Eleanor: The first night

She's shocked when she feels nothing where the sun is-- she can see the glass, but her finger slips through as if it were only air.

As she reaches through, she hears a small clicking noise.

Ellie grins and turns back. /I wonder how that works./ Kneeling again by the door leading downwards, she wonders now where it actually leads to. Carefully, she opens it away from her.

There are no traps as she opens it-- all she sees is a ladder leading down, and darkness. The opening smells of dust and age, like a place that hasn't been aired out in years.

In the next room, she can hear the low tones of Mandor, mixed with the higher ones of Ryoden.

Ellie sits back. Not an opening used by servants then as had been her assumption. /Assumptions again. I'm going to need a lantern or something. A trump would be good too. Just in case./

Decided, she rises and moves through into the other room, steeling herself against what she may see. /Perhaps Mandor will loan me a Trump. And I think I saw a lamp./

She opens the door, and breaths a sigh of relief when she sees that whatever they may have been doing, it's done now. Jurt lies unconscious, his leg freshly bandaged. Ryoden plays with metal bars as Mandor watches calmly, sipping his coffee.

Mandor notes her entrance. "Welcome back. I was just about to get you. We have to wake Jurt, and he won't be pleased. He prefers Ryoden a bit more... open. She takes on after the rest of us, though, some days."

He takes another sip, hiding a smile. "I thought your presence might make him a bit more civil."

Ellie nods "Of course, I'd be glad to help. Jurt has been most kind to me and most helpful."

He smiles and nods to Ryoden. Looking back at Ellie: "I'd never doubt it."

Ryoden hops next to her brother and waves her hand. Jurt stirs, opens his eyes drowsily, then snaps to attention. "What the hell--" he begins to shout, but then catches himself, and sits back, in a bit of a sulk.

"So what's the big idea? I hate sleep spells." Mandor chuckles as Ryoden shows her growing contraption.

"I'm making you a foot because Marrek's asleep, and Mandor has to leave, and I want to go out."

Jurt rolls his eyes. "Glad you're doing this so selflessly."

Ellie smiles "Jurt, may I borrow a Trump, please. I found something in the room which may explain how our unexplained visitor got in and which I was just going to have a look about."

Mandor raises an eyebrow. "Alone?"

Jurt looks through his deck and produces one of himself. "What did you find?"

Ellie hesitates then replies "I noticed an irregularity in the room when I went in. My room wasn't searched last night. I eventually found a door and the mechanism to open it. A passage leads down, but it's very dark and old, smells musty. I would prefer to explore it

with another or more yes, but I also didn't want to disturb anyone."

Mandor shakes his head. "By all means, disturb away." He puts down his coffee and stands. "How long will it take to explore? I will be accompanying you." He takes off his jacket and rests in on the couch.

Jurt looks nervous.

Ellie answers honestly "I don't know how long it will take. If you will wait please for a few moments, I'll rejoin you shortly. I'd just like to let my father know where I will be, especially as it looks to have been part of the original room."

Mandor gently takes her elbow and leads her to the couch. "Why does his Majesty need to know? If you tell him, he's likely to send a force of men to investigate, and then the secret will be out. Forebear, and you may have a secret way in and out of the castle, which is no small piece of insurance."

Jurt chews his lip and says nothing.

Ellie smiles politely and rises "If it is indeed a potentially secret way, as you suggest, Lord Mandor, then I'm sure my father will also see the wisdom of few knowing about it. And given my recent impulsiveness, it would be wise to, at the very least, inform him and so indicate that I have some degree of responsibility. Would you not agree, Lord Mandor?"

Mandor steeples his fingers. "Perhaps you should rethink telling your father. He has problems keeping his secrets, you being an example. A secret way out is also a secret way in..."

Ellie quietly says "The first part I cannot agree or disagree with. I haven't been here long enough to know that. The second is true I agree. However, given the identity of the previous owner, my father would probably see a lack of notice from me as particularly irresponsible and act accordingly." Ellie smiles at Mandor "Amber looks such an interesting place to see. I would like to actually be able to leave the Castle to explore it."

He smiles back. "And if you ever happened to be confined to the castle, you'll have a way to do just that."

Ellie chuckles softly "Touche, Lord Mandor. Trust me though. I don't even want to guess how many years I will be grounded for if I do this. And there is no guarantee that this is a way out." She smiles and backs up, adding "And when all is said and done, there is much I yet need to learn with Corwin on my side than against me. Thank you for your good advice. I will return shortly."

She nods and moves quickly to Corwin's chamber, tapping lightly on the door.

She listens, but hears nothing. No shuffling, no footsteps. Mandor sidles up to her, sighing.

"I suppose if you must play the part of the dutiful daughter, I can't stop you. But don't you think the throne room would be a better place to seek your father?"

Ellie nods, then hesitates. /Fiona's his advisor and is like to be in the Throne room. Really not a good idea for her to know a way into my room./

She turns to Mandor and smiles politely "I don't suppose you have a Trump of my father I may borrow. Please?"

He smiles back. "No, but I know where we can get one. It's about time, anyway. But we have to make a brief stop." He takes her arm and guides her down the hallway and down a back stair. "It is well past time you got a tour of your own castle."

Ellie smiles at him "Thank you, Lord Mandor. This really is very kind of you." A thought strikes her and she adds "I take it you've visited the castle before? And a brief stop where?"

He smiles, a tinge of wickedness at the corners of his mouth. "A gentlemen never tells. But for all intents and purposes, I was here for treaties after a very nasty war."

The come to another floor, and he continues down another hallway, this one somewhat taller and grander than the last. "I need my memory refreshed on some things before we get you a trump deck."

Ellie looks around, taking in where she is and replies "I'd rather not visit the throne room though, if you please. Why was there a war? And who was it between?"

Mandor laughs. "Why, between your very dear family up here and Chaos. A bloody, nasty, horrible war in which many were lost not only to their opponents, but their kinsman who saw it as a chance to further their own position. We're mortal enemies, didn't you know that, dear?"

Ellie shakes her head and replies "I didn't know that. I'm sorry. War is always horrible. Are we really enemies?"

He laughs. "Of course! We're at opposite ends of the universe. It's fate that we be mortal enemies. Of course, we usually only use this fact nowadays to avoid long ceremonies and the such that the other might hold to imprison us for a few hours. No blood has been shed in

many years."

They turn a corner, and Ellie is surprised by a gallery-- over a dozen paintings, so lifelike she wonders at the fact they don't move. Mandor walks about, studying them, humming softly.

Ellie looks too at the paintings, studying them both with an artist's eye and the eye of a person seeking answers, familiarity.

The familiarity is easy to find-- Corwin, the woman Deirdre, Julian. Some from the trumps. Others she doesn't know, but can see the family resemblance.

Mandor stops at one, one of the man she remembered Corwin called Bleys. Mandor appears to concentrate, then slowly his features shift and change colour. Several minutes tick by, and eventually he comes to resemble the man in the picture. He smiles at Ellie.

"Useful, no? Maybe you should study it."

Ellie, having watched in fascination, replies "I don't really know much about shapeshifting, Lord Mandor. Can it be learned or is it like pattern or logrus and something one is born with?"

Eleanor: Mandor and the castle

He guides her, lightly touching her on the shoulder. "Theoretically, anyone can learn it as long as they're strong enough to do so. You are partially a Chaosite, you know. By your great-grandfather, Dworkin. Technically, you all are an off-shoot of the Barimen house."

She notices her vision seems to lighten for a second, then returns to normal after a second. He chuckles. "It's time for your first acting lesson, my lady."

Ellie glances at Mandor and says "My vision changed briefly. How did that happen? And who or what am I acting as?" She pauses and then adds "It's ironic that I seem to be learning as much about how to simply be from Chaos as from Amber."

He smiles and simply turns her to a mirror. She takes a breath.

She's no longer dark-haired and fair-skinned. Her eyes are a bright blue, her skin peaches and cream. Her hair is a vibrant red, and she sports apple cheeks and freckles. Mandor chuckles. "Do you like it? Forcing another to shapeshift is somewhat painful, so I prefer


Ellie smiles "I like it. It's certainly different. I appreciate the consideration." Her grin becomes mischievous "What next, Lord Mandor?"

He clears his throat a few times, and she notes that when he speaks next, his voice is somewhat higher. "We find the library." He smiles with a touch of bravado. "Don't speak while we're about. Your melodic and singular voice would give us away in a heartbeat." He takes her arm and they turn another corner.

Ellie stiffens automatically. At the end of the hallway is the man who attacked her. The Prince Julian.

She forces herself to relax, and instead continue along the corridor, beside 'Bleys'. Given her new appearance, Ellie thinks she could be taken for a child of Bleys' and hopefully then Julian will defer to Bleys.

Julian looks up and sees Mandor in his new form. He nods. "Bleys."

Mandor smiles back. "Julian. A pleasure."

"I didn't expect you to respond. This is Faetan?"

"Oh no, this is one of our attendants. I'm showing her around. She's never been to the castle." Mandor winks at him.

Julian shrugs, and moves down the hallway, passing Ellie and Mandor. "Then I will meet her later." There's the slightest tone of authority in his voice.

Mandor watches him go, and as he passes, relaxes slightly. "What's he doing out of that park of his?" he asks to himself.

Shaking his head, he opens a door, and steps in. "The library, if I do recall."

Ellie bites back a comment about Julian reporting to Fiona that he had failed and instead smiles, nodding her thanks to Mandor.

Following him in, she looks around the library, marvelling. Unconsciously, a smile lights her face as she takes in the room.

Mandor nods to a few librarians who act as if they know him, and proceeds to the back, pulling Ellie along. He locates a small room and enters.

