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Esprit de Corps

Steed's Tale - "Esprit de Corps" - Chapter 05

Journal of Prince "Major" Jonathan Steed of Amber:
Based on a Scenario by Rain Donaldson
Written by: R. Cal Westray, Jr. in 1996.
Steed's history was written in 1994.

"Extraordinary crimes against the people and the state,
need to be avenged by agents extraordinary..."


Bar
Episode A3-5 - Look (Stop Me if You've Heard This One)
But There Were These Two Fellows 

In which Steed is not quite himself
... and then acquires a drinking problem.

I finally wake up, refreshed. My first instinct is to get back to my body. I get a mental impression that I failed to get back to my body, but I am sent somewhere else.
I find myself in the TARDIS, next to the Doctor. It feels like I am in my own body. Excellent!
The Doctor punches up the external monitor. "It's a long story. Wait and watch, in case you are needed."
"Very well Doctor. It's good to be needed again."
Outside the TARDIS, there is a large number of people approaching the TARDIS from the trees. They seem to be flying and approaching fast. The Doctor pressed a large red button on a key pad; what it is for, I haven't a clue.
On the monitor, I see Rinaldo, holding Kat hostage with a knife. This is not the Luke that I remember. What is happening here? Scout and Corwin are standing near them. I see a young lad I don't recognize, tastefully dressed, sipping tea. I see Creed around a tree. The leaves are shaking in the trees.
"Doctor, what is expected of me? I would like to know how I can help."
"To tell the truth, Steed, we weren't expecting you. We need every good hand we can get; in case something goes wrong. If a certain black blade hits the TARDIS, it would be very bad."
"I've seen the blade before, I can imagine what kind of damage it could do."
Still concentrating on his work, the Doctor says. "We need to stop that from happening."
"I see."
Just then, Kat and Kesa appear in the TARDIS. Shortly Creed appears and knocks another Doctor out, carrying him out. Kesa disappears. Wait a minute, Kat was outside held by Rinaldo. Two Kats and two Doctors? What have I stumbled into?
"K9?" The Doctor looks at Kat.
"Affirmative." There is understanding in his voice.
"Stun the nice Kat."
"Affirmative, master." K9 unleashes a beam and Kat falls.
Creed still at the doorway, turns around. Creed has the unconscious Doctor in one arm and the black blade in the other. He moves into the room. He throws the limp Doctor at the other Doctor, they both fall into a heap. Creed then throws the blade at K9. It splits K9 in half. He scoops up Kat and leaves. The speed of Creed was incredible, it was all fluid in motion and almost a blur.
The black blade burns through the floor and left behind the hilt on the floor.
The Doctor scrambles up and closes the door. The buttons have been scattered around the floor, he begins to gather the buttons. He sees the hilt on the floor by K9 and becomes alarmed. "Oh dear, I think I know where the blade is going."
I look out the monitor, Creed is clear of the TARDIS and the attack has begun. They are wearing Rinaldo's colors. Nothing can be done about them yet. The blade seems to take priority. I pick up the hilt, and run after the Doctor.
"Doctor, where are we going."
"To the Eye of Harmony."
If the Doctor is worried about the black blade hitting the Eye of Harmony, then it must be serious indeed. It is important that the blade is stopped and disposed of.
We stop at one room and see the blade pass through the ceiling and into the floor, diagonally. We move on in a direction the blade is moving.
The Doctor continues. "We will just have to play it by ear. The angle will make it difficult to follow. We will eventually catch up to it. You will have to catch it with the hilt. Are you very skilled at blades and such?"
"Pretty much. I have never found anyone on Shadow Earth who could better me. Of course, that was before Creed turned up there."
"If you see the blade falling, you need to catch it with the handle."
"Can you use the outside of the sheathe for protection? I can use them both. My regenerative abilities are limited, I would like to protect my hands if possible. I could try it with the sheathe and hilt."
The Doctor has an idea. "I will have a special Trump ready to dispose of the blade."
We get to the Eye of Harmony and wait, and wait. More waiting. It should have reached here by now. I have no idea about the layout of the TARDIS, so it may still be passing through rooms.
The Doctor is concerned. "It should have been here by now. One of us should check the blades progress."
"You know your way around here and I need to stay here in case it shows up to catch it. You take the hilt, I will keep the sheathe. I will wait till you get back."
The Doctor leaves and I remain alert and ready. More waiting. Moments later, the Doctor and Creed rush in. Creed has the blade in his hand. One hand is partly gone and the other has cut fingers. I don't see how Creed can take so many injuries in stride. He somehow quickly heals and regenerates. They rush past me. I turn and keep up with them.
