A Long Time Ago...

...In a Very Annoying Galaxy

Something Corwin seems not to have mentioned, because how would he know? is what Brand did with the Jewel of Judgment after swiping it from Corwin and before backflipping into the Abyss. We found out -- the hard way.

The campaign opened with Random detailing several PCs1 and two Younger NPCs2 to escort the first Ambassador from Chaos home and pick up Amber's Ambassador to Chaos on the way. There was some cause for concern about the trip, as a very large shadow storm, meriting the name "The Maelstrom," was menacing the Courts and right in our heroes' path. (The Courts felt the Maelstrom was the fault of Corwin's so-far unlocatable Pattern.) On the Chaos side of things the going became rough. Shadow storms kept separating the group. They also played merry hell with Trump use, and soon the group was out of contact with Amber and Chaos both. After one particularly bad storm, Ambassador Lurch and Messalina, an NPC daughter of Gerard, disappeared altogether.

Back in Amber, people Began to Worry. Random and Gerard led a small party with one NPC and one PC Youth in search of the Lost Patrol. Random hoped to use the Jewel of Judgment to control the storms. In a way, it did -- rather than tearing through shadow menacingly, the worst storms headed right to Random and the Jewel. Before long, Random, Gerard, Ramon and Felicia were sucked into the maelstrom itself.

Meanwhile, elements of the first expedition managed to reach the Courts, albeit technically without the Personage who was their reason for coming. Valentine, Brigit and Xenofal sought aid from ace House Barimen sorceror Darna, who was able to open a series of shadow gates through the maelstrom into its heart. There they managed to establish trump contact with Messalina -- as far as she was concerned, she'd been inside 10 years. (It was three days from the perspective of the others.)

Messalina was leading a revolt by a number of star systems against an evil, and rather cliche, star-spanning Empire, led by a figure known only as The Emperor. Ramon, Gerard and Random soon enough made his acquaintance. They were picked up floating in space by Imperial ships who addressed the Amberites as Lords of Order. The Emperor was -- oh no! not Brand! With a beard yet!

Well, maybe not. Certainly the Emperor had never heard of anyone named Brand. And if this was amnesia, the PCs weren't sure they wanted to cure it. But Ramon and Valentine did see the partially completed Pattern in the basement of the Imperial Palace, and they saw the Emperor, fresh from a victory over another rebel coalition, stride to the center and enlarge it, seemingly by the power of will.

Strangely, all the rebel coalitions had the names of Houses of Chaos. Alarmingly, the Amberites found that Pattern didn't work in this -- shadow? galaxy? universe?

Happily for Ramon and Brigit, trump did. And since, while the Emperor may not have been Brand, he was certainly a megalomaniac, the Amberites chose to bide their time in service to the Emperor -- fulfilling their apparent duties as "Lords of Order" -- while plotting his downfall. All but Valentine. He escaped "Brandspace" with Darna and learned what he could on the outside. This entailed arranging for aid from Bleys, Fiona, a space gladiator and two teleporting lizards. That took a couple of days in Amber and a couple of years back in Brandspace. During that time, Brigit became Messalina's understudy in the rebel princess trade, Xenofal learned the gambling business from Random and Ramon smuggled poetry and spied on Planet Barimen, managing to construct a trump amplifier in the process without having the least inkling that he was doing so.

Since Valentine learned that the fall of Chaos-named star systems in Brandspace really was reflected in the destruction of Houses in the Courts, and since the Amberites were feeling particularly mellow about Chaos right then, it was decided that the Emperor had to be stopped. But those notorious softies, Messalina and Ramon, prevailed on the others to find a way to do it without destroying the universe and inhabitants Brand's partial pattern had conjured. (It was Bleys' theory that the Emperor was an avatar of the pattern itself, a kind of pattern "ghost," if you will...)

This involved a trump-led assault on the Imperial Palace, during which Random would "draw over" the partial pattern with the Jewel, making it a copy of the Pattern in Amber itself. Each PC will be happy to explain how he or she was really the key to the success of the assault on their own character pages. Suffice to say it worked. Then, from outside the maelstrom, Random had to tow the universe as far from the Courts as he could, via the Jewel. How far did he get? Not nearly far enough to suit the Courts. In fact, House Barimen was essentially swallowed up by the new Pattern, their Ways and Shadows now so stabilized that, well, it just wasn't Chaos any more.

When the PCs reentered what everyone still thinks of as Brandspace, they found that 100 years had passed. So everyone Messalina had known, indeed, everyone but the handful of shadow agents Ramon brought with him, were dead. Presumably after normal, fulfilled lives, mind you. The Empire has become the Federation. The Pattern is "the artifact" in the basement of the museum that is the former Imperial Palace -- people study it when funds are available, then they lose interest when there's no progress. And Barimen -- House Barimen -- sits at the edge of the galaxy, planning to do who knows what in its new incarnation. Loose ends loose ends loose ends. To this day, Barimen, Brandspace and its Pattern demand occasional attention.

1 Brigit, Valentine and Xenofal made the trip. Ramon's player joined the campaign a week later and arrived separately. Alexander and Kiron were months from joining the campaign.

2 Gerard's daughter Messalina accompanied the Ambassador's party. Later, Julian's daughter Felicia accompanied Random and Gerard.

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