A Bride for Merlin (Or, "There Must Be 50 Ways to Use Your Logrus")
Session XXXVI, 20 July 2001
Within Shandorways, deep in the heart of Sawall, there are three Shandors and Shandorways. With them are Merlin and Julia. Shandorways holds up the glowing gem he described as the essence of the One True
Shandor .Merlin takes the gem, studying it. "Cool."
 -- Of Which All Other Shandors Are But Shadows ;-)
"Please, your majesty, show some respect."
Julia asks, "How did this happen?"
"Well, I… we… he was thinking of a way to get rid of the Hydra and since the sparks were just a manifestation, he followed them back to the source…"
Julia exclaims, "You did what? You’re lucky you aren’t dead!"
A house servant brings a Shandor a message. He reads it quietly to himself, "Have proposition. Willing to discuss. Meet me in my ways. D. P.S. Don’t let anyone know I’m back."
Calling two of himself to him, he hands them the note. One goes to Dara and one goes to Despil. He returns to his guests.
At the entry to Daraways at Fortress Gantu, one Shandor finds it locked and forbidding. He spends some time poking at the ‘firewall’ surrounding the fortress, finding only ‘landmines’ and no holes through which he could penetrate.
Using the power of the Fount, and his talents to protect himself, he begins to ‘break on through to the other side’. The traps start going off, and time passes. Slowly, the local ‘magical’ interest in this place begins to increase. The hair on the back of his neck starts standing on end, and this Shandor gets out of the way post haste. Rolling with the blast, he lands on his feet.
He starts trying again, this time careful not to set any more traps off.
Meanwhile in Despilways…
"Shandor, have a seat. I see you got my message. I have a proposition for ‘You’. I’ve come into possession of some sources of power that you could put to use in reconstituting your True Self. It’s available; depending on what kind of an offer you’re willing to make me. You did read the postscript to my note, didn’t you?"
He opens a coffer and inside there is a concentrated singularity of what appears to be a sizable portion of the Hydras. The box seems pretty heavily reinforced with Logrus.
"A rather impressive toy you have there," Shandor observes.
"I’d thought you’d be impressed. Without meaning to, you’ve done something useful for me." Despil admits, "You’ve established a most opportune environment for me, in ways I’m not prepared to discuss just yet."
In Amber, Keliith needs to stay with Uncle Flark, and the girls Seonaid and Audrey-Manette dash off to their room. Once there, she starts experimenting with her trumps, they seem cooler here. Showing Luke’s to Seonaid, she says, "Did you ever wonder what happened to him?"
"Oh, yes, I’m with you on that." Seonaid is shocked as Audrey-Manette begins the call without shifting from her child form.
Getting a connection, she starts with "Hi, how are you? It’s Audrey-Manette, I had to take a different form for tactical reasons."
"Are you safe? Should I pull you through?" he offers.
"No, I was just calling see if you were okay?"
"I am fine, but I don’t know how my prime is; this is Rinaldo."
"Oh, how are you?"
"I’m fine here in Kashfa, Coral is pregnant as is Nayda."
She asks, "If you forgive me for being too nosy, how far along are they?"
"Just a couple months."
"Have you any idea how we can find Luke?"
"No, it’s been a year since you left on that crusade," Rinaldo mentions.
Audrey-Manette is puzzled, "It’s been a year? Does time move that quickly there?"
"Not usually, how long has it been for you?"
"A few days, perhaps a week."
"I seem to recall this happening when Brand and Corwin drew their patterns."
"Well, do you have anything that could help us locate Luke?"
Rinaldo considers, "I have a whole wardrobe of his clothes, I have his kingdom, I have his wife and his girlfriend."
"Might I borrow something of his, perhaps a ring or something small. I promise to return it, when my search is over."
"Give me a bit and I’ll get back to you. I’ll have a way of contacting you, shortly." He smiles, and the connection is closed.
Audrey-Manette brings Seonaid up to date on all this. The two assume their usual appearance. After checking for loose ends they should follow up on, she mentions something that’s been on her mind. "I went to the cave of the Logrus to check on Suhuy, and outside a demon stabbed me. It makes me wonder if Suhuy is okay."
"Wait, a demon stabbed you, and you didn’t tell me? We could have had Fendrith all over this ages ago!"
"Right, you, Fendrith, Keliith (well, maybe not Keliith) and I and we could all go looking over the cave and see if anything’s happened."
"Um. I think all that is at the other end of reality… perhaps we could simply look for Suhuy in shadow."
