A Bride for Merlin
Session XX, 13 October 2000
[For the record. . . Ghislain took some time to formalize a Trump of Suhuy.]
[For the record. . . Seonaid's Trumps: Ghislain, Fendrith, The Ways of Minobee, and Merlin.]
It is breakfast at the villa and Merlin is not there, nor is Shandor. Merlin and Suhuy had to return to the Courts of Chaos to take care of things. Corwin Ghost hands Seonaid a Trump card and says that Merlin wanted to see her as soon as convenient.
During breakfast, Corwin-Ghost asks Ghislain what his plans are. Ghislain laments that he is just a humble Trump artist, and that he may need to request the asylum of the King to protect him from his employer. Flark had sent Ghislain to check on his pawns, "Seonaid, Fendrith, and Shandor". Corwin asks what the associations with Flark were all about, finding out about Seonaid and Fendrith investigating on Shadow Earth, and Shandor's investigations with "magical artifacts". Corwin continues to pump Ghislain for information. Eventually he enlists Fendrith's aid in what is rapidly becoming an all-out interrogation of the Trump artist.
Gracian specifically asks Ghislain if Flark ever mentioned someone called "the Emerald Lady." A Trump is presented to Ghislain, the one Gracian retrieved from shadow Earth of Clarissa. He denies any knowledge of either the subject or the artist of the Trump.
Seonaid asks about Ghislain's investigations into her pirate recordings. There has become a dominating force in the trio of pirates, and lately the "Major Houses" pack seems to have control over these things. Perhaps Helgram. He said he wanted to introduce a new set of bootlegs to see what the three groups would do, but Flark shot this idea down. . . pro-Monarchy versions. . . but hence that never went anywhere.
Back in the courts, Keliith is sneaking away from Audrey-Manette in wolf form. She tries, as a wolf herself, nipping his tail. They both set off in shadow, coming to a huge castle, spanning miles, and in the center of this is an old, crumbling citadel.
Keliith knows of an old secret entrance to the wine cellar, and he detects a trace of Lord Mandor near it. Audrey-Manette wants to know where Keliith gets his information.
Leaving the cellar, they reach a courtyard, dominated by a black stone fountain that sprays flame instead of water. It is a source of power, spewing nearly pure manna; pure magic.
Keliith, not getting too close, says, "I think this is the source of the power, but I think we need to go over here. . . " He leads her off to a laboratory. "Yep, here's where they were. Her book should be here; her notes." He says he brought Audrey-Manette because he felt the notes should be more up her alley.
He finds a cobalt blue mask, and excuses himself to return it. He tells Audrey-Manette that, if she is discovered, to assert that she is here "with authority."
There is a wealth of notebooks here. The first she finds seems to be a diary and notebook. It's a story of the lady in charge of this keep, and mentions that, as part of her plan, she has taken the unborn child of her apprentice and placed it in safe keeping. It also reveals that she's engendered a rift between the apprentice and (her) boyfriend, and inserted a new interest in her apprentice's life.
She leaves the diary aside, to take with her or copy. She finds another notebook that describes initiation into the power of the keep. There seem to be three tiers to the process, one conferring control, one conferring insanity, and one causing powers similar to a living Trump.
She recognizes this latter power as something wielded by Jurt.
She takes all the books.
"May I help you," a guard suddenly asks. "Who are you, why are you here?"
"I'm just cleaning up, putting things in order."
"Who are you?"
"My name is Mary."
"This is restricted to Lady Jasra herself."
"She told me to clean up, would you like to tell her no?"
"Be about your business." He goes off, quite probably to verify this story.
Audrey-Manette is back at collecting all the notes, the one initial diary, and anything else written that she can carry. She's sure she knows how to become first level attuned to this power source. She confirms these are Jasra's. . . her husband was Brand. . . their son was Renaldo / Luke. . . Merlin's girlfriend and Jasra's apprentice is Julia Barnes. . . There are references to "our patroness" mentioned as "The Emerald Lady", a benefactress of Dara. (As in the power behind the power) Jurt is the half-brother that hated Merlin's guts and tried to kill him. She learns of Mask being Julia Barnes. That Sharu is an "active guardian" of the fountain, and that in the notes are the details on how to take control of him again.
Back at the villa, a wolf carries a blue mask in, says "I must return this," and Seonaid, Fendrith, Ghislain, Gracian, and Corwin all follow him up to Julia's room. Keliith lays the mask on Julia's chest as Fendrith keeps Gracian and Ghislain outside the room.
Keliith opens a window, sticks his head out the window, and says, "Okay, you guys can come in now," and a swarm of firefly-like things come in. "They followed me, they were looking for her."
They swirl around the mask, Julia takes a deep breath and her eyes open.
