Red Headed league

Divide and Conquer! Wait, that Didn’t Work Out So Well Last Time

An excerpt from The Tales of Fox

Here we go again. We have all regrouped in Amber. Julius has reasoned that the purpose of the Talisman is to use Ian and his Nazi Vampire Army to conquer Amber in order to set it up as the headquarters of his organization. Since Amber is the principle reflection of The Primal Pattern, any significant changes here will ripple across shadow affecting multiple realms all at once. At least that’s roughly how Uncle Julius put it. I gather the translation is that if he gets Amber, it will somehow give him near instant control of a slew of its closest parallel realms and their hangers on providing him with a massive trans-dimensional power base with which to launch his subjugation of the entire multiverse. To quote Dr. Spangler: “It would be bad.”

OH! FYI, just before we got back to Amber Sparrow, Inque and I went off to talk to Jill again, and while we were gone Julius and Zarurra got married through The Tao. Not that this is inherently bad or anything, I just hope they both understand the greater implications of this, especially doing it now. Well of course they don’t. Zarurra never bothers to probe the surface of anything too deeply, and my Great-Great-Granduncle has this annoying habit of thinking more with his balls than his brain where Zarurra is concerned (which is part of the reason we’re in this fix in the first place.) Oh, well. Like I said, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, mostly; I just wish they’d taken the time to think this all the way out instead of just rushing headlong into it in a torrent of emotions. For better or worse, it’s Aunt Zarurra now, quite possibly not even unto death do they part. Which is one of the reasons I’m somewhat leery of this Tao bond… Not that anyone consulted with me on the subject… Well, I do have to admit I have no right to expect that they should or would… I would just…feel more comfortable if I knew they’d thought this all the way through.

So! Back to the war plans. If they can be called war plans. It seems more of an outline really. A very rough outline. Once again we find ourselves in the main audience chamber of Castle Amber, making battle plans. Because, of course, sitting down together and making coherent plans which everyone will follow is one of Zarurra & Co. best skills. We’re doomed. Well, I suppose that the fact that Uncle Julius, who seems to have thought this through considerably, is the one driving these plans this time makes me feel a little bit better… Nope, still feeling that sense of impending doom. At face, Julius’ plan seems a good one. He wants me to go back to the Ring World to investigate the mysterious phenomena regarding the Mysts of Atlantis that I encountered there. He believes, as I do, that it will help advance me towards my destiny. He also seems to think this will help the overall war effort for Amber. I am cool with this. He also seems to think it would be best for Alana to go with me. I’m not quite so cool with that. It’s something of a very personal journey. Unfortunately, I have to concur with his interpretation of The Tao. It seems Alana does need to accompany me. Bollix. Of course, when he asked me to do this, he did it as if I’ve been dragging my feet or something on doing this myself. He didn’t actually say this outright, but my empathic senses caught the emotions nonetheless. Like I’ve had the opportunity! I cannot move about shadow on my own, and I’ve been unable to detach myself from Zarurra and her clique as of yet, so I must go where they do. And of course, they don’t stop to eat or sleep, despite my repeated requests for such. I’ve been up for two days strait without a bit to eat and through two major combat actions, and my one attempt to catch a catnap was snatched away by Uncle Julius himself so he could throw me into said second combat action. I’ve had neither the time nor the opportunity to look into this. But of course, I’m the one who gets the blame. Sometimes these people make me so mad I could just scream. I would, but I know from experience that it wouldn’t help, and they’d react so badly to it that the resulting hissy fit they’d throw wouldn’t even be worth the stress relief my scream would provide. Sigh…

Alright, so I have my assignment and its one I can actually feel good about for once. As for the others… Well, Uncle Julius has some good ideas alright; I’m just not sure he has the personnel to accomplish them. He wants to send out a diplomatic mission to The Courts of Chaos to get help from Ratatosk’s family, but he’s sending Piper and Tiberius as emissaries. Piper because she apparently shares a relation there, and Tiberius because he can also petition help from the Rhanian Sphere. Personally, I’m not so sure that getting the Rhanian Sphere involved at all is a good idea. Trying to figure out which way they’ll jump on any given issue is impossible, since they usually don’t know themselves till there in mid air. Not to mention that we still don’t know what Princess Solace’s intentions are regarding Menelaus and The Black Spiral. Piper invited Knox along because he’s cute. While she was doing that, Tiberius went outside to call his grandmother Solace on his com, and inform her of our plans. Even several dimensional realities away, I could feel her delight at potentially getting her hands on Knox. This worried me somewhat, and I wondered why. When I asked him, Uncle Julius said it was because she hopes to use him as a connection to himself, the King of Amber, through his sister Zarurra. Hopefully, it’s not any more sinister than that. Of course, Tiberius returned saying that a messenger had delivered an invitation requesting himself, Piper, and Knox over for dinner. When Zarurra asked him why those specific people who just happened to be lining up to head her way anyway, he lied to her claiming his com was broken and that he hadn’t talked to her. Much to Tiberius’ surprise, Zarurra was far too smart to believe his lies, but she wasn’t able to back him down into admitting them. Poor Knox. He’s a talented healer, but his spent most of his time in his sister’s shadow, so I don’t have a really good idea what his true range of capabilities are. He seems woefully under experienced in independent operations to ride heard on the circus to which he has just been attached. So our diplomatic corps consists of an incompetent Nazi, a hereditarily compulsive liar (which might have been an asset if he wasn’t on someone else’s payroll), and a naïf. Yep, that’s going to work out so well for us I’m getting fuzzy feeling anticipating the boundless rewards we are about to reap from those guys… Maybe Knox can pull it out… Poor kid, he’s our only hope…

