Amber: Something Wicked

Session 1: Meet Cute Part Two
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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.

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Session 1: Meet Cute Part One

Our Protagonists:

Little Red, an escapee from one of the mage academies/feedlots (“Voldewort’s”) run by Yagemar, the Unspeakable Evil, ruler of Yagemar’s World. (Tech is sort of failing, over-magicked high Renaissance; world is at least half-wrecked by mage wars.) Well-trained mage. Carries the gem-and-skull remnants of his half brother Big Red. Largish, black, male, reddish hair.

William Somethingorother (ATTN: Colin), Anglish assassin/minor crime boss and despised non-local in Veniccia, one of the Italies. (Renaissance-ish.) Probably his world’s best assassin, and a minor mage. (Casting: Michael J. Fox. Only a lot scarier at need.)

Lisette, beloved daughter of Princess Florimel, native of Flora’s World (our Earth circa 1978), a Trump Artist, world-walker*,co-owner of Flora’s many companies and properties, trained to survive, thrive and be able to escape from anywhere. (Casting: Eva Green)

Gaius Furius of the Imperatorii, prince of the Oberon-descended uberclan of the werewolf overclass of a strongly Romanesque Empire. (Early medieval at best, but with full-on Roman engineering and such.) His mother is heir apparent. World-walker and extraordinarily good (but wolf-themed) shapeshifter. (Casting: Hugh Jackman in Van Helsing)

Little Red is on the lam in Yagemar’s World. While returning to a hideout after raiding a village (stealthily) for food, he is ambushed by a masked, cloaked, black-clad fellow who is 1) stronger, 2) a better fighter, 3) armed with drugged weapons and excellent info. LR is rendered unconscious.

He wakes up naked in a lab which he would describe as confusing and strange but we see as Girl Genius meets 1960’s Soviet Baroque. He is strapped down, very securely — inch thick, 4 inch wide, rhino hide — to a thinly padded board. His brother the skull is nearby. Three doctors are examining him with weird instruments, some of which feel magical to LR. He’s run, and rotated, through a sensor pod, fitted with a brain scan helmet which feels like needles piercing his skull and stimulating various pain, pleasure and other centers while the Three Doctors — Dr. Grahl (old, thin, dry, dispassionate), Dr. Dunin (a spritely Mengele type) and Dr. Skiba (nervous, young, nerdy) watch the results on a chalkboard-sized scanner. All three doctors suffer from skin conditions.Little Red can’t understand a word they say, not that they’re talking to him. There’s some moderate electroshock. There are a lot of drugs tried out. After a very, very long day LR is taken to a spacious, Spartan cell by the six hulking orderlies who’ve helped with muscle in the lab and otherwise stayed at dull-eyed attention. Said orderlies are big men with grayish skin bulked up by grafted on muscle, stronger than normal humans. LR is fitted with substantial, steel manacles and leg irons and not given any clothing.

The cell is smoothed concrete with a pipe constantly running water into a depression in the floor draining into a 6 inch diameter, barred hole — the toilet facilities. The door is 4’ wide, steel and has a grill to look through and a slot for dishes. Lighting is a bare bulb behind 4 inches of armor glass set into the ceiling. Food appears eventually, unappealing gloppy, nutritious stuff and not nearly enough of it.
Little Red softly Chants the Freedom Song and his bindings snap open. So does the door and loud hooting alarms, flashing red lights and the pounding of Orderly feet ensue. Little Red kills some but is swamped by the many, fearless, meatmen, their clubs and their cattle prods.

Little Red regains consciousness as Dr. Dunin sews his lips together, then explains via pantomime and chalkboard drawings that Red will be fed through a tube from now on. The glop was better.

Little Red spends much of the next day in a sensory deprivation tank and the Bad Doctors discover his psychic communication with his brother. The skull is locked in a shielded case when they aren’t studying them together. On the plus side LR and Big Red (skull brother) have learned a few words of not-Polish. Also, hasn’t been caught, skinned and soul-eaten by the Unspeakable One. Yet.

William has accepted a hefty commission to cancel the Honorable Giacone, Ironworker Guildmaster. When he shadows Ser Giacone into the large garden where the hit is to take place, he feels something is wrong. As in, 1) the garden is an illusion, 2) he’s not in Veniccia, 3) he’s not in his world, 4) the Giacone illusion drops and it’s a fast-moving man in black with a really effective armored cloak which blocks Will’s thrown knives as the fellow produces a card, looks at it and disappears in a rainbow shimmer.

There’s no food. Every animal and most plants are dead, apparently eaten by some sort of fungus that then died itself. Water, yes and what wine was sealed in glass and lead. Days go by. Will gets weaker and slower. He makes himself a fort, booby traps the hell out of it and waits, conserving energy.

On Day Seven, the Bastard in Black comes back with a small horde of desperate fellows driven before him to trigger all the traps. They talk from extreme accurate knife throwing distance. The Bastard’s patron requires Will’s presence. They can do it the easy way or the hard way, he says, and tosses some manacles to Will. Put them on and they leave now. Otherwise the man will be back in a couple of days when Will is even weaker. Will declines and chases the Bastard over roof tops but is slowed by starvation; and the Bastard is damned fast. The Bastard rainbows away.

Will returns to his fort and finds the Bastard there before him tossing the last of the only meat in this city through a rainbow. Hilarity ensues and Will loses, though not by much considering that the Bastard is armored and well-fed. Will’s lights go out on the sight of the Bastard cursing and applying spelled items to a shallow poisoned wound on his arm.

Will awakes with the Bad Doctors to a near match of Little Red’s experiences. He demands food, like the Bastard promised. Sadly, LR is unable to convey a warning by banging on the wall and shouting nasally so Will conjures his manacles into life and unlockedness. Alarms, Orderlies, beating, cattle prods, lips sewn shut.

Both Little Red and Will work on scraping a link of their manacles into sharpness to cut their stitches.

Lisette is taking a vacation from being Boss — Mom has been mostly occupied being a diplomat or a hostess for King Eric in Amber for ten years, Earth time — on the island of Fiji. Beaches, surfer boys, drinking, ganja, snorkeling, a little surfing.

While snorkeling with Joey and Andy (Adonis-like, sexually talented examples of amiable but not-so-bright young manhood) Lisette is extremely surprised to find herself looking at a 30’ gold-and red sea serpent or Chinese dragon which slaps the boys aside, clamps lightly on her shoulder and constrictors itself around her. Neural Disrupt gets Snuffed to uselessness as the coils contract and force the air out of her lungs, and a psychic contact peters out with her consciousness. WTF is something like that doing on Earth?

Lisette awakens with the Bad Doctors in attendance. Scans and so on take place. She attempts Feminine Wiles, at which she is expert. Dr. Grahl displays an iota or two of pity. Dr. Dunin doesn’t want to damage a work of art. Unless necessary. Dr. Skiba wants to rape her and Grahl reminds him that that would be Contrary to Orders. (Lisette speaks Earth-Polish and understands much of what they say.) She concentrates her efforts on Dr. Skiba who eventually injects himself with some sort of anti-aphrodesiac; one of the Orderlies gets an erection watching her act.

Meanwhile Lisette’s Trump sensitivities are assaulted by a constant attempt to contact her. This turns out to be a madman, staring at her trump which is over there, about 100’ away, strapped to a chair with his eyelids taped open. After some time there are two madmen staring at it, then the first goes away — shift change.

Lisette does not attempt anything magical in her cell. She does brain-burn the current madman Trump call blocker in a fit of pique. Alarms! Orderlies take her back to the lab. A generator starts up and Trump static blankets the area — everybody’s skin itches, even the orderlies. Dr. Grahl tells her calmly that psychics don’t grow on trees and she must be punished. Electroshock, much worse than before. Grahl says after that he’s sure she can see reason. And a new psychic is on-line.

When Lisette has her self back together she waits for shift change and kills both psychics, using a Burst of Psyche to be sure. As a result she’s beaten and cattle-prodded. Then Dr. Skiba is allowed to administer some 30 long, shallow cuts to her, all over, which are then salted and washed with a weak but very painful hydrochloric acid solution.

Gaius Furius receives word that a strange beast has been harassing a nearby settlement. Something like a scaled cheetah with a long neck, the size of a large horse, very quick and intelligent. The beast ate a few pigs but hasn’t attacked people directly though many were injured chasing it. Many dogs lost the same way and two local lords (werewolves) failed to catch it.