"Steed, no time to explain things, we have to get this blade to the containment unit. Then we will do something about Creed's fingers."
"Is the hilt on the blade?"
"No." He is curious about this line of questioning.
"Do you have the hilt?"
"No." Wonderful, this is the other Doctor, not the one I was with to catch the sword.
"Can you put it in the scabbard?"
"It is too long for the scabbard."
"By the way Doctor, how does this containment unit work?"
"It is a slow time dimension, the blade enters and it gets caught in the field."
"Doctor, does it work on the blade itself?"
"It did move through until the hilt reached the field."
"Then, we need to have the blade in something for the field to work on. The hilt must be damaged not to hold the blade and the sheathe may be too short to be effective, even tied tightly. A full sheathe would work the best."
Creed speaks up. "Make a sheathe out of the skin on my leg."
The idea is shocking, it sounds like filleting a fish. The idea of doing it to a human. Well, a Chaosian anyway, sound like vivisection. I withdraw my blade from the brolly. "Would you care to do this yourself?"
"I can't." Creed holds up the blade in what is left of his hands.
"Oh, I was distracted and forgot." I feel foolish and Creed's smile, disturbing in itself, was contagious. I prepare myself for the unpleasant task ahead. The other Doctor appears.
"Doctor, do you still have the hilt? Maybe we can repair it, and then we won't need to perform surgery on Creed.
He hands it to me. I examine it to see why it separated from the blade. It is apparently poorly made. A shame that such a dangerous and powerful weapon had such a shoddy hilt. "I can reconnect it but I need something immune from the effect of the blade to secure it. A narrow bolt or thong to hold it in place through the tang of the blade. You see, on the handle of the blade there is a tang with holes that match up with the hilt. Something safe needs to be used, so it won't come loose in the field."
The Doctor speaks up, the one who came with Creed. "Why don't we just throw it out of the TARDIS and let it sink into the mud."
Creed replies. "I have two problems with that. Number one, we don't know who it will hit falling from the tree. Number two, that gives the opportunity for someone else to find it and bring it back to chop this TARDIS again."
The other Doctor speaks up. "I have an idea. I have a Trump of some place where we can dispose of it." He withdraws it, holding it out and concentrates on it. He instructs Creed. "Put the blade through the portal quick."
As he does so, the Trump is cut in half closing the portal. "Damn. Apparently you need to be in the contact too, Creed." The Doctor gets Duct tape and puts it on the back of the Trump. An interesting idea. "Let's try it again. We both need to be in this contact. I must warn you that the place we are calling is not at all pleasant."
Creed places his hand on the Doctor's shoulder so they are psychically connected. They seem to lack the psyche needed to open the portal again. I reach over and place my hand on the Doctor's other shoulder."
The Doctor looks at me. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
"I am willing to try anything to get rid of this blade."
The Doctor opens the portal. Cold and blackness expands from the gate we opened. This is like a higher order Logrus from Chaos. It chills me to the core of my being. Creed tries again. The blade goes through the portal and disappears. We close the contact. For minutes, I am still shivering. I somehow feel that the universe is safe, for the time being. They need to know that this is only a short respite.
We regroup and head back to the control room. There was a battle we left behind.
The Doctor sighs. "The time lines should regroup themselves and the universe should sort itself out. We need to leave the TARDIS."
I look to the Doctor. "If the realms are converging, I wasn't here when this happened."
"Steed, you should stay in the TARDIS. It should provide some paradox protection. We need to go out and see what happens."
"I will stay in the control room with the damaged K9. Alas poor K9."
The others are outside; I watch through the monitor. It looks like a wildfire has hit the area. Many people have burns of various forms. Shortly, I see two Creeds, but one is badly burned; much worse than anyone else. He may have been the primary target, they seem to be having a little chat. Surely, one of our mages didn't cast a fireball spell. I remember how Blazer looked after getting caught up in his own spell; pretty much like Creed looks now.
Minor battles are scattered around the area. I don't see Rinaldo (Luke), Corwin, Kat, Morganth, Suehprom, Blazer, or the tastefully dressed youth. I see both Doctors talking and one heads back to the TARDIS. The Doctor walks to the Control Room. "I am going to set the controls to leave the area for five minutes and return. Things should sort themselves out then."
I watch to see how he sets the Controls. "Not a problem, as long as I do come back.." I'm sure there is no instruction manual with this contraption. If I don't come back, I am sure I would never figure out how to get it to return.
