The Big Roundup

After Reid has done some prep work to try an ensure things won't go too badly for his witness, he presents a young man to Sir Archer as the person who set the fire at Heap's shop. Reid strongly suggests leniency on the boy, an apprentice builder named Clue, in exchange for his testimony against Stout who hired him to commit the crime. Reid proposes probation at best, or banishment at worst for the boy, and informs the council that Sir Octave will be representing the boy if further defense is required by the court.

Sir Archer advises that he will recommend leniency to the judge in exchange for testimony.

Stout is arrested for the arson of Heap's shop. His case is due to go to court in a couple of months, and he is released on recognizance until then. He does obtain the services of a barrister to defend him.

Clue, the witness, is given a position in a workshop on the portion of the aqueduct project he is working on. Cambina is keeping a close eye on him, or having one kept, anyway.

About a week after this Vere will stop by Stout's shop to look over the merchandise. He'll buy around a dozen books that he doesn't yet own and that aren't in the castle library,

That'll be pretty difficult.

It gives Vere a quest....

He'll ask after newly published works, and whether Stout has anything interesting currently in the works.

Vere can find some things that the library doesn't have, but he won't make a dozen. Maybe two or three. (Books don't come out that quickly.)

...and then politely ask Stout how business is going, and whether there has been any downturn due to the current unfortunate case.

Business has been poor of late, Stout reports mournfully. But there has not been a further downturn since the unfortunate recent events.

Vere expresses pleasure at this, and wishes Stout well.

Stout is grateful for Lord Vere's good wishes.

Stout is reasonably obsequious and very pleased that Lord Vere has come to purchase books for him.

Vere is polite and even friendly, in that reserved fashion he uses when he's not deliberately expressing emotions. He really isn't after any information from Stout, this is intended more as a demonstration that there isn't a unified effort on the part of the Royal Family to support Heap at Stout's expense.

Stout is just thrilled that the Royal family is paying attention to him.

The climax of the annual festival surrounding the Dedication of the Fleet is the masquerade ball at the Castle, which follows the parade and the dedication by the Regent.

As I recall, the big costume effort was going to be Gerard astride his sea-monster and a flock of kingfishers. If anyone else wants to talk about costumes, this is the moment.

For those who care, Lucas has come as a stylized grasshopper, with his face only covered by a domino. Make of it what you will. =)

Solace accompanies Lucas, but she doesn't seem to be up for as much drinking and dancing as you all might expect.

Worth is escorting Paige. Cambina is escorted by the Marquess Maritime. (Any of the rest of you singletons bringing a date? No, not you, Vere!) Brita and Martin have not returned by the time of the Masquerade.

Vere is slipping out of the castle early in the evening, and will spend the night walking the streets of the city by himself.

Folly is dateless but for her little flock (to which she refers jokingly as her double-date). Do she and Ossian succeed in getting Vialle to dance with them?

Yes. Vialle is, perhaps, nervous about how the party is going, and she spends a fair amount of time with Solace, who (as mentioned) is sitting down for much of the party.

Alan leClaire shows up without his wife, who is rumored to be in the middle stage of a difficult pregnancy. Other notables at the affair include Baron Kaliq, Darling (sans infant), Aunt Felicity and her husband, and a number of Golden Circle ambassadors and other Court notables.

Like Lucas and Solace's wedding before it, the ball is a more reserved event than those before the Sundering. Even so, Vialle has had to ask several of the Pattern initiates to make quick trips into Shadow to obtain the delicacies she needed for the party.

After an evening of dancing, drinking, and fine music, the midnight hour is on you all, and you unmask. The identities of some revellers, like Lucas in his domino, were not hard to guess. Others were more mysterious and their identities come as a surprise.

Paige appears from beneath a mask of golden sun, her red hair having been styled to accent the sun's rays, her gown green like the lush summer grasses. Her companion wears the moon over a suit so blue as almost to be black, flecked with fine traceries of silver like the night's sky. Not hard given Paige's penchant for green and the cut of Worth's costume fitting very much like Naval dress.

(If anyone was hoping some of the missing people would turn up at the masquerade and unmask, they are sadly disappointed.)


After the unmasking, Lucas will offer a toast to his wife and their second child.

After a moment of shock that she missed such a thing, Paige cheers heartily and congratulates both of them.

It occurs to Paige that she simply hadn't connected all the dots, but that Solace has been acting in a way that was -- quite pregnant, now that Paige thinks about it.

There is much cheering and celebrating as the toast is announced, and the attendees come forward to congratulate Lucas and Solace in small groups as the party continues.

A few nights after the masque, Reid pulls Cambina and Paige aside and offers a suggestion.

