Marrek and Eleanor: Meeting in the middle of the Universe

 In Amber, Corwin takes Ellie's hand and concentrates on the card in his hand. "I think you'll like him. I always have."

She watches as the picture on the card takes shape.


In Chaos, Merlin pulls Marrek through wordlessly. Despil rises. "I'll have to excuse myself. I don't think my presence will really be necessary at the meeting, and I'd hate for it to look like a Chaos refugee camp." He hugs Ryoden, then clasps Jurt on the shoulder. "I'll be in touch."

As he leaves, Merlin concentrates, then opens up a gate to room, somewhere in shadow.


The room is warm, and smells of exotic spices and dry heat. Merlin enters and looks around the empty room, waiting. Jurt manages to hobble in, leaning heavily on Mandor. Ryoden and Marrek enter last.

On the other side, the wall shimmers for a second and Corwin and Eleanor appear.

Merlin looks a bit surprised at the extra person, as does Corwin look surprised at the injured Jurt. Merlin motions at the table in the middle of the room. "Shall we?"


In Chaos, Merlin pulls Marrek through wordlessly. Despil rises. "I'll have to excuse myself. I don't think my presence will really be necessary at the meeting, and I'd hate for it to look like a Chaos refugee camp." He hugs Ryoden, then clasps Jurt on the shoulder. "I'll be in touch."

As he leaves, Merlin concentrates, then opens up a gate to room, somewhere in shadow.


The room is warm, and smells of exotic spices and dry heat. Merlin enters and looks around the empty room, waiting. Jurt manages to hobble in, leaning heavily on Mandor. Ryoden and Marrek enter last.

On the other side, the wall shimmers for a second and Corwin and Eleanor appear.

Merlin looks a bit surprised at the extra person, as does Corwin look surprised at the injured Jurt. Merlin motions at the table in the middle of the room. "Shall we?"

Merlin and Corwin clasp hands over the table, both exchanging brief but strained smiles. Corwin starts. "You have something you wanted me to take care of for you?" He looks back at the crowd behind Merlin.

Merlin nods. "We've had troubles the past few days."

Marrek bows to Corwin. "Your Majesty," he greets him in his low voice, before slipping into a chair next to Merlin. Ellie stands just behind and to the side of Corwin, her green eyes watchful and alert. For the moment, she stays quiet.

Corwin nods. "So who are these people with you?"

Merlin steps back and introduces his party. "These three are my siblings. Mandor, I'm sure you know, and I've told you about Jurt. Ryoden is more recent. This is Marrek, newly added to my court."

Corwin smiles politely. He brings Eleanor forward. "This is my daughter, Eleanor."

Merlin looks taken aback, and Ryoden's jaw drops. She looks at Merlin, betrayed. "You have a sister?! I'm still stuck with brothers!" she mutters. "Not fair."

Marrek nods politely to Eleanor. "Your Highness."

Eleanor smiles politely to the group opposite. and says softly, her accent a gentle French one, "Good day. I am pleased to make your acquaintance." Jurt nods. Ryoden glares at her. Mandor smiles a graceful smile.

Merlin takes her hand. "That would make us siblings," he grins. "It's an honor." He turns back to Ryoden. "Hey, I didn't know, okay? Don't get in a snit."

Corwin sits. "Shall we begin? Where does your trouble start? I'm assuming it's a family matter."

Ellie smiles at Merlin and then sits beside Corwin. Marrek leans back, his elbows resting on the arms of his chair and his fingers steepled in front of his chin (a favoured pose, it would seem) and watches Corwin and waits for Merlin to recount the tale.

Merlin takes a deep breath, and begins. "My sister and brother were attacked rather recently in their Ways-- As you can see, Jurt got the brunt of the attack. we believe someone is trying to get to me by getting the less protected members of the family first. I'd..." He sighs. "Amber is the farthest I can get them away from Chaos right now. And I don't know of anyone fool enough to go there in the middle of a crew of elders and stir up trouble."

Mandor throws Marrek a look at the word 'attacked', but says nothing.

Corwin sighs. "Are you sure you've thought this through?"

Marrek notices the look but does not respond. To Corwin he says, "I concur with my king in this matter. Even the most rabid of fanatics won't confront a host of Amberite Elders in their own castle."

