Steed's Tale - "Duty, Honor, and Country"
Journal of Prince "Major" Jonathan Steed of Amber:
Based on a Scenario by Stephanie Itchkawich during Ambercon VIII, 1997.
Written by: R. Cal Westray, Jr. in 1998.
Steed's history was written in 1994.
"Extraordinary crimes against the people and the state,
need to be avenged by agents extraordinary..."
Mother: Flora of Amber
Grandmother: Dybele (deceased) Grandfather: Oberon (deceased)
Great-grandmother: Unicorn Great-grandfather: Dworkin
Personal History Time Line:
Time conversion: 4 Amber yr. = 10 Earth yr./4 Earth yr. = 1.5 Amber yr.
>Ages 0-10: (1922-1931) (2369-2372 d'L)
Born Jonathan Steed, on February 6, 1922.
Shadow Earth: in Berkshire, England.
>Ages 11-14: (1932-1935) (2373-2374 d'L)
Shadow Earth: Boarding school in Winchester, England.
Amber: Walked the Pattern at 12.
>Ages 15-18: (1936-1939) (2375- 2376 d'L)
Shadow Earth: Eton College, student.
>Ages 19-28: (1940-1949) (2377-2380 d'L)
Shadow Earth: British Royal Navy, title Major.
>Ages 29-32: (1950-1959) (2380-2384 d'L)
Amber Army, title Major.
>Ages 33-50: (1960-1977) (2385-2390 d'L)
Shadow Earth: Ministry of Intelligence, independent agent.
>Ages 51: (1978-1979) (2391 d'L)
Return to Amber after the Patternfall War ended.
>Ages 52: (1980-1981) (2392 d'L)
Present. In Chaos for exchange program.
In which Steed leaves Amber
... and then becomes a Sawall.
It's 5:00 PM and time for afternoon tea. I am in Knightsbridge for a little escape. It's been years since I've had tea in the Richoux. The Richoux is an extravagant tea shop that provides expensive atmosphere. I have a splendid view of Harrods across Brompton Road.
The food was wonderful and I am relaxing with Napoleon brandy and my pipe. This is indeed living. I've been enjoying my pipe for several minutes undisturbed. This is odd, because I rarely get to finish a bowl before someone makes it their responsibility to interrupt me.
An attractive young lady comes in and talks to the maitre'd. After a few words, he motions in my direction. The young redhead and I make eye contact. She smiles and moves in my direction. Right on time, at least she is a pleasant distraction.
"Steed?" She smiles broadly.
"You have me at a disadvantage, my dear. Would you care to join me for tea? Then you can tell me about yourself."
"Sorry, my lord. I am here to deliver a message." She hands me a roll of parchment, with the seal of Amber; the Unicorn. On her finger is a ring, with the Amber signet; signifying her as an official courier of the court.
"Pity. Thank you. Miss?"
"Cynthia. You are quite welcome, my lord. I must return to the court."
"Another time, perhaps, Cynthia. Thank you, my dear."
"Another time, perhaps." She nods and leaves, with me watching her exit. Odd, I've never seen her in the castle. She must be a new courier.
I finish my pipe and pay my tab.
I took a private taxi to Knightsbridge, so my options are open; there is no vehicle to leave behind. I look for a place I can read unobserved. There is a phone booth that will do quite nicely.
I break the seal and unroll the parchment.
Lord Steed, you are officially summoned to appear at the court of Amber.
Please signify your acceptance by saying, 'I accept.'
You're needed, Mr. Steed. "Very well, I accept."
The booth does a colorful fading and is replaced with the background of the Throne room. Random, Benedict, Caine, and Fiona are there. My assorted cousins are in attendance or just arriving magically, along with myself. Curiouser and curiouser. What could be the purpose for this gathering?