"Do you have a trump of Suhuy, how else could we get a hold of him?"
"Well, Fendrith is pretty good at finding things in Shadow, and I’m told I should be these days as well. We could give it a shot."
"Well, I think Dworkin is this side of the universe’s version of Suhuy. He should be around here somewhere, perhaps he could help."
"Oh, wait a minute, isn’t he that traitor who started all this mess with Amber?"
"If he came from the Courts, he might know Suhuy and help even more."
"If he betrayed the Courts, he might have it in for Suhuy and be the one who provoked the attack on you."
"We’ll, then we’ll have Fendrith; I got away from the last demon."
"But can you get away from Dworkin? I couldn’t get away from Suhuy, I’ll tell you!"
Audrey-Manette explains, "I’m the mistress of the Fount, I think I’d have something of a chance. It’s not like I want to attack him…"
Seonaid caves, "Okay, I’m some kind of a Princess here, let’s see what I can find out."
Audrey-Manette immediately trumps Fendrith, to collect him before their investigations.
Prior to this, early in the morning, Lorgath and Fendrith breakfast and then proceed to the stables to retrieve horses for their planned hunt.
Fendrith’s mount is Shask, is a blue lizard-like beast with the head of an eagle about the size of a Clydesdale. It introduces itself, offering its services on behalf of Prince Julian’s bequest.
Julian joins them and they start riding about and killing things. After a while, a loud roar is heard, and the dogs start yelping rather than barking. Julian takes off, riding for the disturbance.
Lorgath and Fendrith follow, riding hard to keep up. Once there, some of the braver dogs are barking up a tree, into which Logrus is holding a lance.
"Alright," someone in the tree calls, "I’m here on official business, call off your dogs." It seems to be a blue sphinx. Julian looks amused.
"State your business, we’re here for enjoyment. Perhaps the spectacle of the dogs rending you limb from limb would be less amusing than your story."
"It’d be easier to tell you down there than from up here, if you would please call off your dogs." Once it climbs down, it’s really a rather large fellow. Not quite up to Fendrith in true form, but about 10’ high at the shoulders and a good 20’ - 25’ feet long, with perhaps a 30’ wingspan. He could probably fight, could probably cut up Fendrith pretty bad before the dragon ate him. But then, Fendrith could take him in a single puff of flame.
It is about this time that Fendrith feels a communication coming. It is Audrey-Manette
"We’re about to go hunting, to a degree… and we…"
Seonaid taps in, "Actually, I think Audrey-Manette could use a bodyguard, and we were hoping you were free. It seems she went to the Cave of the Logrus to check on Suhuy and a demon stabbed here there… we’d like to investigate who was responsible, and of course you were the first person I thought of."
Fendrith considers if this is an accusation, or a request for help.
Audrey adds, "Two girls and a dragon is far more intimidating than just two girls, and would help us get some answers…"
"Things have gotten rather amusing here right now… when will you be leaving?"
"Oh, what’s happened?" Audrey-Manette asks.
"We’ve cornered a Sphinx. Tell you what, let me call you back in a few minutes."
"Okay. Have fun with the Sphinx. If we don’t hear from you within the hour, we’ll come looking for you. Oh! Fendrith, what color is the Sphinx?"
"Uh, it’s blue."
"…I, uh, really don’t suggest you kill that, it might have a very important message. Where are you at the moment?"
"In the forest of Arden."
"May I come through, I want to see if this Sphinx recognizes me."
"Let me ask." Fendrith turns to Prince Julian, "Lady Audrey-Manette thinks she might recognize this Sphinx, may I bring her through."
Fendrith brings both girls through, and introduces Prince Julian to Audrey-Manette. The Sphinx looks Audrey-Manette over and asks, "Is your boyfriend here?" nervously.
She says, "No, he’s back at the castle."
"You aren’t going to let him hurt me, are you?"
"No, not if you’re here for a good reason."
Lorgath adds, "I’d be more concerned about what’s with you now than what’s back at the castle."
A Shandor and Despil make a deal, Shandor’s full support of Despil in the courts, in exchange for Despil’s assistance. Despil reveals his intention to eventually sit upon the throne of chaos. In the meantime, Shandor would continue to publicly act as the Lord Regent of House Sawall, but secretly working in Despil’s behalf to secure this ascension. Upon this event, Despil promises to elevate Shandor to Duke of Sawall.
