It is late Whitesky when the delegation to Amber finally gathers in the glittering halls of the Thelbane, home to countless Kings of Chaos. Some rumour that the Thelbane itself is alive, garnered and shaped from a living Shadow when Creation itself was new and the Logrus in its infancy.
The hall in which the delegation members are gathered, the Hall of Memories, is one of the more ornate ones. Curling vines of silver twist their way up otherwise plain white pillars, drawing the eye upwards to a dome of stained glass. As if stirred by a breeze, the silver leaves occasionally rustle and move. Around the hall itself are tapestries depicting the stories and legends of the Courts.
In one small group stand the Sawalls. Margrave Mandor Sawall, smooth and polished like an ancient opal set in onyx. Beside him, his fiancee the Lady Eleanor Chanicut, her look gentle to his coolness. The Lady Antonia Sawall, a venerable dowager, tall and straight as an ash, her hair silver with age. Also with them is a tall, black haired young man with blue eyes. He looks round with undisguised curiosity and pleasure, the young Lord Andrew Sawall.
In another group stands a disparate assemblage of people. Ishmaela, a tall, black haired woman with black eyes, dressed in red and black. Beside her Teremko, a red haired woman with green eyes and a lithe body, dressed in teal and black velvets. Near them stands Lotus, a young woman dressed in pale pink silks and with pink hair. With them stand two tall, muscular demons, vicious looking swords curving over their backs.
Into this assemblage Kieran escorts Ryoden.
Ryoden walks in, and she can't decide whether she's intimidated by the vast array of impressive visages, awed by the decorations, or too distracted by her still seething anger towards Kieran.
She looks over at him. Day before yesterday, occasional warden. Yesterday, brother. Today... she wonders at the hurt she feels. She should be overjoyed that she has a family, but instead she finds herself burning inside, aching.
She pushes down the feelings and bites in her reactions. Now is not the time. They think she's so incompetant they didn't let her out, she'll prove them wrong. She doesn't need them.
She thinks of her plutonium, and draws strength from the fact it didn't bite her in the lab. She can make friends. She doesn't need pity.
She puts up her chin and waits for someone to begin talking.
As Kieran moves over to briefly discuss something with Mandor, the young Lord Andrew wanders over to Ryoden. With a wide, friendly smile, he holds out his hand "Hello. I'm Andrew. What's your name?"
Ryoden grasps his hand eagerly. "Ryoden. Hello." She looks around. "So, what are you doing here?"
Andrew grins "Going to Amber, Ryoden. What about you?" He looks round "This is some place. I've never been here before. Have you?"
"I'm doing the same thing, I think. Going to Amber, that is. I know I'm at least going somewhere." Tintagel... someone had mentioned that. Was that a part of Amber? It was a treaty talk, so going to Amber was a distinct possibility. She shivers slightly as she thinks of what might happen if the talks break down, leaving a few paltry Chaosites in the middle of, technically, enemy terretory.
She snaps her mind back to the task at hand. Talking. She doesn't know anything about hostages. She doesn't know anything about Amber. Nada. She's an ignorant little conjurer.
She looks about. "Oh, no. I've never been here before. I don't get out much, you know. So, why are you going to Amber with us?"
Andrew smiles "Not quite sure yet. I don't get out much either to be honest." He shrugs, pushing back a lock of hair from his face, then grins "I'm normally busy with some project, so I don't really mind. What is it you do?"
Again, she thinks quickly. They'll know sooner or later what she was brought along to do... and she'd like to know more about him. That's part of the conversation thing, right?
"I make things," she says, with a bright smile. "Machines, ponderables, oddities, the like. The lab keeps me busy. What is it you do?"
Andrew grins "You have something interesting to do by the sound of it." He thinks for a moment and continues "I experiment, sometimes paint, fence a little. I like finding out how things work essentially."
She bites her lip. Well, this is interesting. Another tinkerer. How about that. She had thought she'd be the only one for the chaos side on this trip.
And fencing? Maybe that's the form his self defence takes, the one Ishmaela was bugging her about. "Fencing... I don't fence. I've never really made the time." She givs him a self-depreciating smile. "I duck, and that's about all the exercise I get. My experiments can get a bit nasty sometimes."
"What do you experiment in?"
He smiles "I can teach you a bit of fencing if you like. I experiment in magic mostly, seeing if I can patch together different techniques and practises and watching what happens as a result." His smile widens "Also involves a lot of ducking."
Ryoden shakes her head. "Oh no, no fencing. I like my skin _un_preforated." She eyes him. "So, you're going to Amber, but why are you _here_? Is it the making things magic?" She smiles. "I'd like to see a sample, if you have one."
