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Amber Library

Steed's Tale - "Amber Library"

Journal of Prince "Major" Jonathan Steed of Amber:
Based on an on-going Scenario in the
Amber Library Group.

Compiled and edited by: R. Cal Westray, Jr. in 2003.
Steed's history was written in 1994.

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


Amber Library Group

The cast in order of appearance:

Steed of Amber, son of Flora – as portrayed by Cal Westray

Bishop Tandleslip - as portrayed by Arref Mak

Shlanya, daughter of Sand - as portrayed by Lethran

Dana Darke, daughter of Brand – as portrayed by Dana Darke

Brinna, daughter of Caine – as portrayed by JoAnn Clute Spencer

Xeomagus, as portrayed by xeomagus

Alexander, as portrayed by ntopaa

Allira, daughter of Florimel, as portrayed by G. Romilly Mueller

Erron, son of Locke, as portrayed by John Cantrell

Steed's Story:

Part One

[Steed] In a red-velvet high-backed easy chair sits a gentleman who is reading the current issue of the ‘London Times’. He is perfectly at ease here, as in an exclusive gentlemen’s club. He is dressed in a three-piece tailored black suit, complete with white silk shirt and white carnation. A splash of color is from the tie-tac and cufflinks, amber mounted in silver. These things must be done properly, he thinks to himself, or not done at all. On his left, is a side table where his bowler and brolly rests, always within reach. On his right, is another side table where a large brandy rests.

The Castle Library is fairly quiet, perhaps a little too quiet. It needs a little music, soft music. Perhaps a little companionship would be nice.

This corner of the vast room is his favorite place to reflect and escape the responsibilities of daily life. The smell of old books has always been reassuring to him, even as a child. Setting down the Times, he is somewhat saddened by the recent news, he picks up his glass and drinks to her memory ‘what a wonderful old girl she was’ he thought to himself.

He thinks that he hears the sound of voices near the main doors. This would be a good excuse to get a smoke and to investigate the sounds. He remembers the mahogany desk with a humidor filled with the latest shipment of cigars from Havana. He sets down the Times, picks up the brolly and bowler, rises, and strolls to the desk - past the many rows of bookcases.

[Bishop] The lid of a small wooden box on a dark wood desk in the corner pops upward. A black-furred feline face pushes into view.

The amber eyes blink once. "Oh, excuse me, I couldn't find the door." A sneeze and two cigars tumble out of the box onto the desktop.

[Steed] The humidor within reach, he extends his hand and is startled when the lid flips open and a charming little cat sneezes, spilling a few cigars. The cat looks at him with deep amber eyes and speaks! Amused at the entrance, he smiles warmly to the visitor – narrowing his steel-gray eyes. "Welcome, my furry feline friend!" Unable to resist the jest, he continues. "That’s quite all right; after all, ‘all doorways lead to Amber’. Have we met before? My name is Steed…"

[Bishop] With a small ripple of black velvet form, the large feline pulls itself from the depths of the box and onto the desk. A final roll of the tail resettles the fur. "Steed. You might be John Steed then, the famous son of Florimel of Amber."

The tail almost becomes a question mark in shape.

The eyes blink again. "How pleasant to finally meet you, Steed. While we haven't met before, I have heard of you. A son of Julian, Shapir, mentioned your leadership of a... well, a sensitive mission for the crown some years back."

"Not to allow you to think that Shapir told me particulars, but there was a matter I brought to him, about certain spray-on chemicals, which would seal an object against Trump. He mentioned some experience the two of you shared with a similar problem." The feline settles itself, and the tail sweeps the spilled cigars off the desktop. "But don't let me interrupt your smoking pleasure." The small head nodded at the wooden box of cigars. "You have no fear of my fur as a contaminant, my kind do not shed."

[Steed] "Thanks, but cigars are best enjoyed when the mind isn’t distracted with thoughts of diabolical masterminds." He picks up the cigars from the desk and returns them orderly into the box, pockets one of them, and closes the lid. He tries a smile, but his eyes show worry. "It is a real pleasure to meet you, I rarely get the opportunity to converse with an obviously intelligent cat." With the exception of another traveling companion, a shapeshifter called Kat. "You have me at a disadvantage, my diminutive friend. You have stimulated both my curiosity and my memory. It has been awhile since I worked with Shapir and the others on that mission. They are a wonderful group of people, even for relatives. Shapir may have filled you in on the less sensitive details. It started out as a rescue mission that took a darker turn than we were prepared for."

[The details of which are reported in: https://calwestray.tripod.com/above_top_secret.htm ]

He pauses and rubs his chin in concentration. "I enjoyed working with them all – even Owen." He chuckles to himself at the thought of Owen and their struggle to work together. "If these items are similar in nature, then Trumps are but the tip of the iceberg." He remembers the people on the mission with him: Shapir, Owen, Anthony, Lorien, Mirandel, and Ghostwheel. Merlin recruited them to rescue Jurt and Despil. Random, Merlin, and Ghostwheel coordinated the final cleanup of Shadow Earth. Without Ghostwheel, it would have indeed been an impossible mission, he recalls.

[Shlanya] Shlanya gestures to her traditional Japanese tea set and rice cakes.  "Can I offer you refreshment?"

[Steed] The undercover man is momentarily distracted by the appearance of a lovely young lady dressed in Japanese-style clothing, offering him some refreshment. A genuine smile returns. "Well… Hello, my dear! Thank you, tea sounds wonderful, and yet I wouldn’t turn down something stronger if available." Looking back to the feline. Being a cat person, he suppresses the instinctive urge to reach out and pet it. "I think introductions are in order, then we can discuss options. I think that my calendar has suddenly been wiped clean." He takes the beverage that the lady offers.

[Bishop] The feline ruffles the fur about his neck. "Please allow me. Steed, son of Florimel. This is Shlanya, daughter of Sand, Princess of Edo. Shlanya, this is John Steed."

And the amber eyes watch the two acknowledge each other.

And only later----

"By the way, Steed. While I understand the generic euphemism of 'cat' is the common usage in Amber, I'm sure you'll prefer to use the more correct term of 'feline', or if you wish, 'kit', which is what my own people call themselves."

The whiskers tug into a shape that might be a smile. "You have a reputation for precision, and I would be remiss if I didn't inform you as such."

"I am Bishop, son of Tandleslip. I am not of the Blood of Chaos, or related to those of Amber, but I am a scholar who is studying your family. Discreetly, of course." The black head inclines in a slight nod. "Yes, Shlanya, I would love some tea."
[Steed] The undercover man turns to Shlanya and bows. "Shlanya, I am pleased to meet you, cousin. I can see the resemblance to your mother. She’s a charming lady. Edo… I am not familiar with such a place; perhaps you could tell me about Edo and its residents sometime."

[Shlanya] "I never leave this library, so I only speak to those who come here. If someone has already found this library, it is to late to stop them knowing of it." Shlanya cocks her head. "I am glad you come from an Amber where my Mother is not reviled. In my Amber she was a gracious lady also."

[Steed] He turns and gives a slight bow to Bishop. "Thank you, Bishop. You are absolutely correct, I will use ‘kit’ where general euphemisms are applicable. A visiting scholar studying the family, very interesting. I would be happy to help where possible. I would also like to learn more about the your people, when time permits. A cultural exchange, if you will. Unfortunately that isn’t the reason of your visit, I will help you any way I can."

He surveys the Library. " Outside of present company and Shapir, have you mentioned this to anyone else? I am ‘certain’ that Random and Merlin would be interested in this topic, anyone else should be on a need-to-know only basis. There are those who would destroy endless Shadows for such a tool and I would very much like to avoid that."

