They're All Mad Here

There is silence as her mind catches up with her feelings and her face pales under her tan from the wrongness. "What the hell is that?" Skye asks as she stands, alert, pulling Saffron with her.

"Nothing good," Saffron answers. "Screw secret passages, hiding books, and all that. How far was it to the stairs from here?" She was already headed for the door to the corridor as she spoke.

Skye makes sure she has the book of dirty little secrets before she follows Saffron. She shoves the book it was hiding in between two chests and then hurries after her lover. "This way," she says. "We'll run. Where exactly are we running to?"

"Gardens," she answers. "Something's being torn; I have no idea what, but Reality doesn't like it."

"This way then," Skye grabs Saffron's hand and dashes down a side corridor leading to the servants' passageway. "The main stairs and halls meander to show off things. The servants' way is always the quickest route to any location."

The servant's way is indeed faster, and they travel down quickly. The windows they pass tell them that it's just after lunch. The feeling goes away quickly as they run, but the echo still resides in the backs of their minds.

Reaching the gardener's entrance, Skye leads Saffron out into the sunlit gardens and pauses on the path. "Which way?"

There's not much need for magical bearings-taking, as both can see - coming from one of the larger entrances - Random and Gerard tearing towards the garden. Oddly, though, Bleys is standing there watching them approach.

As Saffron and Skye approach, they can tell that he's saying something, and gesturing in the direction of the sally port. As he finishes, Gerard heads off in that direction, and the two can see past Bleys' shoulder that Gideon is approaching the group.

Skye snorts derisively. "Great. If we get a straight, truthful answer out of Aunt Bleys and Carnac the Magnificent I'll fu —," she coughs. "faint."

Saffron snorts a laugh. "Shush. And if anyone asks about the books, they're on castle architecture and we'll explain the passages. And actually - we should ask Aunt Bleys… Oh, now you've got me doing it!" She shakes her head. "Anyway, we should ask *him* about the Pattern on the wall by his color-coordinated sitting room."

Skye looks down at the book in her hand and shoves it into her waistband at the small of her back under her shirt. "What book?" she asks with a challenging arch of a sooty brow. "Come on," says the Ranger as she tugs Saffron along with her towards the pair of uncles. "I hope Gerard has someone inside with her your mother."

"Coming," the sorceress answers as she follows. "And I wouldn't bet on it. After all, she can just walk it off, right?"

"You know it turns me on when you get all snarky and sarcastic, my fiery prietenă," Skye responds while keeping her eyes on the gathering ahead.

Random strides forward to greet the two. "Been hiding in the stacks, ladies? You're both a little dusty. I assume you felt the same thing I did?"

Looking over at Saffron, Skye blandly brushes a dusty bunny off the other woman’s sleeve before looking back at Random. “Actually, Saffron had this fantasy involving the library and I was being supportive. Until something tore. Do you know what happened?”

Saffron eyes the other woman with amusement. "Yes, well, I suppose it was a fantasy to expect to find books on certain things in the library," she offers drily. "If you mean someone trying to rip a hole in Reality, then yes, we did."

Gideon approaches from the side, leaving Bleys standing alone, though not for long. Bleys follows almost immediately, and both arrive in time to hear Saffron's comment.

Random nods. "Yes. It was quite painful for me, especially. I expect, if Fiona were here, she'd be most unhappy."

Skye manages to not roll her eyes, but Saffron can tell it’s a close thing. “I imagine. But what was it?”

Random shakes his head. "I don't know. Since I lost the Jewel, my ability to determine those things has been diminished. I can only hope the pain I suffered was also diminished - then, at least, there's a silver lining to the loss."

Not being able to imagine how one could just lose the Jewel of Judgment, Skye doesn’t even address that issue. “So we have no idea what tore the very fabric of Reality. Does anyone have any idea what it possibly means?” She looks around the area warily. “Or if anything came through the rip?”

"Ah," Saffron observes briefly. "Maybe Uncle Bleys saw something and can shed some light on what happened?" She looks to him. "Since you seem to have beaten the rest of us here…"

After raising his hand in a stop gesture, Gideon shakes his head. "Nothing came through. The tear didn't exist for more than a handful of seconds and it was not going anywhere more hostile than one of Amber's own farms anyway. Let me offer my deepest apologies to everyone for the felt pain from that event. If it makes you feel any better, I was not spared the sensation myself."

Gideon turns to Random. "Random, I've come here to offer the instrument of that pain to Amber's service, in my hands at least. I don't know it's name, but it's a dreadful thing."