Gaius decides that he’d rather kick it in the ass than piss on it and calls up a legion to act as beaters. It evades them. It climbs trees. It mocks them. It farts in their general direction.

Eventually Gaius breaks down and chases it himself — the beast’s fascinating (and enchanted) scent has something to do with that. It’s a trap. Gaius follows it through a stealthed shadow portal and the beast turns, grows, becomes draconic and chases him. It’s bigger, a little faster (or maybe he’s a little groggy from its magicked scent) and catches him, knocks him down and breathes powerful knockout gas in his face. Lights out.

Gaius wakes to the sight of the Bad Doctors. The usual routine follows but Gaius freaks and his Automatic Shapeshifting kicks in. He starts sweating and pissing out the drugs, breaks a wrist strap, grows a foot taller and breaks all the straps as the Orderlies beat and zap him and he grows armor and becomes less conductive. ALL the alarms go off. Gaius goes apeshit wolf-man on the Orderlies. Almost all the Orderlies pile on. In the struggle nearly everything gets broken, including the Bad Doctors; Grahl died well, trying to bring a bazooka-sized Maser Cannon to bear on the berserk werewolf by being hit by an Orderly. The alarms quit, somehow broken or turned off accidentally.

Will and Little Red free their lips enough to magic themselves free of their manacles, and the doors open automatically. Their one guard can’t hear over the alarms and is staring the wrong way. Gacked. They enter the guard room and discover shotguns and pistols — Will recognizes them as firearms, LR not so much — as well as more clubs and cattle prods.

Lisette gets the madman to pull her through. With his teeth. Then gets him to let go. She’s in a room with six sleeping/drugged psychics, a glass case crowned with odd machinery with a skull in it, a big safe and the Madman Trump Viewing Chair. The one attendant (not an Orderly) is scared shitless of the noises coming from the main lab and cowers in the corner at her evil look. She gets picks her manacles’ locks and goes to work on the safe when the alarms quit.

Little Red, Will and Wolf-Man Gaius meet and greet. Since the wolfman is covered with the blood (and more) of their enemies he must be OK. They hope. LR senses that his brother that way. In the other lab with the naked chick (too pale, too skinny) playing with the big metal box. He offers to open it with magic. She declines but gives up after a bit because people won’t be quiet! Her Trumps are inside, plus LR’s talisman and their other goodies. They acquire spare (unbloodied) lab coats. Lisette says she can get them away. They find the file room where Lisette can sort of make out the not-Cyrillic writing; they take two cabinets. Will would like the Maser Cannon but it is cracked and giving off the odd spark.

Lisette Trumps them to a lounge in the Nepalese Fortress. The others are Really Interested in this Trump stuff. Florimel felt the Trump use (and knows it’s Lisette) and runs into the room, stops dead. Who are They? Fellow captives. Gaius shifts to human and asks, “Why do you all smell like family?” Introductions. Flora orders a fast dinner for 20, as eclectic a menu as possible, with plenty of Lisette’s favorites. Flora’s Gurkha chief of security (Nepal), Cpt. Thapa appears and watches carefully. Flora use him as an example of local male attire and says she’ll bring them some clothing. Will notices Cpt. Thapa’s pistol and SMG and military bearing and wants to know All About Earthly Firearms. And food.

Food is served, most of it cold — it’s about midnight. Flora brings in a big armful of clothing in Little Red’s and Will’s sizes. There will be a tailor and a cobbler later. And a masseur from the village. Their rooms are being prepared. There are baths.

Flora says she wants to check up on their possibly blood relation to her and Lisette and The Family. It will involve a drop of blood each and a spirit to ‘taste’ it. They are dubious. Flora starts to explain about the Family then breaks off for a demonstration — to show them the prize that makes the Family bullshit worth it . They troop outside and Florimel first takes the opportunity to raise her power over Earth (Control of Destiny) and make it unfindable for anyone but a very few; our protagonists feel this as the world shuddering around them on a deep and distressing level. Flora says she’ll show them just how good the family power is with a quick tour of Shadow. Little Red points out that two of them have been victims of world-walking traps. Flora, not fully powered down from altering the world’s fate, looks them over and says with casual conviction, “This world is my place of power. If I wanted you captured, you would be captured. If I wanted you dead, you would be dead.” There follows a two hour hike through dozens of worlds, with Flora altering their clothing (all but Gaius’ shapeshifting togs) appropriately for each place. "This is what membership in the Family means. That and a bunch of relatives who are … " she pauses, “I wouldn’t want to get myself into trouble here… wonderful in every way, though a couple of them (Benedict and Gerard) are even more wonderful, and I get along with Llewella well enough — I mean, she’s extra wonderful too.”
And, very likely, one of them is responsible for their acquaintance with the Bad Doctors and Orderlies.

Flora will arrange for them to have a shot at the family power, which might kill them though she’s never actually heard of a specific instance of that happening, if they swear to two things: Never Attack Amber (the city, not the family members) and swear to help each other, including Lisette, out of their current problem.

They agree, get spiritually taste-tested and it seems that they are indeed nephews of Florimel.

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Session 2: Cosmography For Dummies

We rejoined our heroes/heroine in the Halls of the Dwarves . . .

After actually talking to our hosts, rather than bargaining with them for trinkets, it became clear that our cosmology was not as it seemed. The current “shadow” structure of the world exists largely because Oberon and Dworkin (along with some other, unnamed people) set it up that way to avoid multiverse-destroying magic. Magic doesn’t work well across shadow boundaries largely to prevent people like the Ghost-Skinner from constructing mantles of power that are too powerful for the fabric of reality.

Speaking of Mantles of Power, the fastest and easiest way to set yourself up as a legend is to build one. Most mythical creatures (especially those that break laws of physics) are endowed with a mantle that gives them most of their power. The more you know . . . !

However, that left us with the unfortunate drawback of having to buy weapons and armor that are magically delicious from the Dwarves . . . who are able to build that stuff since they tend the wellsprings of creation. Since Princes and Princesses of Amber are generally a force for creation, they’ve got a soft spot for us. It also turns out that they can build anything, given time, and that they don’t always go around looking like forge-stereotypes.

That includes a new body for Big Red. So long, frequently-forgotten plot hook! Big Red traded his Trump deck to Benedict’s daughter before we left.

Having established that competent gene-tweaking is available (including super-opiates and deep-power weed), our heroine and heroes departed for Gaius’ Birth-Shadow, to deliver the good news to both his mother (a princess of Amber herself) and his sister.

Gaius is reunited with his family, who have all come looking for him after he went missing.

We introduce and demonstrate firearms.

We return to the palace, where we are treated to a massive feast.

(Personally, Little Red interjected, I don’t like the idea of being the barbarian. My birth-culture knew how to make real steel, not barely smelt iron. We have chopsticks, not fingers and knives. And no matter what I do, there isn’t any way that alchemy can replace the wonders we’ve seen in Flora’s world, where there are mills to make powder, and machines that can turn out perfectly identical rifle barrels in the hundreds. We should import spring steel for crossbows — at least then there’d be a local source of ammunition.)

Benedict and Flora were Trumped and introduced around.

Then Mom and Sis found out about the pattern. And ’nanna said that Sis would walk it immediately, with Mom following if she succeeded.

So they did.

(These are the joys of autocracy, Little Red quipped. Mom wouldn’t have made it if we hadn’t had Benedict to hit everybody who wanted to stop us with his penis. I mean sword. No, I think I did mean penis. Anyway, I hope that we haven’t picked up a serious debt or political enemy here. And what do I mean, “we”? The only way I’m paying is if Benedict says “Do it or I’ll kill you”, and he could do that anyway.)

Anyway, it appears that what Gaius’ world really needs is the ChickieNob — will he get it? Stay tuned!

Calvin

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Session 2: Cosmography For Dummies (GM infodump version)

Our Heroes: GAIUS, LISETTE, LITTLE RED and WILLIAM, and their companions Big Red and Katsume are in the Otherworld but do not know it.

Vigg (dwarf) lost at Poker to Lisette and agreed to make her a saber on the following day. The game had attracted a small crowd of dwarves; post-game this developed into a party. Platters of food came out of caves that had not smelled of food before. Kegs of beer were hauled out.

