Red Headed league

...Then Comes a Really Big Freak’n War!
An excerpt from The Tales of Fox

…At least for most of them. While Zarurra and her group were fighting the battle in Amber, Brand was back in the Burl murdering my Father and his various spouses. Jay managed to protect Penny with some type of super-grade temporal stasis, but he and Lewis were wiped out. Brand stole their souls as well, forcing me do something about it. Also, unfortunately for Penny, without Robin Jay, we may not be able to release her, so recovery of the souls is paramount to her survival as well. Fortunately, Dantalian was finished killing Diedra, so he was available to help me go after Brand. This was fortunate, as I certainly couldn’t have done anything to him on my own. Somehow, I managed to get conned into bringing Rook’s sister Magdalyne along. She ended up getting left behind with my father’s family consoling them while Dantalian and I left to deal with Brand. I’m not sure if this is such a good thing to have brought another stranger into The Burl, but I’m too overwhelmed to be too concerned about that right now.

My estimate of the situation was pretty accurate. I was fairly useless against Brand. I did manage to keep his attention long enough for Dantalian to sneak up on him, and then suicide himself. I’m not sure exactly how it worked, but apparently by proving that he could strike Brand, and then leave no trace (i.e. “First rule of assassination, kill the assassin,”) he killed the part of Brand that was the archetype of The Assassin, taking it upon himself, and thus leaving Brand bereft of purpose. At least with the shock Dantalian delivered to Brand, I was able to pierce through his momentary shattered mental guard and snatch the location of My father’s and Lewis’ souls. He had sent them to his daughter, the head of the Maelstrom Empire. I returned to my Father’s family with this news. By this time, The Council of the Moon had arrived as well. Upon my release of this information, nearly the entire council charged off to declare war against her and her little empire too. I must admit, while I was very interested myself in joining the charge, I had to worry about this being exactly what Brand had in mind when he initiated this. Atalanta was the exception to this, so I was able to speak with her a bit on my concerns. She agreed that she would keep this in mind, and to try to keep her “sisters” from getting too out of hand. She suggested brining Sparrow or Onuban for Dantalian. This sent me back out to Amber, where it was all over but the healing. I was able to expedite this by rounding everyone up and bringing them to one location, which I judge may have saved a few lives, so at least I wasn’t totally useless. Namely among them are Artax, Derix, Ratatosk, and possibly Zarurra who might just have burned her own life force out trying to keep the latter two alive. And of course, the two unborn children. Yes, I noticed Zarurra’s and Ratatosk’s pregnancies at our strategy session before the battle. Personally, I think getting pregnant right before you knowingly enter into a titanic battle for the fate of the mutliverse to be the height of irresponsibility, but I’m sure the three of them were thinking more along the lines of now or never. I’ve always said Uncle Julius thinks more with his balls than his brain where Zarurra is concerned. However, it wasn’t my decision to make, and since it had already been done, I refrained from comment. So it looks like there’ll be a baby carriage along here eventually as well. Both Onuban and Sparrow were willing to accompany me back to The Burl, and Sparrow brought Dantalian back. Now, I believe only this new Talisman is left on his list. Good for him. This was the point he was able to explain to me the whole, killing the assassin and becoming the assassin it I mentioned previously. He was still pretty shaken up from his ordeal, so I left him with Aquia back at Atlantis.

This left me with something of a quandary. I very much want to take part in the search for my father’s soul, but both my logical analysis and my feelings in the Tao would seem to direct me to dealing with the Talisman and Menelaus. The Council of the Moon and the Walker Clan is surely sufficient to deal with this mission, but being denied participation is soul wrenching. Of course, I can personally feel the danger of letting The Talisman and Menelaus run free, and if I abandon that necessary cause, even temporarily, for reasons of personal gratification, no matter how important the actual mission, the guilt will tear me apart even more surely than my grief and frustration. It is a loose-loose proposition, and I feel certain that The Talisman foresaw this when he helped Bran come up with this tactic. I’m quite certain that The Talisman and his forces had a hand in spurring Brand into taking this action in order to prevent me from interfering in the war at Amber, especially sense Ian made sure to personally inform me of Brand’s activities. I don’t know how much was Brand, and how much was The Talisman and/or Menelaus, but I hold them all responsible. Of course, I can’t let that dominate my thinking as I pursue them, lest I remove the Talisman only to take his place.

Before leaving The Burl for my outside quests again, I stopped by the 1000 worlds to drop off a few “gifts” for the Maelstrom Empire and its Empress. Having received Onuban’s blessing, I scattered Spike and Dawn’s little biological concoction for the Arden Blacks. I tried to find and speak directly with the Empress, but she is deliberately dodging me. The 1000 Worlds aren’t as well crafted digital realms as Digital Earth is, so my powers of persuasion with the stars were of little use here as the stars here have almost no substance beyond that of a shallow computer graphic. However, this did make the program’s interface easier to hack. I’ve set up quite a few unpleasant surprises for the Maelstrom Empire. Nothing that will make the average citizens life too difficult, but it should drive its administrators, including the Empress, up a wall. A small bit vengeance, but it was the best I could do with the time I had available to devote to the project. And who knows, if my experience with the Tao has taught me anything, it’s that the smallest actions can have the greatest consequences. Perhaps what I’ve unleashed will one day lead to major consequences that will do significant good. But that, if it happens, is far into a future which is too heavily shrouded for me to see at this time. For now, however, it’s just a plink in the pond, and it’s just as poor a release of my frustrations as well.

There was much I could have done if I had been able to help in the battle. I could have accomplished something, my skills or abilities could have made a significant difference in several of the fights that went on. As it was everyone else managed to scrape by entirely without my help. Even Piper managed to be of critical use. I was diverted away by an engineered crisis which I was helpless to deal with. If it hadn’t been for Dantalian, I’d have failed utterly. The others are catching their breath after their horrendous ordeal, but they are flush in the face of their hard won accomplishments. I, however, have done nothing of note. Yes, I kept the fleet at bay long enough for preparations to receive it to be made (not that anyone other than the bad guys noticed my efforts), and yes I managed to save a few lives after the fact by brining everyone together, but I made no direct contribution to the fight itself. I’ve spent all of this time trying to master my developing abilities, and I missed the main event. Not only was I not a factor in this war, but my own family has been dealt a crippling blow which I am powerless to avenge, unable to correct, and which was impossible for me to prevent. I now truly understand what the phrase: “A hollow victory,” means. I feel empty inside, weighed down by pain, grief, frustration, and helpless rage. I am utterly wretched.

