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Esprit de Corps

Steed's Tale - "Esprit de Corps" - Chapter 07

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

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

Episode A3-7 - The Man With Two Shadows

In which Steed is beside himself
... and then goes out of his mind.

We are going further into the Abyss. We no longer see the Rim. It is getting darker, the further we go. Like open space, without vacuum and without stars. Eventually, we see other rocks in the distance. They appear to be arranged in a spherical design that look like ants. The darkness makes it difficult to see clearly and distinguish details.
I get the impression of a hive, with the activity in the center of the sphere. With little to go on, I would determine strategically, our goal would be in the center. We will have to wade through the boulders on the outside. Tricky, but workable.
We hear chanting in the distance. It is getting louder as we get closer. It is similar to the chanting I heard while I was merged with the Ty'iga in the Final Veil of the Pattern. However, it sounds more pronounced and more purposeful, like a summoning.
"I believe that we are heading to the realm of the Ty'iga. I recognize the chanting as coming from Ty'igas. However, I don't recognize what they are saying, it is probably a summoning. It is probably best that we don't know what they are summoning. Since the Jewel is involved, I am sure it is something we don't want to see." I am tempted to extend my awareness to the Jewel to learn what is happening. I don't know how the Pattern will react this far into the Abyss. The risk is not necessary, just to satisfy my curiosity.
The chanting is getting louder. "Can anyone translate the chanting?"
Kat volunteers. "What they are saying refers to calling the dark god of the Abyss, to come forth and bring the Carioga, the end of the age, etc. Basically, the end of the world as we know it."
"Merlin, can we take the most direct route to the Jewel of Judgment?"
He rubs his chin and says. "I'll work on it."
I notice that Morganth and the Doctor are testing Trumps. Morganth pronounces. "OK, now we stand a chance." They are contacting each other.
"The question is, can we go for distance? How far will the Trumps work from here?"
The Doctor reaches for another Trump. A portal opens and a laser blast pierces the darkness into the crowd of us. He breaks contact. No one was hit.
"Doctor, I hope that is not what I thought it was."
"Yes." He looks sheepish.
"Please let me know before you contact them again." I detest those mechanized monstrosities.
"Oh, sorry."
A blast from a Dalek. Not the contact I would have made, but it was a satisfactory test. That means my Trump of the Unicorn Grove may be our Ace in the hole. We should be able to reach her, if we fail. She has saved Amber before. "My Trump may be helpful later."
The Doctor inquires. "Which is that?"
"The Unicorn Grove, a possible escape route." A partial truth.
The rock seems to be moving faster. We are able to make out shapes. What we thought were ants are roughly around 200 boulders like ours, with several creatures on each of them. There are so many of them, it is hard to see any in the center of the sphere. "Merlin, can we get close enough to be able to leap from one rock to another?"
Merlin grins. "Steed, this is your royal expedition."
"Well, how close can we get?"
"How close do you want to get to it?"
"As close to the center as possible. We will have to wade through the rest."
Merlin suppresses a laugh. "Has anyone here played billiards?"
Lords, this sounds like a bad idea.
The Doctor looks pale. "Oh, dear." He apparently agrees.
Morganth is unfamiliar with the term. "Billiards?"
I break the news to him. "It's a game played on Shadow Earth. Random is fascinated by the game and it is stunningly popular in Amber now. It is played on a flat rectangular surface with pockets on the corners and sides. You use a long tapered cue stick to strike the cue ball (that's us) with the tip; using considerable force. The cue ball is driven into the tightly packed object balls (that's them), trying to knock them into the pockets. If we survive this, I will be glad to give you a demonstration." His jaw drops at the implications and looks at Merlin as though he has gone mad. Blazer goes pale as well. "Since we are the cue ball, I suggest that we find a way to hold on securely. Also, not in the front of the ball." I envision a butterfly on the windscreen of my Bentley.
The others gather ropes and bungee cords to get as secure as possible. None of us thought to bring a hammer and spikes. The Doctor recommends we just hold on tight. Everyone begins to notice that we are moving ever faster.
I find the most secure place to hang on with all fours. I hold a section of the rope, in case anyone gets jarred loose. I quietly remind Suehprom to hold on, Scout was planning to neglect to let him know what was happening.