[Dana] There is a blast of red energy within the Library and a tall redheaded woman flies through the Library. Not voluntarily. She crashes into a table, and yells when a cup of hot tea is upended and spills on her exposed arm. She swears venomously, then looks up. She smiles slightly, wipes some dirt off of her forehead then stands, making a pitiful attempt at salvaging some kind of dignity. Her brow knits when she sees Brinna in her present condition, then she collapses in a heap, unconscious.

[Steed] The undercover man, already alert, turns to the sound of disturbance and instincts take over. The young woman materialized somewhere from within the Library. There are trace energies of a Teleport, something Steed is very familiar with. However, it wasn’t powered by Pattern usage, the energies are… different. His blade was out of the brolly in a flash. At the sight of the attractive young lady and her undignified landing, he sees that she isn’t bleeding from any obvious injury. He dashes for the area of her arrival to see if an attacker may appear from the same area. Unable to detect one, he sheathes his blade and quickly returns to the unconscious form to see if there are any other injuries to attend to. "No one outside, she must have traveled quite a distance. She is lucky to be alive." Looking at Bishop and Shlanya for some recognition of the lady. Steed comments. "I don’t know who she is, but she knows how to make an entrance."

[Bishop] "She may be experiencing Fugue attack. A power that she has encountered before." The small feline offers this cryptic observation.
[Steed] Multi-coloured quilts are folded on the various pieces of furniture, ideal for elevating her feet and covering her. So, he works with the others to examine her for injuries and treat her for shock. They clear the table, so that it isn’t necessary to move her yet. With the injuries treated, we can only wait until she regains consciousness. He examines her face for some hint of recognition, but can find none – other than a family resemblance. Her features remind him of… Fiona, yet different. He thinks of this redhead and recalls another, very close to him but now so far away in another Shadow. He pulls himself back to the present. "Anyone know who this lady is?"

[Bishop] "Dana of Amber," Bishop tilts his head. He remains silent a moment. "She has been here before, unless this is her evil twin, who has not made an appearance here. Some caution would be advised, as Dana made a point of her twin being a very dangerous person."

He continues in his alto voice. "Dana was certain that she had killed her twin, but in this place, so many possibilities overlap." He looks up at Shlanya and Steed. "You understand what I mean."

"Check her for a pistol. Dana carried one, and without meaning to be presumptive, it might be better to empty it of cartridges until we know that this *is* Dana Dark."

Bishop sighs. "If she were conscious, I could tell you if she was the women that had spoken to me before. With her aura passive like this, I can't tell if it is another 'Dana' entirely."

[Steed] Steed contemplates the meaning of this ‘Fugue attack’ that Bishop referred to. Filing away a note to avoid it, if possible. "Thanks, Bishop. I will check for the pistol. It’s my specialty, although I don’t usually carry them." He shrugs, smiling. "Filthy things, you see. Oil and powder stains are difficult to remove from suits." Something he ‘should’ have noticed when she was checked for injuries. Another discrete frisk locates the weapon. [If indeed it ‘is’ there, he would try to identify the details of the pistol.]

Almost mechanically, the undercover man moves quickly and efficiently. He clears the chamber, releases the clip, removes the bullets, pockets the bullets, replaces the clip, and returns the gun to her holster. An old trick, sneaky, and usually effective. To no one in particular, he says. "Someone who carries guns and wakes up finding out they are disarmed, usually get irritated. They often don’t find out until they try to use it on you." He grins evilly. Those are the kind of surprises that Steed enjoys. It’s occasionally better than to ask forgiveness then ask permission. He pats his pocket, grinning. "Bishop, when you find out she’s on our side, I will return her ammo."

[Bishop] "Excellent," nods Bishop to Steed as the sharply dressed man disables the weapon with simply efficiency, "I have the experience at being shot at, but not very much with the mechanisms themselves. I can see that your expertise is what Shapir, son of Julian, hinted."
[Shlanya] Shlanya quickly jumps up and gets some ice from the bar and makes a compress using a black silk handkerchief. She presses it to the new-comer's burn.

[Bishop] "Splendid," Bishop lays a small paw upon the turned wrist of Dana, "with the unusual recuperative powers of your family, that ice should help with Dana's quick recovery of consciousness. Yes, her pulse is already moving towards normal. I expect to see her open her eyes within a minute or two. Mostly shock to the psyche, rather than energy damage of tissue."

Bishop moves back a bit, stepping around the tea-soaked carpet. He strolls off, making a quick circuit of the library's quarters. A soft word here and there to others who are deep in conversation--but show no sign of interest in the attack on Dana.

Then he is back. "No one else recognized the energy form of the attack on her. So we best wait to ask her when she awakes."
[Steed] Steed sighs in relief. "Thanks Bishop. If Dana were in worse shape, I would attempt to scan and help her with Pattern. But she may become conscious soon and view it as an attack. Pity I didn’t know her before. If she possessed the imprint of the Pattern, I could have verified her identity as well. Oh yes, with the distraction, I forgot. Does anyone else know about you-know-what?"

He smiles at Shlanya. "Thanks, Shlanya, for tending to her burns; something else that I overlooked. Then again, most of my medical training was military field-work, nothing formal. Tell me please. Are we in a Shadow of Amber? If so, I hope my quarters are where they usually are. What is the extent of this place and what is the current state of affairs. Most importantly, is there any more of this delicious tea? We appear to have spilt ours."

[Shlanya] Shlanya looks grim, "She could even be someone else disguised as your Dana.  My husband's 'couch' story suggests that shifters can be almost anything.  There was also that fake Random incident. I agree that precautions are a good idea."

"I wonder how one determines sides?  Are we all on the same side?  What if someone works for what they believe is your best interests, but in a way that is completely contrary to everything you believe?  Side are so complicated in Amber, and even more so in chaos."

[Dana] With a start, Dana's eyes fly open and she looks around frantically for a brief moment, before realizing that someone has tended to her wounds and covered her up. She keeps silent for a moment before sitting up, and immediately regretting it. She sits back in a chair and puts a hand over her eyes. "Wow. Um... I'm sorry if I wrecked your furniture. It was a longshot that I'd..." She checks her pockets, and has a perplexed look on her face. She takes the pistol out, raises an eyebrow, then looks around. "Does anyone have a cigarette?" She puts the pistol down. She picks it up and works the slide. "Hmm. I don't remember firing all...wait a second...if I fired all the bullets, the action would be open. Ah screw it." She pockets the pistol. "I forget my manners. Thank you..."  She raises her wrapped, burned hand and gestures to the blanket. "...for taking care of me. I appreciate it. For those of you who don't know me, I'm Dana. For those of you who do, sorry to crash the party. Did I already say that. I must have a concussion or something."  She sits back and rests for a moment.

[Brinna] Having tried everything she can think of, and established to her own satisfaction that she cannot trace or retrieve the unfortunate Zillah from wherever he is being held, Brinna now turns her attention to matters at hand.

[Note: Brinna stands about 5'8", well-muscled, sturdily built, and deeply tanned.  She has short wavy hair, deep black with just the faintest hint of green highlights in the right light, and large, intense, deep brown eyes.  Her face is usually serious of expression and sports a slight frown, though it vanishes if she's amused, which is fairly often.  Her smile, when it appears, can be merry or a bit sinister, depending on the circumstances.  Her voice is low and a little rough.  She stands solidly, often with her arms crossed or akimbo, her head tilted quizzically, her obstinate nature quite apparent to an observer...as is her unmistakable resemblance to her father, Prince Caine.]

"Dana.  Welcome aboard.  Um.  Are you the Dana I met here before, or the one I now know rather well from elsewhere?" she says, somewhat bemused.

[Bishop] "Both, I would say," offers Bishop, "Or neither, depending on whether you accept Hammenrabi's Uncertainty Principle."

