Part Four - The Discussion of the Dreams

"Is everybody happy?"
-Machiavelli


Mom and Brandeigh entered, followed by several others; Caine's daughter Cyllene and Minh among others. Fifteen total.
Little by little everyone wandered over to the cluster of seats and we began chatting amongst ourselves, Noys painting a positively saintly picture of Lorius with her words. I couldn't help but smile.
"Enjoying the fact that your reputation is being passed on without the usual commentaries?" I whispered to my brother. "Curious is it not?" he whispered back. "Perhaps you all will 'fill in' my true nature as you see fit, when I'm not present? Or is my change in attitude today the reason?"
I smiled, recalling his odd behavior. "Well, if your attitude remains as......different as it was today, then I really don't see the need to give them a lecture on your true self. Turned over a new leaf, or playing a game, brother?"
He gave me a tight smile. "Well, sis, if I have decided to try and reform myself, then I would say I was turning over a new leaf wouldn't I?"
Pausing, he smiled, then engaged in that complex logic that I adore so much. "However, if I was playing a game, would I not wish to prolong and draw out the game by continuing with a pretense of civility? So I don't think my answer to that question can be believed."
Giving him a sly smile I patted his hand. "Then let's hope it's a game - chivalry does not suite you."
Castor called for our attention, then nominated Brandeigh to lead our discussion about the "Golden Haired" man.
I heard Clarissa, another new comer, mutter "The Whositz?" to Noys.
Brandeigh, who was still standing, had her arm through Percy's and smiled as a majority of our group turned to look at her. Percy leaned over and whispered something to her.
Nodding to Castor, Brandeigh said, "As you wish then cousin," then whispered something back to Percy. The two of them then sat down next to each other on the couch, arms still linked.
"Please," Brandeigh called out, so that everyone could hear her, "everyone find a seat and get comfortable. I've a feeling we'll be here some time." Glancing briefly around the room, she added, "You may want to turn so you can get a good look this way."
Once everyone was settled, she turned towards Clarissa. "Clarissa, Castor is referring to the man who appeared in a number of our dreams last night. That 'tis what this meeting is all about."
"Oh," said Clarissa, looking confused as ever.
"Which brings up a question I've been wondering about," Brandeigh continued. "By show of hands how many of us had a dream wherein a blond haired man came to give us a warning concerning Amber last night? Also, can you all see and hear me all right?" Carefully, I traced the outline of my trump deck in my pocket, recalling the trumps I had made earlier today. I was, however, reluctant to bring them up because my elders, especially my mother, may forbid me to go. That is assuming the cards even work.
Rylan, Castor, Cyllene, Minh, Percy, Noys, Lorius, Krysta and I raised our hands. Brandeigh looked slightly surprised when Clarissa did so, as well as disappointed when we all assented to being able to see and hear her.
Smiling, she volunteered to go first and told everyone that they should share all of their experiences, since the least little detail could be important.
"Thank you." she said. "My second question just became irrelevant I think. 'Twould appear Nestor, the blond haired man, spoke mainly to those of us in what I call the 'younger generation' that have walked the Pattern." She glanced curiously at Krysta; "With some exceptions of course."
"Any road," she continued, "I had wondered how Nestor knew to find - contact us. The answer has something to do with the Pattern."
Brandeigh looked at Mother, then to Lorius and I; "Would any of you have a spell handy that will record our dream tellings? We might need to hear them again later on...
"All right then, my dream. My dream came upon me almost as soon as I fell asleep. I found myself in an ill kept ring of stones, not unlike the circle at Stonehenge on Earth, under a triple moonlit night sky on a world I've never been to before. At the center of the circle was an altar stone and a figure was bound to it. Turning to glance around the circle and try to figure out where I might be, I saw six figures outside the circle; three from the north and one each in the other cardinal directions. All were cloaked and hooded so I could not get a good look at them immediately."
"After checking the auras of the stones and altar, and finding aspects of Trump, magical and psychic powers in the altar stone or more likely 'twas Nestor himself whose powers I detected, I moved closer to the bound figure. It was a pale, thin, blond haired man only an inch or two shorter than Percy here." She smiled at Percy. "He had only a pair of pants on and was bound to the altar by ropes at the wrists and ankles.