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First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage...
An excerpt from The Tales of Fox

After all of the diplomatic crap, the traveling hither and yon, and not forgetting the hemming and hawing, it is finally, at long last time for the wedding between Uncle Julius and Ratatosk! And a damn good thing it is too, because I can’t hold back the invasion any longer. All of the space fleets are marshaled, and it’s down to just some last minute tweaks and organizational adjustments. What interference I could mount against that isn’t worth the danger or effort it would take for me to mess with it. Amber has only a few scant hours before the hammer falls. Fortunately, the time difference(s) between Amber and The Spire work in Julius, Zarurra, and Ratatosk’s favor. There should be plenty of time for us to have the wedding and get back to Amber before the balloon goes up. So I have left The Talisman to his toys, and I have swung by The Vale to pick up Eureka so she can be the flower girl. I thought we were going to have to stop by out in shadow to find her a dress, but she said one had been prepared for her at The Spire, so I just took her to it.

However, no sooner do we arrive at the spire than who do I run into, but Rook’s sister Magdalyne, The Kami of Beginnings. Crap! Personally, I’m none too thrilled to have yet another of Rook’s close relatives at hand, but her domain over beginnings means that this wedding caries rather more significance than the base political crud that forced it at this point in the game. To put it simply, this upcoming war over the fate of Amber is really a battle between the families of Ian & Alleya and Julius & Zarurra. All of the armies and battle tactics are just noise, designed to try and mutually distract one another. While there are far reaching consequences for Amber and everyone else depending on who wins, not to mention a host of manipulators influencing things from the shadows for their own advantage, the core of the conflict still lies between these two individual families. Due to the political situation caused by all of this “noise,” Julius and Zarurra have been forced to take Ratatosk into their family. Because they have been forced to bring her in as wife to Julius, whom Zarurra loves and who loves Zarurra first and foremost, this has caused a certain amount of tension among them all to say the least. As the relationship between the three has progressed, they have all begun to become to terms with the situation and what their roles must be and what their roles can be. Originally I had felt that this wedding would simply be one more step along that path. Although they were being forced to present a very specific front to the multiverse due to politics, that didn’t really have any bearing on how they chose to arrange their bonds internally amongst themselves. As long as they could play their public roles, they still had a little bit of time to get things set between them.

Unfortunately, with the presence of The Kami of beginnings, this wedding changes from just one more link in a chain of emotional development, to the foundation of their emotional future. Which means, they have to know how they all want to collectively define their family, and they all have to be on the same page with what that is going to eventually be, even if it’s not quite there yet, right the f’ now, else the rest of their lives will get off to a very bad start. So I had to go off and find Julius, Zarurra, and Ratatosk and explain all of this to them. Julius made this easy by pulling us all together mentally. I explained this to them as best I could. I was a little nervous and flustered at the suddenness of having to do this sooner than I had anticipated, so I hope I didn’t make to bad a hash of it. Julius, at least, seemed to understand, so I left them to discuss it. From what I could sense of them later, I think they’ve managed to come to an accord and succeeded in arranging their relationships to something they can all be comfortable with eventually. They still have plenty of growing left to do in that regard, but I think that if they can keep this unity through the wedding, then Magdalyne’s presence will turn out a blessing. We’ll just have to see.

Oh, and Sparrow’s now a priestess of the Unicorn, and she’s going to be performing the marriage ceremony. When and how did that happen? I need to poke into this for a couple of reasons. One, of course, being sheer curiosity. Two, after she stuck her own nose in my lineage I owe her my own turn doing the “nosy neighbor” bit.

So… WE. FINALLY. HAD. THE. WEDDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There were a lot of people at the wedding and the following reception. I met my uncle Cifer. He seems to be everything Kasimira said he is. Still, he is my uncle, and I think that, while he’s resigned himself to his…particular method of “bettering” the multiverse, it’s made him a very lonely person underneath, and I feel his pain. Literally. Since I’m pretty sure he’ll stick his nose in my business or not based on his own agenda without any bearing on whether or not I avoid him, I see no point in trying to do so. So, for better or worse, I intend for us to be family with all of the awkward, cumbersome, and wonderful emotional ties that go with it. I think that, deep down, Great-Great Grandmother Kasimira feels the same way about her brother. It’s just that his constant medaling drives her crazy. Well, we’ll see if I can endure it.

Now if I can just figure out how to take care of that witch Piper, we’ll be all set. A while back, Princess Solace tried to set Knox up with one of her brood in order to claim his rather interesting genetic heritage for herself, and of course to link The Sphere to Amber through his sister Zarurra’s connection to King Julius. This didn’t work out in the slightest, and the two parties parted amicably enough. But then that little bitch Piper went and stuck her foot into it. She invited the poor woman to spend time with Knox on their diplomatic mission to chaos, because he really wanted her to, he was just either too shy to say so himself, or else playing hard to get. So, she tagged along, and, of course, has been somewhat miffed at the lack of attention her supposed “date” has been showing her. Meanwhile, Knox didn’t have a clue since he hadn’t even been involved. Now, instead of an amicable parting, she’s becoming obsessed over what she can’t have, and every time Knox tries to let her down gently, Piper steps in and eggs her on some more! Stupid bitch!! What’s worse, since Knox is functioning as Eureka’s obstetrician, and since she is naturally clingy, Eureka is becoming the target of the poor woman’s jealous rages. Since I have allowed Lorellai to bind me to Eureka’s protection, and since outside intervention is clearly needed in this situation, I’m going to have to deal with Miss. Jealous Super-Chick before she hurts Eureka and starts a war between The Vale and The Rahnian Sphere that will probably pull in Amber and The Courts of Chaos as well. AND I’m going to have to figure out a way to keep Piper away from the two of them so she doesn’t screw it back up if I actually do manage a fix. ARGH!!! I’d like to just drop her into The Abyss , but then she’d probably just come back an Abyss creature, and then she’d be everywhere screwing up all of creation all at once instead of doing it one situation at a time. I did say “Argh!” right? Just in case, I’ll say it again: ARGH!!! We really don’t need this s@#$t right now!!