The Doctor leaves again. I see the two Creeds still having their friendly chat. That is rather disquieting. I don't hear their conversation but they seem to reach an agreement regarding something very important.
The TARDIS whines and I depart. The monitor no longer shows my comrades and their alternate selves. I now have a splendid panoramic view from orbit around wherever we are. The view is breathtaking. The near infinite of space and multitude of stars. The horizon and darkness beyond the planet. The planet below is beautiful, the colors: blue, brown, and green flow together. There are no discernible ocean bodies or land masses, it seems to swirl and mesh. There are two moons, an amazing sight. I hope to get a chance to do this again. Shortly, the TARDIS whines and I return to the same spot. People are gathering around the TARDIS. I wonder if things have been sorted out.
I see one Creed, one Kat, both Doctors are there but one vanishes. The smartly dressed youth is there, along with Corwin who leaves through the trees.
The Doctor says. "We live in an exciting new universe!"
Corwin returns, carrying Blazer. I hear him in the monitor. "I would like to introduce you to another relative. She graciously agreed to watch our friends while this was going on. I am pleased to introduce, my sister Deirdre."
She comes forward carrying someone I recognize from some old portraits in Castle Amber. As I said before, knowledge in important. This individual is Delwin. Delwin and his sister Sand were exiled from Amber long ago. The details are unimportant at the moment, but it was quite scandalous. What part is Delwin playing in all of this?
If we have corrected the time line, we seem to have affected history a bit with Deirdre. Our Deirdre is gone into the Abyss, another long story. How many other changes were made? I see Scout and Morganth among the others.
I step out of the TARDIS to find out what is happening. Creed intercepts me with the smartly dressed young man. "Hey Steed, meet your baby brother!"
I turn to him and smile broadly and shake his hand. Not to appear off guard, I am genuinely curious about this young man. "You are probably my older brother if you are from an earlier time line. I am pleased to meet you, I am Steed, Jonathan Steed."
"I am Gabriel."
"This is interesting, Flora never mentioned another son. I suppose this is another one of those affects we had on this time line?" Gabriel is a rather handsome gentleman with black hair with a reddish tinge and blue gray eyes. He looks like a musician from Shadow Earth. Some chap named Adam Ant. Flashy dressed, in rather good physical shape, even with the feathered hat and revolutionary war suit. I can only guess who the father was. From the facial structure and muscular build...as I told mother before, I thought she had better tastes than that. Well at least Gabriel seems to have turned out all right.
The Doctor speaks up. "Now that the TARDIS is here, shall we go down for a victory celebration?"
"Certainly Doctor, an excellent idea." We move into the TARDIS. I see Deirdre up close. It was so long since I saw her. It was when she was hunted down by Eric's minions. I saw her as I went between Shadow Earth and Amber. Eric thought I was beneath his notice as a youth, he controlled mother and kept her on Shadow Earth tracking and watching Corwin.
Deirdre stayed in the Shadows that separated Amber and Shadow Earth. She waited for Corwin's return. We camped out together on the Shadow fringes of Amber. I kept her up to date on activities in Amber, things she was somewhat aware of from her own contacts closer to home. She told me of what Amber was like before Corwin was exiled from Amber, before the time Oberon vanished, before Eric's aspirations to the throne, and before she was hunted down by Eric.
I could understand Corwin's doting on her. She was exquisitely beautiful, extremely self reliant and self assured, and her personality was primal and sensual. I had to constantly remind my younger self that she was my aunt. She could have any man she wanted, just by expressing her intent. She spent her time between Shadows, waiting for her brother. We continued to encounter each other until my last return to Amber. I learned of her falling into the Abyss, dragged into it by Brand. I was saddened by the loss to Amber. She reminds me of one of my partners on Shadow Earth. I imagine that this Deirdre has no knowledge of my existence.
I greet her. "Hello, my dear. It has been quite some time since we last met. I am Flora's son Steed."
She smiles, but there is no recognition in her eyes. We didn't meet in this time line. Possibly, I wasn't born in this time line. No one has mentioned anything out of the ordinary. Steed, old boy, let's not pursue that topic. I like to think of myself as unique, it doesn't matter if Steeds exist in other Shadows or other timelines. I exist and that is what matters.
Something has been nagging at me since my return from the Jewel. I couldn't return to my body, yet I came here to join the others in a different time line. This feels like my body and I feel mentally myself, with all my own memories. Everything is real, yet something is wrong. I can't put my finger on it. I feel that I can almost grasp the answer, but it is just beyond my reach.