It's not nearly as wonderful as the last room. The books seem to be a bit older, and the ceiling isn't quite as tall. A small desk sits in the corner of the room, and Mandor takes out three small metal balls. He winks at Ellie and she watches in amazement as they fly out of his hand, shrink, and zip over the desk. She watches mutely as they enter a lock to a small drawer, apparently cause a few clicks, then fly back to Mandor. He pockets them and smiles, walking over to the desk and opening the drawer that Ellie assumes was once locked.

He hands her a deck. "Enjoy, my dear. And always remember who thought to get you one first."

Ellie smiles warmly at Mandor "I will, thank you, Lord Mandor. If you have no objections, I would like to return to Brand's rooms now. Or are there more lessons I should learn first?"

He takes her by the arm and leads her out, sighing. "I tried to teach you a lesson in secrets and discretion, but you're being obstinate. Or have you had a change of heart?"

Ellie hesitates /Corwin's not going to like this, but he also told me not to be so openly loyal to him. There's nothing to stop me telling him after, when I might have something else useful to actually tell him. And trumping him with a filched deck right now may not be such a great idea either. This way, I may learn more that may be useful./

She smiles and answers softly "I've been thinking about this as you've been teaching me. It would I suppose be more prudent to learn what is there first, I suppose."

They wind their way back to Brand's room, and he seems pleased. As they reach the door, he drops his disguise and waves a hand around her.

"Maybe there is hope for you. Now, that dress will simply not do to explore..." A simple shirt and jeans outfit appears in his hands. He pushes the door open, handing it to her. "Now go change. I'll be in here when you're done."

Jurt turns on them coming in, eyeing Mandor in what Ellie is sure he thinks is a subtle way. Mandor smiles. "Feeling better, brother?" Jurt glares. "Good. I'm glad you've recovered your sunny spirit. Is there anything I can get you before Eleanor and I go exploring? It _is_ a pity you can't go."

Ryoden goes on building, lost in her own world of diagrams and rods.

Ellie smiles at Jurt anyway as she heads into her room, closing the door behind her. Quickly changing into the jeans and shirt, she takes a moment to look at her reflection. The simple outfit actually shows off her figure to its advantage. She smiles. Whatever else can be said of Mandor, he has excellent taste. Slipping on some shoes, she heads back out.

She smiles to the small group and says "Alright, I'm all ready to go exploring."

Mandor bows. "My pleasure." He leads Ellie into her room. "We might be a while, Jurt. Don't stay in on account of us." Jurt glares at his hands, but holds his words. Mandor closes the door behind him, and lets out a small, disappointed sigh.

Waving his hand, a floating orb of light appears in from of him. "Shall we?" He asks, and climbs down.

Ellie follows him, climbing quickly down. Once at the bottom, she asks "Lord Mandor, if I may enquire, why did you goad Jurt back there?"

He follows the orb, touching the walls carefully, searching. "Because there are a few of the Sawall family traits he has yet to take on, and mostly because of inaction. If I goad, it is to inspire him, not to seriously threaten him."

Ellie thinks about this, watching what Mandor is doing, and replies "Is there anything I can do to help Jurt to reach his potential?"

He laughs, and it echoes down the passage. "I'm sure you'll find a way to help. You seem to be a resourceful girl." He bends down and studies the earth with a smile on his face. The smile fades quickly as he looks down the passageway. His voice drops to a whisper. "Someone has been this way. And they haven't come back."

Ellie whispers back "Can you tell how recently this has happened? I left the door open, but the only access to it as far as I can tell is my room."

He shakes his head. "Are you trained in fighting at all?"

Ellie says softly "A little self-defence, that is all."

Mandor purses his lips and thinks for a long moment. "Then you go back. Stay with Jurt and Ryoden." He waves at the glowing orb, and it heads back. Ellie notices Mandor's eyes begin to glow red.

"If you don't hear from me in 10 minutes, trump. If I refuse... do what you think is prudent." He moves deeper into the cave.

Ellie nods and heads quickly back, following the glowing orb. Climbing the ladder, she goes back to Jurt and Ryoden. She shrugs and says, by way of explanation, "Mandor sent me back. I'm to trump him in ten minutes."

Sitting beside Jurt, she smiles at him "How are you feeling now? Do you need anything?"

Jurt grumbles something, but manages to keep his voice low enough Ellie can't hear. He looks at her. "Any reason why? And I thought you were getting your father?"

Ellie replies "Someone else has gone down the passage and I can't fight so Mandor sent me back. And Father may be with people right now I really don't want to know about this, so I'll sort it all out later."

She grins mischievously at him "So why are you sulking?"

Jurt knits his eyebrows. "Someone else? I didn't see anyone go into your room..." He shakes his head. "Must be another entrance. Heard this place is riddled with tunnels."

He leans back. "Why am I sulking? Mandor, helluva guy that he is, stole my only entertainment since I'm stuck in a chair again, the wheelchair disintegrated, Marrek is comatose, and a nuclear reaction couldn't rouse my sister out of her reverie."

Ellie laughs softly "So I'm your only entertainment? Just as well I'm back then isn't it." She smiles at Jurt "I much prefer being around you anyway. And it shouldn't be too long before you can get around again."

He nods, and his mood lifts a bit. "So what were you and my brother doing if you weren't getting Corwin?"

Ellie replies "Talking for the most part. I was learning about shapeshifting too. Mandor was teaching me about keeping secrets and history and stuff."

Changing the subject, she asks "So when you can get around more, what would you like to do?"

He leans his head on his hands and looks at Ryoden. "Go be in any room that didn't belong to a sociopath. I know they cleaned it out, but it still makes my blood run cold." He looks at Ellie. "And where would you like to go?"

Ellie thinks for a moment then replies "Explore the castle or Amber I think. Go out on the sea maybe." She shrugs "If it makes you feel any better, I'm in Brand's old room." Smiling, she adds "Look at it this way. If you hadn't been put here, I very much doubt we would be as

good friends or got to know each other as well. And these are my chambers now, not Brand's. Or will be once I've lived here for a bit, I suppose."

Jurt looks a bit surprised. "You're laying claim on Brand's place? I'd hate to be a pessimist, but Amberites don't die, they just don't show up for dinner for a while. Caine, Bleys, Corwin, hell, even Oberon were declared dead at some point. I don't think Brand would take kindly to you squatting in his suite if he came back."

"So you've decided to stay in castle Amber? Thought most of you guys just moved out to shadow and stayed there for a while."

Ellie looks worried and quietly answers "I didn't know that. Maybe a room of my own would be a good idea. As for staying here, well I lived in Shadow for a while. Here may be safer for a time." Momentarily a flicker of fear passes through the emerald of her eyes and then is gone. She smiles thinly "Got a lot to learn."

Jurt looks uncertain. "You do. And from what I know, we're sitting in the centre of everything you have to learn, and all the danger. If this place is anything like chaos, the castle is going to be a focal point for a lot of plots. You could be caught in the crossfire."

Ellie looks at him and says softly "I already know that my life is forfeit for no other reason than I'm Corwin's daughter. This point has already been demonstrated to me, trust me."

She pauses then continues "I never thought I would have any parents again. If I'm honest, the possibility that my foster parents were killed because of me is one I can't dismiss. I should have been in the car, you see."

She shrugs "Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I was so happy to have a parent, it took me a while to see that I may have been safer off an orphan." Straightening, Ellie adds "But I'm not and I guess I just need to work out how to survive here. The danger isn't as obvious as a junkie sleeping next mat along, but it's here. And this time, it goes under the name of family."

She shrugs, working a kink out of her neck, then turns and flashes a dazzling smile at Jurt, saying softly "You really care don't you?"

He sighs. "I don't like watching people walk into lions dens armed with a feather duster, if that's what you mean. There's not a whole hell of a lot of sport in it." He watches Ryoden building her contraption, muttering quietly to herself. "Innocent people shouldn't get caught up in someone else's power game."

Ellie is quiet for a moment, then a distance comes into her eyes and, her expression polite, she says "No, they shouldn't. Thank you for listening to my rambling. If you will excuse me, I think I'll withdraw for a bit." She smiles absently and shrugs "I would appreciate it if you call Mandor in a few moments, please." Ellie looks at Ryoden and adds "And if I may help with Ryoden, just let me know."

Jurt looks wounded and a bit worried. "Did I offend you? I didn't mean to..."

Ellie pauses then smiles at him "No, I guess I'm just a little bit uncertain of everything at the moment, that's all." Impulsively, she leans over and gently kisses Jurt on the cheek. Pulling back, she smiles and says "You are a nice guy, Jurt."

He blinks. Once, twice--

"Why don't you stay out here? There's nothing gained by you sitting off somewhere, stewing." He runs a hand through his hair. "Once Ryo finishes her foot, we can go see the town. I'm not sure about boating, though. Never heard of many sight-seeing tours."

Ellie raises an eyebrow "Excuse me, but you are talking to someone who was raised by the sea. Not only can I swim, but I can also sail and fish." She smiles "I was thinking more about hiring something. Would you like that?"

He nods. "As long as we bring along a couple tons of duct tape for Ryoden. She adores swimming, and right now I'm not mobile enough to catch her." He rubs his bandages, grimacing. "What about something to eat?"

Ellie nods "Of course. What would you like? And would painkillers help as well with the pain in your foot?"

He shakes his head. "No, not really. And it's not pain, it just itches. Curious thing about shapeshifters is that we metabolise everything. Medicine, poison, drugs... Unless we force our body not to adapt, it just runs it through. Or if we're too seriously damaged for our body to cope with shifting."

He shrugs. "Plus, I think it'd be a bad thing to be groggy right now."

On the other side of the room, Ryoden looks up. Her eyes grow wide, and she drops her project and bolts out of the room.

Ellie jumps to her feet and quickly follows Ryoden out, worried about the young girl and wondering what caused her to leave so abruptly. She calls over her shoulder "Would you call Mandor for me, please?"

Jurt curses. "Already on it..."

Ellie runs after her at top speed, trying to keep the girl in sight. Ryoden runs, oblivious, jumping down a set of stairs in a few leaps.