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Dropping Bombs, Nuclear and Emotional
An excerpt from The Tales of Fox

As if trying to disrupt the movements of The Talisman’s Vampire space fleet all by myself isn’t chore enough, I sensed an attack on Zarurra and her siblings. At first I wasn’t concerned, as Zarurra had Derix, Fritz, and Alana with her, and they were only fighting a group of Ardent Blacks. We’ve faced them before, and those three have proved adequate to the task. However, as I got more in tune with my feelings in the Tao, I began to realize that something more was wrong. These Ardent Blacks were supremely confident in their victory, yet all expected to die in the attempt. It didn’t even take me a half a heartbeat to realize that this was some type of suicide “bomb” run, and the battle was just to distract the targets and keep them from running from the really big boom. So I was forced to drop what I was doing, and go assist.

I was pretty much right about the correlation of forces. Although they took some pretty serious hits, Zarurra and her allies had pretty much won the fight, and it was just about all over except for the shouting. And the really big boom of course. Since I didn’t know what part of them the bombs were concealed on, or perhaps “in,” I had to pull them and all of their equipment in total into The Myst and then eject them into some random fire pit in the depths of chaos. This proved a little difficult because of Fritz and Derix. Fritz the vampire was feeding off of one to heal his battle wounds and replenish the vitality he had expended in combat, and I didn’t dare spare the time for him to finish. His hunger did not react well to having his meal snatched, literally, right out from under him. Zarurra solved this problem by offering him her own blood, despite the fact that she had lost a significant amount of it through battle wounds already. Not the smartest thing for her to do, but, well… Its Zarurra were talking about here. She collapsed into a near faint by the time Fritz was done, and he had to carry her in a somewhat delirious state to the hospital. Fortunately, the entire spire is essentially one big hospital, and the very best one in all of Chaos at that.

The problem with Derix was that he had eaten one already, and I can’t pull something out of someone with The Myst. Since I wasn’t particularly interested in letting the bomb blow up inside of him, he’s far too amusing to let die, I had to bring him bodily into The Myst and use my knowledge of Atemi to induce vomiting to get it out of him. Needless to say, he didn’t enjoy the experience. He would have enjoyed the alternative even less. When those bombs went off, they were revealed to be nukes. Not city-buster nukes, but COTENANT –buster bombs. Someone really wanted this job done. Since it was the various Ardent Blacks carrying out the attack, one would have to assume Brand is ultimately behind this.

During this whole mess, Lorellai was popping in and out, and she informed Zarurra of my presence. Zarurra decided she needed to talk to me, and began try to command my presence before her, and even determined to be psychically annoying until I showed up. She doesn’t seem to understand that I’m an empath, not a telepath, so trying to psychically scream my name out to be annoying isn’t really going to work. While I can pick up on that through the Tao if I’m in close proximity and paying attention, I don’t have to pay attention to it if I don’t want to. Also, in her delirious state, she seems to have forgotten that, even though she has a strong psyche, she’s not a telepath either so she can’t actually do that. I decided to wait to talk to her until after she had received treatment, and was capable of thinking in a coherent fashion. Well, as coherent a fashion as Zarurra is capable of anyway. I take that back. Zarurra is capable of thinking coherently; it’s just that she so rarely bothers to do so…

While Zarurra and her siblings were getting patched up, I did some digging around in the Tao to try and analyze the attack and its implications, and I coordinated my efforts with Uncle Julius. What we came up with was that Brand has a cache of Ardent Blacks outside the Burl, and that he has committed them to this invasion of Amber. The attack was not really expected to succeed, but it was launched specifically to draw me to Zarurra with bait I couldn’t refuse so that the Talisman would follow me to her in the Tao, and realize her importance. He has almost certainly now noticed the Tao bond between Julius and Zarurra, and I was really hoping that would wait until after the battle. The way the attack was organized also indicated to Julius that an elder Amberite named Fiona, who has significant influence in chaos, is involved with Brand and The Talisman. If what I remember from Ratatosk’s lecture on Amber, Fiona is indeed a heavy hitter. Worse, it appears that Brand is somehow exploiting his status as an elder power through his Divided-Purpose aspect to somehow circumvent the rules surrounding the segregation of the Burl. We’re not sure exactly how or exactly what he’s doing with this right now, but were going to have to be wary of this none the same. The good news, if you can call it that, is that the Divided-Purpose in Brand does indeed appear to be subtly sabotaging his efforts. If he had merely told the Talisman what Zarurra was up to and let him investigate on his own, we would not have realized the depths of Brand’s involvement in this war, the fact that he could circumvent the Burl, or that Fiona was directly involved with him and The Talisman. Julius and are going to have to think on this some more, I’m fairly certain there’s more to it than what we’ve figured out so far.

After Zarurra was finished with the healers, I popped in for the chat she wanted. As I anticipated, once free of the effects of pain, fatigue, and blood loss, she was much more coherent to the point of even be accepting of my reasons for delaying our conversation. What she wanted to discuss was the disposition of Rook & Eureka’s child and Lorellai’s compunction that I should be involved in this. Zarurra seemed to be under the impression that I should spend the rest of my life cleaning up that assholes mess, and furthermore, that I should consider this an honor. Set her strait on this matter of it being a privilege to clean up after Rook. No, I take that back. I informed her of my perspective on the mater, and secured her agreement not to try and intrude her highly skewed perspective of it on me, although I’m sure she’s still enthralled with her silly notion. Anyway, I agreed that I would provide assistance on that subject when it was my help that was needed. I’m not going to be at Eureka’s beck and call, but when I understand a need they have through the Tao, I will provide the necessary intersession, and no more. This is something I would have done anyway, but formally verbalizing it was apparently enough for Lorellai and it secured Zarurra’s promise that she would provide any resource that was in her power to give. The first of which was her brother Knox. She took that better than I had expected she would, immediately giving him the necessary kick in the pants to get going. Knox was a little nonplus at the sudden reordering of his life, but he took it in stride, as the Tao said he would, and dived right into it.