Zarurra and Sparrow are going out into the Kingdoms of the Golden Circle to try and find and…neutralize once and for all this Alley woman responsible for assassinating the previous king, and setting this whole sordid mess in motion in the first place. For our sake it needs to be quick, but after all we’ve suffered and are yet to endure even if things go well, I hope it is extremely painful. That’s not very Yang Tao of m, but… oh well. Besides my own mission, this is the one most likely to succeed.

Inque has volunteered to go into the criminal empires of The Golden Circle and persuade them to the side of Julius and Amber. Of all of the individual assignments, this is the one I’m most dubious about. Not because I fear its failure, but because I’m not sure that I don’t fear its success more.

Julius is going to remain in Amber and rally its defenses with the help of Ratatosk.

Into all of this, prances Rook himself. Jill had already warned us of his presence in Amber, and of course I could feel his stench, so this didn’t take us by surprise. He wanted some Trump off of Zarurra, so he could go end something in it. Apparently, Zarurra had some relatives inside this Trump somewhere, and was understandably concerned that that might suffer adverse affects from whatever it was Rook wanted to do. She declined to give it to him at this time, saying she would honor their original deal to take him with her when she entered, but that this was not an acceptable time to do so. He reminded her that it was past time for him to end this thing, but, as a face saving gesture (for himself), generously allowed her some additional time to change her mind as she was the “closest to honorable” in her group. His attempt to save face was doubly useless on me. As an empath, I could feel the real reason for his generous offer was that he knew he couldn’t fight all of us at once, and just didn’t want to admit to his inadequacy (to us or himself). And of course, it’s useless for him to attempt to save face in front of me as I could hardly have a lower opinion of him than I already do.

I’ve been doing some research on dear old Rook, and what I’ve felt here in his presence has confirmed my darkest thoughts. His treachery ran far deeper than we knew. He had planned from the beginning to allow Menelaus in his mind. He desirers the secrets and power of The Black Spiral for himself, and was willing to risk servitude to Menelaus to get it. I’d say “even knowing the cost to his compatriots,” but I doubt he ever even considered that, nor do I believe he considers or cares about it now. Although he is technically forcibly bound to Menelaus through the Black Spiral and other means, I had already learned he has accepted this service willingly as the price for access to the Black Spiral Network. What I sensed in his presence only served to confirm this. Rook has betrayed us all for his own gain. He hopes to one-day wrestle control of the Black Spiral from Menelaus and rule it himself. Rook fools himself into thinking he can trick Menelaus into revealing all of his secrets to him, and then into lowering his guard long enough for Rook to end him. He thinks can even do this despite Menelaus knowing that is his plan. The twenty something Samurai who has formerly eschewed all things deceitful is going to outsmart the ten millennia old master vampire who has beguiled beings far greater and older than even himself. “Sure Wilber.”

So off we all set. Divide and conquer our motto, since that worked out so well for us last time we tried. We even have Rook participating with us again. He’s stalking Zarurra, trying to catch her in a position where he can force the Trump from her. Little does he know that Inque and Sparrow have arranged a little surprise for him. Even though I’d love to find out what it is, Rook’s actions are still a threat to Zarurra’s person, which is bad for my uncle, and a potential disruption to her mission, which is bad for us all. So I clouded his mind and tricked him onto an accidental hellride. It won’t stop him for long, a few hours at best, but hopefully it’ll help. Eager to show off the size of his…importance, Tiberius took Piper and Knox to a listening post in the Ringworld were Alana and I were, and forced them to jump through hoops to contact his grandmother for him all the while forcing them to expose their entire operation to Piper. One of the groups they’re apparently monitoring there is called The Progeny, a group I know one of my sisters is allied with. I’ll have to mention this place to her when I get the chance. (I take it back; a compulsive liar is never a good asset. He does as much damage to his own side as the others.) Meanwhile, inside the star I ran into my Great-Great-Grand-Aunt on the Walker side, Astra. She took Alana and I to meet the Starlight minds. Apparently, Alana is here so she can take them back along the path she led her hell demons through to fix all of the problems they caused. As for me… I have learned so much… Much more than could ever be put into words…

I have things to do…

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