Ellie privately wonders if the Elders themselves would present a danger to the two more deadly than that which they are trying to avoid.

Merlin purses his lips. "You have Benedict's trump, right? I trust him, and I'm sure he'd come to Amber to help watch out for two of his relatives. Plus, I've spent quite a time with your family, and they really aren't all that bad."

Corwin frowns and furrows his brow. "You don't know them at all then." Marrek turns and looks at Mandor at that remark.

Ellie looks a little doubtful at Merlin's confidence too, recalling recent events and warnings.

Mandor meets Marrek's gaze. He looks slightly puzzled. Turning to Corwin, "I've met many of them, too. Trust me, I have more years that Merlin, and I don't think your family is any worse than some of our Lords in Chaos. Actually, our bloodbaths are much worse, from what I remember."

Merlin notes Ellie's look. "What? most are actually quite nice, when you know how to appease them."

Ellie replies quietly "I'll take your word for it."

"At any rate, we're getting a bit far afield, here, your majesties." Marrek sits forward in his chair. "The fact is that Ryoden is not safe in Chaos, no matter where we might try to hide her. Her assailant has already proven that he can get into places which we consider heavily guarded by Chaosite standards."

Merlin nods. "However, the only Chaosite who ever penetrated Amber was my mother, and she did so under extenuating circumstances. In peacetime, especially if you can swing Gerard and Benedict nearby, it should be impossible to get to her." He pauses. "She's my sister, dad. I can't think of anything else."

Ellie listens keenly to the conversation, understanding a little of how Merlin feels. She would feel the same way if Ryoden was her sister.

Corwin glowers. "What makes you think Benedict will come?"

Jurt looks at Corwin, surprised. "You have to be kidding! Mom had said she wanted to destroy Amber, helped lead an army against it, and he still came and talked to her, didn't she? He's legendary in the courts."Corwin still looks dark, and mutters something. Only Ellie hears it. "He'd come for her, then he'd come for me."

Marrek nods. "I agree with Jurt. How could he not be persuaded to watch over Ryoden after the way he supported Dara during the troubles she Caused Amber?"

Ellie wonders at Corwin's comment, but keeps quiet about it. Now is not the time to ask him. Maybe later.

He sighs, and pushes away from the table. "She can come, but I've no guarantees about her safety there. Benedict may come. He may not."

Mandor looks puzzled. "Could you just not call him and order him to? You _are_ king."

Corwin looks down. "Benedict... did not swear fealty to me." Mandor, Merlin, and Jurt look shocked. Marrek sits back in his chair. He becomes aware that his mouth is hanging open and shuts it with a sharp "clack" of teeth.

Unsure who Benedict is, Ellie nevertheless sees the effort it takes Corwin to admit this and the reaction.

Corwin lifts his head again. "He's like that. He prefers to stay neutral." his eyes issue a silent challenge. "If you want the girl to come to Amber, then fine. We leave now."

Merlin recovers, and nods. "Agreed." He hugs Ryoden tightly, whispering something in her ear. After a second, he embraces Jurt also. "Take care of her," Ellie hears. Ryoden bites back her tears.

Marrek stands, retrieving the duffle bag from underneath his chair. Grimly, he bows to Merlin. "I'll be in touch, my King."

Merlin nods to Marrek, handing him a trump. "It's of the palace room, if you need it." He looks at Ryoden, who's saying her goodbyes to Mandor. "Make sure she doesn't drive too many people crazy. She has a wild hair."

Marrek turns to Mandor and gives him a slight nod. "I'll keep you updated as well, Brother." Marrek shoulders his bag and prepares to leave.

Mandor nods, clasping Marrek on the shoulder. "Do yourself a favour and circulate up there. There are many who can be useful if you know how... And please, keep the glue off your fingers."

Marrek gives him a crooked smile. "I'll do my best, Mandor, but that's like asking a painter to leave his brushes packed up in a drawer."

Mandor shrugs. "Alright, but if one of them gets snippy and decided to punish you, don't ask for my fast rooms while you re-grow your fingers."

Marrek chuckles. "I'll behave, brother."

Ellie smiles to Ryoden "It's never easy leaving, Ryoden. How about we compare notes? I don't have any sisters either."

Ryoden accepts a kiss from Mandor, then turns to Ellie. "Do you have any other brothers?"

