When last we left our Heroes, Little Red awoke to find that William had been drug off by the Rebmans to celebrate their acquisition of a new pattern mistress. Gaius continued to plot for the liberation of Rema, and Lisette was . . . Lisetting.
While the key priority is, in fact, continuing to build the Coalition of Elders to defeat 1) Vol and 2) Oberon, the intermediate goal is to free/rescue/re-embody Dworkin, who remains trapped on his pattern. In pursuit of this goal, Little Red retired to study the Gem of Judgement.
However, since Gaius hadn’t talked to his mother in . . . like, two whole days . . . which is, yes, 10 days in dog time . . . he assembled a group of sorcerers to punch through the Trump jamming around her. Lisette joined in, as did Llewella and Florimel — and they made contact with a seriously drugged Claudia, pulling her through to Rebma.
Claudia reported — muzzily — that neither Oberon nor Corwin is in Rema right now, so Gaius enlists everyone to attack Rema in the hope of controlling it Earth-style before Oberon returns. This, unfortunately, includes Little Red — who was bright enough to point out that Oberon couldn’t take his Godhead out of the shadow, so it’s still in play. Oberon trusts Octavia to be a good little girl, so he probably settled it on her, which means that she could, potentially, show up at any time during the ceremony. Little Red also pointed out that Octavia’s survival is at best a “B” priority for him, so it was decided that she should be Trump-napped before the initial assault.
Oberon should have taught Octavia to screen her calls. Turns out she was wearing the mantle of power, but it was emptied by the transition to Rebma. Various techniques have been applied to Octavia to make her more compliant to Oberon.
Enlisting Gerard and Deirdre, our heroes prepare to attack Rema. At the last minute before leaving, Little Red realized that he might, in fact, need to kill more than four people in Rema, so he trumps Yari to ask about his pistol.
Yari’s running for his life! Guess where Corwin went? Guess where we had stashed Benedict and Katsume following the assault on Phaedris’ pattern? Yep.
So, new plan! Gerard and Deirdre trump to the Otherworld via Big Red, then pull the rest of us through. In an attempt to confuse the were-xiliary troops supporting Corwin, Claudia was given a seeming of Octavia — who ordered the were-troops* to stand down. Gerard and Deirdre open the ball by shooting Corwin’s horse, which Little Red then disintegrates. Bereft of cover and unsupported, Corwin is beaten into submission by Gerard and Gaius.
Katsume and Benedict are evacuated to Rebma. Katsume lost an arm in the fighting, but the Rebmans assure us she’ll recover.
The makers were also injured. They’re unhappy with the direct attack on them.
Rema falls anticlimactically. After long and difficult math, it is decided that Claudia (now wearing a permanent seeming of Octavia) will be owner of the shadow.
Oberon has imported machine weapons from an Earthlike shadow, with various types of shadow-munitions for the upcoming battle. He’s also imported a mercenary unit to act as cadre. Octavia has a number of blood-creatures (similar to those the Rebmans use; they’ve been doing the reconstruction of her youth) inside of her. Final verdict is to keep her interdicted from Oberon until the blood is finished working, then remove the control nodes and begin deprogramming her.
With that crisis resolved, Little Red returns to the important work of examining the Jewel of Judgement. The jewel is amazing. Want to know more? Examine it your own darn self.
Lisette called Phaedris to report on the scenario. No answer. In a nine-nines similarity to “hey, I do have a trump of a dead guy you can play with” sort of way.
Julian and Lisette immediately headed through shadow to check on Phaedris. Unfortunately, she was, in fact, quite dead — Oberon had disguised himself as one of the forest cats of Arden, smashed her skull, dragged her away from the pattern, and torn her to pieces. Grom (which might, in fact, be spelled “Gram”, which is pronounced, in my book, like the cracker) was near at hand, and Lisette picked it up.
Grom immediately set out through shadow for Places Oberon Might Be. The flesh was weak, though — Lisette passes out after only a couple of dozen hours of shadow-sprinting. Julian called Flora and excused himself. Flora called Gaius and Little Red to help out. Between them, they decided to leave Grom here (for a while, with a distinctive henge and a hard-to-open box (NSFW) around it) and head for the Otherworld for more information.