Of course, just being in a reasonable frame of mind did not cure Zarurra of her need to whine about every little hardship, nor were the healers able to cure her of her notion that she, among all of the beings in the multivers, is undergoing the most hardships. Alana started off griping in a similar manner, but at least she was receptive to the possibility that she might not actually be the only one having a tough time. Perhaps there’s hope for her yet. Yes, Zarurra is having to watch the man she loves marry another, but at least she knows that he does lover her. And Ratatosk is not trying to cut Zarurra out, she’s perfectly willing to let them decide the parameters of their relationship, even to the point of giving the two of them sole rights to decide her own place in it if they so chose. Things could be much worse. Zarurra doesn’t appreciate what she has, nor does she consider what the rest of us go through to support her. While she’s dodging around chaos seeking allies and indirectly undermining the Talisman, I am having to directly confront the bastard through the Tao in order to delay his inevitable march on Amber long enough for Zarurra to finish her machinations. This one bitch of a job. Not to mention I have my own egregious family problems to sort out, which I can’t do because I’m having to spend all of my efforts in helping her deal with her mess. I could go on at length, but I’m sure anyone but Zarurra would get the point that we’re all having a bitch of a day, and one little assassination attempt isn’t that impressive a thing to whine about when I’m risking having my metal essence crushed into pulp on an hourly basis just to delay him long enough for Zarurra and Co. to get their act in gear. Argh!

Anyway, I was a little tired of hearing her whine, so I let slip her marriage to Julius through the Tao in front of Alana and Knox. I did this for three reasons. One, was that I didn’t think Zarurra had bothered to really think about what the two had done, and realize that she was already married, and that all of this pomp and ceremony to plicate the denizens of Chaos and Amber was nothing more than that: A placating gesture. Despite whatever drivel the lawyers and gossipmongers may spout, this “marriage” between Ratatosk and Julius has only as much real substance as the three of them chose to give it. Therefore, despite the hubbub that Zarurra is allowing to distract her, Zarurra and her beloved are still in control of their own destiny, and if she’ll stop to realize it Ratatosk is actually an ally in this effort. Which, miracles be praised, I think she actually is beginning to realize. Two, I pretty sure that Zarurra doesn’t really understand the full extent of the nature or consequences of that bond Julius set up between them, and I wanted to set up a situation in which she would either ask me about it or at least be receptive to letting me talk to her about it because it’s important, no essential, to what’s coming for her to understand it. And third, I wanted to cause Alana and Knox to have a cow right on top of Zarurra so I could giveth her back some of the hard time she’s been giving me. This plan worked like a charm, especially goal number three. It was glorious.

Naturally, Zarurra assumed that my little revelation was a naive “mistake” on my part to let such sensitive information out in public. Once again, she continues to underestimate me. It was a very calculated bit of dissemination. Despite my admonition to Alana and Knox to keep it under their hats, with the Talisman already aware of the bond thanks to Brand’s little ploy, there is little reason to hide this. Everyone who has bothered to pay attention already knows that Zarurra and Julius are…”heavily” involved. Anyone who would understand enough about the bond to care about its presence between them (such as myself) will have already sensed it. Anyone else who didn’t already know about it won’t have enough understanding of the Tao to care about it considering it is an open secret that they are already sleeping with each other. Those people will either only be concerned about the social-legal perceptions, or they’ll already be as cheesed off as they can get. I won’t say there is no risk involved, but it is a minimal one, and the maneuver was well calculated as the potential benefits far outweighed the risk. Benefits which have already paid off, as Zarurra has indeed allowed me to explain the full implications of that bond, she is beginning to understand that she really does have Julius, and Knox and Alana were just perfect in their reactions. I suppose I should be pleased that my manipulation was not truly perceived, as that was also one of the goals, but darn it, I’d like for someone to give me a little credit now and then. Other than our adversaries of course. I’m pretty sure the Talisman isn’t sublimating my efforts to frustrate his troop marshaling. He’ll be sure to give credit where credit is due, much to my chagrin I’m sure.

Hmmm… I can sense a shift I the emotional structure around Zarurra, Ratatosk, and Julius… It appears that Zarurra is beginning to truly accept Ratatosk’s presence in their developing family structure. Excellent. I wonder if it will turn into a truly triangular structure as my own father’s family is, or if it will end up somewhere in-between. Not that it really matters as long as it’s something their all comfortable and happy with… And as long as they can get the basic structure cemented between themselves before going into battle…

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~The Family We Choose~
Another scene from the Royal Love Triangle of Amber...

While Zarurra is holding Ratatos and rocking her “Shhh sweetie, things will be alright. I can’t promise nothing will happen, but I can promise that Julius and I will be right here with you. I need to know what you want though, for the wedding, regardless of what is tradition. Here we’ll only do what you want, its your day.” Zarurra kisses the top of her forehead reassuringly

Rat weeps suddenly harder, After a few moments of anguished wails she will bluster ” I-Its N-not fa-a-air, Y-you ha-a-ave to Gi-i-ive up ev-vre-y-thin-ing ! I-I’m no-ot wo-o-orth I-it…”

Zarurra hugs her tighter “Rat the truth is not everything is fair. I’m not really giving up anything if you think about it. Unless you plan to separate me from Julius. You get to marry someone you care about and cares about you in return. You get to be Queen of Amber and you gain another friend, me. I get to stay with the man I love, care and protect one his loved ones and I get to help you guys with most state of affairs. You both get someone you trust to help advise you and do things for you. And you get to be 1st in this aspect. You get a big grand public ceremony where you get claimed by the most wonderful, handsome, and caring man in the verse. And though I don’t know everything about you, I honestly believe you’re worth it.”

She looks up at Zarurra eyes watering ” I love you.” she whispers and kisses Zarurra hard

Zarurra is totally surprised and melts into the kiss naturally without thinking about it. Once Rat relaxes she will pull back and blushes thinks of Julius and feels guilty“Um…wow…uh…I’ve never…” hugs Rat reassuringly “Um…uh.”