"When Brita and I came here, I was first drawn to a place that was not here. It was Amber, without Kolvir, and as far as I could tell, had no pattern. But the "Road to Amber" lead me there instead of here. It was only from there that we were able to arrive here, in the basement."

"I haven't thought much of the place since I got swept up in the events of the castle and the city, but I have a good painting I made to refresh my memory, and I think I'd be able to shift there again."

"I know the timing stinks, with Martin & Brita away, Jerod & Solange as well. But I'm thinking the three of us should investigate that location. My gut tells me there's something more to that place. Paige, you seemed into the metaphysical discussion, and nobody could match you, Cambina, in looking at the site with a historical perspective. I just want to see what is there."

"Are you game?"

Paige looks at Cambina considering it thoughtfully, before answering, "I don't know if the Council could bear losing another three of us. It leaves Folly, Lucas and Ossian to man the battlements then... But, yeah, I'm game."

"Martin would be ideal, having kinda been there once, but..." Paige shrugs.

Cambina looks at Paige, wrestling with her inner dialectic.

"Don't forget Vere. He will be a steadying influence. I know we shouldn't, but I hate not knowing. And you said you saw Tir? Alright, it's agreed. When do we leave?"

"I'm not certain the place I went is the same as the one Martin described. There was no pattern, at least not in the cave that became the Pattern Room."

"It's possible Grandfather might've done something to hide it so as to further protect it from that sort of intrusion," Paige offers.

"There's another possibility, though I don't know how likely it is..."

"We could, perhaps as a concerted effort of all the Pattern walkers, shift the entire castle & mountain to the new location," Reid ponders.

"You think that we who are left could do that? We can barely work together on domestic issues, and you've no doubt seen our ability with creating the Shadowpaths," Paige sighs. "I'd be willing to try, but first let's away. Depending on what we find, then we can decide how to procede."

"Now, we're not as bad as all that, Paige, but I don't know of anyone who can move a place without travelling and it's a far piece from here to where mountains move by themselves. Or so says Uncle Random." She's smiling.

"All right, Master Reid. We found you in the basement, is that the start of our path back to whence you came? And do we leave a note? Or will this be a quick trip?"

"I'm hoping for a quick trip, but a note would not be out of the question. Paige, would you mind preparing for the journey? Cambina, I need you to write the note. Meanwhile, give me a couple of hours to duplicate my painting so they can find us if they need to."

"Let's say we leave in the morning, from the Pattern Chamber?"

"Of course," Paige agrees. "How long do we think we'll be gone?"

Reid replies, "I'm hoping at most a week. I don't recall it taking too long to shift between the two, but we may want a few days there to scope the scene."

Paige will arrange the appropriate food and clothes, as if she were off on her trip to Heerat, just times three...

"Wait!" Paige asks later that night. "Your painting to find us? Are you implying that you've gotten Trumps to work?"

"Trumps are one way to travel, and granted after all I've been through, my preferred way to travel, but they are not the only way. You underestimate the value of my art," Reid mockingly pouts. "Though the painting may not be a trump, I believe it shows the detail necessary for a decerning eye to see the differences between here and there. A search party lead by an observant Pattern shifter should be able to track us down. Also, if Brita were to return before we did, she may be able to aid the shifter as well."

Several days after the Masquerade, while Ossian and Vere are working in the harbor office, an officer breaks in on the two of them. "Lord Vere, Lord Ossian," he says, excited, "a sail's been sighted coming into harbor. An unexpected sail. Coming up the coast from Garnath."

"How far away is it?" [OOC: We do have lookouts, I assume?]

The below section is applicable if the ship is far enough away: Ossian turns to Vere: "Whoever that is, friend, foe, or even that prophet of yours, we should decide how they are greeted. I suggest we take two or three ships, go out and meet them, and bring some carrier pigeons."

If the phrase "coming into harbor" means that it's actually entering Amber's harbour, I suspect that we don't have that kind of time. While we could probably launch ships and intercept the vessel before it docks, it would be a near thing. GMs, can we have a call on this?

If it's far enough out that it will be an hour or more before it reaches the wharf then we can take a couple of ships out to meet her, otherwise Vere will suggest that we form an "honour guard" of several dozen sailors on the dock and break out periscopes to see what we can tell about her before she docks.

In either case, a messenger will be sent immediately to the Castle to inform the Regent and the Council.

You can certainly sail out and meet the ship. If it's a cargo ship than it may well expect a customs cutter to approach it. Trained messenger birds are a great idea that you haven't yet imported to Amber, though.

And the messenger llamas haven't learned to swim yet....