"The man somehow knew I was there, for he called out to me. 'Lady Celt' he called me and he said he had come to the circle to find me, but not that he had wanted arrive bound to the stone.
"Moving closer to him whilst watching the figures moving towards us from outside the circle, I began reassuring him and asking him why it was he wanted to speak to me."
Stopping for a moment she glanced at all of us. " 'Twas then I noticed several things. Nestor, for that was how he called himself, bore a strong resemblance to the family; Grandfather's eyes though blue in color, Flora's nose, Julian's chin, etc.... I also began to make out some of the characteristics of those figures moving inwards.
"Now when the figures reached the outer edge of the stones, a surge of some sort of power came from Nestor or the altar and erected a violet colored barrier of some kind preventing the figures from coming closer to us. All the figures but one, the one in the southern direction all began cursing us and attacking the barrier. That man, shorter than I, and brown haired possibly with pointed ears; seemed to be helping us. The figure in the east was a redheaded man of normal height; the one in the west, a woman with long blond hair. The three figures in the north, two females both taller than Percy and one male perhaps seven feet in height, were known to me. They were relatives from my homeland. My cousin Marguessan and two of her children. Her daughter, Galeron and her son, Mordryth."
For a moment she looked troubled and glanced toward Mom before continuing.
"Any road, all of the figures, except the one in the south, bore great hatred towards us for unknown reasons.
"I should mention here that most people from my homeland know nothing of Amber, shadows or the greater powers. And I've endeavored to keep it that way for many years now. The only ones who do know something of the greater reality also help me guard my homeland. They are known as the Sidhe, and may well be gods and immortal in their own right.
"So seeing three of my kin there, startled me greatly for a few moments.
"Nestor mentioned to me that he had already to talked some of my cousins one whom he called Rhiannon and another he called Climber as I was cutting him free. This turned out to be Torri, who should be here shortly along with Pollux and Brieanne; assuming they haven't gotten lost." She grinned. "And Percy, called that by which he loves to do, climb mountains." Stopping, she gave our cousin a fond smile.
"The figures were on the verge on breaking the barrier as I finished cutting Nestor free. He seemed to know or recognize the figures attempting to break through the barrier, particularly the one in the south, but did not name them when I asked.
"I know how to wield a blade in a fight, though I'm nowhere near as good at it as some I see here." Patting Percy's knee, she nodded toward Larissa, Benedict, and Gerard. "So, I trumped us out of there to Stonehenge itself and thence by a special magic to a stone circle in my homeland. 'Twas cold and windy there, as normal, and Nestor shivered slightly in the wind as I sat down in the stone throne there and began asking him questions again. He dropped to his knees, giving me a strange almost reverent look before burying his face in his hands and crying.
"I quickly left my seat and wrapping my cloak around us, asked what upset him so while Trumping us one last time to my quarters in the royal palace there. He said I reminded him of his late Queen;" she seems faintly embarrassed at this. "And that my sister reminded him of his brother's fiancÈ'." She grinned at me and I felt my cheeks flush. One of many problems that accompany red hair, is the fact that blushing looks anything but natural, therefore is noticed more often than not.
"He knew I am Celtic and thanked me for helping him and offering him food, drink and clothing before apologizing for his intrusion into my dreams and offering to leave then if I wanted him to.
"I told him that as long as he was already here, he might as well go ahead and say what came so far to tell me.
"He went on to say that he was a descendant of the daughter of the creator of the Pattern. Great-grandson to Oberon's sister. As he began speaking, he also began fading in and out of - existence, it seemed. He said he came to warn me and others of great danger to Amber. He also said Caine had been to his realm, before it fell." She glanced at Cyllene.
"Any road, Nestor said that we could not reach his homeland by the normal means we use; shadow shifting. How uncle Caine got there, he didn't know. Their realm was attacked and destroyed by an unknown enemy using a power he called 'Doors'; something akin to a Trump Bridge he called it. That enemy, he said, not only attacked his Amber but also their version of the Courts of Chaos. He also told me his enemy had learned of our realm. His queen's last request of him was to live and seek us out, to warn us of the impending danger.
"I thanked him for doing so and gave him a brooch bearing my personal symbol, telling him to come Amber if it became possible for him to do so. And that Percy and I would welcome him if he did. I also gave him a sword before he left, so that he might not have to go unarmed in the rest of his visits before he faded out for the last time.