King Random wastes no time to explain his summons. "I'm so glad you could all be here. I'm happy to announce that all of you have been selected for the Amber / Chaos exchange program. This will require a short stay with a Chaosian family. We 'know' that you will make fine ambassadors, and represent us well; avoiding any embarrassing situations while you are there."
The reception of the news was mixed. Some of my cousins have killed Chaosians during the Patternfall War; myself included, but not technically 'during' the war. My concern was they may still hold grudges.
"The term of your service is based on family need, but officially lasts for a decade."
Silence. Then came the tumult. Everyone realized they were speaking to the king of Amber. Then more silence. One spoke up. "What is to stop us from leaving Chaos?"
"Well, that would make things awkward. You see, not only would you be an embarrassment to your family, your lineage, and your heritage; you will place this court in a very unpleasant situation. You would cause the crown undue pain and anguish, I'm sure you will do everything within your ability to prevent that."
I speak up. "My liege. I am only too happy to serve the crown in this worthy endeavor. Permit me one question."
"Some of us have shed Chaosian blood during the war or otherwise. Should we be concerned about retaliation in the Courts, including challenges to duels?"
Random and Benedict exchange some words, I may have struck a nerve. Random turns to me. "There is much left undone after the war. To some extent, this service will address some of those concerns." He addresses all of us. "You will be obligated to follow the laws of the families you are assigned. You will be obligated to serve their family as any other member of their family would serve."
The bottom line. We have been selected for a cultural exchange program with the Courts of Chaos. We are to be considered ambassadors of Amber and expected to behave as such. We are under obligation to comply with this exchange under one of the sections of the Patternfall Treaty. We are to spend up to a decade as members of Chaosian families. Through this exchange, Amber and Chaos will gain a better understanding of each other; with the intent to improve relations.
One cousin is concerned about being forced into a Chaosian marriage; this would have to be approved by both courts. Another is concerned about loyalty issues. If war breaks out or we must choose loyalties, we 'must' serve the Chaosian house without hesitation. "We 'expect' your loyalty to Chaos, nothing less is acceptable." More silence, then more tumult; this time from Corwin's sons and daughters. Corwin comes in and talks to them. They have been 'convinced' and acquiesce.
More questions about duration. "There are conditions in which you may be released earlier. If you are too obnoxious, you may be sent back in disgrace. Don't let that happen! You will be subject to their laws, some of which include capital punishment and other unpleasant punishments. The terms of the treaty requires your return at the end of the service; live, sane, and whole. I am sure you will also be enriched by this experience." He looks around for expressions.
"As mentioned earlier, there is some debate upon who actually won the war and what reparations are expected by either parties. This treaty and exchange is designed to not permit any personal vendettas that any House may wish to enact. And all parties are expected to be discreet by 'not' discussing their participation during the war. It would be considered gauche` to do so; possibly offending your hosts."
"Your service will be designed to restore some of the unfortunate damages to the various Houses." The grumbling settles down, 'most' have accepted the situation.
When all discussions are completed, a man walks over to Random. He is dressed all in black except for a white collar and sleeves showing beneath a tight fitting black leather jacket. He has penetrating blue eyes, with young, hard, and slightly sharp features. In contrast, his hair is pure white in a pony tail. He turns to us and smiles broadly.
"I am Mandor of House Sawall. I would like to take this moment to congratulate all of you for your participating in this historical event. I am very excited to welcome all of you to the Courts of Chaos. If you are all prepared mentally, I am ready to arrange your transport."
I have all my personal items that I normally travel with. I am well rested and well nourished, so I am ready. The stable master has standing orders on the care of my Andelusians, so there is no concern there. We gather together in a smaller area. We are all ready.
Mandor gestures and speaks a few soft words. We are caught up in a teleportation spell, similar to the spell that brought me here from the Richoux. It goes on for a longer period of time; after all, it is a long way to Chaos.