Slowly Gideon draws the black iron sword out from the scabbard on his back and lays the flat of the blade across his left hand while holding the grip with his right. The black great sword lays there in his hands, the five foot blade, dark and grained. The hilt is wide, perhaps eight inches and the grip is at least a foot in length and wrapped in well used leather.

Random looks at Gideon, eyes unreadable. He avoids touching the sword, though.

"So you did this, with that sword?"

Bleys leans lightly against a tree, hands in his pockets.

"I saw it - and felt it, of course. Cut a two inch hole in the air. Like he said, though, it mended quickly, and I saw nothing come through."

Skye looks at Saffron. “I think we are superfluous to these proceedings. Shall we go check on your mother?”

Gideon turns to Skye, looking rather worried and distracted. "Would you both not stay? I think this might be important to everyone here. Bleys and I also have some information that needs to be heard concerning the power that manifests as fire."

He looks confused for a moment realizing what Skye just said. He turns to Saffron. "Your mother? Dierdre is still alive?"

With a shake and a frown, Gideon looks back to Random and apologizes. "I'm sorry Random. Yes I was the one who swung the blade..There was some doubt over the providence of the weapon. I know it was not well advised, but I managed to stop myself before completing the cut. The blade did not cut Amber casually I assure you, much effort was required."

"Yes, Mom's alive." Saffron looks at Gideon, and then at Skye. "I do want to check on her again, Skye, but we probably ought to ask a certain uncle about the interesting thing on the wall near his favorite sitting room," she observed finally. "And he is right there and all."

Bleys gives Saffron a puzzled look, cocking his head slightly. "The only interesting thing I ever saw near any sitting room was one of the maids with one of my siblings. Very interesting that was. Can we go back to the sword that cuts reality?"

Skye crosses her arms and gives the blade a suspicious look “One crisis at a time then. Gideon, where did this thing come from? And what are you going to do with it now that it’s here, Random? Frankly, a Reality tearing sword sounds like something that should be rendered to slag, the slag encased in concrete and the whole thing shot into the sun. But that’s just my opinion.”

Gideon answers Skye, "I agree that it's a disturbing artifact Skye, but even as a forest must grow, sometimes it must also burn. Leaving Amber, I passed through the Vale of Garnath and saw the Unicorn growing new trees. Before it ran away, it touched my leg with it's horn. I'm certain that it wants this sword to be recovered. As for where I found it, It was in an pristine shadow that felt as real to me as Amber. There was a circle of stone monoliths under matching stars and an altar. In that place I burned some herbs in a ritual to meditate and after sleeping in the circle and a night of strange dreams, the sword was there on the altar."

“Omens and portents? On top of everything else?” Skye shakes her head and looks at Saffron. “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. “

Skye turns to Random. “Your Majesty, I am aware that the past two days have been the very definition of interesting times, but Saffron and I found a few things you should be aware of after you have decided about that blade.”

"And it's a bit more serious than who's been sleeping with what maid," Saffron adds, glancing at Bleys with a slight smile.

Gideon shakes his head at the girls comments, wondering of they are as jaded as they seem to be acting.

Random looks harried, but closes his eyes for a moment, rubbing at a crease in his forehead.

"Inside. We'll talk further in my office. Saffron, your mother is fine. Benedict showed up about an hour ago, and he's with her right now. I'll Trump Gerard once we're in the office. He can swap. I want Benedict in any conversation about this sword."

He looks at Skye and Saffron.

"Unless you think it needs to be a state secret, you can share your information on the way."

Skye clicks her teeth together as she considers all the ramifications of everything they had discovered. “It concerns castle security, so you decide. But I can tell you that I saw a –specter? in a hall mirror on our way to get Saffron a change of clothes. I didn’t recognize her, and she was gone almost as soon as I saw her.”

"Another one of those? Gwyll and I saw something like that after Jurt showed up." Gideon says, shaking his head.

Gideon nods and follows Random silently, inwardly dubious about Random's reasons to summon Benedict.

"I still need to look at that mirror," Saffron says thoughtfully. "Although it almost sounds like it isn't contained to just that one. You don't happen to remember where you were when you and Gwyll saw that, do you?"

Gideon nods. "Mmm. It was in Gwyll's room if I remember correctly. Just the most fleeting of a view."

Saffron sighs, scowling. "Wonderful. Either I need to look at every mirror in the castle to make sure none of them are enchanted, or the mirror has very little to do with it."

Walking beside her, Skye scowls. "Not today, you won't. I will not allow you to work yourself to exhaustion. You get right shirty when I do it."