The rock is accelerating dead on course. I would estimate nearly 200 km/h. This is not, I repeat not the best idea Merlin has ever had. This seems like something his accident prone brother, Jurt would do. We are reaching ramming speed. My knuckles are turning white and I imagine my toes are too. I see the rocks very clearly. Each rock has at least two or more mostly humanoid creatures. They are all innocent Shadow creatures inhabited by Ty'igas. Some or many will be sacrificed by their hosts, who can leave them any time. I hope it won't be necessary to kill many of them, but they can not be permitted to stop us or slow us down. We are nearly there. I look around, everyone is keeping a low profile and holding on.
I feel magical energies building up. They are not part of Merlin's magic affecting our 'lorry'. I hear Morganth releasing the spoken components of a spell, I hear 'Shield of Crow'.
Scout says. "Good man! Introduce an uncontrolled element to a bad situation. Now I have someone else to kick off this rock."
The spell is enveloping the entire boulder; there is no structure within it to cushion or secure it to the boulder itself. That means. "No! Not again!" Impact. My fingers ache, my stomach lurches, and my body smacks against the rock. The 'Shield of Crow' hits the rocks first. Our boulder then impacts the shield and ricochets within the shield. The shield disrupts the other boulders, but now it is wobbling around instead of breaking through very far.
The wind is knocked out of me from the repeated jarring. The shield is somehow dispelled, probably by magic, and we are miraculously heading in the correct direction but at a greatly decreased rate of speed, around 100 km/h.
I hear Kat. "I'm going to kill someone when I get off this rock." Kat probably dispelled the shield.
Scout defends himself. "Remember, I don't cast magic."
We impact the next rock which careens away. However, we are now tilted slightly. The next rock we are heading toward, we will hit the bottom of it. It will scrape along the top of our rock, cutting a path through the area we are currently holding on to.
Everyone rolls away from their current positions. I roll over and crawl to a relatively safe position, close to the side, holding on as before. The Doctor cuts his rope and jumps to the next rock. Blazer shrinks and disappears into the same spot, not moving.
Impact imminent. The rocks grind into each other with a terrible ghastly noise. Rock shrapnel flies in all directions falling into the Abyss. I feel as though my teeth have been jarred loose. "Welcome to the world of hurt, Steed." My Carnation provided some protection.
The rock slows and stops a bit further into the cluster of rocks. I am better off than expected, but not as good as I hoped. Everyone gets up to gather their senses. Merlin advances on Morganth. Inch by inch, step by step. "Never do that again!"
Morganth shows him a notebook, entitled "Things 'Not' To Do". He has several pages written all ready, and he points to the newly made entry.
A familiar voice cuts through the darkness, coming from the center rocks. "Get them before they stop us!"
Scout looks at me. "Was that you?"
"I'm afraid so. They are now aware of us. Well, ladies and gentlemen, it's battle stations time." I feel a psychic presence trying to penetrate my mind. "I suggest we fight these things off! The Ty'igas are trying to take us over." I bring up the Pattern in my mind for defense. It is working very well to keep the Ty'iga out of my mind. I hope the others fare as well. "Is anyone having trouble with the Ty'igas?"
Gabriel is having a little difficulty at first, but now everyone is doing fine.
Kat almost purrs. "I have them under my control."
Deirdre is taking up point position with her ax. We gather behind her to begin moving to the center, one rock at a time.
"Kat, if you could drive the Ty'iga from my body over there, that would help."
We prepare to move to the first rock. I don't want to kill anyone, unless it is necessary. My plan is to grab my opponents by the collar and knock them out with my bowler. Then, gently lay them down on the rock.
Deirdre, Kat, the Doctor, and myself move forward. The rest stay at 'Rock Prime'. I have no problem subduing those I encounter. Bringing my Pattern defense up, I prevent more intrusions. Others are having some casualties. Except Deirdre, who is having all casualties. This Deirdre is more bloodthirsty than the Deirdre I have known, pure death on the rocks. I am really disappointed by her lack of compassion. I have been known to be ruthless, but only where it is necessary.