Shandor mentions that Merlin and Julia are already in his lab, and he’ll need a diversion to send them elsewhere. Despil suggests dropping the rumor that Jurt is in Gantu, which should attract Julia, and Merlin would tag along to protect her from Jurt.
Despil gives to Shandor a mirror broach containing a hologram of the Logrus. "Wear it proudly," he suggests. "I never betray my loyal allies."
Shandor returns after pinning the broach in an obvious place. Julia raises an eyebrow as to his new attire. Taking Merlin aside, he says, "I’ve heard rumor that Jurt is in Gantu."
Merlin suddenly says, "I just remembered an important appointment I need to attend, I’ll see you later, Julia." Aside to Shandor he adds, "Don’t tell Julia about this." And he leaves.
Shandor approaches Julia and the others like himself. Before he speaks, a smoldering Shandor arrives, heading to the lavatory with a trail of smoke behind him. This Shandor comments, "Nobody’s at home at Gantu."
At this point Shandorways notices the broach and puts a ward about it. Taking Broach Shandor by the ear, he leads him aside. "You knucklehead! What did you do?"
The guilty one updates Shandorways on his nefarious deed. This word gets around to the other Shandors. "What would you think would be the best excuse to get Julia to leave?" this one asks Shandorways.
Shandorways turns to Julia, "You’re obviously aware of how strange my situation is. If it’s not too much trouble to ask, I think we need some time to ourselves for a short while."
Julia nods, "I’ll be in my suite across the hall."
Once Julia is gone, Shandor feels a pressing against the broach. Once his ways releases its wards, Despil comes through. He has the box, and is wearing his Logrus armor. Shandor briefly considers killing Despil now. "We’ve got it right here; we’re ready." He displays the Soul Gem to Despil. "How shall we go about this then?"
They discuss the plan, taking into account Despil’s suggestions. Despil explains he shall open a conduit for the energy at the appropriate moment. Despil is never part of the ceremony proper, but remains sufficiently distant that those in the procedure could not ‘whack’ him without advance warning.
They undertake their collective endeavor.
Back in Arden.
The Sphinx tells everyone that a big storm destroyed the area, and someone else has taken over the area. In return for this information, he begs to have the dogs not kill him and keep the boyfriend from hurting him. He says this all to Audrey-Manette, who responds that she can keep her "boyfriend" away from him but the dogs are not her responsibility.
"Prince Julian, do you have any qualms against letting this poor, pathetic creature go?" Audrey-Manette asks.
"Convince me." Julian says.
"Convince me." Audrey-Manette says to the sphinx. He whines that this was the only safe place. "Well, Mr. Sphinx, what do you plan on doing here?"
"I wanted to get away from the storm. Do you need a pet?" He asks. Audrey-Manette perks up at that one! The Sphinx brightens and starts to give a spiel about how well of a pet he would make.
Fendrith is getting a little agitated. Seonaid mentions that Fendrith is HER bodyguard, and Audrey-Manette could use her own. Audrey-Manette asks if he could get and smaller, and the Sphinx says he could diet, but other than that, probably not.
Fendrith is confused about time flow and the storm. For him, it lasted a few days. Julian says it lasted a good part of a year, and the Sphinx had been traveling for years.
"Prince Julian, do you have a problem with me keeping him as a pet? After all, he was on your land…"
"Consider him a present."
"Why, you’re so sweet!" Audrey-Manette exclaims.
"Misbehave, and you answer to me." Julian tells the Sphinx.
Audrey-Manette asks the Sphinx it’s name, and it gives a cat-growl name. She asks for a most pronounceable name, and he says Alley. Alley the Sphinx. Audrey-Manette gives her most courtly thank you to Julian. She finds him to be a nice gentleman. Then Julian decides the others to return to Amber. She decides to create a Trump of him, but Seonaid thinks she can create a scarab with shapeshift to let Alley follow through smaller doors. Audrey-Manette procures a stable for Alley.
Audrey-Manette gathers Fendrith, Lorgath and Seonaid, then invites Prince Julian when he sort of pouts. ^_^ Audrey-Manette says that she wants to investigate the crystal cave, and Julian quickly agrees. Instead of waiting a night of rest, Julian has things brought together and they set off at once.
Seonaid works on her scarab, and Audrey-Manette trumps Keliith telling him they’re on their way. Keliith says he’ll distract Flark.
Seonaid makes the amulet successfully.
On their way, they hit the Shadow Storm. Being close to Fendrith, Audrey-Manette and Alley are okay. Being close to Julian, everyone else is all right and Julian even teaches Seonaid to do what he’s doing.