[Steed] The undercover man observes Dana and the young woman who approaches her in greeting, and remembers Shlanya’s words. Steed knows that a healthy dose of suspicion, skepticism, and paranoia is natural for members of his family, and essential in his line of work. The challenge, as he sees it is to determine who is acting in his best interest. i.e. the protection of Amber and the preservation of Shadow – at least those he is familiar with. Thus, on his side. Everyone else is on the other side or neutral. The possibility of shifters entering the mix is more than likely, but even ‘they’ will eventually fall into the three categories. It’s just a matter of time. So, he becomes alert for the use of Power in the area.

He approaches, looking concerned. "Hello Dana. We’ve never met, but my name is Steed, John Steed. My mother is Florimel. Were you attacked and are you all right? We couldn’t find any sign of serious injuries, so you were just treated for shock and burns. We could take you to the infirmary if you desire further treatment."

"Bishop, does she appear to be all right?"

Steed then turns to the young woman, giving a warm smile. "Hello, miss. I don’t recall meeting you before either, and I have an excellent memory for faces, especially family."

[Dana] Recovering somewhat from her entrance, sudden stop and subsequent unconsciousness, she extends a hand to Steed.  "Hello Steed, John Steed. I'm Dana, daughter of Brand."  Then she glances at Brinna and looks down. "Um...I don't know what happened to Vesago. I got blasted out a window. Clive was there though, in some form. I have to find a way back." She looks around. "Does anyone have a cigarette?"

[Bishop] The black feline blinks at the redhead in the chair. "More than all right, Steed. This is the same Dana I spoke to before. Her engrams are settling into familiar patterns, she's shaking off the transition. I think she has proper bona fides."

Bishop raises an eyebrow at Brinna, "Obviously quite recovered, though she wishes to calm her nerves with a tobacco product. This is a better indication than pulse or engram that she is well."

"At least for Dana," he adds.

[Shlanya] "Greetings, Dana.  This is sanctuary, so you have chosen aright."

Shlanya gets a hand rolled cigarette and lighter from a case at the bar and hands them to Dana.

[Steed] "Excellent! Thanks, Bishop." Turning to Dana. "Pleased to meet you Dana, I guessed that you were a granddaughter of Lady Clarissa. May I borrow your pistol for a moment? I will return the ammo to its proper place. I ‘borrowed’ the bullets, until you were well and in control of your faculties. I wasn’t concerned for myself as much as for you and the others."

"Thank you." Steed removes the clip, slips the bullets from his pocket into the clip, slides the clip into the pistol, sets the safety, and palms the gun. Similar to the movements of a stage magician, he opens his hand to show that it has disappeared. Dana would feel the gun being returned to the holster and a slight use of Pattern energies. Steed grins. "A cheap parlor trick, I’ll admit. However, we share a similar ‘talent’. Friends?"

[Shlanya] To Mr. Steed, "Then you are a sibling to one of our true hosts, the Lady Allira."

[Steed] Steed turns to Shlanya, in surprise. "My sister, Lady Allira? Is she here?"

[Shlanya] "She stepped out, but stops in occasionally when her activities allow it.  You cannot miss her.  She is proper where I am violent."  Shlanya gives a smile that shows a few too many teeth.  Turning back to our new guest. "I hope my run-ins with your relatives will not cause problems between us.  While you are here, you should be safe.  One of the rules here is that if anyone breaks sanctuary and attacks, the others aid the attacker's victim."

[Steed] "That’s good to know, Shlanya. I intend to be on my ‘best’ behaviour. Please excuse me, I think that I will go to my quarters, if they are in the same place here, to freshen up, get a change of clothes, and check my stock of wines. I want to look my best when Allira returns. I promise to return with a few bottles, perhaps I could stop in the Great Hall to have some food delivered. I’m getting a little peckish" He nods. "Later, Bishop and ladies…" Steed picks up his bowler and brolly, and heads for the oversized Library doors.

[Bishop] "Be seeing you, Steed," responds Bishop, his tail curling up and over his head in a salute.

[Brinna] Caught between responding to Dana's rather important (to her) information and suddenly recalling where she has heard the name 'John Steed' before, Brinna stands at a point halfway between them for a moment, looking from one to the other in almost comic dismay.  One gets the impression she often finds herself stuck at such an awkward crossroads of circumstance, and has yet to perfect the art of dealing with two crucial situations at once.

Coming to a decision, she calls after the departing agent of the Crown, "Please hurry back, Mr. Steed...we've not properly met, but there is a matter I am anxious to discuss with you nonetheless."

Then she turns to Dana.  "Clive's alive?  Drat...how do I know if you're the right you...never mind, it doesn't matter."  She waves the question away as irrelevant.  "Of course you have to get back.  Do you think the Fount could do it?" 

[Steed] Turning to the attractive, young, and well-tanned lady with short black wavy hair. We are still un-introduced, Steed thinks to himself and grins. "Back in a moment, my dear. You will have my undivided attention. Be seeing you!" Eager to see what is beyond, he opens the oversized doors and steps through...

Part Two

During Steed's absence…

[Xeomagus] As the first kiss of moonlight splays across the window showering the library in another fabulous Amber twilight, something begins to change in the room.. at first it is prickling of apprehension the one recognizes it as a the subtlest trickle of power, as shadow and moonlight begins to coalesces in the corner..

First a deeper darkness, the a flash of shinny mirror.. and forward steps a Figure wrapped from head to toe in volumes of black cloth that stirs and ripples hanging in an invisible and unfelt wind, the black cloth seems to contain depth and inky blackness the color of unstarred midnight drips from it fading to gray mist just before touching the floor.. this fog makes a hazy outline around the strange figure.. and one could swear they saw the occasional glimmer of stars in the strange black cloth.. Only his face seems uncovered by the blackness. and that is yet the oddest of sights. For over his face is a mirrored mask of a young man, the mirror is almost transparent and just beneath the surface one can see hundreds and thousands of gears like the inside of a watch turning and clicking and whirring as here and there runnels of glittering silver sand are piped around behind the surface of the mask, making fine veins or perhaps circuits, occasionally the mask will go all mirrored as if little panels snapped into place within.. Mirrored once instant opaque the next then nearly see through before going back to its strange half state. Where the eyes should be there is only pools of blackness that show a glimmer of icy light in their depths. The long lithe figure begins to flow into the room his strange black shroud slipping over the contents of the room around him as if the hands of a thousand curious children touched and probed them... 'ThIS plAcE? WhAt.. wHErE? sO StRaNgE... To SOlId... eVeRy THIng.. S..Ol.Id and DiM.. SO dIM...' the strange voice is soft yet almost seems a chorus of soft voices like an echo effect coming from a distant watery place.. a place with out hard edges and lines. the voice emanates from all around the figure with no defined point of utterance.

[Shlanya] A lithe Eurasian woman dressed in a simple black silk gi bows to you, "Greetings far traveler. Welcome to the library, a Shadow of the Great Library of Amber. All are welcome here no matter what their origin. This place is a Sanctuary for any who wish to partake of it's hospitality. Would you like tea, or something stronger?"

[Xeomagus] The black shrouded Figure almost seems to cringe the strange voice issue forth from around it once more 'AmBEr.. nO.. toO dIm To sOlid... tOo SHARp' a spindle of probing cloth pulls back from the well defined edge of one of the tables.. 'nOt AmBEr! mOrPheus of AmBEr.. dWorkIn whAt haVE YOu dOne....' the figure turns its blank masked face about the the black dripping cloth trailing behind the scared almost darting creature.. the volumes of cloth seem to shrink making him look almost small.. a moaning sound issues from it. ' nO No nO, mUst bE wORld BEloW... fiRe cOming dAngEr! fIre iN sKy wORld bEloW!' it then lifts its face upward 'dWorkIn wHat hAVe yAe DoooOOne to mE! tHis iS nOt pLaCe' The gliding black figure moves toward Shlanya and moves so she is between him and the window 'sHelTeR laDy oF SaNcTUaRy, DaAngER cOmE... PrOtEct! bURning In sKy' the mask goes fully mirrored and the youthful molded features seem to almost twitch as the mask is turned this way and that glancing around in a scared fretting.