Ellie smiles at Merlin "Just this one as far as I know so far." then turns back to Ryoden "You are luckier than me that way."

Ryoden shakes her head. "No, I'm not. They fight. ALL THE TIME." Jurt smiles, but looks a bit embarrassed.

"C'mon, Ryo, give us some credit. No one's got hurt in a long time, have they?"

Ellie chuckles "I understand that it is normal for brothers to fight, Ryoden." She grins conspiratorially and adds "Sisters are much wiser though."

Ryoden's eyes grow wide. "They are not normal! Jurt has lost an ear, an eye, a finger, and he got a crossbow stuck in his shoulder once when..."

Jurt stops her. "Hey now!"

Merlin looks bemused. "Hadn't heard about that one." He takes up a trump, nods to all, and leaves.

Ellie wonders what exactly she has got herself into then says to Ryoden "Look at it this way, Ryoden. Through Merlin, we're sort of sisters, so you can find out what that's like too."

Ryoden considers it. "I guess. We can be sisters. Maybe someday you can meet Merlin better. He's nice." She stands up straight. "He's a king, you know," she declares proudly.

Ellie smiles and glances at Merlin "I think it would be very nice to meet Merlin again."

Merlin smiles. "Do you like Amber? If so, I think you'd enjoy the courts."

Ellie replies to Merlin "Amber is very new to me so I can't honestly say if I like or dislike it yet."

Merlin looks surprised. "how new are you to Amber?"

Ellie smiles ruefully and says "I've been there about an hour or so."

Merlin smiles. "Then you're about on par with Marrek over there. He joined the court, and hadn't even gotten the chance to see it yet."

Corwin considers Marrek. "So how long have you been in Merlin's courts?"

Jurt looks up at him. "Yeah, I don't remember you."

Marrek's lips quirk up in a smirk. "What time is it?"

Jurt snaps his fingers. "I bet you're replacing that kid that got eaten by a demon. Poor guy. Wasn't much left to throw into the pit." Looking at Corwin, "He's a newbie. This is most likely his hazing ritual."

Marrek looks at Jurt. "Newbie?" he asks mildly.

Jurt replies with a wicked smile. "Like a frat. You know. They make you eat live fish and such. Merle told me about things like that on shadow Earth."

Merlin sighs, clasping Ellie's hand. "I'm sorry. But I should go. I'm not sure how the time differential is here, so I had better get back before my IN box gets overflowed."

Ellie smiles "It has been nice to meet you Merlin. I hope we can do so again." then return's Marrek's smile with one of her own.

Merlin smiles. "Likewise." He bows slightly, and turns. On his way out, he pats Marrek on the shoulder. "Welcome to the club. Don't lose my sister."

Corwin closes his eyes and concentrates. Ellie waits, giving Ryoden a reassuring smile.

Marrek watches Merlin depart, then prepares for the jump to Amber.

Corwin opens his eyes again. He deals out a trump, this one of the throne room at Amber. "Can anyone figure out a way to transport him without carrying him?" he asks, nodding at Jurt.

Marrek looks to Jurt. "With your permission?" he asks.

Jurt looks alarmed. "What, you're going to carry me?"

"Don't be daft. I've got enough to carry."

Jurt scowls, then grins evilly. "Might want to be nicer to me. You're on babysitting duty for a few days. Ryoden can be bribed."

Ryoden smiles at Marrek.

Ellie watches what is going on and holds out her hand to Ryoden as Corwin has done with her so far in these transports. She grins and adds "What do you like to be bribed with, Ryoden?"

Ryoden thinks. "Sweet things. Pretty things. Vacations." She smiles. "My brothers are really good at it."

Ellie smiles "Those are good things to be bribed with indeed."

Ryoden sizes up Ellie. "And what are you bribed with?"

Ellie shrugs "I don't know yet." and chuckles along with Ryoden.

Marrek regards Jurt coolly. With a shrug, he makes a quick gesture and lays a hand upon Jurt's chair. Immediately, the chair lifts a half foot from the ground and floats there, waiting. Jurt grabs the arms just in time to avoid a tumble. Ryoden giggles.

Corwin watches the vaudeville around him, and looks worried. He opens up a gate. "This way..."

Ellie nods and steps through, her expression wary.

