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Marrek's eyes flutter open and he finds himself upon his bed. Puzzled, he thinks back to his last memory, his attempted Trump contact with Merlin, the fuzziness of the connection, his mind shutting down. Last night's work must have taken more out of him than he thought; he'd have to be more careful in the future.
Rising, Marrek selects casual attire, black trousers, blue button down silk shirt with no collar and a pair of supple calf-high boots. Tucking the stiletto into place in a sheath in his right boot, he gives himself a once-over in the room's floor-to-ceiling mirror before emerging from his room
Ryoden sits on the floor, a mess of rods and bolts and springs around her. Her hands fly, and she appears to be putting something together.
Jurt notices him, and Marrek notes he looks a bit tired. "Ah. You're up. You nearly passed out trying to make a trump contact." He leans his head to the side, resting it on the chair, and Marrek notes that there's some fresh blood on his bandages and on the floor. "Your brother's in the castle, by the way. He's hi-jacked Eleanor." His face is not pleased.
Marrek glances for a moment at Ryoden and her many odds and ends before looking back to Jurt. "Hi-jacked? That sounds ominous. Any idea where they went?"
He pauses a moment. "For that matter, what's he even doing in Castle Amber?"
He frowns. "Probably off still trying to convince her not to tell Corwin about the passage in her room." He looks back at Marrek. "Oh, you were asleep. She found a tunnel or something in her room. She wants to tell Corwin about it, and Mandor's trying to tutor her in keeping secrets. They're probably in the throne room or something." The 'or something' is barely audible.
He looks back at the contraption that Ryoden is still throwing together. "He came here after he heard about the latest attempt... or whatever it was."
"I see." Marrek stands silently for a moment, arms crossed, one hand to his chin in contemplation. Finally, settling on a course of action he retreats into his room. Concentrating for a moment, he utters a few words under his breath and fades from view before
walking back out into the sitting room.
Jurt and Ryoden still sit there, Jurt in some sort of funk, and Ryoden putting pieces together, checking a chart, adjusting what she already has out. She stares intently at her work, brows knitted.
Satisfied that his invisibility is firmly in place, Marrek returns to his room, quietly closing the door behind him. He opens the window in his room and sticks his head out, looking in the direction of Eleanor's room would be.
He can see her window, characterized by a small stained glass inset at the top. He also notes a small ledge running beneath both the windows, connecting them.
The breeze is slight, and rather pleasant.
With a curt nod, Marrek eases himself out of his bedroom via the window and onto the ledge, closing the window as he does. Eyes closing for a moment, he shifts one hand into a wicked claw, should an errant breeze catch him unawares. With a grace born of decades of practice, he makes his way to Eleanor's window and examines it, looking for an opening. Should a method presents itself, he will open the window and slip inside, securing the window behind him.
A surge of adrenaline hits him as he looks at the distance down, but with a firm resolve, he makes it to Eleanor's window.
It's one of the older types, and it doesn't look like they put many preventative measures into it. He easily gains entrance.
Inside, he does indeed see the trapdoor, still wide open. He sighs at the girl's lack of experience. The tunnel leads down into an inky darkness-- all Marrek can see is a ladder, going down.
Once again shutting his eyes, Marrek wills his body to change. His long black hair recedes into his scalp, likewise his eyebrows and the hair on the backs of his hands slip back into his skin. His facial features flatten, then vanish all together save for two eye slits. His skin darkens to the blackest obsidian and hardens, yet still offering full freedom of movement. Satisfied with his change, Marrek slips down the ladder into the darkness.
His eyes shift to infravision as he walks into the void. He sees nothing living here, only rock. The tunnel is crudely made, and only large enough to fit one person of a normal size at a time.
He walks, and notes a side passage after about 20 minutes.
First gazing down the main corridor to see how far along he can follow it, Marrek turns into the side passage and proceeds.
He can't see an end to the main corridor as he moves into the side one.
The side tunnel broadens a bit, and begins to look more like a real passage instead of just a conveniently sized hole.
He notes that he begins to get a small headache.
