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Voshkod
2006-06-12, 01:22 PM
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Amber

Prologue: The Lords of Life

Starring:

mutecebu as Lore
Silverelf4 as Soren
Hrolf as Grettir
Prince of Cats as Drake
Puma as Bellona
The Logic Ninja as Rachel

And so, I missed my chance with one of the lords
Of life.
And I have something to expiate:
A pettiness.

- D.H. Lawrence, Snake

Voshkod
2006-06-12, 01:53 PM
And now you are six . . . .

Grettir

The sun flashes off the ice, and the white bear growls as it approaches. The spear is cold in your hands, and far too big for you to wield.

"No!," your father shouts from the distance, as he struggles against those that hold him. "This is madness! He's just a child!"

"You were the one who said he was blessed, Horgar," Tark, the village priest, snarls back. "You said his mother was a valkyre, you said he had a destiny. Now let him prove it!" Trak spits in the snow in front of your father.

The bear moves closer, wary, perhaps, of the men in the distance, but hungry nonetheless. Your father lets out a wordless cry and struggles harder, throwing off two of the villagers, but the others hold him fast.

"Come on, boy," Tark shouts across the ice at you. "Show us that you're special, or prove your father's a liar."

Lore

When you awaken the slaves are already awake, a hot bath drawn, breakfast at the side of your bed. None of them look at you, for none wish to be struck down. Your bedchamber is full of toys, anything a boy could want at six.

The shutters have been thrown wide on this warm, spring day, and you can see the city below, the wall beyond that, and the end of the world just beyond that, where the trees swallow everything. The castle sits above the two rivers that flow through town, and the rocks thrum constantly with the sound of the great waters flowing below.

The door to your bedchamber slowly opens, and William, your high priest, enters slowly on his hands and knees. "Good morning, almighty, did you sleep well?"

Soren

The garden bell rings once, a low tinkling sound that carries across the water and the chirping frogs. Breakfast is ready, and you rush down to the gazebo overlooking the sand lake and the tiny twisted tree. You see your father there, tending a small maple, clipping some lower branches. The fine white gravel crunches beneath your sandled feet.

On the table in the gazebo is a pot of tea, steaming slightly, and three bowls of rice and fish. Your father seems to have missed the sound of the bell, and remains, a tall lanky figure with long brown hair falling down past his shoulders, tending the bonsai. A staff lies next to him in the gravel.

Drake

"Come on, Drake, bowl already!" You reel back, but the wickets seem so far away. Running forward, arm spinning, and the cricket ball is away, flying downfield, and the boy with the bat swings far too late, the wicket shattering as the ball hits it. The boys of Saint Dionisius's School cheer, little black caps flying up in the air.

The ball is tossed back to you as the Rolls Royce pulls up to the pitch, gleaming black and chrome, top down, and mother driving, one of those awful hounds in the passenger's seat. Her hair is the color of sunset, her eyes blue as the sea, and for some reason every father at the game is suddenly looking at her, and not the pitch.

Her voice rings out, clear and light, her accent so different from the other mothers, who are all glaring at her. "Drake, honey! Over here!"

Rachel

Westby is a port town, rough and tumble, perched on the cliffs around the harbor. Instead of roads, staircases lead the way upward, through the slums clustered by the docks, through the business district, to the homes of the merchant lords at the top. Lorali's is a club on the fringe between the businesses and the mansions, and Lorali is also your mother.

You know this much about the business your mother runs; there are a lot of ladies who work for your mother, and they all dote on you, and a lot of men come to the club. You and the other children mostly just stay out of the way, and attend lessons taught by some older women.

On the table next to your mother's bed is a picture, a blond man, not much taller than your mother, laughing as she kisses him. It's almost your bed-time, and your mother has come into the room to read you a story. The sound of music and laughter from the main room are soothing, the usual sounds of home.

She kisses you on the forehead and smiles. Your mother is very beautiful, long black hair and pale skin, and dark laughing eyes. "What story do you want to hear tonight, darling?"

Bellona

The puppies are everywhere, licking you, crawling over you, yapping and barking. Father is laughing, one arm draped over mother's shoulders. "What a fine bunch of puppies this year," he says in a deep voice, dark hair hanging long, deep blue eyes.

Your mother laughs as well, but with a note of concern. "Julian, is it safe? They are hellhound pups, after all."

Your father smiles. "They are my hounds, Cora, and they smell my blood in her. They would not touch her if they were starved and maddened." He leans over the enclosure you and the puppies are in.

"Well, who's the prettiest little puppy in the pen?" He ruffles your hair. "Go on, Bellona, choose one."

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-06-12, 02:22 PM
Rachel

"I would like to hear the one about the--aah--wandering knight and the duck please, Mama," Rachel says, snuggled under her blankets and smiling. She's taken to imitating the upper-class speech patterns of some of Loralii's fancier ladies of late, although the yawn in the middle of her sentence ruins the effect this time. Her own dark hair spills onto her pillow, and she blinks sleepily. Smoky music, faint moonlight in the window, candles on her windowsill and end table, and the light scent of summer in the air--jasmine and honey and the faint promise of distant thunderstorms; it's all home.

Hrolf
2006-06-12, 02:52 PM
Grettir
Rage burned in the young boy's breast.
"You call my father a liar, Tark!" Grettir Horgarsson cries, "Once I have dealt with this bear I will deal with you!"

Grettir looked closer at the bear. *It was hungry, he could see that much. *If he could make it angry as well....

Grettir quickly stooped and made a snowball, packing it down well with ice. *He then stood, bracing the spear into the ground with his left arm, pointing at the bear, as he held the icy missile in his right hand.

"Come and fight snow-wanderer! *Come and meet my shield-tooth."
The boy Grettir waited until the bear was close enough to aim well and he threw the ball of ice straight at the bear's eyes.
"Odin! *Witness my actions! *Take me to Glory or to Valhal!"
Grettir shouted his defiance to Tark, to the bear and to the world as he awaited the bear's charge.

SilverElf4
2006-06-12, 03:10 PM
Soren

Soren comes to a stop, watching in fascination as his father tends the tree. The bell, and breakfast, are all but forgotten. He wants to approach, but something in the moment seems too noble, and too sacred to interrupt. Soren slowly exhales, drawing on all his senses to capture the moment in its perfect clarity. Its as if something inside of him already knows that such moments will be few and far between. As the breath slowly leaves his body, he finds a start clarity in his being. Suddenly he is aware of everything around him, the rustling of plants and animals. The smell of the tea and the food, the calculated movements of his father. And the staff upon the ground, though far outside his reach, feels like it is already in his hands.

Of all that the serious young man has been taught so far, Rei - Respect - seems the most appropriate for the moment.

The Prince of Cats
2006-06-12, 03:54 PM
Drake

The boy ran to his mother, keeping an eye on the wolf-hound. He knew that the beast would protect him with its life if necessary, he was just somewhat awed by the size of the thing.

Even his team-mates seemed to fall behind, deciding to congratulate him later rather than get too close to it.

"You missed it, I bowled two batsmen for a golden duck!"

Drake knew he was being immodest but Saint Dionisius's School had been a few runs from losing when the young princeling had finally bowled a Yorker for the game.

mutecebu
2006-06-12, 04:00 PM
Lore

Lore sits up, swings his legs over the side of the bed, and replies with a cheery, "Good morning, William!" He closes his eyes momentarily, reveling in the spring air and sunshine. Then, he is on the floor, on his feet, ready to start the day.

Voshkod
2006-06-12, 04:46 PM
Rachel

Your mother smiles and dims the light. "Once upon a time, there was a brave wandering knight. He travelled the lands defending the weak, saving damsels from dragons, and fighting for good kings." Her eyes stray toward the picture on the table. "He was handsome and noble. And one day, as he rode through a village, he saw a little girl crying. So he stopped his horse and asked her what was wrong. She told him that her duck was missing and . . . ."

Downstairs the music stops. Your mother's head snaps, her smile flying away. "You stay in your bed, Rachel. I'll be right back." She pulls a stool over to the closet, climbs up on it, and pulls a rifle down from the top shelf. "Stay right there." She heads out the door, pulling it closed behind her, but it swings open just a little . . . .

Grettir

The snowball lands true, right in the beast's eye, and it charges, a low roar echoing across the ice. It rumbles toward you, deceptive fast for it's size, and you hear your father shouting, "Kill it, Grettir, show them your strength!"

It's near now, you can feel it's breath on your face, it's mouth wide and smelling of rot.

Soren

Your father lets out a sigh, not of disappointment or sadness, but of satisfaction, as the last leaf falls away with precision. He unfolds and stands, sweeping his staff up as he does, and walks toward the gazebo by the sand lake. He sees a stray stick has found it's way onto the pristine sand, and without breaking stride the staff lashes out, popping the stick into the air and away, leaving the sand absolutely unmarked.

He enters the gazebo and sits cross-legged at the low table, and pours tea into each of the three cups. "Soren, are you joining me?," he says, as he lifts his cup and breathes in the steam.

Drake

Mother leaps from the car and sweeps you up into a hug. "Of course you did, my wonderful boy," she says. "Now, get in the car, dear. We have to take a little trip. Your grandfather is in town, and we can't keep him waiting!"

The wolfhound leaps into the back seat, surrendering the passenger side of the convertable to you.

Lore

"And good morning to you, almighty," Lore says, not raising his face from the floor. "Thank you for allowing me to live another day. What do you wish for this morning?"

The Prince of Cats
2006-06-12, 05:39 PM
Drake

The princeling climbed into the car, brushing the seat to clear it of hair and anything else the hound might have dragged into the car. Drake sometimes wondered if his mother loved her dogs more than him but at least the hounds deferred to him when it came to a direct competition. Young as he was, he was sharp enough to know that it would go hard with him otherwise.

"What's a Jezebel?" he asked with complete sincerity and a voice that would, unfortunately, carry further than his mother may have liked.

It was an awkward side-effect of having a mother like his that Drake often overheard some of the names directed at her. In this case, it had been Miss Nevis; a rather plain-looking teacher who had been standing too close to Drake as the car had pulled up.

Voshkod
2006-06-12, 05:56 PM
Drake

"A Jezebel, my darling," says your mother, as she turns the ignition of the Rolls and a low rumble fills the air, "is what a woman who can't satisfy her husband calls one who can." Her foot drops on the pedal and the car leaps to life like an unleashed tiger. She turns to you with a smile. "Why do you ask?" The Rolls tears through the stone pillars that mark the entrance to the school, and she slams the car into third gear and starts building up some serious speed.

The Prince of Cats
2006-06-12, 06:08 PM
Drake

"Oh," he replied, looking confused, "I don't think Miss Nevis is married."

For a moment, Drake wondered if the teacher's boyfriend was not fond of her cooking but finally decided it was one of those grown-up things. With total innocence, he spoke his mind.

"When I get married, I hope my wife can satisfy me."

Puma
2006-06-12, 06:21 PM
Bellona[br][br]Bella giggles as the puppy tongues and wet noses tickle her. She gets pulled down by a few that tug on her clothes, but she quickly come back up after a bit of wrestling... she's a strong girl.[br][br]"_I_ can have one? Really? Oh, thank you, sir." She grins, looking around, studying the hellhound puppies seriously for a moment.[br][br]She points at the healthiest one... "That one."

Hrolf
2006-06-12, 06:44 PM
Grettir

As the bear thundered closer in its anger, Grettir braced the spear on the ground, aiming it at the beast's mouth. He would have to judge this perfectly.

At the instant he felt the impact of the bear on the spear he let go, relying on the earth to take the impact and do what damage the spear could. He did what no sane person would do, diving forward under the bear and rolling to his feet behind it.

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-06-12, 07:25 PM
Uh-oh. When Mama got the gun, and when things went suddenly quiet, things were bad. But Mama told her to stay in bed...
Didn't say I would, though, Rachel decides, and pushes her covers off, hopping down onto the floor. Her dark hair spills down onto her nightgown, and she peeks out of her room, then pads after her mother quietly, barefoot and small.

Voshkod
2006-06-12, 08:13 PM
Drake

Your mother just laughs and laughs as the car hits the M1 north and the engine really begins to roar. "Don't worry, Drake, I'm sure you'll marry the right woman." The dotted lines on the motorway start to blur into a constant streak. "Maybe you should take a nap, dear, it's a long ride to Grandfather's."

Bellona

Your father picks up the puppy, which squirms in his hands. "A good choice, Bell, he's healthy and smart." He holds the puppy up and stares into its eyes for a moment.

"He's yours now. Name him twice, and keep one of his names a secret between the two of you. Whisper it to him in a dark place, and never say it again unless you really, really need him, do you understand? Then give him another name, one you can use everyday."

Grettir

The spear strikes and the blur of white and claws rolls over you, cutting skin and crushing bone, blood suddenly in your mouth and on your face, it might be yours or it might be the bear's, and then everything's quiet and the sun's in your eyes, and you can hear your father shouting in brutal joy.

Looking up, the bear lies died behind you, a long streak of blood stretching out from where you speared it. You can see your father bringing his axe down again and again on a bloody spot in the snow that was the high priest, and everyone is chanting, "Grettir! Grettir!"

Rachel

You creep up to the door and peers past. Down below in the bar, you see a big, ugly man, and he has a knife in one hand and one of mother's women in the other, and the woman is bleeding. The man is shouting something, and people are backing away.

Mother kneels down on the stair and puts the gun to her shoulder. The man's bellowing now, "I'll cut her again, she bit me, I'll cut her up," and then the gun roars and he stumbles forward, the side of his head gone.

Mother stands up. "You all know what sort of place this is. We don't put up with that sort of . . . stuff here. Mack, get him outta here and into the harbor. Karrie, clean up the mess. Angie, patch up Lucy, and Lucy, take a week off. Now I still have a story to read to my daughter."

A cheer goes up, and the music starts, and your mother turns around quickly.

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-06-12, 08:41 PM
Rachel

Rachel gasps as the man's head explodes into bloody ruin, eyes wide, and turns away--and then her mother is starting to turn and the music's back, the faint scents of jasmine and honeysuckle drift by from someone's opened window, and everything's all right again; her feet pitter-patter on the floor as she slips into her room, pushing the door almost-shut, and throws herself under the covers, burrowing into them.

Puma
2006-06-12, 09:17 PM
Bellona[br][br]Bella smiles again at her daddy. "I will, sir." [br]She thinks carefully for a moment. "I think he should be called 'Gerard', because he'll be the biggest and the strongest... but not tbe best." [br]Another glance to Julian, she desperately wants his approval. [br][br]But, she's not above trying to wheedle things she wants from him. [br]"May we ride with you today, sir? To the edge of the forest, to see the ocean?"

mutecebu
2006-06-13, 12:08 AM
Lore

"Well, first, I'd like to talk to you. In private."

Once the servants have left, Lore hopps onto the bed and continues,

"I know where you have come from. You came from your mother. What about me? When was the first time you encountered me, and when did you become High Priest?"

SilverElf4
2006-06-13, 12:54 AM
Soren

With a smooth acceleration, life returns to normal. "Of course Father," he replies as he moves towards the gazebo and the waiting drink and food. Filial piety was of course a virtue as well, but one that Soren did not have to be taught. He revered - and feared - the man before him more than he could say at six. The presence of his father always made him feel so...serious. As if play and smiles and jokes were foreign dignitaries in his life, summarily expelled by the onslaught of his father's overwhelming aura.

Hrolf
2006-06-13, 04:47 AM
Grettir

Grettir Horgarsson raises himself up on one arm, wincing at the pain.
"Come on," he thinks to himself, "pain is just weakness leaving the body."
He drags himself painfully towards his father.
"No-one will call us liars again, dad, will they?"
Grettir tries to stand.

The Prince of Cats
2006-06-13, 09:54 AM
Drake

Motorways always made Drake feel tired and yet, he found he could always keep his eyes open unless he were visiting family. Sleeping in the car always led to strange dreams and a disconcerting sensation, somewhat akin to flying.

His mother's soothing voice gently eased him to sleep and the last thing he saw before his heavy eyelids fell was a tree changing shape as it passed behind the signpost declaring the distance to Birmingham and Nottingham.

He dreamt of Robin Hood and the Sherrif of Nottingham but no matter how many time people showed him the film, he still thought Robin should have flaming red hair somehow...

Voshkod
2006-06-13, 10:28 AM
Rachel

Your mother returns to the room and puts the rifle back, up high, far out of your reach. She sits down, pushes her hair back, and frowns at you.

"I told you to stay in bed, little duck. Did you listen to me?"

Bellona

Your father grimaces for a moment, then chuckles. "I'm not sure your Uncle Gerard would appreciate that, little one. But if that's what you want to call him . . . . now, as for a ride?" He glances questioningly at your mother.

"Oh, all right, but be back in time for supper." She smiles, kisses your father on the cheek and you on the forehead, and leaves. Your father smiles and picks you up out of the puppy pen. He fashions a quick sling for you to wear, and places Gerard the puppy in it. The dog begins to lick your face, and you can feel his tail pounding against your chest.

He carries you out to the stable, where the horse is. Massive, bone white, deep red eyes, Morgenstern snorts at you, hot breath, and Gerard starts to whimper.

Lore

William keeps his eyes down. "You came from the Sun, almighty, the Son of the Sun, a gift of light to us lowly people who grovel in the dirt. We met when you were four, after you told my predecessor that you wished he was dead. In honor of your command, he fell from the parapet. Since then, I have been yours to command, and I am the humble scribe of all you say and do."

Soren

The tea is hot and dark, redolent of jasmine, the rice is lightly flavored with vinegar and sesame oil, and the fish raw and fresh from the lake. Your father partakes lightly of both, picking up small clumps of rice and a bit of salmon, while sipping tea and watching a few leaves fall. He is, as usual, utterly silent.

One of those strange insights that occassionally burst into the heads of children strikes you; the third table setting, the third bowl of rice and fish, the third cup of tea, he puts those out every day, every meal, and yet no one ever sits there.

Grettir

Your father and the others finish working over the remains of the high priest. He holds the priest's crested helm high, and then starts running with it across the snow to you. The others follow, and soon you've been hefted on their shoulders, being carried back to the village, while a few remain behind to butcher and skin the bear.

The bonfire is burning high when you get to the center of the village, and your father holds you up on his shoulder. "You are all witnesses. Grettir slew the ice bear, the false priest Tark has fallen, and as war leader, I name Grettir our new high priest, for surely he is blessed of Odin!" Cheers erupt around you, and the massive helm is put on your head, shutting out the sun and muffling the cheering.

Drake

When you awaken, there are tall trees all about you, and snow is falling heavily. The top is still down, and the wolf-hound is breathing a heavy mist. You're under blanket, and snow rests lightly on your mother's hair, and her cheeks are a lovely color of rose from the cold.

"Oh good, you're awake. There are some sandwiches in the back, and we're almost there, darling. Now, your grandfather can be a . . . a stern man, so be very polite, very very polite, just answer his questions, and be a good boy, all right?" For the first time in your young life, your mother sounds nervous.

The Prince of Cats
2006-06-13, 11:42 AM
Drake

The princeling just nodded, wondering what kind of man his grandfather must be to worry his mother so much.

"Where does he live? It's just that it was sunny at school and now it is snowing. Does he live on the North Pole with Father Christmas?"

Drake snuggled up in the blanket, eating a sandwich and watching the snow fall. He liked the snow but he was still confused by the change from warm Summer's day to snow.

When he had finished, as subtly as he could, the boy dropped his sandwich-crusts on the back seat for Blitzen and set about catching snow-flakes with his tongue.

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-06-13, 01:28 PM
Rachel

Rachel peeks out from under the blankets, and looks at her mother with wide eyes, putting on the adorable expression she normally reserves for getting out of trouble or asking for a biscuit. "No, Mama," she admits. "But I was worried, and I never said I would. What happened?"

Hrolf
2006-06-13, 03:58 PM
Grettir is stunned.
He thinks, "But Odin has never talked to me. Maybe he will now. I'll show him I'm strong enough to be his priest."

The young boy struggles out of the helmet.
"I've never been a priest before," he says, "I will spend tonight in the priest's house and find out what the Aesir want. And I want the skin of the bear as a cloak and the teeth to be made into a necklace."