Ellie calls as she runs "Ryoden, hold up and I'll come with you." taking as many physical shortcuts as she can to shorten the distance and keep Ryoden in sight.

Marrek and Eleanor: the chase

Eleanor is surprised as she calls out when a panther, sleek and dark as night, runs past her and after Ryoden's path. A second later she's surprised again as a trio of silver balls fly by, barely missing her ear.

Marrek manages to gain a little ground on her, but he has to admit, she's nimble. She may not have shifted to something with faster joints and structure, but she corners like a race car.

They hit a large, grand stairway, one Marrek remembers. It seems he saw this nearby when he was off to visit the throne room.

A silver ball rushes over his head.

Letting loose a feral growl, Marrek redoubles his efforts, pouring all his energies into his raging muscles, relentlessly trying to gain ground.

He watches as she easily bounds down the stairs, and runs to something half-hid in shadows. A man?

The sphere, trailing two others, catches up to her and attempt to circle her. She shrugs them off.

Marrek ignores the stairs, instead going for the wall. Seeming to defy gravity, he lets his momentum carry him up onto the wall as he continues to race down the curving stairs after Ryoden. The keen eyesight of a hunting cat attempts to penetrate the shadows around

the figure.

He hears the alarmed cries of staff and lower courtiers around him as he races down, heart pounding. He feels his body shift a bit, legs becoming longer, more agile.

A figure steps out of a shaded doorway, and Ryoden rushes into his arms.

Behind him, Ellie smiles as she recognises the silver balls /Looks like Mandor's around./ then frowns as she starts to lose the panther and Ryoden. They soon outpace her, but Ellie keeps heading in the direction anyway rather than give up.

She soon reaches the head of a large, curving stairway. She sees the panther sprinting towards Ryoden, who appears to be in the arms of a rather large red-headed man.

Marrek, puzzled, slows his pace, coming to a stalking walk as he gazes upon the stranger holding Ryoden. Ears flat, eyes narrowed to bare slits, he rumbles a warning to the newcomer. Should harm befall Ryoden, Marrek will send him to the grave.

Ellie hopes the panther can catch up to Ryoden before anything else happens even as she keeps going. The man is unknown, at least to Ellie, and her first instinct is to keep Ryoden safe from a potential danger.

She watches as the panther and the man square off, both growling in their own tongues. Ryoden watches on from behind the red-head, almost curious.

The man looks up, and sees the panther Marrek. He starts, and snaps up, pushing Ryoden behind him. He pulls a sword from his belt, and it sizzles as he draws it. "Stay back, kid." He says.

Ryoden looks from behind him, studying the panther. "...Marrek?" she whispers.


The panther looks between the stranger (and his smouldering blade) and Ryoden, head cocked to one side. Grimly, he shifts his shape back to his standard features (almost as an afterthought, he shifts himself a pair of pants for modesty's sake). His mind runs through the spells he has prepared, weighing and discarding some, approving others, all in the span of a heartbeat. All the while, his eye lock on those of the stranger's.

As their mutually distrustful stare meets, Ryoden tugs on the man's cape.

"Luke! No! See, it's Marrek. He's watching me. He's not really a cat! I swear!"

She looks at Marrek. "It's okay. He's a friend of the family. This is Luke." She looks almost frantic at the idea of a fight.

Marrek holds up a hand to forestall any action from those coming up behind him. Once again looking from the stranger--Luke--to Ryoden, he straightens slightly from his crouch, more to put Ryoden at ease. The thrill of the chase still courses through Marrek's blood and he would like nothing more than to sink his fangs in this Luke's neck.

Ellie walks up and says "I think we can all relax, gentlemen. It's clear that Ryoden is in no danger and she is after all our prime concern."

She looks at Luke and smiles politely adding "Good morning."

"Who are you," he asks the newcomer in a growl. "And why are you here?"

He barely looks her way as he replies to Marrek. "I'm Rinaldo, King of Kashfa. And I'm here to see Ryoden. I'm friends with her brother. Perhaps you've heard of him? He's a member of the king's club too."

Ellie replies coolly "Yes, my brother Merlin did mention something of the sort. Chaos wasn't it?"

Marrek glances at her out of the corner of his eye. /Very good,/ he thinks to himself.

"Can't say that I've heard of you, probably because I've spent too much time with my brother, Lord Mandor." /If he wants to play the name dropping game, we can play along, too./

Marrek shifts his eyes to Ryoden. "Highness, for the sake of your brother's failing nerves, please refrain from bolting like that again."

Ellie smiles to Ryoden and adds with a grin "Especially when he's hungry." She looks at the two men and adds calmly "I was about to order refreshments for Jurt, Ryoden and myself. Would you care to join us?"

Ryoden looks down and shuffles her feet. "Sorry," she mutters.

Luke drops the aggressive stance and puts away his sword. "Ah, so it's a family reunion. Fuzzface, you didn't tell me anyone else was here." Ryoden giggles.

He bows to them, then takes Eleanor's hand. "And I wasn't aware that Merlin had a sister. Delinquent of him. He's off my Christmas card list." He smiles and kisses the back of her hand. "A pleasure. So are you Corwin's or Dara's?"

Ellie nods and replies with a smile "Corwin's as it happens."

He raises up again and bows slightly to Marrek. "I met the man briefly. Your brother, that is. It seems Merlin has collected a whole clutch of siblings. Maybe that's why he took over the throne of Chaos. He needed living space."

He takes Ryoden's hand. "And I'd love something to eat. I haven't forgotten my last stay here, and I'm sure the kitchen has restocked since then."

Ellie smiles then continues "If you would come with us to our temporary shared quarters then please, that would be helpful as Jurt's movement is limited. I'll call a servant from there." She looks to Marrek "Unless we can help Jurt to a nearby room?"

Marrek's gaze lingers on Rinaldo for yet another moment before he turns his attention to Eleanor and nods "If he can't manage the crutches, I can get him there." He grimaces. "Besides, I'm starting to get cabin fever in those rooms. Castle Amber is gargantuan, yet we're shunted into five of what have to be her smallest rooms."

Luke laughs. "You know, you must have the same rooms I had while I was here. They didn't take kindly to me wandering about too much either. So what's wrong with Jurt? Merle only got a hold of me long enough to tell me he had Fuzzball up here for a while, and that he'd stop by after a bit." He looks down at Ryoden. "Gods, you've grown. Glad to see you chose the human form. That other one was just eerie." She smiles up at him, and her teeth are just slightly too sharp.

She leads him back to their rooms.

As Marrek falls into step with the impromptu group, he idly wonders where Mandor went...

Ellie looks around and nods to Mandor with a smile then turns to Jurt, the smile warming a little. She says "Looks like you get your wish. Want something to eat outside of here?"

He nods briefly, and gives Ryoden a hard look. "No running out." Ryoden pouts but shakes her head up and down.

Mandor is sitting on a loveseat, drinking something dark and red in a wide mouthed goblet. His spheres come flying back in the room, and he catches them without looking. "Your majesty," he says, rising. "A pleasure."

"Good to see you again." Luke smiles broadly.

Jurt is looking at Ryoden still, and Luke notices this. "Don't be too hard on the kid. She just got excited. We were about to go out for lunch. I'm sure that'll burn off some energy" Jurt shakes his head.

"She won't be joining you. Marrek, Mandor, and she are staying here. Benedict wants to see her." Ryoden's eyes go wide.

Mandor nods. "He contacted me while you were off chasing down Luke. He has some information, but more questions." Ryoden looks scared and crushed, all at the same time. Mandor goes over to her and lays a hand on her shoulder. "You can join them later. Your safety comes first." She sniffles, and goes to Jurt who pulls her close.

Luke notices Jurt's injured foot. "Ouch," he says, cringing. "Merle was right. It wasn't pretty."

Ellie nods, agreeing with Luke, concern showing in her eyes. She then turns to Ryoden and says "It probably won't be long and then as Lord Mandor says, you can join us, Ryoden. And then we'll see what we can do or where we can go next." She smiles at the young girl, trying to cheer her a little.

Inconspicuously as possible, Marrek gathers his hastily discarded garments and retreats to his quarters. There, he dons more appropriate attire, black slacks and a grey shirt, and again emerges into the sitting room to await the arrival of Benedict.

Jurt gently pushes Ryoden off his lap with a sigh and looks questioningly at Mandor. Mandor nods. "It's for the best. You need to get out. And since you have neither new information or an eyewitness account to draw from besides the one attack, Benedict would deem you superfluous. And he is not a man who entertains such things. We'll have a hard enough time as it is."

Jurt sighs, and Mandor hands him his crutches, helping him up. Jurt steadies himself. He looks at Ellie and Luke. "Ready?"

Ellie nods and replies "Ready." and opens the door for Jurt. She looks at Luke and asks "Recommendations for someplace to eat?"

They head out.

Luke laughs. "Well, the castle is free, but I'm pretty sure you want to get out of here. I don't think Bloody Bill's is a good idea, with Jurt being a sitting duck and all." Jurt gives him a healthy glare, but Luke ignores it. "How do you feel about steak? I know a great pub, not too far from the castle."

Ellie replies "That does sound nice, Luke, thank you. By the way, what is the usual form of payment around here? I'm still really new to Amber and haven't even been outside the Castle yet, so I don't know the customs around here."

He pulls off a pouch and shakes out a few coins. "Drachms," he says, "That's usually what's used around here, although you'll see some other Golden Circle currency floating around." He hands her a coin. "Your dad." Another. "Your grandfather. They're all on here somewhere, at least the older generation. I think they gave up making up denominations after Flora."

They come up to a set of stairs, stopping them dead. Luke looks at Jurt. "Eleanor, you grab the crutches. I'll carry him."

"Like hell you will!" yells Jurt, clutching tighter to his crutches.