Seonaid is right next to Julia, holding her hand, "Seonaid? Where am I?"
"You lost a fight with Jasra and Brand."
"Do you know why I was fighting them?"
"Yes," with a smile and a brief squeeze to her hand, Seonaid reveals all.
"I feel hollow inside," Julia asks.
"That's Brand's Pattern, trying to consume you," Corwin comments.
Keliith notes, "I thought you'd want your mask back, and these guys (the fireflies) just followed along. Did I do okay, Big Sister?"
Seonaid, with happy, glistening eyes, "Yes, you did."
Julia asks in a whisper, to which Seonaid leans over, "Is Merlin here, does he know?"
"He's back in Chaos, yes, he knows," Seonaid whispers.
Fendrith closes the door, staying outside to make sure it stays that way.
Julia is crying, and Seonaid is holding her birth mother's hand.
Keliith mentions he left someone behind. . . Seonaid glares. . . Keliith mentions he left that someone somewhere. Seonaid gives a second glare much more glaring than the first. He goes to retrieve Audrey-Manette. Fendrith comes in, Seonaid ask him and Corwin to excuse her while she talks with Julia. Julia wards the room, and they both leave.
Ghislain and Gracian have gone to the library and discuss Trumps. This ends with Gracian having a Trump of himself.
Seonaid asks why Julia confronted Jasra. Julia wanted confirmation, and didn't expect Brand to be there. Between Julia and Hydra, she felt she'd have Jasra covered but was then outclassed.
A brief discussion of Brand-Ghost's attack on Seonaid leads to discussions of Patterns and Pattern Ghosts.
Julia introduces Hydra (her sparkly lights) to Seonaid, each is an individual, very robot or computer-like in manner, though each is distinct. "They aren't totally sentient yet." Through the introduction, Seonaid gains some control of these.
Seonaid discusses Mr. Barnes, his wife, and the postcard demanding she return to Thelbane. Julia wishes to see the card. Seonaid cannot tendril it, and mentions that Gracian may have more information.
Seonaid opens the door. Fendrith is still there, and she asks him to go fetch Gracian and join her and Julia with him.
While she waits, Seonaid tells Julia of growing up, of Anakara and Kalto and the sisters and Keliith. . .
Ghislain, finished with the Trump of Gracian, begins on of the Corwin-Ghost.
Fendrith asks Gracian to join him. On their way to Julia's room, they talk, covering loose ends. Fendrith admits to being a shape shifter, Gracian guesses that Fendrith can adjust his mass based on information he and the FBI had. Fendrith guesses that Gracian is Merlin's elder brother. They both agree not to tell any of this to Ghislain.
The two arrive, and begin discussing things from Shadow Earth. Gracian has the post card, which Julia confirms is a Trump. She doesn't recognize the artist's style, but she agrees that the destination is Thelbane. Seonaid keeps the card, asserting that it belongs in her family when Gracian asks for it back.
Fendrith states that when he first visited Earth, he was looking for things Helgram, which is how he located Mr. Barnes.
Shandor has been hanging out in the Iron Wastes, doing more experiments.
The Gem, made by Cjereg, might contain some of its creator's psychic essence. Shandor met his brother once, when he was very young. Shandor knows that a master of the Logrus could make himself unfindable by Logrus or Magic. He considers a search to circumvent this, but it seems very conspicuous to do this.
Instead, he searches the Iron Wastes for signs of Necromancy. He is overloaded with results. Searching for the specific magics in the gem, he finds dozens of shadows.
Shandor realizes he can ask Ghislain about Nethozhen. A 1,000 Watt Halogen Light Bulb goes off in his head and. . . he tendrils near to Corwin's plaza and walks in, rather than risk coming near the pattern.
Keliith escorts in some guards, pointing out Audrey-Manette and he were here on direct orders of "Her", the original mistress. He explains that if they messed with the two of them, they'd have to answer to "Her".
She has Keliith watch the bags of notes and diaries, letting him read it. She goes to the fountain to initiate herself.
A Black Man-Like Thing comes out, and she uses the controls and he now obeys her. She then anoints herself with manna from the fountain, achieving the first level of initiation. She feels she could command this, even back at the courts. . . indeed; she could go there and return, right now.
She visits her room in Chaos. She's there, in but an eye-blink. Instantly, she's back in the Library next to Keliith. He's sleed-readmng all the volumes. He's found extra bags, and they both can take all the books.
He retrieves some guards, orders them to crate the books and come along with them.
Audrey-Manette visits Jasra's suite. Keliith orders the guards to wait in the courtyard with the books, and then the two case the room. Nothing is left unturned, and the place look pretty tossed when they are done.