[Shlanya] "This place was not made by Dworkin. So far the sort of people who were apt to make trouble haven't found this place. This is a Sanctuary. You are granted it, and welcome to stay as long as you wish as long as you harm no one else."

[Brinna] Brinna sighs, watching the peculiar newcomer with an air of long-suffering amusement, though not without a certain sympathy also. "This is what happens when one becomes too enamored of one's own special effects. I'd say something stronger than tea is in order. Calm down, kid...anybody who tried to come after you with dastardly intentions in here, would find themselves up against a unique and no doubt spectacular array of defensive measures."

She chuckles, a trifle nervously, wondering just what *would* happen if several incompatible flavors of Pattern and Logrus (plus whatever third-party power sources) suddenly went off simultaneously in the same place.

[Dana] Startled in her corner, (How many corners does this place have, anyway?) Dana prepares to unleash an electromagnetic pulse on the newcomer, but halts, after realizing that it is not one of the servants of Averell, or even the Fuguemaster himself. Itself. She settles for accessing her father's Pattern, just to make sure it still works here. She considers using magesight to see what this newcomer is like...magically, but discards that rude option in favor of lighting a cigarette and watching, silently.

[Shlanya] "I fact, I would not like to be standing too close to anyone intending to make trouble here. Combining pattern and Logrus tends to make big explosions. In any case, this place is outside of time and is a crossroads between multiple Ambers and multiple Chaoses. It is hard to find for those not properly aligned."

[Brinna] "Right, what she said. So what's your name, friend?" Brinna sits down backward in a chair, resting her chin on her crossed arms and regarding the stranger with interest.

[Alexander] Into the library enter a thin and lithe man, stepping gracefully. He wears simple, earthen clothing. He is thin, almost delicate of features - with brown, slanted eyes and short, black hair. On earth, he could easily blend in any Asian crowd.

His gaze passes over the room, admiring the packed bookshelves and elegant decor – and looking for people.

"Good morning," he says, in a slightly hoarse baritone. "My name is Alexander," he adds, smiling pleasantly. "Is this the Amberlibrary?"

[Allira] A slight blond woman in a midnight blue silk dress cut in the style of Colonial America says from behind him,

"Well, it's *an* Amber Library. If you're looking for the main castle, you've come to the wrong place. We felt we needed somewhere to meet and just chat... hence, this place."

She smiles an open, warm smile and extends her right hand to you. "Welcome. I'm Allira. Just re-arriving myself."

[Shlanya] A athletically built Eurasian woman in black silk ceases doing kata and walks over. "It is also a convenient home for those who belong nowhere else.

[Alexander] "Hello Allira," Alexander smiles and shakes the offered hand. "Pleased to meet you. I was not looking for the castle's library, so I'm fine, thank you."

He looks around, somewhat curios "Tell me, if this is a place to chat - why is this a library? What's in these books?" he squints at the bookshelves on the furthest wall, "Those ARE books, right?"

Alexander, who was talking to Allira, turns to the woman, and automatically bows a little, in the Japanese style.

"Fitting, then, that I have found my way here." He smiles, pleasantly. "Allow me to introduce myself - Alexander of Amber."

[Allira] Allira smiles and laughs quietly, as though she hadn't thought of the question before. "Habit, I suppose. At home the elders always got together in the library. My generation always seemed to congregate in my suite of rooms, but it didn't seem appropriate to recreate that so... publicly. So Carroll built the library for me."

[Shlanya] "Oh I can assure you they are books. I've read quite a few since I've been here. After all, I have no where else to go and nothing much better to do." Shlanya begins stretching and balance exercises. This graceful process is automatic. She has done this sequence so often over the years that she no longer notices she is doing it."

[Dana] A few moments later, a bemused voice carries over his way from somewhere among the stacks: "Alexander, you say?"

The voice is followed by a striking woman who might well be Caine's female incarnation, dressed in what appears to be seagoing work gear. "We should institute a cross-universal law," she says with a slightly mischievous smile. "No more Alexanders. We've got three where I come from alone, and I keep hearing rumors of more-- supposedly there's even one out there who styles himself the Duke of Tir-Na Nog'th. I hereby dub you Alexander Number Twelve, to avoid confusion."

[Alexander] Alexander smiles at Allira, nodding Shlanya.

"So those are books, and this is the library created by Carrol. Who is Carrol?"

When Brinna addresses him, he turns towards her, and listens to the short speech, somewhat in wonderment. When she is done, he smiles back, and shrugs.

"MMM... So Alexanders come by the dozens? hhhmmmm... well, no worry: wisecracker come by the thousands - or at least a dime a dozen, so I feel sufficiently unique."

He bows slightly. "And speaking of names, my I inquire as to yours, Madam?"

He turns to Shlanya, practicing her movements. "And yours, Madam, please. I seamed to have missed it somehow."

[Shlanya] "I am just Shlanya now. I used to have titles. I was married to an ex-Lord of Hendrake for a while. We may even be still married." She shrugs.

[Brinna] "I'm Brinna, of no title to speak of. As for Carrol, he is Lady Allira's charming co-host, who appears in this place from time to time. I expect he'll come by to greet you personally if you stick around long enough, along with any number of other colorful personalities." Eschewing several nearby chairs, Brinna plops down comfortably cross-legged on the floor, looking around the room. "Speaking of which, I wonder where that Steed fellow has gotten to. He had some intriguing questions and observations."

Part Three

[Steed] As if on queue, the heavy oaken doors of the Library swing open.

There are glass and metal rattling sounds that preceed the entrance of an English trolly tea cart. It rolled into the Library, pushed by a tallish English gentleman wearing an immaculate black silk suit, bowler, and brolly (hanging on his wrist). The cart contained all the necessary material for a thoroughly complete British tea. It also had a silver bucket filled with ice and bottles of Champagne, on the lower shelf of the cart.

Smiling, he greets the current residents of the Amber Library. "Greetings! What a marvelously fascinating Shadow this is!" Steed parked the cart near the serving table, where beverages and food are kept available for the visitors.

He noticed the stares at the tea cart. "Oh this? I would be remiss, if I didn't provide some refreshment upon my return. The charming kitchen staff in the Great Hall was very helpful, very helpful indeed. Anyone for tea and cakes? I brought some chilled champagne for later, from my private stock, of course."

The undercover man picks up a steaming teapot, pours a cup, and drops in a small lemon wedge. "Have I missed anything?" He then stirs the tea anti-clockwise. Steed turned and smiled at the attractive, young, and well-tanned lady with short black wavy hair. "Oh yes, pardon me. Hello Lady Brinna, I recall that there was something you wished to discuss. I am now completely at your service, how do you like your tea?"

[Brinna] "Black, thanks, without embellishment." She accepts a cup, sips it pensively for a moment, and sets it down next to her. "Well, it's just this, sir. Someone mentioned the name Steed to me in passing a long while back, and I am wondering whether you might be the person he spoke of. If you are, then I owe you a tremendous debt, and I'd like to thank you properly. The problem is that I'm not sure whether it's something I am permitted to inquire about. I came away with the impression that that whole business had been rather hush-hush."

[Shlanya] Shlanya raises an inquisitive eyebrow.

