Part 3: A Special Kind of Magic

"A bit harsh, perhaps, but definitely food for thought."
-Aahz


*Brandeigh!* I exclaimed psychically with a fair amount of enthusiasm. *I was just thinking about calling you!* I changed my expression from one of joy to something a bit more somber. *Something is terribly wrong with Lorius. Not only is he being semi-polite, but he is actually reacting positively to Noys affections and returning them somewhat.*
She looked surprised, maybe even happy, then asked me if I had spoken with Mom yet this morning and asked whether or not I had had a strange dream, mentioning that she and Percy both had experienced them.
I told her that I had not yet spoken with Mother, but that I had had a dream involving a strange blond man and that I was fairly sure that Lorius had had one as well.
Remembering the trumps in my pocket, I told her that I wished to speak with her about something later. It seemed best not to bring up the subject via trump. She asked if it was important, but I said it could wait since she had mentioned coming to the library soon.
*Are you still with Percy?* I asked on impulse. After all, she had mentioned him.
She took her time to think about the question, something I did not quite understand. It was not as if I asked her to give me an opinion on Amber's infamous politics or something equally as intricate. It was a simple "yes" or "no" question.
*Um.....I haven't actually been with Percy since yestereven. I just Trumped him after I woke up this morning.* That explained it. I had misinterpreted what she had said.
*Is it something to do with him then?* she asked in deceptively light tones.
I considered inquiring about what she meant, but decided against it, instead replying with a shake of my head and an offer to trump her to the library.
For a long moment she considered my offer, then shook her head, thanking me for the offer.
*We can talk privately when I do get there, if that's all right with you?* Her thoughts were laced with a mixture of hope and concern.
Replying affirmative I moved to break contact.
Suddenly, she asked me if Noys had been privy to the nocturnal activities that plagued the rest of us. I could only assume that she could see Lorius and Noys behind me.
*I didn't have a chance to ask,* I replied. *I was here less than a minute before our dear brother appeared and started acting less sane than usual.* I smiled.
*I'll see you soon,* I said, hastily severing the contact. While we had been talking Lorius had stood, exclaiming that he had finally found what he was looking for and had slammed his book shut and begun to draw upon the forces of magic.
"Brother," I inquired, walking towards him, "what is it you have found?"
He looked up form a softly glowing crystal ball and replied, "Give me a minute, sis, and I will show the two of you."
Upon hearing that she was being included in the upcoming demonstration Noys closed her book(not that she had been giving it much attention anyway) and gazed intently at Lorius.
"Ladies," he began, alternating his gaze between Noys and I. "Ever since our friend paid us each a visit last night, I have been wondering exactly how he did it."
"How do you know about the stranger, cousin?" Noys asked. Surprisingly, Lorius did not rebuke her for the interruption.
"Although I can see it with the Sight, let me illustrate it for the two of you." I felt my cheeks grow red, my inability with sorcery catching up to me once again.
With a dramatic motion my brother reached into his pocket and withdrew three ioun stones and tossed them in the air. They began to orbit his head and I abruptly found myself bathed in a silver glow. Glancing towards my relatives I saw that they, too were surrounded by a pale aura of silver-gray.
"As you can see," he said, "we each show a residual afterglow from the visit from the blond haired man. All morning I have been wondering what power he used that would leave this kind of aura. I finally figured it out." He gave the green tome before him an affectionate pat. "He is using dream power, just as he said. A completely unique power, but it is related to other powers, enough so that I can detect it's residue.
"And, with the full moon falling on the day before Equinox this year, I know where I am shortly going to learn more."
"Tir-na N'goth, of course," Noys said, mirroring my thoughts. It almost seemed as though Lorius flashed her a small smile.......
"That's right, Noys. I'll just bet there is a way for me to find the stranger, or access his power waiting for me up in the Ghost City." Lorius smiled and, with a wave, the glow vanished.
"So you are planning a visit to the city in the sky?" I asked unnecessarily.
Lorius nodded, the stones around his head adjusting their orbit to accommodate his movements.
"I'd like an anchor, of course. No need to be foolhardy. I was going to ask Castor, but how about you, sister?"
"I'd be honored."
"Thanks, sis." Lorius smiled then and looked at his watch, a fine, mechanical thing which works quite well here in Amber. He claims that it is "swiss", but I have yet to understand the implication of those words. Perhaps these swiss make an array of objects which are meant to work in any and all environments.
After a glance at his crystal ball he looked at us.
"Now, if I don't miss my guess, we are about to have company. I suppose sharing our experiences with the blond haired man can wait until our sister," he looked at me, "and cousins arrive."
