Dreams Made Flesh
Steed's Tale - "Dreams Made Flesh"
Their website for Dreams Made Flesh is www.mindspring.com/~jvstin/dmf.html.
Written by: R. Cal Westray, Jr. in 2001.
Celina, daughter of Mirelle – Bonnie Roe
Cobalt, son of Fiona – Ben Ekdahl
Edmund, son of Corwin – Mike Manolakes
Regis, son of Llewella – Marvin R. Allen
Steed, son of Flora - Cal Westray
Thetis, daughter of Moire and Corwin – Michael Levay
Last night is a fog in your mind. You don't remember too much...something about King Random, and something about going up to Tir on his behalf -- and you can't even remember why or for what reason. The funny part is, you don't remember coming back down, but there you are, waking up in your rooms in the Castle. Your rooms look pretty much the same...but why are you suddenly sharing a bed with someone you have never seen before? And why is everyone insisting that Amber lost the war? And surely the person sitting on the throne can't be the monarch of Amber, can it? And why do you remember things differently and no one else? Have you come to a different Amber? Have things somehow been changed? Or perhaps what you recall, the Amber you remember, was only a fantastic dream...and THIS is the reality?
I slowly open my eyes, wondering what time it is, but not moving yet. There is light at the edge of the curtains and they are cracked open a bit, something I rarely do - I'm a very late sleeper. Was there a reason for me to get up early today? I search my memory. I have no commitments that I am aware of.
Did I make some appointment last night for this morning? I can't remember last night, except I recall talking to Random and my cousins. Why? It must have been important, but I can't recall details. Not a good sign, old boy.
I turn my head and notice that I am not alone in bed. Well, I have a king sized bed and it is easy not to notice another body; especially if she has her back to me. Small beds are for travel or business. In my quarters, I prefer to have a lot of room to move. Although I don't remember inviting anyone in, that 'doesn't' preclude the possibility of someone visiting during late hours. However, I would have had to let them in, and 'that' I don't remember either. Too many gaps...
I look over my guest approvingly. Even with mussed hair, she is quite beautiful. I shift position to get a better perspective - and notice that I am still in my suit! Now 'that' I never do! What is going on here? My movement woke her. We sit up to face each other. With her hand, she brushes the hair from her face and looks at me through sleepy eyes.
"Good morning, darling. Shouldn't you take your suit off before getting back to bed?" She purrs.
"Of course, my dear." I will have to play it by ear until I get this worked out.
"Then let me help you with it. I want a repeat of last night." She smiles and gets up to face me. Wearing a black and red lace negligee, she is around 5' 2" and slender. Her black hair frames the face of a goddess. She looks at me with intense and very seductive sky blue eyes and smiles at me with thin red lips.
She begins undressing me with ease, as if we had done this countless times before. She kisses me and I return it. She is absolutely gorgeous, as eager as I, and our bodies hug each other in a perfect fit. Taking in the smell of her perfume, I am absolutely - without question - 'positive' that I would have remembered her last night. And I am damned irritated that I don't, something that I plan to remedy. We are nearly undressed when there is a knock at the door.
"If you value your life, go away!" I call out.
"Message for you, sir. Urgent from the crown."
"Damn! Not again." She says. Her irritation mirrors my own and covers herself up. I kiss her forehead and regain some composure. The mood shattered like fragile crystal.
Whispering, but loud enough for her to hear. "If it isn't urgent, I will 'kill' that messenger." She smiles at that, she knows that I would do it. I sigh. "But duty calls and I better find out what it is. Sorry, darling." I get up, and throw my robe on - tying it. I look across the main room and see that the door is unlocked, so I call out. "It's unlocked, come in."
In walks a four foot tall red demon. "My apologies, my lord, good morning. You know I wouldn't disturb you and Lady Genevieve if it wasn't important. Good morning, my lady." He hands me a light gray scroll.
Not commenting on the fact that Random doesn't employ demons. I examine it. The seal is different. Instead of the Unicorn seal, this one has the seal of the serpent of Chaos - a snake circle with the tail in its mouth. What is going on here, is this some joke? I will have to ask Random about this.
But most importantly, I now have a name to go with the lovely lady in my bed.
