Part Three - Meet Cousin Drew
"First impressions, being the longest
lasting, are of utmost importance."
Serlyn has got to be the most wretched kingdom I've ever willingly seen. The streets were populated with drunks and thugs, the royal family was constantly afraid of assassins, and the whole damn country seemed to be infested with rats and spiders. It seems like the kind of place Uncle Brand would enjoy, but no, we didn't find him vacationing there, we found someone ten times worse. Adamantis' half brother Drew.
It's not that I have anything against the children of Eric, or against Drew personally, it's just that he is a pain in the neck! He's happy-go-lucky, athletic, and always seems to be smiling.
Our run in(okay, so this was the first time we'd met him. Too bad it wasn't the last.....) with him was completely by accident. We were walking down the main street of Can'n'dar, Serlyn's capitol city, complaining to each other about the rats and about Margo being along(only Adamantis and I complained about her, and we made sure that she couldn't hear us). Margo, like Drew, is a pain in the neck. I've known her since I was twelve, but she has got to be the most embittered person I know. The subject of her bitterness? Why her father Julian of course. Margo happens to be(and this is odd indeed) a pro-animal person and her and her father spent years of arguing about his hunting habits.
Picture this: A fourteen year old girl with short black hair and icy blue eyes, not to mention pale, pale skin, stands in front of Julian and tells him that she thinks he should give up hunting for sport, fun, and profit.
Julian's the master of Arden here girl! Don't mess with him while he's killing poor, defenseless(and very defensive) critters. He won't like it one bit!
Margo and Julian haven't said one word(or even two words!) to each other in the past fifty years. At one time she did try to make-up with him(she almost succeeded), but then managed to really piss him off with a comment about what his armor was made of.
The reason she's so annoying to walk down the street with is because, like her daddy, she's cooler than a cucumber. You can't make her laugh, you can't make her show much emotion, she's just annoying.
Back to Drew.
Adamantis and I were lagging about ten feet behind Margo and complaining about her. Harmless, right? Wrong.
Either Margo can read minds or she's got better ears than I thought, because I made a joke - no, never mind what it was about, let's just say "major insult" - and somehow she heard it. I don't quite know how, but she did.
About five seconds after the punch line I found myself flying face first through a glass window of a local deli.
I'd been hurt worse in my life, but I'd never been quite so.....gross afterwards.
I wound up on the floor cut by glass shards and covered in chicken blood(they had been hanging in the window). I had also happened to land with one foot in a bucket of lard(all together now....EWWWWWWW!)
So far, it was a really horrible day.
"What the hell did you do that for?" I shrieked, freeing my left foot from the lard bucket. I could feel the greasy gunk squishing inside my shoe. Of all the days not to where boots.......
Margo stood outside the broken window, unsmiling, hands on hips.
"I heard that last comment," was all she said, then turned away and continued down the street.
"Hey!" cried a balding guy from behind the counter. "Who's gonna pay for that?" He waved his knife in the direction of the broken window.
"I will," came a voice. I ignored it and began to wipe blood off my arms.
A hand appeared in my face. "Are you all right?"
He was tall, a good six inches over six feet, and had a mop of uncombed blond hair. His eyes were green and his cheeks rosy. He had two dimples and simply seemed to radiate sunshine. His clothes consisted entirely of brown and green leather.
"I'm covered in chicken blood," I scowled. "That is not 'all right' in my book."
I took his hand and he, literally, pulled me to my feet. He released my hand and wiped the chicken blood on his green trousers without a break in the smile.
"I'm Drew," he said, towering over me, "from Amber."
That should have tipped me off about who he was, but it didn't, I was too stupid.
"I'm Krisilyn," I replied, looking around for some water - I'd given up on wiping the blood off, "but everyone calls me Kris."
Drew passed me a towelette which he had pulled from his pocket.
"Pleasure to meet you," he said.
"Ditto." I rubbed the towelette across my face, but discovered that it stung - horribly.
Dropping it, I twisted my ring.
Years of playing sick war games with against Delwin and Brand had made me careless - here I was in a shadow awful close to Amber and I was using magic like it was an everyday occurrence. In shadow, maybe, but here no.
The butcher blanched and took a step back, holding his knife in front of him.
"What's your problem?" I asked haughtily.
"Um....Kris?" I turned and saw Adamantis peering through the door of the shop. "Um.....no more magic, okay?"
