Florimel informed Our Heroes that she had made arrangements to allow Lisette to attempt the Pattern in Tir-na Nog’th (— insert explanation—) in two days hence, Earth time.
They healed up, ate well and pursued, variously, the mysteries of Earthly firearms and a glimpse into chemistry and metallurgy, driving cars and motorcycles — in Rio de Janeiro’s outskirts since the roads of Nepal were not suitable, and generally learning about Earth’s resources and how to use them: television, video recordings, telephones, currencies, IDs (furnished by staff somewhere or other and Trumped in), how to use Trumps, Earthly manners, flashlights, lighters… much of it rather haphazard.
The Time arrived. Flora Trumped through to the peak of Kolvir and confirmed the lack of watchers. She Trumped the aspiring Pattern initiates through and led the way up the semi-transparent stairs with their profound lack of structural support up to the ghostly city. Gaius was left, with a Trump of Flora, to watch the near cloudless skies, just in case. They walked quickly through the ghost city to the ghost castle (all the ghosts seemingly oblivious to them but somehow not walking through them) and down the long stairs to the Pattern room.
Lisette went first; Flora insisted. The others may have been reassured by that.
The GM having had little success in creatively describing Patternwalks — let alone four in a row — gave a sketchy account of each ending with near exhaustion that rapidly faded after minutes and turned into the exaltation of being filled to the brim with the fires of Creation. Lisette wished herself up to relieve Gaius, he Walked the Pattern after William. Little Red went last carrying Big Red though Flora said she had no idea how that would work out. From nearly the first steps Little Red took, Big Red was there with him in ghostly transparency that gradually turned solid (with the sparks of the Pattern fountaining far higher than they had for any of the others) until the two of them finished just a step apart. The death-divided brothers hugged either in exhausted joy. They Trumped back to Nepal.
Rio seemed a fine choice for burning off some of the new initiates’ excess of energy. Flora got them suites in Rio’s ritziest hotel, passed out substantial credit cards to the guests and left them to their debauchery.
Lisette took them to some of her favored night spots in a limo and began their night with dancing, drinking, sampling of recreational drugs, the odd very short physical altercation. Gaius found and killed a vampire set to prey on a young woman. Lisette: “I thought they were all destroyed.” The party moved on to the hotel where they rented out the deluxe rooftop spaces and invited massive quantities of Rio’s attractive people up to party with an open bar and endless food. They had to tap Lisette’s own credit card (unlimited) to handle the massive expense. Gaius took the opportunity to duplicate the demigod Herculius’ legendary boning of fifty priestesses in a night. The others took less focused approaches to indulgence. Police were called and paid off; some joined the party, er, stayed to keep an eye on things.
They wandered over to the Rio mansion a couple of days later. Rumors were already circulating that several of the mortal partygoers had experienced astounding cures to ongoing medical conditions, apparent de-ageing, spontaneous psychic powers or broken addictions.
Flora had the others occupy themselves (there were tutors now available for most anything but especially for Thari, the language of Amber) while she took them one at a time to her art studio in Firenze (Florence, Italy) for Trump sittings. Little Red noticed the massive accumulation of free magic with a strong Trump flavor and that the studio was built over intersecting ley lines. He mentioned the latter and Flora told him she’d moved them. What, no earthquakes? A smug look: No, I smoothed them out. Wearing his chosen garb but his stance and lighting adjusted by Flora, Little Red watched Flora and five identical but silent conjured Floras work at six easels paint quickly with very small brushes for about two hours. The result were six identical Trumps crackling with energies and Flora tiredly sending Little Red on his way.
Florimel did two sittings a day, including one for Lisette whose old, pre-Patternwalk Trump images would no longer work. Once finished, Flora presented all her guests/new allies with full Dworkin made decks as well as the newly made Trumps of each other. They tried them out.
The following morning Flora, dressed for Amber, informed them that Eric, the King, had recalled her to Amber as soon as possible, cutting her vacation short. She suggested that Lisette Trump Benedict to see about getting some training in shadowshifting rather than blunder about on their own. After a big hug with Lisette she Trumped away.
The group determined to first go check out the site of Lisette’s attack and abduction. She Trumped them to Fiji. Lisette’s snorkeling partners, Joey and Donnie, were happily astounded to see her alive and well. They gave her their description of the sea serpent creature and said they’d dived the site looking for traces of her but found nothing but three of the creature’s orange-gold scales. They’d also spent several days totally trashing the bungalow she’d shared with them and mourning her loss with beer, ganja and sex. One scale they’d given to “that chick with the tits”, one was found in the bottom of a water bong and the last one they’d given to “Dolf”. Dolf turned out to be an Austrian surfer, a biologist on vacation, who’d been very excited to have tangible evidence of a real, previously unknown, large animal. He’d sent part of the scale to the University of Dresden, contacted his professors, this would be huge…Lisette convinced him, using a lot of Psychic pressure, that he’d made big, grass-fuled mistake. And confiscated the scale. The “chick with the tits” — Julia — had jetted away to, they thought, England by way of Australia. And maybe India. Little & Big Red’s Gaius didn’t find any odd scents on the beaches near the attack site.