[Steed] The undercover man takes a seat next to Brinna and sips the tea. His mood changes, he grins slightly but becomes more serious. "Lady Brinna, there ‘may’ be other Shadows of myself, so I wouldn’t presume to accept credit or blame for the act of my Shadows." He sits the cup down, next to hers. He then makes eye contact with Brinna, which may be a risk among our family but he wants to show his sincerity. "Like others in our family, I have been on many missions and cases for the crown of Amber. Secrets are valueless or expensive commodities. Over time, secrets are exposed and become worthless to all parties – or - they become a lifetime burden, keeping them safely hidden away."

He pauses and looks at Shlanya, smiling. "The ‘secret’ is to know which is which, and what is best for the safety of the realms. Having said that, if you can give me a ‘hint’ about the nature of the mission, I ‘may’ be able to clarify things, and tell you what I can."

He picks up the cup, takes a sip, and leans back in the chair - smiling that the temperature of the tea is now perfect.

[Brinna] Brinna nods, with a slight, thoughtful frown. "Well, this place has shown us that certain people do seem to have analogues from one reality to the next. So if it wasn't you, perhaps it might have been a counterpart of yours. I meet enough cousins back home every day that I had never met nor heard of before."

She shifts slightly, considering how best to put the question. "I was told only a few, very vague details. But I know it took place in the vicinity of the Earth Shadows. Two brothers, members of the Chaosian Court, had stumbled into a very hazardous situation while on an errand for the Crown. For whatever reason, a man named Steed led an Amberite rescue party--at some risk to their own safety--to find them and get them out. Does that ring any bells?"
[Steed] Steed glances up at Shlanya and grins, knowing that she has already heard enough details to know what Brinna is referring to. "My Lady, this may take awhile. Mind if I get a cigar?" He looks around for the cigar box, which is at a nearby table. Crossing over to the table, he raps his fingers on the lid, opens it, takes one, and closes the lid again. He raps again. "Bishop, old boy. You're needed!" No immediate response, so he returns to the chair.

"Oh well, perhaps he's just 'Kit-napping' somewhere." Amused with himself, he sits and rolls the cigar in his fingers, occasionally sniffing the tobacco and evaluating the quality of the leaf. "Nice cigars, they have here, from a Shadow of Havana most likely. There is this place I know, where they have beautiful young ladies roll the cigars on their outer thighs. You could tell who wrapped which cigar by the perfume that the tobacco leafs absorbed..." He pulls himself back to the discussion at hand. "Now, I believe you are referring to an incident where Merlin's brothers were captured by some rogue agency on Shadow Earth. To be precise, the Shadow Earth that Corwin was exiled to, Random and my Mother dallied in, Merlin later went to, and the one that I grew up on." He pauses for effect. "It seems to be a place that attracts members of our family. Yes, I am guilty as charged."

He leaned back in the chair. "A team of us were recruited to rescue Jurt and Despil from an organization who were investigating and gathering data about Amberites and Chaosians. They 'somehow' got the idea that we were alien invaders from another world and treated the poor brothers like some 'greys' in Area 51. Vivisection is a nasty business, especially on a 'live' shape-shifter. If we couldn't contain this agency, rescue the brothers, and protect the families; the next step would have been to destroy the Shadow entirely. Merlin and Random would have felt bad about it, but that is what would have happened. The population on Shadow Earth will never know how 'close' it came to that. And since it was my 'home', I thought it best to preserve the Shadow and just remove the threat. I am very fond of the place and the people. With the exception of that nasty lot. We rescued the brothers, shut down the agency, and recovered everything that they had on us. I hope 'all' the tracks are covered, I still go there on occasion. In the end, Merlin was given 'custody' of the diabolical mastermind behind the operation. Despite what they did to his brothers, he may 'still' be alive - or just barely." The thought of it sent a chill down his spine.

"As Shlanya is aware, I was discussing this very case with Bishop earlier. The case is no longer classified. However, there are details regarding 'artifacts' that this agency developed, that are better left not known about. I hope this has clarified some things. Do you have any specific questions?"

[Brinna] Sometime during Steed's account, Brinna's face has gone absolutely bloodless. She stares at him in shock through the latter half of the story, giving the impression of someone who has just learned something appalling and now wishes she could un-learn it in short order.

"V-vivisection?" she repeats faintly after he has finished. She starts to go on, stops, repeats this sequence a couple of times, and finally gives up the attempt with an impatient shake of her head.

Instead, she takes out her Trump deck, and begins to go through her cards.

"I don't think I have ever introduced myself to you properly, Mr. Steed," she says finally in a very low voice. "Or told anyone else here, come to think of it, since the last time I visited. I'm Brinna of Amber, daughter of Caine--"

She hands him three Trump cards. The backs bear an insignia very like the standard Amber Unicorn, but a moment's examination shows that it is actually a horned hippocampus.

"--but my married name is Sawall," she finishes.

[Note: all three cards appear to be the work of the same person. The first is a candid portrait of Despil, looking almost boyish with his hair slightly tousled and a mildly bemused smile on his face. The other two are half-finished studies of two infants, about seven months old; a boy and a girl, both with dark hair and eerily alert, thoughtful expressions. There is an unmistakable family resemblance between the three--and also between the two children, and Brinna herself.]

[Steed] Oh dear... Realizing Lady Brinna's distress, Steed grew very concerned. He realized that he had given too much information, too soon, not knowing her connection to Despil and Jurt. Despil received the worse treatment by the agency and was long in recovery.

For him, this was nearly ancient history, but the details of the mission may have been intentionally kept from her - but for how long? "Lady Brinna, I didn't realize... I thought you knew... I..." He pauses, uncertain what to say.

"I'm an adopted member of the Sawall House, that is one reason why I was chosen for the mission by Merlin. He wanted only those close to the House to be involved. Afterwards, I checked on Despil's recovery frequently and it seemed to take a very long time, even for a shape-shifter. But I never knew of a marriage, and dear old Hershall never mentioned it. [Note: He's a long and trusted diplomat, advisor, and counselor of the Sawall House - and Steed's main contact to the House.] Perhaps you could tell me what you knew about the incident, were you married before or after?"

[Brinna] "Long before," she murmurs. "We were only married recently. And I suspect we may in fact be dealing with a mirror situation, as I know of no one in House Sawall called Hershall, and we made no attempt to keep our marriage secret. Nonetheless, it does give me a possible clue as to why my husband is so reluctant to speak of the incident. He had told me only that he had been in grave danger, and owed his life to this Steed and his companions. So I thank you for the information."

She smiles faintly. "And if the Despil of your world is anything like mine, then you have my gratitude for the rescue as well, on general principle."

[Shlanya] To Brinna, "We seem to have much in common. My married name is Hendrake. Of course, I've never been to the Courts because of the arson. My husband stepped down as Lord of his house a little too enthusiastically and the current Lord never really forgave him."

[Allira] From the wing-backed chair you hear Allira's ringing laugh. "Enthusiastically is a bit of an understatement, dear cousin. My brother did, after all, torch the main Ways to the ground." She becomes pensive and takes up her embroidery, almost as if she needs something to do with her hands to keep them from broadcasting her mood.

[Brinna] Brinna chuckles softly, recovering her equilibrium quickly. "Hendrake. Well, if you ever do visit, I suspect you'll be in for a very interesting time. The Hendrakes I know always seem to be mixed up in some sort of trouble, whether it be climbing the Spire of the Thelbane without a safety line as a test of courage--while stinking drunk, I might add--or getting sent to the Ninth Level of Hell as revenge for a marriage gone sour, and promptly conquering the entire Circle." She shakes her head. "Here I meant to rescue the great bloody idiot, and found him running the place..."

[Shlanya] To Brinna, "That sounds about right. My husband never lacked for bravery or a love for risk and drama. It was over other things that we parted. I am grateful we had no children. With our combined lineage and personality, the poor things would have never made it to adulthood."