I opened my mouth to say "What" in an outraged tone, then realized what he was talking about. Not only was there not a scratch on my body, but all the blood was gone and my clothes had changed, too. I looked down at my newly formed cotton leggings and matching jerkin.
"Oops." I laughed. "Pretty neat trick, huh?" I said to the butcher.
He gulped and stuttered, "You don't need to pay for the window. Really. Please, just leave, okay?"
Drew, who was still smiling, emptied a bag of coins on the counter. "This ought to cover it," he said cheerily, "and then some!"
He took my arm and led me out, past Adamantis. Once outside he asked, "Are you from Chaos?" In a breathy voice.
"What?" I asked. I focused on the Abyss and reached out very carefully, reading his aura. No big magic. Not really. Just one, minor one.
Mentally I cursed. I had told this guy my name. "No, I'm not from Chaos," I said. "I'm from Amber. See?" I summoned a bury image of the Pattern which hung between us for a moment.
"Oh," he said. "I've never met you before."
I laughed. "Yeah, well, I haven't been there in over two centuries......."
Drew gasped and grabbed my arm. "You're that old?" Disbelief played across his face.
"Well," Adamantis said, emerging from the shadows, "it's been nice meeting you, but we really have to go."
He began to drag me off down the street. Three shops later Drew called, "Wait!" and bounded towards us at an incredible speed.
Adamantis let go of me and flattened himself against the door of a flower shop to keep from getting run over.
Drew stopped in front of us and turned, then offered Adamantis a hand. "I'm Drew," he said.
Adamantis blinked. "Uh, Adamantis."
"So," Drew continued, lowering his hand oblivious to the fact that Adamantis had failed to shake it, "who are your parents?"
My cousin and I exchanged looks.
"Krisilyn is Gerard's daughter, M'ky's full sister," came a voice from behind Drew. "Adamantis is Eric's son."
Margo emerged from behind Drew's massive bulk. I gave her a nasty look, which she ignored.
Drew's eyes widened. "Eric's son? You don't say!" He rushed forward and caught Adamantis in a bear hug. The move was so sudden that I had reached for my sword(which wasn't hanging at my side. Dellen's rules - no weapons for the "diplomats").
"Brother!" Drew cried. Adamantis struggled to get away emitting cries which sounded something like "Ack!" and "No!"
"Brother?" I repeated incredulously. Drew was blond......
"Yeah," Drew said, grinning as he released Adamantis. "Eric was my Dad, too."
"How.....nice." Adamantis smoothed his hair back. Then, "Well brother, allow me to introduce you to Julian's daughter, Margo."
"All four of us are related?" Drew exclaimed. "Wow!"
If being revealed bothered Margo at all, she made no sign of it.
"Yep," Adamantis said. "Though she and her old man don't get along very well. In fact, he hates her."
Margo's glower seemed to darken even more.
"Aw," commented Drew, "that's too bad. Uncle Julian's really a great guy."
Julian? A great guy? The one time I had met him he had tried to take my head off(okay, so I had just stuffed one of his pet hawks into a bag and was stealing it(it was a dare from Andrew.....), but still, he didn't have to have to use Morgenstern to try and run me over)
"I'm sure he is," Adamantis continued. Then, in a stage whisper, "It's Margo whose not so great. She has a big mouth - never shuts up."
Margo stepped forward and punched him in the nether regions, then stalked off in the opposite direction.
"Did I mention that she's violent, too?" Adamantis croaked from where he lay on the side walk.
I smiled. "You asked for that one, cuz."
He stuck his tongue out at me. I ignored it.
"So," I said to Drew, " you must take after your mother."
"I sure do, unicorn save her soul." A pause then, "You do, too. I mean, M'ky looks almost exactly like Gerard except he's shorter and lots less muscular and doesn't have a beard and has longer hair."
"Yeah," I responded. "I look a lot like my mother."
Drew gazed at Adamantis, who was struggling to his feet. "You look a lot like Dad did," he commented.
Personally, I don't think Adamantis looks anything like Eric, but then again, I've only seen the former King's trump.
Adamantis smiled. "I wouldn't know. I never met him."
"Oh. A bastard, huh?" Somehow, coming from Drew, it didn't seem like an insult. Just a statement of fact.
Adamantis actually blushed. "Um.....yeah."
Drew just smiled and nodded. "Wow. A brother."
"Yeah, it's a big shock for me, too." Adamantis shot me a get-me-out-of-here look.