Ellie turns to Jurt and says softly "Think on it this way, Jurt. It will be the quickest way down and then we'll be able to get out of the Castle." She smiles and adds "I know you don't like the thought, but will it help any if I promise to stay as much of the day with you as I can so you won't be so bored?"

He smiles back. "If I take a long time, that just ensures you stick around longer, doesn't it?" With that, he hands her one crutch, takes a hold of the banister, and makes his way down.

Luke shrugs and rolls his eyes, then winks. "It's a pride thing. The only thing you could have offered that would make him give up that isn't appropriate in public."

Ellie blushes then laughs softly "Heaven forbid I do something else inappropriate for Amber." She walks down beside Jurt, the sparkle in her eyes telling how she is looking forward to seeing Amber.

Luke laughs as he walks along the struggling Jurt. "Have you left a bad impression here? I don't believe it. You have a handful of Sawalls running around to take the heat off of you. Mandor may know how to play it smooth, but if I know the rest of them," aside to Jurt, "and I think I do," back to Ellie, "then they'll get their hands into plenty. Especially the little one. I took her to Kashfa for a week and she drove my cabinet nuts."

Ellie smiles "I'm just new and learning the ropes, that's all. And we've all been too shut up in one set of rooms to do too much damage." She grins mischievously "At least so far, I think."

They near a stables, and Jurt breaths a sigh of relief.


Ellie takes his other arm in support while horses are arranged. She says softly "How are you feeling?" With an small smile, she adds honestly "You did much better than I would have."

Jurt grimaces as he struggles up onto a horse. "I'm fine. I've been through worse. Regrowing a foot is easy. You should try an eye." Suddenly he cringes. "Sorry. Forgot you were Corwin's daughter for a moment."

Ellie shrugs "Don't worry about it. And you're a shape shifter. I'm not."

On the other side of the stable, Ellie sees a familiar figure. Gerard.

Ellie says "Give me a moment, please." then heads over in Gerard's direction. She smiles, her face open and honest "Hello, Uncle Gerard. Would you mind if I ask you something?"

Gerard turns, and Ellie notes the shadow of another person on the stairs. He turns and says something to him quietly, then walks down to meet her.

"Hello again. What's the question?"

Ellie smiles "Just a very quick question. I very much like sailing and Father said you were the best person to ask about this in Amber. Is it possible to hire or borrow a small vessel?"

Thomas and Eleanor: the stables

She notes his shoulders loose some tenseness, as if he had been expecting something else. "Hire, no, not really. This is a military and commercial port. But I can arrange something if you want."

Thomas follows behind Gerard, keeping a certain distance.

A large man, all muscle, appears from the shadows behind Gerard, dressed in fatigues and carrying an impressive looking sword. He hangs back a bit, watching.

Ellie smiles up at her uncle "That would be lovely, thank you. I grew up by the sea and like being on it when I can." She looks abashed "I better get back now. Luke is taking Jurt and I out to lunch. Thanks again for your help, Uncle Gerard. It was nice speaking to you." With a polite smile, she backs off and goes to join her companions.

Thomas simply raises a slight eyebrow at his cousin's sudden backing off. His face never falters.

Ellie: on the Town

He nods a goodbye at her.

Across the stables, Jurt and Luke sit on their horses. Jurt holds his pendant and looks back nervously. Luke pats him on the back. "Look, she'll be okay. They aren't stringing her up by her toes, so leave it alone."

As Ellie approaches, she sees Jurt again finger the pendant. Quietly, she says "Don't worry. She's with people who care about her too, you know."

He nods, but doesn't look at her. He urges his horse ahead as Ellie mounts her steed (with a bit of difficulty. Even the horses seem tall here).

Jurt rides slightly ahead, quiet and moody. Luke hangs back and chats with Ellie.

"So... you just got in town? You should stop by Kashfa if you can. We're not too far off. A day's ride if you know how." He pauses, and seems to regard her a moment. "And I see you do know how."

Ellie glances at him then smiles ruefully and answers "I wouldn't put a lot of store by appearances. I only arrived yesterday." She grins and adds "And may have put the cart before the horse, so to speak."

He raises an eyebrow. "Is that so? Are you telling me you don't know how to use what you have." He smiles. "A pity. I could amend that for you, if you want."

Ellie laughs softly "Thank you, it's appreciated but I'm already in Dad's bad books as it is for the first stunt. I'd hate to get you in trouble too. Tell me instead about Kashfa. What's it like?"

He laughs, perhaps a bit sadly. "Good thing you told me that. I'm the last person who needs to be in someone's bad book. Especially his." He pulls out a trump and hands it to her. "It's home. Born and raised there, which I think is an excellent qualification for a king. Kind of a shift from the other places in the Circle... not as frilly or pompous. Not one big field. We're set in a plains area, and it's more dust than grass. But the sunsets are fantastic."

Ellie looks at the card "It looks a peaceful place." She hands the Trump back and says "Don't be sad. It's a lovely day and it's just me Dad's annoyed at about this. Nobody else. So how do you know Merlin?"

He laughs. "Peaceful? I think we've had more wars and uprisings than all the Circle Shadows put together. It's a regular powder keg."

He takes out another card, showing a library, like one found on a college grounds.

"We met in school. Didn't know each other as more than rivals, but when we ran into each other up here, we had to laugh at the absurdity. Two princes of the universe, infinite shadows, infinite possibilities, and we end up in the same Lit class."

Ellie smiles and chuckles softly "Yes, that is absurdly funny. Pity the two of you never came across to France. Or did you?"

She looks ahead for a moment "How did you feel when you walked the pattern? What difference did it make to you?" Ellie looks at him and grins "And I am far too curious for my own good, probably."

He nods, and his face grows grim for a second. "Curiosity is cute in kids and nice in scientists, but it does a lot of damage too. I know." He shakes off the cloud and continues. "Nah, never went to France. Were you on shadow Earth? I could see him putting another one of his there. It's a pretty good shadow since he spent so much time there. A good place to study and not get distracted by fooling around with possibilities and the such."

Ellie nods, smiling "Yes, I used to live in Paris. Brittany before that." She adds more solemnly "Thanks for the warning. Right now, I'm just asking questions as I'm finding my feet." Ellie smiles again "How about when I do find my feet, I take you and Merlin to Paris?"

He laughs. "Normally, I'd say yes. But the little woman would complain. You don't want to know what I had to promise to get her to take over duties for a few days. She has her own set of responsibilities, and detests taking on mine in addition."

Ellie smiles and replies "The invitation is still open and to both of you."

The town starts to spring up around them, and Ellie is more able to appreciate its quaintness now that she's more stable and sure of herself. Little boutiques, some bakeries, a toy store... It reminds her of some of the more well-to-do Castle villages back home...

He continues. "Questions aren't bad. I'd expect them. But experimenting... do yourself a favour and let sleeping dogs lie. You're too nice a girl to let the other-worldly stuff get to you."

Ellie tilts her head, her voice soft "You mean magic and stuff right? I agree the experiment was a bad idea, though it worked. From now on, I learn about things first, and only things that would be helpful at that."

She smiles "To be honest, my first love is painting anyway. Give me somewhere to paint and I'm happy." With a shrug, she adds "Probably not a very useful quality here though, I suppose."

He laughs. "Not useful? This place is crawling with people dying to be immortalized. If one of Kashfa's exports were frames, we'd be rolling in it." He looks up and down the streets, studying landmarks and signs. "And if you decided to, there's always making trumps. Smaller, more useful, more portable bits of vanity. Everyone has a few versions of themselves. Merle, I know, and don't you tell him I know, used to sketch ones in his spare time."

He urges his horse to turn down a side street, calling to the brooding Jurt at the same time. Turning his attention back to Ellie, "But as to what to study, that depends on what you think is useful. Everything's useful if you use it right. The real danger is when you start pushing boundaries."

Ellie nods, listening carefully to Luke, and she says "Kind of like an elastic band I suppose. You can push it so far, but it will snap back eventually. Wouldn't be a good idea to be in the way when it does."

Luke pauses, perhaps a bit too long, then nods. "Yeah, you can say that again." He calls out to Jurt, pointing to a tavern sign with faded writing on it. "That's the one." Jurt looks back and nods, reigning in his horse.

As Ellie approaches the tavern, she smells the heavy scent of steak and ale waft by. A general mummer fills the air, men and women enjoying mid-day meals. She reads the sign as she dismounts. "The Pit."

Jurt dismounts carefully, for once accepting help from Luke. He touches the amulet once more, and Ellie notes lines of worry on his face.

Ellie moves to Jurt's side and says quietly, softly enough to be near a whisper "How are you doing? Is everything alright so far?"

He whispers back as Luke finds a table. "She's upset. And nervous. And unhappy. She'll be a terror later. But... I wish I knew what they were asking her about. It can't be good if Mandor wanted me to leave."

Ellie gently squeezes his arm in an brief, unspoken gesture of comfort, replying quietly "We will find out later, I promise."

Luke sits at a large oak booth with high walls. The tavern itself is shielded from the mid-day sun, so lamps and lanterns fill the place with a smoky, waxy light. A busty but somewhat icy waitress hands out a few menus then walks away. Luke opens his menu and smiles. "So, what'll it be?"

Ellie looks down her menu and replies "I think for me the mussels in a red wine sauce, please, with a side salad." She smiles to the two men "And for you two?"

Luke smiles. "Ah, they have a great prime rib here-- My internal clock says its dinner time, so I'm starving." He winks at Ellie. "Course, Coral would say that my internal clock is always set to dinner, but she's just a light eater."

Jurt considers the menu, then nods. "I think I'll have the same. Them tearing up my leg set everything in motion again."

Luke flags down a waitress and places their orders. When he turns back, his attention shifts from Ellie to Jurt. "So, were you planning on stopping by Kashfa while you're in town?"

Jurt looks surprised. "Not really, no. Its been implied that we should stay in Amber."

