A Bride for Merlin (Or, "Will the Real Shandor Please Stand Up?")
Session XXXII, 13 April 2001
Everyone is at the Keep of the Four Worlds. . . . well, except for Keliith, who has been missing since the end of that crusade against Brand's Pattern. . . . and, except for Corwin and Dara, who have also gone missing. . . . and, except for Merlin, who is back at Thelbane, trying to get things under control at the Courts of Chaos (and who's wondering where Corwin and Dara have gotten to. . . . ). On the other hand, there is still a large number of Hydrae hovering about the Fount of Power.
There is an explosion upstairs in the residence quarters of the Keep of the Four Worlds. Audrey-Manette teleports there to find the floor is missing.
Julia blips away from Seonaid, then blips back, surprised that Seonaid didn't head out at that moment too.
Fendrith, Shandor and Flark see part of a tower of the Keep turn into a big mushroom cloud. Shandor scans with the Logrus and finds a large hole in shadow where that tower was. The wound in shadow seems to be healing slowly.
Audrey-Manette calls for Lady Anakara, and receives no response.
Shandor tells Fendrith of the nature of the explosion. Fendrith flies up to the hole, exploring. Seonaid investigates and believes that this was a very bad interaction of Logrus and Pattern.
Vincenzo arrives. "Does this happen often?" he asks Audrey-Manette.
He nods. "Good."
Fendrith estimates the missing section is 50 to 60 feet in diameter. Audrey-Manette estimates the repairs won't take long, but that's not the point. Asking a Hydra for help, she learns the people who were here are "nowhere I can reach them now."
Vincenzo is very concerned, as is Flark, about the whereabouts of Anakara, the sisters, and company.
Seonaid attempts to send a Logrus tendril to find Anakara.
Audrey-Manette explains that Keliith's quarters were at one time Brand's quarters. This upsets Flark greatly, and Audrey-Manette attempts to explain that it was all Keliith's idea, and she had little to say about it.
Shandor continues to investigate. He levitates into the hole.
Audrey-Manette negotiates with a Hyrda about finding Corwin. It ends up complying in exchange for being "owed one". Vincenzo grows increasingly unhappy with the Hydra situation when it threatened to eat Audrey-Manette during the negotiations.
Shandor starts to try to rip a hole in the shadow. Audrey-Manette asks him to use due caution. The Hyrda also take an interest in him. They start 'assisting' him in destructive ways. He spanks them with some Primal Chaos.
Seonaid's tendril is attracting Hydra. She decides to make a tendril bright and shiny and send it to the Abyss, in hopes of leading them to something icky. This begins to summon Primal Chaos into the Keep of the Four Worlds. She immediately shuts down all her tendrils. Julia grabs her and blips out.
In the corridor, another section has been eaten away and starts regrowing. Shandor is the first to notice that Seonaid and Julia are missing. Flark says that someone just tried to summon Primal Chaos and he has a good idea who.
Seonaid and Julia reappear in a park somewhere in shadow. Seonaid explains her cunning plan. Three Hydra are standing here too. She didn't notice the Eight at first. The twenty of them decide to look for Anakara. Seonaid mentions that the Logrus wasn't being particularly helpful, and asks Julia for ideas.
Julia suggests gaining transportation, and Seonaid reaches for a car similar to the one she and Fendrith used on Shadow Earth. Julia regards the resulting gull wing silver door and climbs into the driver's seat, "I'm driving." She points out the flux capacitor controls and says, "We won't be touching these."
Julia fires the DeLorian up and it begins levitating. While she drives, she suggests Seonaid concentrate on finding someone.
Seonaid chooses Anakara, and the car is put in motion.
The environment turns ugly, and the two find themselves in a shadow storm. The car seems to be staying intact so Seonaid presses on.
Audrey-Manette permits the Keep to regenerate itself. Fendrith comes up empty in his investigations. Audrey-Manette excuses herself to her library to research.