The handwriting on the scroll is addressed from Queen Dara of Amber. I pause. She requests my presence immediately in the Throne room. "Very well. Let me get dressed and I will be right down. Thanks, old boy."
"Very good, my lord. And again I apologize for this intrusion."
"Think nothing of it, we all must serve the crown." Which one though?
The demon leaves, closing the door behind him. I look out the window and see guards practice fighting with manticores under a blue sky. Well, the manticores are a change.
"You're a busy man. Won't we ever have five minutes together?" She pouts and covers herself.
Turning to smile, I reply. "You know that I prefer a great deal more than five minutes, my dear. But duty calls and I'm needed." I head for the closet.
"You will be back later?"
"I most certainly hope so, keep the bed warm." I smile, still wondering how in the blazes did all I remember change so drastically - not that I minded 'some' changes. Looking in the closet, I see more than my own clothes. There is a vast wardrobe of feminine attire, colors of red and black that compliment my own black and white. It gives the appearance that we have been together for some period of time, but how long? I proceed to change into a fresh set of clothes.
Genevieve gets out of bed and joins me in the closet; she gives me another kiss and starts changing clothes too. "We can warm up the bed when you return." It seems as though we have done this many times.
I examine my (or our) quarters as I fix my tie - at least I can still tie a double Windsor knot. There are paintings that decorate the walls. Two portraits in the corner; one of me and one of her. All of the paintings are signed by my lady. She puts on the same necklace that she wore for the portrait. Trimmed in black on a silver chain, is a large blue sapphire - the only color she wears besides her colors. Much like I wear amber stones trimmed in silver, that varies from my own colors. Another painting is a colorful landscape under a pink sky, the title "House Helgram". Realization sets in. Lady Genevieve is a Chaosian from House Helgram? And Queen Dara, is the mother of my adopted House Sawall in Chaos. I'm not sure I understand what has happened or how, but I have to learn more.
"I remember when you gave me this necklace, not six months ago." She smiled and looked at her portrait.
"You look lovelier every day, Genevieve." If I know anything about myself, I would never use an abbreviated form of her name - like Jenny or anything else, always Genevieve.
"Why thank you, my love. It's because you take such good care of me." She sighs. "I hope the queen doesn't send you off somewhere again."
"I hope not either, I've been away long enough already." Was I? It should sound good.
"I will be very cross, if you are not here tomorrow for our "one year" anniversary."
"It seems like only yesterday, milady." That long? How in Shadow could I not remember that? "I will appeal to the Queen's better nature." If she has one. "If not, we could spend time through the Trumps."
"That isn't the same and you know it."
Do I have her Trump? I will check later. "I know." Mental note to myself, to get a gift for Genevieve at the earliest opportunity. "We'll see what happens. You know I am always on call. Time to go, darling." We embrace once more. "Later."
Out in the hall, I see Thetis and Regis. They seem to be discussing something that is troubling them both.
"What is the problem?" I ask.
Regis speaks up. "Apparently we had unknown bed partners last night."
Thetis adds. "And we are to see Queen Dara. What happened to Random?"
I suggest. "Until we find out what’s going on, I think we should play along and collect information."
Thetis frowns. "It may be a little late for that. Hadrim was in my bed and he is Dara’s son. When I told him I didn’t know who he was, he was crying and Trumped his mother."
"Well you may be able to cover it up by feigning amnesia or something. Improvise and apologize but stop acting suspicious." We soon reach the Throne room and encounter Cobalt, Edmund, and Celina waiting to enter. It appears that all of us have bed partners that we don't know. Cobalt explains to us that he did some checking and found out that Chaos won the Patternfall War. As a result, Dara was crowned Queen of Amber.
We are summoned into the Throne Room. Dara smiles at us. "Greetings, all. I trust everything is going well and everyone enjoys the accommodations. As you know, since my coronation, I decided that this would be a time for love, pleasure, and cooperation between the realms." She meets my gaze. "Steed, my dear boy, how is the Lady Genevieve?"
"Exquisite and delicious as always, my liege."
"Oh, I am so glad. Corwin would be ‘delighted’ to hear that." She pulls on a chain – hard – the unseen creature at the other end groans in pain. "Thetis, are you alright? Hadrim was so worried about you."