Grettir shivers and wonders what being a priest will be like. Maybe the gods will tell him what to do. Killing the bear was easy compared to this.

Puma
2006-06-13, 06:12 PM
Bellona[br][br]Bella is, of course, afraid of Morgenstern (he is a force of nature)... but she tries not to let it show. She wants to be a little trooper for daddy.[br][br]"Will I be your favorite Ranger, sir? When I'm old enough. I want to be a Ranger Captain, so I can ride with you."[br]She hugs the puppy as both she and "Gerard" get closer to Julian's great mount, as much for her own comfort than for the hellhound's. [br]"Shh... that's Morgenstern. He's our friend."

SilverElf4
2006-06-13, 08:04 PM
Soren

Soren hesitates. Is it proper for me to ask? The internal struggle is not foreign to him, though he senses that it would be to most people his age. There is a burden he feels constantly that no one else his age seems to. And, with a flash of resentment, Soren feels entitlement. He will ask, he deserves the opportunity to ask.

"Father, the third setting. Who do you place it for?"

Voshkod
2006-06-13, 10:42 PM
Drake

"Well, he looks like Father Christmas, a little," your mother says, "and he lives right up there." There's a dramatic rise up ahead, the road spiraling up the side, and at the top is a large, dark castle, crowned with snow. "He doesn't live there all the time, of course, but it's a place for him to go, for being alone." She down-shifts as the Rolls starts to climb the snow-covered hill. "He's been spending too much time there these days."

Rachel

She fluffs your hair. "I have a deal with the women who work here, and part of that is that I protect them. So, when the bad man did something wrong, I had to protect Lucy. The police know us well, so they'll take care of the bad man."

She sits down. "Well, now, where were we?"

Grettir

The men roar their approval, and your father walks with you to the high priest's hut. It is large, larger than the war leader's hut, and smoke rises from a hole in the ceiling. He stops at the door, kneels down, and puts his hands on your shoulders.

"I knew you would not fail, son, the blood of the gods flows in your veins. Sleep here tonight, burn the herbs next to the fire, and perhaps Odin will give you a vision." he kisses you on the forehead, his bread bristling against your face.

Bellona

"Bell." Your father's voice is suddenly flat, almost harsh. "Morgenstern is not your friend. He's not my friend. He is horse, nothing more, nothing less. Don't ever turn your back on him. That being said. . . ." He grabs Morgenstern's harness, hauls the horse's massive head around. "You hurt her, horse, and I'll turn you into soap."

The horse snorts, but stays still as your father puts you and Gerard on his back. He leaps up after you, and the stableboy throws open the doors. Morgenstern leaps from his stall, in a fast gallop even before he reaches the door, and the trees fly past you.

Soren

Your father stops, teacup suspended twixt table and mouth. His forehead knits for a second, and he closes his eyes. When he speaks, his voice is careful, controlled, cold. "It is for your mother, when she chooses to return."

He sips his tea, puts the cup down. "Let me see your hands." He turns them both, palm up, and examines them. "Good. Your callous is developing nicely, your fingers growing stronger. More archery today, Soren, three hundred arrows at thirty paces, one hundred standing on your left foot, one hundred on your right, one hundred kneeling. Come to me when you're done."

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-06-13, 11:08 PM
"Oh. Okay," Rachel accepts her mother's words without hesitation. "The knight met the girl who lost her duck." As she shifts back against her pillow and pulls her knees to her chest under her blanket, a thought occurs to her.
"Mama? Can I have a duck?"

mutecebu
2006-06-13, 11:24 PM
Lore
Lore inwardly winced at the painfull memory. *The long, slow drop to into oblivion. *At the time, he wanted the preist dead, but he didn't want him dead. *It was hard to define, but there was a diference. *Lore had decided, in not so many words, to not speak his mind unless he wanted his words acted on. *It was hard to say what he wanted. *Suddenly, Lore made another resolution. *He would work even harder, and always say exactly what he meant.

Practicing this new skill, Lore choosed his next words carefully. *"What was it like... before I arived?" *This sentence was more of a statement than a question, and it lacked the usual cheery pep.

This was so hard! *He was supost to be almighty! *He can't even get obsequious folowers to do his bidding without killing themselves. *He wasn't omnipotent. *He was special, Lore knew, but not all powerfull.

Hrolf
2006-06-14, 04:45 AM
Grettir

"I'll try, father, I'll try to be a good priest"
Grettir also thinks that with both warleader and high priest in the same family, they will have a lot of power.
For the rest of the day, until close to sundown, Grettir joins the children for the usual chores about the village. Since it is winter, the animals are indoors and need to be fed.
Wool needs to be carded and spun. Small jobs need to be done while the men are busy taking care of the beasts and the women are weaving cloth and preparing food.

However, in winter, the nights come early and everyone gathers in the main staedhall to tell stories and, of course, do the little jobs that can be done sitting down. Small mending jobs, carvings, spinning wool on drop spindles.
Grettir is half embarrassed and half overjoyed at the stories that are being told about Grettir and the ice bear.

The Prince of Cats
2006-06-14, 05:45 AM
Drake

He watched the impressive castle with a child's sense of wonder. Visions of knights and kings and valiant princes and damsels in distress rode through his mind on gigantic chargers. He almost asked his mother if his grandfather were a king but then that would make him a prince and he didn't feel much like a prince.

"Does Grandfather like dogs?" he asked, "I hope so, because I don't think Blitzen would like to wait in the car..."

SilverElf4
2006-06-14, 10:16 AM
Soren

"Yes, Father," Soren replies automatically. The thought of archery is a welcome distraction from thinking of the empty hole in his thoughts and memories where a mother should be. He finishes the rest of the meal in silence and with a certain eagerness to lose himself in the devotion of skill with his hankyu. It is with a touch of regret though, that he finishes the last of his rice and asks permission to be excused from the table. Only as he is preparing to leave does the thought occur to him that he wished he had talked more with his father. And it is with a bit of shame that he curses himself inside for being so relieved that his father hadn't taken him to task for the question that he did not press the advantage. In all skills and abilities there is timing.... There is timing in the whole life of the warrior, in his thriving and declining, in his harmony and discord. All this an more passes through his head and his heart as he waits to be excused.

Voshkod
2006-06-14, 10:23 AM
Rachel

"Now where would you keep a duck, Rachel?," your mother asks. "Now. The little girl told the wandering knight that her duck was missing. The wandering knight was a very important knight, and he had lots of things to do, but he stopped all his quests and set out to find the missing duck. . . ."

You are softly lulled to sleep.

Lore

"We waited in anticipation, almighty, for prophecy told us that the Sun would give us a Son to rule us. Some had fallen by the wayside, stopped believing the old words, but when you descended into the city in your chariot of fire they were turned into pillars of ash, and only we believers were spared." William pauses. "Are you ready for breakfast, almighty?"

Grettir

People seem impressed that the high priest would lower himself to work menial tasks, but that is certainly your right. Around the fire that evening, toasted chunks of bear, sizzling with hot grease, are passed around, along with flagons of mead and ale. The story has not yet grown larger with the telling, but is still dramatic enough to get attention.

"And he pelted the ice bear with a ball of snow, drawing it's charge! And when it came on, all claws and teeth, my son stood his ground, planted his spear, and faced his death as a warrior. But when the snow had cleared, the bear was dead, it's belly sliced from within, the spear had gone in the mouth and out the stomach, and Grettir stood, blessed of Odin!" Cheers and burps all around.

Drake

The gates slowly swing open, and the Rolls parks in front of a huge door. "The dog will stay in the car, Drake. Now, remember, best behavior!" You both get out of the car, and mother takes a moment to straighten your hair. Then she opens the door.

There is a vast hall, reaching back further than a cricket pitch. Great fires burn in banks along both walls, the dark stones sweat with beads of water. There is a throne of black rock at the far end, and an older man, large of frame, with a beard and a scepter. Your mother slowly makes her way to the front of the throne as you trail behind. She kneels, then looks up at him. "Good evening, father, thank you for seeing us."

Your grandfather's voice is a low rumble that fills the room. "Floramel. Little Floramel. Come, give your father a kiss."

Your mother stands and ascends the stairs, giving the man a peck on the cheek. "It's so good to see you, daddy," she says, and the man rumbles with laughter. She sits down on the step below him.

You're all alone in front of the throne.

Soren

"You are excused. Attend to your archery. I will be down at the range, working with rifles this morning, should you wish to come by after you are finished." You both rise from the table almost as one. As is custom in the morning, he steps around the table and puts a hand on your shoulder, a sign of departure.

He starts away, walking across the gravel without haste, yet making swift time with his long legs.

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-06-14, 10:31 AM
Rachel

In the garden, Rachel thinks as she drifts off to sleep. There's a pond not that far away, and I could bring it bread...
She is warm, and the bed is as soft as her mother's voice, and the gentle darkness overtakes her.

The Prince of Cats
2006-06-14, 10:56 AM
Drake

The man on the dais awed Drake, as no man had ever done before. This man was how any young man would imagine a king; he was strong, able and imposing. Taking his mother's warnings to heart, he watched for some sign of protocol and stayed silent.

As his mother knelt, Drake did so too. When his mother stood, Drake remained kneeling. He had no idea how to proceed and so he waited for some sign or instruction.

Hrolf
2006-06-14, 10:56 AM
Grettir

That night, Grettir went to the high priest's house, worried about how his friends had reacted to him during the childrens' chores that day. The pain of his wounds and scrapes in the fight with the bear had mostly disappeared. He expected the wounds to sort themselves out over the next few days. He generally healed faster than most of his friends.

He wrapped himself in some blankets and cast the priest's herbs upon the fire.
"Allfather, one eyed wanderer, help me to be your priest. You test us, you who hung on the tree to gain wisdom. Give me my tests. Let me learn the wisdom my village needs."

As he drifted off to sleep, Grettir thought that his father had never liked the priest. Had Horgar said what he had to enrage the man? Had Grettir's father deliberately put him in danger to solidify his hold on the village?

He tried to put the thought from his mind.

mutecebu
2006-06-14, 12:18 PM
Lore

At the mention of food, Lore returned to his normal, peppy self.

"Yah!"

He hopps back onto the bed, and takes a bite. Lore nodds with aproval, then adds, without looking at William, "OK, the servents can come back in."

SilverElf4
2006-06-14, 05:00 PM
Soren

Soren manages a slight smile at his father's touch, and after watching him a moment, spins and moves to the range, almost unconsciously mimicking his forebear's gait.

The hankyu is a serviceable weapon, and more elegant than the rifles, but Soren cannot help but feel keenly his young age in handling the smaller bow, which still seems overly large in his hands.

The arrows fly with ease, though the one-footed shots prove difficult, given the limited balance of a growing six year old. *Halfway through, the string has weakened enough that Soren feels compelled to replace it before continuing on. *It would have been nothing of note if the sudden thought had not come unbidden as he raised the bow once more - I wonder what my mother would think of this?

Voshkod
2006-06-14, 09:12 PM
Rachel

You dreams of ducks, and a wandering knight who looks like the man in mother's picture.

Drake

Your grandfather whispers to your mother, "What's his name?"

"Drake," she whispers back. Your grandfather snorts.

"You named him after a duck?" He shakes his head. "Come here, boy, come here, I want to get a look at you." He motions you to the dias.

Grettir

You awaken from a dream of a flaming sign in the sky. There's someone in the tent. Before you can move or make a sound, he touches you, and you feel frozen.

"Hey, kid. Now, don't panic. I'm just checking on a few things, OK?" There's a sudden pain in your thumb, and a moment later the figure is holding up a small glass with blood in it. "Yeah, that'll do. You really are her son, aren't you? I should kill you right here, I really should, but I've always had a soft spot for family. Even the worst of them."

He grins, and you catch a glimpse of red hair. Then he vanishes in a spray of rainbow light, and you can move again.

Lore

The servants return, and your day begins. William trails you everywhere, writing down all you say and do.

Soren

You have no memory of your mother, none. There are pictures that might be her; the artwork in the house is mostly abstracts or woodcuts, austure to an extreme. The arrows fly downrange, one after another, until the quiver is empty and your arms feel like jelly.

The Prince of Cats
2006-06-15, 04:57 AM
Drake

Only his mother's warning stayed Drake's reaction; he was not named after a duck, he was named after a hero. Drake was a... a sailor of some kind, called a Privateer. At least, he thought so. It sounded like a pirate, which is to say rather exciting, but apparently it was not quite the same thing. Drake meant dragon too, so maybe he was named after a dragon.

Young as he was, Drake realised that he was allowing himself to be distracted. Slowly, as respectfully as he knew how, the boy stood and approached his grandfather.

mutecebu
2006-06-15, 08:46 AM
Lore goes through his daily routine, improvising when it felt right or fun.

During his lunch, Lore suddenly looks straight into William's eyes. "Those unbelievers, are they still standing? You know, as pillars?"

Hrolf
2006-06-15, 11:52 AM
Grettir

Grettir wakes worried in the morning. He goes to see his father.
"Dad, where is the nearest priest of Odin? Or even a wise-woman or Vola? Last night I was visited by someone who appeared in the longhouse and took some of my blood and then disappeared in a flash like Bifrost, the rainbow bridge. He had red hair. I think it was Loki, god of fire and evil. I need to learn how to protect myself."

SilverElf4
2006-06-15, 12:32 PM
Soren

Feeling a sense of satisfaction, Soren gently packs away his weapon and heads with weary but determined gait to the rifle range. I wonder what she looks like. He thinks wistfully. The fact that his father set a place for her...well, that was good, right? Ordinary life intrudes as he approaches the range, and he begins to wonder what the instructions for shooting will be today.

Puma
2006-06-15, 06:39 PM
Bellona[br][br]Bella hugs the hellpuppy named Gerard close as Julian's monstrous horse comes up to speed. Of course she's not afraid... Morgenstern never throws her daddy, and daddy is there anyway to keep her safe. So, she lets herself enjoy the wind blowing through her hair; the scents of the forest.[br]Someday, this will be me, she thinks. Protecting Arden, being strong and brave like daddy.

Voshkod
2006-06-16, 09:56 AM
Drake

As you get close to him, his arm flashes out and grabs your hand. He is very strong, and although he's not trying to hurt you, you know full well you couldn't break his grasp. "Look at me, Drake." His voice is full of power, and you meet his gaze.

There's a fire in your mind, suddenly, a web of bright lines and ominous darkness, a vast construct, larger than anything, and for a brief moment you see the whole thing, hanging in space. It's the most beautiful thing you've ever seen.

Distantly, you hear your mother. "Well, daddy? Does the blood run true?"

Your grandfather lets go of your hand. He's smiling gently. "It does, little Floramel, it does. Even unto the third generation. Drake, it is a pleasure to meet you. I am Oberon, your grandfather, and you are the first grandchild brought before me."

He stands, picks you up, and tosses you into the air, grabbing you into a hug on your way down. "Flora, Drake, you've made this old man very happy." Out of the corner of your eye you can see your mother is crying, just a little, dabbing at her eyes with a silk handkerchief.

Lore

"No, almighty, the winds and rain carries them away, into the rivers and beyond the walls of the world. Now, almighty, in the evening yesterday you said you wished to walk to the beastiary today, perhaps to see a griffin and a manticore battle? Such a fight has been prepared for you, if you still wish it."

Grettir

"You are the priest of Odin, Grettir! Surely you can protect yourself from Loki Trickster-God." He looks at the small wound on your finger. "I'd say you protected yourself well. Such a small wound for a god to inflict on a child, you are more powerful than he, Grettir. And we will make you even more powerful. I have plans, my child, plans of war and conquest . . . ." Your father begins to spin out his vision of dealing with the other villages, then the other tribes, then the nations across the sea, and you have a momentary image of yourself as the demon on the prow of a longship, a symbol of fear.

Soren

Father is fiddling with a very large, long rifle, with a scope on top. He's shooting at something invisible to the naked eye, probably set up on the low stone wall over a mile away. He doesn't turn from his work as you approach. "You've finished with archery." Not a question, a statement. "Find a rifle, start at one hundred meters, standing, kneeling, prone."

Bellona

Morgenstern's muscles move like metal pistons under Bellona, and the afternoon sun dapples the greensward with a rainbow of colors. Your father's long back hair streams out behind him, and he's laughing with joy as the horse tears up the turf. Within a few minutes you're heading down a steep slope, racing a burbling stream toward the sea. Off to your right, eternally distant with the sun setting behind it, is the mountain, and on top of that the city. Mount Kolvir, and Amber, spires reaching up into the clouds, glittering gold and white.

Rachel

The knight races after the duck, fumbling and bumbling in his heavy armor, and the duck quack quacking quacking like laughter, laughter like thunder, rolling away over the hills and cliffs, sheltering cliffs, and the waves growing.

The Prince of Cats
2006-06-16, 11:44 AM
Drake

The young boy allowed himself to be caught up in the moment, powerless to do anything else. Oberon, his grandfather, was too strong to oppose physically and the images rushing through his head knocked him for six.

When he was finally back in a position to respond to events, he just smiled. His grandfather was happy and it seemed that it was very important that he be happy. Finally, his curiosity overwhelmed his desire to avoid causing offence.

"Grandfather, sir," he began, wondering at the correct form of address, "There was a... shape. It was like a maze made of fire... Did you see it too...?"

Something about the device fascinated him, he wanted to know what it was but he was too scared to ask outright.

Voshkod
2006-06-16, 03:04 PM
Drake

"That, boy," he booms, "that is the most important thing in the worlds. When you're older, when you're ready, tell your mother that you want to see it in person."

He stands. "And now you both most go. I have much to do, and very little time." He pulls a playing card out of his pocket and hands to you. It feels just slightly cold. There's a unicorn on one side, and a picture of your grandfather on the other, looking every inch the King, upon a throne you've never seen before.

"Now go."

Moments later, you're back in the car, heading downhill. Your mother seems very pleased. "One thing, Drake. Don't talk about this to anyone, all right?"

Puma
2006-06-16, 05:11 PM
Bellona[br][br]Bella's laughter is caught up in an awed gasp as she spies the mountain and the jewel of the city called Amber crowning it. She points in that direction to call Julian's attention to it... he wouldn't be able to hear her over the wind whistling past.

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-06-16, 05:22 PM
Rachel

The knight's steps and the sounds of the duck turn to thunder, growing louder; the world whirls past them, a woman with a rifle turning a man's head into a bloody mess in the distance--

Rachel shifts in her bed, the blankets tangling around her, candles long since burned down.

--ocean, and cliffs, and the waves and thunder roll and break against a cliff, a stair cut into it, something shining against the dark clouds, the hint of something beyond comprehension within or below.

Rachel sleeps.

Hrolf
2006-06-16, 06:29 PM
Grettir

"It is just that a man seek fame, father," says Grettir, not knowing where the words come from, "But to be truly famous a man must be just. Wherever you go, I will be with you. Together we shall earn fame that shall outlast us."
Grettir reaches out to grasp his father's wrist in a viking handshake. In doing so, he allows his father to feel his strength as he looks into his eyes.
"So when do I get a sword? And an axe. I'd like an axe."

The Prince of Cats
2006-06-16, 09:03 PM
Drake

The boy looked at his mother with a rather serious expression on his face. As though speaking to a small child, he explained.

"Mummy... You know that I won't talk about this. They wouldn't believe me even if I did..."

SilverElf4
2006-06-18, 03:32 AM
Soren

Soren nods, suppressing a flash of irritation at his father's detached and pre-emptive communication. Soren was young but he got the message. Duty first, curiosity second.

He pulls a rifle of his own from the rack, though this one is considerably smaller. He begins to go through the task of checking it and getting it ready, reveling in the details the task places on him, freeing him of the burden of a mind with too much time to overthink the events of life.

mutecebu
2006-06-18, 01:30 PM
Lore

Lore's face brightens with glee. "Yes! Right away!"

Voshkod
2006-06-19, 09:39 AM
Bellona looks in awe at the great castle, wondering perhaps why father has never taken her there . . . .

Rachel dreams of ducks and oceans, and an unreachable island of magic . . . .

Grettir sees something in his father's eye, an uneasiness of a man confronted with a force of nature . . . .