Luke throws him a big grin. "Who implied that? Merle?" Jurt nods. "Then your brother has his head up his ass."

Ellie's lips twitch in amusement and she says "Regardless of my brother's anatomy, Kashfa does sound an interesting place to visit. Perhaps, Jurt, it might be a good idea for you, I and Ryoden to visit together when you're more mobile."

Luke laughs at Ellie's statement, but Jurt ignores it. "What's wrong with Amber? It's safe."

Luke smirks. "Safe like a lions den. Merle was only there during a relatively peaceful time. Now, Corwin's stuck in it up to his armpits, and to tell you the truth, he's floundering."

Ellie takes a note of that with some concern, though she says nothing.

Jurt shakes his head. "What makes Kashfa so safe?"

Luke spreads his hands out. "Who would hurt her? Me? I love the kid. My wife? Pfft. Only one she beats is me. I'm a backwater with nothing to gain. I could care less about Chaos, and right now I wouldn't touch Amber with a ten foot pole." He smiles. "So, what do you say?"

Ellie smiles and looks hopefully at Jurt "It would be nice, Jurt. It would also give Ryoden a chance to see a little more of different places."

Jurt looks aside at Ellie. "This isn't a sight-seeing trip." He looks back to Luke. "You can't protect her like Amber can." Luke smiles. "And I hear they're doing a bang-up job. Give Ryoden's mysterious lady my regards next time she drops in, kay?" Jurt starts back.

Ellie says quietly, her tone level "Nobody is saying this is a sight-seeing trip, Jurt. What I am thinking of is that, given proper precautions, the stay need not be completely boring for Ryoden either. Side trips may well help keep her mind off the fact that she has had to leave her home and so the time may pass more quickly and happily for her."

Jurt remains silent, and looks at Luke warily. "What do you know about the attack?"

Luke smiles. "My contacts are good. I knew about it before dawn broke here. Now, do you think she might be fine in my rugged little kingdom?"

Jurt looks down. "Who says she isn't happy here?"

The waitress returns, loaded with plates. She drops them somewhat unceremoniously in front of her patrons, then stalks off.

"Wonder if that's a part of the ambiance?" wonders Luke as he watches her leave.

Ellie says quietly "Nobody is saying that she is unhappy here, Jurt. Children get bored though. We're just trying to think of options for her to avoid that." Ellie pauses then adds "You are her guardian though. In the end, it's up to you where she goes. Nobody here is disputing that."

Jurt cuts into his steak. "Right now I'm going to have to decline. I'm sure she'll be safe with Benedict-" He breaks off and looks up. Sighing, he pulls Ryoden through.

She stands before him a moment, lip quivering, and a failing attempt of a stoic visage on her face. Finally, she bursts into tears. "Now I REALLY don't like him!" And with that, she falls sobbing into Jurt's arms.

Ellie signals a passing waitress and whispers a request for one of the sweet desserts, a confection of chocolate by its description, for Ryoden. A small thing perhaps, but Ellie hopes, as she looks on the sobbing child, one that will help her to feel a little better.

Quietly, she asks "What happened, Ryoden?"

She wipes her nose on her jacket. Jurt robotically hands her a napkin and she blows her nose. "They weren't nice. He asked me all sorts of questions and looked at my deck and they talked about me like I wasn't even there."

Luke scratches her behind the ear, and odd action, but one that looks natural between the two. "Who peeved you, Fuzzface? I'll go beat him up."

Ryoden looks at him, a pout on her face. "Benedict."

He shakes his head and puts up his hands. "On that count, you're on your own."

Her dessert comes, most likely speeded by Ryoden's anxious state, and she dives in.

Ellie waits a few moments, realising the dessert won't last long, then asks the girl directly "Ryoden, what would you like to eat next? We'll order that too."

"'Nother one of these," she says, but Jurt shakes his head firmly.

"A hamburger."

Jurt leans in and starts extracting details form the wolfing Ryoden.

Meanwhile, Luke catches Ellie's eye again. "You know something? You're a sensible girl."

Ellie smiles and replies "Thank you. I try. Usually fail, but I make the effort." She grins mischievously and adds "Mollifies Father a little."

He lowers his voice. "You look like you have more sense than Mr. Mom over there. I at least hope you know this place is the kind of place you always want to have a second option in... A home away from home, as it were?"

Ellie replies quietly, lowering her voice in response "A bolthole you mean? It's a good idea, but I haven't learned how to use the pattern yet to leave Amber."

Luke pulls something out of his pocket and places it in Ellie's hand. "I think you're terribly under tutored. If you don't get a good lesson soon, give me a call. And by soon, I mean in the next few days."

When Ellie down to see what he gave her, she sees a card with his face on it, and a delicate necklace, holding a tiny golden feather.

At the other end of the table, Jurt and Ryoden's conversation winds to an end. Suddenly Ryoden looks up, and spots something in the rafters. "Go away, Marrek," she whispers.

Ellie quickly whispers to Luke with a smile "Thank you for being so nice to me and for these gifts. I know how to use Trumps, but what does this necklace do?"

He touches it briefly. "Let's just say it's an extra piece of insurance. As a note, it would be nice if you stuck close to the kid when you can." He cuts another piece of steak and goes back to a more conversational tone. "So, who've you met in the family?"

Ellie smiles and replies "I like Ryoden. I'll be around her." She thinks for a moment then replies "Merlin and Corwin you already know about. I've met Gerard too." She chuckles and adds "That was an amusing meeting. He assumed I was with Corwin for another reason entirely. Father wasn't too happy about that." Her green eyes grow troubled as she adds "I met Julian briefly too."

He leans back. "You should meet more soon. Do you have a trump deck?" He takes a bite of his baked potato. "You may be missing a few cards if you do. And I know Julian. A bully who likes his horse and dogs and sister too much. Wouldn't say it to his face though."

Ellie shudders before she can repress it. She glances at Luke and quietly adds "I know what a bully Julian can be trust me." She is quiet for a moment more then smiles and says "Yes, I have a Trump Deck, thank you. Which ones may I be missing?"

Luke holds out his hand. "Let me see." He flips through it quickly, meanwhile asking, "So, what happened? You get a bit too far into Arden?"

He finishes his search. "I thought so. Damn, they were thorough." He pulls two cards out of his own deck and inserts them into hers. "Free of charge."

Ellie hesitates then says "No, I've never been to Arden. As far as I understand it, Julian was delivering a message, or attempting to anyway." She shrugs "I don't like Julian very much." and adds "Thank you for the Trumps. I appreciate it."

He raises an eyebrow. "A message? What kind of message? Sounds a bit sinister." He motions to her deck. "The extras are Sand and Delwin. Neutrals, as it were. Also ones you wouldn't get to meet if you just depend on Daddy."

Ellie nods and wryly replies "If it was up to Father, I don't think I would meet any of the family. And I don't know what the message was. The method of delivery intended though was, it is supposed, to leave me less than healthy one might say."

Jurt's head snaps to attention. "What did he do?" he asks, then puts a hand to his mouth, caught. Ryoden glares at him. "You weren't listening, were you?"

He turns back to her. "I was, I was. I have two ears, don't I?"

"Well, now, yeah."

Ellie chuckles and says softly "Therein lies a story, I'm sure." She shrugs "As for Julian, I probably did myself more harm than he did in trying to get away from him. Father turned up before Julian could really hurt me."

Ellie shifts a little uncomfortably and says "So that was a hamburger, Ryoden. Would you like some chips with that?"

Ryoden nods and goes to say something, but Jurt silences her with a wave of his hand. His eyes bore into Ellie.

"What exactly did Julian do?"

Ellie glances at Luke. His face is more neutral as he listens, like the mild interest of one cataloguing new types of grasses. She looks back at Jurt and says quietly, firmly "I don't wish to talk about this here. I will later if you still wish me to. For now though, let's just all take a deep breath and enjoy our lunch. Please, Jurt?"

He looks at her a moment more, then relents. "Okay. But we are talking about this later."

Luke smiles. "Attacked, and can't use pattern? You do need those cards. My keep is ever open to you."

Ellie smiles ruefully and replies "At the point it happened, I didn't even know about Amber, much less pattern."

Ryoden notices the necklace in Ellie's hand. She reaches out to touch it. "Pretty..." She looks at Luke pleadingly.

As Ryoden directs her gaze at Luke, Ellie smiles and hands the necklace to Jurt, asking "Would you fasten this around my neck please?" In preparation, she lifts the long, heavy plait of her black hair out of the way.

Jurt fumbles with the clasp for a second, then loops the chain around her neck and leans in close to secure it. He pauses a second, then leans back in time to intercept Luke handing a similar necklace to Ryoden.


Luke smiles. "There's nothing on it," and gives her the golden feather.

Luke leans back and looks at Ellie as Jurt fastens Ryoden's clasp. "So, where do they have you holed up in the castle?"

Ellie smiles her thanks at Jurt before turning back to Luke. She answers "In the same suite of rooms as Jurt, Marrek and Ryoden. At least for now, I suppose. I don't actually know yet how long I will be in the rooms for."

Luke feigns a hurt look. "A suite? I guess it's good to be the King's daughter. They always stuck me in one of the guest rooms-- didn't even know they had suites."

Ellie laughs "My room shares a wall with Corwin's. I don't think comfort was his prime consideration in placing me there." She looks at Ryoden and grins as she adds "And it's nice us all being together."

Ryoden smiles and goes to respond, but her hamburger comes out. She dives in again, and Ellie begins to wonder how much one little girl can eat.

Luke's eyes cloud over for a second, as if reflecting upon something. Jurt notices, and nods. "Yeah. That one." Luke nods back and sighs.

"Guess it can't be avoided, can it?" Jurt shakes his head.

Ellie looks from one to the other, not understanding, then says to Luke "I'm not sure what I've said to sadden you, but I hope you know it wasn't intended to do so."