"Nestor did tell me that he had infiltrated his enemy's realm and gained some knowledge of this Door power. He was using to come visit us in our dreams, though he did not have full mastery of it.
"I awoke shortly after Nestor left, back here in my rooms. And after refreshing myself, I contacted Percy and a few others as well to see if they'd had similar dreams."
Brandeigh smiled again. "That was the dream I had last night in a nutshell. I know my mother and uncles," a smile for them, "have a number of questions. Would you all like to discuss my dream first, or wait to hear all the others before opening the floor to questions?"
The majority wanted to hear all the dreams first, so she nodded and grinned at Percy. "Your turn then, I think, Climber."
"Go ahead and start," she said bringing out her Trump deck. "I want to see what's keeping Brieanne, Torri and Pollux." Selecting a trump, she began to attempt contact, as Percy lifted her up onto his lap.
"I found myself climbing a mountain. It was a very difficult climb, and although I seemed to know the mountain, I could not name or place it. Yet, it was somewhat familiar. Anyway, I reached a plateau, and a crevasse of some kind, sloping upwards. Nothing really difficult.
"I walked into it, and there I saw a statue." He paused and gave Brandeigh a squeeze. "Of Brandeigh, believe it or not."
"As I looked at it, then he came up behind me and said that the statue was a very good thing to find--something like that. The guy was about an inch shorter than me, dressed in jeans and a pocketed t-shirt. Blond hair, blue eyes. I couldn't place him--although if he is descended of Dworkin's sister, it would explain it.
"He then introduced himself. He didn't call himself Nestor when he talked to me--he named himself Vitale. He played the same game of false names and pseudonyms." I was beginning to feel a little left out. Blondie hadn't so much as offered a pseudonym to me.
"He told her he came to warn of a threat to Amber. He said that he was going to visit as many of my cousins as he could, and some sort of limit to his ability was forcing him to give out his information in pieces. He then conjured, or cast some sort of spell, and this odd bronze door appeared out of thin air.
"I asked him how he did it, but he said he didn't have time, and that he was going to explain the process to others. He opened the door, and it became some sort of portal-to a large bluff overlooking a battlefield. He asked me, pleaded with me to go through it with him." Percy cleared his throat and looked toward Larissa and Benedict for their reaction.
Larissa ignored him.
"So I did, figuring, at worst, it was just a dream. I beheld a fierce battle. There were two forces in a vale much like Garnath. I thought it might be that place, but the sky was a slightly different color, and while one side, the defenders, resembled the forces of Amber, the other side did not look like Chaosians. Not in the slightest." I wondered if they were purple and carried sharp toothed swords.
"The attackers didn't outnumber the defenders," Percy continued, "but I could see them using the same power Vitale did to move forces around at will. I could see one group of soldiers, led by a mage or priest, go through a door, and suddenly appear meters away, to flank a group of their foe. It was a slaughter. The attackers showed no mercy, none at all.
"He opened the door again, and we returned to it, and Vitale had tears in his eyes. He said that he had just shown me had happened to his world. That he had come to warn me, and the others, since the same enemy might turn its attention to Amber and soon.
"He then started to fade. I asked him why he had the power to use the doors, like the enemy did. Any why didn't he use it? He said that, after his world was destroyed, he escaped to the land of that enemy, and has secretly started learning their power. He was doing that until he found out that they are considering plundering another world, our world, just like his. So he contacted us to warn of the enemy.
"He begged me to talk to everyone about this, and he wished me luck, and as soon as he disappeared, though, the dream ended."
Watching the people around me I spoke up and related my dream, glancing at my mother when I mentioned the portraits and busts of my grandmother.
"Well," Castor boomed, rising to his feet, "MY Dream with the Blond haired man began, oddly enough on a wrestling mat, somewhere. Greco-Roman style circular ring, and I was in my gear." He flexed his muscles for a second, causing Cyllene to laugh.
"Before I could wonder where I was or why, an opponent appeared. He was a couple of inches taller, and had slightly purple skin. He was also masked--I did not recognize him. We began to fight. He was good-better than me, in fact.