They make it a certain bit through and find that shadow is hard to shift. Seonaid notices this, as does Fendrith. Julian waves everyone down, and they gather a bit. They’ve made it most of the way through the Storm. He explains that some power is stopping him from getting to through the storm, and it would take time and power to get through. Seonaid was helpful, but not much.
Audrey-Manette asks Alley about who took over. He says that it was like her boyfriend, only older. In fact, it looked a lot like him. Audrey-Manette calls Seonaid over, and Julian raises an eyebrow. Audrey-Manette says it’s a girl thing, and though Julian doesn’t believe it, he can’t really say much to it.
Audrey-Manette tells Seonaid that Alley said that someone who looks like Keliith kicked him out. Seonaid forces a trump to Keliith. He is in mature form. She asks what he’s been doing, like playing with things that take it out of him. Seonaid chews him out for doing this, and Audrey-Manette makes a brief connection. Seonaid says he upset his "girlfriend" and Seonaid also tells him that Julian is there. Keliith gets upset, and she asks where he did it. He says he did it to stop Brand’s. Seonaid is clearly upset. Audrey-Manette is stomping around Alley, trying to relax. Seonaid asks Keliith what he wants to be done. Keliith is there. Keliith says that they won’t make it without his help, which he says he’ll come out and escort us. He shifts into wolf form and comes through.
Audrey-Manette glares at Keliith once, then ignores him. Alley gets nervous. Seonaid tells Julian that it was boyfriend troubles, and they follow the dog. Lorgath asks Seonaid if she knows Keliith. Seonaid attempts to explain to Julian what happened, about Keliith’s defense from Brand.
Audrey-Manette tells Lorgath that Fendrith and her plan on leaving if need be. Lorgath says that Keliith has something of his.
Seonaid and Julian talk, Julian points out that Keliith is supposed to be in Amber. Seonaid stopped in shock. Mental contact, she asks him about it. He says he assumes it’s a Pattern Ghost.
As they continue, things become more and more urbanized, then high tech, then to extremely technology. Seonaid tells Julian that it seems the Keliith in Amber is a ghost. Julian goes off to the side and shuffles some Trumps. He finishes his conversations, and rejoins us. Seonaid asks the verdict, and he says things have been fixed.
Fendrith draws Audrey-Manette up to talk to her. Fendrith asks where she wanted to go, but she just said it was a back-up plan. She also tells him that it’s Keliith’s pattern. Then they rejoin them.
After a while, the world gets to the point where they cannot walk, because the cities are floating. It’s no problem to Fendrith or Audrey-Manette. Keliith takes them to the equivalent of a star-spanning, imperial castle. It’s just as uncomfortable to Audrey-Manette as Amber was, but to Seonaid it’s just fine.
The group is show to their accommodations where they can refresh themselves.
Meanwhile, in Shandorways…
The last thing Shandor recalls was doing a trace point from this Hydra to its source. The next thing he knows is that he’s tired, and Despil is looking down at him, and another, transparent Shandor is looking down at him. Ghost Shandor says he needs to give him an update, revealing that he’s Shandorways. Shandor asks how long he’s been out, and offers a download. He takes it, receiving a sharp migraine, but gets all the appropriate info. He becomes completely up to date, and that he owes Despil. He also notices that Despil has a little connection, too. He could make his life… interesting. He could screw with things.
Shandor has questions, once Despil leaves Shandorways. He thanks Despil, and asks him to leave him to rest. Despil says he’ll be in touch, and fades out. Shandor tries to get a feel of the taint that’s in him. Shandor’s too fuzzy to get details, and Shandorways can’t, either. The three Shandors had given themselves to make Shandorways more powerful, in turn, giving Shandorways a bit of the power of the Keep. Shandorways gives Shandor some orange juice, and he also finds he cannot get up. Shandor uses his servants to fetch him things, which he thinks he needs. Notes, paper, food, etc. Even Alana shows up, giving him a hug and become emotional, happy to see Shandor. Shandor makes note that Alana’s bodyguard is doing excellent job.
Madeline says she heard he had a visitor. Shandor says he’s had a lot of them. She says it was one they shouldn’t know is about. He asks how she knows that, and she says that he did hire her. Alana doesn’t get what they’re talking about, but they just say it’s something political.
Shandorways will take a little while to recuperate. Shandor has the bit of Despil, and Shandorways has the bit of the Fount of Power.