It turned out that Amberites didn’t socialize with them normally. This made the party exotic and interesting. The `dwarves’ started shapeshifting to attractive human or near-human forms. Each could casually assume a number of human forms; they referred to the dwarf shapes as `forge-forms’.

Over the course of several alcohol-lubricated conversations with Vigg, Lofar and expecially the elder named Yari they learned——-

They weren’t in Kansas anymore. They were in the Otherworld, other-plane really. The worlds they were familiar with were `Upstairs’.

At the center of the Otherworld were the Wellsprings of Creation and the `Tree’ — a geyser or conduit of creative energy streaking up in a great column to nurture Upstairs/Shadow — which Our Heroes could feel from hundreds of miles away. (If the Patterns of Tir-na Nog’th and Amber felt like numinous arias then the wellsprings and Tree felt like a vast, awe-inspiring choir.)

Also in the Otherworld were the lands of the afterlife, the heavens and hells and so on of the mortals who lived and died Upstairs. Most of whom would eventually be reincarnated Upstairs via the Tree. Plus some other lands, some of them hostile to the Center.

The Otherworld and Upper Worlds had been reconfigured a number of times. They were quite familiar with the last one, about 2-3 millennia past. They suspected the accounts of older ones were loaded with lies.

The current cosmography was thrown together in a hurry as the old order fell apart under the stress of a huge godwar* which some great Makers had been largely responsible for. Seven surviving Powers and seven Eldest Makers cut a deal and shaped a new cosmos out of the ruin. The seven Powers were Oberon, Dworkin, Phraedis, Inanna, Lir, Vall and Bael. The seven later warred on each other; Oberon won.

The `dwarves’ called themselves `makers’. They designed and made new kinds of animals and plants and fed them into the Tree to appear as needed in Shadow. Some of them also made weapons, armor and such for visiting Pattern initiates. From the Makers’ point of view the purpose of Patterners was to make/find/precipitate new worlds , strengthen old ones and protect Creation in general. Helping Pattern initiates survive was part of the Makers’ jobs as smiths/engineers/gardeners/fertility genii of Creation. They’d mostly given up direct participation in the Upper Worlds’ affairs due to some oMoreover, Patterners shadowshifting towards Wanted (especially Needed) Equipment + Dwarves would easily arrive at the Forges. Travel to and from the Otherworld was difficult otherwise. A Patterner’s first item was free (the giant killing, while useful, and the poker game, while fun, were just the Makers fucking with them.

[Experiment showed that the blooded Flora Trumps and the Dworkin Trumps worked between Shadow and the Otherworld. The others — the ones Flora made for the wary-of bleeding-for-the-witch party - did not.]

Gods* in the Makers’ parlance were people who possessed powerful Mantles of Power [think thematic magic power armor] from the ritual offerings of mortal worship. That was what mortals were made for, originally. And, of course, to be flunkies, fuck toys and cheap labor. In the Old Days gods could accumulate massively powerful Mantles usable across the entire Upper World — which was, in those times singular and vast. One of the main selling points of the New Order for the Makers involved was dividing the Upper World into many smaller worlds, the Veils between them impermeable to Mantles. The destructive power of magic was thereby limited and localized.

The old gods, the Makers and various others were different clans of Immortals. Interbreeding was rampant. Some of PCs were probably relatives of some Makers.

[Discussion about Yagamar ensued. The Makers thought that Yagamar had made a powerful Mantle from his many victims, making him very powerful in that world. The Makers could forge weapons capable of bypassing any Mantle. As Yagamar was killing a world they were pleased to help. What they couldn’t make was a Mantlekiller energy cannon. Muscle powered weapons yes. Back in one of the previous Ages the then-King of the World had laid down a fate that `eyes would never see the blade that could slay him’ and none but his loyal guard were allowed to come near him armed. An assassin gutted him with an invisible, mantle-piercing, blade who’s wounds would not heal. Yari was getting into the spirit of making a super-weapon, eyes gleaming… But they didn’t let things like that loose any more if they could help it. Lofar’s great uncle’s Sword of Revenge had played a big roll in the fall of the Old Order.]

Neither Florimel or Benedict had ever told Lisette or Katsume any of this cosmography or history. The past just petered out into Oberon having been around forever.

The Makers, being fertility genii of sorts and fairly isolated, had a strong interest in personable Fresh Meat. Hook-ups happened. Andvari’s blue liquor helped. Vigg spent part of the night with Lisette despite losing the card game.

In the morning Vigg started in on Lisette’s saber early in the morning. Somewhat later Big Red was found to have transmogrified back into a gem and a skull. That and the notion of creating a new body for BR got the Makers very interested. The group worked out a design over a couple of days. Meanwhile, Lisette got one of the Makers to teach her how to shrink herself. Once the design on Big Red Mk 3 was done the group went with a bunch of Makers to the Tree to execute it. They called and negotiated with storm-steeds — intelligent, massive horses with some magics and minor Mantles that let them run on air and call winds — for transport. Flying was new to all but the Earthborn, and flying on horseback new to them.

The Tree was about five miles in diameter. Up close it was like looking into the Face of God and listening to Her Sing Her Heart Out. The makers set up a good hundred yards away. Lil Red asked what would happen if someone touched the Tree. Lots of things, most of them bad, might happen. If he must, please do it way around the curve of the `trunk’ please… He didn’t.

The bodycrafting went smoothly with three makers working together and a double dozen more doing Conjury support. Big Red had a body like his old one, minus scars. He was also stuck in the Otherworld for at least a month, maybe a year as shadowshifting could destabilize his new bod.

Gaius and the Reds decided to hold off on their first (free) orders.

Lisette received her saber; it was magnificent.

As they prepared to leave Katsume talked Big Red into trading his Trumps (which wouldn’t reach the Upper Worlds) for a Really Big Favor or Favors to be named later.

The Reds parted wrenchingly. Lisette Trumped them to Earth.

Gaius gathered things to try out at home: black powder, some handguns, a block of C4, diagrams, blueprints…

Lisette Trumped them to a shadow well away from Earth and Gaius led them toards the world from which he’d been abducted. He found something that looked like the Questing Beast he’d followed, killed it and took it with him the last little way there…

And was surprised. There were Legionaries in the woods who were very happy to see him. The legion he’d had hunting the Q Beast was encamped where he’d confronted the dragon. Around an Imperial camp and an Imperial Thaumaturgical College camp. Claudia was here. The Imperial Heir and her son embraced in Stoic Reman style. He introduced his allies. The dragon, or a half-spirit version of it was confined inside a magic circle among the wizards.

After Primus Magisterus of the ITC not-to-subtly checked Gaius out for enchantments his mother allowed Gaius to talk her into meeting his allies in her tent without any witnesses. The imperial wizard did a cone of silence spell. Lil Red did one too, just to be sure.

Gaius explained. That took a while. She took his word for it that they smelled like family. (Her nose was not as good as his.) She had them demonstrate a Trump’s uses. They went outside to try out the guns and explosives. Black powder = twice as big a boom. Handgun = exploded. (Katsume had a special glove, wasn’t hurt.) C4 (a small bit), set off with simultaneous lightning from LRed and bullets from Will and Kat, about three times as energetic as on Earth. All with the wizards monitoring for magic.

The Princess gave orders to break camp, they were returning home. She had a private talk with Gaius. Did he really think these people would be real allies and assets? If not they should he killed now. Gaius said yes, they should be very useful. Right then, allies so long as the Empress agrees.

As to why they’d come after Gaius, he’d vanished from the legion he’d had chasing a single beast. When he didn’t come back within a week she put her foot down (with the Empress’ permission) as Godborn, damaging the Imperial Marshal who disagreed to vigorously. She’d brought in as many wizards as were necessary to force the portal (shadowpath) open and keep it open, then the next two, found the dragon-spirit, captured and subdued it. It had been both bribed and intimidated into helping Gaius’ captor, adding its power to his to take Gaius down. Then the captor split from the dragon, produced a small device (Trump) and vanished with Gaius. While Claudia was Unhappy with Gaius’ choices they weren’t entirely his fault; the wizards had found traces of mindbending enchantments and all the weres had smelled and been affected by the scent of the Questing Beast. Still, the empire expected more from the Godborn.