Gideon smiles for a moment, the banter distracting him from his own looming problems. "Skye, when you see Julian next, make sure to tell him that the Unicorn was healing Garnath. I think it might cheer him up a little."

"No doubt," the Ranger replies. "The forest is his first love." She nods to the swarthy man. "Thank you."

After a returned nod, Gideon goes back to looking grim again.

The group continues more or less silently to Random's office, where he pulls a Trump and concentrates briefly. He doesn't talk directly, but after a moment sets the Trump aside. "All right. Gerard will Trump Ben, and as soon as he's back, Ben will come here. So we have a few minutes. Saffron, Skye - I'm guessing you have more than a spectre in a mirror."

"First off, your castle is honeycombed with secret passages," Saffron starts. "Secondly, there's a Pattern drawn on the wall in one of them, rather near Bleys's favorite sitting room. Thirdly, one of the exit doors seems to be a door to somewhere else. It's sort of Trump-like. Did I miss anything?" She looks at Skye.

After stashing the black blade into his back scabbard, Gideon finds a place to stand and lean on his staff. He lightens up a little as he listens to Saffron, especially hearing of the Pattern drawing. "Were these passages very maze like?" Gideon asks, tugging on his beard exactly like his father used to do.

"Were these passages very maze like?" Gideon asks, tugging on his beard exactly like his father used to do.

"Not especially, no," Skye shrugs. They follow the lines of the castle."

"Hmmm. Just something I saw in the smoke. A maze and a sarcophagus."

"We found no sarcophagus," Skye says. "Though considering how many passage we found in the one wing, there are likely more."

Gideon grins. "I'm surprised you didn't find any skeletons."

"We haven't started checking closets yet," Skye smiles crookedly. "Who knows what we'll find there."

"There was plenty of graffiti, though," Saffron adds.

The door is opened by one of the guards, and Benedict strides inside, then nods at the guard, who quickly closes the door. "I'm here, Random. What's the concern?"

Even with his immediately terse statement, he spares a look at each of the youngsters in the room, nodding slightly to Skye, sparing one of his tiny smiles for Saffron. His eyes actually widen slightly on seeing Gideon - or, more likely, Gideon's sword. "Something to do with that, I expect?"

Skye greets the General with a respectful nod instead of a salute since they're both in civvies. But she does straighten from her slouch the second he walks in.

Saffron returns the smile with a quiet one of her own; while she's annoyed with several of her uncles today, Benedict isn't one of them.

Noting Benedict's look, Gideon nods back and then asks to Random, "Alright. It's obvious you two know something about this sword. Care to share some of it? "

Benedict shakes his head. "I know nothing of the sword specifically. That it's a sword of Power - that's obvious. I gather it had something to do with the recent sensation. I infer that, of course, by the fact that it's the only new thing here, and I doubt Random would call me into a meeting for anything less, this close to the event."

Random nods with a sigh. "I don't either, Gideon. Bleys or Fiona are the ones you'll want to talk to - well, it seems Bleys knows little, either. So Fiona. If he were still alive, Brand. Assuming you could trust what he told you."

Bleys, who has had followed silently and remained somehow unmarked, except perhaps by Benedict, chooses that moment to speak. "Well, I did say something. Benedict, I'm not sure about Random, but I think you may remember the legends. I won't wager on it, but I do find myself wondering if what our nephew found is THE Sword of Power."

Benedict looks doubtful.

Shrugging, Gideon looks between Random, Benedict and Bleys. "And you all went looking for some legendary sword of power? Was this power in your minds as you searched? When I was traveling to the place I found this weapon, I was searching for a shadow where no one would have power over others; no kings, no lords, no masters. Now I don't know if this is the legendary sword you were looking for, but I think I can see why this sword was never found before now."

Skye’s eyebrows go up and she looks over at Saffron. She can’t decide if she’s excited at the prospect, or alarmed. “The Sword of Power? “ She pauses a moment. “When they said it was sharp enough to cut the sky, I hadn’t realized that meant rending Reality.”

Saffron crosses her arms and frowns skeptically. "The problem with legendary swords," she observes, "is that people make up all sorts of nonsense about them. Not unlike most rumors," she adds blandly, glancing at Skye. "It's almost impossible to tell if you've found the real thing or not without proper research - that is, unless the legends aren't exaggerations and the sword matches up perfectly. I'm not sure yet that this one does; I mean, you did cut a mid-air hole in reality, but that's not exactly the sky…"

“It would be to someone who did not know any different,” Skye points out. Then she shrugs. “Once someone decides it isn’t dangerous to possess, I think it should be kept hidden away until it may be needed. Gideon believes the Unicorn wanted it found. I have to think if that is true, that She was thinking we were going to need it; and not just because it is a wicked wall decoration.”