He nods. "I know. The rooms you're in used to be my father's." He returns to the last of his meal. "And you get used to the feeling when you have him as your father."

Ellie is quiet for a moment then says "I can see that it would be hard. I never knew Brand, but I know what it's like to lose a parent. No matter what they do, or don't do, it's still a loss that bites deep. I'm sorry, Luke."

He nods. "It's okay. It could have been a lot worse. He could have succeeded." He looks over at Ryoden, eating her last fry. "Damn, fuzzface, you lose a finger eating that fast?" She smiles and holds up a whole hand.

Jurt leans to Ellie. "Are you almost done?" he asks quietly, "I want to get Ryo back to the castle."

Ellie nods "I'm done, thank you." She smiles at Luke "Thank you for lunch outside the castle."

He smiles and throws a few coins on the table. "Nonsense. I should thank you. You were delightful company." He gets up. "I think I've done all I can do here," he says, casting a meaningful glance at Jurt. "I have to check in on our embassy here, but I'll be heading back tonight. Keep me in mind." With a bow, and a kiss to her hand, and a pat to Ryoden, he turns and leaves.

As he exits, Jurt collects his crutches. "I don't like him working around me."

Ellie shrugs "Luke seems to be helpful enough." She smiles at Jurt and adds "However, we do have a lot to discuss. Including what this necklace does if you would tell me. And discussions are definitely best back at the Castle, I suppose."

He nods. They leave, Ryoden requesting another sundae, and Jurt stalwartly refusing. The make their way back to the castle and the rooms quietly, Ryoden occasionally asking a question or pointing out something.

Back at the rooms, Ryoden runs back to her foot project. Jurt motions for Ellie to follow him into her room.


Ellie follows Jurt in, closing the door behind them. As an afterthought, she also closes the trapdoor, then turns to face Jurt. "Alright, do you want to go first?"

He shakes his head. "No, as a matter of fact, I don't." He lays down his crutches and sits on her bed. "You've been hinting that something happened between you and Julian. Now, what is it?" He crosses his legs and moves to make room for her to sit.

Ellie moves without hesitation to sit beside Jurt. After a moment she says "I don't mean to hint. I'm just used to being open and learning not to be is taking time. I also didn't want to be too open in front of Ryoden."

He nods. "I appreciate that. She holds grudges for a long time, and is just as sneaky as the rest of us when she wants to be. I could see her going after him. Now. Spit it out."

Ellie takes a breath and says "Alright, about two days ago, Corwin came to see me. He got stressed and left later. After a few minutes, I heard a knock on the door and opened it, thinking it was Corey. It was Julian, though I didn't know that then. He brushed past me. I asked him to leave, adding that I didn't even know him or why he was here. Julian said that he was here to keep it that way and leaned against the door. I made a break for the fire escape and Julian hauled be back through the open window I was trying to exit through. I fell to the ground and yelled, hoping someone would hear me. He was leaning over me when Dad came back and told him to leave me alone as well as stopping me hitting Julian with the nearest heavy object."

Jurt is silent a long time. He looks at his hands, clenched into fists. "Your father is a fucking coward. If anyone hurt Ryoden, and I knew who it was, I'd paint Chaos with them. As it is, I can't sleep knowing the person is out there."

Ellie looks at him and says "You may want to hear what Dad told me as well before passing judgement on him."

He frowns. "Oh really? What's that?"

Ellie says softly "Sorry. Dad reckons Julian wouldn't have killed me, just left me fairly messed up, and it was probably a message from Fiona. And for what it's worth, you're the only other person I've told. I trust you and like you, Jurt. I know it can't be easy for you either with Ryoden."

He takes a few deep breaths. "Thanks. For trusting me, I mean. I just can't believe he isn't doing anything--" He shakes his head. "I can't prove that, though. This is Amber. Maybe they work more slowly here." His tone isn't convinced, however.

Ellie shrugs "I don't know what Dad is doing, but he is my father and he's looked after me from a distance all my life." She smiles mischievously, trying to lighten the air "So you like being trusted, but not me liking you?"

He chuckles lightly. "Who said I didn't like it? But it's much more uncommon to be trusted where I come from."

Ellie smiles "Well, you have both from me." She thinks for a moment then asks "What does this necklace do?"


He leans forward and takes the feather up again, lightly brushing her skin. "Sorry, but I don't know. If I could use logrus here I could, but the two powers don't seem to get along. Ryo could say, since she does more stuff like this, but I'd rather her not look at it."

Ellie replies softly "Thank you anyway, Jurt. I appreciate the thought." She leans forward slightly and continues "I stand by my statement."

"What? That you trust me?"

She smiles "No, that you are a nice guy. That is what I said as I recall."

He smiles back. "You've said a lot of things. Ryo doesn't get her memory from me."

Ellie laughs softly, green eyes sparkling "I see. Do you remember anything I've said or done?"

He raises an eyebrow. "Many things. I'm not that bad. Are you thinking about something specific?"

Ellie blushes slightly "I was teasing. I know you're not that bad."

He smiles. "You're blushing. Any reason why?"

Ellie smiles and takes a deep breath before answering "That part at least is easy. I like you." She sighs ruefully "This is so much easier in Paris."

He smiles. "Would passing notes like a couple of school kids help?" He goes silent, then takes her hand. "Ellie, I think you should take Luke up on his offer."

She replies "To go to Kashfa? Why?"

He doesn't look happy. "I don't trust your father to teach you what you have to know in time. Ryo is safe because of Benedict. But the people after you-- they could get their claws into you when one of us isn't around."

Ellie nods "I guess so, but I want to give Dad the chance at least. Does that make any sense?"

He squeezes her hand. "I know. But this isn't a place where you can wait around. I don't want you getting hurt or caught up in some stupid power struggle."

Ellie shrugs "I think I already am whether I like it or not. For being Corwin's daughter to start with." She squeezes his hand in return "Thank you for caring."

He shrugs. "I've lived with them all my life. The power crap, I mean. You should meet my mom one day."

Ellie hesitates then asks "If I ask you something, would you keep it a secret?"

He nods.

Ellie asks "What can you tell me about something called House Hendrake?"

He cocks his head. "House Hendrake is a house in Chaos... Very warlike. Actually, my mother's house, before she became a Sawall. Who asked?"

Ellie hesitates then says "A secret right?"

He nods. "A secret."

She smiles gratefully "Thank you. I asked because Corwin mentioned them and I didn't think he would tell me any more."

Jurt looks confused. "What would--- I didn't know he knew mom's house. Odd."

Ellie replies softly "It was more to do with me than your mother, Jurt."

He studies her for a long time. "You're... you're not a Chaosite? Are you?"

Ellie looks up at him, green eyes wide "Would that make a difference to you?"

"No," he responds slowly, "But it does change how you fit into things."

She asks "In what way? I don't really know anything about Chaos."

He thinks for a moment. "It's not like what you know, but it fits the general pattern. Houses for families. Wars. Bloodletting. And Logrus. All shapeshifters like Ryo and I."

She nods "I see. Thank you for explaining." She smiles up at him "You are a help to me."

He smiles. "I mean to be. You've been good to my sister. She needs that right now." He pauses. "Whatever I can do..."

She finishes "To protect Ryoden."

He laughs. "Wrong... to help you, was the correct answer."

Ellie grins "Thank you. So what do you want to do when you're more mobile?"

He sighs. "Burn these crutches."

Ellie laughs softly "Understandable. And after the ceremonial burning?"

He considers her. "I honestly don't know. I feel like I've been running at 100 mph for the last two days, and have just started to breath."

Ellie nods "I know that feeling. Maybe just catching breath would be good."

He thinks. "What are you going to be doing? I should look around some more, this being my heritage, no matter how far back."

Ellie asks curiously "Are you an Amberite too?"

He pauses for a moment. "Very, very small percent. Benedict is my great grand-father."

Ellie nods and answers "I see. As for me, I don't know yet. Looking around probably too."

"You know, I asked you once about seeing Chaos... do you have any plans after you learn to use pattern?"

Ellie shakes her head "Not yet, but Dad doesn't want me to go to Chaos, I'm afraid. Why do you ask?"

He eases up his grip on her hand a bit. "Because I think you should come there anyway, if you are half-Chaosite. Even if he's the only parent around to claim you, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't know it. I think he's manipulating you."

Ellie looks away then back and answers "He says my mother's dead. And that the people who arranged for me to be born think I'm dead too."

He reaches out and touches her shoulder. "That doesn't matter. So Corwin was the one that won and got to keep you ignorant. So what? You know now. You should find out about your other side."

Ellie looks doubtful, though she does not move away, and says "In time yes, but I need to learn more about this side of my heritage first. " She moves a little closer and smiles "Are you willing to wait to show me Chaos?"

He moves his hand to her back. "Yes. I'm sure I'll still be around here. The investigations are going slow. And I want to make sure you don't get too biased against us."

Ellie smiles "Well, so far I've had help from Chaosians. Is that not a good example?"

He smiles back. "I'd hope so. The people up here tend to paint us as a bunch of blood-thirsty half demons. Actually, Amberites are only Chaosites that moved. Dworkin was a lord of Barimen."

Ellie nods "I heard that. A lot of history to learn I guess. And you're very nice to me too so that's another good example."

He rubs her back slightly. "Glad you think a lot of my example."

Ellie nods, her face serious though her eyes dance "That I do. Quite a pleasant Chaosian."

He smiles. "I think Chaos could surprise you. Maybe we can see if we can't stir up some shapeshifting in you. It has to be there. Merle can do it."

Ellie laughs softly "Is there anything you don't want me to try learning?"

He shakes his head. "No. Everything is pretty open, and I'm bound to know someone who can teach you."

Ellie smiles "You're kind, Jurt."

He pauses. "Thanks." Then, as if going on to fill an awkward pause, "You're a sweet girl."