Shandor is visiting the room of the Fountain. He calls to Kiki Hydra. He discusses using Kiki to send a tendril to Kiki's home shadow, part of an investigation Audrey-Manette asked him to persue.
When he succeeds in reaching the home of Kiki Hydra, he gets hit by an overload of power and passes out.
Fendrith decides to go hunting in native dragon form. He circles the keep searching for something interesting, exploring the edges of the Shadow Storm. Even this close things seem survivable, and he continues exploring. He decides to pursue Keliith and he obtains a focus. That heading leads into the strength of the storm, but doesn't seem to be an immediately dangerous area. He picks an escape route, then presses on.
It gets rough, but he can take it.
He feels he's making progress.
He continues on.
The intensity grows, and he toughs it out. He makes considerable progress, and thinks he might make it all the way through if he gives it his all.
He does; it hurts. He begins to be singed, but feels he's almost through.
And he arrives in a familiar place. It is a futuristic city with a red glow in the distance. He knows that this is where he once met Brand.
Shandor is in a dark place. He has no sensation of having a body, and searches with his mind to find purchase. He feels no affinity to the Logrus. He has memories, and senses innumerable entities sharing this space with him.
He senses his memories being accessed, and he begins to feel less like one and more like a collective. He assumes that these entities are Hydras, and considers absorbing them en masse.
In the Library Audrey-Manette searches Jasra's notes on finding people in Shadow. They compare and contrast the Broken Pattern and the True Pattern.
She gets an alert that Flark is in the room with the Fount. She assumes the form of Morgan, and enters the room to confront him.
"Ah, Lady Morgan, so nice of you to make an appearance. I was looking for Lord Shandor, you wouldn't happen to know where he is, would you?"
"No. He had come here to investigate the Hydra. I haven't seen him. If you'll excuse me."
It is then that Audrey-Manette notices that there is only one Hydra here, and that it's Kiki. She asks Kiki where they all went.
Kiki says, "Oh, I think they've all gone to play with the new toy."
Audrey-Manette pales, her eyes growing wide, "Does that new toy happen to be Shandor?"
"Yes I think that's what it's called."
Flark asks, "Lady Morgan, what do you intend to do about this?"
"I have no idea," she admits. "I brought the Hydra to the attention of Suhuy and I expected to hear back from him before now. Do you have any ideas, your Grace?"
Flark politely refrains from giving any of several dozen flippant and rude answers he's thinking at the moment. Then Vincenzo arrives.
"Hi, what's up?"
"Lord Vincenzo, the Hydra are... playing with Shandor... and in a bad way."
He replies, "I'm hungry, I'm going to the kitchen."
Morgan says, "Good idea, your Grace, are you hungry? I have some fine wine and cheese, I think your assistant liked it when she was here."
Morgan need not be a telepathic to deduce the thoughts in Flark's mind in response to that.
The worst of the shadow storm is about Seonaid's vehicle. It is taking damage, but she feels they are making progress. Seonaid tries to reinforce the vehicle by... not Logrus... but then she notices that the Pattern she is using to seek Anakara is helping to reinforce the vehicle. She applies this new knowledge.
After the worst turbulence nearly shakes the vehicle to pieces and they break through. A futuristic city with a red glow in the distance and a familiar dragon nearby.
At that moment, a bolt of blue lightning annihilates the vehicle.
Shandor thinks he is Shandor. He looks like Shandor, feels like Shandor... he might be Shandor. He can cast magic, he can alter his form, he cannot access Logrus.
"That's not good." He doesn't know what's blocking it.
He tries accessing the energy of the Keep. He uses magic to return there.
Finding a mirror, he sees he looks like Shandor. His vajra looks like his vajra even.
He still cannot access Logrus.
Approaching the Fount, the guardian stops him.
He asks Kiki what happened to him. The other Hyrdas "took" him, played "tug-o-war" with him. Most of him got dragged away. The Hydra ate the rest.