We are directed to the section of the TARDIS where the celebration will commence. Of the traveling companions, all seem to be here except Suehprom. The Doctor arranges quarters, so the guests can freshen up. The dining room is expansive and ornately decorated. It appears to be well stocked and in a short period of time, the Doctor has prepared a feast.
I overhear someone mentioning that Creed is having difficulty with tissue rejection. I offer to help. Maybe my new awareness through the Jewel can help with the problem. He seems reluctant to let anyone help. So, I let it drop.
The food looks and smells incredible. I go to visit a table with cheese and meat trays. I prepare a small plate of assorted meats and cheeses, to sample a variety of items. I suddenly find that I am famished. I realize that I haven't eaten since our time in the Great Hall. That seems ages ago. I sample a mild Cheddar, which was very pleasing to the olfactory senses.
Something is dreadfully wrong, the cheese tastes like molded clay. Is the Doctor having a joke at our expense? The others are eating as if nothing is wrong. I reach for a goblet and pour a sip from a bottle of 1966 Burgundy from Shadow earth of a particularly fine vintage that the Doctor hands to me. It looks splendid and the aroma is exquisite; definitely not tampered with. However, the taste is like vinegar, quite horrid.
My worst nightmare, or nearly so, has come true. Something is wrong with my taste buds. It is time for another self diagnostic. Using my Pattern sense, I focus on what my body needs for sustenance and if there is something wrong with my body. I smell, blood? Not just blood, specific blood. Who's blood? Heightening my awareness around the crowd, I see some ready sources: Corwin, Deirdre, Gabriel, and Scout. Amberite blood, but why? Continuing my self-diagnostics, my Pattern awareness detects something odd about me. I seem to be made up entirely of Pattern energy, resembling flesh. My appearance is real to others as it was to myself.
There is only one explanation. My mind is inhabiting a Pattern ghost, a construct of the Pattern. To be precise, the Jewel of Judgment. I learned about Pattern ghosts in a previous adventure on an alternate Amber Shadow. There was a Pattern ghost named Niles, who was kept alive by his Jewel of Judgment. I thought it was an odd effect from his Shadow, but it apparently happens in our Amber as well. I wonder how the group will take this? I am not certain that I am taking it very well. The mere idea of replacing a good wine or good food with a diet of blood seems rather appalling. However, this is not my true body; as they say 'When in Rome'.
"Oh dear!" I tell the Doctor and assembled guests nearby. "I have apparently come to the conclusion that I am not who I thought I was. I have the mental awareness of Steed, but my body seems to be a Pattern ghost. A construct of the Pattern, made by the Jewel of Judgment."
I walk over to Corwin, at the edge of the group. "Uncle, apparently I am a Pattern ghost."
He looks at me in bewilderment. "What's that?"
"My body was constructed for me by the Jewel of Judgment, so that I may accomplish a mission for it. I just came to this realization because food is not what my body needs for nourishment. It has a need for blood, Amberite blood. You see, my last awareness was that I was sleeping in the Jewel of Judgment."
"That strikes me as a foolish thing to do." He looks at me with an eyebrow raised.
"Without a doubt, but I couldn't return to my body. When I rested and tried again, I woke up here. Now, I realize that this is not my real body and I find that I need Amberite blood to sustain my existence."
Corwin rubs his chin. "Well, I can't say I am looking forward to supporting you for so long. I am happy to have my sister back; so, I don't mind sparing a pint for dinner." The others are curious about what is happening.
He takes out a dagger and nicks his wrist. Blood is dripping into a large crystal goblet.
Creed speaks up. "Steed, you always seemed to have a drinking problem." Talk about understatement.
"I usually prefer my Amber wine chilled. But for now, a warm Amberite red will do. Thank you, Uncle."
Scout and others seem to be put off by this. The ones of Chaosian blood seem to be taking this in stride; their shape shifting and blood magic make me seem quite tame.
Creed looks at Corwin, while the goblet is filling. "Speaking of blood, where do we stand?"
Corwin seems to give it some thought. "Well, I really should kill you now. I will probably regret not doing so. But, it does seem to be a shame to spoil dinner. If you wish, I can extend our truce for as long as we remain in the TARDIS."
Suehprom returns to the hall and greets us all. He sees Creed and asks. "What is he doing here?"
The Doctor reassures him. "It's all right, sit down and have something to eat."
He sits in the farthest available seat from Creed. What has transpired since I have been separated from the group?
Suehprom introduces himself to others he hasn't met yet. Then sits to my right, looking around nervously.