All right, Vere will send an immediate messenger to the Castle. He'll also instruct Worth to have an honour guard on hand at the wharf, and unseen defense forces waiting "just in case." Vere and Ossian will take two cutters out and bracket the approaching ship, getting a good look at it as we approach.

Captaining them yourselves or "Admiral on the Bridge!"?

Since we're not certain what we're going to be running into, it's important that we have the necessary flexibility to respond as needed. So we'll leave the running of the ships to their captains.

Vere will attempt to gain the windward advantage if possible, in the events of hostilities the second ship will act to hamper the newcomer's maneuverability.

Vere is not expecting hostilities, but he likes to be prepared....

You approach a small ship--smaller than you'd've expected given the commotion. It is rigged to be crewed by one or two sailors, but still large enough that there is some room belowdecks for cargo. It looks fast and could be used as a smuggler, but only of compact valuables or people.

As you manoever, you finally see the wind catch her colors and you see the familiar Unicorn Pennant of the Navy, but this is no ship of the Amber navy you have ever seen. The nameplate declares the ship the Sprite. They have, of course, noticed you. You see two or three people on the small craft.

Vere orders the two ships brought smartly about, so that we are sailing in the same direction with the Sprite between us. "Ho, Sprite!" he hails her across the water, "Whither from, and who's your captain?"

Conner steps to the rail and calls back. "To be honest, I'm not sure where we just came from, but her Captain is Conner, First Secretary of the Rebman Consulate and retired Captain of the Amber Navy. To whom do I speak?"

"I am Vere, son of Gerard, and acting Harbormaster for Amber. Welcome back home, we look forward to hearing the news from Rebma and to hearing details of your voyage. Bring your ship in, Captain, and we shall talk in more congenial circumstances."

"Gladly." Conner replies happily and works to bring his ship into harbor as directed by the other ships.

The harbor, as Amber, has seen better and busier days. The cutters dock smartly and Ossian, Vere and Worth are waiting on the quayside when the three of you disembark.

Two men and a woman, all of whom look like they have traveled hard, are coming off the Sprite. You notice that Worth is grinning at the man who did not speak earlier.

"I see you two have met." Conner chuckles. "For the rest of you allow me to introduce, Demond Harga'rel of the Amber Harga'rels, Lady Thalia of Gateway, Ambassador to Rebma, and I am Conner, First Secretary of the Rebman consulate, and retired Captain of the Amber Navy." Conner smiles brightly. "And after five years under the waves, it is good to be home."

[Aside: Vere doesn't recognize the Harga'rel name particularly, although it sounds familiar. Ossian does; this man has a very lovely young female relative, with whom Ossian would like very much to spend more time than he does.]

Vere nods to each of them in turn. "Allow me to present Lord Ossian of the Family Royal, Worth, without whom such Naval forces as remain in the city would be in far less able condition than you currently find them, and as I shouted across the water in a less than elegant fashion, I am Vere, currently acting as Harbormaster until Amber's forces return from the War on Chaos. We are delighted that you have returned; you are our first evidence that Rebma still thrives, and the first vessel to find her way to Amber since the event we call the Sundering." Vere pauses for a second, glances up at the Castle, then back at the newcomers. "You will receive a Royal and highly inquisitive welcome at the Castle. However, if you would care to refresh yourself before undertaking the task of reporting to Gerard, the Regent, and his Council, I offer you the hospitality of my rooms at the Naval Club. I am certain that Conner, as a retired officer of the Navy, can speak well for the facilities there." Vere gestures gracefully, "Of course, if you are eager to report upon the moment we can forgo the pleasantries and head directly for the Castle. The Regent does not stand on ceremony and will not be offended by either course. The decision rests with you." Vere glances at Lady Thalia, "And of course we shall notify Ambassador Harper that you have arrived, milady, unless you would care to take care of that personally."

"The story is a long one so dinner first I think." Conner nods. "I wonder if the Naval still remembers which table is mine." He smiles.

"When were you here last time? People have surprisingly good memory of details." Ossian smiles back.

As soon as possible (that is Ossian wants to do it unseen), Ossian will check if the Trumps are still dead.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, the Trumps are still deader than a doornail.

"Six years ago." Conner smiles. "Not too long but it may have been claimed by another in my absence." Conner takes a deep breath. "Nothing makes you appreciate breathing like five years underwater." He grins.

"I look forward to seeing Rebma myself sometime," Vere says as he leads the way to the Naval. "Cousin Jerod has told me many stories of it. I hope it has survived the Sundering without severe damage." He pauses for a few moments as if in thought, then continues, "We will of course send a messenger to the Castle immediately to inform the Regent of what is occurring, and to let him know when we will be reporting to him. Also, we will make messengers available to all of you for any personal messages." He nods in Demond's direction. "But it might be well for you to hear some of what has occurred in the City during this time." He glances at Ossian for a second and raises an eyebrow slightly.