"Do you know which ones ate me?"
"Would you tell me which ones?"
"Kiki... did you...?"
"Only a little."
Shandor asks for that part of him back and Kiki cannot comply. He tries to work through getting them back with the ferret-like Hydra. Kiki gives him copies of a few memories, but they are no help in getting back to the Logrus. Kiki's description of the consumption by the other Hydras is not kind.
Kiki is a good little guardian, and wants to stay with Sharu Garrul. He won't help find the others.
Kiki tells Shandor his friends are waiting for him in the Kitchen.
Something that looks like Shandor walks into the kitchen. It is, hungry, and joins Audrey-Manette and Flark in the kitchen.
Flark asks, "Where have you been? Do you feel well?"
"The other side of the world. I just got chewed on by millions of Hydra. No I don't feel well."
Flark looks with the Logrus, says, "Oh," and starts slicing the something that looks like Shandor apart, investigating something.
The not-Shandor asks Flark to hold off, and when Flark does not cease, he begins to fight Flark's efforts.
Vincenzo asks Flark what Flark is doing, and Flark replies, "Damn, I see what they did. This is not my friend." Flark does not cease his efforts.
Not-Shandor slaps Flark with a bolt of power, and Flark swats it away, continuing his efforts. Not-Shandor has halted Flark's progress. A long as he concentrates on doing this, he is able to hold Flark at bay indefinitely.
Morgan trusts Flark, as this is certainly 'not-Shandor' as far as she can tell. She takes Vincenzo to another room.
"Are you comfortable with him doing that to Shandor?" Vincenzo continues, saying that what is in there is a psychic replica of Shandor. He doesn't know if Shandor made it, or someone else did. Vincenzo is disinclined to intefere with a duke without more grounds.
Audrey-Manette asks Vincenzo to attempt to find Seonaid.
After an hour in the kitchen, not-Shandor has grabbed a few bites while fending off Flark.
Flark asks, "How about a truce. Stop pretending to be my friend and I'll stop disecting you."
"If I'm pretending, I don't know that I am."
"I'll let you off the hook, for now. Tell me what happened."
Flark discusses Shandor's plan, and not-Shandor's perceptions of what happened since. Flark offers, "Assist me in finding my friend, and I will help you retain your individuality. I would like full access to your memories of this incident."
Fendrith swoops over to rescue the two falling people. One is unconscious, the other appears stunned.
Seonaid is rather stunned, and is falling from 50,000 feet.
Fendrith grabs the two as carefully as possible.
Seonaid is no longer falling. She decides not to kill the bringer of good situations, and the thing carrying her sets her down easily as it lands.
It is once on the ground that the dazed Seonaid becomes rather sure this is Fendrith. She discusses the accident while tending to Julia. She finds Magic does not work in this shadow or at this moment.
Fendrith has noticed a continual lightning storm in the center of this realm. Constant blue lightning. They carry Julia between them and find shelter.
"We're in Brand's realm, aren't we?" Seonaid observes, obviously.
"It looks quite different than last I was here."
"We should keep moving," Seonaid slings Julia over her shoulder. "Brand may come lookng for us."
"He would have already."
"You don't know that." Seonaid looks paranoid. "We're in enemy territory, and we need a plan."
"I came here because I was searching for Keliith, and this was the destination I reached."
"Shit." Seonaid sounds unladylike, "I was seeking Anakara. We should continue; we should hurry."
Julia starts stirring, slowly recovering.
Fendrith hears what may be an animal-like shreek from the mailstrom, nearly continuous, and from a single animal. He brings this to Seonaid and Julia's attention.
"We should keep moving," Seonaid says.
"Towards or away?"
"Towards, but I'm young and stupid," Seonaid says.
"Which is the shortest distance," Julia asks.
"Towards; we came through hell to get here," Seonaid notes.