"However, suddenly, on the outside of the ring, appeared the blond haired man we are talking about. He started suggesting holds and counters for me to try. They worked! I was starting to get an advantage over the masked man, when he, in a flash of light, disappeared.
"The blond haired man then came into the ring, calling me the Wrestler. He said that this was all symbolic--he believed that an opponent would come to attack Amber, and like the masked man, he would come suddenly, without warning, and that they would be dangerous. I asked him what business of his it was, and he sadly said that the same opponent had destroyed his home. He also said that he was going to visit my cousins, and that we should swap experiences. It was the only way, he said, to have a chance.
"And, so, he disappeared, and I woke up. Didn't give a name, or any real conversation like Brandeigh. All I got was a workout."
Nice to know I was not the only one not given a pseudonym as part of the introduction.
Larissa decided to begin her tale after Castor.
"In my dream," she began, "I found myself in a gladiators ring. There were specters. There I had to fight a opponent who was a man. I won. Out of the gates came my next opponent.
"It was a Hydra. I was surprised by this. I studied the beast to decided how to proceed. While I began to circle the beast a man from the crowd jumped into the ring. Together we fought and defeated the beast. Afterwards he man took me to a sitting area. There he began by calling me warrior maid and telling me Amber was in danger. Also that he did not have time to explain everything. He told me to ask my cousins of him. He implored me to not let our world share the same fate as his. He asked that I remember that our foe has many heads, like the hydra, but that it can be defeated through teamwork. Than he faded completely away. Next thing I knew I was awake."
"Our foe has many heads".........original, though not exactly what I would call poetic.
Lorius waited for Larissa to finish, then rose from his chair and levitated to a sitting position high above our heads.
"Everyone see me all right?" he asked rhetorically, with a smile to our still seated sister on Percy's lap. Resisting the urge to sigh, I bit my lip. Tact is not one of his strong suites, and if it is, he chooses to ignore all his talent in the matter.
"Now...my encounter with the blond haired man started with a regular dream of mine. In the middle of it, I suddenly found myself facing an enemy purple-skinned sorcerer, in some sort of sorcerers duel like in Arcanus." Purple skinned. How familiar.
Smiling at Mom, he continued, "I started right off, and it seemed that my opponent was actually evenly matched with me." The discredulity of Lorius believing that was evident, and more than a little amusing.
"Then, the blond haired man showed up, and offered to work in metaconcert with me."
Lorius shrugged. "I refused. And so the battle continued. The enemy's spells were both unique and powerful. Finding counters to them was quite a challenge. But, I eventually triumphed, with the sorcerer's dead body before me.
"Blondie then spoke up, praising my victory, but telling me I was lucky as well--acting alone was dangerous, reckless and I could have lost. He then went on to tell me he was visiting my cousins, and that he would impart information to them about an enemy which ravaged his land, and might do the same to Amber. As for me, he fully expected a great sorcerer like myself to get much of the information myself. He then disappeared and the dream ended."
Lorius paused a moment.
"And so I have been trying to learn about this power he used to contact me. What I have learned thus far is that everyone who has been contacted by the blond haired man shows a distinct energy signature, if you can see energy signatures, of course."
He looked at Fiona for a moment, and she closed her eyes, nodding briefly. "You are right son. Very good."
Lorius smiled. "But, I showed my sister and Noys what it looks like before, and so I will show everyone. Now." Oh dear, I thought. Whenever Lorius shows off his magic he normally manages to terrify, stupefy, and disgust people - in that order.
Pulling his colored stones from a pouch, I watched as they lifted and began to whirl around his head. Lorius gestured, then everyone, aside from my mother, Benedict and Gerard, were covered in the misty silver/gray aura Noys and I had viewed earlier.
Lorius sat there, still floating, with a smug smile and watched the various reactions to his spell.
Krysta ignored it, still looking as though this were the most un-entertaining conversation she had ever been privy to.
Brandeigh rolled her eyes. "Thought as much I did," she commented. "And I didn't need magic to figure it out."
Larissa seem disinterested in Lorius' revaluation, and sat there, tapping her fingers on the arms of the chair.
Noys and I ignored the glow, both having seen it earlier.
Comments of awe and wonder came from most of the others, except for Clarissa, who looked as though she was going to have a heart attack any moment.