We appear in an open area. The sky is a striking color of magenta. The immediate environment is fixed, going out of focus and less substantial further away from us. Even the atmosphere has a different feel and smell to it. The gravity is lesser here, my center of balance has shifted. I will have to walk slowly and carefully for a short time, to keep my balance until I become accustomed to it.
Even without bringing up the Pattern, I can 'feel' the malleability of this place and the stench of Logrus in the air. Until I know the proper protocol, I do not plan to bring up the Pattern in Chaos. It may be offensive to them or it may just be gauche`.
There are many entities passing by to see the Amberites; some stare at us, some ignore us. There is a wide variety of entities here, varying from humans, demons, animals, plants, and just 'things'. They are in varying styles of dress and undress. A seemingly limitless diversified population.
Mandor escorts us along a shifting walkway. There are examples of Chaosian art as we move along the walkway, at least it appears to be art. I am moved emotionally by a few of them. I can only conjecture that they emit aromas with chemicals that are psychotropic in nature, to enhance their effect. We are taken to a reception area where a young lady waits for us, seated at the dais with slowly swirling colors. Her features resemble those of Cynthia, the woman who delivered the message. They could be related, that would explain why I never saw her in the court of Amber.
She motions for us to gather around her, so she can see us better. She asks if we have any preferences before she assigns us to our Houses. Surrounding the reception area are over a dozen Chaosians, probably guards and representatives of the various Houses.
One by one, the nine of us are named and assigned to our new adopted House.
1) Paris is assigned to House Sawall. In his forties and average looking.
2) Regan is assigned to House Sawall. She is 5' 4", thin but a decent build. With Corwin's narrow features, bone white hair, violet eyes, and very tanned skin; probably spends most of the time outdoors.
3) Herdan is assigned to House Jesby. He is nearly 6' and wears an Amber naval uniform with no rank markings on a short black coat.
4) Jessica is assigned to House Jesby. She is tall and delicately built, with black hair and green eyes. Like Regan, her features are similar to Corwin. She wears black Goth; dark jeans, muscle shirt, and leather jacket; adorned with pewter and silver jewelry.
5) Adrian is assigned to House Jesby. He is nearly 6', with dark brown hair and green eyes. He wears a green shirt, black vest, gray trousers, and black riding boots.
6) Anthea is assigned to House Hendrake. She is nearly 6', slender and curvy. She has buzz cut red hair.
7) Colin is assigned to House Hendrake. He has a medium build, with short red hair and green eyes. He wears dark blue riding clothes with a scarf.
8) Malcolm is assigned to House Hendrake. He is young and wiry, with thick red hair. He wears worn blue jeans, long yellow tee shirt, and white sneakers. He keeps his hands in his pockets, fidgets and shifts around.
9) Lastly, I am is assigned to House Sawall. I am Steed. I wear an Edwardian tweed formal suit with a white carnation or whatever attire is most stylish for the occasion. A bowler and umbrella are my stock in trade. I am 52 years old, but look considerably younger. I am 6' 2", with a slender frame. I have dark auburn hair with steel gray eyes.
After we are assigned to our new Houses, Mandor approaches the dais. "You are required to swear fealty to your new House, to be given in the generosity of spirit. This is a temporary oath. In return, we offer to you as a consideration that is not required of us; but given nonetheless. An assurance that you will not be asked to take arms against Amber. However, in all things you will first and foremost serve the crown of Chaos."
We give our oaths, by the standard formula.
The party breaks up and we go to our new families. We are taken to our new quarters, individually escorted by representatives of our new Houses. Going to House Sawall is Paris, Regan, and myself.
I am approached by an older gentleman with eyes of youthful wonder. I liked him immediately. I got the impression that he has seen much in his life, but never tires of new or old experiences. "Sir, you are Jonathan Steed?"
"Very good. I am Hershall of the House Sawall. I will be your family sponsor, contact, and representative. Please call me Hershall. We will be spending a great deal of time together and we may as well keep it informal. Do you have a name preference?"
"My friends and relatives call me Steed."