Ossian nods, smiling. My guess is that Vere would understand this as "Continue, you are doing fine."

He takes Worth to the side: "We should keep those people on close watch at least until Conner has talked to Gerard. I trust you will find trustworthy people with clear loyalties to serve the newcomers for the time being."

Harga'rel speaks first "Is Prince Jerod here, then? His mother was afraid he'd go off to the wars. I shall have to bring him word of her."

"Alas," says Vere, "I fear there is some concern over his current location. My half-sister and he are seriously overdue from their last trading voyage. We of the Family are not truly concerned, of course, for they are both quite able to take care of themselves, but there is some worry in the city on their account."

There's no trace of emotion in Vere's voice as he speaks of this.

"Yes indeed." Conner nods. "But to answer your concern, Rebma sustained minimal damage. It has been lean times with no trade but otherwise is fine."

Vere nods, "Trade, yes, that is a problem, is it not? Amber herself is having some difficulties in that regard."

"I look forward to hearing about it over a meal." Conner smiles. "Shall we?"

And so to the Naval. Messengers are duly sent out to Gerard and the Council, informing them of the names of the arrivals and that they will be at the Castle later. Facilities for cleaning up from the rigors of travel are provided, and then an excellent meal (although Conner will no doubt notice that the food selection is less exhaustive than in the past).

Over dinner Vere will give them a quick outline of the current situation in Amber. In brief, the Regent was injured in the Sundering, and although he has made an excellent recovery he has not regained the use of his legs and is confined to a wheelchair. He has formed a Council, composed of a variety of Sons and Daughters of the Royal Family, which is assisting him with the day to day running of the Realm. We have as yet heard nothing from the Elders off to war, trade routes are proving difficult to establish and voyages currently require the presence of a Royal, and the economy is experiencing serious problems that we are working on correcting. There has been a period of readjustment as the Nobility and Merchant Houses have struggled to fit into the current situation, and the various Ambassadors and their households are somewhat at loose ends right now.

Vere is extremely interested to hear how they managed to find their way to Amber. So far they are the only ship that has been able to do so. It is a matter of not only intellectual interest, but has military implications as well, since our Naval defenses are not currently at their highest level.

A very refreshed Conner takes great enjoyment in eating meat and feeling a fire once more. He listens to Vere's report with great interest, filing it away for future reference.

"Well how I got here is as much of a mystery to me as to you." Conner smiles. "But I shall tell what I know to the Regent and then to the Council if he so decides."

Placing a small origamy swallow on the dinner table Ossian asks: "It's a mystery? Then, did you intend to come here, or is your arrival merely a coincidence?"

"No I meant to come here." Conner replies. "But apparently I shouldn't have been able to. That is the mystery."

Vere nods, glancing at Ossian, and says, "Mysteries for the Regent to consider, and then for the Council to investigate as the Regent sees fit. For now, let us move to the desert course, and perhaps you can tell us more of how Rebma fares."

Harga'rel snorts. "They still don't like us, overmuch. Probably less so now, as we left in rather a hurry." He turns to Worth. "Captain, could you see to it that my family receives word that I have arrived? I do not want to keep the Regent waiting, but I do not want them overburdened by the rumors that have doubtless been flying as we have supped."

He wipes his mouth and seems disappointed when the Naval has no coffee. "I, too, am interested in how we arrived here. It was not what I expected at all."

"Nor I." Conner nods. "But that is a story for the Regent first. As for Rebma in the general, they were largely unaffected by the Sundering. Bussiness as usual really except for all the speculation of what went on above and beyond Rebma."

Vere lifts a finger and a waiting midshipman brings the port to the table. "I think you'll find this a memory to your liking, Captain, the cellar of the Naval continues to be that of which all others are but Shadows." Once everyone has a glass of port Vere lifts his in a toast. "To Returns!" he says.

"To returns!" He echos, taking a drink from the glass. "Ahhh. Very good. Nice to know some things haven't changed."

Vere smiles. "It remains the Eternal City," he says. "Have any of you any last questions before we make the trip to the Castle and you are given up to the tender care of the Regent?"

"Nothing that won't wait." Conner smiles. "Best get this over with while the details are fresh."

Vere nods. "Let us finish our port, and be off. After this meal, would everyone welcome the chance of exercise offered by a walk to the Castle, or shall I have a carriage brought?"

"Well I'd prefer to walk." Conner replies. "I'd like to see how Amber has changed first hand."