Random looks over at the two. "It sounds like at least one of you has more information than we do. I have to say, I never heard of it. I expect because none of my siblings wanted to see it in my hands."

He smiles self-deprecatingly and shrugs. "Who would you trust with that knowledge, Skye? The only person I know who could undoubtedly defend the thing is Benedict."

Benedict nods, briefly. "True. But I've enough to do without becoming the focus of everyone who wants the thing. It went to Gideon. I see no reason to take it from him, yet."

Bleys smiles and shrugs. "I'm with him. Besides, if we clear this quickly, I can hear about this pattern on the wall near one of the sitting rooms. A pattern, I might add, that neither I nor Fiona has ever sensed."

Skye shrugs and looks to Random. "It is hardly my decision to make. I certainly don't want it, and after Benedict, I would probably suggest Julian. But Gideon has been an honorable man as far as I know, so I have no problem with him keeping it safe if he believes that he can if that is your decision" She gives the cousin in question a narrow look. "As long as he doesn't go rending the fabric of Reality again and scaring us all half to death."

Gideon stands up, looking around the room angrily. "You will let me keep it? Do you think that I don't have a shred of self-respect? I bring this here freely and you look at me like a child who's found a pistol on the yard. I am not keeping this blade by your leave. As far as I am concerned, the Unicorn lead me to this and if anyone want's to claim it, they will have to take it from me by force."

He turns back to Random. "Now if you want me to take this thing into the dungeon and sit on it in the dark, I will. I offered this weapon for Amber's service, but I wasn't giving it to you as a gift."

"Oh, do sit down, Gideon," Saffron says, a bit testily. "There's no point in pitching a fit about it after they already decided to not argue with you about keeping it."

Skye gives him a bland look and then arches an eyebrow before shaking her head and looking back at Random. If one doesn't want to be treated like a child, one shouldn't throw a tantrum in front of two of the most powerful men in Creation. Another name off The List, I think.

Gideon ignores Saffron, just shaking his head in disgust.

"Settle down, Gideon," Random smiles. "I wasn't even going to ask. You found it, it's yours. As long as you don't go cutting Amber any more, that is."

Benedict frowns slightly, though whether at Random, Gideon, himself, or someone - or something - else, it's hard to tell. "It seems I might owe someone an apology. I assumed that Random would want it secured." He shrugs. "In any event, as I mentioned, I have no intention of taking it from you, since I have many better things to do than defend it constantly."

"Yes. I Imagine you've more than busy as it is." Gideon says back to Benedict with a nod. He turns back toward Random. "It's not like this thing is a big bundle of happiness and joy. I just want to make sure you know I'm not taking this damn thing lightly, like it's some toy I won at the fair. I'm responsible for bringing it here, and I'm willing to accept that."

Gideon breathes once, relaxing slightly and faintly smiling. "Right.No more cuts in Amber. Once was more than anyone ever needs to experience." He shrugs. "I'm sorry, go on about the Pattern painting, Saffron."

"It isn't a painting," Skye says with a look to Bleys. "It's inscribed."

"On the wall," Saffron supplies. "And it doesn't want to be sketched or drawn any more than the real thing does. It's not exactly the Pattern, I think; there are parts that aren't quite right, and there are parts where the lines are inscribed in the wall and the fire doesn't follow it. It does have Power, though."

Gideon leans back against the wall, and ponders, "I wonder how old it is. A lot of intrigue went on during Patternfall, it wouldn't be shocking to find out that some of the machinations of that time are still doing their job spying on people."

“I suspect it is older than that,” says Skye. “The passageways show no sign of activity for quite a while if the amount of dust is anything to go by”

Bleys shakes his head. "Well, I don't know a thing about it. I have never felt any power emanating from those halls. Though as I'm sure you're aware, this entire castle is kind of noisy. Probably hid under the static. I would like to see it, though I'm sure Saffron's skill is quite sufficient."

Benedict actually manages to look almost - a little - sheepish. "Down by the Blue sitting room? I had thought that dad closed off those passages. I certainly couldn't get back in. Maybe his death unsealed them. I should have anticipated that."

He looks over at Random, then back to Skye and Saffron. "I don't know exactly who inscribed it, but that thing was there when I was a child. Those I questioned claimed to know nothing about it."

“Probably Dworkin then?” Skye muses. “Do you know anything about a doorway that leads to another place that is not Amber?” she asks Benedict. “Because we found that down a different passageway.”