The Doctor decides to relate the tale about what they have been doing. Just then Kat enters the room. She looks at Suehprom and becomes livid, threatening to kill him. Suehprom seems confused about why.
The Doctor looks at Suehprom and says. "You or the other Suehprom, were a bit clumsy earlier when you/he tried to take out the other Creed. You/he put an arrow into the other Kat and killed her."
He looks startled. "What other Creed? I don't understand what the hell you are talking about." He pleas complete ignorance about what happened. He claims that he just appeared here moments ago. He found himself climbing a tree, when moments before he was somewhere else.
Kat and Creed don't accept his story, and she wants his blood. No, I have nothing to do with this. The discussion continues and Kat will only be satisfied by sifting through his brain for the truth. Suehprom is not amenable to having her shuffle through his memories again. I can't say I blame him, I would not want that to happen to me again. I still have no idea what she extracted from me.
They settle down for now and prepare to eat. Suehprom and Kat look at me as though they haven't seen me before. Corwin handed me the goblet and I was getting ready to drink. Suehprom, not to be shy. "Are you drinking blood, Steed?"
"Well." I turn. "Corwin! To your health, and thank you again." I push aside the discomfort at what I am doing and accept what must be done. I taste it. It tastes like salty warm tomato juice. It is having an incredible effect upon my body. Using my Pattern sense, it appears to be strengthening my body and my Pattern abilities. It feels like I'm having a stimulant with a high Protein base. My senses are acute and alert. I turn back to Suehprom and smile. "Nice to see you again."
Suehprom blanches. "Doctor, you have a lot of explaining to do."
He sighs. "Yes, I do."
Deirdre walks in from the guest quarters. She is radiant. She looks the same as I remember her.
Suehprom tries to make an impression with her.
The Doctor breaks through the dim. "Now, shall I tell the tale?"
Suehprom says a disparaging remark about Creed under his breath.
Gabriel speaks up after a long silence. "I would appreciate it if you would not talk about my father that way."
You could have knocked Suehprom over with a feather. "He is you father?"
"Yes, I am Gabriel and that is what I am led to believe."
The Doctor offers Suehprom some turkey. "Or, would you prefer crow?" The Doctor offers a devious smile.
Creed offers. "I think turkey is more appropriate."
I continue to drink. I hope I get back to my own body, I would not like a steady diet of this. I start having flashes of Bela Lugosi. How do vampires tolerate this? Oh, well.
Not to be put off longer, the Doctor begins the tale. "The device you are currently in is the TARDIS, for Time and Relative Dimension in Space. It is a time machine which is connected to all points in space and time. Anyway, we had a minor disagreement with this gentleman." Pointing to Creed. "He took steps which accidentally destroyed this machine and it's power source. Since it is intimately connected to the universe, it pretty much took out the universe at that point."
"Those of us who were there at the time, were thrown back into a different temporal coordinate. We think in a completely different time line. Working together, we managed to regroup everyone to come forward in time to prevent Creed from destroying this machine. When we succeeded, elements of both universes became intermixed. So, the world became changed over night."
"Some of are still in existence, some of us weren't in existence before now, and some of us...well, at any rate that's it in a nutshell."
Suehprom, who consistently tends to complicate things. "How did I go from being in the castle to climbing a tree?"
"When this universe was prevented from destruction, the time lines seem to have splintered. The other you is in that other time line. Probably facing the other Creed after the other Suehprom killed the other Kat."
"I would guess that the other me is not very happy there."
Creed speaks. "The other you is probably buried now."
Kat is concentrating on a Trump and Suehprom seems startled. She is concentrating harder. Suehprom looks like he is trying to block it. At this point, I would be getting a severe headache; I would rather not think about it. Suehprom's cloak disappears and reappears near Kat.
"Doctor! She's trying to get into my brain!" Suehprom is panic stricken.
The Doctor looks put out about this. "Don't squabble during dinner, you two."
I would rather not get in the middle of this. I don't know what effect my body and mind will have on others. I noticed that some people are sitting as far away from Creed as possible and others are avoiding me as well. Suehprom is sitting next to me and plans to drag me into this contact. I avoid his touch. "I don't think it is wise to do that in my current state."
Suehprom looks like he is in a state of panic and pain. The Doctor intervenes, putting his hand on Suehprom's shoulder to mentally aid him. "Please don't do whatever you are doing." The contact seems broken.
Kat says defensively. "I just want to teach him a lesson. Just a little coma for awhile."
The Doctor says. "You might as well go along, you could use the rest."
Creed says. "She just wants to know what he knows about this."