Drake returns to school and the green days of cricket, the truth uncomfortable in his mind . . . .

Soren kneels at his father's side and fires, bullets flying downrange, into the distance between he and his father . . . .

Lore watches a griffin savage a manticore, and cheers as blood sprays into the sand . . . .

And now we are ten . . . .

Lore

The castle is yours, the city is yours, with your guards and your priests you've been over every inch of it, the river gulleys and the walls of the world around, looking out into the endless forest, every part of it except . . . except the room at the top of the north tower. One large oak door, locked, one balcony visible from the outside, several windows, shuttered. And no one has the key.

The other boys are running around, playing Ducks and Drakes, it's your party, after all, but none of them really seem to want to get too close to you, or talk to you, and all of them look to the ground when you approach. The tables groan with sweets and drinks.

Soren

The chair is absurdly large for you, cracked leather, dimly reflecting the light of the massive screens all around. Behind, a large pane of smoked glass, where Father is watching from. Before you, the Pit, where row upon row of soldiers watch their screens for any sign of the enemy trying to end the world.

It's been a tense few weeks, the American blockade of Cuba continuing, the Soviet blockade of Berlin intensifying, shots fired on the Czech border, and the Chinese building up forces on the Amur River. The politicals think something's up, alert levels are maximized. And you're in charge of the strategic forces.

A red light, your phone rings. "Comrade General, Rossiya 17 is reporting a thermal plume from the ICBM field at Minot, confidence is low, I repeat. . . wait . . . several plumes now, fifteen, twenty, twenty-seven thermal plumes from Minot, confidence is high. Looks like a small counter-force attack."

Drake

The smells of fish frying in oil, the sound of squawking ducks, and the sudden crack of a fist into the side of your head, sending things spinning. You hear your mother gasp, and the little man steps back. "No! You must keep your defenses up, young master." The world reels back into focus, the dojo, the sweaty mats, the heat of Hong Kong in summer, and your mother, looking distraught, fanning herself in the corner.

The tae kwan do master starts to move forward again, one hand moving slightly, the other absolutely still, and his eyes blank.

Grettir

The smell of burning straw and burning flesh, and a rivulet of blood streaming out to the sea, past the longships. The men of the village are having their way with it, with the women, and the plunder. You're drenched in blood from an uppercut into a tall man's belly, your axe sundering him from side to side, ropy guts spilling out over you and the earth.

The village elders are lined up, halters around their necks, and some of the men are taunting them, jabbing them with short spears, drawing blood from light wounds. Your father is there, holding a jeweled goblet plundered from leader, and he motions you over. He points to the captured elders. "Judge them. Invoke the wisdom of Odin, and judge them."

Rachel

The platters of drinks is heavy as you move lithely through the dancers, over to the table in the corner, and they laugh as they see you coming and pat you on the head and leave coins on the tray. The place is hopping tonight, musicians playing live, dancing and drinking and men and women heading upstairs. Mother looks exhausted but happy, and that's a sure sign of a profitable evening.

The table near the fireplace is full of large, ugly men, and one of the older ladies has been bringing them drinks. Mother told you not to go near them, something about Boss Pogue, whatever that is, but it's almost bedtime, and your duck is probably hungry.

Bellona

You awaken to the voices, Uncle Caine's soft drawl, Uncle Gerard's loud laugh, Father's calmness.

"It's too soon," Gerard says, "Eric's moving too quickly. He hasn't been gone that long. We haven't seen Benedict, or Corwin, or Bleys, for that matter."

"So much the better," Caine replys. "Corwin's dead, Benedict doesn't want the crown or he'd already have it, and Bleys is powerless."

"And what of Brand?," your father says. "Or Random? Is it better to move with those who are here, and hope that the others return on bended knee, or to get everyone together?"

"Let Eric move now," says Caine, "and if he fails, so much the better. The succession moves on, closer."

"Amber is weak," Gerard rumbles, "a war between brothers she cannot handle."

Your father sighs. "Amber is stronger than we know, I suspect. We are the weak ones."

The Prince of Cats
2006-06-19, 11:20 AM
Drake

The boy fell back into the familiar motions of the martial art. He was picking it up quickly but not quickly enough to avoid a few hits when he got overconfident. In consolation, Drake reminded himself that he could probably take the hits better than his sparring partner; he just had to hit the little man first...

Hrolf
2006-06-19, 02:47 PM
Grettir

Grettir looks over at the defeated men.
"Let them live. They have been defeated and their goods taken. They will spread the word and our next raid will be easier."
Grettir goes over to the elders.
"I am Grettir Horgarsson and that is my father, Horgar Tormundsson."
He looks at the men playing with the prisoners and the rape of the women. He starts to chant loudly as would a skald.

"Strong a man must be and brave in battle,
You have fought well and the spoils are yours.
But remember the fire that burns in the hearts,
Of the fathers of despoiled women.

Blood feuds and wars can carry abroad,
Even though you resist them boldly,
Your part will be told down through the ages,
Hard it will be if your saga is of evil."

Grettir goes to the sea to strip his mailshirt off and to wash the blood from himself.

mutecebu
2006-06-19, 05:08 PM
OOC: How did Lore come to posess the castle? Conquest? Did he build it? Is it the same castle from four years ago?

IC:
Lore

Lore tossed another rock, which went much farther than his playmates', but nevertheless plopped into the water without a skip. Frowning, he becconed William over to him. The frown had nothing to do with the man, Lore was simply preocupied. In fact, he had grown fond of his priest over the years.

Adressing everyone at the lake, Lore anounced, "Today is the big day! We're gonna open that door in the tower, even if we have to knock it in!" Many of the kids were confused, but Lore didn't care. They could play with their rocks, but Lore had bigger plans. William would take care of the logistics of tearing the door down.

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-06-19, 05:54 PM
Rachel

In a dark, stain-hiding red outfit and a white apron, Rachel moves nimbly between larger people, recieving affectionate pats and gathering up coins from her tray; she winds her way across the floor to her mother, and tugs at her skirt, looking up. "Mama? I'm going to go feed Lady Duck, all right?"

Puma
2006-06-20, 09:06 AM
Bellona[br][br]Bella controls her breathing very carefully as she eavesdrops on the plotting Princes. It was a risk, concealing herself near where she thought they might go to plan... worse, she fell asleep. If they had discovered her, they so far hadn't made any sign.[br]What will they do to me, though, if they haven't found me already, but discover me now? Beat me? Exile me to a part of Arden so I'll never see the ocean or Kolvir again?[br][br]Something in her heart flares up in anger with that thought,[br]I won't be like my mother. I won't bow to him, or anyone.[br][br]So, the already-coltish Bellona steps out of her hiding place, adujsting her riding clothes and quickly running a hand through her hair. [br]"Weak? There are three of you here together." She grasps the hilt of her sword (a sabre made more for stabbing than slashing) and smile grimly. "Let them come".[br][br]The silliness of a ten year old girl daring Bendict to come fight is lost on her somehow.

Voshkod
2006-06-20, 11:14 AM
Drake

"Don't hit him so hard!," your mother squeals. The man raises a hand in your direction, suspending the fight for a moment, and he bows to your mother.

"Madam, you asked me to train your son to fight and to defend himself." His English is clipped and precise. "That is what I am doing. If I am to stop, then I shall, but he will not learn."

She looks at you in concern. "Drake? What do you want to do?"

Grettir

Your father nods. "Release them." The elders are thrown down into the mud. After your speech, some of the men sheepishly leave their new prizes, while others ignore you. You walk past them down toward the sea and the longships to wash off the mud and blood.

Lore

The castle is eternal, as is the city around it, the only things Lore has ever known (for that matter, he doesn't even know he is "Lore," as those about him simply call him almighty).

William looks blankly at the floor for a moment. "Yes, almighty, today is a big day. Ten years old, and also eternal." The children are looking at the two of you with interest, trying to make sure you don't see them watching (lest they be struck down.)

Rachel

Your mother leans down and kisses your forehead. "Of course, dear. Go right ahead. You've done enough for today. I'll try to come up soon to read you a story."

The table near the fire erupts into raucous laughter, and your mother shoots them an annoyed glare, focusing on a large fat man in a suit.

Bellona

Gerard starts to laugh, while your father gives you a dark look. Caine sighs. "Come now, brother, can't you control your own brood? How do you expect to help control Amber?" His voice cuts coldly.

Behind you, you hear the hellhound Gerard stalk up and sit, his breath on your back.

"Watch yourself, brother, in my home, and speaking of my daughter," says Julian. "Now, excuse me for a moment, I would talk to my daughter." Gerard and Caine rise. Caine walks past you without a pause, while Gerard suddenly grabs you and throws you skyward, the top of your head lightly grazing the roof-beam. He catches you and tickles you for a moment. "And how is my favorite niece?"

The Prince of Cats
2006-06-20, 12:42 PM
Drake

The little boy shrugged. He seemed to learn faster, the harder his instructor hit him.

"I am alright, it doesn't hurt that much. It's my fault anyway; if I had kept my guard up like he taught me, I wouldn't have got hit..."

He hoped he would never need to fight like this, since real opponents would not stop just because his mother told them to. He just had to keep trying.

Puma
2006-06-20, 01:00 PM
Bellona[br][br]Bella squeeks as Gerard manhandles her. She can't help but laugh, though she realizes after that this will probably annoy her father even more.[br][br]"Well enough, Uncle Gerard." she responds, once her giggles abate enough for her to breathe. She gives her uncle a smile and a wave as he excuses himself, then she turns to her probably fuming father. She tries to put on her best contrite attitude... so much for not compromising. [br][br]"I reget if I have given your brothers cause to berate you, sir. I never mean to give you grief... I only wanted to help." All of that is said fairly quickly, in case there is an imending explosion from her father.

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-06-20, 03:07 PM
Rachel follows her mother's gaze, then looks back up at her, beautiful, with her long dark hair, and Rachel hopes one day she can look as lovely. "What's wrong, Mama? Are they bad people?"

Voshkod
2006-06-20, 04:50 PM
Drake

The man bows to your mother, and then to you. "Very wise of you, young master," he says quietly. "Let us continue. Remember to act, not react." He resumes a battle stance.

Bellona

Your father's frown deepens, and then cracks. The coldness he shows around his brothers fades like dew at dawn. "Little Bell, little Bell, such a loud ring you have." He sits down so he can look you eye to eye. "Caine and Gerard are my brothers, and I love them as brothers, but they are not safe. Don't assume that just because you call them Uncle you can speak freely around them. Our family . . ." He sighs. "Our family is not safe. That's why I've never taken you up Kolvir, or to Amber. That's why only Caine and Gerard even know of you."

Rachel

"That's Boss Pogue, little duck," your mother whispers. "He's a very bad man. You're not to go over to that table, or say anything to him. I can't kick him out, he owns too much." She pours some more drinks. "This town's going straight to hell," she says bitterly.

mutecebu
2006-06-20, 05:02 PM
Lore
Lore noticed a few of his playmates, but pretended not to notice. Today was not a day to hit anyone, well... except that door.

Lore turns to William and says, "Hurry up! You know, the big door that no one has the keys to. We're going to knock it down today!"

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-06-20, 05:33 PM
Rachel

"Oh."
Rachel knows that she's only ten, that she can't fix things--but she resolves that, when she's all grown up, or at least older, she'll Do Something about Pogue, so her mother can kick him out whenever she wants. Knowing what the right Something is? No doubt that's part of growing up.

Giving her mother a hug, she heads to the kitchen to get some bread, then out to the back yard, to feed Lady.

The Prince of Cats
2006-06-20, 05:56 PM
Drake

The truth was, Drake realised, that his greater talent was for taking the blows rather than meting them out. Oh, his world still went reeling whenever the small man's attacks connected but he began to suspect that he may be able to outlast his sparring partner.

And so it was that Drake took a defensive stance and tried to focus on blocking and rolling with the blows. He just hoped the little man would tire and make a mistake before his own poor discipline offered a weakness in his defense.

Hrolf
2006-06-20, 06:27 PM
Grettir

Once he has washed the blood from him in the sea, Grettir goes to sit on the longship. he has done his share of the work this day. The vik has been successful. It is for his father to give out the rings and the hacksilver gained in the raid.
"One day I shall be a great ring-giver," he whispers to the winds, "My name shall not die when I do."

Grettir looks out over the sea, the whale road, the widowmaker.
You test us, Allfather. The men test themselves against the winds and the sea. Against shield tooth and axe edge. The strong survive and the weak die. The women test themselves against the world. Starvation and cold are their enemies, their reward children to remember them. Is this all there is?

The young man struggles to find form and substance to a harsh world, watching a seagull sweeping in to join the darker birds in the raven's feast.

Puma
2006-06-21, 07:13 AM
Bellona[br][br]Bella nods at that. [br]"I understand, sir. I will be careful."[br]She smiles, though. "Don't worry, though. I can take care of myself."[br][br]Ah, the self-assuredness of youth. If only they knew how the world really worked... especially for the scions of Amber.

Voshkod
2006-06-21, 10:20 AM
Soren

Counterforce, countervalue. Real or system fault? Scramble the bombers? A thousand variables of nuclear warfare start running around in your brain when the big board suddenly wavers like a heat mirage and then vanishes. A pillar of fire, strangely alluring, moving with unreal grace, slides into the war room. Distantly, you can hear people shouting in Russian and glass breaking behind you. Out of the corner of your eye you see your father, shards of smoked glass falling around him, sword in hand.

Lore

William just blinks, and continues to stare blankly at the floor. "Yes, almight, a big day, a key day. Knock knock." A thin line of drool comes from the side of his mouth. Behind you, some of the boys are laughing.

Rachel

Rachel gets some day old bread and heads outside. Lady starts quacking up a storm as soon as she sees you, waddling back and forth at the fence. You begin to feed her from your hand, feeling her beak against your palm.

Inside, the music stops. You hear voices, raised, your mother's among them.

And then a shot.

Drake

The fight wears on. Your instructor hits you a few time, but you can see the exertion finally getting to him. You're lined up for a blow, a quick swing and you connect with his forehead and he goes sprawling down.

You hear someone clapping, slowly, almost sarcastically, and you and your mother turn to see a man step from the shadows. He's short, with a sharp nose and straw colored hair. "Nice shot, kid, hey, Flora, nice to see you."

Your mother's face darkens. "What in the hell are you doing here, Random?"

Grettir

A one-eyed raven lands in the rocks in front of you. He picks at a few gibbets of flesh, then ***** his head at you. The single eye gleams redly. Then he leaps into the air, powerful wings flapping, and he takes the seagull in flight, both tumbling down to the rocks near you. The raven quite purposefully pecks out both of the white bird's eyes, and then perches near the seagull's struggling form, watching you.

Bellona

"No, Bell, you can't take care of yourself." Your father looks sadly at you. "That's the problem. You're a tool someone can use against me. You're my weakness, and Caine and Gerard know it. If some of the others found out? Benedict, Corwin, Bleys, they'd exploit it. Kidnap you, perhaps, or just try to kill you outright, a way to force me into a rash action. The family game is growing harder, Bellona, ever since Dad disappeared again. Eric will make his move soon." He shakes his head.

The Prince of Cats
2006-06-21, 10:38 AM
Drake

Something about this man was wrong, the way his mother spoke to him and the way he spoke. Drake decided that his mother would probably know how to handle this situation better than him, moving to help his instructor stand without ever turning his back on the strange figure his mother had called 'Random'.

Hrolf
2006-06-21, 12:47 PM
Grettir

Grettir looks over at the birds and then jumps down from the longship to the rocks. looking the raven in its one eye, he draws his axe and ends the seagull's pain by beheading it.

"Are you Memory or are you Thought?" Grettir holds his arm out to the raven. "Or are you the wandering loremaster himself?"

mutecebu
2006-06-22, 01:18 AM
Lore

Lore gives a murderous glare at the sources of the offending sound. He then turns to William, and screams at him,
'WHAT ARE YOU DOING THERE, STANDING LIKE THAT?!?! WE'RE KNOCKING DOWN THE BIG DOOR!!!"

He gives up, and storms back to the castle. "Guards! Bring some battering rams! Grab some saws! We're knocking the door down!"

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-06-22, 03:58 AM
Rachel

Rachel smiles as Lady Duck--appropriately enough named--eats out of her palm; raising the duck proved easier than others told her it would--if she touched the duck, she could calm her.
Then the music from inside stops, and there is a terrible noise; the smile gone from her face, Rachel rushes to the back door, peeking inside.

Voshkod
2006-06-22, 09:21 AM
Drake

"Come on, Flora, is that any way to greet your favorite little brother?" Random walks over to your mother and kisses her on the cheek. "You know you're my prettiest big sister." He flashes her a disarming smile. Then he looks over at you. "Hey, sport! You must be Flora's kid. You've got her look. Man, you are gonna be a lady-killer when you get older. I'm Random, your Mom's little bro, your uncle. What's your name?"

Behind him, your mother sighs and shrugs.

Grettir

The raven stares at you with one good eye, and you can hear a voice in your head for a moment, female, stern, "I am a creature of blood and wonder." Everything else has faded into the background.

Lore

There's a soft popping sound, and some blood begins to drip from William's nose. He crumples gracelessly to the ground. You can hear the boys behind you, jabbering, "he killed him, he looked at him and he died," and they're scattering. Each guard gives you a blank stare as you mention battering rams and locked doors.

"Excuse me, almighty?" A quiet voice from behind you.

Rachel

You peek into the back door. The women are all gathered around your mother, who lies in the arms of Lucy. There's a large spreading stain on your mother's stomach, and one of the men from the table by the fireplace is holding a large black pistol. The rifle lies on the floor near your mother, a tall thin man standing next to it. The fat man, Boss Pogue, is standing behind him. "If I've told you once, Lorali, I've told you a dozen times. My men can do what they want here." His voice is soft and girlish.

Puma
2006-06-22, 09:28 AM
Bellona[br][br]"Why don't you just work with Eric, then?"[br]Of course, she doesn't really know who "Eric" is, other than he must be another uncle she hadn't met. [br]"Moving against what? The city on the mountain? Wouldn't an army have to come through the forest? Who could do that and have anyone left? Not with all your Rangers and Hellhounds guarding the safe ways. Even if they could... whoever is in charge up there still has to know that they can never dislodge you from the forest.[br]That may seem rather shrewd, but this particular analysis is colored by a little girl's ultimate confidence in her infalliable father. [br][br]She thinks for a moment more, then continues.. [br]"If your brothers are fighting for the castle... wouldn't it be better to have someone strong there that owes you something, rather than having to go begging for scraps from their table?[br]She sighs, looking at Julian. "I know you'll laugh at me, sir... but shouldn't you have your hand on the king, rather than be forever a rook at someone else's board?[br]She steels herself against a blow... she hadn't meant that last bit as an insult, but it could easily be taken as such. She probably would have struck someone herself if they had insinuated that Julian was something less than a great man.

Voshkod
2006-06-22, 09:41 AM
Bellona

"From the mouths of babes," Julian whispers to no one in particular. "Little Bell. I don't want the Throne. I don't really care who's on it, so long as they leave me alone. I'm already a king, Bellona, the King of Arden, and there's just not much more that I want! Peace, yes, I want that, for once these foolish brothers of mine stop squabbling over the trinkets of Amber, Arden can be quiet again."

He takes your chin in hand, stares into your eyes. "Bell, remember this - too much ambition leads to destruction. Find your happiness. I'd rather be the Lord of a rough hut in the forest then King of everything, because here in my forest I have you and your mother."

mutecebu
2006-06-22, 11:17 AM
Lore

Lore stops dead in his tracks, and holds for an instant. Then, he whirls around with a furry and (assuming there's a person behind him) looks at the newcomer in the eye.

The Prince of Cats
2006-06-22, 11:43 AM
Drake

Seeing his mother's resignation, Drake decided that it was probably too late to play evasive.

"My name is Drake," he said, "but not as in ducks..."

The boy kept his eyes on the stranger, wondering if the name 'Random' was a personality trait or just a name. As his instructor warned him, he must learn to keep his defenses up. Around family, it seemed, that might be more important than around strangers.