"Vaguely Trump-like," Saffron supplies. "It seemed to link to someplace with *enormous* trees."

"A backdoor to Arden? An escape hatch or a way to sneak out for some secret illicit rendezvous. " Gideon muses as he leans against the wall. "From Oberon's reputation…"

"I'm not sure it was Arden," Saffron answers hesitantly, looking to Skye.

"It is not Arden," Skye states decisively. "The leaves on the trees are broader then the expanse of my arms, and there are houses built in the tree branches. Granted, Arden is vast and I have only been there a few years, but if something like that was there, I would have heard about it."

"The backdoor concept still fits though." Gideon says with a smile. "Someone should pop through and go take a look see."

Benedict shakes his head. "That, I don't recall. Not personally, anyway. I do remember reading something about it, but it wasn't related to my interests at the time, so I couldn't tell you where I read it, or even what it said."

Bleys shakes his head in turn. "Nor I. But then, Trumps aren't really my thing. Maybe Fi could tell you. I've seen her do things that I wouldn't even attempt."

"Saffron noted some markings around the doorway that are only visible to mage sight," Skye turns to address Bleys. "Perhaps you could identify them if you take a look?"

"It would be helpful to have someone else look at it," Saffron agrees. "I wasn't entirely able to figure it out. They could be a sealing spell, or maybe someone's designation of what the place on the other side is, or…" She shrugs.

Gideon continues to lean against the wall, listening politely as he waits.

Random stands up. "All right. I want to see these things. Gideon, you're welcome to come along if you like. You have a different perspective to most of us, I think. If you choose not, that's cool. I think you and Benedict need to talk a little about the sword, though. Not." he gives Gideon an actual, kingly look, "because I don't trust you with it. But because there may be other swords out there like it, and I'm sure Benedict will want to understand it better. Am I right?"

The last words are to Benedict, who nods. "A good summation. If you want to go with them, meet me later. I'll be in my gardens."

Gideon nods to Random. "Absolutely right, my lord. I will tag along as well, I'd like to see what the ladies have found."

He turns to the Master at Arms and offers, " I will see you as soon as we escape the cobwebs."

Skye straightens and nods to Benedict. "It was nice to see you again, sir."

She turns to Random and gestures with one hand. "This way then." A light touch on Saffron's elbow and the two women head out into the hall.

Saffron smiles at Benedict and says politely, "Uncle," as they depart.

Benedict returns the nods impassively, giving Saffron another slight smile as they leave.

Random stands and follows Skye and the others out, with Bleys already in the hallway, waiting, three coins being kept in the air off his knuckles.

Random starts down the corridor. "The Blue sitting room, right?"

Skye shakes her head. “The inscription is near there, but we will enter where we left the lamps.” She heads in the direction of the first hidden doorway that was hidden by the mirror.

"And wasn't it the Crimson, not the Blue?" Saffron adds as she follows.

“Oh, right. The Blue Room is the one closest to Bleys’ rooms. The Crimson is just the one that seems like his favorite.” Skye shrugs. “It has been a morning of discoveries. One gets confused.”

Gideon follows along, silent but obviously paying attention.

With five people involved, getting back to the inscribed Pattern is not a quick process, but it's not long before all are there, and staring at it.

Well, those who could stare at it. Random's face is - interesting - as he looks. Bleys is practically chuckling, but Gideon doesn't see anything at all, nor - still - does Skye.

Then Bleys makes a gesture and speaks a word, and both Skye and Gideon can finally see what the other three do.

Set into the wall, visible only to one with senses tuned to the mystical, is a representation of Pattern, though not exactly. In addition to looking subtly different, some of the lines seem to actually twist away from sight.

"You see what I mean?" Saffron says with a small smile.

Skye tilts her head slowly to one side as she frowns at the design. “That’s certainly headache inducing. One might suspect Dworkin was an alcoholic.”

"Something stronger than alcohol I think." Gideon quips as he studies the revealed image. He holds his hand out, his finger slowly tracing the design in the air. "I would think the weirdness is surely intentional if Dworkin made it. It could be a puzzle of some kind, solve the differences to open or unlock something. Only someone who has the Pattern would be likely to be able to solve it. Or the image could be intentional obfuscated to prevent meddling, like an message in code."

"I wouldn't do that. This thing has power. You have no idea what will happen if you complete it like that."

Skye crosses her arms and leans against the opposite wall of the narrow passage. “So, what do we do? Does it pose a danger to Amber, or is it safe to ignore for the most part?”