"Very well, Steed. Are you ready to see your new home? I saw to the details myself, I hope you will be pleased."
"I would be delighted, Hershall."
"Excellent, walk with me to the Ways of Sawall. The others will be in residence near your quarters, I can give you a tour later." We walk along a beautiful garden. It is difficult to describe because it constantly shifts form and style. "By the way Steed, do you play chess?"
"I dabble. Mostly, I play nearly any game that is available. I hope to learn new games and sports here, an infusion of new experiences is good for the spirit."
"My sentiments, exactly. There will be a great deal of time for relaxation and you should know that you can keep as busy as you desire. Once you learn your way around, there will be no end to the activities open to you. You see, boredom is something we discourage; it is a destructive trait."
"Understandable. I will do my best to take advantage of all that Chaos offers."
"Good man." We reach my new home. It appears to be an exact replica of my Westminster Mews apartment in London. "I hope this meets with your approval."
I look around, we go inside and I examine the apartment in detail. "Hershall, I say. This is astounding! You've captured the very essence of the place. You have quite an eye for detail. Thank you, indeed. I will be quite comfortable here." Every detail, down to the tuba filled with white carnations.
"I'm glad you approve. I must say I had a splendid time organizing it, and I found your artistic touches rather refreshing. Some things could not be duplicated properly. I hope you don't mind, but I took the liberty of transporting some items here from the original place."
"That's quite all right, but you needn't have bothered, it is all quite perfect!"
"This place has a cellar that needed to be stocked. I have a limited knowledge about wines from Shadow Earth. So, I selected an assortment to be brought here from your cellar. I have also included an assortment of wines from the various Chaosian Houses. That way, you can sample both to compare their qualities. You 'will' let me know how they compare?"
I smile broadly. "Hershall, I would be sorely remiss if I didn't share my cellar with friends. I would be honored to have you as my guest 'anytime'. We can sample the bounty of the cellar, play chess, and share old tales of Amber, Chaos, and the Shadows between. If you would like to invite anyone along, they are just as welcome."
"Thank you, Steed. I greatly look forward to that. Excuse me, I am getting Trumped - I am afraid that duty calls. Make yourself comfortable in your new home. If you need to reach me, here's my Trump."
"Thank you, Hershall." We exchange Trumps and he leaves for other duties. I take a look around my new quarters. They have taken great care for my comfort, it is like I am still home. I am sure that the others are taken care of as well.
Everything is reproduced in great detail. Taking the spiral staircase up to my bedroom, even the quilt on the end of the bed is a complete match; down to the humility block. Is it the original or is it a duplicate? Oh well, it doesn't matter.
I am suspicious by nature, regardless of the warm reception. I am waiting for the sound of the other shoe to hit the wood flooring. Instead, I hear a knock at the door.
I go downstairs to answer it. A tall thin demonic creature, with a Scottish accent addresses me. "Laird Steed, I am to escort ye to attend a short meeting with the others."
"Lead on, MacDuff." I wave for him to lead the way.
He turns back to me. "How did ye know my name? Have we met before?" He smiles; well, demons 'do' smile and tend to show too many teeth.
"A lucky guess, and probably not."
"No matter, follow me." He turns to go.
Hopefully, we will learn what assignments that House Sawall has in mind for us. I hope it is not manual labor. I've tried it before, I don't like it. It is too much like work.
MacDuff escorts me to a reception area, where my cousins are gathered.
Mandor greets us again. "I've gathered you here to resolve any issues you may have. Each of you will be given a deck of Trumps of your assigned family. Included are standard court Trumps of selected places in Chaos of the minor Houses and entryways to your quarters. Now, what concerns do you have?"
No concerns are brought up.
Mandor moves among the group. "Let me explain why you are here. During the Patternfall War, there were certain areas where Amberites used Pattern based weapons. After the war, some of those areas did not resolve themselves; they did not return to Chaosian authority. We need your assistance in cleaning up the residue of these Pattern based weapons."
