Crissus & Malachai return to the Chaosian Embassy; taking with them Gary, drugged with a psyche consuming poision. Malachai settles in to rework Gary’s biology and remove the toxin with the hopes of interrogating him later.
While Malachai works on 4th meal, Crissus reviews her data crystals containing the information her spells were able to gather from Gary’s rather modest accomidations. The evidence is fairly clear, he was drugged by Lt. Jenkins, who snuck in while he slept and injected him. This seems rather off task for a merchant ship’s steward and Crissus decides he warrents further investigation.
Unfortunately, before she is able to gather her darker self and do so, it becomes evident that Malachai has over-estimated his ability to manage the toxin and while not in real danger, managing the toxin is taken up all of his attention and will take and even greater amount of his time. Disapointed with herself, Crissus departs alone the locate Lt. Jenkin’s ship, the Seaspray.
The ship is in port, and it’s registration shows it is owned by a fairly uninteresting shipping agency. Bored by the academic avenue Crissus shifts into the form of a rat and sneaks on board. The exploration proves fairly quick as the Seaspray is not a large vessel, the Captain’s and most of the officers quarters are uninteresting but when Lt. Jenkin’s cabin is located it proves very interesting indeed. Sparse and almost oddly ulitarian, magic reveals several hotspots, as well as the faint signature of some power use in the air, psychic in nature, possibly Trump.
Investigating the hotspots, Crissus finds a secret compartment in the floor containing weapons, tools for the practice of sorcery and small and sundry thieving tools. The desk contains a warded drawer with several Trumps:
A blond woman
A young, dark man
An older, bald man
The Trumps are pattern based but Crissus does not recognize any of them. She records the images but leaves everything where she found it and carefully restores the wards and removes evidence of her working and presence. Intriqued, but with more questions than answers, she returns to the Embassy.
Dimitri has been working with his Dragon, setting up and warding his cave with shields and illusions. His magical “turbo-charge” has been effective in aiding the creatures flight in Amber, but has not lasted as long as he would have liked. The Dragon is, understandably, less than enthralled with his current situation, but is unwilling to back down on his committment to Dimitri.
Eventually the conversation moves to what is, and is not, allowable as prey animals. Dimitri arranges to have servants abandon cattle around the area of the cave every couple of days. Explanations were not provided but this is not nearly the strangest request the help has received from the royal family and if one of them wants to randomly seed feral cattle into the surrounding hills, it shall be so.
The dragon being settled, loosely at least, Dimitri returns to the Castle and is promptly trumped by the Chaosian Ambassador, who requests he join her at the Embassy. A request he graceously grants.
Crissus shares what she found on the Seaspray, most prominently the three trumps whom she hopes Dimitri will recognize. Sadly he does not and does point out that while the other two could possibly be distant relations, the elderly man couldn’t be family, he is simply too old and too unattractive. Arrogant as that may sound, it has the virtue of also being true and Crissus is forced to cede the point. That said, Dimitri is willing to research the images using his own sources at the Castle and promised to include the Ambassador on whatever information he reveals.
During their conversation, Crissus receives a note from House Demose requesting attendence on the Lord Stephen Demose. Given this is the house that hosts the Lady Sarah, Crissus wastes no time in answering the summons and arrives at the family’s business offices in Amber city, bringing along Dimitri out of politeness.
The office is still open, which is odd given the lateness of the hour. Both Crissus and Dimitri and greeted and taken immediately to the head office and the Lord Stephen. The usually polite greetings are exchanged, but it is clear the Lord Stephen is uncomfortable with Dimitri’s presence and Crissus politely requests Dimitri step outside. He does so and Lord Stephen relaxes, marginally, and reveals the true reason for his request.
Sarah has a message from, as he puts it, their “mutual friend”. The Serpent wishes to change his accomedations and wishes Crissus to assist it in doing so. Crissus is a bit taken aback, both by her selection and by why it feels it needs her help. The exile being largely self inflicted to protect Chaos during a point of vulnerability, the only think keeping the Serpent in the current arrangement is the political ramifications of it leaving.