[Brinna] "Well," Brinna says, collecting her Trumps back from Steed and regarding the unfinished portraits of the twins fondly, "there are those who have predicted that mixing the bloodlines of Caine of Amber and Lady Dara Sawall would be a recipe for disaster. So far, so good, but we shall see. As long as they don't take after any of their uncles, they *should* turn out all right." She grimaces humorously.

[Steed] To Brinna, he says. "Thank you, my Lady, and just getting to meet you is reward enough. I imagine we may indeed be dealing with a mirror situation."

To Shlanya he says. "The politics of the Chaosian Houses is very complex; it is the life blood of many and an art form to others. I try to avoid it, for my own survival."

Turning back to Brinna, he continues. "You ‘should’ know that the Despil I know is very brave and selfless, as I’m sure your Despil is as well. When they were captured by the locals, Jurt got angry and began shifting to attack and escape. The locals freaked out and began shooting at them. Despil jumped in front of Jurt and took the majority of the bullets for his brother. Jurt was shot as well, but they were minor injuries. Grave danger summed it up pretty well. Despil is an incredible lad, a survivor and a fighter, and I like them both. But then again, I am partial, being near brothers."

[Brinna] "That would be very like him," Brinna says with a smile composed of equal parts fondness and exasperation. "My White Knight..."

He tries to lighten the mood and change the subject a bit. "By the way, it’s a pity you never got to meet Hershall. I met him when I was adopted into the House in a cultural exchange program after the Patternfall War. Hershall was the House advisor and servant then, but he is now the current Ambassador of the Sawall House. Hershall is one of the old blood of Chaos, a charming gentleman who feels comfortable in any social environment. He is ‘almost’ British. His daughter Silke was rescued in a mission I was in, involving the House during that time. Silke and her husband were happy to be reunited. As a result, Silke named her son after me, a godson after a fashion. Steed Sawell, imagine that!" He sits back in the chair and finishes his tea. "Hershall is a very happy grandfather!"

"I am quite taken by young Steed, he calls me Uncle. I even taught him the art of horsemanship, he is an incredible young lad; a natural horseman. One of his chosen forms became an Andelusian stallion. His human form closely resembles me, but with silver hair and silver eyes, very striking and handsome." He pulls out a Trump to show them, like a proud Uncle would. "His demon form includes a silver mane with many equine features. He is the most terrifying demon horseman one could possibly imagine. I am quite 'proud' of him, quite proud indeed. He is ready to become a Logrus initiate very soon and I have been invited to attend. I’ve been told that those with Pattern are not permitted to be an observer, but Merlin overrode any protests, vouching for me. I think it will be a fascinating experience." He pours another cup of tea for himself. "Would you care for another cup?"

[Brinna] "Well. As I've said before, the Sawall family is something special. That seems to be true in most worlds--though apparently what sort of 'something' varies from one reality, and individual, to the next."

Part Four

[Erron] The familiar rainbow effect marking a trump arrival appeared in the far corner of the library. A tall man with dark hair appears from the shadows. The man is about 6 foot 2 inches and has dark piercing eyes. This man was a natural fighter, he wore a well cared for rapier. Dressed in dark gray he looked about studying all those in the library. The man took a breath and started to speak with a voice that demanded to be obeyed, a natural leader. "I am Erron Barimen, son of Locke, the son of Dworkin. I am pleased to be in Amber and I hope to be on friendly terms here."

[Steed] The English gentleman sat in a chair that faced the oversized doors, sipped his tea, and noticed the familiar rainbow shimmer - one that announced the opening of a Trump portal within the Library. It has been awhile since he has had to use that 'particular' method of conveyance, thank Dworkin. The gentleman glanced upward briefly, enough to appraise the visitor, Erron - then returned his gaze to the women in his presence. He recalled that the conversation had been broken awhile ago and he was waiting for the next topic to begin. Aware of Erron, but not particularly on guard - especially in this place. Any sign of violence here would be dealt with by those who control this Shadow. However, if help would be needed to defend this Sanctuary, he would be there to do so.

This Erron Barimen seemed to be someone who was used to being obeyed implicitly, "I'm afraid he will be sorely disappointed here," he amusingly thought to himself. The gentleman noticed that the visitor's weapon of choice was a rapier, where his was a sabre - kept well hidden until needed.

He sat his cup down and arose from the chair. He faced the stranger, bowed slightly, and offered his hand. "Welcome, Erron, to this Sanctuary. I am Steed, son of Florimel. The Champagne should be sufficiently chilled, if you would care for a glass. Or perhaps some tea may be more to your liking. Perhaps you can favor us with a tale from the version of Amber you hail from."

[Note: Erron would notice that the tallish (same height as Erron) slender gentleman wears a black tailor-made silk suit - has dark auburn hair and steel gray eyes. The black tie has an amber stone tie-tac and his sleeves sport matching amber stone cufflinks. He was sipping tea and holding an unlit cigar in his left hand. On a table nearby is his matching bowler and brolly. The handle on the brolly is a bamboo cane style and the brolly sheathe is tightly wrapped, appearing that is has never been opened. There are attractive women sitting nearby and they seem to have been in conversation, until distracted by Erron's arrival. Other people are scattered throughout the Library, minding their affairs.]

[Erron] Erron takes a look at Steed. "This is a man that is dangerous," thought Erron. Still he found himself drawn to this man. Perhaps this is a person that he could befriend, or at least not hate.

"Thank you for the offer Steed. Perhaps I will have a glass of champagne later. I hail from the Courts. I am Lord of the House Barimen, which you are all part of." Erron says with a smile. "I think that you are fine here in Amber though. I was serving King Merlin and he suggested that I may wish to see my distant cousins, I was happy to oblige. I also have a set of trade treaties for King Random."

Erron then moved with ease to a chair next to the champagne, and poured himself a drink. "Things are different here. The Courts are filled with protocol. I think I will like it here in Amber. Now I need a room," he thought to himself. With his glass in hand Erron sat down to listen to his distant kin and to begin to learn about Amber.

[Shlanya] Shylanya chokes on her green tea when Erron announces he stands for Bariman. She takes a moment to compose herself.

[Allira] A blonde woman sitting in an overstuffed straight chair before a needlework stand chokes quietly on the glass of wine she was sipping. Then she recovers, sets it aside and stands gracefully. Her wide 18th century style skirts deftly avoid the needlework, the chairs and everyone's legs as she walks over to you with a smile and extends her hand.

"Allira, daughter of Florimel. You are welcome here, Erron. Though I must warn you that even those here who acknowledge House Barimen may not acknowledge you as its Lord. You see, you aren't really in Amber proper. You've arrived at our Library, which was created to give the "younger" generation a place to meet..." Her voice trails off slightly, then she continues.

"It seems to have been more successful than either I or Lord Carroll, who is, in my world Lord Barimen, had expected. Here you will find people from many different Ambers... all apparently as Real as the other. You may find strange parallels, or strange divergences from Home as you know it."

"An example," she adds with a smile. "In Our Courts, Merlin is NOT on the throne. And I'm afraid my brother burned the Ways of Hendrake to the ground..."

[Brinna] "Say, can I borrow him briefly? There's a wing of Hendrake in my reality that seriously needs to be torched, before it sends anyone else to the Hells, accidentally or otherwise," puts in the dark- haired, dark-eyed woman sitting near Steed. She seems to be joking...more or less.

To Erron, she then says, "As for Merlin, he's my brother-in-law, or one of him is, and the House of Barimen is exiled to Amber. My husband and I have taken over their Ways, at Merlin's request." She pauses, eyeing Erron with a slight, speculative smile. "Hmm. I might need to have a few words with you in private, later on. We found some truly bizarre items in the basement. But for now, take a load off and tell us more about your homeland." She gestures toward the nearest empty chair. "Oh. My name's Brinna, by the way."