Lisette Trumped Benedict and after a short delay he accepted. (She felt him touch her Trump…) She told him that she had some people he needed to meet. He pulled them through to an army camp where he’d been watching two companies train, the temperature about 45 degrees F, the wind brisk. Lisette, in a bikini, started to shiver. Gaius morphed his baggies to a full outfit and Will and the Reds conjured temporary clothing. Benedict whipped his cloak around Lisette. (Meanwhile, when their commander pulled five mostly naked people
- one a babe- out of the air, the troops barely broke training at all. Discipline.) Benedict brought them to his tent and ordered hot drinks from an orderly.
They told Benedict their stories. His questions elicited every useful detail and went on to asking them about themselves. He seemed a bit surprised, though approving, that Flora would abandon secrecy to the extent she had. Lisette gave him one of her new Trumps. Benedict congratulated them on walking the Pattern and welcomed them to the family with a testing handshake. Gaius seemed equally matched; Benedict said, “Eric and Corwin and I, and you.” He told them that, so far as he knew, none of his siblings could shape-shift. (Glancing here at Gaius.“Wolf?” Gaius nodded.) But he wouldn’t be surprised if one or more could. The ‘Bastard in Black’ could be any of the men, or even Deirdre or Llewella in disguise. As to training them, he was busy with a small war and could not spare the time for days or even weeks. But wait a bit. He left the tent.
Lisette felt a Trump being used some tens of yards distant. Ten minutes later Benedict returned, followed by a fit Eurasian woman, something of Benedict’s features reflected in hers. “This is my daughter Kitsume. She walked the Pattern years ago and is competent to train you in its use.” Introductions all around. Lisette noticed accent, body language and introduced herself in Japanese. Katsume replied with an Osaka accent, then English flavored with Oxford. She looked at her father, “Apparently we had no ‘need to know’ about one another. It is just a little annoying. It would have been nice to have someone of similar background to talk to. Shopping. Shoes. Though Father is of course an excellent shopper if you are looking for weapons.”
Katsume addressed them all, “I too am a logical target of whomever tried to enslave you. I can set my duties here aside for a few days and show you the basics of Pattern use. Are you ready? Can you ride? Horses?”
The Reds said not.
“A training run then. Commander, with your permission?”
Benedict nodded. “Enjoy yourselves.”
“Let’s be about it. Don’t worry about clothing or supplies. I will provide them.” Katsume left the tent and started jogging. They followed.
Katsume made her first shadowshift while still inside the camp. She soon shifted warm clothing and boots onto them (aside from Gaius) and had each of them jog near her in turn as she described what she was about to do and then did it. It was a good six hours before the first rest break. She covered the basics of shadowshifting, of altering probabilities (shifting towards a particular future), and so on. Useful scenarios to shift for, such as ‘the treasure wagon with it’s defenders and attackers mostly dead’. The next day they covered using the Pattern for defense, shifting to shadows with different time rates (slippery) and finding things in shadow. The students were doing nearly all the shifting now. Will decided to find a rapier capable of withstanding his full strength. After some difficulties, Katsume told him that, according to her father, with muscle powered weapons it usually came down to dwarves.
Will took them to an expansive cave-forge with two ‘dwarves’ working it: five feet tall, massively muscled chests and overlong arms, exaggerated features out of fairy books, wearing only leather aprons, using oversized hammers like switches, reeking of magic. The larger introduced himself as Lofar, who asked their business. Neither her nor his fellow looked worried. Will told him he wanted a rapier, built for his more than human strength. Lofar looked him over, squeezed his arms, tried matching grip strength with him — Lofar was stronger. “As I thought. I had a notion to make one of those thin swords suitable for gadabout insect and finished yesterday. The Fates like their little jokes. Here it is. What do you offer for it?” It was beautiful and fit his hand and arm perfectly. But Will hadn’t considered payment. Lofar took it back, grinning. “A giant up the hills a ways killed my brother some time ago. Stomped him into pudding. Kill him and the blade is yours.” Lofar scratched three runes into the hilt and handed the blade to Will. “If you don’t kill Glumdalklitch first thing the blade will betray you.” Directions followed. Will headed into the hills. They let him go, apparently thinking ‘one giant, one Amberite’ was fair.
Two more dwarves ambled over, armed but mostly curious. Lisette informed them of her desire for a saber suitable for herself. And that she’d like to play cards for it. The gnarliest of the dwarves offered a deal, if she won he’d make her a damned fine saber, fit for a young goddess. If he won she’d fuck him silly all night. Lisette, expert card shark, shook hands on it. Lisette produced a deck. Vigg, the dwarf, inspected it. They settled on Poker, Texas Hold’em. They decided to play with 100 pebbles each, for markers, until sundown. Despite all Lisette’s skill, with rampant cheating on both sides, it was a near thing. But Lisette won.
Meanwhile, Will found Glumdalklitch and took some serious bruises evading the giant’s massive club while killing him by inches until, hamstrung, the giant fell and got the rapier through an eye. Will took a rather distinctive ear as proof. Plus the gallon or so of nasty, stinky, crusty giant blood all over him.