They find some blue rocks and a deck of Trumps. Jasra, Brand, Merlin, someone who might be Luke, a blue cave, a sphinx, a junkyard forest, Dara. . . and one unidentified Trump of a matronly lady with white streaks at the temples of her red hair, wearing green.
"Keliith, do you know what happened to Jasra?"
"I don't think I'm supposed to let you know. . . "
"Do you think she'll be coming back soon?"
"I think she won't be showing up anywhere ever again, but I can't tell you any more."
Keliith indicates that the rocks would need to be warded if they intend to take them with them. Audrey-Manette identifies them as Tragoliths, from the blue crystal cave in Jasra's notes, where Merlin was imprisoned, immune from Pattern, Logrus, and Trump.
Audrey-Manette replaces with room with new contents to suit her tastes. The crates are returned, and guards are posted.
She wards the room, setting it to freeze anyone who enters. She also found some trashy romance novels, which she can't read.
"Keliith, where's Seonaid?"
"Back at the villa?"
"Let's return there, keeping quiet things that happened here." She takes the one important diary with her. They leave together as wolves.
Ghislain is in the library with Corwin Ghost when Audrey-Manette and Keliith arrive. She's told everyone else is upstairs in Julia's room, and the two go up, listening at the door.
Keliith knocks, opens the door, and walks in. "We're back!"
Audrey stumbles, covering for herself. Once she is within conversational distance with Julia, they both recognize that each other are attuned to the power of the Fount. Audrey-Manette retreats from the room.
(Outside the room, Audrey-Manette vanishes, heading for her new quarters. Fendrith checks for her a moment later, and finds no sign of her.)
Shandor clears the rim of the valley, and descends to the Villa. He is escorted to the Library where Ghislain is doing a sketch of Corwin. They arrange to talk once the Trump is done.
Seonaid asks Julia if she knew Audrey-Manette. "No, but apparently she's become familiar with the Fount of Power."
"Is that a good thing?"
"That depends. . . if she's only done the basic initiation, that's fine. . . the full fledged treatment though drove Brand insane. We may need to keep an eye out for her."
"Who's in charge of it?"
"Jasra's in charge of it, until I get a hold of her."
Seonaid establishes a mind link with her mother via Hyrda. She brings her up to date on Jasra, and the fact that the Keep is now uncontrolled. Julia points out that it may, in fact, be in Audrey-Manette's control now, which would be fine.
"Keliith," Julia asks, "What all did you do over there?'
"We took over." Keliith describes the situation there. "If you want to move in, I'm sure Audrey-Manette may clear out a guest suite for you.
Fendrith leaves with Keliith to meet up with Seonaid at the Keep. Seonaid goes to the library, tells Corwin Ghost to look after Julia with Gracian, and she'll be back shortly.
"Oh, hi Shandor."
They catch up, Seonaid indicates she doesn't currently have a project, and offers her assistance.
"I don't see how you could, but in the future. . . be ready."
A figure appears with a "poof". "Where is she," he asks. He is glowing blue, has shaggy hair, and an eye-patch. "Where is my wife?"
Shandor hides behind a book. Ghislain suddenly pretends to be lost in his art. Seonaid waits for Corwin-Ghost to react.
Corwin says, "Julia is recovering upstairs from her near fatality."
"What do you mean?" Jurt asks.
Corwin fills in a few details for him.
"Lord Shandor," Corwin prompts, "why don't you bring your cousin up to date?"
Shandor fills in only the most basic of details.
"Tell me where she is."
Shandor defers to Corwin.
"I'll tell her he is here." Seonaid turns to leave.
Jurt follows, and Corwin follows him, just in case.
"If you'll give me a moment to announce you?"
Jurt waits, Seonaid goes inside, closing the door.
Julia is awake, Seonaid leans to her ear. "Jurt's here, and is demanding to see you."
"What does he know?"
"You've been wounded in battle, and that's it."
"Bring me that basin."
Seonaid does. While Julia soaks herself (to look like she's drenched in perspiration), she asks, "Am I your daughter?" nodding at the door.
"Let's keep that secret." Julia says, and Seonaid nods, opening the door and letting Jurt in.
Jurt makes a beeline to Julia, noticing her apparent fever-sweat. "What happened to you?"
Julia pretends to be barely conscious, and he seems half angry, half concerned. Eventually he realizes she's in no condition to talk, and he and Corwin return to the library.
Seonaid closes the door.
"It's not that I want to be deceitful, it's just easier this way right now."
"What is the situation," Seonaid asks.
"If he finds out that you are Merlin's and my daughter, I don't know how he will react. He has been very jealous of Merlin, even trying to kill him in the past. . . "
Seonaid nods and takes this in. "Well, I suppose I should go catch up with Audrey-Manette still."
"Get to her as fast as you can."