[Note] Incidentally, though I have been lax in saying anything about it-- whenever there's a really long lapse in posting (as in months with no activity in the Library) assume that Brinna has quietly excused herself and exited the Library, or at least wandered off into the stacks, to reappear when things pick up again. She just isn't the type to sit in silence for very long.

[Shlanya] I am not aware of Lord Darren's current whereabouts, nor I do I wish to be. Ironically, he was not the man I thought him when we married.

When Brinna announces she has taken over the ways of Barriman, Shlanya chokes again, but recovers more quickly.

[Shlanya] An athletic woman in a simple black silk gi greets Erron, "all are welcome here who keep the peace. I am Shlanya."

[Dana Darke] Ominously, one of the large wooden bookcases (and calling it a mere bookcase hardly does justice to the 900 lb masterpiece that holds some quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore) begins to creak and groan. Finally, with a burst of energy that some might recognize as coming from a peculiar Keep where four Shadows are joined, the bookcase shatters, and the masterpiece is unfortunately destroyed. Spell-protected, the books merely fly on different vectors, hitting various objects and/or careless people. When the energy sphere has faded, a familiar redhead is standing in the wreckage of the bookcase. She is wearing black paratrooper pants and a torn jacket which was probably taken from the same person. She stands around six feet tall and she smiles triumphantly. "Ha. Thought I could get here." She looks down at the wreckage...typical for her...and sheepishly looks over to Allira. "Um...sorry about the mess." Dana has returned.

[Allira] Allira smiles. "No one can say you don't know how to make an entrance, Dana. You might want to move over a bit, though." She then extends one arm, gestures gently with it and the 900 pound monstrosity pulls itself back together, the books flying back along the same vectors to replace themselves on the shelves. She glances quickly about the room. "There. That's better. No one hurt, I presume?"

[Brinna] Having shaken the dust out of her hair, Brinna seemed about to make some remark she considered witty; but instead caught sight of Dana, and is now standing frozen in shock, staring at her. This just seems to be her day for unnerving developments of one kind or another.

[Bishop Tandleslip] Atop the repaired bookcase, comes a sneeze in an alto register. A large black cat pushes itself to its feet from the very top surface.

"Am I mistaken, or was this library supposed to be a place of peace and good cheer? How is one to kit-nap hereabouts if..." The amber eyes peer over the height, fixing on Allira and Dana, Steed and the others. One quick glance at the redhead Dana, and the feline adds, "Oh, Dana... "

He sighs. "No, Allira, no one hurt." He sneezes again and resettles on top of the case out of sight.

[Steed] Steed observed the interaction with the current party. He is focused on the quality of the Champagne, but listening intently on the conversations.

He heard and saw the bookcase explode; and for that instant, his instincts overrode his usually solid composure. His body became transparent, and a massive tome passed through him, until he stopped the teleport that his instincts activated. 'What an odd thing.' he thought to himself. Most people wouldn't have noticed this happening, because they were busy reacting in much the same way; themselves trying to avoid getting hit by the debris.

Steed smiled, seeing it was Dana and no actual attack. She does seem to have a knack for spectacular entrances.

Allira reassembled the bookcase and Steed made certain he wasn't in the path of the reassembling items. He smiled. "No harm done and not a drop was spilled. Nicely done, Allira."

[Steed] "Erron, as you can see, we each have come from a different version of Amber. It can get confusing, but it will all sort itself out... eventually. My version of Amber is closest to that of Brinna's, but is 'still' not the same. In mine, Merlin holds the Houses of Chaos together and the Barimen House is held by Florimel through Random - the reigning king of Amber. Florimel coordinates the political communications between Merlin and Random. Occasionally, I am summoned to 'assist or troubleshoot' in matters involving either Court."

[Steed] "Erron, I have never heard of you or your father Locke. And by your reactions, there may not be a Shadow of myself in yours."

[Steed] "Although Allira is my sister, the Allira I know is but a Shadow of our host - yet both have the same beauty and charm of our mother. Contrariwise, the Steed she knows, is a Shadow of myself. Few others here have heard of me, and I them."

[Steed] To Dana. "Is all well? You appear to be in better shape this time, compared to your last arrival."

[Shlanya] "Dana, try not to be so hard on the furniture."

[Erron] Erron, Lord Barimen looks about and raises his voice politely above the others in a courtly manner. "Thank you all for the warm welcome and the champagne is marvelous. I believe that I will like it here in the library and while I found this by accident I will certainly enjoy it."

Erron takes a look around, "But alas I have orders from his Majesty king Merlin, so I must be on my way. I will make sure that I will be stopping in from time to time. To quote a wise man 'Your kindness shall be returned ten-fold'. I must be leaving now. I bid you all adieu."

Erron takes out his trump deck and fans through them. He finds the one he needs. Erron takes the trump and focuses, "Majesty, May I come through?" A moment later Erron reaches forward and grasps an outstretched hand, leaving behind the lovely rainbow shimmer.

[Dana] Casually retrieving a pack of Morley cigarettes from her pocket, she takes the last one out and lights it with a softly spoken power word. She watches the bookcase reassemble itself, and after everyone is clearly unhurt she looks at the assembled company. "Better in most ways than last time, that's for damned sure...but it's been 80...83 years I lost on that Shadow." She sees Brinna and her eyebrows lower slightly. "Um...how long was I gone?"

[Brinna] Brinna manages a weak laugh. "Gone from where, exactly? If you mean the Library, I've been in and out myself, so I'm not sure. But as for the last time I saw you, it was a few days ago." She pauses a moment, then adds with an uncertain expression, "Shortly after we got the kids back from Avros."

[Erron] Erron steps out of a corner, being returned by Merlin’s spikard. He hears Steed's query about Locke, Erron's father. His face becomes somber. Erron turns and finds a bottle of champagne and sits in a comfortable looking chair.

"My father was Locke. He was the oldest child of Dworkin. Dworkin was ordered by the King to enter a political marriage with a member of Hendrake. The marriage fell apart and a blood feud started, with the king supporting the Hendrakes. This was millennia ago, before the founding of Amber proper. My mother was a beautiful shadow woman destroyed by the feud to reach my father. Locke was summoned to Juniper, the Barimen shadow along with the rest of Dworkin's children. That was also the first time Oberon was aware of his true family, it was also his first battle as a general. To make a long story short, the forces of Chaos attacked Juniper and Father and Oberon took the field. Father died in that battle and Oberon became a hero. I am not bitter Father died a hero and Oberon attempted to save him. An interesting side note as well, this was when Dworkin discovered Oberon was the first child of Order and became attuned with The Jewel of Judgment, granting him aces to shadow."

After his narrative Erron sits and stares at the fire a somber look upon his face.

[Bishop Tandleslip] After a minute, from above the top of the heavy bookcase comes an alto voice from the feline. "One of the more interesting and rare legends surrounding Dworkin. The times before Amber existed."

"Locke was said to be a formidable man. May I ask if you have met your ancestor, Dworkin, my dear Erron?"

A midnight tail flips into sight for only a second as Bishop shifts positions.

[Erron] "I met Dworkin only once that I recall. He came to me in my home shadow, one which was destroyed by the chaos. He told me that I was ready to essay the Logrus. I was 19 years old. Father argued that I was not old enough to try the Logrus," Erron remembers with a smile. "Dworkin then had to remind my father that there happened to be a blood feud and all shadow walkers would be needed. He then took me to Chaos secretly and I succeeded in the Logrus. I then took an officers position in the army commanded by my father and Oberon. I have been living in shadow since then, with a few stints in my version of Chaos"

"May I ask who you are my feline compatriot? Erron asks with a grin.