She looks worried. "I think it was due to some of the drinks I had last night, my Queen."
"You didn’t have any of Mandor’s special blend, did you? It has such a disorienting effect that could last for days if you have too much."
"That was probably it, I’m sure." She concedes, relieved for a suitable excuse.
Dara looks around. "You are probably wondering why I’ve summoned you. Well, for the most part Amber has been a peaceful realm, but there are those that refuse to support my rule and they are enemies of the combined realms of Amber and Chaos." Her expression changes and her eyes narrow. "You are to leave tomorrow morning to hunt down the traitor Random, who is off in Shadow with other renegades who refused to swear allegiance to me. This will remove the last of my enemies. You will get a detailed briefing from Scipio, Flora’s son."
Scipio! What part does my brother play in all of this? And what of mother? Talking to them may not be the best idea, yet. They may be under the influence of Dara and I don't want to tip my hand.
Thetis asks about Rebma and is shocked to hear that Rebma was utterly destroyed because Queen Moire refused to serve Dara. She dismisses us to make travel arrangements and say farewell to our partners.
I decide it is time to get more details. I suggest we check the Library and gather historical information, genealogical data, and current laws. What happened during and after Patternfall? Who supports the crown, who are the enemies, and where are the last known positions of everyone? Of immediate interest to me is what is or isn't allowed and what are the penalties for violating those laws? I point out that the use of some Powers may be forbidden and we better find out before we use anything. When in Rome...
The historical records confirmed what Cobalt already told us. Random was never crowned. We lost the war; Chaos won and placed Dara on the throne. A bit of bad news is that Benedict supports her – she is his granddaughter, after all. That strengthens her position considerably. Brand is dead but didn’t kill Deirdre, she escaped falling into the Abyss. Caine, Gérard, Fiona, Bleys, Flora, and Random are hiding in Shadow. Mother is in hiding. Good. At least she isn't under Dara's influence or in danger 'here'.
Cobalt Trumped his mother, Fiona, who suggested we check out the Pattern. We learn that Pattern usage is permitted, as long as it isn’t used as a weapon against another subject of the crown. That’s a relief. I teleport down with Regis and Thetis. My teleporting felt different than normal. It is like the Pattern energies are slightly altered, but that can’t be possible. I get the key to the Pattern room and open the heavy oaken door. In the massive chamber beyond, is the Pattern. I look at it, uncertain what I am looking for. I notice that Regis is summoning the sign of the Pattern and looking at the Pattern itself, through the sign. I do the same. Overlapping the image over the Pattern, I see something that makes no sense. The Pattern is a shade or two lighter than the sign of the Pattern I maintain before me. Since the power of the sign came from walking the Pattern, they ‘were’ identical. So, ‘one’ of them was altered – which one, I could only guess.
I receive a Trump contact from Celina. She is no longer in Amber. She is with Mirima and suggests that we come to her. Things are ‘right’ there. I tell her that not all of us are here and I don’t plan to leave the others behind. I will contact her later when we are all together. She agrees and will wait until then.
Our curiosity is satisfied, but we don’t know what it all means yet. So, I teleport us back to the Library; Cobalt and Edmund are already there. Before we discuss options, I suggest we make sure we are not being observed. Cobalt alters his shape and hundred of flying insects leave his body and they check every corner of the Library for eavesdroppers. Regis checks for magical spies. We determine that it is safe to talk. I tell them what I learned about the Pattern and my chat with Celina. Discussing our options, we decide to wait until we leave for our mission and Trump Celina then. It should cause less suspicion.
That will give us time to make preparations to leave. We go our separate ways. I return to my quarters and to my lady.
A dinner is awaiting me. I bolt the door behind me. Champagne is chilled and I pour for both of us. She is in a black and red evening dress, seductive in what it reveals and conceals. Romantic and charming, she knows my mind. We drink champagne and share the hors d'oeuvres. We kiss and I notice her perfume. Never will I forget the fragrance, regardless what happens tomorrow.
We take another drink and the back of my neck itches with the edge of someone Trumping me. I wince and close my eyes, forcing my thoughts elsewhere to block contact with everything I can generate. If they pick up any thoughts it would be, ::No one is home! Go away!:: The sensation passes.