Marrek gives Jurt's chair a gentle shove, sending it through the gate. He gestures for Ryoden to step through before him. She follows, her eyes wide as she steps through.

The throne room is empty, and much cooler than where they had been. Surprisingly, while it is obviously tailored and quite costly, the room is simple in its design.

Jurt floats in, and Ryoden looks at his chair. Marrek puts a halting hand on Jurt's chair to keep it from sailing across the room. Slowly, the chair sinks to the ground. Thinking a second, a wheel pops into Ryoden's hand, then another. Tools fly into her hands as she sets to work around a trapped Jurt.

Marrek looks at Ryoden, a trifle startled. Ellie looks around, taking it all in, then turns back to the others, watching Ryoden at work. Jurt smiles proudly. "She's very talented."

Rods, pads, and gears appear about her as she works in a flurry of activity. Eventually, Jurt's chair is not longer a regular dining room chair, but a wheel chair. Jurt looks at Marrek. "Gets it from Merlin."

"Not surprising."

He nods. Corwin sits on his throne, and considers the group before him.

Marrek looks at Ryoden. "It's very well done, your highness, but how will he negotiate the stairs?"

Ryoden gets up, banishing the components she didn't use. She looks at the chair. "Hmm... I guess he'll go really, really fast, and learn to steer."

Jurt rolls his eyes. "I can stay on one floor for now, thanks."

Ellie nods "Stairs have always been a problem. Are there any lifts here?"

Corwin shakes his head. "Electricity doesn't work well here. So nothing really machine like."

Jurt shrugs. "I'll be fine. Won't take me long to figure something out. This is not a totally new experience, you know."

Marrek nods and waits.

Ellie thinks for a moment then says "Crutches will allow you to negotiate stairs perhaps."

Jurt nods. "I'm still in shock, a bit, though. I do need some rest." Suddenly his face begins to droop, and Marrek realizes the second spell Mandor cast probably did more than wake him up.

Corwin calls in a servant. "Are there any preferences to sleeping arrangements?" he asks.

Marrek places a hand on Jurt's shoulder to steady him. "Two connecting rooms and a third would be most suitable to our task, I think, your Majesty."

Ellie replies "Anywhere with a window and light will be fine, thank you."

He closes his eyes and thinks. Then, turning to the servant, "Prepare the rooms near mine. Brand had a set that we've since cleared out that they can use." He pauses. "Put her," nodding to Ellie, "in the one that shares a wall with mine." The servant nods, though he looks surprised, and leaves.

Ellie covers a yawn with a small hand and says "Thank you. It's been a long day."

He nods. "You have a long day ahead of you tomorrow, trust me."

Marrek nods in thanks. "I'd like to get Jurt settled in, if I may, Your Majesty."

He nods at Marrek. "Very well."

Ryoden looks like she wants to say something, but Jurt silences her with a look. Marrek looks between the two, an eyebrow raised, but says nothing.

Ellie nods, smiling at Corwin then turns to Ryoden "We're both new here. It won't be so bad I hope."

Jurt wheels himself out of the room, a disappointed Ryoden trailing behind. A servant appears and leads them to their room. Marrek sketches a quick bow to Corwin and Eleanor before following behind Jurt and Ryoden.

Corwin moves forward and puts an arm around Ellie's shoulder. "You need your rest. I'll keep guards out tonight." He leads her to her room.

Ellie replies "Thanks, Corwin. What do I call you now?"

He smiles. "Whatever you wish."

She smiles sleepily "Preferences? Otherwise you get Father."

He nods. "Father is fine"


Ellie looks round her room. For size, it is neither large nor small. The furniture is of a very good quality and design, none of it very individualistic though. The overall effect lending a pleasing yet impersonal touch to the room.

Ellie's eyes are drawn instead to the window. A stained glass creation of joy and morbidity at the same time. A phoenix rises out of scarlet and yellow flames into a black sun. It reminds her of some of the works of the Surrealists, but this surpasses them all in sheer intensity.

Tearing her gaze away, she deposits her case and canvas, slips off her black overcoat and says "This room is lovely, Father, thank you. Who designed that window?"

He stares at the window blankly for a moment, then grows red with anger. "Who the hell left that there?! Everything! I said everything!" His fists clench in rage and he moves to punch it.