Being at least somewhat all knowing, the Serpent has predicated these concerns and offered helpful suggestions. It recommends two possible paths leading to it’s legitimate release, either 1) Improve relations with Amber to such an extend that that Crown no longer sees the need for such heavy handed tactics or 2) Offer the crown a trade, the surrender of factious elements in Chaos for Amber justice.
Still somewhat reeling from the message and unsure how it might be enacted, Crissus instinctively sets up a cover for the visit, hiring the services of House Demose as logistical consultants for the Emabassy. Retrieiving Dimitri, she returns to the Embassy. She does not mention the nature of the conversation with Dimitri and he does not enquire.
The following morning Crissus sends a formal request to King Random for a private audience, and another, less formal request to the Lord of Rackall, a middle level Chaosian house Crissus has worked with in the past.
Rackall response first and after a quick transit to Chaos Crissus meets him one of the public Ways. He has information on House Gachall. They are minor, but responsible for the other Abyssian artifact recovered by the meddling Amberites. They are on the schedule as a sacrifice House but have muddied the waters by making a formal request for the return of their artifact, which is creating a diplomatic incident, at least on the Chaosian side of things.
Crissus suggests the simpliest solution is the exterminate the House given their minor status. However Lord Rackall notes that Merlin has chosen not to go this route, at least not directly.
Disapointed with the ineffectivness of formal government, Crissus travels to Mandorways and discusses less formal options.
Ramesh receives a note from his father to please meet with his mother Neetu. Given that Benedict currently has her…safe, the arrangements are extensive but eventually he is led to a wooded shadow where she is waiting for him.
Long conversations ensue, couples with constant changing of Shadows as part of an elegant security arrangment. Benedict is more concerned than Ramesh realized, and speaks as though he is ready to move to direct confrontation with Andy and his family. He notes that they have been arming recently, each with their own unique abilities and even the slightest misstep on Benedict’s part could result in a conflict that, viewed tactically, rapidly becomes unfortunate. Clearly the only way to balance the equation is to act pro-actively.
Dimitri seaches for and eventually locates Bleys. Eventually he gets around to requesting that his father create a set of Trumps for him, allowing the Dragon to move back and forth between Amber and Dimitri’s personal Shadow.
Bleys is willing, but will need to see the cave to create the works. They travel their via horseback, giving them time to catch up. Dimitri gently probes Bleys as to his feelings on the Andy’s and Benedict, but Bleys is vague on the subject and little of substance is forthcoming.
Arriving at the cave Bleys is impressed, and somewhat amused by the Dragon. The Dragon appears to feel roughly the same about Bleys, who commences to work on the Trumps.
His father ensconsed and working, Dimitri returns to the Castle and researches the Trump images provided to him by Crissus in the family library, but finds nothing of interest. He eventually creates physical sketches and shares them with his father, but he claims not to recognize them.
Crissus has her formal meeting with Random and delicately works her way to the Serpent situation. Random seems mildly surprised but warily open to discussing the possiblities. Crissus guides the conversation around the clear lack of military threat offered by Amber as a whole by Chaos, particularly given the long death of the Black Road but notes that in a more selective vein the assistance of a grateful Chaos could go far to support a monarch beseiged by unrest within his own court, and possibly his own family.
Random was interested enough to think on the matter and promised to get back to her with a first draft of a set of conditions. Satisfied that she had done what was realistic at this stage, Crissus expressed her thanks and returned to the Embassy.
Crissus is back at the Chaosian embassy, rumiating on her conversations with Random.
Malachi has completed his processing of the toxin and Gary, and is ready to share his results.
Ramesh is travelling with his armies, shadowwalking them into new territories more amiable to a support of Benedict should it come to that.
Dimitri is with his father and Dragon.