I try to clarify our task. "Lord Mandor. If I understand the situation, we will need to utilize our Pattern abilities and other talents to siphon off, absorb, or extract any Pattern energies that still exist in those areas. Then we can transport the Pattern energies somewhere else."
Mandor looks at me levelly. "We can do that?"
I speak up confidently. "It should be possible."
Mandor looks around. "Well, in this case there are two items. One, there are three areas where devices were detonated. Second, there is an unexploded device."
"Tricky." I mutter to myself.
Mandor smiles. "Which we have been hesitant to tamper with. We would like your expert assistance to remove the threat."
"If you will permit me a question." I feel rather certain I will not like the answer. "What is the area of effect of these devices and what is the result of the detonation in these areas?"
Mandor contemplates his answer. "A large sphere, nearly a kilometer in diameter. As regards to the effect, we have not investigated it very closely."
I would like to examine the area myself to see what exactly we are dealing with. We definitely do not need to approach the armed device until we learn more about the effects. What I know about explosives, is to 'avoid' them. Better yet, trigger them from a safe distance. During the war, I didn't mind getting shot at, but I do mind getting blown up; thank you very much.
We will get to see our assignment tomorrow. Much better during the light of day - such as the days are in Chaos - after a good night's sleep. Yes, I am conveniently rationalizing a short delay. Tomorrow will be soon enough.
Mandor looks around again to stress his point. "While you are here, you are given the protection of House Sawall. We do ask that while you are on this assignment, you discuss your ideas with us first; before you try anything. This is for your safety as well as everyone else. This will give everyone a chance to discuss all plans and ideas first, to see if it will work in this particular region. You may not be familiar with the physical characteristics of the areas." He pauses. "There are also location Trumps of sites, near the affected areas; so you can easily travel there."
Regan asks. "Is there a book on etiquette, so we do not cause offense while we are here?"
Mandor suppresses a laugh. "Yes, and it is voluminous. Each of you have been assigned servants and sponsors. If you wish, you can ask them for assistance. If I may offer advice... Do what comes naturally, be reasonably cautious, and if that's not good enough - insist that whatever you are doing is the latest thing in style and fashion in Amber; then move on."
I like how Mandor thinks. That should keep 'most' of us out of trouble.
I ask another question. "Are there problems with using Pattern in Chaos?"
Mandor smiles, rather warmly - he exudes charm mixed with menace. "This is not Amber, where they may be concerned about the usage of strange powers. Usage of power is accepted; power is power. People know why you are here and expect usage of Pattern. It is your right to express your style and usage of power, in any form."
"Thank you, I do not wish to offend."
I have trouble reading his expression. "Admirable. However, you are here to provide a service. You are expected to use your abilities to perform that service. As you implied, it would not be socially acceptable to bring up the Pattern in someone's face; be discrete and considerate. Others will see and recognize your intention to be considerate; and react accordingly."
"Remember that you are committed to ten years. If you complete your assignments, it may be decided to release you from your term early. You should take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy your visit here, and learn what you can of our culture."
He looks around to see those in attendance. "You are all 'adopted' as family members of House Sawall, which will extend well beyond your stay here. This is a common occurrence in Chaos, and the Houses extend their welcome to you. As I said before, is you have any questions, check with your servants or sponsors. Thank you and enjoy your stay."
Mandor leaves to attend to other duties, leaving us to discuss our plans. We agree that the first priority is to rescue those trapped within the spheres. Some interesting ideas are proposed and my cousins decided to work on separate spheres - based on the Houses they were assigned to. They hope that spreading our resources will help us cover more ground. I hope they are right; we have a lot of ground to cover.
We spend the next few hours having drinks and conversation. The party broke up and everyone went to their own quarters. I went to my quarters and sat down to read a bit, then slept.