Ellie tilts her head "You're uncomfortable."

Jurt nods. "Well, yes. And before you ask why, just know that will only make it worse."

Ellie blinks "Alright. Was it something I did though?"

He remains silent for a long time, then smiles. "All sorts of things, Ellie. But nothing bad."

Ellie shrugs "Alright. Shall we go back through now?"

He pauses, and touches his amulet with his free hand. "No reason to. She's preoccupied, and I'm comfortable here. You?"

Ellie looks at Jurt and replies "You just said you were uncomfortable."

"I'm not, I'm not. I'm fine." He puts his hand back on hers. "Stay."

Ellie nods "Alright. What do you want to talk about next?"

He looks at her a long time, then asks, "Did you have anyone back where you came from?"

Ellie shakes her head "No, not for a bit anyway. I was busy working."

He smiles a bit, looking down. "Good."

Ellie smiles a little "Did you?"

He shakes his head. "Ryo kept me busy, and when you live around people like Mandor and Merlin and all the famous wooers of house Sawall, you tend to get passed over. Dated the occasional shadow girl, but not much since dad died."

Ellie looks down, smiling "Alright. What else would you like to know?"

He looks serious, but she can tell he's suppressing a smile. "Yeah. What's so much easier in Paris?"

Ellie starts to form an answer and then just gives in to laughter.

He looks surprised. "Quite a bit, apparently."

Ellie stops laughing after a moment "Sorry. It just struck me as funny. Romance, relationships." She holds a hand up, palm upwards "Stuff. Paris makes a point of making it easier."

He smiles. "How?"

Ellie chuckles "Now I know you're teasing me."

He looks innocent. "Me? Tease? Bah. Never."

She smiles "You. Definitely."

He looks insulted. "I never tease. And how can I tease if all I'm looking for is information on how those Parisians found out all the secrets to life, love, pastries, et cetera...?"

Ellie replies teasingly "Ah I see. How can I be forgiven for doubting you?"

He thinks, then leans forward and kisses her briefly on the cheek. "Simple. Don't slap me."

Ellie stops dead for a moment, her eyes widening briefly then slowly smiles and replies softly "I'm not going to slap you."

He smiles. "Were you going to if you didn't owe me one?"

Ellie answers hesitantly "If I say no, what would you think?"

He chuckles. "I'd say you still owe me one, then, wouldn't you?"

Ellie raises an eyebrow and says teasingly "Favour or slap?"


Ellie nods "Good. I'm glad you said that. I'd much rather kiss you then slap you." She blushes and rolls her eyes upwards "I can't believe I actually said that here."

He laughs, pauses, then moves in close for a real kiss.

Ellie smiles up at Jurt and slips her arms around his waist.

He goes to kiss her, then snaps back, a hand flying to his pendant. He turns red, then takes a moment to take it off.

Ellie waits patiently while Jurt removes the pendant.

He places it next to him on the bed. "It's two way," he explains. "And she doesn't need to hear that."

Ellie blushes slightly "No, that wouldn't be a good idea I agree."

He smiles, and touches her cheek, then kisses her properly this time, on the lips.

Ellie kisses back, very gently, savouring the newness and softness of the touch.

He pulls back after a moment. "Going to slap me?"

Ellie slowly opens her eyes, a small smile on her face "No, should I?"

"I'd hope not. Just don't know what you French girls are like. You may have odd customs."

Ellie thinks about this then answers "French are into a lot of physical contact. Does that count?"

"I think that's a custom I can live with."

Ellie grins "That's good. Any odd customs from Chaos I should know about?"

He goes to say something, then shakes his head. "No. I'd say not. At least nothing I'd want to say while I'm trying to give you a good opinion of us."

Ellie nods "Alright. I best get going now though."

He kisses her once more. "Can I see you later?"

Ellie smiles a little shyly "Yes. I'd like that."

He embraces her, holding her tightly for a moment. "Alright. Where are you off to?"

She grins ruefully "To confess."

His back stiffens. "Confess what?"

Ellie smiles up at him "Not this, Jurt, though I don't think Dad would be that bothered since he already asked me if I like you. More like a trump deck that I'm not supposed to have yet and certain secret passages."

He touches her hair. "Can I make a suggestion?"

Ellie nods "Sure." leaning into the gentle touch.

"Don't tell Corwin. Everything you're about to confess involves my brother, and that jeopardizes Ryo and myself."

Ellie nods slowly "I hadn't thought of that, but I can see your point. And I don't want to jeopardise either of you."

"So you won't say anything?"

Ellie looks uncomfortable, but nods. "Not while you're both here anyway."

He looks relieved. "Good." He touches her cheek and looks at her for a moment. "We'd better go back in before Ryo decides to wander." He pauses. "Thank you... I know not being honest is hard for you."

Ellie smiles a little "Thank you. Before we go back though.." and she leans forward, kissing Jurt gently before pulling back and handing his pendant to him.

He smiles and relatches it. He touches it and winces. "She noticed the break. Damn."

Ellie blushes and says "Jurt, I got the impression she already think we're close."

He rolls his eyes. "Thinking and knowing are two things for her. You'll see." He reaches down and grabs his crutches.

Ellie nods "I'm sure I will." getting up too and opening the door for Jurt.

He walks out, and winces. Ryoden sits in a corner, glaring at him. "Might as well stay with Mandor again," she says, and huffs off to her room.

Ellie quietly says "May I talk to her?"

He shakes his head, a small smile on her face. "No. when she's peevish, those with tougher skin are better. Just let her sit it out. It's nice to have someone jealous over me. She'll get over it."

Ellie nods "I should still go and talk to Corwin though about learning how to use pattern. I'll see you later, Jurt., alright?"

He nods. "Okay. And don't forget Luke's offer." He moves to sit on the couch.

Ellie nods "I won't forget." She leans down and gives him a peck on the cheek "I'll be back soon."

"Gonna hold you to that," he says, touching her waist.

She smiles "As soon as I can." and then heads out of the room...

She quietly closes the door behind her and thinks. Middle of the day... Corwin might be in his room, or maybe the throne room. A king has to be pretty easy to find, right?

Ellie In The Castle

Ellie decides to try Corwin's chambers first, then the throne room then maybe talk to some sort of page. Somebody must know where he is. First things first. She walks quickly to the door of Corwin's chambers and taps lightly on the door.

The door opens as she knocks on it. She sees Corwin inside, conversing with a card. He nods silently and points to a chair. After a moment, he finishes and puts the card away.

He leans against the wall and puts his hand through his hair. "Yes?"


Ellie looks at him and says "If this is a bad time, I can always come back later. Alternatively, is there anything I may do to help? I'm a good listener."

He shakes his head. "It's always a bad time. And I've got a lot to think about before I start voicing anything." He moves and sits opposite Ellie. "What did you think of Rinaldo?"

Ellie replies honestly "I liked him. He's nice, sometimes sad, and very sensible. He offered me a place to stay in Kashfa should I ever need one. Dad, if something had a magic on it, how would I be able to tell what it was?"


Corwin folds his hands on his lap. "You would need to use pattern, and have sorcery to decipher it. Why?"

Ellie answers "Luke gave me a necklace to wear with a magic on it, but I don't what it actually does, though I got the impression it's helpful." Ellie adds quietly "How do I learn to use Pattern, Father?"


He cracks a knuckle. "You'll learn eventually. I'll take you out to shadows. But for now... things have gotten busy." He notices her pendant. "And I want to get that looked at."

Ellie asks quietly, her green eyes shadowed "May I ask by whom? You did tell me to be wary after all." She hesitates then continues "How dangerous are things right now?"

Ellie and Faetan: A meeting

He goes to respond, but suddenly his head turns as a gale of laughter erupts from the hallway, then a knock sounds on the door. He rises. "Enter."

The door opens, and a red-haired man enters, a broad smile on his face. A young woman follows him, her face red with suppressed laughter. The man bows. "Greetings, Corwin. May I introduce my daughter, Faetan."


Ellie too rises and moves to stand near Corwin, her expression neutral and polite as she watches them. /So this is the Faetan Julian spoke of. By the difference in looks, it would seem Julian may not have seen her, though he has heard of her./ Ellie waits, curious to see what will happen next.

Faetan's lips pull back in a smile. "So you are the great Corwin... Bleys speaks highly of you." And she bows deeply. "It's a pleasure to meet you." Then her gaze flickers to Ellie. "I am Faetan Jarl. I didn't catch your name," she grins with a pointed and subtle look at Bleys. ~You didn't tell me about THIS one...~

Bleys throws a facial shrug back at her. Corwin bows slightly to Faetan, then throws a hand to Ellie. "This is my daughter, Eleanor."

Bleys steps forward and executes a flawless bow, deep and graceful. On the way up he takes a hold of one of Ellie's hands and kisses it. "A pleasure. My brother should be keel-hauled for hiding such a treasure."

Ellie smiles politely back, then curtsies in turn answering "It is indeed a pleasure to meet you, Uncle Bleys." Straightening, she smiles to Faetan "As it is to meet my cousin, Faetan."

"Likewise," Faetan grins, a twinkle in her black, shining eyes. She lets Bleys make the move in conversation, since he seems to know more about Amber and such.

Bleys stands back again. "So, you've seen her. What nefarious plots do you have in mind for her? Going to force her to join the Navy? I think Gerard would have to toss her overboard after too long, so I'd rather you not."

Corwin shakes his head. "I have nothing planned. The letter you received was not an order from me." Bleys cocks an eyebrow. "We have another king? Hmph. And here I wasn't even invited to the coronation. My bird must have gotten lost in the mail."


Ellie begins to see the extent of the loss of control Luke has referred to. If Corwin had control, such a deception would be unlikely to be perpetrated. The question is who has sent the letter and to what purpose. Realising she is likely to learn more by listening in this instance than asking, she keeps her expression carefully neutral.