"Penny for your thoughts." She murmurs.
"I removed a minor distraction, darling. We may have more than five minutes, if we are lucky."
"I understand. Dinner can wait."
"I agree." We embrace and disrobe each other while we kiss. Thankfully we get the time together we want and 'much' more.
Later, we rest in each other's arms. "Happy anniversary, Genevieve."
"Happy anniversary, darling." The warmth from her eyes is genuine.
"I have to leave soon and I still have arrangements to make."
"Say no more, my love."
"Get some sleep, I will be back soon."
"Look for me when you return. At least we had our five minutes."
"And more. Count on it, my dear."
I take a quick shower and get dressed in casual attire. I find the others in the Library and Celina is with them. "What are you doing back?"
"I found out what happened. Random sent us to Tir because something seemed wrong there. We arrived to see Dara walking Tir’s Pattern while wearing the Diamond of Tir."
I froze with realization. I am an initiate of the ruby Jewel of Judgment and some time ago, I took the time to read everything I could find on the Jewels, facts and mythology. Over time the differences become blurred. But I recall what that implies. All of reality (outside of Chaos?) was created when Dworkin used the Jewel of Judgment to draw the Pattern. There is also a sapphire Jewel that corresponds with the Rebma Pattern. The diamond Jewel of Dreams is a different matter, it corresponds to the Pattern of Tir-na Nog'th. I thought the author was (well to be honest he "is") a bit insane - trust me. In his more lucid moments, he is the most cunning but cryptic man in Shadow - which one you talk to is anyone's guess. I've met both sides of him and prefer to avoid both if possible. The author, Dworkin, mentioned that with the Jewel of Dreams (presumed lost for thousands of years) one could walk the Pattern of Tir and alter reality through their dreams. In other words, their dreams are made flesh. If this is done, who would know that reality was changed? One reality would be as real as another, only the dreamers would know the difference…
By the Unicorn! We remember the other reality because we were there in Tir! Dara couldn't alter our perception and memories. She "knows" that we may not be merged into her reality. Our actions will determine our fate. What a dangerous game we are trapped in. This isn't a dream but a nightmare, regardless how it is presented. A gilded cage is a cage nonetheless.
Lady Genevieve and all of reality is as much a prisoner as we are. My anniversary present to her will be to give her original life back to her - my sacrifice. By the Pattern, we will make things right. Then I will win her back later - on 'our' terms. If it is meant to be, then we will be together.
While in the Library, we check for eavesdroppers again and all is clear. We plan to undo all that Dara has done but it will require the use of the Jewel of Judgment and Rebma's Jewel. Then we search for Random and the others - not to capture them, but to aid them. We decide to begin in the morning.
While we were sitting in the library, I decide to search for the Jewel. I am curious how far in Shadow it may be. I didn't know what to expect and I certainly didn't expect to see Cobalt, of the Broken Pattern, glowing with the energy of the Jewel. The energy courses through his veins and there is no doubt that he is attuned to it as much as I am - maybe more so. There is also no doubt that he has it on him. Why is he not telling us about it, is he planning treachery?
Not one to like surprises, I pull out my Trump deck. Genevieve's Trump is on the top of the deck, where I 'would' expect to keep it. The others are the same as my original deck, with two exceptions. Dara's and Genevieve's Trumps are new and they have the Ourboros serpent design on the back. Not knowing what will happen, I take her Trump and put it in my bowler, next to my important Trumps. I may lose my deck, but not my bowler. The Trump 'may' remain.
Not wanting to tip my hand to Cobalt, I pull out the Trump of Celina, who is across the room. The others ask what I am doing, I tell them I am contacting Flora to see if she is alright in Shadow.
I concentrate on Celina's image until she opens contact. I call out mentally before she can speak and so the others don't hear us. ::Celina - mental contact only, please.::
::Steed here, Celina. There is something troubling me. Cobalt has the Jewel of Judgment. Is there a reason why he is keeping that information from us?::
::Not that I know of.::
::I don't want to suspect trouble, but I thought it best that someone else was alerted. Maybe it's nothing, but the Jewel must be protected at all costs.::
::I know, thanks for the info.:: We break contact and I put my deck away.