The next day we meet again with Mandor. Adrian tells Mandor that our first step is to recover the people from the spheres. The Chaosians are excited about the prospect of their recovery. Once out, they will be taken to a re-orientation center for de-briefing.
One of my lovely cousins creates a spell to siphon Pattern energy from the center of the area of effect. Between us, we are able to route the flow of Pattern energy into the Abyss. Within hours, the center of the area begins to collapse. We are only able to work for four hours at a time, before resting. This seems to be the upper limit of our collective endurance to maintain the spell. During our breaks, we brief each other on the progress.
From discussions with other Amberites, I learned that Fiona Trumped Adrian and sent him a blueprint of the device. The device, when activated, causes a growing Pattern bubble of energy that feeds upon Pattern energy. Within the bubble, is a slow - null time field. People within it are frozen in time, trapped like insects in Amber. Anything that enters the bubble are caught up in the field.
Such a device would grow larger and faster, the closer it was to a Pattern. Therefore, it is limited in Chaos; but still a formidable weapon. The point of equilibrium in Chaos is a kilometer in diameter. This is a virtual doomsday device in Amber itself! It is agreed that such a device must be destroyed with the plans as well.
I am sure that Fiona and the elders are concerned about it falling into the wrong hands. Quite understandable.
So; day after day, our group works at siphoning off the Pattern energy and rescuing people within the bubble. While the other groups work on the bubbles in their area and contemplate a solution to the active device. Siphon... siphon... siphon... rest. Again and again. More people recovered. More discussions about the last device and the plans.
We switch group duties occasionally, but stay with the plan. As people are exposed from the collapsed field, Trump sketches are used to contact them and pull them out. Each day, we rescue more people, some in demon or animal forms. It looks as though it will take weeks at this rate to siphon all the energy into the Abyss.
During breaks, we continue to discuss options, possibilities, and likely outcomes. From best to worst case scenarios in disarming or disabling the device.
A week into the work, there was an unfortunate accident. One of the party attempts a spell to rescue someone at the edge of the effect. He cast a local time acceleration spell around the person, so they could move outside the bubble. It seemed feasible at the time. Unfortunately, we could do nothing but watch in horror as the person dies, desiccates, and passes into nothingness in mere seconds; as the wave of effect passes through the poor soul's body. The other extreme of the bubble's effects.
We learned a valuable lesson, but costly.
Herdan joins us from the House Jesby group, asking for us to stop work and meet the others on a quick discussion. He felt that it was very important that we share what we have learned so far. We were nearing the end of our four hour shift, so we agreed.
Comparing notes, we rescued an average of a person a day; losing only one. They demonstrated another way to do the work faster. Using a Pattern lens to siphon off the energy worked at a much faster rate. It would go even faster, if we all worked together on the same bubble. We agreed to try it. Within twenty-six hours, the bubble is gone and all people are rescued from the bubble we worked on. Two more to go. The various houses rejoiced in our success and mourn over the one that was lost.
We rest for the night after our long struggle. Hershall came to my quarters with tears in his eyes. We sat and talked for hours, drank Champagne, and played chess. He told me what happened as we removed the bubble from the Ways of Sawall.
The center of the bubbles are research facilities where weaponry is designed and built. The brightest of their scientists were trapped when the complex was hit with the Pattern weapon. His daughter was one of those trapped within the complex. He feared that he would never see her again and was relieved to be there when she was rescued. I noticed his presence there and was pleased to witness their reunion. It was quite a touching moment and a time of bonding for us.
The next day, we work on the bubble in the Ways of Hendrake. We continued for days until we eliminated it and finished with the bubble in the Ways of Jesby. The final device is in the heart of Chaos itself, the final problem. We gathered together in the reception area, hoping that someone had the idea that would end this threat to Chaos. From the day of our arrival, the area around the device was blocked off to protect the population. If it does detonate, no one would be caught up in it.