The amout of rubble and devistation increases as they approach the epicenter and the shreeking. The noise sounds more and more like an animal in great pain, possibly a certain wolf Seonaid knows in great pain. After time they reach a dome-like structure of red and blue fire and blue lightning beyond a high crater wall.
"Shit this is gonna hurt." Seonaid comments.
Vincenzo has not found Seonaid with his Logrus tendril. He is encountering an impenetratable barrier. Duke Flark and not-Shandor arrive. At not-Shandor's suggestion, Flark suggests that Audrey-Manette interceed with Lady Morgan for access to resources to find not-Shandor's original person.
Shandor recalls a war of consciousness, but now finds himself outside the primary entrance of his personal ways. Looking down at himself, he looks like Shandor. A troll approaches and asks for instructions. Shandor dismisses it. The troll mentions, before leaving, that there are three others of Shandor inside already.
This-Shandor retreats to the main room, and bumps into himself. A third Shandor observes the two as they attempt to initiate psychic contact. This-Shandor attempts to stop That-Shandor from assualting Other-Shandor, and finds it cannot access the Logrus.
Another-Shandor attempts to reach his most private laboratory, but cannot enter. It seems none of the Shandors here now can pass the guardians that true-Shandor left in place.
That-Shandor attempts to consume another Shandor in the fashion of the Hydrae.
Jager: "--Somewhere out in Shandor..." [wince] "...I meant, 'out in Shadow...'"
Audrey-Manette returns after 'consulting' with Lady Morgan.
"Lady Morgan has permitted me to assist you with your search."
"And?..." Flark prompts.
"...and... good luck?"
Flark sighs... "She's your cousin." he says to Not-Shandor.
"Not to hear you tell it."
"Lord Vincenzo, have you had any success in finding any of the members of our party?" Flark inquires.
Audrey-Manette asks Shandor to excuse the rest of them for a moment, and when Flark starts to leave with him, she makes it clear Flark is to stay. They discuss the duplicate of Shandor, and she brings up the potential for additional duplicates. Flark expresses confidence that True-Shandor could handle whatever arises.
Back in Brand-verse, the trio are looking at a wall of still-glowing rubble. Seonaid shifts to a daimond-like form, a form better suited for this environment. Seonaid and Fendrith ask Julia to stay there as they go on. Julia says she could use her Mask, so Seonaid sends a Logrus tendril out into Shadow.
(Everyone gets a bad feeling about this...)
Lose contact, quickly!!!
A bolt of blue lightning hits their area.
Seonaid dives over Julia and also manages to get herself to hit the ground and hit a wall as the explosion still hits them. Fendrith got it, too. Seonaid moves away from everyone else, and Julia can't stop her because she's out cold. She moves a good distance away before bringing up Pattern for protection. She starts to walk, and in her current, diamond-like form, heads to the wall.
She starts to climb up the wall and looks over the edge. She seems something that looks to be a Pattern, which glows blue. In the center of this Pattern are three figures: a wolf, wreathed in flames of red and blue, and howling in agony; a blue, ghost-like image of Luke; and a blue, ghost-like image of Brand.
The wolf holds in its teeth a necklace with a glowing, red jewel, which seems to be projecting a protective, red aura about the wolf. The wolf is being constantly bombarded with red lightning from the sky, which appears to be directed by some blue lightning or flames wielded by the Brand-Ghost, and is at the same time, being shielded by the Luke-Ghost, standing between the wolf and the Brand-Ghost, and wielding his own blue lightning/fire to ward the wolf.
Outside the Pattern, about 120 degrees away from Seonaid, is a blue, glowing, sphere-like prison with three figures -- a woman and two large cats.
Fendrith watches over Julia, who complains that this has got to stop.
Seonaid tries to blip over, and doesn't make it. She runs around the edge of the crater and KABOOOM! lighting hits where she was. She continues running, and occasionally drops some pacakges of power to go off in a few seconds. KABOOM! The lightning hits it, and she continues around. She sets another ball, and sets it for three minutes, but something hits it within seconds.