"It doesn't actually back up to the sitting room," Saffron offers. "It's either backing up to a dividing wall or… I think we had decided that was Llewella's room." She gestures in the appropriate direction.

Gideon looks at Bleys and smiles with a little shake of his head. "Let's not limit our imagination to two dimensions. What is above this spot and below?"

Random answers Gideon's question, looking around. "If I'm not totally lost, above this is one of your rooms - by which, I mean the younger generation. The seneschal would know exactly whose, but I think it's either Morgan's or Martin's. Below, I think it's Benedict's office. But neither situation would have held when this thing was created."

Watching Gideon, Skye slides as far from him as she can get without being completely rude and while staying with the group. She has no burning desire to be transported off to who knows where. She looks at Bleys. “What would happen if this was destroyed do you think? ”

"Or that section of the wall removed?" Saffron eyes it dubiously. "After appropriate study to be sure it's not going to cause an explosion or anything…"

Gideon stops and drops his hands. For a moment though, he's worried considering what happens when you do this on the real deal. Assuming nothing bad happens, he listens to Random and then watches Skye creep away with a little disappointment.

Gideon grimaces at the comments. "Come on. You're not seriously considering mutilating the castle? I suggest we either try to activate it or wait for Dworkin who probably made it in the first place. The thing has been sitting here quietly forever, I don't see why we should tamper with it destructively."

"Not me," Skye says with a shake of her head. "I was mostly just curious. Destroying Patterns - any Pattern - seems like a dubious plan. But it is a Pattern, and while not Amber's, it is in the middle of Amber and it made me wonder. Of course, I also wonder what reflected from it. If anything. But I am more curious about that door to another world we found in the other passagway. But that's probably because I can see what's on the other side of that."

Random nods. "Yes, let's look at that - I'm not convinced this is benign, but it is representative of our Power. I think we can safely leave it alone for a few more minutes. Unless, Gideon, you want to finish what you started. Might be interesting to watch."

He gives the group a gamin grin, then grows serious again. "Without the Jewel, I can't tell much. There's power there, but I don't know just how much - if at all - it connects to ours. It may be very dangerous."

Gideon reaches out as if he's ready to start again, then waves his hand. "Oh, I was game to try it before, but not now. Permission is bad luck." He grins. "I think Skye is right, lets go look at something we can understand. That portal sounds weird but at least it's not obscure and hidden."

"No, it's just in a secret passageway," Saffron says with a smile. "Given the number of exits we found to the sections we explored, I'm actually rather shocked that this comes as a surprise to you two." She looks at Random and Bleys.

Skye just smirks as she pushes off the wall and heads back down the passageway to the next stop.
Random shrugs.

"Do you know how dangerous curiosity about Amber in general used to be? Trust me, all any of us wanted was to get away from here. Especially when we had older brothers who were close enough in age to like to torment us."

Gideon laughs at Random. "Big brothers lurking in the halls looking for younger brothers to pick on? I guess things are the same wherever you grow up. I had to prove to my brothers that I was worth being a part of the family that raised me. When I complained to my father they put scorpions in my boots. They weren't poisonous but I didn't think it was funny at the time."

The trip to the other location is, again, faster than it was the first time Skye and Saffron made it. For the others, the location looks very much like the place they first entered, like it would exit into a hall.

On the way, Skye points out to Random the small carvings at the trap doors. When they arrive at their destination, she indicates the peephole in the wall. Not that it takes much work to notice it. The light coming through it rather gives it away.

When Gideon looks at the three symbols he looks disturbed. "Is it just me or is it a weird coincidence that I just happen to have just found a sword and that some unknown person put a ring in my room?"

Gideon fishes the golden ring out of his pocket with a frown. "This feels like a set up."

Skye chuckles. "To a worried mind, nearly everything can look like a set up in Amber. But these carvings have been here awhile, and how was anyone to know that you would be part of our showing all this to Random?" She looks over at the ring curiously. "Is there anything special about it?"

"I don't know. Technically I was probably foolish to even pick it up. Like hell I'm going to put it on just for giggles." Gideon holds out his hand with the ring in the center of his palm. "Any of you wizard types want to tell me what you see?"

"I'll take a look at it," Saffron offers. "It seems to be my day to look at unusual things." She reaches out to take the ring, already starting to examine it with her mage sight.

Random, though, looks at the ring and shakes his head. "That's one of Caine's. He hadn't worn it in centuries, but I remember seeing it when I was growing up. He always claimed that he found it in the center of the Pattern when he walked, but I don't think any of us believed him."