She beams at Zarurra like the sun “Now is the part where you say you love me too and everything will be ok.” She grins impishly and kisses you again

Zarurra melts into the kiss once again and focuses as much as she can on Julius to get his attention

Ratatos whispers ” I just need to have some contact, some touch, some release from someone that doesn’t want me to kill or want to kill me…” Rat kisses her more passionately on her lips and eyelids and earlobes

“Yes… Um…Zarurra, what….?” Says Julius in Zarurra’s mind

She says to Ratatos while nuzzling “I can..um She swallows..understand that, don’t take this wrong, I’ve never been with anyone but Julius…ever.” Zarurra does not push her away though

Zarurra sends to Julius to show him whats going on lets him feel the uncertainty and empathy “is…this…o..k..??? help?!”

Julius sighs heavily ” Ok, lets talk this over” he says and motions his hand. Zarurra suddenly find herself in “their” bedroom in Amber (the royal bedroom) Standing with Julius. He takes her in his arms and kisses her. And then plops down with Zarurra on his lap in one of the big red velvet chairs in front of the fire. A huge wash of calm falls over her.

“Ok, What do we want to do here?” He starts. “I certainly can’t in good conscious tell you not to sleep with other people if I’m not going to be “true” to you.”

Zarurra leans her head on his shoulder “Its not that I want to sleep with other people…I just feel her pain and want to comfort her.I feel the overwhelming need to protect and comfort those around me lately, maybe its part of my “aspect” coming to fruition. Its just this whole marriage-betrothal thing has gotten really complicated. I don’t understand whats going on.”

Julius sighs “Well, From one point of view it would make this easier us to do this… sleeping with Rat together. It would be better as a team. We wouldn’t be seperated. But how do you feel about that?.... How do I feel about that?” Julius ponders aloud.

“Seriously Z.” he says holding Zarurra,” If we do this, we let her in with us, maybe not as closely as we two, but she will be part of our Family. Can we do that? Do you want to?”

Zarurra sighs heavily “Julius I don’t think the poor girl has ever had a real family, not like you or I know. Maybe this is what is suppose to happen. I don’t know how to go about this, I just know what I feel, Slightly frustrated this is one of the reasons I had originally decided to be a virgin for my entire life. I’m just confused and out of my element. But how do you feel about her? I need to know.”

“I Love Rat. I care about her deeply. And no, she has never had what we had as a family. But I am not IN love with her. I’m attracted to her, Yes. But I am YOURS. You are what I want in my life. You are the other half of my soul. And If we take Rat into our lives, into our family, she has to understand that.” He nuzzles your neck. “How do YOU feel about her?” He says almost hesitantly.

Zarurra thinks for a moment. “I’m glad you care about her. She understands that you and I are together and that will not be changing. She just has never NOT been used by people, I don’t think. And that makes me angry. I care about her. I’m not IN love with her. I don’t know if I love her…but I trust her. I don’t want her hurt and I want her to smile and be happy. She’s nice when she’s relaxed and happy. And she is the only one I would absolutely trust to take care of you should something happen to me. I’ve never thought about a woman or well anyone in a romantic fashion but you. And even then it was girlish fantasy on my part. When she kissed me it didn’t feel wrong. But I absolutely love you, am in love with you, and am perfectly happy with you. But she is helping us tremendously by marrying you and aiding us, I would not have us use her just to make a political alliance. So I say let us gain that alliance and let her gain a family she can love and trust openly with. Can we do this? Yes. Should we? I’m not sure. I suggested you marry her though it did pain me b/c I didn’t want to have to take a backseat in your life but it was the right thing to do. She absolutely loves you. There are very few people who I can say we absolutely trust, she has sworn to protect us and our children until death that makes her family already in my eyes. I think that if we make this a loving gesture then it will be easier on all of us. I would not want to be separated from you and let you feel the pain and heartbreak I would feel, should I feel the pleasure you would take with her and have that in turn cause you heartache. Oh what tangled webs we weave…what do you think, sweetheart?”

He runs his fingers up and down her back for a moment. sitting with Zarurra in a tenative silence.

Finally Julius responds...

“I think I better go find somewhere private to sit down if your going to have an orgasm. I will feel it you know.” He grins sheepishly at her.

Zarurra blushes deeply “I love you. I would be lost without you. At least I know that you will know that you are in my heart and mind…I suppose I should get back now…not sure how this worked and we don’t need her freaking out.”

“Not much time will have passed” He says smiling at her. He kisses Zarurra deeply as they fade apart. His lips somewhere in the transition are replaced with Ratatos’s lips. And apparently enough time has passed for her to have undone the ties on Zarurra’s shirt and slipped her hands beneath.

Zarurra softly moans “Goddess help us…” Then Zarurra will let Ratatos “drive” and show Ratatos unconditional, yet naive, above all a trusting love

END SCENE

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Big Fat Chaotic Wedding...

So I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of this diplomatic business, which probably means that I’m about to fall flat on my face. Now if I can just marry my soul mate to another woman without anyone getting killed/kidnapped/seriously maimed etc. I have the munchies all the time now, guess I’m having wedding sympathy cravings, and even more tired (perhaps shadow travel lag). And the planning and executing parts of this fiasco would go a lot simpler if Julius and I did not have to always be with Ratatos. I understand her anxiety. I want her to be happy and comfortable. Goddess help me, I really have begun to care for Rat. I don’t know what that means, but something my mom told me along time ago if it feel right and is too confusing to think about go with it and figure it all out later. I’ve started to rely on Fritz and Darix more and more. I think somewhere along the way I’ve even come to trust and care about Fritz. I mean after the most recent assasination attempt and he was hurt I didn’t even think about it I just offered my arm up for lunch, what was I thinking. Wow my lifes not complicated at all.