While Lisette was getting Oberon’s Starry Path privileges revoked, Little Red convinced Yari to teach him the Gemming spell. Yari warned Little Red that stuffing family members into gems should really be a second-to-last resort, since it’s not the fucking “build-a-body” shop down here. Little Red promised to be responsible.
From there, Little Red dropped off into his usual coma, but he thought Gaius went back to Rema, and Lisette went and told Bel the news. There might have been some daddy-issue-expunging with Bel as well.
The funny thing about this is that “were” in the context of “werewolf” means “man”. There’s a “troops aren’t human” joke in there, I think. And this is the perfect place to drop the “were-candlelit dinner for two” meme. We might want to call Gaius’ race the Lupines or something, since that isn’t so similar to tenses of “to be” and the etymologists among us don’t have inappropriate laughter.
Grom: well, ‘Gram’ is pronounced grom in Norse and sounds less cracker-y that way. And it’s better than Balmung or Nothung, other of Weyland’s swords, or other names for Gram.
Lupines: OK with me. Mike?
Lisette looked up Night to see if she could do something about Grom. Night could — she sang Grom to ‘sleep’ and tucked the Crazy Sword away in her palace. Then she helped Lisette out with some Trump making by speeding time up in one tower of her palace and then working with her to duplicate the Multiple Floras trick. (Now they know how the Makers do that ‘got your item made up before you got here trick’.) Six new Lisette (one for Night) and Night (three for Night) cards later she was done.
Next she and checked in with Bel and broke the bad news. Bel held a wake for Phraedis and Lisette took advantage of him while he was tipsy and vulnerable.
Deirdre allowed Gaius to carry Greyswandir as Oberon-bait though Oberon was busy infiltrating Arden and murdering Phraedis at the time. She told him she wouldn’t try to draw the thing without checking it over very carefully. Some enchanted weapons were crazy, and Corwin was not all there himself.
Gaius and Claudia spent some time staging the God Oberon’s return to the heavens, leaving his daughter in charge. ‘Octavia’ took a vacation. The Imperial cult was re-worked to aim the power at Claudia. Claudia and her children experimented with Pattern vs Mantle; the two of them could neutralize it very effectively and Claudia had to defend herself with her own Pattern abilities.
Gaius rode herd on the outworld mercenaries, bringing them under Reman custom and law — Oberon had been letting them get away with, literally, murder.
Closer examination of the outworld ammo (which included things very like Gustav Adolf anti-tank rockets) revealed four sets, color coded, for use in different shadows. Oberon left little in the way of notes but some maps indicated that some of Vall’s bases had been mined.
The outworld supplies had come via sailing ships and shadow paths. Claudia broke the end links.
Gaius also practiced the shadowwalking around one world trick and put the wind up some of the new allies (former enemies) Oberon had come up with by terror, blood beast implants, possessing elementals, doubles, etc.
Julian had rode off back in the direction of Arden and, several hours later, Something Big disturbed the Pattern-force. The assumption is that Julian is now Pattern Master there, or dead. Either way the old Trumps of him don’t work any more.
Corwin has a blood beast in his brain that interferes with critical thinking. Eric reluctantly asked Queen Moire for the loan of her Royal Physician.
Eric is keeping Corwin alive largely because they’re negotiating with Bleys — who attacked Amber along with Corwin — to actively cooperate against Oberon and killing a brother might cause apprehension.
Katsume got her arm reattached via Rebman Royal Physician Kynwyl’s blood beasts. Corwin had cut it off.
In the Otherworld the wounded were being attended to at a temporary settlement a few hundred yards from the Tree. The Children of Thunder: Beck, Ulrik and their sister Oreli, who are the Makers’ warmasters, had been called in and were helping set up defenses. Egan and Beck are as strong as Gerard, or stronger, and Heldin a little less. No real attack had ever come at them from the mortal worlds and none of their surveillance or defenses point that way.