I suspect that they think that Suehprom killed the other Kat and is only feigning ignorance of the situation. His reluctance only feeds their suspicion. I would be reluctant as well, regardless. It is sounding like a school recess and getting quite silly.
The Doctor retrieves the cloak and returns it to Suehprom. Creed is walking around the table to Suehprom. Suehprom quickly leaves the table and evades Creed. He caught a paper airplane that the Doctor made and threw in his direction. He then leaves the room to disappear somewhere in the TARDIS. There is a lot of places to hide here. Hopefully things will settle down for awhile.
The Doctor stands and speaks up. "I don't like guests fighting or psychically controlling each other. Let's sit down and finish dinner. This is the reason, I don't usually have so many guests in the TARDIS."
Corwin grins. "This sort of reminds me of the dinners in Amber."
My turn. "Speaking of which, Doctor, when can we return to our Amber?"
"After the pie." The Doctor looks exasperated.
Creed surprises me. "Personally, I would like to see who is sitting on the throne of Amber. That will determine most of our actions after we find that out."
I offer my tale. "It may help if I relate my tale since I departed. I was called away to find and return a large teardrop shaped ruby, the Jewel of Judgment; also known as the Eye of the Serpent." They look interested. Good, I need to convince them of the importance of my task. "It was being spirited away to Chaos. I appeared where the Jewel was buried. I dug it out and was going to use a Trump of Random to immediately return it to Amber, but I was in contact with the Jewel instead. I went to a place of safety and entered the Jewel. I saw that there was another entity all ready walking the Pattern within the Jewel."
"I had no way of knowing what this entity was up to and what would happen if it accomplished walking the Pattern. I decided to walk the Pattern too. It was a foot race between us. This entity was a stick figure without a head. The race continued and I caught up with it in the Final Veil, we entered it simultaneously. We apparently changed consciousness. This creature was a Ty'iga, a demon who was controlled along with other Ty'igas, by Lady Dara. She planted a geas upon us, the Ty'igas, to protect her son Merlin and aid him in his ascension to the throne of Chaos. The Ty'igas are demons who inhabit other bodies. They have a higher geas upon them to find the Jewel of Judgment. Once found, they are to take it to Chaos."
"I beat the Ty'iga to the end of the Pattern. I used the power of the Jewel to stop the Ty'iga from finishing. I knocked it off the Pattern and out of the Jewel. Since I was in a foot race, I was exhausted and couldn't return to my body. I passed out. Later, I woke and tried again and couldn't return to my body, but I appeared here in the TARDIS."
"Since I don't have my own corporeal body, I have one that was constructed by the Jewel. The Pattern in the Jewel is able to create Pattern ghosts to carry out tasks. I came to this realization when my body craved Amberite blood. My spirit is within this Pattern ghost. I can guess that the Ty'iga is inhabiting my body and taking the Jewel to Chaos."
Creed is interested. "We need to find where your body is."
"That is my next step. Once I get back to Amber, I plan to track it down. Wherever my body is, the Jewel is there too."
Kat is now interested. "Do we need the Jewel to save Luke's wife?"
"Before I was called to find the Jewel, I thought it was safely with Coral. I wasn't worried about it. When I was sent to find the Jewel, I realized that it was taken from Coral. She is in worse shape than I thought. She was beheaded, but she was further violated by jeopardizing the unborn baby's life and the Jewel was ripped from her eye socket. Her chances are slimmer without the Jewel."
Questions arise about who I am talking about. "Coral is the wife of Luke or King Rinaldo of Kashfa. Rinaldo is the son of Brand and was raised in Kashfa by his mother. As Luke, he is the friend of Merlin, Corwin's son. I learned later that Luke and Merlin spent time on Shadow Earth. The same Shadow Earth that Corwin, Flora, the Doctor, and myself were in. We met later and have become good friends, although our allegiances are not entirely in total alignment. I have talked with Luke about Coral, her unborn child, and the Jewel. I am rather fond of them. Coral is quite an intelligent and lovely lady. She has been through a lot and deserved better treatment."
"Oh dear." The Doctor is concerned, but he doesn't know all of it yet. They thought they were safe after saving the TARDIS.
"At this moment, the Ty'iga is using my body to take the Jewel of Judgment to Chaos." I pause to get their attention. "When it reaches Chaos, it will be as catastrophic as the black blade passing through the TARDIS. The bottom line is, as long as Amber retains possession of the Jewel, the balance of power remains intact. If Chaos regains the Eye of the Serpent, it will be the beginning of the downfall of Amber and the surrounding Shadows. Chaos will take over." A gathered hush spreads through the crowd. I can see the anger in Corwin and Deirdre, they share my feelings on this.