Fox was able to explain something to me that I had failed to realize and now I know I have to be even more careful what I say or do, not that I was all willy-nilly about it before hand. What she fails to realize is that though she may be connected to and wield a greater level of control over the Way, she is very young and naive about most other things. She is the Prince Philip of our entourage, we get around people and I just want to put duct tape on her mouth. She reveals things to strangers or where there are big ears without a single moments hesitation. I mean she understands it to be the truth and can’t comprehend that sometimes what our enemy doesn’t know can’t hurt us. Perhaps in time she too will learn the social skills it took me awhile to grasp.

We’ve manage to most likely gain a powerful group of allies, making the tactical position that we’ve been in looking from “Yay, right!” to “We’re going to need a bigger boat”. Maybe we should Shadow walk and find a foresty shadow with some Ewoks then we can guarantee victory. Now I have to rely on a Knight of Harmony and Darix to convince that wench Llewela to ally with us. If we can make Caine not crazy or at least direct him at the enemy that would be great. Ahhh I so much to do and so little time to do it all in. I need to talk with Julius and see how his talk with Gerard went, I need to find out if Benedict is on board. This is almost overwhelming but I’ve learned delegation. I just need more trust worthy people to delegate to, my family is great, Darix as always a ray of light that keeps things light, Fritz is amazingly capable and good with colors. I weep inside a little for Nicadimous, though he died an honorable death, I haven’t had the opportunity to go back to his people and tell them his fate so that he can be honored properly. Its hard to believe that its been a year (give or take shadow time flux) since I left my beautiful Arbor on a simple genealogical research journey. Now I’m soulmated to Julius, whom I’ve had a crush on since puberty. I’m the Head Advisor/personal bodyguard/wedding planner (who knows what else by the time we’re done) to the King and (Future Queen) of Amber, I’m caught up in a war on at least 3 or more fronts, parts of which I started. The more people try to kill the better job I feel I’m doing. Surprisingly my sister’s new boyfriend has come in handy. Though he’s dream shaman/druid like I know there is more to Pat than meets the eye, I just know he had my back when I desperately needed it and he makes my sister happy. I just can’t help but feel a little jealous of my sister. She gets to have normal relationship while I have anything but. Though I know beyond any shadow of any doubt Julius loves me, I have to hope and wonder if that will be enough. Well I should go and give Julius a break from Rat-sitting.

Zarurra Mychaels.

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One Mad Rant Deserves Another
An excerpt from The Tales of Fox

Most people say that Lorellai is mad, or perhaps a more accurate paraphrase would be: bat-raving nuts. But this claim merely shows a lack of understanding by the claimant. The definition of insane is one who holds to a perception contrary to physical reality. Lorellai, however, quite literally does exist in a different reality from the rest of the multivers. As a creature of the abyss, she is constantly everywhere and nowhere at once. In addition, she has somehow been stretched across the very fabric of the greater space-time continuum and linked to its flow. These two things combined give provide her with not just a different perspective of reality, but a different state of being entirely, even from other abyss creatures. When one takes into account these differences, and extrapolates her perspective, her behavior and mannerisms become comprehendible. Not that one can truly ever understand her, but one can at least comprehend the basics of what she is trying to communicate. One of the other key things to realize is that the state of existence of most of the rest of the creatures of the multivers has become incomprehensible to Lorellai herself, and half of what confuses us in her behavior is her unsuccessful attempts to interact with us on that level.

Lorellai is not mad or insane, just different and she has as much trouble interacting with the rest of creation as it does with her.

Many find Lorellai to be intimidating, or downright scary. But once again, this is due to a lack of understanding. People, regardless of their species or level of existence (mortal, immortal, deity, etc…), have a tendency to fear what they do not understand, and most people do not understand her perspective or motivations. As previously stated, while true understanding is not possible, basic comprehension is. With a little effort of thought and empathy, it is possible to understand Lorellai’s basic motivations and goals even if the finer points are beyond our comprehension. Under examination, one can see that her goals are the same as the rest of The Wardens. To protect those she cares about, and to watch over the safety and over all stability of the greater universe, especially The Burl. It is simply that her methods of doing this are as unique as her very existence, and she often can’t explain exactly what she’s doing or how she’s doing it. This, of course, tends to unnerve and frighten people. But this is unfair to her. Lorellai is neither dangerous nor unstable, and there is no more danger in being around her than there is with any other being of power. And for one who pays attention to these differences, it is equally easy to stay on her good side as it is with any other opinionated greater being.

Lorellai may be odd, but she’s not scary.

A lot of people find Lorellai to be a royal pain-in-the-ass.

They’re abso-frig’n-lutely right!

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Waiting for the Other Shoe
An excerpt from The Tales of Fox

I have been very busy messing up the marshaling of Ian’s vampire star-fleet. As expected, the Talisman is using the Tao to locate the ships I drive off course, and placing Diedra on each and every one of them so he can pull them where he will. The good news is that this is taking a significant amount of time, and that I am managing to get a few “lost in the shuffle,” plus the few whom I manage to drive to their own destruction. The bad news is that the reason it is taking so long for Diedra to insert herself on all of the wayward starships is because there are still so many of them. Needless to say, the Talisman is seeking me with the Tao, and it’s taking almost all of my concentration to avoid his grasp while interfering with his efforts to locate the wayward ships and while hiding certain things from his notice. If he didn’t have to put his primary focus on rounding up his fleet, he’d have driven me off already. In fact, he has several times, but I just fade away (ok, flee), wait for him to begin re-gathering, and then start again. It’s a strenuous and monotones project for both of us, and I’m certain to have made his personal shit list by the time were through with this dance card.

Unfortunately, all this has meant that I haven’t been able to check in with everyone very much, so I don’t have a good feel for what my “allies” are up to, or how things are shaping up overall. I’m not entirely certain, but I don’t think it’s going very well. There’s an old adage that says that if you’re stuck on a problem, move on to something else and give your back-brain a chance to mull it over and hit you with some inspiration. I can attest that this works. In the middle of my dance with the Talisman and his star-fleet, I realized what one of my unresolved Tao feelings involving Cynthia and Jill was trying to tell me. Cynthia is pregnant. I immediately backed off and contacted Julius. He brought Zarurra and Sparrow in on this as well. Apparently, Sparrow already knew this, and said there was a prophecy about the child. She then went on to spout an excruciatingly vague summary of it that told me nothing. I asked her where she heard this prophecy so I could go to the source and evaluate it for myself, but she dodged the question. Damn it. I’ll have to go hunt it down myself when I have a spare moment. I suggested consulting with Lorellai as to how likely it was that Jill, an abyss creature, was involved in the pregnancy, but I doubt anyone will take my advice.