"Aaaahhhhh!" she cried, jolting backwards in her seat. Quite comically, she began to rub her arms and legs, trying to brush the aura from her body. After a few moments of this, unsuccessful of course, she jumped up and glared at Lorius, hands on hips.
"Hey, buddy! Didya think to ask permission before casting a spell on somebody!" she raved. "Where I come from you don't just go casting spells on people - well, we don't cast spells at all, but you know what I mean. Sheesh! You need to learn some manners." What?! My Brother?! "Now," she threatened, "get this stuff off me!"
After watching Clarissa's outburst, Krysta spoke up for the first time in a long while. "Unless you had a point other than proving that we were actually visited by someone or that we are all under the same influence of the same magic," she said to Lorius, "I too would appreciate it being removed." There was little, if any, inflection in her voice.
Lorius smiled and waved a hand. The aura faded into nothingness.
"You don't quite understand," he said. "I did not inflict anything on any of you. I merely made visibly to all of your eyes what I, and anyone with sufficient magical training, can still see even now."
Mother nodded, looking at Clarissa and Krysta in turn. "It is true," she said. "The aura is still plainly visible around the two of you to ME." Don't rub it in, Mom, please....... "My son merely enhanced it's image for the benefit of all of you. Now, we know all of the third generation present has been visited by him. Fascinating."
Brandeigh seemed slightly surprised when Mother included Krysta in the third generation.
Clarissa just looked doubtful.
Lorius nodded to Clarissa, looking, in my opinion, smug. "I find it EXTREMELY interesting that the stranger knew about you and contacted you along with the rest of us. So, why don't you tell us about your encounter with him, if you would?"
"I am not sure why you find it so *extremely* interesting that I too was visited by him," Krysta said, which I found a little rude since my brothers question had been directed to Clarissa. "In fact, listening to the others," she gesture vaguely towards those of us who had shared our dreams. "I am surprised that he visited them. You see, I seem to have one advantage over them. The visitor, who once again took an alias, rescued me from what seemed to be an impossible situation." It's a shame he didn't just leave her there to rot. She was beginning to get on my nerves.
"He took me elsewhere," Krysta continued, "and he delivered much the same message. He did show me a symbol, that if someone will send for paper and a drawing utensil, I will copy it. The enemy is able to use it as we use the Pattern, or Chaos uses the Logrus. He seems to have knowledge of much about us."
She seemed to ignore most of us as she spoke, looking only at Benedict, Gerard, and my mother.
"He knew a great deal about me. Things that are not discussed. However, he was insistent that I mention one more detail." She paused. "I have met the enemy already. At least one of them. I do not know his name, but his power is formidable. He has shown up every few years during my travels. The man also said to tell you that the family is much larger than even we know. Which isn't really surprising, other than that he knows it. He also mentioned that the Dreamplane, and the Great Pit were ways of access into this world. He exhorted me not to remain quiet about my presence, and seemed to think that I should remind people who I am." She sat for a moment, casting her attentions between our elders once more, then, "I take him very seriously. From what I have seen of the man he claims as enemy, there is a serious danger."
Larissa, I'm happy to say, seemed discussed with Krystas treatment of the rest of us, and withdrew her trump deck and idly began shuffling her trumps, ignoring the speaker.
"You have MET one of these Door-people, Krysta?" Benedict said, in a rare raising of his voice. "That is indeed disturbing. If this enemy of yours that has been harassing you IS of the Door people, it would seem that the Stranger is not omniscient--since, judging by everyone else's dreams so far, the Stranger clearly was speaking in the future tense about their visitation."
Krysta made some comment about our golden haired friend recognizing her enemy.
Gerard retrieved some paper and a pen and gave them to Krysta.
"Please, Krysta. Draw this symbol that the Stranger showed you. Also, if you can, perhaps you could also draw this enemy? Perhaps locating him is our first true step."
Accepting the paper and pen she said, "The symbol should be easy. The other may be a little sketchy. My drawings are not that high quality." Inwardly, I smiled considering the trumps I had sketched and painted over the years.
Smiling, Brandeigh pulled her sketch book from her pocket and began to draw something, though, from where I was sitting, I had no idea what.
Hearing Krysta's story of the Door People, however, raised an interesting theory. What if, as Castor had said, the Stranger had not learned the ability to controls these "doors" by staying in the land of the enemy. What if he was the enemy using an incredible amount of power and good acting to trick us into doing something that would make it easier for them to attack? Admittingly, I do not know WHAT warning us would do for the enemy, but the possibility could not be overlooked.