Merlin is releasing a spell. A bus appears and flies at top speed into a boulder. The boulder bounces aside into another. He is using the bus to duplicate the billiards trick.
I am still subduing people, trying to save them from Deirdre's ax. We still have a long distance to cover, but the odds are improving. I see myself in the distance. On that boulder, there are three figures. Myself, a dark cloaked figure, and a feminine figure in close fitting clothes. We are facing a variation of my three handed game. I can't make out the details yet. However, I know I have seen those features before. I hope I am wrong.
Kat is also charging forward, she is trying to put our opponents to sleep without having them fall off the boulders. She sees some of Deirdre's victims and is appalled. "Deirdre, there is an easier way of doing that; instead of killing them." Deirdre moves forward, ignoring her. My opinion of Kat just went up a notch.
I see the Doctor on a nearby boulder working through the Ty'iga possessed people. I notice for the first time that there is little natural light in the Abyss, in other words: no natural sunlight. I am able to see as a result of my enhanced senses due to psyche and Pattern awareness. The others must have varying degrees of visual acuity due to their own abilities. The Doctor reaches out and a bright beam of light appears, cutting through the darkness at our opponents. Kat is casting a spell to illuminate the area. At first, my eyes struggle to adjust to the light, but soon details become clearer. The Doctor puts his light source away.
We press on and see our opponents gather in force. Deirdre is moving further ahead of us and cutting our opponents down like a scythe cutting through wheat.
We get closer to the center rock, our destination. With the additional light, I can see the three figures clearly now. Myself, no surprise there. A gray robot figure with a green cloak, looking like a cybernaut with a medieval fright mask. The third person is one I hoped who would be safe from this situation. She hasn't changed since I last saw her. I would have expected her to have shown some sign of aging. However, she may be a Shadow version of the Mrs. Emma Peel I have known. By the Unicorn, she looks exquisite. The dark auburn hair and black leather jumpsuit are unmistakable.
"Mrs. Peel will be a little harder to knock out." It may be easier, the Ty'iga may not have her skill in combat. Hopefully, we can resolve this before Deirdre reaches the center rock. I don't trust her to restrain herself from killing the tree outright, leaving me without a body and Mrs. Peel.
I am advancing as quick as possible, subduing those that Deirdre has ignored. I will be kind to those who find my journal and refrain from describing the host of bizarre creatures we encountered. It is enough that the Ty'igas are merciless with the Shadow dwellers they use and uncaring of the effect they have on the Shadows they visited. I will only say that Deirdre has deprived some Shadow of their St. Nicholas. For that alone, she deserves the same fate as her counterpart. Faced with the opportunity, it will not be my hand that saves her.
Press on, old boy, it is another foot race. The rock I am on is hit and I am sent sprawling. I cling to it for purchase. The rock starts tilting and I am on the side, waiting for it to stabilize. I glance around to see how others are faring. Deirdre's rock is hit solid. She is thrown from it, along with some Shadow dweller in red, who is able to stretch his body to incredible proportions.
I look down and see a rock below me, around 4 to 5 meters away. I can drop to it safely enough. I see Kat up ahead, she is still moving on. She seems to be within a half dozen rocks from the trio. She stumbles, there is a green arrow that pierced her leg. I see the source of it. Some archer, all dressed in green with Robin Hood style clothing. He has blond hair and a narrow beard. He hits the other leg with another arrow. She drops and changes into a large black eagle. She flies toward him. He stops attacking and moving stiffly, takes his bow and snaps it over his knee. He then wraps the bow string around his neck and jumps off the rock into the Abyss. He was obviously mind controlled by Kat. He misses a rock that was blasted to gravel by someone, falling into the Abyss.
The rock I am on is now being grabbed by a huge hand attached to a long red wrist. Another rock is being grabbed by a similar hand. I imagine that Deirdre is climbing him like a rope back to the rocks. Little does he know, she will probably kill him once she is safe again.
I see two people on the rock below me. I may land on one of them, but I will take the chance dropping only 4 to 5 meters. I drop onto the rock below. I land crouching between two figures. A centaur in a suit is on my right, sporting a bow. Someone in a space suit with a large opaque globe over his head is on my left. The globe obscures his facial features. His outstretched palm has a dark circle on it, trying to touch me with it. He holds his palm out menacingly as if it is a weapon. The nature of it is unknown, but I can test it.