Back in Rema the foreigners were shown to luxurious rooms with hot and cold running slaves. Gaius was ordered to a private meeting with the Empress. Grandmother crooked her finger at him. When he was close enough she clouted him up the side of his head with the Imperial Scepter — solid bronze in the hand of an old but vigorous werewolf. Then she had him stand still and sewed up the head would herself, something she hadn’t done since he was a child, all without a word, but her touch was gentle, her suturing adept. She agreed with the idea of alliance.

They all attended an imperial banquet reclining on couches, eating a wide variety of good or fantastical food (though none of that vomitorium crap, werewolves aren’t that stupid) and entertainment in the form of acrobats, dancers and music of the small harp and pipes variety.

Then business: The Imperials wanted to get Gaius’ mother and sister Initiated as soon as possible. Both were potential targets of whomever had captured them. They were also very interested in Earthly weapons and technology. And Trumps.

Lisette said they could buy all the guns and explosives and so on as they wished from Earth. It shouldn’t be hard to manufacture bullets with less powder, for instance. They could hire experts (adventurous and greedy hobbyists) from Earth to teach what they could. Transport might be a problem. As to Trumps, they could work something out keeping in mind that time flowed half as fast on Earth and one fifth as fast in Amber and either Lisette or Florimel had to make them themselves. And both had a lot of work to do already. Lisette Trumped Flora and was told she was busy but would have an opportunity to call back in an hour or two — 5-10 hours.

Katsume said that her father would be happy to meet more family members. More, the Reman legionaries were very like one of his favorite types of soldiers: professional, cosClaudiailetan, tough, skilled. She Trumped him and once contact was made, slowed down about 2.5×. After a few minutes she went through to him. Then he Trumped Lisette and came through to her. He bowed gravely to the Empress, then the Prima Principessa — “Sister” — and Secunda Principessa Aula — “Niece” and to Gaius — “Nephew”. Then he did his Command Presence thing and sucked all the air out of the room for a Claudiaent. Without any mention of favors exchanged he agreed that the princesses were targets and were due access to the family power. Like Florimel, he required them, including the Empress, to swear to never attack Amber — and he would swear to see to it that Amber never attacked their Empire. Oaths were exchanged. Aula (most expendable) was selected to go first.

Benedict Trumped to Amber to see if it was possible to do it immediately. He Trumped Lisette a little over an hour later and informed her that the weather was cooperating. Aula, Gaius and Lisette went through to Benedict, just outside the Pattern chamber of Tir-na Nog’th. He sent Lisette up to watch for clouds. Aula got the standard warnings and brotherly bucking up from Gaius and a little Command Assurance fro Benedict. She succeeded. They returned to Rema and Claudia said she was ready to go now.

Benedict hadn’t really expected Claudia to go before Aula could be checked out. He raised an eyebrow, “Very well”, and Trumped out. When Lisette, Gaius and Claudia were pulled through they were outside in the moonlight of the ghost city. Benedict directed them below. Again, success. They climbed the long stairs and almost exited the castle doors but stopped. There were a score or so of Amber guardsmen strewn about, unconscious or with broken legs. Benedict was by the top of the stairs facing another man whom he disarmed, stunned with the flat of his blade, grabbed and threw sliding towards his other victims. The next man got a broken leg instead of stunned. He looked back at them, nodded, saluted down the stair with his sword, “Eric”, stepped back and saluted the downed men and pulled out Katsume’s Trump while striding through the doors. Gaius, Lisette and Claudia went with him to Kat who then joined them when Little Red Trumped Lisette and pulled them all through.

They hadn’t been back ten minutes when Florimel Trumped Lisette and came through to Rema. She apologized for her lack of time. All of Lisette’s agreements regarding Earth and trade she agreed with in advance. As for the family… that would properly take days but regarding the abductions she wouldn’t rule out her any but two of her brothers, one of whom they’d met and one — two — of her four sisters. There could easily be other suspects she was unaware of. Trumps… they’d see what they could do. And now she really had to go.

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Session 3a: Imperial Entanglements

Cast of hero’s, Gaius Furious, Little Red, Lisette, and NPC Katsume

Session starts with William being called away to do something back home. The
cast is preparing to rest after a large party earlier in the evening celebrating
the “ascension” or pattern walk of Gaius’s mother Claudia and his sister Aula
Meridia. These two spend the night in pattern charged debauchery, as the rest of
the hero’s did on earth after their patternwalk.

The next day finds Lisette and her Trump skills being sought after by Katsume,
she agrees and shrinks herself down to work on one with Kitsune posing AND being
bodyguard of the tiny Lisette. Gaius is volunteered to lead Claudia and Aula on
their first training on shadow walking, which he introduces them to at least the
basics, though he finds managing the timeline himself to keep them on time quite
tiring. Little Red spends time researching through meditation searching for
links to overworld portals and the Tree.

Later in the afternoon Gaius has to call in Katsume to help him with more
advanced lessons for Mom and Sis, she arrives after a delay to make sure Lisette
is well guarded. Mom springs a surprise, She and Nana (empress Prima Octavia)
want to set up a Troop Maneuver exercise to practice moving troops through
shadow, which Gaius has NOT had experience with, this to last a couple of days
probably. Gaius and Katsume are volunteered with Lisette and Little Red
arriving and helping later.

After this the Royals of Rema are happy, Katsume departs for Avalon with the
Royals gratitude, Lisette heads to Shadow Earth to work on some Trump Closets
(also with gratitude), Little Red is thanked and heads to Avalon and Benedict to
continue his research. Gaius spends time with the Imperial Thaumaturgical
College and finding out what info they have on the spirit dragon.

Little Red links up with Benedict and agrees to some magical scouting later then
borrows a couple soldiers as guards and heads out into the woods to meditate on
the the Overworld. (Benedict was curious how the Imperials are doing (Gaius’s
family), to which LR makes a comment about Monkeys and Footballs). LR discovers
energy traces and tracks one to his Trump set, but is interrupted in his
research and experimenting by an attack, two hellmaids and two hellsteeds were
drawn to the area by his power usage. The hellmaids are defeated after killing
one of his guards and wounding the other, LR is wounded a bit, but manages to
distract the final hellmaid while the guard runs her through, he was trying to
take a prisoner but the guard advises against it, Benedict has not had much
success with any Hellmaid prisoners so far. So scratch the prisoner idea and LR
takes their heads for a speak with dead attempt later.
They drag back in to camp, which is already in an uproar, with Benedict having
felt the arrival of the Hellmaids. More patrols and sweeps head out and Benedict
himself goes out and kills more hellmaids that had arrived elsewhere.

Gaius heads to the shadow where he was captured and speaks with the Shadow
Dragon, which is stuck to a rock in the area he found his mother and the rest of
the searchers. The dragon is as helpful as possible, since he really has no
choice. and Gaius finds out that there were two, one who “volunteered” the
dragon and another who actually was the recipient of the dragons “mantle”
powers. Gaius asks if the dragon is interested in revenge, with the thought that
the dragon might be able to mantle him. the dragon declines pointing out the
fact that a battle between Gaius and the other primary wouldn’t leave much of
anything in between.

Lisette finishes her Trump Closets, and heads off to the underworld by trump.
she is looking for armor to go with her very nice sword.
dickers with the dwarves and discusses some of what the elders were doing here
historically.

Little Red calls elementals to do his bidding and creates an elemental ice chest
for the heads. also an air elemental or two to defend him against Arrows (the
Hellmaids nearly got him with some) Works on a way to do “instant on armor”,
once satisfied he walks a couple shadows away and questions the dead hellmaids
using their heads as leverage to call their spirits. gets much more info than
Benedict was able to, then has a fire elemental destroy the heads. He then heads
back to Benedict and reports all the info he got. B is thankful, and they
discuss the spying that the Hellmaids were doing using Crows.. this irritates
Benedict and he goes out and searches his camp and kills every crow he finds in
the area (using pattern). about this time Katsume arrives and finds out what is
going on and She does some crow killing too, though she cant find many. Back
together she is stunned when Benedict will not listen to her about the dwarves
and the underworld, says it is unimportant. She and Little Red discuss the
possibility of mental blockage from some source, possibly the pattern in Amber
since the one they all walked was in Tir and didn’t seem to block any of the
group.