He shakes his head "I don't have one on me unfortunately, but I can make one up later if you like. As to why I'm here, my father is already in Amber and he wants me to join him there."
"Father?" Ryo's ears perk. "What house are you? My fa--" She cuts off, and swallows hard. "I'm here alone."
Andrew replies "I'm House Sawall. You're House Minobee right? I've been to Minobeeways once. I really liked the Central Hall." He grins "And you're not alone. You have all of us now." indicating the gathered people.
"I mean..." She swallows again. "I mean I'm the only Minobee on this trip." she looks about her person. How did he know she was a Minobee? Is it tatooed somewhere...? Her head snaps back up, and her eyes fly to his hand... a device, perhaps?
"Do you know Count Anthony?"
Andrew nods "Yes, Count Anthony is my uncle. He said there would be a Minobee engineer in the delegation so when you said what you did I assumed you were the one he had mentioned." He smiles "I hope I haven't offended you. You seem a little put out at what I said."
"Ah... no," she replies. "No, I'm not put out... I'm just surprised you knew what house I was, that's all." Of course, if he got the information beforehand, deducting her would be easy.
"I suppose were not supposed to wander," she says, looking around at the hall. "Will we be leaving soon?"
Andrew nods "I would think so. I'm not sure why we're waiting actually."
Just at that the double doors into the hall open and two guards enter. Looking around, they seem satisfied and nod to someone outside the Hall.
The next to enter is an old man with white hair, flowing over his shoulders. He is dressed in long dark purple robes. His face is both regal and kind. He seems to radiate calm and confidence.
The gathered Lords bow and the Ladies curtsey in the presence of Swayvil, His Most Dread Majesty of Chaos.
Ryoden bows timidly, then does a quick backstep, hiding partially behind Andrew. He looks to be more equipped for social whatnots. After all, he approached her.
She curses herself for not bringing a recorder, then thinks about conjuring. She decides her time is better spend listening to the king, and she perks her ears.
Swayvil looks around the group, smiling briefly at the young woman hiding partially behind the young Chaos Lord.
His voice is rich and deep, reassuring. "I come with the best wishes of Chaos for your success. Each of you carries with you the hopes of Chaos. Amber is no longer the enemy that threatens us. Now, Amber and Chaos must stand side by side against a new enemy. The treaty negotiation is the first step to this alliance. Go with my blessings for your success."
He looks around the group once more with a smile then turns and leaves, the guards following.
Kieran approaches Ryoden "I have to leave now. I just wanted to wish you a safe journey." He hands her a Trump of himself "Just in case."
She takes the card and waves him off, trying to hide the hurt in her eyes. She turns away from his briskly and moves back to talk to Andrew.
"So, do you think we'll have access to a lab where we're going? I'd hate to set up shop in a dining hall or some such nonesense."
Andrew shrugs "I don't know, but it would logical to assume that there will be proper facilities wherever we are to work." He grins "Come on over and meet my family. We'll look after you."
Ryoden's throat tightens as she spares a glance back at Kieran, wishing he would react somehow. She wants to bop Andrew on the head and tell him that the last thing she wants to hear. Instead she steadies her nerves and forces herself to smile.
"Why, did someone say I needed taking care of? I'm fairly self- sufficient. Give me a few walls and tables, and I'm happy as a clam. But let's meet your family."
Andrew shrugs "Nobody said you needed looking after. I just thought it might be nice since you're away from your House." He smiles though as they walk across "Don't let Grandma scare you. She's really very nice."
"Grandma? Who's your...?" She eyes the set of Chaosites she's likely to travel with for the next few days. "Um, I thought Count Anthony was supposed to be with us. At east for the talks."
Andrew nods "He wanted to stay back for a bit. Finish up some House matters. We'll trump him once we arrive at Tintagel, I guess."
Suddenly there is a yelp from outside and one of the carriers looks into the room "Excuse me, but there's a ... something anyway, guarding a set of cases out here. Would the owner please come and help us?"
Ryoden turns on her heel and runs to the luggage, trailing all her best explitives all the way. She looks around franticly for the escaped (AGAIN!) plutoniu, whistling for it, and cursing that she didn't bother to name it.
She coaxes it into her hands, all the while appologizing profusly to any injured or frightened staff. Calming it, she turns to face the delegation once again.
The faces of the people in the delegation show a mixture of amusement and interest. The plutonium now calm and away from the luggage, the rest of the cases are swiftly brought in.
Andrew smiles "Looks like that's us ready to go then." as a Trump Gate to Tintagel forms.
Ryoden nods solemnly and pets her roving element. She follows after Andrew, pretending to be completely ensconched in the tending of her pet.
Next: Meeting in Tintagel