Confident that he knows where the side passage leads, Marrek turns and goes back to the main passage to see where it might lead.
He finds the last passage easily and commences walking. After a quarter hour or so, he begins to detect the air becoming fresher, somewhat salty.
Intrigued, Marrek will follow the passage to see precisely where it comes out.
He walks, and eventually comes to an opening...
He stands at the sea, just in sight of town. Waves send a slight spray up to meet his face, and he notes that the way down is covered in slimy moss and seaweed.
Marrek looks around for any other access to the tunnel, meanwhile keeping an eye open for any recent tracks or anyone else who might be in the area.
The thin layer of dirt appears to be free of tracks, and the small rocks and rubble appear to be undisturbed.
Marrek feels frustration bubble in his chest. It doesn't look like this area even leads anywhere. The rocks are too sharp for a ship to land safely, and the slope down hits the sea and not much else. A person couldn't even get to town or dry land from here. What is this, an architect's idea of a joke?
With a resigned shrug, Marrek pivots on his heel and slinks back into the tunnel. As he makes his way back to Eleanor's room, he keeps his ears open and his eyes on the walls, searching...
His search turns up nothing, and he hears nothing-- no hollows, no hidden ways. Either Marrek is very disappointed in Brand's ingenuity, or impressed with his ability to hide his secrets years after his death.
He reaches the place of the fork, and can now feel the buzz quite clearly.
Faced with a choice is our Marrek: Either he can retrace his steps and hope no one has noticed his trespass or he can avoid potential embarrassing conflict by going towards the buzzing sensation, which, if his intuition isn't leading him astray, would lead quickly to the
Pattern, not a visit he would relish.
Deciding on the former, Marrek cautiously slinks back the way he came, towards Eleanor's quarters.
Marrek freezes as he hears a laugh echo down the passage. It takes him a moment, but he realizes it belongs to Mandor.
/I might have known./ Marrek thinks with a grimace. Curiosity getting the better of him, Marrek leans against the wall, figuring to let Mandor come to him. As an afterthought, Marrek concentrates for a moment, then shivers reflexively as his blood begins to run cool instead of warm. /It might be nice to surprise him for a change./
Marrek spots Mandor a long way off, eyes glowing red, staring at the floor. His hand glows slightly as he waves it over the tracks, just enough to show Marrek's tracks.
In his other hand, he holds three spheres.
Marrek continues to wait until his brother comes within hailing distance, standing still as a statue, watching.
Mandor moves stealthily, keeping low, shifting his eyes from the ground, the walls, the void in front of him. He shows no signs of seeing Marrek. His face is neutral, his breathing regular.
He comes within ten feet of where Marrek stands.
Beating down the temptation for mischief, Marrek speaks. "Relax, brother mine," he says softly. "No need to get your balls in a twist." Marrek dispels his invisibility spell and allows his blood to resume its standard temperature.
Marrek almost gets a reaction out of Mandor, but he manages to cover any expression in time.
"I had half guessed it was you," Mandor says coolly. "Your curiosity always has been insatiable. So, what treasures of Amber that this tunnel hid have you pocketed? I'm sure they'll decorate my mantelpiece soon enough."
Marrek sniffs disdainfully. "Unless you want the Pattern itself hanging above your fireplace, dear brother, there's nothing down here worth mentioning. The tunnel branches off a ways down, then continues to let out to the sea." Marrek lets his features shift back to normal. "All in all, a distressingly unprofitable adventure."
Mandor leans against a wall. "Knowledge is the biggest profit. I've planted a seed of doubt in Corwin's daughter, so, for the time being, we have a hold of some rather exclusive information."
"I hear you got to spend a day with my sister? Did you find it entertaining?"
Marrek smiles wryly. "Indeed. That girl is definitely a creature of chaos, all whims and no logic." Marrek shakes his head. "At least she's entertained this morning. If she knew about this place..." Marrek suddenly goes cold. He thinks about Ryoden's desire to reach see (and perhaps walk?) the Pattern and the wonderful opportunity she would see this tunnel as.
Marrek turns to Mandor. "She can't know about this tunnel."