Looking like his favorite puppy just died, Gideon stares at the ring in Saffron's hands. "I never saw dad wear that ring. Gwyll must have put it in my room. Maybe he was trying to cheer me up."

"Magic was involved in its creation, I think," Saffron offers, "but it doesn't seem to be enchanted now." With a sympathetic smile, she places the ring back in Gideon's hand. "I might be able to determine what kind of magic later, if you'd like, though I can't promise. There's not much there."

"Thank you for looking. I think it will be alright." Gideon says to Saffron with a nod. He plays with the ring for a moment, finding a finger to wear it on his right hand instead of putting it back in his pocket.

Skye just stands patiently by the sealed door during all this. Magic was so far out of her area that it may as well have been happening on the moon.

Random looks to the light coming in from the peephole. "Okay, that dealt with - this is the door?"

The small room cannot hold more than two or three, even as small as Random is, so there's a bit of juggling, but he gets in and looks through the peephole, whistling softly. "Wow. Just wow."

Skye moves out into the hall so at least Random and Bleys can get in. "Pretty impressive, right? There's some sort of markings around the doorway that I couldn't see, but Saffron can."

Saffron nods. "I couldn't quite tell what they were, but they're not glowing with power or anything - they're just *there*."

From behind them, Gideon grins as he waits for his turn. He jokes, "You want me to cut a bigger view?"

“We think if you attempt to open it any way other then how it’s intended to be that you’ll just find yourself in the hall, or whatever is physically on the other side of the wall,” says Skye.

Gideon nods. "I'm surprised there is an obvious peep hole. Kind of a strange thing to leave unconcealed."

To this, Skye shrugs. "It is well off the beaten path - even the beaten path of hidden corridors. If we hadn't taken the mirror down when I saw that face in it we wouldn't have found any of this."

Gideon nods in understanding. "You think they might have been trying to lead your attention to this in an offhand way?"

Her head cocks to the side as she appears to consider the possibility. Then: "No."

"Good." He says with a smile. "Damn people lurking in the shadows, they are starting to make me paranoid."

"You have no idea," Saffron mutters under her breath.. And then, more normally, "That reminds me. Do we have any new cousins? I saw someone leaving the library earlier who looked a bit like Gerard."

Gideon answers quickly. "You mean Cara? Yes, she just arrived recently as far as I know. I talked to her a little before I went into shadow, she seems nice."

In the near dark of her place in the hallway, Skye rolls her eyes at the ceiling. Pig.

"So, any idea about the land of mystery or the door?" she asks to remind them why they were all cramped in the dark together.

"Ah," Saffron says. "I didn't speak to her, so I didn't catch her name." If she notices Random's commentary, she's ignoring it.

Gideon chuckles and walks up to look through the peephole now that he seems to have a chance. " Let me take a look."

The peephole reveals an outdoor scene - something that clearly should not, cannot be, given the location of the door. The sky is a deep indigo-black, and the moon shines down with a violet hue. There is enough light from that moon that Gideon can see a copse of trees, tall and broad, most with leaves that Gideon couldn't span with his arms outstretched.

The branches of the trees are broad enough to hold houses - which is clear by virtue of seeing one, or a portion thereof, near the limit of the peephole's vision.

"Hmm. Big trees." Gideon says pulling away from the hole. "Yea, that's not Arden by any stretch. I'd bet that place is far out in shadow, the colors of the sky and moon are shifted pretty far from Amber's norm."

Random looks through the peephole again, and shakes his head. "I've never seen anything like it, either. Nice enough, though."

Bleys is next, and as soon as he looks through, he nods. "I recognise it, but there's something wrong."

"First," he leans against the wall. "It's one of Fi's places. That's not saying she created this, but it's always possible. It's also possible that she found this, and went there the normal way."

"But that leads us to the second part. The moon is wrong. I know it's Fi's place - there's a certain architecture to the treehouses that I've only seen there. But the moon is normally a lot like Amber's moon, if just a bit smaller and more cratered. Not like that."

He looks to Skye and Saffron. "You saw it in daytime? Pale blue sky, white sun? Well, the moon is currently purple. If pressed, I'd have to say violet."

Skye blinks slowly at this information. "Really. Do you think it means anything, or is it just a naturally occuring phenomenon?"

Frowning, Saffron asks, "Is it just purple, or is it different and purple?"

Bleys shakes his head. "Just purple. No other difference that I see. I don't know if it means anything. Out in Shadow, I've heard some stories about the moon changing colour - prophecies and the like, you know - but it's never happened unless I willed myself to a Shadow where that was the norm. Not an easy thing to do. And the stories have been all over. Yellow moon, Red moons, Blue moons, even Black moons."