A leisurely walk to the Castle follows, with Vere and Ossian pointing out new construction. A brief stop at the Memorial to the Dead of the Sundering is in order. "We lost somewhere between 10 to 12,000," Vere says softly. "We shall never know the names of all of them. The vast majority were buried here, in a single pit, to prevent disease from sweeping the city in the aftermath of the shock and the fires."

Conner looks very somber. "Truly tragic." He murmurs. "One of Amber's darkest moments, I'm sure. I almost feel guilty I missed it."

After a few moments of contemplation Vere says, "The Regent will be waiting, let us not detain him any longer." As they continue towards the Castle he goes on, "The recovery from the disaster has been fairly complete, but the disruption in trade has continued to be a problem. We have been able to keep everyone fed, although many of the people are no doubt heartily sick of fish by now. The Regent's rule is unquestioned, although a few complaints about how his government is administered occasionally arise. Such is to be expected, of course, and shows a healthy attitude among the people. Crime has been quite low, the populace of Amber are on the whole a noble and honest people."

"Especially with the Royals to nudge them in the right directions." Conner nods. "They are indeed a fine people. And if they truly wish to be sick of fish, they should try being trapped in Rebma." Conner chuckles.

Lucas and Solace receive many congratulations on her pregnancy. This second pregnancy is a little more draining for Solace than her first was, and she spends more time in bed. The physician says she is in no danger, but it might be easier on her if she had more help with Hope. Your mother-in-law is very worried about her poor darling, and will move up to the castle on a moment's notice to help if you don't stop her.

I stop her.

Vialle is highly grateful.

Also, if I know of any other high-quality physicians on my trade routes, I might solicit them.

The ruler of one of the shadows on Lucas' regular route has a midwife who is reputed to be able to save even the most difficult of pregnancies and births. Of course, for her to be able to help the most, she should be summoned at once, and that would mean an immediate trip to fetch her.

The most experienced physicians in Amber already visit the Castle regularly to see to Gerard. And Lucas already has a midwife engaged for Solace.

If Lucas won't let Lady Vesper move up to the Castle to take care of Solace, she'll be happy to take Hope in her own home for a while, to make things easier for her dear baby.

Gerard invites Lucas up to his study for lunch one day. The talk is of inconsequential things through the meal, but afterwards, Gerard hems and haws a little, as if he has a subject he would like to approach, but is a bit nervous about spitting it out.

What does Lucas do?

"Your Regentness, is there something you'd like to ask? I assure you, I don't easily offend."

"All right, then, Lucas," says Gerard, not so offended by the 'your regentness' as he might be, "I'll be blunt. I know it's hard for a mother and a son to talk about women, just as it's hard for a man to warn his daughter about other men. Yer mother is a lovely lady, Lucas, but she has no heart for hard things. And talking about men and women and the making of children is one of the hardest.

"Lady Solace is a sweet girl, but she hasn't as much strength in her as some of your cousins might. If you breed her like sow, she'll wear out in the bearing of children and leave you a widower with a houseful of bairns. But you're a man of our blood with will and wit enough to walk the Pattern, and with that comes a way to enjoy the pleasures of the bed without risking yer wife bearing too often. D'ye ken?"

Three different flavors of amused pass before Lucas before he finally settles on a "serious" demeanor. "I wasn't aware that women became so fragile when bearing the children of the royal blood. So, Gerard, are you suggesting I sleep around?"

Gerard looks mildly irritated. "Ye do that already, I imagine. Don't you have a woman at Red Mill? But never mind that now. Some women do become fragile when they bear too often, too young. My own mother died early and I have to wonder if that wasn't one of the causes. But it's not so likely that any of us breed often, and if we wish not to, outside the influence of the Pattern, we can make that likelihood nil." He looks at Lucas to make sure the younger man is following his line of thought.

Lucas allows himself a small smile. "Understood, nuncle. And I appreciate the advice. Was there anything else?"

"Not for now. But if ye need to discuss such things, you can come to me and we'll talk," says Gerard, and it's clear to Lucas that he only means well.

Lucas thanks him for his time, and switches to more mundane conversation.

Lucas will also be doing that rushing out into shadow to get a qualified midwife thing.

[Fortunately Vere will still be here to keep Ossian and Folly in line.]

[Lucas] twitch

Lucas is able to obtain the services of not only the midwife but an herbalist who works with her, who is able to prescribe strengthening brews for Solace. Between that and the help of Vialle, who is happy to take care of Hope (with the help of any volunteer PCs), Solace seems to be doing better.

Folly gladly helps out with Hope as much as she can, when she's not tied up with her other duties

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Last modified: 4 Jan 2002