"Now," he continued, "act surprised when they arrive, but I saw several people coming who are new relations of ours. Judging from the conversations, they all more or less arrived in Amber in the last day or so. I am sorry if I ruined the surprise, though"
In a flash the crystal ball and ioun stones vanished. He closed his eyes briefly, then began to levitate again. Reaching the height of the walkway he stopped, proceeding to sit cross legged, facing the door.
He looked down at the two of us, much the way a king gazes down at peasants. "If you like, you can wait up here, and give our cousins a bit of a surprise, hey?"
Noys surprised me by not rushing to accept my brothers offer, instead she glanced at me, uncertain what course of action to take.
I shrugged, smiling at her, then took hold of the banister and started up the stairs, Noys close behind.
"Give me your hands," Lorius said as we reached the top. Obligingly we each took one of his outstretched hands, and immediately began to float in midair.
"This is wonderful!" Noys exclaimed, executing a little dance step as she tested the air beneath her.
It was wonderful and took all of my self control not to jump around and act like a small child. With a graceful motion I flicked my hair from my face and sat, mimicking my brothers position trying to appear as though levitation was an everyday occurrence.
Lorius gestured toward us. "Now, the individual spells are each under your control. When you want to come down again, just imagine yourself doing so."
Calmly, he continued to watch the door. "Right about now, we should have some friends."
True to his word the door opened six people appeared, entering the library. Four of them I already knew - Gerard and his son Castor, my Uncle Benedict, and my cousin, the raven haired Larissa. On one side of Larissa was a tall man whose colors were much like mine; Dark red and gray. Too much like mine. I decided that I disliked him already, though I didn't let it show. He had short cut, dark red hair with treads of silver and piercing black eyes.
The other unknown individual was a slim, tall woman with shoulder length brown hair. She wore brown and blue and leaned slightly toward Benedict whom I assumed was her father.
"Cousin Lorius!" Castor exclaimed. "Hello!" He then looked up Noys and I. "Hello Shannon. Hi, Noys. What are you three doing up there, anyway?"
That, I would think, was obvious. I did not make a rude commentary, however, because two of my uncles were present, instead I nodded politely to Larissa, who inclined her head and nodded back. The man next to her studied the three of us briefly, then turned to whisper something to Larissa.
The women simply watched us glancing briefly at Lorius as he rose and began to do the backstroke across the library. He ignored the weary look I shot him as well as the looks disdain from my uncles. Castor and Larissa seemed amused.
Noys descended from the air and walked down the stairs, calling out, "Hello Castor. Hi Larissa! Morning, Uncle Gerard. Hi, Uncle Benedict!" I smiled politely and nodded, but called out no words of warm welcome. I'm not known for being social.
"I'm Noys," my cousin said to the new comers. "Who are you?"
"Hello," the man said, "I am Rylan, it is a pleasure to meet you."
The other replied with "Krysta", offering nothing else. I noticed that she glanced around the library, seeming to note where things were, a small frown creasing her face. I filed it away. It wasn't much, but information is information and often the smallest details contain the keys to the larger puzzles.
My Uncles walked up the stairs and stepped on to the catwalk, obviously ignoring Lorius, though they gave me nod of recognition. They then apparently began to search for a book.
Krysta moved toward a group of chairs, prepared to sit in one, then glanced toward the three of us on the cat walk, smiled, then selected another chair.
Undaunted by Krysta's cool welcome Noys turned to Rylan. "Indeed," she said. "Any friend of Larissa's is a friend of mine."
"Thank you." Rylan smiled briefly. "Larissa has been kind enough to help me feel like less of a stranger here."
Noys lowered her voice, then said something to Larissa that I couldn't quite make out though I was sure Lorius' name was mentioned in.
I was, however, able to guess what was said when Castor exclaimed, "That's great, Noys!"
Larissa nodded. "That is good news, Noys." She looked at everyone. "Shall we begin the discussion of dreams?"
Across the room, still floating, my brother halted his antics in mid-stroke and stood. He looked at me.
*Heads up, sis! Mom and Brandeigh are coming, along with even more of our cousins. Time to look presentable!*
In a graceful movement I stood, still floating, and maneuvered around my uncles 'till I reached the top of the stairs. There I paused, only for a moment, not wanting to relinquish the spell, and at the same time not wanting to descend the staircase floating above each step.
Willing myself down, I quickly descended the stairs and moved into the circle of chairs, sitting next to Lorius who had taken a seat by this time, no longer levitating. Rylan and Larissa, as well had taken seats.
Things were soon going to become complicated, just the way I like them.

Onward to Part 4!

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