Puma
2006-06-22, 01:31 PM
Bellona[br][br]Bella smiles a bit at her father's touch, and nods thoughtfully at Julian's gentle lecture.[br]"I think I understand. I apologize again for spying on you and my uncles... but i just wanted to help."[br][br]She tries to give Julian a hug before she turns to go... though he really hasn't dismissed her. [br]"I meant what I said, though... you can count on me, always."[br][br]She collects canine-Gerard before she goes.

Voshkod
2006-06-22, 05:15 PM
Lore

There's a smaller boy there, black haired, look right back at you. He fliches for a moment when you turn, but then stands his ground. "Almighty, you know, of course, that there are ledges between the balconies on the higher floors of the castle. I can see them from my house. If you found an open window, you could probably get to the balcony you want, if this room has a balcony?"

Drake

He shakes your hand. "Of course you're not named after a duck, champ! You're named after a dragon, right? Mean critters. Or after Frankie Drake, the pirate! Arrgh, matey! Yeah, a handsome rogue like you named after a duck? That'd be crazy." His smile seems genuine.

"What do you want, Random," says your mother, sounding exasperated.

"Well, Flora," he says, not turning back to her, "I could use a place to crash. Maybe the mansion in Westchester? Or the lodge in Aspen?" He shoots you a knowing wink, as if inviting you in on some conspiracy.

Bellona

Your father gives you a big hug. "I know, Bella, I know. You're still my cutest puppy. Now get. Your uncles and I still have a lot to talk about. Go practice your riding or something."

The Prince of Cats
2006-06-22, 07:17 PM
Drake

For some reason, Drake found himself warming to his uncle. Perhaps it was just that Random seemed so free and untidy compared to the young boy. That very fact was enough to keep him on edge and he found himself trying to be insightful.

He had never met Random before today and yet he seemed to be trying to ingratiate himself to Drake's mother. On the other hand, he had met very little of his family and so it was hard to tell. He had already asked for a favour, so that was probably his reason for being there...

"Who are you running away from?" he asked, siezing on the best reason there might be for turning up unannounced.

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-06-23, 01:27 AM
Rachel

"MAMA!" Rachel shrieks, flinging herself through the door, heedless of guns held and fallen, and rushes to her mother's side. "Mom, be okay?"

Hrolf
2006-06-23, 07:21 AM
Grettir

Grettir meets the bird's eye and thinks towards it.
"And who do you serve, creature of wonder?"
Grettir idly feeds the raven bits of the slain seagull as they talk.

Voshkod
2006-06-23, 09:26 AM
Drake

"Flora, what have you been telling this kid?," Random asks with a lopsided smile.

"Nothing more than the truth," says Floramel with a smile that would melt butter.

Random laughs again, a hearty thing, and claps you on the shoulder. "Honestly, slugger, I'm on the run from a couple of wives, a bunch of debt collectors, three mercenary armies, two five armed bounty hunters, and a dragon named Spike. Oh, and brother Eric."

Rachel

The men stand aside for you as you throw yourself down next to your mother. She's gasping, and a trickle of blood runs out of her mouth. So much blood.

"Oh, Rachel, oh baby, I'm so sorry, so sorry." She puts her hand on your head clumsily. It's already getting cold. "I didn't think they'd . . . . I love you, Rachel, remember that. And, and when he comes back, tell that . . . bastard I waited for him." Her eyes flicker shut, but she's still breathing.

The women around you are crying. Boss Pogue tells his men, "Let's go, boys. We've made our point." They turn to leave.

Grettir

"A valkerie in silver and black, child not of this place, a goddess. Who do you serve?"

The Prince of Cats
2006-06-23, 12:41 PM
Drake

The boy watched his uncle with a sceptical expression. Three wives? Bounty hunters? Armies? A dragon? Nobody could get into that much trouble and live through it, could they?

When Random said 'Brother Eric', Drake knew that the rogue before him meant his brother, not Drake's. So far as Drake was aware, he had no brothers. That meant another uncle, a dangerous one at that by the sound of it.

Drake wondered about his family sometimes, though never enough to meet them. His grandfather had been friendly and Drake was not sure he even wanted to meet him without his mother there. From the way his mother even reacted to talk of her family, the boy knew they were dangerous.

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-06-23, 09:13 PM
Rachel

"No, Mama, don't go--don't leave me!" Rachel holds her mother's head, tears running down her cheeks. "I'll get him--I'll grow up and get him, I swear! Don't go." She's dimly aware of the people around them, Boss Pogue walking out--but it's all unimportant at the moment. Her hands press against her mother's head, and she wishes with all of her ten-year-old hard for her mother not to die.

Hrolf
2006-06-24, 05:01 AM
Grettir

"I am of the North, Raven Valkyrsdottir, I serve none but my own fame."
Grettir thinks for a second.
"A question for a question, bird. My mother was said to be a valkyrie. Do you serve her?"

Voshkod
2006-06-26, 09:38 AM
Drake

"I will not hide you from Eric, Random," your mother says quietly. "I will not get involved in the family game."

Random turns back to her. "Gods, Flora, you don't get it, do you? Eric's going to claim the crown in father's absence. That will start a war. Corwin's not dead, no matter what people say. Benedict could return at any moment. Sure, Eric's got Caine, Gerard, and Julian wrapped up, but what about Bleys? Or Fi? Or Brand?"

Your mother just shakes her head. "Random, I'll tell you once. I won't get involved. Not now, not later. Besides, what does Eric want of you? What did you do?"

"I won't swear my sword to him. Not to him, not to Corwin. Not to any of them. Flora, I just want to be left alone, but they're always hounding me. A few days here, in a place almost real, I need the rest." He looks at her with some desperation.

Rachel

Your mother's eyes open again. "Oh, Rachel, how beautiful you've become!" Then they close, her breath escapes with a rattle, and then stops.

Grettir

"I serve the woman that bore you. But she is not your mother until you prove yourself worthy of your destiny. What is your destiny?"

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-06-26, 02:26 PM
Rachel

Rachel slumps to the ground, burying her face in her mother's hair for a long moment; then she lifts her head, looking around with tear-swollen but fiery eyes. "Well? Do something!"

SilverElf4
2006-06-26, 04:11 PM
Soren

Counterforce, countervalue. Real or system fault? Scramble the bombers? A thousand variables of nuclear warfare start running around in your brain when the big board suddenly wavers like a heat mirage and then vanishes. A pillar of fire, strangely alluring, moving with unreal grace, slides into the war room. Distantly, you can hear people shouting in Russian and glass breaking behind you. Out of the corner of your eye you see your father, shards of smoked glass falling around him, sword in hand.

Soren instinctively starts moving to a position to defend himself, looking for escape routes. But more importantly, he is scanning the posture of the players. Who is it that threatens him? Is his father here to test him or aid him? Test or not, it will be deadly, there was not other way to insure true learning for the true warrior.

Voshkod
2006-06-26, 09:57 PM
Rachel

Hands are on your shoulders, and someone is hugging you and pulling you away from your mother's corpse at the same time. It's Connie, one of the older girls, and she's whispering "Now hush, Rachel, hush, we're doing what we can right now."

Soren

Benedict leaps in front of you, blade ruddy in the light from the pillar of fire. The fire smirks, for lack of a better turn, and a rather pleasant female voice comes from it. "Oh, Benedict, let's not be silly."

Your father freezes. "Mira? Is it you, Mira? You've come back?"

A female form apports in the flame, a smile of burning embers and long tresses of falling fire. "No, Benedict, I've come to see my son." Eyes of white hot flame turn to you. "Hello, Soren. I'm Mira. I'm your mother."

Outside, missiles are falling and the crust of a shadow near Earth is boiling off.

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-06-27, 02:11 AM
Rachel

Rachel settles back into Connie's grasp, her dark hair shaken free of its confines and tumbling down past her shoulders. "I'm going to kill him," she says, deathly serious all of a sudden. "I'm going to learn to shoot, and then I'm going to kill him."

Hrolf
2006-06-27, 06:10 AM
Grettir

"Verdandi weaves. *The norns know destiny, mortals do not. *My wyrd is to be set before me."
Grettir looks long at the raven.
"But a man must do what he can. *I shall seek fame. *This world will know my name even when I am gone. *What know you of my destiny, bird of omen? Know you where I can find the norns?"

SilverElf4
2006-06-27, 11:19 AM
Soren

Soren silently curses. This era did not promote the use of personal weapons, and he doubted his sidearm would be of much use against a being of flame. So be it then. Already the decision was in his mind - whoever this was, they were not friendly. She might be his mother later, but first and foremost in the moment, she was his enemy.

"I find your greeting to be lacking in affection. Try it once more, with feeling this time," he says coldly.

Voshkod
2006-06-27, 10:09 PM
Rachel

There's a hand stroking your hair, someone whispering, "I know you will, Rachel, I know." Everyone's crying.

Grettir

"The norns will become known to you some day, Grettir Valkyrie-son, and you will be taken to where their threads are forged and fate is made."

Soren

The pillar of fire steps back as if you'd slapped it, and immediately resolves itself into a woman's form, wrapped in a red cloak. Her eyes are sad and enraged at once. "What have you done to him, Benedict? What sort of creature are you raising?"

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-06-27, 10:19 PM
Rachel

Rachel buries her face in Connie's skirts, crying, until she manages to regain some control once again. "Tell me who can teach me to shoot, Connie," she says--not a request, not really.

SilverElf4
2006-06-28, 09:53 AM
"No, mother, you came to see me, you will address me," Soren says, heading off any reply his father might be forming. "You come after years of silent empty absense, wrapped in flame and destruction, and expect to find a welcoming son? What could possibly bring you to that expectation?"

Soren feels much more at ease now that the flames have subsided for some reason, and that is reflected in the tone of his voice. He does not, however relax his guard. Inwardly he curses himself for having pushed open the rift between them. Even as he does that though, the wiser part of him whispered that the rift was not his creation, and thus not his to repair.

Voshkod
2006-06-28, 10:07 AM
Rachel

"We'll find someone, Rachel. We'll need to defend ourselves," says Connie. "It's what she would want, I think."

Soren

"Very well, boy," says the woman, ice freezing the fire in her voice. She sits down at one of the command consoles. You can sense your father has moved behind you.

When she speaks, there's now a cold formality to match your own. "Since we've never met properly, I am Mira, Warden of the Hall of Embers, Duchess of the Spinning Sands, lady of Chaos. And you are Soren, my son, Prince of Chaos. And of Amber, of course. And I've come because I missed you. Your father I can no longer stand, and thus I avoided you and he, but at some point a mother's instincts become overpowering."

SilverElf4
2006-06-28, 02:03 PM
Soren

Soren plops back down in the chair, uttering what is probably one of the more colorful oaths he has picked up from the various army camps over the years. He's not really sure what it means, but it seems appropriate somehow. He knows enough about Amber and Chaos at this point to grasp instintively, but not fully, that this could be a bad thing for his future.

He starts, realizing he has lost whatever initiative he had in the conversation. He looks up, realizing he has another card to play though. "Father and I don't feel the same way though. We've been hoping for your return for some time now." The vision of the empty chair is strong in his mind, even as he realizes that he may have made a mistake in speaking for his Father's feelings.

Voshkod
2006-06-28, 06:11 PM
Soren

"Really. You both have an odd way of showing it." She looks over your shoulder at Benedict. "I'm going to ask you again, Benedict. What are you doing to him?"

"I am raising him to be a man, and a prince," your father replies, flatly.

Your mother shakes her head. "No, Benedict, you're raising him to be a martinet, a resentful sack of issues. Too much order. You can't very well burn the Pattern into him, and you can't turn him into your very shadow." She looks back at you, and her eyes are deep in sorrow.

"Soren. . . . Soren, I . . . I shouldn't have come here. I'd best leave." Drops of fire are starting to fall from her eyes.

SilverElf4
2006-06-29, 01:28 AM
Soren

Cracks start to develop in Soren's well honed emotional armor. "No mother," he says, coming closer to begging than he realizes, "stay and have a meal with us. Its what we've been waiting for all this time. Set the rest aside - all of it, you too father, and have a meal with me as a family, just as mother, father, son." Its an emotional appeal, and his eyes speak volumes as he smoothly rotates his gaze back and forth between his parents.

Hrolf
2006-06-29, 12:12 PM
Grettir

Grettir thinks for a second, looking out over the grey widowmaker. The wind brings the smell of dead men to his nostrils.
"Tell my mother this, bird. I will find my way to her. I will become the most famous adventurer on Mittelerde and I will walk to Valhall across the rainbow bridge while I yet live."
Grettir raises his hand so that the raven can fly off.

Voshkod
2006-06-29, 02:57 PM
Soren

"No," says Benedict with finality. "You're interrupting his training, Mira. You should leave. We'll speak of this later, perhaps arrange a time for him to visit you. Now go."

Your mother begins to protest, but Benedict waves, and a whole opens in the fabric of reality, and she falls out of view into darkness.

A long silence falls.

Grettir

The raven stretches its vast black wings. "This I shall tell her." He leaps off your hand and flies upward, growing as he ascends, until he is a great shadow, blotting out the sun itself. He caws once like thunder, and vanishes. Behind you, the sounds of plunder have ceased.

SilverElf4
2006-06-29, 06:48 PM
Soren

Soren cries out, and starts towards the hole before realizing his does not have the power to follow, at least not without becoming lost himself. He sits at the edge, and begins to cry.

Voshkod
2006-06-29, 08:17 PM
Soren

Your father's voice cuts through your tears. "Get up, Soren, we still have work to do on theory and practice of full-scale nuclear warfare. I want you to draft up a single operation plan for defeating a near-equal opponent without catastrophic loss to your own country in three hours. Then we'll have dinner." He turns on his heel - you can hear it grind on the floor of the war room - and starts out.

mutecebu
2006-06-29, 11:57 PM
OOC: I'm back. I'll be away July 7-17 again.


Lore

There's a smaller boy there, black haired, look right back at you. He fliches for a moment when you turn, but then stands his ground. "Almighty, you know, of course, that there are ledges between the balconies on the higher floors of the castle. I can see them from my house. If you found an open window, you could probably get to the balcony you want, if this room has a balcony?"


Lore says nothing for a moment, and stares unemotionally at William. Lore had been around the castle before, and thought about the door on more than one occasion. Could it be that he did something as stupid as not crossing using the balconies? His gaze returnes to the child, and states matter-of-factly, "Good idea."

Then, turning, he once again strided purposefully toward the castle. He calls out, "Guards, make suere my priest is cared for, and get another priest for now." His voice rose somewhat. "Someone check to see if we can cross around the closed door using the baclonies." Lore was shouting now. "The rest come with me and knock down the door!" No one moved untill Lore had finished.

Voshkod
2006-06-30, 09:17 AM
Lore

Almost without hesitation, there's a new priest following you. While no one is breaking out battering rams (in fact, they don't appear to have even heard you asking for them), several are heading toward windows to see if they can make their way via the balconies. Quickly, they report back - an agile man or boy could do it.

mutecebu
2006-06-30, 12:57 PM
Lore

Darn, why didn't I think of that?
Lore wanted to see the door knocked down, but it wasn't necesary now. He could always save that for later.

Lore leads the procession through the castle and to the recomended balcony. On the way, it occured to him to ask for a length of rope. Standing on the balcony, he wordlessly takes one end of the rope, swings his legs over the railings, and scoots toward his target.

The Prince of Cats
2006-06-30, 01:01 PM
Drake

Drake tried to take in everything he had just heard, while still pretending not to listen. He listened as they spoke of names that he might find useful later and tried not to attract their attention while they argued.

Voshkod
2006-06-30, 01:42 PM
Lore

You easily make your way across the dizzying gap and to the other balcony. The doors open easily, revealing a well-appointed bedroom suite. A large four-post bed, a dresser full of practical female clothing, a large bathroom with a sunken tub, and the faint smell of perfume. There's a beautiful desk of some dark wood, a creamy white envelope on top. The name "Lore" is written on it in a neat and precise hand.

Above the bed is a painting of you, as you are now, a ten-year old boy, staring up at the sun.

Drake

Your mother remains silent. Random finally drops to one knee. "Fine, Flora, you want me to say it? I'll say it. Sister, I invoke sanctuary. Pray take me under your protection."

Your mother's smile would melt glaciers. "But of course, brother Random. Here are the keys to the mansion in Westchester. Make sure you call the service when you leave to clean up the place."

Random springs forward and hugs your mother, who looks quite taken aback. "Thanks, Flora, you're the best." He whispers something to her, and she nods.

Random turns around and tosses something at you. "Hey, sport, catch!"

The Prince of Cats
2006-06-30, 04:18 PM
Drake

Even had he not spent the morning in intense martial-arts training, Drake's reactions were good. After hours of dodging and counter-attacking, Drake had his hand ready before he could react.

Drake caught the object cleanly, before realising that he should probably have shown a little more care in the case of an unidentified object.

Voshkod
2006-06-30, 04:32 PM
Drake

A heavy golden coin is in your hands. Your grandfather's face is on the front, a great sailing ship on the back. The letters around the outside are strange and familiar at the same time.

"The coin of the realm, Drake," Random says with a nod and a wink. Then he pulls a playing card out of his pocket, looks at it for a moment, and vanishes in a spray of rainbow light.

"Well," says your mother primly, "it's a good thing your instructor was not conscious for that little show."

mutecebu
2006-06-30, 06:11 PM
Lore

Lore was quite taken aback by the sight. He expected a great treasury, maybe something left over from the sun. He was even prepared for it to be an attic, filled with cobwebs and spiders. This, though... was unexpected.

Lore stands entranced for a moment, then returns back to the balcony. He simply says, "Don't come over," then returns.

Inside, he is again enchanted by the perfume, and stares at the painting. Very unexpected. He delicately walks around the room, takes up the envelope and turns it over a few times. Not having any manners, after all, who would tell him no?, The boy known as "Almighty" opened it.

The Prince of Cats
2006-06-30, 08:00 PM
Drake

Something strange had just come to pass, the little boy realised. There had been a shift in power and his mother would not let Uncle Random forget it in a hurry. He also realised that his mother must be more important or more special than his uncle if he came to her for help when he was in trouble.

"Will Uncle Random be safe now?" the boy asked, curious.

He looked to the coin, heavy in both weight and implications. He knew that coins should have the Queen on them but this one was not any form of Sterling that he knew of. The way his grandfather was on the coin implied that he was a king...

Drake knew that the writing was familiar but he could not place it. All the same, if it involved his family, he would probably be forbidden to ask anyone normal about it.

Voshkod
2006-07-01, 09:51 AM
Lore

Inside there's a tarot card, major arcana, The High Priestess.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/45/Tarot-02-II_The_High_Priestess.jpg

On the reverse side is a unicorn, rampant, facing sinister.

The card feels cold to the touch.

Drake

"He'll be fine, Drake," your mother says, gathering her things. "I've shut down the world, so no one can get in." She places several hundred dollars in your instructor's palm. "Let's go. I'm bored with Hong Kong, Drake."

mutecebu
2006-07-01, 01:50 PM
Lore

Lore turns the card over, even more delicately than the letter. The artistry was amazing. Lore had little interest, but he had seen the works of art in his kingdom, but this was not like any of them. He found himself taken in by the complexity of the art, as he studied the details the figure seemed more like a real person than artwork.

Hrolf
2006-07-02, 06:39 AM
Grettir

After watching the black bird until it has fully disappeared, Grettir turns back to the longship. He mounts the straked sides and makes his way to his seat.
Once esconced, he glances at the village to see what progress his father and the rest of the vikings have made.

Voshkod
2006-07-03, 09:25 AM
Lore

The High Priestess is depicted as a small, red-haired woman, with bright eyes. She is smiling, but only slightly, less from amusement than contempt.

Hrolf

The plunder is being loaded on the boats, and the day of battle is done. The deeps beckon, and the long-ships ease out into the swell and the darkness.

The Prince of Cats
2006-07-03, 10:40 AM
Drake

Many things in his life were confusing, so Drake was comfortable by now with not knowing quite what was going on and just having to trust his mother.

"Is this really Grandfather on the coin?"

mutecebu
2006-07-03, 10:46 AM
Lore

The hairs pricked up on the back of Lore's neck. He asks to the room, "Hello?", but does not take his eyes off the card.