Gaius arrives back in Rema to be shortly trumped by Lisette and then Little Red
who want to be trumped back in. He obliges and they spend a bit of time filling
each other in. The main points are Benedicts ignoring as unimportant the
wellsprings, and the Hellmaid’s GOD, which sounds like it might be another of
the 7 creators of THIS edition of creation, Dworkin and Oberon being two more,
along with the fact that Trump Decks have a tracer signal of some kind.

Lisette requests a location in Rema as a trump target, with the Royals
requesting arms and explosives for “self-defense”. Lisette advises a careful
advance of the technology in this world since it can unbalance the whole system,
finding a shadows that can provide smaller “jumps” in the technology level and
not trying to Jump straight to Shadow Earth level technology. Some items are
suggested for an elite team of royal guards, AK47 special bullets, grenades, 44
Magnum pistols for the royal family, flak vests, etc…
Aula is checked for trump artistry capability with decent results, she could
learn though she might not be an outstanding trump artist.
Lisette calls Flora (her mother) and with the assistance of the group she wants
to take her to the underworld to see the dwarves, and they also discuss
Lisette’s Trump skill of shrinking herself to make better trumps. Flora goes
along and Gaius goes too. Flora is impressed with the Tree, says something about
it sounds like a bunch of patterns going over a waterfall, and singing about
it….
the Dwarves welcome Flora and she requests permission to use some elementals to
lift her up, then clear a view of the tree from here, 100’s of miles away. she
gets that permission and after is quite impressed with the wellsprings. A
discussion follows, where the underworld and the Tree are topics of interest,
along with the findings on Benedict. Flora is no dummy and figures that SHE is
the experiment to find out what is going on. Lisette sets up Flora with the
dwarves for equipment and slyly tries to set her up for a dickering session like
the did to her. (the dwarves were messing with us at first, then they told us
the first item for a family member is free) So Flora requests that if She
forgets like Benedict, Lisette is to insist she walk the Tir pattern, also says
most enchantments can be burned off with a trump. Flora figures that the 7
creators each had a pattern, which puts 3 (4) in close proximity to Amber, maybe
more? and that Oberon might have been captured or killed since the Dwarves know
that there was a disagreement between the 7 , with Oberon coming out on top.

Flora heads back to the upperworlds and does “forget” about the importance of
the underworld and the wellsprings of creation.

the session ends there, with so many directions to go….

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Session 3b: William Visits His Mum

William readied himself for a journey back home to Will’s World. He selected a high end boutique jewelry store and exercised a mix of mundane skill, Conjuration (to take down power on the target’s block) and probability control to loot the place thoroughly. He now had many samples of advanced gem cutting technique to use as wealth, bribes and gifts for his mother and others. Added to his collection of guns and ammo and his potted Otherworldly plants it was clear that at least two horses would be necessary. Florimel’s minions, as per orders, gave him three sturdy, nondescript horses. They were untrained in shadow walking — Katsume and Lisette had explained how to psychically soothe horses’ discomfort about sudden changes in scents and sounds — as the limited supply of trained horses, mules and one camel were Florimel’s or Lisette’s personal mounts.

Lisette Trumped Will and his beasts to a location well away from Earth and he set out for home. Between specifying no trouble and acclimating the trip stretched out to three days. Will arrived via the hunting park on his mother’s country estate and was nervously but professionally welcomed and made comfortable by the servants. (Will was rather frightening unusually polite and tipped really well.) Will’s mother, Lady Anne Devray was not in residence as the social season was still winding up in Londin.

Will took most of a day to let seamstresses work on some court clothes, to test his ammunition (black powder performance near identical to on Earth, cartriges maybe 10% more energetic), and to have some of the plants transplanted into the garden with strict instructions and a sizable tip for the chief gardener. He rode out late in the day and arrived at Lady Devray’s Londin town house at mid evening. Mother was out socializing. Will got cleaned up and set off for the first of 3 or 4 likely parties. Anne was attending the second, one informal enough that the Will’s dress and deportment got him in despite the lack of an invitation.

William’s mother greeted him warmly (by chilly Anglish standards), introduced him around and eventually found a spot to talk privately. Anne was fine, pleased with herself for deflecting the Prince Regent’s recent boorish but dangerous attentions off to someone more suited to his usual tastes, a very pretty, very young and quite stupid girl with ambitious parents. (Anne herself looked like a Hollywood-beautiful mid-thirties.) William owned himself more than fit and come bearing presents and opportunities. The remainder of the evening was fairly dull for William; a bit of his reputation as a duelist was circulating and even the stupidest of the noble bullies present managed to control themselves.

Will and Anne rode out to the estate the following day. Will inquired about his father and showed her the Trumps of Florimel’s brothers. Anne identified “Richard” as either Eric or Corwin — it had been decades and the two looked much alike. The Trumps intrigued her, something tickling her magician’s senses. Will gave her an edited account of his recent adventures and revelations. Anne was skeptical; she checked him out for mind bending enchantments: nothing. He had her Trump him from across the room. Then he took her on an excursion, riding off into the woods and eventually to a cliff overlooking a valley with a Mongol-like encampment and unfamiliar vegetation. Anne sat on a fallen tree and worked implications out for a bit. One: smuggling opportunities! Two: gadding about to other worlds would be extraordinarily dangerous for a good-looking woman without a very substantial bodyguard. Time to get back.

Returning, they saw from the wood that the mansion now had visitors, twenty of the Regent’s Guard, half of them inside terrorizing the staff by the sounds. Will and his mum were spotted and seven of the guardsmen mounted up and rode for the woods. William took a few minutes to incapacitate them without being seen. He went back to observe the mansion and saw the troop’s leader, Lord de Gheere, leading them towards the woods. William and Anne mounted up and led their pursuers on a chase through the woods and out of the shadow to a large clearing that was obviously unearthly. De Gheere, the Prince Regent’s top henchman, ordered a stop, thought for a while, told his men to stay put and rode slowly over to Will and Anne waving a white handkerchief. Faced with the threat of being left in an alien world, de Gheere folded. The Prince Regent had accused Lady Devray and her son with high treason and ordered their arrest. De Gheere obeyed though he’d been concerned that the PR was acting strangely. Faced with sorcery of this magnitude he sold out his patron and gave Will a lot of good information on how to get into the PR’s palace unseen. Will took de Gheere with them back to his home world and marooned the guardsmen. De Gheere set off for his own estate with the guardsmen in the wood (who hadn’t seen their attackers) with an eye, he said, to leaving for the Continent.

Lady Anne calmed her servants. William gathered some tools and rode to Londin. The Prince Regent died quietly of natural causes in the night. He’d been influenced by an amulet. Will traced the influence to the PR’s confessor and questioned him. The confessor, a magus of moderate power, was in league with the Demon Prince and President Focalor who had set him three years ago the task of watching for William should he visit Lady Devray. He’d been informed that William had evaded capture by the incompetent Italians. When William showed up in Londin the confessor seized his opportunity to please the Dark Master and arranged for William to be captured. He’d catastrophically underestimated William’s capabilities. He had a sigil to contact his superior in Focalor’s service. That exhausted the confessor’s useful knowledge. He died more painfully than the PR. William ghosted away.

With the Prince Regent dead the throne fell to Princess Catherine, an intelligent and willful woman who had come of age two years ago. The PR kept finding excuses to delay crowning her. Next in line were two male, more malleable cousins. Princess Catherine had some loyal supporters but the smart money was on the first cousin to be king after she had an unfortunate accident. At Anne’s urging, William interfered. He popped out of nowhere to thwart a hastily arranged assassination attempt on Catherine the next day by killing most of the assassins himself. Catherine knew a good thing when she saw it an offered him the post of bodyguard and security consultant. A few more deaths — some blatant, some inexplicable — and the cousins’ less committed supporters deserted in droves. Nobody was saying openly that the Princess’ bodyguard was the Black Hand’s — and Europe’s — top killer but they did whisper it a lot. Most could add Mistaken Arrest Warrant Against William and Anne + Dead Prince Regent + William Backing the Princess = Get the Fuck Out of the Way. Catherine was the legitimate heir, so that was something even though she was a woman. William selected the best of Catherine’s supporters to run her security and found a couple of pros that could be bribed and terrified into signing on.

William left, shadowshifting (vanished!) for Italia. Lady Devray was extremely pleased with being one of Queen Catherine advisors. Catherine was pleased overall that the frightening William was gone but the threat of him remained. Everybody else could suck it.

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Session 4: The Plot Thickens....