"Should the appearance of this purple moon make us start to lend some credence to the rumour of a purple full moon in Amber making Tir a permenant fixture?" Skye asks casually.

Saffron waits quietly for the answer, but she's fighting down an urge to snicker at the errant, Aunt Bleys, that drifts across her thoughts at the reminder of the rumors they'd run across.

"Purple moon? Sounds almost like an lunar eclipse to me, though they are usually reddish orange."
He looks at the girls and shrugs, not know what else to say.

Bleys gives Skye a blank look. "What kind of rumour is that? I've never even heard anything like that. But I think I can say with some certainty that it's impossible. Well, unless Random decides otherwise, maybe."

Random shakes his head. "I did a little experimenting when I took the throne - nothing like that, of course. As far as I know, there's no way anything that fundamental to Amber could be changed that drastically. Still, Bleys raises a good point. Where did you hear that rumour? I would think my intelligence agents would hear something like that - though if they did, they might well dismiss it as being too outlandish."

Skye shrugs nonchalantly. "I hang out with soldiers. I hear strange things around campfires. I hear stranger things in taverns. Like the Black Road was a hoax by Random to get the Throne, Gerard's power wanes under the moon, and the mortar holding this castle up is mixed with the blood of slaves. Oh, and the real Corwin's dead and the one that came back is a fraud arranged by Random."

She smiles at the King, knowing that Saffron is likely watching their reactions so she doesn't have to. "Clearly, you a very clever and sneaky, sneaky man. You bear watching, obviously."

Left unsaid is her opinion that without the Jewel in Amber, she thinks it's entirely possible that something or someone could very well make the moon purple. It wouldn't even have to be a sorcerer. Putting the right dust in the air would do it. Granted, it would take a lot of dust….

Skye shifts her eyes to Bleys and her smile widens. "Although my personal favorite rumor is that Bleys is really a woman."

Gideon chuckles and shakes his head.

Saffron is watching both men, but she can't help but laugh. "I don't know," she says. "I rather liked the one where he cuckolded Grandfather."

Skye grins widely. "Well, if the one about Oberon being a catamite is true, then that couldn't have been too difficult. Though I shudder at the suggestion and wonder who his older lover was supposed to be. But there's just something about Aunt Bleys…"

Random looks shocked and half turns to Bleys, but it seems unnecessary, as instead of bursting with anger, he bursts out with laughter, filling the small room quite well.

"You know, I've heard the one about cuckolding dad. Hell, I've been accused of cuckolding him and every one of my siblings. Sometimes all at once."

He continues to chuckle, shaking his head.

"The other one - it's amusing, but Loki I'm not. Still, it does make the point. Rumour is rumour. I doubt we need to concern ourselves with it. Back to the subject at hand - the door. I see symbols as well, Saffron, but no, I can't read them either. Fi and I aren't always on the best terms, but I can be pretty sure that this isn't hers. The Shadow is, but not the door. And I have no idea how to open it."

“Ah, well,” Skye sighs. “But I admit the charm of the discovery is not as bright since we now know it is a place of Fiona’s. The only mystery is why there is a door here.”

"And why it leads there in particular," Saffron adds. "I had thought about seeing what happened when magic was applied to those symbols, but I'm not sure it would do anything - or anything good, for that matter."

Gideon stares at the small hole. "I wonder if this shadow has some significance beyond Fiona. After all, perhaps Fiona is interested in the place for the very reason there is a peephole in the wall."

Bleys shrugs. "That's possible. I thought I'd said, but maybe not. It might even be that she sought to go there and make it hers because she saw it here."

He looks at the door some more, and Saffron can tell that he's drawing on the power of Pattern, then he nods. "I think I've sussed it. Saffron, you can check me, I think. The symbols seem to have - underneath the magic - a sense of Trump about them. The magic hides that sense.

Gideon watches quietly, making himself as mentally ready for incoming weirdness as he can. Skye just stays out of their way, though she watches the proceedings with a wary eye.

"I may see the order," Saffron says thoughtfully. She points out the order she thinks the symbols should be activated - being very careful to not activate them, just in case.

Random shrugs. "I would like to see what happens. Since it may be messy, I'm not about to order it. I file this under 'potentially dangerous, but not an immediate issue'. I only send people on suicide missions for immediate dangers."

He's got a good poker face. It's hard to say whether he's joking or not. Bleys shrugs, then reaches out and touches the symbols directly, each in the order suggested by Saffron.

TOC - Under a Violet Moon

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License