Voshkod
2006-07-03, 02:48 PM
Drake

"Of course it is, dear, though it's not actually an Amberite coin. It's from one of the near shadows. Anyway, the car is waiting, and the jet is ready at the airport. Time to go home."

Lore

No one answers, but the card feels a little bit colder all of a sudden.

The Prince of Cats
2006-07-03, 06:47 PM
Drake

The boy nods and puts the coin away as he prepares to leave. Hong-Kong had not been as he had expected but he had found it an interesting experience. Travel always seemed to bring new experiences and prove his misconceptions wrong.

mutecebu
2006-07-04, 10:35 AM
Lore

Lore is surprised by the card's actions, and waits for anything else to happen (still standing and staring at the card).

OOC: I hope I don't hold up everyone else. Feel free to speed things up if you have to.

Voshkod
2006-07-05, 02:36 PM
The card remains silent, and a mystery.

And now we are sixteen. . . .

Bellona

Your steed pounds down the dirt path under the canopy of Arden, Gerard the Hellhound tearing right along beside him. Ahead you can hear your father's hunting horn, sounding a blast, that prey has been spotted, and the hunt is on.

You break out into the clearing just in time to see Morgenstern fly over a fallen tree, bark spattering in his wake, and a brief glimpse of your father's golden hair streaming out behind him.

Rachel

A place can fall a long ways in six years. The women still own it, but barely, and Boss Pogue's men are there every night. You've overheard some mention of protection money, and remember when they cut up Wendy two years ago. Everyone's scared now.

You're serving drinks, again. Soon, the other women say, your time to participate in the main business will come. But not yet, not today. A man enters the house, appearing to be driven in by the storm raging outside. He has a hat pulled down low over his eyes, and a ratty brown trenchcoat which billows in the wind. He sits, and motions for service.

Drake

The mansion in Westchester has been trashed when you get home from school. You can hear your mother cursing in the house. "Damn him, and damn Random. Damn all of them." You open the door, and on the floor of the hallway is one of the hounds, broken nearly in half, blood spilling from its jaws. There's broken glass everywhere.

It sounds as if your mother is in the library. You can hear the shuffling of cards.

Soren

The sand in the pit is soaked with blood. So far, you've killed three men and a bear, and the crowd is screaming incoherently. Money is changing hands at a dizzying rate, and some woman has just tossed her shirt down to you.

You're armed with a trident and a net, and no one has touched you yet. Somewhere in the crowd, probably in one of the Imperial boxes, your father is watching. Training, he said, for close combat. The gate rises again, and a short man with two blades stomps out into the pit.

Grettir

The fires burn across the valley, and all the tribes are here. The long years of warfare nearly at an end. Only one last task. "This is what we came here for, son," your father says, as he places the raven helm on his head. "They come to elect a King. They come to kneel to their conqueror."

Gold and silver, taken from the dead and the captives, adorn his armor, glittering in the firelight. "They will ask questions. They will ask for a blessing upon me before I am crowned. Please make it happen, son."

Lore

The women stand before you, dressed in flimsy things, eyes on the ground. Some still stand proudly, others are trying to cover themselves as best they can. Reginald, your new priest, stands behind you. "Do any of them please you, almighty?"

The card in your pocket chills you slightly. You don't remember putting it in your robes today, but there it is nonetheless, and you can hear a distant chuckling in the back of your head.

SilverElf4
2006-07-05, 10:27 PM
What the hell, Soren thinks as the Dimachaeri enters the ring. *Somethings not right here. *Retiarii weren't supposed to face that kind of opponent. *The first reason was the lack of facial protection. *Fights against someone armed with a long reach weapon, like his trident, didn't survive long when vital spots were open like that.

Which told him immediately something else. *This was no ordinary gladiator. *He would be good. *Good enough to overcome the disadvantage in weaponry and combat styles. *But good enough to face a Prince of Amber and Chaos? That was the question. No. *The question was, had his father rigged this fight to test him in some way, or had it been a result of the chaos inherent in every shadow.

Soren pushed the question aside. *Either way, his opponent would fall. * He loosened his arms, and prepared to give the customary salute to the Emperor.

mutecebu
2006-07-05, 11:01 PM
Lore was not at his best, mentaly. He recently had come to terms with that storm of emotion all mortals aparently went through, but there was still that card. It seemed to have a will and personality of its own. It was the only thing in his dominion he could not controll. And now it was sneaking into his pocket.

On top of it all, Lore now had a sense of duity. He recently began requiring the stewards who managed the mortals to give him reports on the kingdom. He could have anything he wanted, but it seemed well to give some time back to his subjects, when it wasn't a bother.

Now wasn't one of those times. This was his private time. He threw his robe off, more to be rid of the card than to undress.

"Her," he said, as he pointed to a younger lady.

The Prince of Cats
2006-07-06, 04:24 AM
Drake

The youth knew trouble when he saw it and he knew Random meant trouble even if he couldn't see anything amiss. Between the idea of something that could kill one of the hounds and his mother cursing his roguish uncle, Drake was starting to wish he had something more effective than expensive and fragile vases around with which to defend himself.

The sound of his mother's voice and the presence of venom rather than fear was comforting. Somewhat...

"Hello?" he called, approaching the library with all the caution that his upbringing (and Random's influence) had instilled in him.

He knew enough of the family by now to keep his lineage to himself and so declined to call her mother until he knew that she was alone. Perhaps he could pretend to be a servant if it came to it.

"Is everything alright in there?"

Silently, he cursed himself for not masking his accent. He had fought hard to keep it, especially now that it started to add to his appeal with girls, but it marked him as different.

Hrolf
2006-07-06, 06:15 AM
Grettir

"It will happen, father." Says Grettir. *His blonde hair bound with a band of silver and his beard pleated and knotted with beads of multicoloured glass, Grettir looked every inch the young prince that he was.
His hauberk of mail, cunningly worked by the best smiths of the tribes, shimmered in the torchlight as he turned. *Hefting his axe over his shoulder, Grettir moved out into the court prepared for the ceremony.
Grettir still wore the fur of his first white bear hanging over his shoulders. *It made him think back to that day, blood and pain in the snow. *Red on White. those would be his colours, he decided.
He glanced at Thorgunna, helping the rest of the women preparing the feast. *Dark haired and milk skinned. *They had been hand-fasted the month before, Grettir's father, Horgar, had settled a good bride price of land and of gold upon the two young lovers.
Grettir squared his shoulders and brought his axe over so that it stood in front of him, his hands resting on the top of the blade as he waited for the chiefs, headmen and jarls of the tribes to assemble. It had been a long time since he had spoken to his mother's raven. A time of war, viking and adventure. Even some aftergangers and skinwalkers had been fought as the viking bands roved and explored.
Grettir opened his mind and called on his powers, willing his mother to come and see his father's triumph.

Puma
2006-07-06, 09:27 AM
Bellona[br]Bella spurs her horse on with heels to its flanks. [br]"Fly, Sabre! We can't let this one get away, not like the last one.[br][br]She steers the horse to run down the left flank, parallel to Morgenstern's path (since it would be impossible to keep up in any case)... the quarry may turn.[br]In that case, she's ready. She has a light hunting lance, a bow and quiver near to hand, her sword sheathed on her saddle, and a dagger on her belt.[br]Bella laughs with exultation, the wind streaming past.[br] "We'll prove ourselves this time, Gerard!"[br][br]Bella is always trying to prove herself to her father... though he's never suggested that she need do so. He's always proud of her, at least she can't think of a time when he acted otherwise. But, Bella can't help but think that she's letting him down somehow. Perhaps it's because she feels guilty that she wasn't the son her father must have wanted.

Voshkod
2006-07-06, 05:29 PM
Bellona

Sabre leaps into action, bolting down a narrow path parallel to the one Julian's one, and perhaps a little shorter. Gerard howls, a long shivering sound, and the rest of the pack, more distant, echoes his call. You top a little rise and down below you can see one of the larger paths through Arden.

There is a car driving down it.

A stand of trees almost explodes below you as Morgenstern erupts from the forest. Your father yells something, but you can't make it out, and the white horse and the man in the white armor charge head-on toward the car.

Grettir

Thorgunna gives you a sweet smile as you walk with your father toward the fires. You try to open your mind to your mother's influence, but there is only silence there. The men are chanting, "Horgar! Horgar! Horgar!!"

Your father reaches the center of the fires, and you step up behind him, when another voice, further from the center but very loud, shouts "Grettir! Grettir for our King!"

Drake

"In here, boy," says a deep male voice. You head into the library. Your mother is there, sitting on the sofa, cradling a wounded dog's head in her lap. Standing near the desk is a tall man, black hair and black beard, a long rapier at his side. His garb appears to be somewhat out of date.

"Drake," Floramel says. "You're home early. Drake, this is Eric, your uncle. Eric, my son, Drake."

Eric bows slightly to you. "Good afternoon, Prince Drake. A pity we meet under these strange circumstances."

Lore

"As you wish, almighty," your scribe says, and he claps his hands. The other women file out, leaving the one you chose, standing alone, trembling slightly. "Tonight," Reginald intones, "you belong to the almighty. It is a great blessing. If you please him, you will be sent to the nunnery in the morning, to reflect on his grace." He pauses, and heads for the door. "You do want to please him, woman." The door slams shut.

Soren

The other warrior never takes his eyes off you, doesn't bother to salute the Emperor's box. He raises one sword, leaves the other ready at his side, and prepares to let you take the lead of the battle.

He is short, lightly armored with leather and metal studs, and a helm over his head.

The Prince of Cats
2006-07-06, 05:45 PM
Drake

So this is Eric... he thought. Given his own talents, Drake was wary of allowing his mind to wander any further in case his musings might compromise his mother's safety. Later, he would consider how Random might fit in but not today.

"Since my mother trusts you, I think that I should be happy to have met you in spite of the circumstances." he answered with a shallow bow that matched his uncle's greeting.

Drake forced himself to take in the prince of Amber, keeping focus on the man before him and not the things he had heard. Eric seemed every inch the knight, perhaps even a king in some lights. (he deliberately did not think of the true king, his grandfather, of whom Eric was merely a pale shadow) That meant that the mansion was probably safe for now, if Eric's instincts were to be trusted. Perhaps he should take his cue from the larger man; if Eric was at ease then Drake could be, if not then the youth would make ready.

"If I do not overstep my bounds, might I ask you about the events that I seem to have missed today?"

mutecebu
2006-07-06, 06:41 PM
Lore

Lore took the woman to bed. She did well, but Lore really wasn't in the mood. He did not draw the night out, and slept early. Despite this, when he awoke, he was unsatisfied after a restless sleep.

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-07-06, 11:50 PM
Rachel

"What will it be?" Her tone is weary--it's been a long day--as she moves over to the newcomer with an empty tray. A little while longer, and then it's outside and to the woods, storm or no storm--shooting practice. If no one was going to teach her anything more than the basics, she's figured out, she'd just have to learn on her own.
She hasn't cut her hair since her mother died; it's gathered up in a neat braid that runs down her back to her waist; the ribbon there is a matter of convenience rather than decoration.

Voshkod
2006-07-07, 09:50 AM
Rachel

The man looks you over with a frank gaze. "Well, not you, that's for sure. Not ripe yet." He grins, and takes off his hat. He has hair the color of straw and a pointed nose, and his eyes seem to be laughing with ease. You recognize him almost immediately as the man from the picture.

"I'll have a beer, kid, and tell Lorali that Randy's back in town, 'K?"

Lore

Lore awakens to an empty bed, the sound of water running in the bathroom. The room feels cold this morning, and a breeze is blowing from the south. Autumn's coming, you realize, without knowing what it really means. It's always been summer, ever since you remember. A few lone leaves in red and gold blow by on the balcony.

Drake

"That's what I'm here to find out as well. Flora?" Eric turns to your mother.

Your mother whispers something quietly to the wounded dog, and then, with a quick motion, ends its suffering by snapping its neck. It's like a gunshot in the suddenly silent room. She rises, some blood on her dress, and goes over to the desk to pour herself a drink. She walks over to the window, letting the fading sun frame her hair.

"Corwin checked himself out," she starts with a lopsided smile, and you can see Eric straighten. "He came here, we talked for a bit, then brother Random came tearing in with these things on his trail." She pulls the curtain off a corpse on the floor.

SilverElf4
2006-07-07, 10:00 AM
Soren

Soren completes the salute, all respect for his opponent now gone. Not because he had obviously had no respect for the Emperor...Soren had none either, but he had come to realize that the salute was part of the warrior code. That code had more purpose than to provide instructions in combat or etiquette. It was a way of life that focuses all of one's energy to a single purpose. "The difference in men does not lie in the size of their hands, nor in the perfection of their bodies, but in this one sublime ability of concentration: to throw the weight in one blow, to live eternity in an hour." A shadow man who knew how to live...and how to die...had written that.

Soren's attention came blazing back to the present, and a sharp needle of fury began to shoot through his body. He began to work his way to his opponent, darting and circling in the nimble Retiarus style. His assault was swift and firm, but not overanxious. At the first opening, his trident snaked towards his opponents legs - a crippling blow. The net stood ready a moment longer in case of a counterblow, but finding none it would be whipped about his opponent's arms and torso.

Puma
2006-07-07, 10:30 AM
Bellona[br]Bella pulls the horse up to a stop as they crest the rise. [br]"What's that?" she wonders. [br]"An armored carriage? Who would bring _that_ here?"[br][br] Her hesitation only lasts a moment, though, as Julian and his monster mount seem about to attack the strange vehicle. [br]"Go help Father, Gerard. I'll cut it off."[br] With that, she spurs her own horse on a path that will hopefully take her around the clearing and intercept the intruder further up the way.

The Prince of Cats
2006-07-07, 02:05 PM
Drake

Drake would later remark that the mess was impressive, even for Random, but for now he just looked at the carnage and tried to understand how his mother's statement could refer to this mess.

"Corwin checked himself out?" he asked, requesting clarification of the entire statement.

Who was Corwin, from where did he check out, where is he now and why is that relevant to Random's appearance with these creatures that were certainly not human. He decided to start with the most immediate and important question.

"In fact, before that... What current and future dangers do these events represent? I take it that it is family business..."

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-07-07, 02:45 PM
Rachel

Rachel's dark eyes flash, going from recognition to shock to anger; she leans in, her voice low in the din of the room and too, too calm. "I think you'd better come upstairs. We need to talk, father."

Voshkod
2006-07-07, 07:37 PM
Rachel

The man laughs. "I already said, kid, that you're a bit . . . young . . . for . . . ." He trails off as your words finally sink in. He stares at your face, your nose, your hair, and he pales slightly. "Oh. . . oh, crap."

Drake

Eric ignores your questions. "Where are they going, Floramel? What are they planning?"

Your mother, by way of response, pets the dead dog. "They're going to Amber, Eric. Corwin plans to claim the crown. Random's going to support him, he's never liked you.

Eric curses, colorfully, and kneels down next to the corpse. "Hmm. Never seen one of these before. Not a good sign. Corwin, Prince Drake, is my brother, and thinks he is ahead of me in line for the crown of Amber." He looks at you, and his eyes are piercing. "Your mother was keeping him safe for me. And what does this mean?" He looks to your mother.

"Civil war," she says quietly.

Bellona

Gerard rips off from your side, bounding downward, and Sabre takes you toward the path. From the corner of your eye you see Morgenstern leap the car, followed by the dogs, though some of them fail the leap, and are smashed against the front of the car. Now Julian is behind it, chasing it, and it's bearing down on you. There's a man with straw colored hair at the wheel, and a dark haired man next to him.

The dark haired man is shouting, and the blond is steering the car right at you.

Soren

The left short sword snaps to the side, catching the trident, easing it into the dirt. He steps back, raising both blades for your next strike.

SilverElf4
2006-07-07, 09:08 PM
Soren

Bad move, Soren thinks, a thought that flies simultaneous with his readied net. Two swords up means two swords tangled. The net cast is followed a split second later by a short ugly thrust of the trident to the midsection.

Voshkod
2006-07-07, 10:36 PM
Soren

With lightning speed, one sword knocks the net aside, the other entangles in the trident, and he's under your defenses. A gauntleted fist slams into the side of your head, sending sparks across your vision. He's strong. He's fast. He hits you again as you struggle to bring the trident around.

"You've always won, or know you could win." The voice is cold, the cadences familiar. "Now, what do you do when you are losing?" Again with the fist, and something in your face shatters. "Fighting shadows is easy. What do you do when reality smashes your nose in?"

SilverElf4
2006-07-07, 11:48 PM
Soren

Soren feels the icy calm of his discipline grip him. *The pain fades, the anger fades, and there is nothing but strategies and tactics, knowledges and moves. *And he understands the lesson that is being taught. *And then it clicks. *He would speak, but only fools waste words in battle. *His father taught him that. *The next blow that comes he receives on his already battered face, just as he has twice before. *But now he knows from which side the opponent favors. *And he knows that side will be open, vulnerable, at the moment of impact. *And it is in that moment that Soren teaches the fool a lesson of his own - a lesson about the rules of gladitorial combat. *Retiarii are outfitted not with two weapons when they enter the arena, but with three. *At the moment of impact, a dagger is lanced to the exposed ribs that stand not twelves inches from its home, Soren's broad belt of leather and iron.

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-07-08, 04:07 AM
Rachel

"'Oh, crap?' That's it? I never knew you, but she loved you. She waited for you. She waited for you, and you're too late. I think," Rachel says again, her voice brittle and sharp like glass amidst the music whose cheer has been sapped over the past six years, "that you had better come upstairs."

The Prince of Cats
2006-07-08, 04:37 AM
Drake

The princeling was bored of acting dumb, feigning ignorance and trying not to care about his family. He had worked out enough to know that he lived in a fantasy world that his mother seemed to have some small measure of control over and that there was a world more real than this where the important decisions would be made, the place from which his golden coin came.

"If it was as simple as working out who was next in line to the throne, I don't think we would be in this predicament. I get the feeling that a stronger claim to the throne is less important than a good army and sword-arm. I just wish I understood all of this a little better."

Hrolf
2006-07-08, 10:31 AM
Grettir

Grettir steps forward to stand beside his father.
"Who said that?" he yells out into the crowd, "Show yourself!"

Puma
2006-07-08, 05:32 PM
Bellona
Bella gasps, but the twitchy part of her brain reacts anyway... her lance is dropped and the horse is spurred on, toward the car but at an oblique angle of attack. Better to try to jump the front quarter of the vehicle than to be run down from behind.

Voshkod
2006-07-09, 10:13 AM
Bellona

You spur your horse to jump just as the blond man turns the car aside to miss you. Sabre leaps high, clipping the front of the car with her back hooves, and lands well, wheeling about. You see several dogs are on the back of the car, ripping at the bumper, and Morgenstern is tearing up toward it, your father fully encased in his white gleaming armor.

Grettir

A large man, who you recognize as the Ironfoot, leader of a bandit movement you and your father crushed a few years back, stands forward. "I did. It was the boy who bested me in honorable battle, not his father. What has his father ever done before the boy? Nothing! It is the boy, who is a child of the Gods, that has led us here, and I say he should be our king. Horgar is just a man; we deserve to be led by a God!" There's some murmuring, and some more people start to chant your name.

Drake

"I am older than Corwin, and the oldest male child who is both alive and willing to take the crown," says Eric. "I also hold Amber, have the support of her army and navy, and have a stronger sword arm than Corwin. What does he have? Random, hardly a threat."

"But, Eric," says your mother carefully, "Father never formally recognized you as being legitimate. Corwin would argue that he is the oldest legitimate heir willing to take the Crown. And some will listen. Bleys, Caine? Brand is still missing, but what about Fi?"

Rachel

"Yeah. All right, kid, I'll go." He stands up and puts his hat back on, and starts to follow you upstairs. "The name's Random, kid. What's yours?"

Soren

The knife hits home, and your attacker grunts. "Good, Soren. That's the right answer. Never give up. Never surrender. Spit your dying blood in your enemy's eye and curse him with your dying breath." He stands, and as he does he grows taller. He casts the helmet off, and you see unfamiliar features melt into your father's stern visage. "War isn't about honor, it's about killing. We glorify it - even I glorify it - but this is what it is in the end. Two men, killing each other in the dust."

