette asks Suhuy, but Fendrith says he doesn't really think it'd help. Suhuy says it's a nice thought, but it wouldn't really help. Fendrith tries anyway, flaming one but really doesn't do much. The Hydra asks to do it again and Fendrith ignores it.
"Do you have any ideas? Seonaid wants to kill them all, but I have one doing a job for me that I want back."
"I'm going to consult an acquaintance of mine," he replies as he vanishes.
Audrey-Manette waits, making sure none of them get into the Fount.
Seonaid is still with her mother.
In the Ways of Sawall…
Shandor goes to visit his sister, Alana.
"So, what have you heard of the news, little sister?"
"I think it's good they got this business over with. I think she'll be good for him, and he picked someone he has feelings for. And I'm glad to be back home."
"And I'm glad to have you home." They smile at each other. "Have you heard the news of Despil?"
"I heard he's been missing since the attack, to a place of his choosing. I hear you've taken over while he's gone."
"That's all you heard?" he asks.
"Is there any more?"
"Things here and there."
"I know the reason you've been put in charge is because Jurt's been outlawed."
"Yes, people have even putting parties together to hunt him."
"That's horrible," she sighs. Shandor realizes that Alana is still a young lady and there are five young eligible dukes, so he decides not to dismiss her "maid" (her bodyguard). Now that things are relatively safe, he lets her know he's been in his personal ways and that's where she can find her.
He goes back to his Ways, checks his spells, and then checks on Julia. She's made an incredible amount of progress. He sees he could probably take her out of the tube so she could wake up fairly soon. He does the preparations, takes her out and places her on a shelf-bed. He then sits back to wait for her to wake up, however he only waits for a little while.
Then, she looks like she's about to wake up...
"Good morning," Julia replies.
"Feeling any better?"
"Considering the alternative, never felt better," she says.
Shandor asks if she's hungry and she requests some breakfast, which he has the troll go get. She eats breakfast nicely.
"So, where would you like to go today?"
"I need to check on Seonaid. Oh, and how's your cousin, Audrey-Manette?"
"I... don't know. I haven't inquired about her. But Seonaid mentioned some things Audrey-Manette said in conversation, so I believe she's conscious and coherent."
"But, you didn't ASK?"
Shandor squirms a little. "...No."
"Yes, you're a member of this family..." She pauses. "I don't suppose I could have proper clothes? I guess mine didn't survive." The troll is sent off to find her clothes, and she's seen to a small room to change. She comes back, looking better and inquires where Seonaid is.
"Anywhere. Thelbane, the Keep… I can send out a Tendril."
"Well, obviously, she should be under the Black Watch."
"Merlin recalled the Black Watch after he found a bride."
"I... see. And who did he chose?"
"He chose the now Princess Gilva of Hendrake."
"Lord Kalten's daughter... A suitable choice."
"Yes. Let's see." And thus Shandor gives her an update on the things that Merlin has recently informed the Courts of. So now Julia is caught up with everything. Well, within reason.
"I need to find my daughter now," she says urgently. "I assume she'd be at the Keep if not at Thelbane."
"I think she'd be at the Keep." So Julia blips Shandor to the Keep.
Flark has made all his preparations for his expedition. He decides to send out a Logrus to Fendrith. Fendrith is surprised when someone tries to contact him, and decides to resist it with the power of the Fount.
Flark gets the feeling Fendrith's at the Keep, and decides not to bother him. He lets it go to try later, once he's there at the Keep. He decides to contact Shandor for Andreas is waiting for him in the Ways.
Shandor gets a Logrus-call from Flark while at the Keep. He tells Julia to go on ahead, leaving him in the courtyard and accepts the contact.
"I'm ready to depart. Are you interesting in coming along?"
"Yes, why don't you come met me at the Keep?"
"All right." He asks if they could accommodate his party and he's told yes. It's just a party of him, his bodyguards and soldiers. They hitch a ride with the Tendril. There is resistant when they try to bring the party through, but because it deals with the Black Road a bit, they come through. Flark decides to keep the Logrus up, in case he wants to make a duplicate of the Keep at some point in time. Then, Shandor sends for his troops.
Audrey-Manette is notified that people are using the Black Road to get in, Flark and his party. She decides to go visit them as Morgan.
"Hello, Duke Flark. Welcome to the Keep of the Four Worlds. I am Morgan. How may I help you? Do you have business of here?"
"I'm on a quest for vengeance for an attack upon his heir."
"Ah, Keliith. I suppose Shandor invited you. I do hope Shandor will pass any visitors with me before letting any more show up."
"Have you spoken to Julia?" Shandor asks, seeing as they're right there.
"No, your guests showed up shortly after you."
Fendrith is at the Fount, keeping an eye on Hydra. Julia walks to Seonaid, who is happy to see her. They hug and introductions are made, albeit a little awkward.
In Keliith's quarters, Anakara and the twins are dismantling the wards.
In the courtyard of the Fount, Seonaid and Julia catch up, especially about the Hydra problem, while Fendrith looks on.
Everyone else is in the courtyard.
Somewhere in Thelbane...
Merlin says, "What do you mean, my parents aren't here?"
Somewhere in Shadow...
Suhuy says to his companion, "I think we might have a problem," and hands over the captured Hydra.
After a quick yet intense glance at the Hydra, Dworkin nods in agreement.