I flashed my best smile and put a hand on Drew's arm. "Well, thank you for paying for the damage at the butcher's shop." I linked my arm with Adamantis'. "It's been nice meeting you, but we really must go. We have an appointment with the King."
"Oh!" Drew continued to smile inanely. "Well, bye! If you're ever in Amber, visit me, okay?"
"'Kay!" I said, and winked at him. Adamantis then proceeded to drag me away by means of our linked arms. When we were safely out of sight he breathed a heavy sigh.
"How could an Amberite be such a goody goody?" he asked.
I replied, "I dunno. Bad genetic material?"
Adamantis glared at me. "Ha. Ha. Very funny."
"So were your comments about Margo."
He rolled his eyes. "Don't defend her, please."
"I'm not defending her. Hell, I wish she wasn't here either, but you at least ought to try and be civil towards her."
"Yeah. Yeah," Adamantis grumbled.
"Anyway, let's get going. We've got exactly one hour to get to the docks and get on the ship to Amber and we're heading in the wrong direction."
"We could always trump in," he suggested.
"You got any trumps?"
"No," he admitted. "Cyanne promised to fix Dellen's trump, so I left the deck with her."
He grinned warily. "Yeah. While you were sipping slime in that boring shadow I was tracking down Sorzant. I lost him in this forest of fire, though. I called Dellen before you, to tell him that I had lost Sorzant, and his trump caught on fire, only it didn't burn. It's a little charred though and I can't seem to get a picture whenever I use it now. I made sure that I was out of the forest before I tried calling you."
"Weird," I said.
It took us half an hour to walk to the docks. Ten minuets of that were spent inside a flower shop because we saw Drew coming and figured another run in with him wouldn't be good for our sanity.
Once at the docks we didn't have any trouble locating our ship - it was the only one in the port.
"Geez, what does this place do for economy?" Adamantis commented. "This is the deadest port I've ever seen."
"I dunno. Maybe all they do is sell flowers and kill chickens."
Adamantis shot me a weird look.
"Never mind," I said, "you obviously didn't get the joke."
"Riiiiiight," he replied. "You need a head doctor."
I grinned. "That's exactly what M'ky used to say!"
If he replied, I didn't hear it. The trump contact was overwhelming.
She was sitting against an oak tree. Her long, straight black hair was braided with purple ribbons. She wore a silk gown of pale lavender and had no shoes on.
She hardly appeared to be the great warrior I knew she was. Cyanne practiced the arcane arts. She cast spells like Andrew and I, only she used the Pattern more while my brother and I tended to use the Abyss. She was the only person aside from Andrew who knew how to draw trumps in our little group. She was also the best marksmen I'd ever met. Then again, Caine was her father and he seemed fond of arrows, too.
"Listen," she said, standing. "Adamantis had a problem with his trump of Dellen."
I interrupted her with, "I know."
She nodded. "I fixed it, but I believe there may have been some damage to the other cards."
I gazed at her. "Huh? Why?"
She blinked, as though I should have know. "Andrew used the Abyss to create the cards, but I was forced to use the Pattern to repair Adamantis' card."
She smiled. "So many questions....... For whatever reason, quite possibly the proximity of the shadow Adamantis was in to the Abyss, the cards could not be touched by it's power. I was forced to redesign the magical properties in the card to align with the Pattern. Unfortunately, Andrew created one trump of Dellen, then duplicated it. All of the duplicates now need to be redone so that they will function."
"Ah." I half understood. "So you want my trump of Dellen?"
I pulled my trump deck from my pocket and begin to rifle through it.
"You're not keeping it in the Abyss?" Cyanne sounded surprised.
"Naw," I was annoyed. "But I should have!"
Somehow, my cards were covered with chicken blood and lard.
Cyanne laughed, a musical sound. "Backlash to your clean-up spell it would seem." I didn't ask how she knew it had been a clean-up spell.
"You obviously mis-cast one of the lynch pins," She continued.
I flicked a piece of lard off Dellen's trump.
Adamantis was laughing behind me.
"Shut up," I said, meaning it for both of them.
Cyanne offered her hand to me. "I'll clean them for you, if you like."
From somewhere behind me I heard Margo yell. Adamantis tapped me on the shoulder. "Ship's leaving, we gotta go."
"Sure. Thanks." I tossed the cards through the contact.
Cyanne caught them with ease. "Good luck in Amber!" she called as she broke the contact.
I ran along side Adamantis and up the gangplank of the ship.
Luck........ Little did I know how much I was going to need it, and all because of Drew...........
Continue To Part 4!
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