He helps you up, and you realize that for the first time he's called you a man, not a boy.

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-07-09, 03:36 PM
Rachel

"Rachel," she says, after they're on the stairs leading up. "I'm Rachel. What kind of a name is Random?" She finds her room, upstairs, opens the door, and ushers him in before closing it. Night outside the window, candles unlit on her windowsill; she turns the lamp on, providing light. There are papers on her desk, and knick-knacks, and a framed picture of her mother and a straw-haired man.

Puma
2006-07-09, 04:56 PM
Bellona[br][br]Bella fumbles for the cavalry sword on her saddle, gathering the reins with her other hand preparing to charge the vehicle's inhabitants once they realize that the hellhounds are about to rip their conveyance apart.

Hrolf
2006-07-09, 05:44 PM
Grettir

Grettir steps forward. "I am no boy! Our men go a-viking at the age of fourteen summers. I have taken heads and killed corpse-walkers!"

"My father is my kinsman! He has given me rings for my service! He has given the fair Thorgunna a bride price of surpassing excellence!
If you would be my man, then you must follow me! I follow my father. That is an end to it."

He chants:
Cursed is he,
Who breaks the bonds of kinship.
Dark is his way,
Leading to Hel the land of cold.
Cleave to your kin.
You have nothing else in the world.

The Prince of Cats
2006-07-09, 05:51 PM
Drake

Eric's words started to make the youth nervous. When his mother started to explain the difficulties, he realised why his family was so dangerous; they seemed to live their lives in a constant state of uncertainty.

"Surely you were either born legitimate or not, in which case you would know whether you were the rightful ruler. That is, unless the last king named a successor. The way you explain it, you seem to be the true heir and some of these other people are just splitting hairs."

Drake realised what he had just said and became nervous.

"Well, that is just how it looks based on what I have heard. I am probably mistaken or over-simplifying matters..."

Voshkod
2006-07-09, 09:39 PM
Drake

Your mother coughs delicately, and Eric turns to you with a thin smile. "I am glad it all seems so simple to you, Prince Drake. You've clearly raised him well, Floramel. Such wisdom at such a young age."

He takes your mother's hand and kisses it lightly. "I'd best be off, back to Amber. Prepare the defenses and all that. Young Drake, when all this is over - and that might be some time - and it is safe for one such as you to roam the halls of home, I will ask your mother to send you before my throne. Til then, farewell." He pulls a playing card out of his pocket and vanishes in a rainbow blur.

Grettir

"To hell with your poems, Grettir, if you are a man you would not refuse the crown of us all. You are the man we can follow!" Ironfoot slaps his sword to his shield. "Grettir! Grettir!" More voices are gathering behind him. Your father's face is during dark red.

Bellona

Your leap put you behind the car as Morgenstern comes up adjacent to it. Suddenly, the black haired man has thrown himself out of the car, grappling with your father, and they both crash into the dust. You see Julian's helm fly, his dark hair suddenly free, and a bright dagger at his throat. Morgenstern roars in fury and comes about to trample the attacker, when Julian's voice cuts through the baying of the hounds. "Hold! All of you, hold!"

The blond man stops the car and gets out as well. He's pulled a rapier, and he's moving between you and your father. He grins at you, somewhat lopsidedly. "Sorry, kid. Wrong place, wrong time." You think he knows how to use that rapier.

Rachel

"You'd have to ask my dad that, kid," says Random. His eyes fall on the picture and he immediately grabs it. "Oh, man, she was so beautiful. So . . ." He reddens slightly. "So beautiful. Yeah, I can see her in you, kid. And me, I guess. So, where is she?"

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-07-09, 11:34 PM
Rachel

"Sit down," Rachel recommends, and takes a breath. "She's dead," she says, intending it to be flat, but her voice quavers. "Boss Pogue shot her, six years ago, and the place has gone to hell, and there's protection money, and nobody can even teach me how to shoot so I can kill the bastard." Hot tears spring to her eyes as her fists clench.

The Prince of Cats
2006-07-10, 05:05 AM
Drake

"I am sorry for that tasteless sycophancy but I get the feeling that it was best to tell him what he wanted to hear, if only because he looks the type to turn nasty if you disagree."

It was the truth; lie if you have to but survive first and everything else comes second.

"So... Who is the real king, who is Corwin and where did Grandfather go?"

Growing up insulated from the chaos of his family had probably been the safest course of action until now but Drake was starting to realise that he needed to understand the politics better if he was to survive the coming civil war.

Puma
2006-07-10, 08:42 AM
Bellona[br][br]"Horse balls!" Bella curses under her breath. [br]Julian's order comes just in time to forestall a charge, Bellona has to use both hands to keep a tight-enough rein on the worked-up Sabre... the horse can't help but take a few steps sideways in nervousness. [br]Bella looks for an opening in the smaller man's attention. [br]Who are these people? she thinks. [br]More relatives? Who else would bring a machine like that here, and best Father in his own domain? Could they be the ones bringing the evil into Arden? The wyverns... and worse?

Voshkod
2006-07-10, 07:30 PM
Bellona

You can hear snatches of the conversation. Julian, scornfully, "If you're going to kill me, be about it." The dark haired man replies with a smile, "In my own good time. . . ."

The blond man is still grinning. "So, hey, you must be Julian's daughter. I'd heard rumors about you. I'm Random, your uncle. The psycho with the knife is Corwin, and he wants to be the next king. So don't try anything, 'cause Corwin just got out of the nuthouse, ya know?"

"Random. We're leaving." Corwin is shoving your father in the back of the car.

"Gotta go, kid. Don't worry, I won't let him hurt Julian." Random gets back in the car, and they start off.

Drake

"Drake." Your mother sounds annoyed. "When dealing with family, keep a civil tongue and keep your questions to yourself. Only good grace, your age, and my presence kept you alive just a moment ago." She sighs, and starts picked up some pieces of glass.

"Oberon, my father, was king. He's been gone for some time. In fact, I think you and I were the last to see him. Eric is older than Corwin, but not officially legitimate. Corwin was conceived after father had married Eric's mother, so he is clearly legitimate. Benedict has the strongest claim, but he doesn't want it. All told, dark days ahead."

Rachel

Random has the good grace to look stunned. "Dead? Can't be. I safetied this shadow when I put her here. She can't be dead, kid." You see the beginnings of tears in his eyes.

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-07-10, 09:55 PM
Rachel

"Tell that," Rachel says, wiping her eyes, "to Boss Pogue. I was there. I saw her die and I saw her buried, and what the hell are you talking about?"

The Prince of Cats
2006-07-11, 07:18 AM
Drake

For a moment, Drake was not sure how to respond but finally decided to just agree with his mother.

"I am sorry," he told her, "but I just don't ever seem to have any idea what is going on any more."

Random turning up out of the blue, Eric running around like something out of a Shakespearean history, civil wars and alien creatures that can kill even the hounds. He was starting to think that Random might be the most normal member of his family, especially now that he had watched her snap the hound's neck.

Puma
2006-07-11, 09:14 AM
Bellona[br]Bella at 16 (http://i51.photobucket.com/albums/f375/Docrailgun/fef35483.jpg)[br][br]Bella remains grimly silent, waiting to see what will happen. [br]No need to panic, Bella... Father will need you and the other Rangers to be calm, to wait for the proper opening.[br]She looks 'Random' over again, sizing him up as he speaks to her. [br]Liar... I can't believe anything this man has to say. What a fool fate must be, to make it so that he is related to Father, Uncle Gerard, or even Uncle Caine.[br] Her reverie is interrupted, by Julian's abduction. [br][br]"Kidnapping a girl's father is not the best first impreesion, Uncle." she says to Random's back as he reenters the vehicle.[br][br]She gives Sabre a little rein as the car begins to roll again, intending for the horse to keep pace at a reasonable distance. She had thought of trying to control Morgernstern... though in the end she decided that it would be impossible anyway. Besides, Julian may need his beast if he makes an escape.

Hrolf
2006-07-11, 06:21 PM
Grettir

"Very well!" bellows Grettir, "If my staves do not affect you then my axe will!"
He reverses his Great Axe and lays it at his father's feet.
"I will follow my father! *As I always have! *I shall only be king if my father makes me so!"

Grettir steps back to see what will happen. *As he passes Horgar he whispers "Now you have to lead them. *Good luck."

Voshkod
2006-07-13, 12:03 PM
Grettir

The sky is sundered with the cry of a raven, and a great black bird descends from the clouds. As it approaches, it takes on a size more normal for a raven, and it alights on your father's shoulder. A hush falls over the crowd.

"There! The gods themselves have shown their faith in me and Grettir! Who now would speak against me?" Your father's words echo across the camp and, as if in answer, the raven craps on his shoulder. It hops off and with a single swift flap comes to rest on your shoulder.

Bellona

You follow the car for some distance, Morgenstern keeping pace with Sabre. There's something truly mad in the eyes of that beast, and it snorts and foams as if it's in constant pain.

The car pulls over, perhaps a quarter mile ahead, and all three men get out. Your father is standing on a cliff, perhaps a fall of a mile to the rocks below. The blond one, Random, is standing behind the car, while the dark haired one, Corwin, points a gun at your father. There's some discussion going on, but you're too far back, and the wind's too strong, for you to hear.

Drake

"Oh, my poor darling," your mother says, and she gives you a hug. "I should have spent more time preparing you, and now I haven't the time. You need to know this much - don't talk to your uncles or aunts unless they talk to you first. Don't ask them questions or ask them for favors. Don't say anything even vaguely insulting. If they demand you kneel, do it."

She fans a deck of cards out on the table. You recognize the major and minor arcana of a tarot deck, but there are a set of cards that you've never seen before. You recognize Random in one, dressed in medieval garb, smiling. Your mother, in a beautiful gown, surrounded by candles. Eric, cloak and doublet, a glass of wine in his hand. And many others.

Rachel

It's as if someone's thrown a switch. The eyes, which were first laughing, then sad, turn cold. "Someone's been here. Someone's sending me a message." He grabs you by the hand, and his grip is strong, almost painful. "Those four thugs playing poker at the table near the fireplace. Those Pogue's men?"

You know the four, one weasel and three brutes. Pogue's men, all of them.

The Prince of Cats
2006-07-13, 12:33 PM
Drake

The youth looked at the cards spread across the table, the people... his family.

"Uncle Eric was holding a card like this when he..." Drake looked for the most suitable word for what he saw, "disappeared to Amber. Is that what they are for, for going to other places?"

Drake laughed softly.

"So, not only are my aunts and uncles all dangerous and probably short tempered, they can also teleport around at will... No wonder you never introduced them before. It looks like uncle Random is almost tame compared to the others. I mean, all he does all day is play cards and run from ex-wives..."

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-07-13, 01:11 PM
Rachel

"Yes. They are. But this isn't about you! You left her, no one even knows you here. Also, ow." Rachel jerks her hand away.

Puma
2006-07-13, 06:30 PM
Bellona[br][br]Bella waits, but isn't especially patient about it. [br]"How can they do this? What has Father ever done to them?"[br]Alas, Bella doesn't know the stories Corwin tells of their younger years together.[br][br]She considers the distance... she might be able to charge the knot of people and at least distract them enough that they won't be able to throw Julian from the cliff... or so she hopes.

Hrolf
2006-07-14, 05:27 AM
Grettir

Grettir restrains a laugh at what has just happened. This is fairly serious, after all.
"Are you from my mother as well then, bird?" he whispers to the raven.

As the men get angrier, Grettir realises that he will have to get his axe back quickly. He mentally measures what will have to be done to roll forward and pick his axe up.

Voshkod
2006-07-14, 02:01 PM
Grettir

"Omens flutter from the sky in darkness, Grettir, and the Valkerie watch this day." The bird's words echo in your head, as laughter erupts from the ring of men around you and your father.

"The gods show what they think of Horgar!," Ironfoot shouts. Your father is clearly about to erupt in rage.

Bellona

The two men get back in their car, and the metal beast slowly continues to wend it's way toward Amber. Your father stands, like a statue, on the edge of the cliff, the sea raging below.

Rachel

"Kid . . . Rachel . . . you don't get it, yet, but it's always about me." He stands, adjusts his hat. "You stay here and I'll . . . ." He stops, and looks you in the face. "No. You come with me. You deserve that much, I guess." He opens the door and heads toward the main room.

Drake

"Yes, dear, the cards are both for communications and travel," your mother says as she shuffles them together. "But you're not ready to use them yet. There's a lot more you need to know, and I'll need to take you to Amber, walk the Pattern. . . ." She trails off, just looking at you with concern on her face.

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-07-14, 02:13 PM
Rachel

"They have a name for that. It's called egomania. What makes you so important anyway?" Her voice is bitter as she follows.
So important you had to leave her...

The Prince of Cats
2006-07-14, 02:20 PM
Drake

"Walk the Pattern?" he asked.

He could hear the capital letter, the reminder it was special. Unbidden, a memory came to him; he could not be entirely sure of where it came from but it seemed somehow fitting.

That, boy, that is the most important thing in the worlds. When you're older, when you're ready, tell your mother that you want to see it in person.

The look of concern on his mother's face reminded him of something he had worked out as Eric left.

"I think it is too late to protect me now. I know that you were keeping me secret from my aunts and uncles but it was okay when only Random knew. Now that Eric knows about me, I get the feeling that the secret is out..."

Hrolf
2006-07-15, 06:03 PM
Grettir

Grettir nods at the black bird's words. He steps forward and lifts his axe.
"What would you have me do, father? I have not taken oaths to these as I have to you," He sweeps his axe around the assembled chieftains. Then he fixes Ironfoot with his eye. "But some of them have taken oaths to me!"

Puma
2006-07-16, 10:19 AM
Bellona[br][br]Bella dismounts and leads her horse towards Julian at the edge of the cliff. [br]"Father?] she calls softly. "What did they want? We could head them off , if you want.

Voshkod
2006-07-17, 10:31 AM
Bellona

Julian is staring thoughtfully at the vehicle as it disappears into the woods. "Follow them? Yes, I suppose we could, Bell. But . . . Eric's made a mistake. A big one. And I don't feel terribly disposed to helping him any longer." He strokes Morgenstern's snout for a moment, then swings up into the saddle. "Come on, Bell, we have a lot to do. There's likely to be a war, and I want to make sure Arden comes through it."

Grettir

"Stand forth, Ironfoot," your father roars. "You would mock me before those I have defeated, those that have joined me. Stand forth and face my axe if you have the courage."

Ironfoot stands, a sneer on his ugly features. He hefts his own axe, a bitter black notched blade. "I accept your challenge, God-father."

Drake

"Are you that eager to dive into the family cesspool, Drake?," your mother asks with exasperation in her voice. "Look around you; just a simple visit from Corwin and Random and the house is trashed, I have several corpses to dispose of, I need to get new dogs, and the drapes and carpet will need to be repaired. You'll finish your schooling and then we'll consider a trip to Amber."

Rachel

"I'm the man that made the world, kid," Random says heading down the stairs. "Now stay behind me." He moves over to the table where Boss Pogue's men are playing cards. Looks like poker, and there's a large stack of chips in the middle. With a smooth flick of the wrist, Random tosses a card onto the middle of the table. You catch a glimpse of it.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3b/Tarot-13-XIII_Death.jpg

"My deal," Random says quietly, and suddenly he has a pistol in each hand. The one in the left hand roars, and a man's head explodes, the one in the right hand spits fire, and a second of Pogue's boys falls over onto the table, blood pouring from his chest. People are diving for cover, screaming.

The Prince of Cats
2006-07-17, 11:20 AM
Drake

"I can see the mess. That is why I want to understand better. If those... things could kill the dogs, they could have killed me if I had been here. By the look of things, I need to at least start learning Court Protocol. I am not asking to meet the rest of the family, not by any stretch of the imagination, but it might be nice to learn the names and faces just so I know who to avoid. Know thine enemy and all that..."

In all honesty, Drake was scared. He had trained under a dozen masters in each of a dozen martial arts. He could brawl, fence and shoot better than some people who had devoted their lives to the pursuits. He could run a marathon and still have the energy left to jog home afterward. And yet... none of this would mean a thing if the least member of his mother's family wanted to hurt him.

Hrolf
2006-07-17, 11:42 AM
Grettir

Being the ranking priest of Odin present, Grettir's duty is obvious. He sets four hazel staves (always kept ready) in a square twenty paces on a side.
"Here we have the hazel branches. Once two step inside, neither can leave until the other is dead. To deliberately flee from the hazel wands is to be less than a man. To be nothing! Any man may make of such a coward what he will!"

Grettir steps back and calls "Horgar Tormundsson who would be king! Ironfoot who disputes this! Come now to the Holmgangr and may Odin favour the right!"

Grettir stands at the side of the square as the men gather round to watch the duel.

Puma
2006-07-17, 01:12 PM
Bellona[br][br]"You know I'll always fight for you and Arden. Would now bw a good time for you to tell me what is going on out there?"[br]She remounts Sabre once Julian collects Morgenstern.[br] "I can't be very useful if you keep me in the dark. I know you're trying to protect me... but I can't help you if you don't tell me anything."[br]Bella wheels her horse around, to follow after Julian. She wonders silently what his youth must have been like, to make him change so when his siblings are around. [br][br]He's like a different person. That can't be good.

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-07-17, 04:56 PM
Rachel

He's crazy, she thinks--but at least he's doing something. For six years, no one has. Not even her.
Death, the card on the table says, and it is so; her father shoots, and Rachel stands tall on the stairs, watching grimly.

Voshkod
2006-07-17, 08:15 PM
Rachel

One of Pogue's men reaches for a pistol before he takes two shots, one in the head, the other in the chest. The fourth one seems paralyized, but you can hear the sound of water pouring out of his pants. Random levels both pistols at the man's head. His voice is low and dangerous.

"Now listen up, and listen good. You're going to go back to Boss Pogue, and you're going to tell him that Random is back, and that I'm coming to kill him tonight. Right?" The man doesn't move. Random places the barrel of the pistol under his chin and forces him to nod. "Now go." In a flash, he's up and running out the door.

Bellona

"I can still protect you," he says vehemently. "And I can protect Arden. To the abyss with my brothers, damn all my sisters, and may whatever death Father found for himself be a painful one." He stops on a small rise, and you can see the great city on the hill. "And to hell with you, Amber!," he roars into the uncaring breeze. "Come now, tumble down, tumble down into the sea until seaweed grows in your ruins!"

Grettir

Your father has seen a decade of long battle, and the years wear on him heavily. Yet he's learned much in these years. Ironfoot is young, fast, and strong, but arrogant, overconfident, and you watch your father bait him, leave small openings. Ironfoot swings, the blade slamming into the dirt with a spark, and your father jumps back, taking a short cut, planting his axe in Ironfoot's shoulder.

The young northman grins and steps back, blood welling from the cut. "Is that the best you can do, old man?" He steps forward, inviting a hit, and your father takes it, the axe swinging in from the side, cutting through the chain, and Ironfoot grunts, but now he's inside your father's swing. Ironfoot's great axe rises, and you can see your father isn't going to be able to block in time.

Drake

"All in good time, Drake, all in good time. Now, I need a cleaning service, and I think we should head somewhere else. Be a dear and tell them to get the Gulfstream ready. I think St. Thomas would be nice this time of year! Oh, I'll need some summer dresses . . . ." She leaves the room, still talking to herself.

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-07-17, 08:50 PM
Rachel

Crazy, but undeniably effective, good with those guns. Rachel steps down the stairs, and moves across the floor--avoiding a pool of blood--to stand by her father. "Won't telling him we're coming just make things harder?"

Voshkod
2006-07-17, 08:57 PM
Rachel

"Yeah, it probably will," he says, pulling a cigarette out of his pocket, lighting it on the candle in the middle of the table. "But that way I get them all in one place, I can kill them all at one time, and I can get out of here."

He sits down in front of the fire, motions you to sit on one of the unbloodied chair. "Look, Rachel, I'm gonna be straight with you, kid. I'm on the run. From guys who make Pogue's boys look like a bunch of toddlers. If they get into this shadow in force, they'll rip it apart. Someone knows about this place, changed some things, made me come back here. They're trying to throw me off my game. So I can't stay long." He blows out an impressive smoke ring which drifts over your head before vanishing.