Latter, as I was once again plugging away at my task of delaying the bad guys so the “good” guys can get their shit together (for which I will likely get no thanks or credit,) I felt great emotional distress echoing from Julius, Zarurra, and their Tao bond. Worried, I touched Julius’ mind, and sensed something about Zarurra’s attempts at diplomacy revolving around her relationship with Julius, and that this was hampering things and causing her great distress. I spoke to Julius, and he allowed me to interject into their conversation. I told them that they were going about this the wrong way. They should be emphasizing the consequence of allowing the Talisman to put his puppet Ian on the throne. Regardless of whatever legitimacy Ian may have in his own right, the fact that he is now a genetically and mentally altered servant of The Talisman means certain unavoidable highly unpleasant consequences for Amber and everyone around it. Once the external threat to Amber and ALL of its surrounding realms is done, then everyone can decide whom Julius should marry without an army of vampires literally breathing down their necks. But, once again, they shit-canned my advice. Oh well… I tried.

So this is how things sit with me for now. All I can do is hold off the enemy for as long as I can, and wait for the other shoe to drop. Time to get back to work.

Wait…

Something’s wrong with Dantalian. He just jumped in prominence, and it’s still growing on him. I this keeps up, the Talisman will notice him very soon despite my attempts to keep him hidden. I need to check on this. Now.

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Honor, Duty, & Assasination Attempts...and a Plan.

Well after a day like today the only left to make me feel any lower would be having poo flung at me and possibly being tarred and feathered. I am fool for love. I turned my back on everything I knew and had planned for myself for a guy. Granted that guy is a handsome, loving, good-looking King who is utterly in love me. Think that would make me happy. The cost of our love 1000’s of people even more will die in a ridiculous war and I am reduce to nothing but a backwater whore. I forsook my oath but I did so honorably I thought. But duty dictates now that I at the least let another woman marry him and create an “acceptable” heir to the throne. I don’t see why I’m such a bad choice for him, except that I am nothing special. I can’t see the path through the forest for the the trees. I am stopping to take a deep breath, I will make sure that he holds his throne and protects his realm, even if that means watching him with another. Now my obstacle to that is that Julius is being naive. I may have to enlist Norman in figure out the best way to ally myself with Ratatos. Though how trustworthy his allegiance is, is questionable. He is vastly smarter than he appears and I am always hesitant to deal with those that are so deceptive. But he seems to agree with me that Alleya is too much of an liability. I will see her removed from the equation for the foreseeable, even if its the last thing I do. I let her murder Huntington, I will not let her murder another King.

I’m just curious as to why Fox seems to be physically avoiding me like the plague more than usual yet at the same time piggy backing into my head with Julius. She is annoyed with something and not saying it out loud. I feel she really wishes that someone else were her “Aunt” or at the very least Julius was less taken with me. I need to find some time to focus I’m having empathy on a level I’ve never felt before my calm stoic center is deeply disturbed. I’m feeling things that are new and I don’t have the normal calm reflection time that I had in the Arbor. I think this is due to whatever bond Julius formed with me, though I know only that it is the most reassuring yet scariest thing I’ve ever been a part of. I know it is permanent. I tried to ask but Julius took command of the situation as usual and well I doubt I will ever lose all of the fawning school girl-esque loss of mental processes I feel for Julius. I think I will have to lure Fox into this to find out more about the Tao or the Way so that I can harness whatever control I can.

I have a plan but I won’t even verbalize it in my own mind b/c I know Julius will not agree and part of it depends on him being in the dark. Though I am loathed to not share this with him its for his own good. But enough of that. I’ve got to find out what my dear Darix and Fritz have been able to find out. And I’ve already engaged my sister into her part. She needs to appear as susceptible to being swayed from me or being able to have information gotten from her. Princess Solace is the variable I’m un-sure of. But I’ll figure it out. I have to.

Now Julius wants me to come, home. Its hard but until I really thought about, I could feel like Amber or at least where ever Julius is as home.

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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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Why can't it ever go Smooth?!!?

Zarurra approaches Julius and says “Okay I’m feeling somewhat helpless and steered well beyond my ken toward what I don’t know. I’m left with the uncanny desire to punch someone or something repeatedly. I don’t know what we’re going to do about Menaulaus/Rook, Talisman & his remaining Cardinals, Alleya and her conniving Golden circle allies which I think may have gotten to more than someone we trust and Jill being the avatar of Justice seems compromised at best. I guess Fritz isn’t trying to kill me not sure how to treat him now. I wonder if I’ve lost my direction and then I realize I’m wearing a Nazi uniform. I need people to listen to me but I’m just some girl. And if they did listen I don’t know what in the hell I would say. Julius I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, I don’t know which way is up or when I’ll hit bottom, I’m focusing on you but then you run off and fight BATTLE CRUISERS by yourself and and GraaHAHH! ((throws her hand s up in the air))” Julius looks at his feet. ” Your right Zarurra.” He say after a moment. ” I was wrong to go off like that. I have clearly spent far to long dealing with things alone.” He looks up at your with clear blue eyes and a focused expression. “And partners do not deal with each other so. Please forgive me, I was wrong. From here on out WE will make OUR plans and deal with them. As equals in this relationship. I am sorry.” And will walk over to Zarurra. <<zarurra>> “We needed to split up tactically it worked out, I’m not attached to your hip I just want to know where that hip goes and that its coming back. So now we have the unsavory task of figuring out who we trust and who is possibly compromised. I now I know that we could have someone who told all of our deepest darkest secrets, fears, hopes, and plans and they would never remember doing so. I suppose we could line everyone up and see if they have gaps. I know Darix does…And I have no idea what they did to Alana, that girl that came back with those demons is so far from the little sister who would yell at me for stepping on a bug I fear for her. <<sits>> I don’t know what to do, my next step is shaky at best and I feel in desperate need of a stiff drink. At this rate I may become an alcoholic. And YOU, you are are always so damned cool calm and collected. I could run off and go fight an army without telling you where but you would know how to find me…<<she>> Juliua says “Only reason I am collected now is I have a clear goal in mind” He says sitting next to you. He puts one arm about your shoulders.”I think I can work on the whole “finding” me thing. I can link us. But it’s permanent. First, is that ok with you?” He says turning your face to his and kissing you lightly. ” Second you need to be a little calmer to do it. So let’s work on that?”