The Doctor speaks. "Gentlemen and ladies, are we in agreement that the Jewel of Judgment takes priority here?"
Creed answers. "I suppose so. Do we vote on it? Also, priority over what?"
My turn. I grin deviously. "Over the pie, of course." That helped to lessen the tension. I continue. "One place we can start is to see if my Trump contacts me or the Ty'iga in my body." It is tried and it reaches me instead of the Ty'iga. We can rule out tracking down my artifacts, because I have them as well. I concentrate upon my new awareness of the Jewel, now that I am attuned to it, I should be able to determine its location through that awareness. No luck, it is too far away.
The Doctor asks about Trumps of the Jewel or Ty'iga. No luck there either.
"My body was left at the same place I ended up with the poison from the Dalek. In the Bond Street Pub in the Golden Circle Treaty city."
The Doctor needs coordinates for the TARDIS. Some of us head for the control room.
"I don't have the foggiest idea what coordinates would be used."
"Don't worry, we will find it." The Doctor sets the controls for somewhere around Amber.
Someone appears behind the Doctor. We hear a booming voice from a massive gentleman. "An interesting toy, Doctor, but we are a bit late to go there. I think we need to head straight to Chaos, if we wish to retrieve my Jewel."
The Doctor turns around and sees what looks like Corwin, but much older. "Oh dear."
They haven't seen him before, but I remember him from the many paintings in Castle Amber. It is my grandfather Oberon, Flora's father. This may have far reaching implications in Amber. If he returns and presses his claim to the throne, Random would most likely step down. What would the realm be like then? Right now, Oberon and I are on the quest and I welcome his company in this. He is right, of course. We should go to Chaos and intercept the Ty'iga. If we have to wade through Chaosians, then so be it.
Some of us move to the control room, Oberon does a few things to the controls.
He speaks into the intercom. "I need the rest of you to come to the main control room, you are going on a mission with me to retrieve my Jewel. I am Oberon, King of Amber."
Creed responds. "That doesn't mean anything to me."
"It means that among other things, you will show me the proper respect, then you will live."
Creed presses it. "I would show respect, but I am disrespect."
"Excuse me, while I deal with him. This toy will now take us to Chaos." 
The things I've heard about Oberon, Creed will soon come around or cease to exist. He would also teach Kat a few things in the area of psyche.
Soon, everyone is in the control room, except: Oberon, Creed, and Suehprom. Everyone looks like they are getting sent off to camp during the rainy season. I tell the Doctor. "That's my grandfather. I've never met him before, he has been missing for centuries. When he returned, he died saving Amber during the Patternfall War. I returned after that."
Corwin comments. "The thing I want to know is, which Oberon is it?"
The Doctor asks. "There are more than one?"
I offer. "I think he means, which time line? Our Oberon was dead. Is he from the other time line?" 
He remembers our on going effect upon the time lines. "Oh dear."
Corwin continues. "I suspect he knows he can count on me in a pinch. I know he has always scared the hell out of all his kids."
I add. "Also the grandchildren, if they were intelligent."
The Doctor adds. "Better your parent than mine. Well, does anyone see any problem with Oberon getting the Jewel?"
"Not I, I want to recover the Jewel as much as he does."
Corwin said. "I wouldn't want to keep it from him."
Others feel that they don't know enough about him to offer opinions.
We wait for their return. Suehprom returns rather sheepishly and has another discussion with Kat. The Doctor confirms my suspicion. Kat wants to be sure which Suehprom killed the other Kat. She has decided to take this very personally, since she no longer exists in the other time line.
As I said before, life is much simpler when there is only one of a kind. Well, it would be simpler. I seem to be the only one with an existing double; inhabited by a demon. Stay with me on this, in case you started this journal late. A Ty'iga is inhabiting my body and I am inhabiting a body manufactured by the Jewel of Judgment. A situation I plan to remedy as soon as possible.
I have been in a similar situation like this before on Shadow Earth. The file was entitled "Who's Who???". My partner and I was abducted and a device was used to switch our consciousness with other bodies. If I was conscious at the time, I could have prevented it with the Pattern. They used our bodies to kill other agents. We escaped and trapped them to reverse the process. It was quite disturbing. I was a normal human and Pattern blind, that was the worst part of it. He was a low class individual named Basil. I learned that he actually bit the ends off my Cuban cigars! That barbarian! Anyone who would do that, is capable of anything.