"How is she?" Edmund asks.
"Fine, she is waiting to hear word from us later."
It is time to leave. Regis and Thetis Trumps to Rebma to find Rebma's Jewel, and the rest of us Trump to a frozen Shadow. Upon arrival, Fiona greets us. Cobalt announces that he has the Jewel, he feared discovery while in the castle - so he never mentioned it to anyone. I understood and was relieved. He also tells us that Random is safely tucked away in the casino.
We find a quiet place and I take Celina and Edmund into an initiation to the Jewel of Judgment. Once done, we finalize the plans for our mission. Fiona organizes a back up group to cover us, then Trumps us to the Primal Pattern. The rationale is that by using the Primal Pattern, the chances will be better than using one of the other Patterns. Cobalt immediately steps onto and walks the Primal Pattern with the Jewel of Judgment. The plan is to complete walking the Pattern and then activate the Jewel, which should reverse the effects of the Jewel of Dreams.
Almost immediately, Trump portals open around the Pattern. As we thought, Dara was prepared for us. Now we have to hold them off so Cobalt can complete the mission.
All of us join in fighting off the attack. Even the exiled Elders are helping. I take the nearest portal and position myself to catch anything that comes out. A line of demons step through one at a time. I don't want to kill them, just remove the threat; so I concentrate upon the Throne room. I grab each demon and force teleport them there, one at a time as they emerge. Others are busy dealing with the portals in their own style. I focus on the demons until the portal closes. I move on to the next opening portal and repeat the process. Somehow we are keeping up with them.
I hear several people call out over the din that Dara arrived. She 'is' wearing the Jewel of Dreams. I deal with the last demons as the portal closes. Before I can move to act, I see Celina appear behind Dara grabbing the chain that holds the Jewel. She is unable to break it and Dara is turning to attack Celina.
My turn to act. I teleport behind Celina, break the chain, and teleport us a discrete distance away. Celina holds the Jewel of Dreams in her hand and I provide cover for her, looking for another place of safety. I hear Dara howl in frustration. She locates us and prepares a spell. Something particularly nasty, I'm sure. I lost track of where everyone was, but so had Dara. Someone nailed her with a spell, enough to distract her and give Cobalt the time needed to complete his task.
I feel something happening. Cobalt is in the center of the Pattern and is staring into the Jewel, I summon the Sign of the Pattern to see what is happening. Ripples are forming around the Primal Pattern and spreading away from it. Slowly at first, building speed, then the ripples extend through Shadow and beyond in an instant.
Dara screams and convulses on the ground. She lost and 'our' reality returns. Random and the others move in and take control of the situation, no longer the renegades but the rulers of Amber. Only a dozen or so of us will remember what happened, because we were in the center of it.
Random has the Jewel of Judgment again. Thetis has the Rebman Jewel but will have to return it to Moira; now that Rebma is restored. Celina kept the Jewel of Dreams and became it's guardian - unlike the other Jewels, there is no one that it rightfully belongs to. Everything is as it was before Dara's actions.
I let the others deal with the cleanup operation, standard operating procedures for me, unless I need to be involved. In this case there is nothing that requires my presence and nothing of interest to me. The Elders can deal with Dara as they wish, I have no reason to see her punished. Quite the contrary, she has done me a greater favor than I could possibly repay.
We can now return to the Amber we knew and I am glad that things are back to normal. Unfortunately, duty often requires sacrifice and mine is Genevieve - my sacrifice to the crown. Out of curiosity, I check my bowler and find that her Trump is missing. It doesn't matter that Dara's Trump is gone.
The Dream-verse is gone. Everything is gone but the memory of her and she won't remember me. I teleport back to my flat, confirming that everything is as it was before. Not even the smell of her perfume remains.
Some of us are planning a trip to Chaos very soon. We have Random's approval for a leave of absence, for a job well done. Not that I had any doubts - he is more than generous in his appreciation. Others have similar reasons to go, and no one is certain if they will be successful.
I only want to find out for myself, if there is a chance for re-discovery. Like most things in life, it is the attempt and thrill of discovery that matters. If things don't work out, dear Genevieve, at least we had our five minutes and more...
To be continued?
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