Seonaid leaves Julia, and as she walks down the stairs, she realizes the fast mode of transportation she can use is in the rose garden.
A swirling circle of light appears, and in Merlin's voice asks, "What are you doing?"
"I have to get to. . . oh. . . " The danger dawns on her. "I have to get to Audrey-Manette," she finishes.
"Where is she?"
"At the Keep of the Four Worlds, we believe."
"I'll take you there." And Ghostwheel does.
Ghislain and Shandor go outside to discuss cousin Nethozhen. "Nobody speaks of that name," Ghislain explains, "he was very much into sorcery and Logrus. I think he was involved in the death of Robaird."
"What about Cjereg?"
"He hung out with Robaird and Nethozhen."
The conversation drifts to the association of these three, their work in the Iron Wastes, the information they both have on these matters, and they consider visiting a place in the Iron Wastes.
Ghislain questions Shandor's preference in a leader, between Flark and Merlin. Shandor waffles, offering to get an answer to him later.
With a basic alliance configured, Shandor and Ghislain return to the library to finish the Trump.
Jurt is there, "Where were you?" he says to Shandor. Without waiting, he turns to Ghislain and says, "Do I even know you?" Again, without waiting, he turns back to Shandor, saying, "What the hell happened with my wife?"
"Did you go see her?" Shandor asks.
"Yes, she was half dead."
"The last time I saw her she was comatose."
"Explain to me how she got that way."
"She has a Pattern in her heart. . . evil Pattern things. . . I don't understand that kind of thing. . . "
"So this thing is trying to kill her. Let's get someone to look at it."
"We have, the guy who owns this place."
"Let's get someone better."
"Suhuy has been here, he said things are going well."
"So I just sit here and wait?"
"Yes, I know it pains you but sometimes that's all that can be done."
Jurt reluctantly accepts this. "Where can I get something to eat?"
"The dining room is this way, Ghislain I'll see you in a bit."
"Who is this guy?"
"Lord Ghislain Vrell, my cousin."
Shandor shows him to the dining room, and presents him with alcohol.
Seonaid arrives at the Keep, and is escorted in while she is announced to Audrey-Manette. In a receiving chamber, the two meet, Audrey-Manette in a tasteful and clean outfit, displaying new status and wealth.
Seonaid explains that her mother, Julia, once had control of this place, and wanted to make sure that Audrey-Manette was up to date on her newfound boon. And, she continues, she'd like to request the opportunity to initiate herself into the power that Audrey-Manette and her mother now share.
"I'll show you around some while we wait for Fendrith." They both go off and contemplate redecorating the keep.
The guards ask what they should do if former owners arrive. "Stall them, and get me." She alerts them to expected visitors.
"Actually we were thinking of Prince Brand."
"Has he been around since I arrived?"
"Once or twice, in the Laboratory."
They question a maid who saw Brand. "He appeared, looked around a while, noticed things were different. . . we didn't stick around."
After this, and trusting no one anymore, Audrey-Manette wards the Keep to alert her of intruders, and then takes Seonaid to the Fount.
Seonaid is initiated to the Fount of Power.
Keliith is leading the way, directing Fendrith through shadow. He recognizes the destination, arriving at the citadel where Julia was in battle.
There is a lightning storm over the citadel, so they land nearby and walk the way in. Greeted by guards, they are escorted into the Keep, the guards deferring to Keliith once he is recognized.
The two are escorted into the courtyard of the fountain where Audrey-Manette is overseeing Seonaid's initiation.
Afterwards, they find Keliith and Fendrith and the remains of many fried chickens.
They discuss plans for bringing Julia here to recuperate, and Keliith reminds everyone that only Corwin's pattern is keeping Julia alive until the blood of someone related to Brand destroys Brand's Pattern.
Keliith is asked if he knows where Brand's Pattern. "I don't know, I think I can find it."
Seonaid asks, "Now that is a good idea. What precautions do we need to take?"
Corwin and Shandor slip Jurt a Mickey. They decide to dump Jurt in the blue crystal cave. "I expect you to keep this a secret," Corwin says.
Ghislain finally finishes the last touches on the Trump of Corwin's Ghost. It seems to be a Trump.
"Are we ready to try this?"
"Yes, I had to take care of a small errand." Corwin's Ghost brushes some dust off his clothes.
Ghislain attempts the contact, considering Corwin's Ghost. It works, a living image of Corwin's Ghost in the very same room.
The contact is closed, and Ghislain attempts a contact with the original Corwin. "Who are you and what do you want?"
"I'm trying an experiment."
A silver gloved hand comes through and grabs Ghislain's neck. Corwin's Ghost intercedes. "I'll bring you up to speed later."
Corwin reluctantly agrees. Once the connection is closed, Ghislain gives Corwin's Ghost the Trump.