I reach out to the centaur in the suit with my right hand, grasping him by the lapel. I pull him downward and direct him between myself and the bloke with the outstretched palm. The centaur offers little resistance to my own Amberite strength. With him off balance, I push him at his partner, giving him a change of bait. I didn't expect what happened next. The centaur made contact with the palm and exploded into atoms. My suit is sprayed from the explosion of a warm snow of centaur bits.
Now I am facing this Ty'iga possessed 'Removal Man'. I am considering my strategy on how to dispose of him without being touched. The nearest rock below is further from the center rock, not a good option.
I have my plan worked out, I will withdraw my blade and prepare to cut his hand off. Instead, I will parry around to cut his leg out from under him. This will cause him to fall, catching himself. When the rock disintegrates, I will jump to the rock below. I should be able to reach the person of my choice via Trump to get to the others and closer to the center rock.
Let's do it, old boy. Using my sabre, I make the feign to the hand and bring the blade around severing his leg cleanly. He falls over. I turn to jump to the rock below. Instead, someone falls in front of me from the rock above, blocking my path. He is a large ugly bloke with a prosthetic right arm ending in a claw. There is a clock dial on his face. It is spinning like a clock out of control. He is also spinning around and punching in circles. With sabre still in hand, I try to cut his legs out from under him. My sabre fails to cut through. Time is running out. I time his movements. As he passes, I elbow him out of the way. As he falls, he hits the Removal Man, punching and knocking him off the boulder into the Abyss. The remaining opponent is now on the ground, moving and punching in circles.
The Doctor is up ahead. He withdraws his scarf with Suehprom's shape shifted hand grafted on it. He extends it to reach for the Jewel of Judgment hanging from the Ty'iga possessed Steed. With a kick, Mrs. Peel knocks the hand away from the Jewel.
I call out to him. "Doctor, don't underestimate Mrs. Peel!"
I look at the rock I was planning to jump onto. The other massive hand is there. There seems to be some movement under the hand. Since there is no danger of the rock exploding, there is no reason to jump down. I put my sabre into the umbrella sheathe and withdraw the Trump deck. I shuffle them and find Kesa's Trump. I concentrate upon it as it grows colder.
"Kesa, I am a few boulders lower and I would like to get a little closer to the action. Can you pull me through?" She first deals with some creatures and then she pulls me through.
I survey the scenery. I am farther away than I was when I dropped to the lower rocks, but now I am higher up. That will be more advantageous, if I need to drop to a lower level again. "Kesa, we need to get a little closer to the action."
I can see several people back at our 'Rock Prime'. I see Kat, Scout, and the Doctor up ahead. Kesa and I are moving from rock to rock with little hindrance. The opposition is dwindling and our odds are improving. I don't see Suehprom, Deirdre, or Blazer anywhere.
Kat, in a black eagle form, is moving toward the Doctor. He is trying to keep her away. He probably didn't see her shape shift after she was hit by the arrows. She stays near the Doctor, but has given up trying to communicate with him. Pity, she doesn't or can't talk in her other forms.
The Doctor seems to be struggling with something in his pants, withdrawing a small figure, he throws it at the armored member of the trio. It hits the armour and bounces off, falling into the Abyss.
I move on quickly. I see Creed on another rock getting closer to the center and facing a muscular creature with green skin. No time to observe any action, just keep moving.
I am getting closer to the trio in the center. The Doctor fires a lightning bolt at the armored bloke. Instead of disrupting it, the energy is being absorbed. He says to the Doctor. "Thank you." He fires the energy back at the Doctor. The Doctor and Kat abandons their rock in opposite directions as it explodes into gravel.
We move quickly. I don't want to provide a target for the 'Positive Negative Man'. Many of the rocks between us and Rock Prime have been destroyed by various attacks. Kesa and I are making progress. Hopefully, the Doctor can take out the Positive Negative Man. We should be able to handle the Ty'iga possessed Mrs. Peel and Steed, taking them alive.