Meanwhile, Julia's trying to get back to her feet. Fendrith says that it might not be such a great idea, and can see what Seonaid is doing.
Seonaid is now near the prison, which she sees she might use her Pattern against it, but decides not to. She tries to run in the most erratic pattern she can, storing up Keep energy, and this immediatly draws attention to herself. She builds up power, but the whole world smacks into her and everything goes black.
Fendrith hears a lightning bolt again, and then nothing. Julia has mostly recovered and he decides that he should go have a look. She hastily agrees.
He goes around the same way that Seonaid went, and peeks over the edge. He sees the smoking diamond from of Seonaid in the center of the patter, and of course, what was described earlier. Fendriths decides he needs to help Luke. He sees that to the center of the pattern, it's about 50 yards. He backs up a bit, does a strafing run, lets loose some funky fire breath, and then getting the hell out of there before Brand can strike back. Once this is done, he turns around and try to look at his results.
As he makes his turn around, he gets back to the crater to find only one person in the middle of the pattern. He flames him again, and tries to blip 150 yards behind him. He blips out the moment the lightning hits him, and can control himself enough that it's not a *horrible* crash landing.
Seonaid feels singed. She finds she's concious, mostly, but she assumes she was hit by lighting. She focuses the Pattern for any protection she can gather, and finds she's still in the crater. She attempts to shapeshift her eyes to see what was in the middle of the pattern and sees no one. She finds she has also bumped off the prison, and decides to use her Pattern to part the prison walls.
Fendrith has crashed into a building, and digs himself right out of the rubble. Brand is standing right there and not looking happy. Fendrith poofs fire at him to distract him enough for Fendrith to blip to the other side of the Pattern.
Five. Four. Three. Two.
He takes off.
His tails catches it as he flies away.
Meanwhile, SNAP, Seonaid breaks the prison and the three fall. She takes the time to grab all three, and teleports to where they left Julia. She is not there. Then she hears Julia's voice, and they all take cover in their secret place. Seonaid cannot call Fendrith with her magic, either. She decides to stay there and remain alert for Fendrith.
Blip. A blue glowing figure appears, and touches Seonaid. With a snap of his fingers, Luke takes them some distance away from the city. Keliith is gone, he says, already fled. Seonaid finds she can use Logrus, and positions them that they can all travel with Logrus.
Fendrith is dodging lighting bolts when someone else starts throwing bolts to distract Brand. He sees a figure over his shoulder who starts to deul with Brand, who shouts "Just get the hell outta here!" He sees Seonaid and zooms to met them.
Seonaid sends a trendril out and finds *something* solid to latch onto. She thinks it's safe enough, and starts to drag. Fendrith lands near her, but she knows he's too big. They decide to met up. Snap, Seonaid is gone and Fendrith dives into the storm after them.
Seonaid finds herself on a floating rock, about the size of a tennis court. It's floating above a lake of molten lava, and though the edges are melting slowly, it's okay. Fendrith flies over head, smoldering a bit but okay. She sends a tendril out to a better place, and goes. Fendrith follows. At this second place, they all find that they can blip!
Audrey-Manette is notified of the arrival of Seonaid, passengers, and Fendrith (in that order) in the courtyard. She excuses herself from Flark and company to check on the arrivals, and blips directly there.
Seonaid asks Flark to examines the suspended bodies of Anakara and the Twins. Shortly he has them up and about again. Seonaid and Fendrith retell the tale, mentioning the ongoing battle.
Not-Shandor is perfectly fine, or so he tells Seonaid.
Audrey-Manette offers to stay with Anakara and her children. She suggests Fendrith seek Keliith, and Seonaid seek Amber and Random. Seonaid and Fendrith depart.
She asks Duke Flark to contact the Courts. He reminds her that he was here for a quest for vengance against Jurt, who assualted his heir. He instead says he'll begin this pursuit instead. Not-Shandor goes with Flark and his retainers.