He reaches to hold your hands looking more like to steady himself than you. He takes a deep breath and closes his eyes. ” SO… the goal here is that Eric’s Reich, now under Ian’s control is going to come to attack Amber. And Ian is under the direct control of the Talisman. I can’t help feeling sorry for Ian , changing one master for another… but no matter. The Reich can’t just fly battle cruisers to Amber. And we could fight them in shadows… But I don’t feel good about taking MY fights to someone else’s backyard. So I really would rather face them here or close by. The Talisman’s goal is most likely to set up Amber as his church’s head quarters, thus immediately affecting multiple other shadows. That has happened before. I will not allow it to happen again. ” He nods to himself still with his eyes closed. “They can’t just fly here. They can’t use technology. So they HAVE to have staging areas. that means they have to be talking to the golden circle rulers.” He opens his eyes” And they need multiple Pattern wielders or some method of transporting millions of nazi vampires here to the golden circle….. SOOO they will be using Diedra. An abyss creature… but she cant go all the way to Amber. sooo… the golden circle is the bottleneck, that and Arden.” He opens his eyes. “Menelaous is steering The Talisman here…. he couldn’t care less about Amber or about domination. He is just sitting back and playing chess. He knows the pieces and he knows their motivations. He didn’t control Jyll… he just gave her a relationship that she wanted with someone he was feeding info to. And that took out one semi sane Abyssal. Diedre was another…But she is run by….Oh! Brand in the Burl… So Menelaous still has at least minions there….”

He looks into your eyes “What we need to do is turn the rulers of the golden circle to our side. Limit Ian’s beachheads. If we can make it so there is only one path of attack then we beat him. No one has ever taken Amber without totaly surrounding it. And the person we are fighting there is Alleia. Menelaous doesn’t matter… If we crush Ian we have a very limited Talisman to go after. The fight will be here and on our doorstep. We just have to be sure we win.”

<< Zarurra looks him in the eyes, take a slow deep breath>>

“Then that is what we’ll do. We need to figure out who amongst the Golden Circle we can sway to our cause. IF you have to keep up appearances that you and Rat are betrothed to do so then so be it. I’m more concerned about Amber and the effect it has on the rest of Shadow than petty jealousy. For now I’ll put Menelaous on the back burner though I’m loath to do so, We’ll call together all available allies and see what we can do.

We may be able to fix the Jyll issue, we’ll deal with Alleia. I knew we should have killed her. Ian we can deal with, nazi vampires we can deal with we have some of our own. I have a theory about the Pattern, I might be able to lock it or make it more difficult to access for a time.

I have no problem with being permanently linked to you if you don’t have a problem with it. Aside from being calmer what all is involved?”

He wraps his arms around Zarurra. “Just relax in my arms a bit. This will get … emotional.” He says And she began to feel him in her mind, and then in her soul. She felt with absolute clarity just how much he loves her , How much he needs her. She began to feel his heart beat in time with her own. She felt him seeing deeply into her. Zarurra KNEW he could see how much she loved him. All her insecurities, her feelings of inadequacy. She sensed his worry, about her, about not being able to protect her, protect Amber, protect the whole of creation. She felt intimately his concern that his emotions will carry him off. And his concern that that worry will make some sort of wall between them that he desperately doesn’t want.

Later… when the wake up. Zarurra sensed him. With her eyes closed, she sensed him. Exactly where he was. Exactly how he was.

” Let the record show I’ve changed my mind and I would rather become a nymphomaniac than an alcoholic…<<snuggling>> Before we’re inevitably interrupted though, sour pillow talk this will make, we need to figure out who amongst our group we trust and to what degree. I’m sure Fox will be along any moment and I’m torn between not letting her catch us in bed together again or possibly always arranging it so she only finds us in bed together. “

Julius chuckles and holds her tight. “I think Fox has a greater part to play” He says, “I’m going to have to push her to discover her lineages powers sooner than she is ready to. I think she will have to take up her mantle of “goddess” sooner than she would like.” He frowns. ” As for who we can trust Im going ot have to find that out in the castle as well. Ant good Ideas of how we can do that?” He chuckles again. “The only ones I trust of the others right now are Fritz and Inque. I can be sure about thier motivations at least.

Zarurra responds: “Well sometimes we have to face things whether we want to or not, and I think Fox will make the best of it, I’m a genetic stew so maybe I can help her deal. Might I inquire as to her lineage? I think for starters we need to line everyone up and check their minds for tampering. Then we can see who trusts us that same way. Inque I too trust b/c his motivations are clearly defined however he has no morals or ethics…he is devoid of a conscious I think. Fritz I’m just now beginning to trust though his motivations are not that clear to me. We need to find out who all did not believe in Alleia’s guilt b/c I believe they will be the easy link into the castle, she was well loved by many and I don’t think we handled her banishment correctly. I trust Darix, Knox…and if I can talk with Alana to verify she’s not been messed with I trust her not to willingly betray us. I do NOT trust Jyll, Sparrow, nor Tiberius. Piper is so naive and easily led its not that I believe she actively wishes either of us harm but she is a marionette that is easily control by whomever she is with. I also feel its time to try and rally any of the big guns among the wardens we can to have them help us here in Amber. I feel so focused…we must plan to ravish one another before any meeting if we can <<coy>> Anyway sorry the rest of figuring out the castle is to post our most trust worthy folks amongst the castle and see what they can discover. Fritz and Darix will be great for that. Speaking of I’m sure I will have to duct tape his mouth closed, anytime I feel strong emotions he feels them too. I doubt I will ever hear the end of this.”

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