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-07-17, 09:02 PM
Rachel

"So you didn't even come back to visit her, you came back because you had to." Her voice is flat; she takes a seat. "Who are you running from? And what do you mean, shadow? You keep saying crazy things."

Voshkod
2006-07-17, 09:06 PM
Rachel

He runs a hand through his hair and sighs. "No, I probably did want to come back here; hellriding's like that. Somewhere in there, I remembered the candlelight on her hair, or her smell, or her laugh, and I grabbed onto that." He looks up, and there is a deep pain in his eyes. "I tried to protect her, setting her up in this place, where no one could hurt her, and someone came in here and changed it. Pogue was a nothing, not even a nuisance, and now he's running the place. It stinks, kid, it stinks of family."

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-07-17, 09:10 PM
Rachel

Rachel's hands curl into small fists, she presses them down onto the table. "You're not making any sense. You don't act crazy, but you talk like--!"

The Prince of Cats
2006-07-18, 05:07 AM
Drake

It took Drake a moment to comprehend his mother's change of mental direction, by which time she was out of the room and unavailable for argument. The house was a mess, Random had dragged them into a civil war over an unoccupied royal throne and he was stuck staring at a corpse that wasn't even human. That was before he even started to consider the implications of those events, like the demise of his grandfather by fair means or foul.

And now his mother was talking about buying new dresses for the 'trip' to another hiding-place. Still, he was starting to realise that certain 'truths' were simply convenient lies and resolved to learn just how mutable reality was.

There must be some occultist somewhere here who could teach me to warp the world like my uncles do, he thought as he went to the telephone to start preparations for their leaving...

Hrolf
2006-07-18, 05:13 AM
Grettir

Grettir watches impassively. He has taken oaths to his father but no man should break the holmgangr. Then again, his father is an evil man, seeking power rather than fame.

Ironfoot is a bandit. He is also an evil man, though honourable. The world seems full of evil men. Even Odin is evil, filling his corpse hall with dead warriors to attempt to protect himself at Ragnarok. Odin keeps this world full of war and evil to breed men to hardihood and warrior prowess.

Time for that later. There is now a chance to do this with honour.
Grettir whispers to the bird on his shoulder. "Go tell my mother that I will come to Asgard soon. Fly, little corpse tearer." He then turns back to watch the death of his father.

SilverElf4
2006-07-18, 10:50 AM
Soren

Soren takes his father's hand, spitting blood and worse onto the sand. "I mistake the means for the end father," he says grimly. "I had forgotten that the way of the warrior is service not honor, and that the path of service brings honor. Honor itself is not a path." Soren's eyes have grown distant. Then he anticipates his father's next question: "Even if that service is to death itself, as it always is when two warriors fight. The truest warrior serves no master but death. And yet I am bound to serve Amber...and Chaos it would seem." He wearily rubs one hand over his face.

Puma
2006-07-18, 12:36 PM
Bellona[br][br]Bella sighs, [br]"You mistake my meaning, Father. Of course you can protect me and Arden. But, if you... [br]She lets her voice trail off... Julian doesn't seem to be listening. He's in one of his moods... the moods that he must think Bella doesn't see.[br][br]She smiles a bit, though he can't see. She tries to keep her voice flippant, [br]"Let's go find mother, and see what the kitchens have for us to eat. We've had quite enough excitement for one day, don't you think?"

mutecebu
2006-07-18, 02:27 PM
Lore

Lore awakens to an empty bed, the sound of water running in the bathroom. The room feels cold this morning, and a breeze is blowing from the south. Autumn's coming, you realize, without knowing what it really means. It's always been summer, ever since you remember. A few lone leaves in red and gold blow by on the balcony.


Lore

Lore shivvers, unacoustomed to the cold, but the thought strikes little significance. He dons his bath robe, and investigates the noise. He moved slowly, not cautiously, but not necesarily in a hurry.

OOC:I just got back from Brazil! I'm still alive!

Voshkod
2006-07-18, 09:31 PM
Lore

You open the door to the bathroom. The woman from last night is there, standing stock still in front of a man with a shock of red hair. "Well, that makes my work a bit easier," he says with an easy smile as he turns to you. "I cannot tell you how much I hate this pocket shadow. Time moves too damn quickly. Ah, well, time and sequence, and time for the next move." You realize he's holding a thin dagger in one hand.

Bellona

Julian sighs deeply, and settles back on Morgenstern's back. "You're right, my Bell. Time to go home. Let Corwin and Eric fight over the crown." Morgenstern rides up next to Sabre, and your father puts his hand on your shoulder. "I have you, and I have Arden. All else is scraps."

Soren

Benedict smiles and, for almost the first time, you sense human warmth there. "Soren, you're almost at the truth. Come now, let's get something to eat."

Grettir

The raven soars aloft as Ironfoot's axe comes down on your father's head. It cleaves clean through the scalp and stops on the bridge of his nose. "Yah!," Ironfoot shouts, and he lets go of his axe, leaving it buried. He turns toward the crowd.

Your father doesn't fall. He turns slightly, and you see the fire in his eyes that must have caught the heart of the valkerye, and he swings his own axe, burying it deep in Ironfoot's back. The bandit chief falls like a great tree, crashing to the ground in a geyser of his own blood. And then your father crumples graceless to the ground.

Drake

Two hours later, you're on the Gulfstream, heading south. Caylpso music is playing over the speakers, and your mother is singing along with it. There's a rum punch in your hand.

Rachel

He grabs both of your hands. "No more questions, Rach. I have to go. I'm going to kill Pogue and all of his men, close this shadow down more securely, and run like hell. And when I've shaken these heavies on my tail, I'll come back for you."

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-07-19, 04:38 AM
Rachel

"Come back," she says, the steel gone from her voice, tears in her eyes again. "Come back, father."

Voshkod
2006-07-19, 07:29 AM
Rachel

He stands, comes over to you, and kisses you on the forehead. "I will, Rach." He turns away and heads for the door, pausing long enough to look back at you. Then he heads out into the night and rain.

The Prince of Cats
2006-07-19, 10:15 AM
Drake

It seemed a fact of life that Drake would never get all the answers he wanted. He only managed to learn what was considered important, leaving him at something of a disadvantage with the more trivial things. Of all the questions running through his head, he tried to select the one most likely to get an answer.

"Mother, what is Random's part in this? I mean, he doesn't seem the sort to go after the throne and I think he knows he would not stand a chance even if he wanted it. He is quite wild but not so much that I think anyone would think him a threat and you even gave him sanctuary when he asked for it, which suggests that he is both harmless to you and impotent enough to need your help. Even Eric said he was no threat. So I have to wonder, who would be trying to hurt him and why did he run to you for help?"

Hrolf
2006-07-19, 11:45 AM
Grettir

Grettir is astonished at his father's last act. Still, he thinks "Thanks, dad. Saves me avenging you."

Stepping forward Grettir sweeps the hazel staves aside and kneels beside both men to check whether they are both dead.
"Are any of Ironfoot's family here?" he shouts to the assembled crowd.

Voshkod
2006-07-19, 04:15 PM
Grettir

A younger man, a boy, really, stands. "I am the Ironfoot's brother." There's a hardness in his eyes, the cold of winter. It's like looking in a mirror.

Drake

"Random's a dissolute wastrel, black sheep of the family. So he's harmless. At least everything thinks so. Little Random, youngest of us all, lives for sex and drink and cards. So they've all dismissed him." She drinks from her glass, some pink umbrella portion.

"But you see, Drake, I'm the youngest girl in the family. And I know how dangerous I am." She smiles prettily. "So why not help Random? He might be useful someday. And he probably thinks I'm harmless - which I am, of course. Who's after him? Who knows?"

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-07-19, 04:21 PM
Rachel

Rachel wipes her eyes as Random leaves, and composes her features, then turns around. "Well? That's that. Someone clean up the mess."

The Prince of Cats
2006-07-19, 07:28 PM
Drake

"So, knowing how underestimated you are, I can only assume that Random could be the most dangerous of all my uncles just because nobody believes it of him?"

Drake swirled the ice in his glass. He generally had no time for rum, though he seemed to have his mother's tolerance for alcohol, but drinking seemed to help him deal with the day's events.

"I think you are wrong though. He lives for something, we just haven't the wit to puzzle out what..."

mutecebu
2006-07-19, 10:40 PM
lore

Lore stops in his tracks when he sees the man. How had he gotten in? If he was anything like his subjects, Lore had a chance in hand to hand. Then again, if he was like his subjects, he wouldn't have passed the guards unless this was a large conspiracy. Either way, the guards were dead, drugged, or in on the plot, so calling for help would be usless, and possibly dangerous. Lore waited for the red-head to move.

Hrolf
2006-07-20, 03:33 AM
Grettir

Grettir approaches the young viking.
"Your brother killed my father. My father killed your brother. It seems the scales are equal. I have no interest in vengeance or in bloodfeud," he holds his hand out to Ironfoot's brother, "What say you? Is there peace between our families?"

Voshkod
2006-07-20, 07:35 AM
Grettir

The younger Ironfoot walks up you, pulling his axe from his back as he goes. He doesn't break gaze, and his eyes are dark. When he's about six feet away, he drops the axe at your feet and kneels. "I have no conflict with Grettir Godsson, our king." Cheering erupts.

Lore

"My friend, this place is so much her it's not even funny," he says with a chuckle. "I mean, this can't be healthy, setting up a kid as God. It's going to be a long fall for you, boy." He approaches, tossing the blade from hand to hand.

Drake

"Now Drake, you're not listening. I said 'they've' dismissed him. I haven't. All of my family is dangerous. And some of them are foolish. Random, well, he is dangerous, but he also won't do anything stupid." She stretches on the couch in the back of the plane.

Rachel

The only sound is the dripping blood and someone whimpering in behind the bar. Then your command cuts through the stillness, and everyone's moving again. "We're closed, go home," Brenda's shouting, and Carrie is pulling one of the bodies away.

It's a cold dawn when the first news comes in. One man walked into Pogue's house when Pogue had all his men there, and one man came out. The mansion is burnt, Pogue is dead, the police chief and six officers are dead, two judges are dead, a well-known lawyer dead. All shot. And then the shooter just walked away.

Hrolf
2006-07-20, 11:20 AM
Grettir

Grettir steps forwards and clasps hands with the young man. He smiles and makes his way back to the high seat that was prepared for his father. Sitting in it, he says "My father has fallen and his burial will be a sea burial. His keen-prowed ship will carry him through flame to the next world."
Grettir looks to Ironfoot's brother.
"Ironfoot will be buried in a barrow on the headland. Rings I will give, and gold for his tomb-hoard. Here two great men have clashed on the field of honour. Even now they enter Valhalla side by side, all worldly enemies forgotten."
"But for now, I'm king, unless anyone else wants to challenge me?"
Grettir feels fantastic. King of a brave and strong people. About to wed a beautiful woman. A lot of mead and meat waiting for the coronation feast.
Life is Good.

The Prince of Cats
2006-07-20, 11:47 AM
Drake

Drake stared out of the window, watching the world beneath him as he had done so many times before. The people were nothing but insects scurrying about once you got far enough above them. Rise a little further and the people would disappear. You could just make out the colours of a car or a bus the size of a grain of sand.

None of it was important right now but when he got down there, it would be important again.

mutecebu
2006-07-20, 11:21 PM
Lore

Lore backs up. Avoiding a fight seems prudent. He had never been so threatened before, but Lore was surprised to find the experiance exilirating. He considered possible exits. Well, he could jump out the window, he could probably survive it and on the ground floor he could call for help. Running between the balconies sounded particularly apealing. He was distracted with a memory of the only other time he had tried it, both that event and this one now had the same feeling of mystery and excitement.


so much her Memories of the strange perfume...

He backed toward a window, planning to step onto the balcony. For some reason, intuition told him to avoid the door.

Voshkod
2006-07-21, 09:34 AM
Lore

"Come on, kid, don't make this harder than it has to be. Every damn second I'm here days are wasted. I just want a little bit of blood from you, nothing more." His eyes are bright, like emeralds on fire.

mutecebu
2006-07-21, 11:47 PM
Lore

The situation kept getting weirder. Lore backed against the railing, hoping he would be able to shimmy along the ledges again, even with this taller frame. "Ah, blood. very reasonable. Asking politely is a start. Not even commonors treat each other this way. Who are you, anyway?"

Voshkod
2006-07-22, 10:19 AM
Lore

The man smiles. "I'm your uncle Brand, kiddo, now . . . ." There's a sudden change in air pressure in the room, and it looks like he just walked into an invisible wall between the two of you. He frowns, probes if for a moment, and then a soft female voice speaks.

"My shadow, Brandon, my rules." He begins to smoulder, smoke rising from his clothes.

mutecebu
2006-07-22, 10:02 PM
Lore glances around, in search of the voice. Things kept getting weirder.

Voshkod
2006-07-23, 12:15 PM
Lore

"Damn it," the man shouts. Almost immediately, he starts to shift, falling into rainbow colors. "I'll see you later, Lore." And then he's gone. The smell of burning is heavy in the room.

mutecebu
2006-07-23, 01:26 PM
With the absense of the threat, Lore's feeling of authority returns. He cautiously takes a step forward, and takes everything in, looking for some explanation.

Voshkod
2006-07-23, 03:22 PM
Lore

You catch that smell of perfume again, a subtle thing, almost subconcious. Then, in your ear, that female voice. "Soon, Lore, soon. Patience."

mutecebu
2006-07-24, 06:28 PM
Lore twists to the side, knowing there would be nothing there. "Lore" probably meant him, he was more sure of it now.

He walks back into the room, and aproached the woman. "You can spend the rest of the night in my bed. The other is gone."

He steps outside, not much wanting to sleep, and waits for the sun to rise, thinking about "Lore".

Voshkod
2006-07-24, 08:32 PM
And now we are eighteen. . . .

Lore

The Great Hall of the castle is bedecked with torches and redolent with fine food. Today you turn eighteen, and it seems the entire town is there. The fires reflect of the dark green granite floor, the black cross-cutting veins seeming to capture and hold the twinkling lights. Your latest high priest stands next to your chair, a massive thing of mahogany and silver.

Musicians are playing your favorite songs, and a bevy of young ladies attend your every need. Above you is another of the now familiar pictures of you gazing up at the sun that created you.

Drake

College applications. Harvard, Oxford, the Sorbonne, UCLA, pamphlets from a hundred schools spread out on the table. Breakers are flowing in from the sea across the reef, blue then white then green as they come ashore on the cover. The air is humid and warm, but there's enough of a trade breeze to keep you from stifling. Just another day in paradise.

Two years, in fact, two years on this private island, this little tropical prison.

Grettir

The longships cut the wine-dark sea, the steady beat of drums echoing the waves, echoing the heartbeat of Thorgunna as she sleeps beside you under the furs. Still only one heartbeat, though; there is not yet an heir, and soon grumblings will begin.

But that's not a trouble for today. For by the time Dagr's chariot mounts the sky, you will see the white shore where the soft men live. Where the rich men live. Two years ago your father died; today you fulfill his destiny.

Rachel

The brothel resounds with light and laughter. Money and wine flow freely, and you can almost feel the coffers groaning under the weight of the gold. It's been two years since Random came and went, leaving behind him a wake of bullet-riddled bodies, and everything has gotten better.

You'll be of age soon. The other women have taught you the tricks of the trade, secrets common to women, but so amazing to men. You basically run the place, as seems quite proper to most. The name hasn't changed though, and her ghost, it seems, is still here: Lorali.

Bellona

It's been two years since Corwin and Random ripped through Arden, two years in which Father has been building up forces, training his rangers to fight. Gerard and Caine have been here more often, and even Eric, once, though you were told in no uncertain terms not to show yourself while he was in the house. Two years of rumors; Corwin and Eric battled, Corwin's dead, Corwin's back.

You can see it now, Corwin's army, your squad of rangers at your back. Waiting now, waiting for Julian's horn.

Soren

From your command post, you can see the broad valley below. Your goal, a modest castle atop a peak. You are outnumber, but they're unprepared. But they have Benedict.

It's the same scenario, day after day now; the same valley, the same castle, the mix of forces waxing and waning. Benedict's talking into those cards more and more often now, and you've caught snippets. Corwin's marching, Bleys is with him, they say.

The Prince of Cats
2006-07-25, 09:13 AM
Drake

To many others, the island would be a paradise. Indeed, nobody else seemed to view it as anything less than perfection itself. And yet... Drake knew he needed to leave.

It was not a sense of impending danger, unless in his boredom he might hurt himself. No... It was just the stifling ennui that seemed to follow him around. He had decided a few months ago where he would like to go now, he just requested the other applications for the sake of appearance. After all, an open mind was less oblivious to danger. His mother had taken Drake out of England but she had never taken England out of Drake.

It would not be too much longer before they would part and he still equated America with those... things that had killed the dogs and seemed to have given even two princes of Amber a good fight. One of those princes was Random, he had to admit, but it was still unpleasant business.

And then there was the pattern. He had dreamt of that diagram traced in fire than King Oberon had shown him and Drake was growing more certain that it was the pattern his mother had spoken of in an unguarded moment. When he was older, his grandfather had said. Well, he was eighteen now. How much older did his mother think he should be?

At the same time, Drake knew that it would be the end of his time here once he did travel to Amber. He might return but it would never be the same, he did not believe. Random had called Amber... the True Realm? Real Realm? It had been a remark in passing, eight years ago, but it plagued his mind. If this were not real, how could he ever return without seeing a painted canvas where the wall should be?

Three years at Oxford would be more than enough time to prepare himself for Amber. Once he returned, he would be twenty-one. Not even his mother could argue with his decision then...

SilverElf4
2006-07-25, 03:33 PM
Soren

Soren sighs, probing the castle with his eyesight, looking for weaknesses. *His vision swims, and the spyglass wavers. *He quickly steadies himself on a nearby tree. *He is tired. *His father has been pushing him hard, and this is the....well, he couldn't remember how many straight battles now, or how long it had been since he had slept more than the bare minimum to be functional for the next assault.

Between the fatigue, and the intrigue over his father's phantom conversations, he is finding it hard to concentrate on the task at hand.

Suddenly, a flash of insight from an old book of military fiction he had read as a child. *"The enemy's gate is down." *Soren couldn't help but smile as he stood once again unaided by the tree. *A frontal assault? *Why not. *They had had no time to prepare. *There would be no burning pitch or wooden and steel traps. *The moat did not even look to be filled. *He turned to give his orders. *They would think him crazy, and he would have to explain it no doubt, but it would work. *Even his renowned father couldn't mow them all down before he breached the gate...

mutecebu
2006-07-25, 06:35 PM
Lore

Huray for birthdays. Eighteen going on eternal. Just another reminder of the contradiction that was his immage and his life. Everything around him was so artificial. Especially the way everyone acted around him. Lore did away with the no-eye-contact rule long ago, but it didn't change anything, everyone acted differently "to please him". Trying to moddel his life like a commoner didn't help. Why did kids like birthdays? To get stuff. Lore had "stuff", pleanty of it.

Lore sighed, took a sip of wine, and leaned back in his throne. What did the commonors say? "Life is good."

Humbug.

Hrolf
2006-07-26, 03:22 AM
Grettir

Grettir leaves the side of his wife, pulling the white bear fur of his first kill around his shoulders. Wearing his underkirtle and hose beneath his fur, he feels the cold as he stands, nodding to the steersman.
Grettir moves forward to the dragon carved prow of the ship. He rolls strategies over in his mind. Viking raids are improvised affairs, either trading or fighting depending on which side of the risk/benefit equation the captain feels like.
Grettir thinks through the intelligence he has gathered from traders and raiders, summing in his mind the military might of the soft lands.

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-07-26, 07:21 AM
Rachel

Late evening, stars and firelight, the smell of jasmine. Rachel leaves her mother's gun in its resting-place before going into the gardens behind the brothel, Lady greeting her, hungry for food and affection. Bread and a touch soothe her, and when she's done with the duck, she goes around to the front, shifting her ruffled skirt to sit on the porch. Rachel listens to the laughter from within and looks down the road, waiting for her father. Not expecting, really, but waiting, as she has been almost every night for the past year.