He cocks his head. "I believe that goes without saying. She's much too fast, and if it leads to the sea, I'm forced to admit she's a good swimmer. She's quite adept at shifting. And if it leads to the Pattern... well, she's curious too."
Marrek raises an eyebrow at Mandor's understatement, but lets it go. "There is little else to be gained down here, unless you want to go fishing. I'm heading back up for some lunch." Marrek pauses. But I think I'll take the long way. There's no reason Eleanor needs to know that I broke into her quarters."
Mandor holds out a hand. "A moment. This is a relatively secure place to talk." He pauses. "I finished examining the other explosions. They were indeed spun by the same hand, and an experienced one at that. I couldn't find a place of entrance, but many sections of the ways are
self-healing, so entrance could have been sealed over long ago. I'm now positive the attacks were at Ryoden, since the others were situated in areas only she frequents." He sighs. "You may be up here a long while. I can't bring her back until I know who is after her, and have... dealt with him. Or her."
Marrek grimaces. "Terrific. Ryoden's already managed to get me on Benedict's bad side. By the time we return home, I'll have the entire Castle Amber after me howling for my blood." Marrek flashes a quick grin. "But I'll have a bag full of souvenirs to remember the experience."
Marrek's expression again turns serious. "Has anyone made any headway as to the identity of Ryoden's mysterious visitor?"
Mandor shakes his head. "Whoever it was, made sure that after the bombs had been set off, there wasn't enough to gather evidence of a style." He pauses, then starts up the way back. "I think you and I had better have a talk with Ryoden." As he walk back to the room, "So much for my brother's entree into Amber politics. I do hope my sister isn't too much for you? She's quite precocious."
/Precocious doesn't even come close./
Marrek falls into step next to Mandor.
"Not really. Now that I know what to expect, I think I can handle her. She's a bit free with her...demonstrations, though."
"My main concern is that her attacker may try to strike here. I don't believe last night's visitation was connected. As much as it terrified Ryoden, it doesn't seem to fit with previous attacks. Why not just obliterate her? Why all the subtlety and silence spheres when brute force and explosions seem to be our enemy's stock in trade." Marrek shrugs.
"Ah. I heard about her showing off. What did you think of her... demonstrations? She abhors having to pretend to be normal, and thought that certain rules wouldn't apply here, or with an almost-family member. Not that I think you'd exploit her. But using things in ways advantageous to yourself is one of your family traits." He pauses. "I don't think the incident last night was connected either, but it is curious as well as disturbing. The way she described it, it was almost as if she were being observed." He sighs. "What anyone has to gain from watching a sleeping child, I don't know."
Marrek glances over at Mandor. "A sleeping child that casually displays more powers than anyone her age should possess? My imagination doesn't have to stretch too far to understand the motives involved there."
"As for what I think about her displays, they're surprising to say the least. For her, so young, to show easy mastery of powers that took me years to practice is somewhat unnerving. It's easy to fathom why someone would want her exterminated. As fiercely loyal to Merlin as she is, his enemies would soil themselves if they knew her true potential. I think it's safe to assume that someone already does."
Mandor sighs. "Then she showed you more than she told me about. She grows more like us every day. But to get into Amber is no easy thing. You can't simply Logrus your way to the castle, and the forests and seas are well guarded and armed. If this person's contacts go this
far--" He breaks off, holding up a hand. "Yes?" He listens a moment, then sigh. "I'm beginning to detest getting trump calls." With that he pulls Marrek and himself through the trump.
They stand before a cursing Jurt. "That way!" he yells, and points to the door leading out to the corridor. "Ellie went after her, but she hasn't got a chance."
Mandor nods and takes out his spheres. He whispers a word to them, sending them flying. Casually, he follows.
"Oh for fu--," Marrek swears. Quickly, he disrobes, throwing modesty to the wind. Shutting his eyes, he summons forth the image of a night-black panther. As quickly as he may, he feeds himself into the image, feeling bones and muscle restructure itself until a huge cat stands where Marrek had been. He sniffs twice to get the scent, then leaps forth, following Ryoden and Eleanor's trail.