Kat is up ahead facing the center rock perched on the closest boulder. She seems to be staring at something. Shortly, she collapses and flops forward onto the boulder. Something has happened to her. Was she trying something with the Jewel? No time to investigate. I will keep track of her, in case she needs help later.
The Doctor is on another boulder. He is sporting a high tech rifle. I haven't seen one like it before. He levels it at the Positive Negative Man.
Creed has managed to defeat his opponent and leaps to the center rock. He lands as the Doctor's rifle is fired. It is a gauss rifle that is disrupting the electronics of the Positive Negative Man. He is flailing wildly and the armour begins to glow. The armour explodes in a blinding flash.
When my vision clears, the boulder is gone. Damn! I make it to the rock Kat is on and look down. I see myself and Creed falling into the Abyss. Fortunately, Mrs. Peel has landed on a rock below. She is motionless, but at least she is spared the Abyss.
I imagine a continued existence as a Pattern Ghost. I shudder, refusing to give up. This can't happen, I was so close! I take out a Trump of myself and make an attempt to reach my body, with no success. I look around to see what is transpiring, there is no time for resignation. There are always options and unforeseen opportunities. I haven't exhausted all possibilities yet.
The creatures that remain seem to be looking around, confused. The Ty'iga have abandoned their hosts. They would awake as from a dream, with no idea how they got here. They are calling out for help and most are hugging the rocks, afraid they will fall off. We will need to rescue them and take them to a place of safety. Someone in Amber can figure out how to get them back to their own Shadows, if that is possible.
Merlin shouts. "We can't get down there to save anyone or retrieve the Jewel. They have all fallen into the uninhabitable area."
Suehprom appears from a lower rock and checks on Mrs. Peel. He seems surprised to see me, since my body just fell into the Abyss and I am looking down at him.
I reach for the Trump inside my jacket pocket. The only chance I see is contacting my mentor. She has retrieved the Jewel from the Abyss before. She may be the only one who can retrieve it now. The Jewel is still paramount priority.
I concentrate on the image of the Unicorn Grove. The Trump cools and contact seems to respond as though the Unicorn is very close. However, there seems to be some resistance. She will sense my contact, I am sure that she is somehow aware of our situation. I stop contact and put the Trump away.
The Doctor offers reluctantly to get the TARDIS and take it into the uninhabitable area. It is probably not a good idea, I won't encourage him. The Doctor definitely appears to regret firing the gauss rifle.
Merlin and the Doctor are discussing possible actions, with little success of options that won't put others at great risk. I would rather not risk them further, yet.
I try another option. I use my Pattern awareness to extend my mind to contact the Jewel. I concentrate on reaching the Jewel, shutting off external distractions. My mind moves further and further into the Abyss. Deeper and deeper. Contact! Strangely, it seems to be moving closer, not further. I definitely sense it getting closer. Somehow, it is returning; I can guess how. I return my awareness to my Pattern Ghost body. The others should know; but, what is happening now?
The Doctor asks me about the Jewel. He is surprised about my response. He reaches into a pocket and pulls out a butterfly net to catch it.
"I have a suspicion about what is going on, from my Trump contact earlier. What I am hoping is that my great grandmother is returning with the Jewel. I don't know if others will be returning with her."
Others look at me incredulously, I continue. "Yes, and she has been in the Abyss before." They don't believe me.
The conversation turns to Kat. I mention that her body is on this rock in the form of a large black eagle. We will need to check on her. The Doctor calls out to calm the Shadow dwellers down.
Soon, we hear soft hoof beats. I turn and face my mentor, the Unicorn of Amber. She has a body draped over her back and the Jewel is hanging on a chain around her neck.
I look closely to see whose body she has. I am relieved to see that is my body! I send a warm mental message. :Thank you!: She moves closer to me so I can remove the body. I place it gently on the boulder.
Creed was not returned, I have mixed feelings about that. Mostly, I am glad.
She turns and moves slowly toward Scout. She approaches Scout lowering her head, offering him the Jewel. He takes it gingerly and seems to be in mental contact with her. She turns again and gallops into the darkness, soon fading from view.