Clarissa went next, after bluntly telling my brother to leave her aura alone.
Sitting once more, she began her tale, "Now, I don't know what any of this 'third generation' stuff is, sounds like a bad sequel to a sequel, but as for this dream business, I had a weird dream last night, at least in the sense I don't usually remember any dreams I have, because dreams normally are weird. There was this one dimension I always remembered my dreams in, though. But then, so did everyone. Crystal clear. They drove everyone mad in that place - a total world of nut cases, let me tell you. I was glad to get outta there. Anyway, the dream didn't have no blonde guy, but then, I barely remember the dream.
"Not that its anyone's business, but I was in a big field of knee high yellow grass, or something like that coming across it where these two dwarfs, about yea high," Clarissa bent forward and held her hand about three feet off the ground. "One was black and the other white. They were carrying a big black ball between them on their shoulders, maybe this big," she held her hands about two feet apart.
"So, as they walks towards me, they sang this song from my home," Clarissa then began to sing part of the song, "'its the end of the world as we know, and I feel fine...' They got close and sorta walked a bit past me, dropped the ball on the ground, and it musta been heavy, 'cause it sank halfway in, and then the top of it popped open and both of 'em jumped in, the top closed, and it disappeared. Anyway, that's all I remember."
"So, uh, tell me, this place - it isn't know for making people have weird dreams, is it?" she asked.
Lorius looked perplexed after Clarissa described her dream, but said nothing - just smiled at Brandeigh. No one answered Clarissa's question, but she must not have cared that much since she refrained from asking it again.
My mother smiled then, and extended her hand. In a rainbow shimmer a man appeared next to her. He was several inches taller, but he had the same red hair and green eyes. He was wearing a doublet of forest green.
"Hello everyone," Bleys said with a wide smile that could advertise toothpaste. "For those who do not know me, I am Fiona's brother, Bleys. Sis told me of the little chat about this so-called Stranger, and I felt I should attend."
He then took a seat next to Fiona, rubbing his hands in an over exuberant fashion.
I nodded to him, trying to keep my lips pressed in a firm smile rather than the idiotic grin that threatened to break through. I don't know what it is about him, but I love Bleys. Maybe it's his exuberance and energy, or maybe it's simply because he's family(though I doubt that.....).
"This symbol," Krysta said, holding up the sketch, "is made of bronze." She handed the paper to Benedict, not allowing any of us a chance to see it, then started on her tale of the "life long" enemy. Though she did add an, "Hello, Bleys."
"Indeed, a Door," Benedict said. "Appropriate, from what we have heard of his power." He passed the sketch to Gerard, who looked at it, then passed it to Castor. In this fashion the sketch traveled around the room. It was, indeed, of a door ajar.
Vaguely, I remember the attackers in the library wearing some sort of symbol, but the details were too fuzzy in my mind to bring it into focus, so I passed the sketch on to Lorius.
"Hello, Uncle Bleys!" Brandeigh grinned. "I was wondering when you would arrive." Still grinning, she looked from him to our mother. "Why don't you tell us what happened in Arden, Uncle?" My, my. Brandeigh certainly was busy with those trump calls this morning.
"I was just in Arden with Julian and Brieanne," Bleys said. "I am afraid one of these 'doors' has already appeared and left." The drawing reached him then, and he looked at it, nodding. "Yes...it looked like this, except it was closed. Also, it was not stable.......just a little probing on my part dispelled the thing."
"First attempt, I'd imagine," Lorius muttered aloud.
"Not the last either," Castor said.
"So, although one visitation is not enough to judge when the next will be, it is clear. The Door people are trying to get here," Bleys finished.
Cyllene looked ready to give her own tale and stood briefly, then sat down.
"What about the King? Didn't anyone think of calling HIM? This is a matter of Amber's well being." Gerard surprised us all with his outburst.
Oh, yes, Random, the King. He is in charge here, isn't he.
Gerard then selected a trump card, most likely Random's, and began to study it. After a long, silent while, he stopped.
"That's funny. He is not answering. Trump seems fine, though."

Look! Here's Part 5!

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