All were present –
Little Red, Lisette, Gaius and William.

Starting with William -

He starts in England, trumps Little Red… Little Red answers – inquires about botany experiments. Explained it’s being horticultured. Informs him about the fact that parents can’t remember Outworld. No idea what anyone else is doing, but that everyone is hanging with the were’s. William has been doing work on narrowing down who the enemy is. He has apparently eradicated an agent – who was spying on his movements in his home shadow.

It’s a balmy summer evening in England – after an ice age, in other words, not that warm. William is mounted on a horse. Wants to call in others, contacts Lisette. Lisette is busy making trumps of different people. Claudia approached and was negotiating for making Aula a Trump Artist. Lisette explained the difficulties and the time involved. Quick trip to Earth – after a change of clothes went to Florence. Introduced to modern manufacturing technology – getting tutored by art instructors.


Little Red and William were talking shop – some of it more horrifying that others. LR thinks William is a trifle squeamish. William doesn’t ‘DO’ torture. Getting back into contact with the others. Trumps Gauis, and brings through. English woods. Horses not liking Gauis.

Lisette comes through – looks about – informed that going to Italy. Twists shadow to Italy. Finding horses is not difficult. Lisette tries out the Rema trump and sends Gauis back to get his damn horse.

Low profile is the name of the operation. We are warned that if we are going to be overt, then we can stay in London and stay away from his mother. We asked who his mother was, and got a ‘None of your business!’ LR and Lisette came back with, “Well how do we know who to avoid?”

Since we are going to Veniccia – horses not good. Going to shift to a gondola.

TAKING a gondola through shadow. Come upon a burning, Turk-populated version of Veniccia, a naked young woman swam up to the gondola – as fully clothed, drowning folk called her a whore – and we took her in. Smattering of dialects that she speaks, after being conjured clean (which freaked her out) and got a conjured blanket (also freaked her out). Comfort the girl who is known as Deniz. Apparently gunpowder is only half as effective here, we found out when Gauis put a grenade into a would-be gondola hijacker’s chest. His brother took umbrage, so Lisette threw a knife into his throat.

Lisette pulls an outfit out of a closet trump, and while William shifts to our final destination, adapts all our clothing to the current shadow. Lisette is looking exotic and foreign. LR is attempting to fit in. William dressed in good quality, but not flashy garments. Gauis is just being big – and threatening – wearing the better part of a couple of wolves. Deniz is dressed in common clothes. Need shoes for all – keep us about an inch above the crap. We are making our way to Williams’ town house.

Apparently people are looking for William, and he recognizes that some guy is waiting in the cafe’, signalled and other stuff is happening. Place has been hung with spells. Guy takes off down the street, Gaius has been sent to fetch.

Gaius is galumphing after….. will corral the guy – maybe.

Lisette is going after the guy at the counter cafe’.

LR and William are going after the guy sitting at the table who is apparently coordinating activity.

William does have backup in the form of ‘Sticks’, one of his ‘enforcer/buttonman/soldier’ types. Main guy was attempting to break a spellstick, William negates it by throwing a dagger into the guys hand.

Lisette runs into the cafe’ and prevents the guy tending bar from leaving. He looks into her eyes and basically gives up. Lisette covers his hands and initiates contact. She berates information out of him. Apparently there is another guy that spells the sitting one, he will point him out – aside from the fact that the bastards never paid, they always come in disguise.

Gauis takes out the running one, fairly easily.

LR stops the ring from sending its message. William recognizes the guy, another ‘professional’ but not as good.

Runners were sent to different addresses. Message number ‘3’. Message ‘1’ is ‘We got him’, Message ‘2’ is ‘Flee’, unknown what Message ‘3’ is. Urchin is not quite away. Urchin was able to be coerced into coming back and gave the Message to Lisette, ir read, ’He’s back, come right away’.

LR disables the wards that were ‘add-ons’ – or attempts to. Waiting to hear what the guy was doing, and where he was going. He was going for the ‘spooker’ – assuming that meant the mage on contract?

We get things prepared. The runner was armed up – we removed them.

We were waiting, and then a cannon popped in and fired, it was ‘snuffed’, but it was of limited effect. A second cannon popped in with a muffled, armored fellow, but William managed to keep him from firing the cannon by capping him in his armored head. Someone was watching. Professional – attempts to leave the area nonchalantly. William shoots him in the leg with his AK-47. Gaius is furry, so can’t go get him without causing a panic.

Sticks gets him, wraps up leg – LR has the dead guy get the other dead guy. The wounded guy is spilling his guts. Pretty much a schmuck for hire. Promises from a Demon Lord. He would get Milan. Rule of the Day – Never trust Demon Lords, or those who claim to be.

Found ‘shot in the face mage’s house – found a magic box. ‘SITFM’ was a teleportation specialist, and more than likely the source of the teleportation sticks. Been to all the houses. Box was of the magical variety. Found some woodblock porn – but that’s about it.

William is converting the ‘Shot in the shin guy’, also known as Benito the Stump, to his ‘business’. According to William – this is all business. Except for the cannon guy – that was personal.

Benito is also the other guy who watched at the cafe’. Guido, was the guy that Gaius chased down. Guido might not make the second cut. Lisette takes him aside and tries to assess his capabilities. He’s not that good for much of anything, discussing the clergy, but ultimately we decided that he would be a great bosun, or bosun’s mate – he likes holding peoples’ heads under water and beating them with sticks.

We send him to the navy with an intense hatred of the Turks and the French.

Deniz and Lisette go shopping with SITFM’s money.

LR and William work on the box, get it open, and find a single trump. Not going to use it. Male, broad big, looks fairly powerful. Style is not readily identifiable, it is Dworkinesque in its intensity and looks to have the same level of detail that he puts into his trumps.

An option that might not ever be utilized is Lisette goes toe to toe with him to brute force him with the rest of the crew to back her up. But we’ll explore other options first.

Gaius is following a scent from his attacker – identifiably female scent this time, he’d only caught a second of her in between Questing Beast and Dragon shapes before, but now he is certain she was in the area. William’s gambling den was her focus for awhile at least two days ago.

Deniz and Lisette are buying clothes.

The mystery woman who seemed to be Francqish, seemed to be lower nobility. Investigated William’s gambling house – cased the joint. Found all the passages, she gave off no aura, or anything else for that matter. Lisette has a good mental image, but since the woman is a known shapeshifter, it is malleable.

William talked to employees, and got them taken care of. Still nervous as far as things go, since William showed up with more muscle that they’ve ever seen before. He also picked up a pretty strong magic user along the way. And then of course Gaius all seven feet of him. Still – the natives were restless, William needed to do or say something. He is meeting with the Black Hand master of the city.

LR spends a lot of Williams money on a high class courtesan. LR is playing genteel games, and getting it on with the Courtesan.

Deniz is wanting to be owned, and pretty much is regulated to William as the default prospect. The other group is going out for dinner, coffee and gelato. Dressed up in fashionable clothes, silk and lace.

Apparently we (the group) are celebrity, so people are gawking at us as we dine. Good food and good wines, dining well. Even Gaius has enough. No assassination attempts, much to our disappointment. William and Deniz are discussing her fate in this place. Lisette pipes up and gets Deniz to Earth to indoctrinate into Flora’s Academy. There she will train up and get to the point where she will decide what to do with herself over and above the far-fetched and fanciful dreams of her society.

Lisette goes in Deniz guise to the meeting with the other dude in the Black Hand. Neutral restaurant, good food and the questions start.

Want to know where he was, why people are firing cannon in the middle of town, and what is up with the new associates. Mostly the identities of who is attacking him.

William tells him what the guy needed to know – Satan impersonator coercing employees. Not that immortal god like beings would burn his organization down just to get to us.


Now going to Rema to see if there are unattached trumps in Rema. Lisette cannot track, because she doesn’t ‘own’ Rema, or even have an interest in it. LR is going to hang a spell to get a feeling of where the other trumps are that are not ‘known’. While doing that, Lisette will be making Trumps. She just needs to get away from LR so as not to disturb him while he’s crafting the spell.