I look down and call out, in case she is conscious. "Mrs. Peel! Chin up, I will be right down." I turn to the others. "We have unfinished business. I will try to return to my body, we should tend to Kat, we should rescue the stranded Shadow dwellers, and we should get ourselves and the Jewel out of here."
I focus on my body and extend my mind to make contact with it. "Steed, I'm coming home." My consciousness returns to my body. Nerve endings feel like they are on fire. It is like my entire body was asleep and my senses try to return to normal. It takes a few moments to become reacquainted with my long lost body. As I rise, I see the Pattern Ghost body burst into cool blue flames and disappear. My belongings fall to the ground. I gather my bowler, brolly, and Trumps; putting everything where they belong.
Just to appear interested. "Oh, we should probably find a way to retrieve Creed." I get mixed reactions. Most feel that it is pointless.
Merlin is satisfied that he is lost. "I don't care how he dies, as long as he is dead."
I understand, he is thinking of Coral.
I jump down to Mrs. Peel. Three rocks later, I am at her side. I check for vital signs. She is still unconscious but at least she is alive. Feeling around, no bones appear to be broken. There is no bleeding but there are various bruises. I pick her up carefully and pull out a Trump of Scout. Concentrating on it, I make contact and ask him to pull us through.
I step through and lay Mrs. Peel down carefully. I hear a familiar sound, but the Doctor is already here. It is the whine of the TARDIS. 
The TARDIS appears and Oberon comes out, asking for the Jewel of Judgment.
The Doctor sees the TARDIS on the rock with Oberon. He sprints for the TARDIS, avoiding Oberon.
I see Oberon a few boulders away, demanding Scout to give him the Jewel.
"I don't think I can do that." Scout is actually defying Oberon. I like this fellow.
Before, I would have given the Jewel to Oberon, but the Unicorn chose to give it to Scout. I don't know why, but I accept her judgment above all others. That means, no Jewel for Oberon.
"I said. 'Bring me my Jewel!'" He appears quite angry.
"I think that the Unicorn gave me different advise." Scout is standing his ground. I will provide any support I can.
"You think wrong. I will ask a third time. I will not ask a fourth. Give me that Jewel."
I reach into my Trump deck. I hand one to Scout. "This is a Trump of my room in Castle Amber. It may buy you some time."
He takes it, considering the possible escape route. The Doctor disappears into the TARDIS. Oberon moves from rock to rock, intending to take the Jewel from Scout. Time is running out.
If Scout doesn't escape soon... The Doctor comes out of the TARDIS shouting. "He's not Oberon! Stop him, he's Eric!"
I am standing next to Scout and I reach over touching the Jewel. "I think we are in for some bad weather." I am focusing on calling down lightning to strike Eric, my own version of broadcast power. Scout is concentrating on another Trump, not the one I gave him.
Merlin offers to help with the Trump contact.
Deirdre is standing nearby, but staying out of the action. This is odd behavior for Deirdre. What is she up to?
Morganth is also concentrating on a Trump.
Kesa is looking at Eric, puzzled. His features flow back to his normal appearance, definitely Eric.
Scout reaches through the rainbow shimmer and pulls out Corwin. Corwin seems to be fit and tanned from his absence, also quite angry. He withdraws Greyswandir and faces Eric. Corwin motions to him, blocking Eric's path to Scout and the Jewel. "Come on."
Kesa is running toward Eric.
Deirdre is moving closer to Scout. To help?
I concentrate. Strike Eric with lightning. For the years he forced mother to stay on Shadow Earth to monitor Corwin. For his part in taking the throne of Amber and his atrocities to the other Amberites. For the years I was unable to reach Amber and provide support in the Patternfall War. Finally, just because he is a bastard that deserved some of his own medicine.
He would use the Jewel to take the throne from Uncle Random, the most benevolent ruler Amber has seen since the early days of Oberon. For all of that, he deserves a few lightning bolts. It is taking too long to summon the storm. Why? Concentrate! Call upon the energy of the Jewel, I feel it building and shaping the storm. It is taking too long in the Abyss.
Corwin calls out. "Listen Eric, I don't want to kill you again. Why don't you just surrender?" He is exaggerating, trying to unsettle Eric.