[Bishop Tandleslip]  More formal for just a moment, the black furred face and amber eyes appear over the edge of the high perch. "Of course, excuse me, I am Bishop, son of Tandleslip of the Kit. While I am in no way related to the fabulous family of Amber, I have become something of a scholar of the family's legend."

"My travels have led me into the adventures of many of your clan, even the cross-reality simulacrums of such. It is only the amazing Dworkin that I wish to meet so much, who has eluded my best efforts to contact. That was the prompt to my question."

The feline twist his whiskers in an unreadable expression. "The man is mythic. If I didn't know he existed, I'd almost believe he has no more substance than a will-o-wisp."

"Thank you for your bit of answer, Erron."

The furred chin settles to rest on the bookcase edge, where a clear overview is had of the small group below Bishop.

[Steed] Steed absorbs all the details of the discussion, not sure what to make of it all. "It seems to be yet another alternate Amber from mine," Steed muses aloud to himself. "I recall no references to that event in any volumes of the 'Book of the Unicorn'. And I would have thought that Dworkin's tome would have mentioned it, even if all the other volumes didn't. Unless someone had removed it from his volume. Possible..." He realizes that some eyes were upon him.

"Pardon me, I was lost in thought. Part of my responsibility is doing research in obscure fields and hiring others to do the research. It was necessary for me to read the massive tomes, consult the various sages, and visit the various Unicorn shrines throughout Amber. Information is an important commodity and accurate information is 'vital'."

"And I tried to recall 'any' reference to descendants of Dworkin, apart from Oberon, from my studies. I very clearly recall that there was a 'complete absence' of any information regarding descendants of Dworkin other than Oberon. That leads me to the conclusion that in 'my' version of Amber: Oberon was an only child -or- all traces of information to the contrary was erased. I don't know if that helps and it probably isn't that useful, besides it is very difficult to prove a negative."

"However, I am inclined to believe that in my version of Amber, Oberon was an only child. The paranoia that runs rampant in our line tells me that it would be crucial to have information on all those who were potential threats to the throne, 'especially' other family members. Such an omission of data is foolish in the extreme, due to the dangers that would imply..."

[Shlanya] "It is a shame Lord Carol, our other host, is not here to comment."

[Dana] (in reference to Brinna's comment) "Avros?" A slightly puzzled look is replaced by a thoughtful one as Dana takes a deep drag off her cigarette. "I had no idea he was involved in this. Apparently I was to be cloned, which as you know always results in a receptacle for the Nihil...oh...great...is my new twin causing trouble?"

[Brinna] If anything, Brinna looks even more dumbfounded at this. "Either your clone is dead," she says finally, "or I'm talking to the wrong Dana. Take your pick." She shakes her head, wondering why these unexpected twists of fate still seem to keep catching her off-guard after all this time.

[Bishop] Bishop seems to frown. "As best I can tell, this is the same Dana that visited us before, that is to say, her mental scent in the same. I doubt a clone would be so exact."

"Does that help, Lady Brinna?"

His amber eyes are steady and reassuring.

[Steed] "Hello again Bishop, you mentioned Dworkin." Steed smiled at Bishop.

"He does indeed exist, my friend. My last encounter with him was interesting, beneficial, and very very confusing. Consulting him for training is like trying to get useful information from the Mad Hatter and events usually end up like a twisted Alice in Wonderland tale. I could truly appreciate Alice's perspective, and 'eventually' I identified more with the Cheshire Cat."

Bishop twist his whiskers in an upward sweep.

"Ah, the Kassir Kit." Bishop chuckles. "The legends of my people are reflected in the shadows in ways less clear than with those of your own family, Steed. Though I do understand that the essence of Alice's description did capture the smile part."

Bishop regards the polished undercover man. "Would you say that Dworkin is obscure, or are you suggesting the Sire of Amber is not useful to the plane of activities and operations we typically enjoy?"

[Steed] The undercover man suppresses a chuckle. "The Kassir Kit, very interesting! It makes perfect sence, and I should have realized that the Cheshire Cat would be a Shadow of a Shadow walker. And why I identified with it as much."

Steed then grins at the question about Dworkin. "Now that is a difficult question to answer honestly. I would compare him to an old British eccentric, almost enigmatic, which is what I think you mean by obscure." Steed pauses to consider an adequate comparison.

"His thoughts seem to exist at a different level than one would expect. It was a struggle to understand what he was trying to tell me, as it seemed difficult for him to 'make' me understand. As an example; when I was around 10 in school, there was this substitute teacher who was used to teaching advanced mathematics in college and was brought in to teach us wet-behind-the-ears youngsters math at the level we were 'used' to. My classmates and I would be as lost, mouths agape; as if he was talking to us in a foreign language, and it was at first." Steed pauses for a moment. "It was very much like that, until over time, comprehension sets in and all becomes painfully clear."

"I came to him for training in Pattern Teleport, I got fed up with being dependant upon unreliable Trumps. A quote of his that I remember very clearly was 'the key to learning how to teleport, is to learn how to 'not' teleport.' Imagine my confusion, but that was the beginning of a strange adventure involving Dworkin. The details of it could be long, amusing, embarrassing, and possibly boring."

"But imagine if you will, the hilarity and embarrassment that would result, if you couldn't 'stop' yourself from teleporting anywhere that came to mind or any place that someone mentioned. The amount of concentration it took to just 'stay' where you were? I couldn't even allow myself to fall asleep for awhile, because I didn't know where I would wake. It was maddening and frustrating, and I had a slight grasp of what it was like for Dworkin. Because that was just a 'part' of what Dworkin experiences all the time."

Steed sat back and took a deep relaxing breath. "It took awhile, but I'm better now." He grins.

[Dana] Dana walks over to Brinna, after winking at the feline. "Dworkin? Dworkin only ever taught me one thing." She gets to Brinna then looks back at Steed. "Don't ever go toe to toe...or mind to mind I should say, with him." She taps her head. "I still get headaches." She turns back to Brinna and hugs her. "It's me. How have you been?"

[Brinna] This gesture completes Brinna's descent into utter confusion. She stiffens at first, then unbends enough to hug Dana back, but clearly is going to take some time to assimilate this development. "At my wits' end, as usual. Let's see...had two babies, about eight months and three weeks ahead of schedule." She begins ticking items off on her fingers as she speaks. "Kids turned out to be energy leeches. Probably a side effect of our sojourn in the Fount. Merlin stole Despil to help him fight a war the day they were born. Avros took his pet prophet too seriously and kidnapped the kids. Morgan and/or my mother may or may not have been in on it. Last time I saw you--or I thought it was you--you and Clive and a couple of others helped me get the kids back, and Avros exploded. You--she--was caught in the blast and died shortly thereafter. Got Despil back, but also hit Avros with a Blood Curse. Consequently, I'm feeling a bit like Damocles."

She pauses for breath, mentally reviewing the list, then nods. "That about covers it." She smiles lopsidedly. "And how have *you* been?"

[Bishop] Bishop winks back at Dana. "I fully sympathize with your plight, Steed old boy. A case of knowledge opening new horizons in a literal and uncomfortable fashion. As well, I am struck by your analogy of the professor and your classmates learning math."

Bishop nods. "Most of my learning about Dworkin suggests exactly what you have described. In fact, it suggests that the universe itself was a different place when Dworkin was young. In effect, one might suppose that Dworkin is 'evolved' to a different reality, and that he had a hand in his current 'plight', if I may use that word without negative connotations."

"In altering the fundamentals of the universe, Dworkin altered himself, but not entirely. He is a hinge-point of what is now, but he does not fit with what he has created. It is an interesting hypothesis."

And Bishop listens for a moment to Dana and Brinna "catching up."


[The Amber Library was discontinued]

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R. Cal Westray, Jr.
Revised: February 13, 2010.

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