Part 8: Into the Unknown

"Nobody's seen it all!"
- Marco Polo


Kyle's gem managed to knock Tyler into a state of utter unconsciousness. Krysta caught him as he collapsed, looking disgusted.
"A bit clumsy there, cousin," Lorius said, shaking his head. "He looks like you threw him in a boxing ring now, and is just about as useful in that state. Too bad Mom skipped out. Let her look at him, later I guess."
Kyle looked my brother and smiled. "Come now, cousin. Haven't I told you not to be so short with people? I have a perfectly good psychic imprint of him I can dump into a gem for you to play with to your little heart's content, and he is in a state where he can do no harm." Kyle's emphasis on "short" and "little" was just enough to carry Lorius' barb back at him.
I smiled. Kyle's one of us. He can offend Lorius all he likes.
"Besides," Kyle continued, "How was I to know his mind was so weak?"
Kyle caught my eye. **It seems Lorius is being, well, Lorius today.** I smiled, jubilant that my brother had returned to his old, charming self. **I have important things we need to discuss. Can your playmate wait here?**
**Shall we go back to Amber and talk?** I asked.
**Yes, meet me in the East garden in ten minuets.** Kyle flexed his arm slightly, and was gone.
Lorius looked surprised. Interesting.
"We can go through to Amber now," Benedict said, gazing at a trump.
"Guess Kyle doesn't like dungeons, huh?" Lorius said, snickering. "That IS where we are going, right Uncle Ben?"
Our Uncle did not respond, but motioned for us to pass through the trump. We did so, Krysta in the lead dragging Tyler's lifeless form behind her.
The corridor was unpleasant, but not damp. Magical globes of light were the only illumination, trapped sunlight imprisoned forever beneath Castle Amber.
"Here we go. This will do nicely," Lorius said, taking in the surroundings. "Bring him here, Krysta," he motioned to an open cell, "and we'll stow him good and proper." He looked at me. "Don't worry sis.....he can't try any tricks with that 'Gateway' or his magic spells in here, either."
Krysta carefully laid Tyler's body on the floor of the cell, then moved out, closing the door behind her, then murmured something to Benedict.
I wrinkled my nose and looked around with an obvious dislike.
"I have some errands I need to run," I said to Benedict. "Please, call me when you are done interrogating him."
I withdrew my trump deck and selected a card.
Once in my rooms I brushed my hair and put on a new set of clothing then, after checking to make sure Tyler's trumps were still in my deck, I headed for the gardens.
The only people of note whom I passed were Castor and Pollux and a strange, red haired women. I gave each of my cousins a polite nod and hastened on my way to the east garden.
Kyle was there already, sitting on a bench eating an enormous sandwich.
"Hello, cousin," he said to me, "so glad you could make it. It seems there are strange things afoot."
"Decided to grab a 'light' snack, cousin?" I inquired, taking a seat next to him.
"Magic makes me hungry," he said between bites. "Lorius was being a bore, so I decided to talk to you first, since you have always been more pleasant company."
I flashed him a smile. "Why, that might quite possibly be one of the nicest things a *family* member has ever said to me. Flattery will take you to great heights, though word games have always come naturally to us red heads.
"Unfortunately, I do not have time for them now, so I shall be blunt. What is it that's troubling you, cousin? The business with Triton? The blond stranger? Or something else entirely?"
"It seems I have been too long in shadow on your mother's errands," he replied. "If the blond stranger you refer to is the same that has just visited me in my dreams last night, talking of doors and the like, then he is one and the same. He has strange powers, the likes of which I haven't seen, and be he false prophet or not, his message bears investigation."
I sighed. "I meant to investigate myself - have you heard about Triton, yet?"
He smiled. "No, what's fish-boy up to now? I really must keep up better on the family gossip."
I shook my head. "Not gossip, fact. Triton stole the Sapphire of Justice and walked Rebma's Pattern with it, causing a disturbance which reached all of our Patterns. Queen Moire has stripped him of his title, disowned him and declared him a fugitive, traitor, and an enemy of the Crown. Anyone harboring or aiding him will also be declared an enemy of Rebma.
"If you want details you will have to speak with my sister, for she was there. Mother, Lorius, and I were surveying the Primal Pattern at the time and saw only the disturbance. The distortion, however, did not touch Corwin's Pattern, which I found interesting."
He nodded, swallowing the last bite of his sandwich.
"Well," Kyle said, "what is Random's take on all this? Has Amber also declared him an enemy of the state? To what degree does this ostracism apply? Is it open season on Triton?"
Thoughtfully, he continued, "The way I see it is simple; get Triton's trump, get a room full of us, say everyone hanging around the Castle right now, and force a Trump contact. Then fry him, or drag him back.