He calls back. "I don't care what you did to the Eric in this universe, but I am here now. I'm taking over. I will be rightful king of Amber. Bow down to me or get the hell out of my way."
I think that there is another alternative.
Scout takes the Jewel and puts it in the bag of the flying guillotine. He flings it toward Eric. He expects Eric to reach into the bag and lose a hand.
Eric catches the chain instead.
Morganth calls out. "Eric, I am a Chaos mage. We are over the Abyss. Don't make me cast a fireball spell!"
Scout pulls the other end of the chain to retrieve the guillotine. Eric pulls as well. Corwin reaches over and helps Scout pull. Eric lets go as he is pulled off the rock to a lower level. Eric lands on a rock below. Bad show.
I still concentrate on summoning the Chaos storm. I feel another mind reaching in. I don't recognize the mental image, but it is probably someone who has an attunement to the Jewel. Another mind has joined us, one I do recognize; Merlin. This should help considerably.
The Doctor heads for the TARDIS with Kat's body; with Suehprom close behind.
Eric gets to his feet on the lower rock, heading back to us.
Scout has possession of the Jewel, but is remaining outside the contact.
I feel the Chaos storm building, but it is forming below us, not above us.
Corwin has taken a frontal defensive position on our rock. Deirdre is at the back of the rock. The rest of us are in the center. I am trying to stay between Scout and Deirdre, I don't trust her.
Kesa is running to Eric's side and calling out to him. "Wait for me Eric!" Eric holds back waiting for her to catch up.
Scout is wrapping the chain of the Jewel around his wrist, to keep a firm grasp on it. He has the guillotine in the other hand.
Kesa asks Eric. "Do you just want the Jewel of Judgment?"
"The Jewel, the crown of Amber, and control of all reality. That's all."
I shake my head. "I suspected as much. Just another 'tomorrow the world' maniac after all."
Kesa has decided that having Eric in charge is better than all other options. Myself, I rather like Amber under the current ruler. Wherever he is. We could use some help from other elders. Also, where is that bloody lightning?
Eric turns from Kesa and jumps to the rock in front of Corwin. He recovers his balance and they begin a sword fight.
Kesa has a Trump in one hand and a sword in the other.
Scout seems to be reacting to a Trump contact, possibly Kesa. He steps back and is getting closer to Deirdre and the still unconscious form of Mrs. Peel. Deirdre steps forward maneuvering around everyone. With one hand on Scout's shoulder and the other reaching around for the Jewel. "I'll take that." Deirdre is quickly getting the upper hand on Scout.
Scout needs help. I step forward and go for repeated kicks to her leg behind the knee, to knock her off balance. I put all my strength into the kicks. She takes the kicks and there is no effect. Merlin and Gabriel join in and none of us are able to stop her. I even doubt that my Sabre will be effective against her armor, which is probably magical in nature.
Kesa makes it back to our rock and moves smoothly around Merlin. I don't know what she has planned, but I will watch her carefully.
Scout calls out. "Now would be a really good time to bring me through!" Scout and Deirdre disappear into a rainbow Trump portal.
That leaves us to help Corwin. Eric realizes that he is outnumbered and the Jewel is gone with Scout and Deirdre. The storm cloud dissipates with the Jewel gone, it is a pity just one bolt didn't fire. Eric decides to make a retreat, since his prize is now out of reach. I move closer to Corwin attempting to provide a distraction for Corwin. Hopefully, Corwin can get a hit in if we draw Eric's attention. Kesa interposes herself between us and Eric. She uses a Trump and throws a dagger at Corwin. It misses him because he is that good. Merlin is trying to deal with Kesa, who disappears through a Trump portal. The fight goes on for a few minutes more, then Eric disappears through a Trump portal. Apparently, Kesa was able to rescue Eric. Now, they are both gone to who knows where.
Things settle down now. The Ty'igas have left. Corwin, Merlin, Morganth, Gabriel, the Doctor, Suehprom, and myself are left to clean up. Kat is in the TARDIS, trapped in eagle form. Mrs. Peel is still unconscious on the rock. I pick her up to carefully carry her to the TARDIS infirmary. I want to be there with her when she regains consciousness.
I know that she will blame me for everything, demanding an explanation. She may even believe some of it.

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