Puma
2006-07-26, 08:26 AM
Bellona[br][br]Two years of difficult training, both for the Rangers and for Bella. It was all worth it, to be in her father's confidence (or at least as far as a child of Oberon can allow others into their confidences). Bella did her best to prove herself worthy of her father's trust.[br][br]Unfortunately, her first command is likely to be a failure, having to face an army led by Corwin's hand-picked officers. Still, Arden has to be defended.[br][br]Bella gives a hand signal: Be prepared to act![br]Her squad will attack and fade into the forest, or so goes the plan.

Voshkod
2006-07-26, 09:18 PM
Bellona

Corwin's army is marching through the Vale of Garnath, the most beautiful spot in Arden. Also the narrowest pass on the way to Amber. The perfect chokepoint. The head of the army is almost toward the end of the ambush zone, though, and no horn has been sounded. But you can smell . . . smoke?

Rachel

A huge man is approaching, up the stairway from the harbor. He's of such a size that he should be lumbering, you think, but he moves gracefully. Black hair, black beard and mustache, wearing travelling clothes, and singing a song about the sea in a deep, easy voice. He stops at the foot of the porch, doffs his hat, and bows. "Good evening, miss." His voice rumbles like the sea itself. "I'm looking for a young lady named Rachel."

Grettir

The reports from the seawolves are promising. The land is in a civil war, large armies marching about in the central areas, more concerned about killing each other than about raiders from the sea. Hit hard and fast, and plunder will be yours. Stay too long, and one of these armies may catch you.

Lore

A huge cake is brought out and placed on the table, which groans under the weight. You're handed a gleaming silver knife, and the music stops. And then the doors to the great hall fly open with a boom.

There's a small figure, almost a dark shadow against the torches. Cloaked. Still and silent.

Soren

Your father's sword is at your throat, but your men are in the castle. "Enough," he says, and the "dead" stand, rubbing bruises from the rebated weapons. "A good move, Soren. Sometimes the most open way, the most obvious path, can work. Perhaps that's what Corwin's thinking even now. He's in the Vale of Garnath, according to my spies, and Julian bides his time. Eric's confused, scared."

He steps back, resheathes his sword. "It gives me little comfort to know that I could sweep the defense of Amber way with such ease."

Drake

Your mother is sitting on a lounge on one of the lower decks, soaking up the sun, drinking some umbrella drink. It's a subtle shift, but you notice it. She puts the drink down slowly, and seems to be talking, very quietly, to someone unseen.

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-07-26, 09:21 PM
Rachel

"You've found her," Rachel says easily, tilting her head to look up, her arms around her knees. "Why were you looking for her?"

SilverElf4
2006-07-26, 11:58 PM
Soren

Soren shakes his head. Despite his weariness, he feels good to have gotten that far against his father. He pauses and then looks at Benedict.

"That begs and interesting question father: why aren't you there? If Amber needs defending from this...Corwin, or anyone else for that matter, who better than you to do it?"

The Prince of Cats
2006-07-27, 05:42 AM
Drake

Softly, though without any real attempt at stealth, Drake approached his mother. This place was both sanctuary and escape, outside the petty squabbles of a family who would kill him for the right (or any) cause. With this in mind, a call from his family would bode ill.

He waited patiently, not so close as to eavesdrop but not so far that he could not read her lips. She would probably be talking that strange language of hers but he could at least pick out a few words by now.

Voshkod
2006-07-27, 07:15 AM
Drake

Drake's Thari has actually become pretty good. ". . . what will he do . . . has Corwin gotten any aid? . . . Bleys, of course . . . if you insist, Eric . . . not much help though."

She sighs, picks her drink back up. "Drake? Drake! Where are you?"

Soren

"Because I have no interest in wearing the crown, Soren. I saw what it did to Father over the years. A crown's a prison for body and mind. And yet Corwin and Eric duel over it. They're both fools."

He stretches. "If this little spat endangers Amber, I'll return and teach both of my little brothers a lesson. Until then . . . until then, I'll stay informed."

Rachel

The man smiles, a genuine thing (or so it appears), and he begins to rummage around in his pack. He pulls out a battered fedora that you recognize as Random's, and he pops it down on your head. "Your father sent me, Rachel. I am Gerard, your uncle."

The Prince of Cats
2006-07-27, 07:40 AM
Drake

"Yes mother?" he said, walking over to her. He made no attempt to hide his proximity but was careful not to react to anything he had overheard. As she herself had said, she was too easily underestimated.

"Is there something wrong? You seemed a million miles away..." he remarked with a smile. She must have known that he recognised a message through the cards.

Puma
2006-07-27, 09:17 AM
Bellona[br][br]Bella considers the scene while waiting for the order to attack. First they come and threaten my father, then they march unnatural things through our home. The arrogance. No wonder Father wanted to be in Arden rather than with them.[br][br]She sighs, realizing that the idyllic Arden of her childhood is gone and will never return. [br]So be it... there will be time enough for grief after. But someone will pay, in spades.[br]Bella checks her gear once more... surely they'll charge soon.

Voshkod
2006-07-27, 10:52 AM
Bellona

The smell of smoke grows stronger, and the valley begins to fill with haze. Off to the left, you can suddenly see flame gouting, leaping from tree to tree - a crown fire, driven by the sea wind, tearing down into the valley. Corwin's army starts to run, trying to clear the pass before the fire reaches them, and yet no trumpet sounds. You can hear skirmishing off to the left, near the head of the fire.

Drake

"Drake," Floramel says with a smile, "our long exile is nearly at an end, one way or the other. Corwin has made his move, with brother Bleys at his side. It seems likely he's doomed. If Corwin and Bleys are out of the picture, Eric will feel secure enough to wear the crown, and I will be rewarded for my loyalty. And, if Corwin or Bleys wins out, I'll go on bended knee and tell them Eric forced little helpless Flora to stand with him. Either way, the gate to Amber is opening up again. Once the crown sits on someone's head, we'll go to Amber. And you'll walk the Pattern."

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-07-27, 10:57 AM
Rachel

Reflexively, she adjusts the hat on her head. Father--he's sent someone--uncle?
"Uncle?" she repeats, a little stunned. "I--I didn't know--I mean... good evening, uncle." She regains her balance a little. "Did Father want something, or was he just sending me his hat?"

Voshkod
2006-07-27, 11:04 AM
Rachel

"Well, he did want to send his hat," Gerard laughs, "so you would know it came from him. But he also wanted someone to protect you. There's a bit of war going on back home, and Random's down for the count. He asked me to come and take you somewhere safe until the coronation."

SilverElf4
2006-07-27, 11:22 AM
Soren

Soren runs his hands through his hair. "I didn't mean as king, father, I meant as defender. Although I'm guessing the reason you aren't already there is that you don't approve of Eric or Corwin's rule." He pauses a moment, musing. "Didn't your father name a successor? That would have avoided the whole bloody mess wouldn't it?"

Voshkod
2006-07-27, 11:42 AM
Soren

Benedict sits down on a stump in the courtyard looking, for once, defeated. "Divining my father's whims and will was never possible. The man was a weathervane, turning and shifting to the inscrutable winds of his own mind. Why name an heir? I didn't want it, my older brothers wanted it too much. The dispute between Eric and Corwin was perfect for him - kept the children squabbling for his amusement. Neither Eric or Corwin, though, are half the man father was."

The Prince of Cats
2006-07-27, 02:17 PM
Drake

"And they will believe you, won't they? Little Flora is always the victim, she never wanted to get involved. Perhaps one day I will learn to play them even as they play one another, though I cannot believe I shall ever prove your equal..."

Drake shook his head; it was too easy for his mother to play these games and not one of them seemed to have the sense to question what they believed.

"When I come to think of it, perhaps even I would be well-advised to trust you a little less."

With that, he laughed. He knew that he was right but that only made it all the more amusing. If you cannot trust your own family, who can you trust?

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-07-27, 02:38 PM
Rachel

"Wherever Father's from, it must be rather far away. I have a business to run, uncle, and I'm hesitant to leave it for a distant war on the word of a father I've seen once in eighteen years." She glances up at Gerard through dark lashes, underneath the hat's brim. "Random," the name feels strange in her mouth, "said some very strange things when he was here. I'll go with you, but I would very much like it if you were to explain them."

Puma
2006-07-27, 03:13 PM
Bellona[br][br]Bella's brow creases as she struggles with what to do. The enemy is vulnerable... but she has to get her own people to safety. [br][br]"We'll hunt them down later. Withdraw in good order to the barracks if you can, otherwise to our rally point... you may be needed, or from there they'll have us withdraw to a safer spot."[br]She looks towards the sound of fighting. [br]"I would take vol.." She thinks better of taking the Rangers along. No sense wasting their lives in an inferno. [br]"Go. I'll see to this."

Voshkod
2006-07-27, 04:36 PM
Bellona

You make your way along the fire line, toward where the sounds of fighting are now subsiding. It does look like a goodly portion of Corwin's men were engulfed in flames down below, as the crown fire ripped the air out of their lungs.

You break into the clearing where your father had placed his command post. Several of the trees are decorated with hanging men, all wearing Eric's colors. Several of the rangers are injured and being cared for. Julian is pacing back and forth under the hanged men, shouting at someone unseen. "They set fire to the Vale, Eric! Your thugs set fire to Garnath! And they claim you ordered them to! How dare you, brother!" His normally icy calm around family is shattered; you've never seen him so enraged.

Rachel

Gerard sits down next to you, puts a hand on your shoulder. You can feel the strength there. "He's told you . . . nothing?" He shakes his head, sadly. "Damn it, Random, would you drive her off like you did Martin?," he asks himself quietly.

Gerard takes a deep breath. "Rachel, my niece, the truth will sound very strange, but the truth it is. All that you see around you is nothing but shadows, shadows of a place far away, where Random and I are both princes of the realm. We - he and I and now you - carry in our very blood the secrets of shaping the universe at our whim. You, Rachel, are a princess of Amber."

Giving you a moment to absorb this, he produces a pipe from his pocket and starts to pack with fragrant leaves.

Drake

"Oh, yes, Drake, poor little Floramel, youngest of the family, everyone picked on Floramel, so she ran off and created her own world, called it Earth, and put so much of her time and life and blood into it that it became the strongest place in the universe apart from Amber and Chaos." Her voice has the usual lightness to it, but you (knowing her as you do) can sense the resentment. "Random - the youngest son - was a right bastard, but Flora, everyone loves Flora, because she's so harmless, just another pretty head with an empty mind, the type that drive powerful men into stupid action."

She sits up. "And now Corwin and Bleys and Eric and the others play their little games around the crown, men's work, while Fiona reads her books and oh-so-superior Llewella hides in Rebma and Dierdre spreads her . . . ." She stops herself, biting her lower lip.

Hrolf
2006-07-27, 05:23 PM
Grettir

The ship sails on over the sea, making for the coast. Grettir's orders are to steer for a river mouth around which a fast fleet can play merry hell with all the settlements. There should be treasure a plenty.
He casts his mind over what he intends to do with all this wealth. He intends to build a ship that will sail to Aesgard. He means to sail to Valhalla while still alive. He will meet his mother and see his dead father again.

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-07-27, 11:49 PM
Rachel

The words resonate, for some reason. It sounds crazy, but it feels oddly right. She shakes her head.
"You're joking. --You're not joking. That's... a very fantastic story."
When I was little, I wanted to be a princess.
"I'll go, I suppose. Is there anything I should bring?"

The Prince of Cats
2006-07-28, 05:16 AM
Drake

The young man walked closer to his mother, crouching down so that he did not force her to look up at him.

"Mother, what do you gain from all of this? You throw yourself on the mercy of the victor and carefully avoid any decisive action so that you can later disown your own handiwork. What purpose does it serve? What do you want?"

Just for a moment, there is something in his eyes of the Amberite princes. Something hard, something devious, something proud.

"I know what I am, what I can one day hope to attain but I have no idea what I should do with that birthright. I... don't know who I am some days. I have grown up as something greater than those around me, like a modern Heracles or Achilles, but I am just a minor princeling in the realm of Amber..."

Puma
2006-07-28, 07:44 AM
Bellona[br][br]Bella moves through the command post towards her father, warning Rangers to be prepared to move as she goes. [br][br]"Prince Julian, sir..."[br]Bella guesses he's talking via Trump to uncle Eric who must be in the castle. Julian is keeping her away from Eric, thus it might not be the best idea to call him "father" at this point. [br]"...we must withdraw. sir."[br][br]Bella is doing her best to be serene, to give her father's men something to coalesce around, if Julian gets pulled to Amber or something else untoward should occur.

mutecebu
2006-07-28, 07:48 AM
Lore

Lore stands, eyes fixed on the newcomer, and calls out authoritatively

"Speak."

Voshkod
2006-07-28, 09:33 AM
Lore

The figure does not speak, but begins to walk down the center aisle of the great hall toward you with an unearthly grace. As it moves, the very world behind it falls into dust and shadow; the flagstones shatter beneath its feet, tables fall away into rot, and the people, the flesh melts from their bodies, leaving nothing more than the flash image of the skeleton, which joins the dust on the floor.

Bellona

Julian looks at you, his face a mask of rage. "No, brother, you listen," he spits. "I'm done with your damn war. You and Corwin and Bleys can all go to the abyss." He closes his eyes, and then raises his horn. The sour notes of retreat blow through the air, and the scouts and rangers mount up. In the flash of a few seconds you and he are alone in the forest, surrounded by the dead men hanging from the trees.

Drake

"If it were only that easy, Drake. What do I want? I know what I don't want. I don't want to waste away into madness in that dreary little castle on that dreary little mountain. I don't want to play games for a circlet of gold that has no meaning in a world where any of us can be the King of all creation." She looks at you, her eyes gleaming at the edge of tears. "And I don't want you to have to grow up amidst all that, another pawn in the politics of court. If I could, I would lock you up here, on this shadow, or make you the lord of some vast world that you could explore forever. But I can't do that, anymore than I could clip the wings of a bird meant to soar. I don't know what I want, Drake, but I do know this - you are a Prince of Amber, and I've withheld your birthright from you for far too long, out of my own selfishness."

Rachel

Gerard puffs a few aromatic smokerings. "You are Random's daughter, aren't you? A few sentences from a stranger and you're ready to give up your whole life for an adventure." He chuckles, not unkindly. "Take those things you can't replace, things of real value to you. Everything else I can provide. I'll stay here until you're ready, I've no use for brothels. Can't stand a woman I'd have to pay for."

Grettir

The merchant town burns merrily, flame and smoke rising skyward. You can see your men carrying off their plunder, gold, silver, goods from around the globe. If every town is this rich, you'll be ready to return home soon.

Two of your men approach, with a woman in a black robe, trimmed with silver, between them. "We've captured a seer. She asked to be taken to the child of the valkerie, so she could purchase her future by telling him his."

The woman pulls back her hood. She has raven-black hair and eyes blue as the deepest seas. "Good day to you, Grettir Valkerie's Son. I am Dierdre, a seer and sage woman. I have news of your future, if you have ears to listen."

SilverElf4
2006-07-28, 09:42 AM
Soren

Soren narrows his eyes carefully and speaks in a well-measured tone. "I'm not sure I understand - one minute you call your father a lunatic and the next you declare him a giant among men."

Voshkod
2006-07-28, 09:46 AM
Soren

"Who's to say he can't be both?," Benedict says with a glint of humor in his eyes. "I know what they say about me, you know. Father was mad and grand at the same time. I saw him stand before all the Lords of Chaos and renounce his claims. Mad and grand. Just like all of us, all your uncles and aunts."

Puma
2006-07-28, 10:17 AM
Bellona[br][br]Bella waits with her father as Julian's well-trained forces melt into the forest. She steps again toward him in the momentary quiet. [br][br]"I wanted to say something encouraging... but I have nothing." She smiles a bit, hoping to temper Julian's fury somehow. [br]"What now? Close the forest to everyone and let them starve?"[br]She looks back to the fire in the trees. "Shall we go?"

Voshkod
2006-07-28, 10:56 AM
Bellona

"It's not that simple, Bell." Julian mounts Morgenstern, and starts to slowly ride out. "It's all been going to hell since father left. Typically selfish move on his part - go off and die and leave the sucession in the air. Eric's going to win. Corwin's taken too much damage already. So Eric will be king. Cutting off Arden will accomplish nothing. So, I'll do what I always end up doing. Going forth on bended knee and swearing my loyalty to someone I hate. At least they don't know that my true loyalties lie here, in Arden. Among my trees."

SilverElf4
2006-07-28, 01:41 PM
Soren

Soren smiles briefly before continuing. "And does this penchant for mad grandeur extend to the next generation as well? What is my place in all this? In Amber, in the conflicts around it, in the lifes of my relatives?"

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-07-28, 06:01 PM
Rachel

"They're very nice girls," she murmurs, rising. "But as you will. I'll be out in half an hour."

Things of real value: a dress Lorali gave her for her birthday; a framed picture from her room, a dark-haired woman and a straw-haired man; her mother's rifle; Lady Duck, whom she soothes with a touch and gathers into her arms.

She explains things, briefly, to Connie--leaves instructions, tells her she'll be back eventually, doesn't raise a fuss. Then she slips out the back door and goes around the building, coming up to the side of the porch with suitcase, a gun, and a duck. "I'm ready," she says, though something inside her hesitates. "Will it be a long trip?"

mutecebu
2006-07-28, 09:42 PM
Lore backs up against the paintings. He was loosing his sense of controll again. That meant another weird, unnatural experiance. Well, this time he had a knife.

Puma
2006-07-29, 12:07 AM
Bellona[br][br]"Better that they don't know where the people loyal to you are... here in Arden. They'll have to burn every tree... and still we'll fight for you.'

The Prince of Cats
2006-07-29, 08:14 AM
Drake

It was a shock to see his mother so moved. He had to suppress the cynical part of his mind that suggested that she was merely playing a role but she truly seemed sincere.

Taking her hand, he knelt by the seat.

"No, out of fear. I cannot even say that you were wrong to fear though. You made sure I knew how to defend myself, you made sure I knew how dangerous my family are. I think you did what was best but now... Your brothers and sisters are learning that I am here, so perhaps it may be better that I not skulk in the shadows."

Drake considered what he wanted from the next few years.

"I have no strong claim to the throne, no great ambition to claim it either. When the time comes, I will kneel to whomever holds the crown and then come home again. For now, I am happy to live my life quietly on Earth. I think I would like to study my degree quietly and deal with Amber when it intrudes on my life, not before."

Voshkod
2006-07-29, 10:00 PM
Drake

"Drake, within days Eric will be crowned. And you will be there, to present yourself to him in an official manner, and hopefully to receive such title as he may see fit to grant to you. Then we will walk down the grand staircase into the darkness, and I will show you the Pattern, and you will choose whether you wish to walk it. And then? It's all up to you." She picks her drink up again. "But for now? Live large."

Bellona

"Eric won't dare enter Arden without my approval," Julian growls. "He's no fool. He won't challenge Gerard or Caine on the seas, and he won't challenge me here. But he has no need to. He'll be crowned in Amber soon enough, and Corwin will swing for treason."

The house rises out of the evening mists. You can smell bread baking.

Lore

The figure continues its approach, until just you and it are left in the world. All else is darkness. "Childhood ends today, Lore. Time to become a man." The voice is female, cold, and very familiar.

Rachel

"Long? Only across a thousand dimensions, Rachel. So it will only take a moment." He pulls out an ivory case and withdraws a card from it. "Take my hand." He offers his huge paw to you.

Soren

"Your place, Soren, is what you make of it. I've given you what I can to help you survive, but you must be your own man. I've no interest in molding you into a tool or a weapon. But you should prepare for travel. If the reports I get are correct, Eric has won his battles and will take the crown. While I will not dignify his charade with my presence, I think you should go. It will be a very important moment, and most of the family will attend."

The_Logic_Ninja
2006-07-29, 10:22 PM
Rachel

Rachel raises her brows, but calmly places her hand in Gerard's giant one, Lady cradled in her other arm.