Amber Castle - Another Great Bill Dowling TrumpThe Pass Over Arden??...

...Or, The Return of the Moonriders

In one of the most evocative phrases in the Saga, Corwin tells how Benedict "held the pass over Arden" against the Moonriders out of Ghenesh, raising the question, how can there be a pass over Arden anyway? And where the heck did it go? We found out -- the hard way, as usual...

The Affiar of Ghenesh introduced the PC Alexander, son of Fiona to the campaign. Alexander, energetically played by Jim Ghiloni, was very powerful but very sheltered -- his mother kept him fenced into a preserve of tame shadows under her control. Finally, he got the chance to step out a little, on an unrestricted trip through shadow with his Uncle Bleys. Unfortunately, Bleys disappeared before his eyes. Alexander didn't want to Tell Mom what happened right away, so he made his way to Amber (a new experience) and introduced himself to Bleys' daughter, Alexander's cousin Brigit. Thus he met the other PCs as well.

It turned out that not only Bleys but Fiona, Julian, Benedict and Martin were missing. And then Benedict turned up dead, washed up on the beach at the foot of Mount Kolvir. Dworkin's warren near the Primal Pattern had been cleared out. But the signs, like the path of Alexander's shadow walk, suggested that Tir Na N'ogth, the City in the Clouds, held the key to the disappearances.

It turned out that stranger things than usual were associated with Tir. It was becoming visible during partial moons. And in Tir Valentine met -- and shot to wound -- a man named Marcus. And Marcus was from Ghenesh. And Ghenesh had everything to do with Tir Na N'ogth. It was in fact the only part of Ghenesh normally in phase with Amber's own dimension. This was the doing of Dworkin and Oberon. For Ghenesh was the seat of power of Titania, Oberon's sister. On his father's orders, Oberon had killed his sister's lover millenia ago and Dworkin had spun his rebellious daughter's empire out of phase with his own realm. But since it spun, every millenia or so it came back. The last time had resulted in Benedict's heroic stand against the Moonriders -- it was in revenge for this that Titania and her family killed him. This time too Titania and her brood sought vengeance on her Amberside relatives, particularly Oberon, Dworkin and those elders who had repulsed Ghenesh the last time. (When your realm is spinning out of phase you don't get news like "Oberon's dead" as quickly as others do.)

The Ghenesh affair was messy. Valentine managed to free Bleys from confinement, only to wonder whether Bleys' loyalties might, in fact, lie with Ghenesh. Several PCs couldn't help but note that "Ghenesh had a good case." And while the elder Amberites prepared for battle, Ramon worried about the maps that showed that, unlike the city-state of Amber, Ghenesh was the capital of a veritable empire and, in the words of the military adage, "Amateurs talk strategy, generals talk logistics."

Since the Elders didn't think the Younger Amberites were worth including in the defensive planning, the "brat pack" took matters into its own hands. They set out to rescue Corwin so he could take over the Jewel of Judgment from the ailing Random. They abducted Marcus and interrogated him in Corwin's Paris to try to sow maximum confusion on the Ghenesh side, possibly even preventing a war altogether. Most of all, they worried about conspiracy and treason. Everyone but Alexander worried about Fiona, still in Ghenesh "captivity." Everyone but Brigit worried about Bleys.The brat packers who had already worked together in Brandspace, worried about Alexander, while Alexander worried about the other Younger Amberites' bad faith.

It was a mess. And while it ended, it can't be said to have resolved. Amber prevailed in the battle, thanks to a superb flanking maneuver by Xenofal's forces and the appearance of a battery of artillery that no one afterward admitted to controlling. 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. Corwin managed to spin Ghenesh back out of alignment with Amber -- against Fiona's apparent resistance -- at the cost of burning out the Jewel of Judgment entirely. The Unicorn, Sira, came to seal the armistice, and gave every appearance of being none too happy with what her husband and son had done in the first place. Alexander and his naga troop distinguished themselves in the fight, though he chafed at his obvious chaperone, Brigit. Bleys proved loyal to Amber, though no one could say whether he would have if circumstances had been different. And Ghenesh winked out of phase before there could be any final resolution.

No one dare guess whether Titania's desire for vengeance has been satisfied. No one can say what effect Fiona, who stayed with the Moonriders, will have on her. Already two PCs have had warning visions of Fiona in post-Ghenesh Tir. And no one knows when those cannon will speak again, or where they will be aimed. We can only be sure that the Loose Ends of the Second Ghenesh War will be the major threads of future campaign events.

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