Faetan's thoughts twirl in her mind. ~So much for pretending to know more than I do...so Corwin was expecting someone new. And he was ordered to bring me...why not before? Protecting me? From what?~

She smiles charmingly, folding her hands behind her back with a quaint shrug.


Bleys moves over to look at Corwin's wine collection, and Faetan begins to wonder how he can have a liver any more. Corwin follows, and they talk quietly together, leaving their progeny alone together.


Faetan looks over at Ellie, and smiles innocently. "Men are such stodgers about alcohol, aren't they?"

Ellie moves over to stand before Faetan. She smiles and says "Faetan? That is a lovely name, though not one I've heard before. May I ask from where you have arrived?"


"Ohhhh..." she circles her wrist off-handedly. "A quaint little world, really. Nothing at all like this," she raises her eyebrows. "And Ellie...that is short for something, isn't it?"

Ellie - Stepping Out

Ellie remembers her promise and turns to Faetan and with an apologetic smile says "I fear I have remembered something I need to check on. If you are still willing to explore Amber with me, I will meet you in the gardens shortly. Thank you for your forbearance."

With a polite nod to Corwin and Bleys, Ellie withdraws and makes her way quickly to the shared chambers. New perceptions run through her mind, a changing from the child that Corey cared for to someone new.

Who though Ellie wonders. The Amberite Corwin wants her to be or the mixed blood that she seems to be. One thing though is clear. She can no longer rely on Corwin...

She opens the door to Brand's suite, and finds Jurt half-reading a book. He looks up and smiles. "Back so soon?" Ryoden is nowhere in sight.

Ellie smiles absently "Yes. How's Ryoden doing?" Focussing more on Jurt, she smiles more warmly and adds quietly "When you want to go to Chaos, just let me know."

He closes the book. "This doesn't sound good. What happened?" He motions back to her door. "Don't worry about her. She collected her project and moved back to her room. She's calming down."

She sits beside Jurt and shrugs "I asked Dad for help in learning the Pattern. His reaction was that things are busy, and that he'll take me out into Shadow at some point. There were a couple of other things that decided me, but the long and short of it is that I can't rely on Corwin to help me."

He puts his arm around her shoulder and hugs her. "I figured this would happen." He releases her. "You really want to go to Chaos? You're not just saying that because you're mad? What else happened?"

Ellie takes a moment to consider his question "Angry, no. A little sad maybe, but not angry. I met Bleys and his daughter Faetan while I was there too, but that just confirmed my decision. And yes, I really do want to go to Chaos though I think I should take Luke up on his offer first. If I'm honest, I've learned more about how to survive and got more help from Chaos than Amber"

Jurt touches her hair. "Are you taking him up on his offer now, or later?" He smiles. "Maybe a change of scenery would do Ryo and I some good."

Ellie smiles "It would be nice, I agree, to have you both along. I haven't decided yet when to take Luke up on his offer. How safe will it be for Ryoden in Kashfa do you think?"

He frowns. "I don't know. I haven't heard anything from Benedict, so for all I know he could care less about her. I've been thinking about what Luke said, and maybe he's right. He does have some pretty powerful things at his disposal. And at least there she wouldn't become a pawn. It's only so long before someone decided she's either too good not to use, or too talented to live." His face grows grim.

Ellie replies "Well, they'll have to come through all the people who care for her first, me included now too. Alright, what about Marrek?

Shouldn't we let him know where we will be?"

He smiles. "Marrek will have to show his face again. He's been wandering of late. I'd hate to see what he's collected. But I think running off at this point would be rash. After all, Luke said to wait a day or two."

Ellie nods "True and I told Faetan if she still wished to explore Amber with me, I'd meet her in the gardens. I wanted to see if you two were alright first though. In a day or two you should also have two feet again which will help you." She smiles up at him "Am I forgetting anything?"

He nods and kisses her forehead. "Yes. Exactly what are you going to tell your father when you go to Kashfa?"

Ellie pauses and replies "Well, I told him Luke had invited me. He didn't seem to be concerned. He wanted me to hand the necklace over for investigation, but I didn't, as much because of timing as anything else."

Ellie glances at Jurt "That was my litmus test if you like, seeing how Corwin would react. I hadn't thought about what I would be telling Corwin when I left."

He smiles. "You're getting more wary. Mandor would be proud." The door behind them opens, and a still slightly sulky Ryoden pops out, holding a mechanical foot. Jurt moves away from Eleanor slightly as Ryoden joins them on the couch, on the other side of Jurt. "Is it done?" he asks gently. She nods.

Ellie looks at the foot and smiles gently to Ryoden, saying "Your skill is superb, Ryoden, though it pales in comparison to the person. I count myself lucky to know you. What would you like to do next?"

Ryoden shrugs. "I dunno. I guess I have to put this on him now." Jurt winces.

"Not now, Ry. Let my nerve endings forgive me."

Ryoden nods, her eyes still on the foot. She tests a few bars and springs with her finger, then sighs.

"I don't like it here."

Ellie nods and answers "I know how you feel. What is it you particularly don't like?"

She puts the foot on the coffee table and places her head on her knees. "It's boring here. I don't like Benedict. Don't like Corwin. Don't like anyone. I want to go home."

Jurt pats her back. "You know we can't do that. Mandor still doesn't know who's after you."

She sighs. "So? I'll be fine. We can keep you here, and I can go home, kay? Then I'll be happy, and you..." She trails off, and Jurt bites back a smile.

Ellie says quietly "Ryoden, would you be happy in Kashfa? It would putting up with me, I'm afraid, but at least it's not Amber."

She looks at Ellie, then at Jurt. "Are we leaving? I thought we were supposed to stay here?" She sits up.

Jurt pats her back. "We'll see in a day or so. Luke invited us, so it might be nice for a change."

Ryoden nods. "Can I go out?"

Ellie replies, glancing at Jurt for confirmation "Well, once Jurt is a bit more mobile, I don't see why not. What sort of places would you like to see?"

Ryoden fidgets. "No, I mean I want to go out now. I don't want to stay in the rooms anymore. No one's gonna bomb me."

Jurt sighs. "If I say no, what are you going to do?"

"Fly. I have windows, you know." She sticks her chin out. He sighs.

"You know, I have a feeling you mean that. But Marrek isn't here, and I'm feeling sore from being out."

Ellie thinks for a moment then says "Well, how about calling Marrek then?" and turns to Ryoden "I was thinking of heading out. If Jurt and Marrek are agreeable, I'd love to take you along with me."

Jurt shakes his head. "I don't have a trump of him." He looks at Ryoden, and she shakes her head, too.

"I was going to make one, but then Benedict came, and we had lunch... I'll make one later." Jurt nods.

"If you two want to go out, that's fine. But Ryo, stay with Ellie. No running. No shifting." He looks at Ellie. "And call me if anything goes wrong."

Ellie nods and answers "I will, Jurt, but for that I will need a Trump of you." She then looks at Ryoden and continues "What about it, Ryoden? Where would you like to go?"

Jurt chuckles. "Oh, that's right." He shuffles through his deck and hands her one. She notices in the picture he's wearing an eye patch.

Ryoden gets up and moves to the door, dancing a bit with energy. "Anywhere. Out."

"She's not used to being pent up," explains Jurt quietly.

Ellie nods "I know how that feels." as she puts the new Trump to the top of her deck. As Ellie moves to the door and Ryoden, she asks Jurt "You'll be alright here?"

He nods and picks up his book again. "I'll be alright. I need to take it easy for a bit, and keeping her occupied won't let me do that." He looks at Ryoden sternly. "No breaking her."

She smiles. "Course not." And she jets out the door. Jurt sighs.

"I apologize in advance."

Ellie laughs softly and says "Don't worry. I'll see you later." and then heads out after Ryoden.


Ryoden is dutifully waiting at the bottom of the stairs, hand on the rail, eyes on Ellie. "Where are we going? I want to meet more people. Who do you know?"

Ellie smiles ruefully "Not many really. You remember when you met Corwin? I had just arrived in Amber too then. We can check on the gardens and see if Faetan is there. If not, I can trump Uncle Gerard or we can head out on our own."

Ryoden perks. "Gerard. Gerard..." She looks through her deck. "Big guy, right? With the horn... Merlin told me about him, and I think I know which one that is." She holds up a card, indeed of Gerard. "Him?"

Ellie nods "That's him. Let me take a quick look in the gardens first though. And then we can head out."

Ryoden nods, and turns to head out. As she rounds a corner, she almost runs into Benedict, his sword drawn. He bends down and grabs her shoulder. "Do you have a trump of Marrek?"

Ellie steps forward, green eyes cool, holding out her hand to Ryoden and saying "Neither of us have a Trump of Marrek, so would you kindly release Ryoden?"

He looks at Eleanor, then back to Ryoden, who shakes her head. "Really. I don't." He releases her shoulder and steps up and back.

He regards Eleanor seriously. "I think Marrek has been abducted." Ryoden gasps.

Ellie moves to Ryoden's side "I understand. If you would be willing to wait, I'm sure we could shortly provide you with a Trump." She looks at Ryoden "I'm sorry, Ryoden. We'll get this sorted out, I promise."

Ryoden looks stunned. "But... but Jurt doesn't have one either..." She looks at him. "Where?"

"You mean where did it happen?" She nods. "In the gardens."

Ryoden takes off.

Ellie immediately sets off after her, calling over her shoulder to Benedict "Please let Jurt know. He's in the shared quarters."

Benedict doesn't appear to hear her as he runs off after Ryoden, passing the shorter Ellie easily.

They trail her to the garden, where they find her sitting, sniffling. "I can't," she says. Benedict pulls her to her feet. "I can't use Logrus. I almost forgot." He pats her shoulder.

Ellie takes out a handkerchief and gently wipes away Ryoden's tears, saying "Ryoden, it will be alright. We can ask Mandor for a trump of Marrek. He's sure to have one, I would think."