Regardless of the evacuation, apprehension was building because the device had not detonated yet. There was concern that the range of this device would possibly exceed the range of the other devices, with the increased usage of Pattern in Chaos. The pressure was on to disarm it or detonate it and siphon it off.
We have the active device and the plans. Malcolm enters the hall. He has been conspicuously absent at various meetings. He looks around the room. He tells us that he has learned of a device similar to the one we are charged to disarm. Except that this is a device powered by Primal Chaos. The device would feed on Primal Chaos and operate the reverse of the Pattern device. Two doomsday devices!
Something Hershall didn't mention. These research facilities were designing these Primal Chaos devices when the Pattern devices were detonated. It was a cold war that accelerated during the Patternfall War. We struck first. The difference is; if they struck first, Amber would have been devoured. No chance of rescue or finding survivors.
Why would both sides design weapons that are more deadly to themselves than the other side? It seems insane, quite mad. Malcolm has the plans for this device, fortunately the device doesn't exist yet. A discussion, rather heated and biased, erupts regarding our obligations and duties to Amber and Chaos.
I join the handful of others who strongly feel that both plans and devices must be utterly destroyed, for 'both' realms. There can be 'no' safety for anyone, if either side possesses any weapon. A few people feel that it is their responsibilities to inform one side or the other, of our findings.
I voice my feelings. "For the good of the realms, we must destroy the weapons and the plans. And do so, 'now'! That must be why we were given the plans. To do less, would be treasonous, to both realms."
Each person states their point of view on the matter, sounding like a session of Parliament.
It then is brought to our attention that a comparison has been made between the blueprints and the device. Apparently, the fusing device has been broken. That indicates that we are faced with one of two possibilities. If we move the device, the mechanism will break; deactivating it permanently. Or, create a short, activating it. A fifty-fifty chance.
We are reminded that if we move it out of Chaos, into Shadow; it would be closer to a Pattern. It would feed on any available Pattern energies and grow, cross-Shadow; until there was nothing left to feed it. Nearly to the Abyss itself...
The discussion continues and I receive a Trump call. I open myself to the contact.
:Bring me through.:
"Certainly." I reach through and take his hand, then pull him to me. I see a rolled up document in his hand.
He walks over to a table and unrolls it. It is the Logrus bomb plans. But who? He is quite upset. "What's going on?"
One of the cousins answers. "We are discussing the fine points of duty and honor."
"Well, one of the fine points of duty and honor just delivered this document from one of the sites, into the hands of King Random of Amber." He clenches his fist in anger.
The group says as one. "What?" All of us are shocked. Who would do such a thing?
Mandor continues. "The individual has been dismissed to their original court. That same individual brought me one of these." Holding up the plans for the Pattern bomb. "I 'don't' want to know about this. I 'never' saw this document. Do you understand?" He touches the plans and they burst into flames, then ashes. "I don't want anyone to know. I trust that any others of these will be destroyed. I am trusting, in my heart of hearts, that Random is an honorable man. I am trusting that you have the same sense of honor." He withdraws a Trump and leaves through a portal.
The discussion continues in agreement with Mandor's statements. That should answer all questions, it answers mine anyway. I am also flattered that he chose me to contact. I reiterate my original statement. "My recommendation is to destroy the plans, evacuate the area, then destroy the device. If it activates, siphon it off."
"Yes, we must destroy the plans now. In the interest of both Chaos and Amber, we must also search out any information about the devices and destroy all evidence of them. Then we must all forget the very existence of them."
I would love to forget about the devices and never hear about them again.
One of the cousins decides that it will be necessary to destroy the computers in the installations as well. Then look for anything that may have been used in the manufacture of the devices, destroying them as well.
They decide to rearrange the substance in the sites, so the war material is destroyed. The plans are destroyed, before we leave. We take care of any evidence first.