Lisette makes three more imperial sets, Gaius’ Mother, Grandmother and Sister. Coordinate some with the Imperial’s to get the Empress back and forth, but since she’s making Trumps for them and Gaius, they do what it takes to make it happen. William is reloading ammunition, and doing practicing of doing it better, sparring with werewolves. LR devised a spell for locating Trumps over a wide area and arranged to get power from some guys from the Imperial Thaumaturgy College. Gaius is prowling among the College wizards and manages to wind some folks who are being nervous and not really in a good way.

Found two spare trumps, One in the First Temple of the Imperial Cult, the other is in the Upscale part of town. Gaius is backing the suspicious guys into a corner. Arrests the two guys, who pretty much agree to go quietly. Otherwise – lots of guys are after brownie points. One is an Underpriest of the Imperial Court, the other has quarters in the the Upscale neighborhood. They will be held in Anti-magic areas, and then go search houses.

Lisette felt the ‘trump’ wave that went off, and then got back with the rest of the group with the other trumps. Parse out the other decks. Going off to search the residences of the ‘traitors’.

Apparently he has no imagination – same damn box with same damn traps on it. Physical traps are the same, magical are more set up by the owners of the box. Two more trumps of the same guy were in the box. God Oberon is in the Trump (what the Priest thinks). Duped into spying and reporting back to the God of the movements of the Royal Family. He is firmly convinced that he is looking after the Family’s best interest. Actually believes it himself. Actually kicking himself when Gaius was abducted.

The other guy, was aware of the Priest, but he was in it pretty much for the money. Very mercenary in his pursuits – well-adjusted sociopath. Lisette goes into his head to get this information. Octavia is going to have her top guy going back in after Lisette is done. He’s a really nasty piece of work. Claudia has him crucified, with College to keep the immediate area magic and elemental free until he finally expires. Lisette gets all the information on where his stuff is. Turned over to the Imperial college and confirmed by the other guy that goes into his brain. The Priest is mortified by this, and turns over his apparatus to the Imperials.

Trumps are deemed God-Blood use only, all others that are not specifically cleared are to confiscated. Called an Imperial Resource.

Claudia is currently the record holder for ‘youngest child of Oberon’ technically she is only 20 years old, Amber time.


Going to attempt to get Flora to walk the pattern to see if she will then remember ‘Overworld’. Tir-na Nog’th or TNN, guarded a little better since the incident. Lisette is going to have to ‘convince’ her a little more to get her to walk the pattern.

She does, however not know who is on the Trump. Cannot ID him, but does rule out a number of possibilities….

Stay Tuned for more developments – Same Amber Time – Same Amber Channel….

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Session 5: We Have a Cunning Plan

We are trying to figure out ways of forcing a trump contact. We decide not to walk Flora on the pattern yet. We trump to Rema. The priest volunteers to be hypnotized so we can feed false information to tell the enemy. We think it is better to practice trump assaults. We decide to practice in the other world (dwarf land). So we trump Yari and ask him if we can go to his land. He says yes. We trump through quickly to the courtyard with the pillar in the other world. Little Red has the dwarfs create him a gas powered gun and gets an armored jump suit made out of osmium with colored checkers in safety orange and florescent purple. Will gets made a dwarf suit of leather armor. We practice trump assaults on Big Red first. We teach Big Red how to use trumps and we all practice. Using sorcery and energy surge helps in busting power through one card.

We trump to Earth. Lisette wants to help Mom take over the business. We visit Deniz she is happy learning to speak her mind. We get trumps of a secure location on Earth. Aula is taking back art supplies and teachers to practice art. Lisette goes through a ritual to take over part of earth. Little Red creates a box with earth daggers around him with an air pocket for fresh air (to protect against trump assaults). Flora’s people will help cut gems for Will. We take Deniz out to dinner. Will takes drivers training in a number of different vehicles. Lisettte drives on the autobahn. Flora hugs Lisette and says she misses her and was concerned when she was captured.

We trump back to Rema. We have the priest trump the Bad Guy and ignore us to tell him about the crucified guy. We make our trump assault and push our way through! And then the mayhem issues! We find out it is Oberon! We are out matched! But we manage to escape as well as capturing Martin. Lisette trumps to Rema. Will trumps to Earth (and bleeds a lot). Gaius Stays behind after Oberon leaves to investigate the area. Little Red trumps Eric during the battle and gets “invited through”. Little Red tells Eric most everything (except the trumps). Eric took all of Little Reds extra trumps except the one to Earth. Lisette takes Martin to Earth and talks with Flora and Will. Gaius trumps to Rema with some of Oberon’s blood. He talks with his mom privately. She thinks Oberon is using them as a tool. She does not like to be a tool and they might fight Oberon. Little Red trumps to Earth and tells Flora that Eric took some of his trumps.
Oberon is going to fight 2 Brothers. One is Vall and he does not want him to know that he was still alive (Gaius’ info).

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Session 6: An Orderly Progress

Florimel called a meeting with Our Heroes, minus Gaius who didn’t answer his Trump, plus Big Red. (Big Red had, evidently, learned to assume the form of a big eagle. He came through when assured by Flora that she could keep him stable while on Earth.) She was going to have to tell King Eric about Oberon and, since Amber was facing a serious threat from Vall, about being able to make Trumps. Eric had Trumps of them… who wanted to meet the King? What should she not tell him about them? Default was ‘not much of anything’.

Plus, Flora said, they should tell The Redheads, particularly Bleys, that Oberon was still among the living. Maybe stop the war. Before Eric chained her to an easel. She didn’t want to talk to Bleys. Or Fiona. Brand, however, was often less annoying and they were all close so he could tell them.

Flora tried to Trump Brand. Odd interference. Lisette helped…. faintly, “Help me!” Our Heroes sprang into action and found themselves twenty yards from the Arden Pattern (!), the Unicorn (!) who stood up and slipped away, and Brand, Auschwitz level emaciated and chained to a big megalith. The massive chain and manacles sucked all the magic out of 30’ circle: William and Lisette picked the locks but broke nearly all their lockpicks doing so. Lisette and Little Red got the feeling that the Unicorn had been keeping Brand alive somehow. Lisette Trumped Flora and briefed her. Five minutes Flora Trumped Lisette back from her private clinic and they took Brand through to a fully equipped, magically enhanced facility and crash team.

They contacted Benedict next and found that he was busy leading his army against the Hellmaids and their flunkies in a pitched battle. He’d welcome help… Sure! Please Trump Katsume then and go to her. They did that. Kat stopped her sneak-through-shadow cavalry flank attack maneuvering to pick them up. They got dropped off at the top of the ridge Kat & Co. were about to charge down.
Lisette Trumped her warbow and arrows and started sniping the enemy. LR cloaked his area and started conjuring. Will, very frustrated by his chest wound, started hexing the enemy forces coming in contact with Kat’s group.
Will was the first to note the flight of 200 or so wyverns with riders who started circling the field in preparation for something…
The aerial troops moved to simply kamikaze straight at Benedict himself. Each mount was in the half-ton range…
Between Lisette’s archery, LR’s air elementals and William’s Patterny maledictions there was a ten wyvern pile up in front of Benedict’s position, a dozen more impacting the ground and most of the rest disorganized enough to get picked off by, mostly, Benedict. (Pop! pop! pop! pop! of arrows going trans-sonic, followed seconds later by big thumps as dead or dying wyverns landed on Hellmaids or their slaves.)
Battle won handily. Our Heroes are now very popular with the Avalon army. Benedict gets his briefing. Will and LR help out with the mop-up and get some OJT Officer Training. Lisette goes home to make Trumps.

(Off camera: Benedict visited Earth and talked to Brand and Martin. Each agreed to not escape and not make trouble.) 