"I can set the Chimera on his tail, if you like, and we can begin a search through Shadow. Of course, a manhunt could take forever, and the little twit is likely to do some damage with the Sapphire before we caught him through such mundane means. I'd say go with the joint trumping and drag him back or kill him. The Unicorn forbid if he tries to do another Corwin stunt, or takes the thing through Corwin's Pattern. I know less of the Pattern and its workings than do you initiates, but from what theory I have gleaned, these could be bad things, very bad things, indeed."
That sent shivers down my spine. Corwin's Pattern seemed to have shifted the balance between Chaos and Order. If another Pattern were created........
I wondered if it was possible for Chaos it's self to be obliterated.
"As I far as I know," I replied, frowning slightly, "Random is unreachable. He was not answering his Trump earlier this morning, and no one had seen him since last night."
Shrugging, I continued, "Of course, he may have turned up since I have been away. It has been a very complicated day.
"That reminds me, I have something I would like to try, but I want someone to back me up with a trump. I was going to ask Brandeigh, but have been unable to get her alone." I withdrew my trump deck and selected a portrait of myself. Holding it out to him, "Would you mind?"
He took my card with a gallant smile. I knew he would. Kyle has never been one to refuse doing a favor for me.
I selected the library of the alien Amber and focused.
The card was cool to the touch, and the picture vanished as I attempted contact, however, there was only a gray static. Focusing, I pushed more. Still, nothing but static. Discouraged, I gave up.
"Hmmm....," Kyle said, peering over my shoulder, "Interesting Trump, may I? Perhaps the two of us, together can get it to work?"
"Just what I was about to suggest." I flashed the smile again. "If we do manage to connect, however, do not go through. I do not want for both of us to be trapped somewhere."
"Just where did you find this thing anyway?" He asked, obviously unnerved at the thought of being trapped in the unknown.
I laughed. "Do you honestly think that I would lead you into a trap?" My smile faltered ad I turned away. "Let's just say that there shouldn't be anything to worry about. Most likely, contact will not occur and if it does," I shrugged, "things should not be too dangerous."
He still seemed skeptical, but he did not ask to back away.
"Very well," he said, "let's proceed. You drive, I'll be the gas tank."
We began.
Again, the swirl of gray passed across the card; Then, details began to emerge. Never a full picture, but rather glimpses of a seemingly false reality.
An overturned table. The bent, broken catwalk. A burn mark upon the floor. Shattered pieces of a mirror........
We were going to lose the contact soon - I could feel it. There was a possibility I could pass through the card, so I did so.
Passing through the Trump was easier than I expected.
The library was a mess. The mirror which had been in my dream, was shattered, a thousand crystal shards lay at my feet. Tables were overturned, the cat walk spilt in several locations. Books torn and burned.......it was barbaric.
The windows, however, were intact, and beyond the transparent glass lay......nothing. Absolutely nothing.
It was fascinating as well as unnerving. It was then that I realized that Kyle could not hold the contact much longer.......
I gazed in to the void. Incredible.
"Break contact," I said to Kyle. "Later, you can ask my Mother or Lorius for help reaching me." I looked about the ruined library. "I ought to be fine - I doubt that there is anyone left who would pose a threat."
Kyle ignored me and stepped into the library.
"Eh? What did you say, cousin?" Kyle said, studding the surroundings. "You were coming in a little broken up, so I decided to see what was going on." Bending down, he plucked an almost intact tome from the floor. "What do you suppose happened here? Think this is the place the Stranger spoke of in our dreams? The fallen world he's from?" He began to thumb through the book, skimming the yellowed pages.
I gave him an exasperated look. "I said, 'Stay in Amber and call me later.' No one knows that we are here, Kyle. If trumps should not function......" I shrugged and let the statement hang. Kyle was intelligent enough to grasp the implications.
Wandering over to the shattered mirror, I relented slightly. "I suppose that your coming could be of some help." I paused, selecting a reasonably sharp piece of glass from the wreckage. "I did not bring any weapons."
I then walked to the far said of the room, where Stranger and I had emerged from the passageway. I began to search for a switch.
"As for what happened," I said, dragging my fragment across the wood, "it is obvious that there has been a battle and, from the state of things, I would say that it was lost by whoever *was* in residence here." A pause, then, "This was Amber, cousin. Not a shadow, but a reality."
"That's what I said, the fallen world the Stranger hailed from," he replied, still browsing. "I didn't say it wasn't real, just fallen. And do you really want to find that door? What if it leads to more," he gestured toward the windows, "of that?"
The thought had occurred to me, but it seemed unlikely that only the library remained, unless the mirror was really all that powerful.
Suddenly, a section of bookcase swung out, darkness lay beyond.................

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