After that experience, being a Pattern ghost is a refreshing change. However, it would be good to enjoy a fine Champagne again.
Suehprom is ever inquisitive. "Steed, a few questions. One, how did Oberon get here? Two, what is he doing here? Three, what does Oberon want us to do?"
"Well, the Oberon from my time line died before I got a chance to meet him. He may have come from the other time line and came through with us. It appears that he has drafted us to recover the Jewel of Judgment for him."
He presses on. "That Pattern that you have, can it detect good or bad Pattern?"
"I am unsure how to answer that. I also wouldn't presume to scan him without his permission."
He won't let up. "Then, ask his permission."
The Doctor shows Suehprom a smoking console. "I tried to scan him once."
"Regardless, he is my grandfather. He has a stronger claim to the Jewel than anyone else, whatever time line he is from. He is recruiting us to go to Chaos to retrieve the Jewel of Judgment. Facing our cousins in Chaos may be extremely dangerous, but also quite necessary. If they get the Jewel, it will destroy the balance between Amber and Chaos." Suehprom may understand a little about the Eye of the Serpent from Chaosian legends. "Once the Eye has been returned to the Serpent, it has won the battle and Chaos will spread everywhere and Amber will fall. King Random has argued with Merlin and Luke about this for quite some time. They felt it was safe with Coral in Kashfa. They didn't expect someone to slaughter her to take the Jewel, although Random expected this."
Suehprom queries. "Where does the Jewel have to be for the scales to be in balance?"
I understand his position, Suehprom is of mixed heritage and would prefer both factions to remain stable; the status quo. "Back in Amber or areas under its protection. Although I personally don't believe in the balance anyway. Chaos should have been destroyed or severely punished for its attacks and intrusions into Amber. However, I know that this is not reasonable."
"That can't happen. Chaos is more organized than Amber is." More discussion continues in this area, old arguments and repeated debates.
Back to the matter at hand. "My goal is to retrieve the Jewel and it happens to coincide with Oberon's goal. He could easily kill any one of us, if we stand in his way; mentally or physically."
We discuss the implications of the merged and splintering time lines. With Gabriel, Deirdre, and Oberon now in our time lines.
Suehprom is curious again. "What can someone do with the Jewel?"
"Someone who is attuned to it, like myself and a number of people, can control weather. They can call down lightning and cause powerful storms. They are able to expand their awareness through it. There are a number of other things I have read about in old tomes from the Amber library, but I haven't had a chance to try anything to be certain of the abilities."
There are some things I do not wish to share. In the tomes, there were accounts of extraordinary abilities. The Jewel may offer protection to the initiate, also drawing strength from the Jewel. When I was in the Jewel, this had happened at the Final Veil. Corwin created his own Pattern with it. There was even an obscure mention of influencing the motion of others. This may by useful, if I get the opportunity to try it. There may be many more uses of the Jewel. There was a warning not to wear it for too long. However, the reasons were vague and the duration and results were not mentioned. Coral had it for quite awhile; possibly it is because it makes you a target, the longer you keep it. I think there is more to it than that. Needless to say, I don't plan to maintain possession.
The Doctor is concerned about going to Chaos. "Oh dear. Chaos, technology doesn't work much there does it?"
Creed makes it to the control room, overhearing the last of our discussion and remarks with disgust. "Oh great!" He is followed in by Oberon.
Suehprom smiles at Creeds irritation. "It depends upon the time of day."
Doctor smirks. "I have a couple of gadgets that might work."
Creed seems to have accepted the situation. "Well, are we going to get the Jewel for good old Obi?" Yes, I believe he has come around. "Obi told me not to fight." Grandfather has affected his mind a bit.
Everyone is together in the control room. It is quite crowded in here. I walk over to Oberon and lay my umbrella at his feet and kneel in front of him. I give him the standard oath of fealty. "Grandfather, I am in your service in the return of the Jewel."
It doesn't matter how the others react to this. Apparently, I am the only person enthused about following Oberon and he isn't affecting my mind. Not even Corwin and Deirdre are excited about his return or following him on the quest. Considering Oberon's personality, I can see how he rubs people the wrong way. However, if you are facing death in battle, he is a superb ally to have at your side.
We will soon be in Chaos. That's when the party begins. One thing I am trying to determine; how do I get rid of the Ty'iga without injuring my body? Possibly, someone with stronger psyche can safely eliminate the bodiless demon. I only hope I regain my body before I have to feed again.

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R. Cal Westray, Jr.
Copyright 2001 [Westray.org].
All rights reserved.
Revised: October 23, 2007 .