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Thursday, 16 November 2017

A Conspiracy of Ravens

Almost a year has passed since King Finndo came to power in Amber. He and his brother Osric, long-thought dead in exile by their father Oberon, brought a huge army to wrest the crown away from Random. A climatic battle was fought at the foot of Mount Kolvir which left millions dead and eventually on the twisting stairs rising up the cliff face to the castle, Random was captured alive by Finndo.

A couple of Amberites were killed in that war, most notably Deirdre and Caine, and the rest fell into line - though some have left Amber. Random was known to have been alive until recently (being paraded from time to time) but last month, he was declared to have died by his own hand in a dungeon cell.

Stavros, a scion of Gerard (or so he believes) was raised outside of Amber. During the war, he diverted the enemy's forces away from Amber on behalf of Random. He can manipulate the Pattern, but is also suspected of being a Shapeshifter.


Devon, not believed to be a direct line of any of the princes of Amber, has always lived in the city. Beatrice (once Queen Consort of Oberon) has always looked out for him, as well as used him as a knight (more useful than a pawn certainly) in her courtly intrigues. He led a significant army to the final battle of the war, but arrived too late to make a difference - exactly as those who are brave enough to gossip about Beatrice and Devon would suggest they planned!

He is a slight man, of average height, with dark brown hair and eyes. A little funny looking, and wears all black (though not with any fashionable sense or cool undertones). His cloak and brace of darts are notable accessories, and a black mynah bird which does his bidding is a very capable asset.


Thomas, with Amber blood though of unknown provenance is another ally of Random's from the war. He scouted Finndo's advance, covering the Vale of Garnath, cooperating with Julian's forces in the Forest of Arden. Not only able to manipulate the Pattern, he is also a Conjurer.

He is a tall man with a slim build, his long hair covers his eyes. His guardian wolf is always close by and it proved invaluable during the war.


Trixabella, a mysterious resident of Amber, was not involved in the war. She collected artefacts from war-torn Shadows along the path of Finndo's invasion. Her gift of manipulating the Logrus is highly unusual in Amber, and many smell the taint of Chaos from her. Is she some kind of Trojan Horse from those Courts?

She is a short woman, with short brown hair and blue eyes. She wears a curious mishmash of pastels and dour greys.

****

The four of them are gathered in an inn, under the shadow of the castle of Amber. They are catching up, but speaking only in hushed tones of King Finndo, the war and what could have happened to Random. Out of a nearby corner, unveiling himself from a dark cloak is Bleys. He approaches their table, his grin disarming and unsettling them in equal measure.

Bleys, the most exuberant
of the Princes of Amber 
His smile disappears when he regards Trixabella, he doesn't seem to know what to think of her. He quickly grabs there attention by revealing that he thinking of returning to Amber, and claiming his birthright. They wonder what they could do to help (some of them eager to exact revenge for Random, and some of them hoping that Bleys passes his eye over them and finds them surplus to requirements). He knows they helped Random during the war, and is sure that they could help him as well, if they found the right job.

He wonders if they could tackle Osric, the cruel and devious master of spies for King Finndo. Bleys will take care of the military side of things if they like. Trixabella looks at him, as if to ask why should they trust him; and he stands up, putting his hand on her shoulder, inviting her to speak with him privately.

She follows him away from the table, and then outside. After going through the winding streets of Amber and then out of the city, she begins to worry. By the time they reach the edge of the forest she stops, but it's too late. He's led her through Shadow and out of Amber.
-Well, if you can make it back, maybe we'll talk
And Bleys flashes an insincere smile and her and steps back into Amber. He notices a black mynah bird has followed him through the Shadow, but arrives back at the inn in no time.

When Bleys leaves, it would appear as if he's gained the group's agreement that they will tackle Osric and his web of spies. Trixabella gathers the Logrus to her, drawing herself back towards the city. The tendrils of chaos warp perceptions - they appear translucent black & white versions of the surrounding reality.  When she returns the group breaks up, with Devon promising to contact Llewella and Trixabella commits to speaking with Fiona.

***

Llewella is kept in a high tower of the castle. A close ally (and some say lover) of Random's, King Finndo keeps her under lock and key. Devon uses his patron's influence to gain access to her. After she offers him tea and her attendants have withdrawn, they can speak frankly.

Llewella, quiet and demure,
the most withdrawn of Amberites
She believes that Bleys is chafing under the rule of another, especially one so dull as Finndo is. While some Amberites find Bleys' personality to be tiresome, many find him magnetic; the sort of personality who could lead Amber properly. Of course, in many Shadows, Bleys is considered like a god (though you could find as many where he is considered demonic).

She adds that his scheming can leave many reeling in his wake, whether as allies or enemies. She doubts that Finndo and Osric have the true loyalty of any Amberites - their return after so long is suspicious to her.

She draws Devon's attention to Osric's power in policing Amber and its surrounds secretly. After all, she can only remember seeing him once or twice since Finndo came to power. If someone had the freedom of the city and an talent for shapeshifting, one could cause a lot of havoc.

Before he leaves, Llewella asks Devon if he has a Trump - he does not keep a deck, but is sure that Beatrice has one. She requests that he provide one to her so that they might keep in touch - perhaps the mynah bird could deliver it...

**

Fiona arrives at Trixabella's antique store, looking for something very specific that she's been waiting for for months. Her take on Bleys isn't surprising - as close siblings she walks a fine line between condemning her brother and supporting his claim. She has kept a position at Finndo's court but still doesn't think that his grip on power is at all secure.

*

From Thomas' journal
Six months after Random, and Bleys shows up. I wonder would the outcome have been if he had pitched in? Not enough in it for him. We have a supposed secret mission on our hands now, to take out Osric. This setup is extremely unlikely, but the question is what his real intentions are. We could go to Finndo, but I’m not sure what the reception would be like. We have a short window of time to get some information, but so far all we’ve discovered is that Bleys has no friends. Surprise! Although Llewella and Fiona both think he’s capable of it. If Bleys is genuine, we are part of a bigger plan to take down Finndo and get him on the throne. If not, his is genuinely trying to sell us out to Finndo as insurgents to curry favour. Probably a bit of both - if Osric is taken out, he may hope to become the new Osric. If we are caught and he warned Finndo in advance he gets the job. If we succeed, he may be in a position to strike at Finndo. If we go to Finndo, there is no chance we will be trusted. A spell in the dungeon could be the reward. More likely he’ll put us to work against Bleys. For a while to see if we are useful, see what our intentions are.

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