One of the cousins decides to carry the device to the Abyss, destroy it, and drop it in. If it goes off, it may be easier to siphon there. The area is cleared as he picks up the foot locker sized box. No detonation, good sign. He walks for a half dozen kilometers to the Abyss. Chaosians are clearing the way for him. Many of us are staying away, in case it activates; they will need someone to siphon it off.
Eventually, he reaches the Abyss. He maintains Trump contact with another member of the group, to keep us advised of his progress. He stands on the edge of the Abyss. He picks up a large rock and proceeds to smash the device to very small pieces. Then he pitches each piece into the Abyss. No activation and no device, good job.
We gather again at the reception hall to breathe a sigh of relief at the completion of our task. Representatives of our Houses come to gather us to our respective Houses. Our work is done and a celebration is underway. Lord Swayvill presents us with medals. Well, I'll be.. we are awarded the 'Order of the Serpent' - one of the highest awards for bravery and valor in the service of Chaos. There is much rejoicing and feasting...
Random sends us service medals as well, the 'Order of the Unicorn' - not to be outdone. Many awards were given to us from our respective Houses. Mine was the 'Brotherhood of Sawall'.
We are welcome to stay and fulfill our tour of duty in Chaos, but the Houses will not stop us from leaving. Given the choice, I think I will stay in Chaos for a time. I would like to know my new family better. I would like to cultivate long term friendships here and make Chaos a place where I am welcome to return.
I formally requested to be a permanent family member, staying at least a year. Then, to be contacted and invited back, to any events important to the House. Lord Sawall was well pleased to grant my request. I was made welcome by: Hershall, Mandor, Merlin, Despil, Jurt, and many others. I never met the Lady Dara, to this day I do not know why.
A friendly little place, this. Offers were made to impart Shape Shifting to us (temporarily), so that we may partake of the more unusual delights of Chaos. I found it to be a fascinating offer, but I prefer my own form the way it is - thank you very much. I enjoyed sight seeing, drinking, dining, exchanging stories, and playing many games with my family. I also partook of the wondrous delights of Chaos, who weren't put off by someone who maintained only one form. They were even kind enough to refrain from taking on a demon form at awkward times, most kind indeed.
I also spent time with the delectable Cynthia, remember her? She is from House Sawall, and was sent to Amber as part of the exchange program. I met with her during one of my visits to Amber. Apparently, Random was quite impressed with her and decided to adopt her as his ward, no legal title involved though. I can see why he was impressed with her. So was I, but for different reasons.
I was encouraged by Random, to take House members on tours to Amber and Shadow Earth. Hershall enjoyed traveling with me and he soon established a vacation home in Westminster, where he still goes to get away from things. You see... his duties began changing. I learned that he is being chosen as Court Ambassador to House Sawall, a life long goal of his. He thinks that House Sawall has the strongest case for the throne of Chaos. He tells me 'confidentially', that Merlin is being primed for the job by Mandor! He thinks that young Merlin may become King of Chaos one day, if he can keep from getting himself killed. There are many in Chaos, who do not want one of the blood of Amber to rule Chaos. No offense intended, of course.
However, after what we have done, this may change all that. I sincerely hope so. I think that Hershall will be the best possible choice for the position of Ambassador.
I also got to meet Hershall's daughter Silke, who hugs quite well. I received a bruised rib from her, she wanted to thank me for her rescue. I was later invited to Silke's wedding to a Lord Huxley of Sawall. It seems that Hershall was 'also' adopted to the Sawall House; so it was an expected and acceptable marriage. He laughingly offered to find me a bride, to make it more official. I declined, for now anyway.
Silke's son is named after me - imagine... Steed Sawall. Quite an honor, indeed. I visit them whenever I can and welcome them whenever they visit Amber.
I am quite taken by young Steed. I even taught him the art of horsemanship, he is an incredible young lad; a natural horseman. One of his chosen forms is an Andelusian stallion. His demon form includes a silver mane with many equine features, the most terrifying demon horseman one could possibly imagine. I am quite 'proud' of him, quite proud indeed.