Upon returning:

William was bummed to find out that Flora’s Regeneration Beds do damned little for Amberites. Great for mortals…
-The Reds, Big and Little, talked with Brand and found out that he is indeed their father. Their surprised and pleased father. Good healthy boys, successfully walked the Pattern and students of the Art as well. He remembered their mothers fondly though he hadn’t believed them about carrying his children -
that was before Martin walked the Pattern and made it clear that things had changed. When he went back to Shadeeza to check they had disappeared. Upon learning of the Flayer and all, Brand went quiet for a while. He asked if they meant to deal with Yagamar. He’d be happy to help. Unfortunately the only thing he could do at present was give advice and maybe make a Trump ‘sketch’ — a single use Trump — of Shadeeza as a full Trump was beyond his stamina.
On other subjects: Brand had suspected Oberon was alive and was investigating. He was caught near the Arden Pattern. Didn’t know why Oberon hadn’t simply killed him. Yes, Phraedis — the Unicorn — had been keeping him alive for weeks by force of will despite the lack of food or water. (Brand was now a member of Team Phraedis.) Phraedis hadn’t said a word. Brand speculated that she was wearing that shape against her will and that some of the rituals of the Unicorn Cult were secretly designed to keep her bound. He was aware of the Otherworld and had walked the Patterns of Tir-na Nog’th and Rebma as well as Amber’s. TnN was naturally clean of geasa,

-Lisette and Martin. Martin apologized. He had’t known about the brainwashing. He said that Oberon, the King, had singled him out for a Terribly Important Mission to Save the Family and was really, really persuasive. The other Oberon minion was named Lola (this week); a good shapeshifter and, according to Oberon, disgruntled Vall-spawn. Martin had scouted some of Vall’s forces. They tended to turn huge numbers of locals into mind controlled (and stupid) cannon fodder. Lola’s description of Vall-spawns’ survival-of-the-nastiest childhood made LR’s tales of Yagamar’s academy look not quite so bad.

Lisette and Florimel got together and turned Flora’s Mastery of Earth to Co-Mastery with Lisette. The aware (maybe, for a moment) Gaian Chorus of Elementals were quite happy to havbe a native born daughter take up half the power. Animals (and elementals) tend to gather around to worship Lisette if she lets them.

Gaius Trumped to Flora’s Secure Entrypoint. He had much to tell. (Read of this retcon in Session Seven)

While prepping to contact Eric Florimel’s inability to remember/be interested in the Otherworld and such came up. Little Red said that Brand vouched for the Rebman Pattern. Lisette pushed hard for Flora to Do Something Now. Flora gave in but said it might not be easy, Queen Moire didn’t like her, or any Amberite but Llewella, very much. Except for Benedict. Lisette Trumped Katsume and she badgered Benedict into walking Rebma’s Pattern. Benedict made a call.
Our Heroes, Flora and Kat accompanied Benedict to Reb—Tir fo Thune as his Plus Six. Breathing underwater was weird. Queen Moire, they noted after a while, sported a modest Mantle of Power. TfT’s folk were pale to brown or green skinned, with straight or curly black, brown or green (or tinted) hair. Mostly topless, lots of straps with loops or bags to hold things. Guards armed with knives, short swords and rods with smooth, unfaceted blue-green gems on the business end. They knew about the geasa on Amber’s Pattern. Festivities were interrupted to take Benedict and Florimel down (down, down) to the Pattern room immediately. Benedict walked it first. He stood at the center for a long time, stony faced, thinking. Florimel was also succesful.

Moire threw a party: banquet, music, entertainment. The Tftians were very, very friendly. Our Heroes found that, despite massive and pervasive use of magic, living undersea sort of sucks if you’re not a native. 

Moire assigned Royal Physician Kynwyl to do what she could for Will. K patched him with a creature/prosthetic/superbandage made from her own blood. She explained. With Amberites, Blood Creature patches and prosthetics were quickly absorbed/integrated. She said that most of her family are shifter-healers. Kynwuyl also said that the Very Friendly Rebman women were, to an extent, looking to breed more potential Pattern initiates. 

Our Heroes told something of their adventures. Results:
- Moire offered to get Little Red some help with Combat Magery.
The Tir fo Thuneans had only vague stories of something like the Otherworld. Llewella had never gone there. Why go deal with some dwarves in the stick when she had Royal access to the Conjurors of her home. Plans were made to visit the Otherworld.
They met the Ghost of Lir and viewed his huge, draconic, crystallized bones. (Lir is respected in Moire’s realm, not worshipped.) Lir spoke to Lisette and Flora mentally, saying they should look into what happened to the previous set of Oberon’s children. Flora realized that this is another thing that got Geased into the Not Important file and had a talk with Benedict. Oberon’s rep for villainy continued to grow.

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Session 7: Divine Visitations

December 17th 2011

(Gaius catch up..)

Oberon shows up in Rema, (secretive, Nana chases everyone out but a loyal retainer, spends hours closeted alone) a nosy Gaius gets scent information from a ventilation shaft, smells Nana, the servant, AND Oberon.
 Smells the stink of Power also, and heads off to warn Mom, who is not pleased. Advises Gaius to head for the hills, she must stay to protect the people’s interests. Also she exhorts Aula to go at once with her art instructor and their supplies. Gaius calls Flora in and gets HER advice and has her stand by to pull him out if things get TOO interesting at the “Royal Announcement”. 
Next day the announcement is that Oberon has Returned! has Rejuvenated NANA to youth and has her under his thumb, he is also sporting a shiny, new Mantle of Power. Oberon announces that he will be forming the legions to battle an as-yet-unnamed opponent (Vall), and Gaius steps forward and throws down a gauntlet in challenge. Flora takes action and YANKS Gaius out of the throne room, she also has a few choice words for him too.

(Gaius is retconned into the Rebma stuff with the rest of the party… Pattern walks by Flora AND Benedict, etc…) (Full group… cast is Gaius, Lisette, Little Red, and William)

Meeting set up with Eric, King of Amber. Lisette and Flora chat about Eric, his (and their) plans and expectations. Flora trumps Eric in and introductions are made. Short histories of the new generation are given, and blood tests are arranged for those who’s fathers are unknown (or merely suspected).
Turns out William is Eric’s son, and they go have a private chat, when they return the pattern control is discussed and Eric arranges to walk the Tir-na Nog’th Pattern, to free him of the compulsions. Eric does a better job of controlling his rage than either Flora or Benedict. His pleasure at having a son might have something to do with that. Then Eric and William head to Amber to be introduced around. Will meets Random and Vialle briefly and spends hours talking with Eric and Deirdre.
Lisette and Little Red go have a chat with Martin about working for Oberon, was used like the rest of us. Did have more info on the abductions of the younger generation, and some about Vall’s forces. [Only knew of our four, Big Red and Katsume were a surprise. Vall’s forces tend to curse a widening area of an invaded world — Black Circles — and turn all the people within into mind controlled, fearless, short lived, stupid soldiers, who were used up wastefully.

The Rebman royals want to go see the dwarves they’ve been hearing about so a trip is scheduled with Gaius and Benedict going along. Benedict, very testy since his mental chains were removed, decides early that the group is moving too slow and challenges everyone to keep up, takes off Hell-riding on his super-horse, forcing the Rebmans to assume bird form, and Gaius into Wolf.
 Since we are coming by shadow walking the Dwarves already know we are coming and we are met by a crowd. Benedict is pissy but the Rebmans are greeted and a tour is provided, everyone troops off to see the “World Tree” again. This time it is discovered there are 7 standing stones around the tree, each being an ancient Maker who is connected to the tree somehow. We get a cosmology on ancient history and how the Universe runs. We are invited to meet the “Eldest” an ancient Maker who is also one of the standing stones but has discovered how to be in 2 places at once. Definitely interesting!

She has a Fairytale castle in Black, she is introduced as Night (goddess of the Night) Benedict is interested in security concerns (the Makers have roaming defensive forces, and Night can scry anywhere every night), Gaius in her Goddesshood (Luna!!h) and Twinning, Gaius runs out of questions and call Lisette in (with permission), she brings in Little Red and introductions are made. Little Red is religiously ecstatic, and has a billion questions, he also trumps in William who is introduced. Turns out the 7 Patterns are endpoints of the Creative flow of the universe. And Night can teach us how to Find the Patterns.

A trip to one of the patterns is suggested and Night takes us to Bel’s Pattern..(awesome Starry Hell-ride up the Tree) (Star Trick 5 pts) a Italian style Castle/ Medieval Village and Yari and Night depart, leaving the cast to snoop around and find out who Bel supports. Sneak into town, conjure clothing and blend in, Little Red conjures Translator Elementals, and we start gathering info. Benedict goes off on his own to evaluate the place militarily. First stop a bar! Begin questioning the locals, wind up being taken for slumming nobles. Go and stay with a peasant family and begin getting the lay of the land. Bel has 20 to 30 kids locally, and three or more mistresses at any given time.
Doesn’t seem like the kids are pattern initiates from the descriptions of the peasants.

Further plans will have to wait, since Lisette wants a BATH, we all troop to a roman style bath-house and Gaius feels right at Home!

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