The Power of the Star

The following is a description of a one-shot game from 1988, in which I played Damarian, in the form of a letter from Damarian to his mother Fiona.

Mother, I must describe the events of the past few days to you, as I believe they may have a great influence on Amber and its power throughout Shadow and over the Courts, and must be examined further by both yourself and others as you see fit; most certainly the King and Dworkin should be apprised of the following situation.

I was wandering Shadow, as I often do, seeking new music. I was in the company of another lover of songs: a man named Dylan. You may know of him, although I doubt he has performed for the Court.

I was in a Shadow close to the Shadow Earth in which many of our kindred, including Corwin, had spent several centuries, at a small island port listening to a local band, when suddenly the whole Shadow changed. I can describe it in no more certain terms. One moment the band was dressed in the colorful native costume, playing traditional music on native instruments, when suddenly I had a strange feeling of disassociation and I saw that the band was dressed in the outlandish styles that cousin Martin now affects, [Martin is now punk: see the Amber reference book for more details], playing harsh avant-garde music on electronic instruments that plugged into themselves, as well as into some source of power. There were a number of other changes in the Shadow, as well, none of which had anything to do with a Shadow-shift. Then, just as suddenly, the changes reversed, and all was the way it was. My companion, not being of royal blood, did not notice the changes.

These changes occurred again and again, gaining greater rapidity and duration, then they ceased. I was alarmed, and contacted another of my generation, Bronwyn, whose knowledge and capacity concerning the Pattern far exceed my own, and whose devotion to the defense of the Pattern is completely unquestioned. After I had contacted her and explained the situation, I Trumped her through. Not very long afterwards the changes began again, finally ending with the Shadow remaining in its changed state. During this time she had no more idea than I as to the source or cause of these changes.

When we realized that these changes were now permanent, we tried to contact others via the Trumps, particularly the more experienced members of your generation, without success. Neither could we shift Shadow, except to move closer to what seemed to be the center of this disturbance. Both of these facts disturbed the both of us greatly.

We were able to contact another of our generation, Harlan, but we were mystified because neither he nor his companions recognised either Bronwyn or myself. Harlan, as you will recall, painted Trumps of Bronwyn and myself, during the time of Brand’s return from the Abyss, but he did not remember us, and was naturally suspicious of us. Bronwyn tried to break contact, but whoever he was, he had Harlan’s power, and only by combining our abilities were Bronwyn and I able to manage a standoff; we could not break contact nor could he Trump through or pull us through.

It was then that one of Harlan’s companions added his power to Harlan’s, and together they were able to Trump the both of us through. We were understandably annoyed, but neither Bronwyn or I were accustomed to physical violence, so there was little we could do against them. Besides, Harlan and his companions were able to convince us that they were also aware of the strange circumstances and were also investigating them. Harlan had drawn a comparatively crude Trump that they were using as a guide, but they were very vague as to the source of the picture on the Trump.

We continued towards the center of the disturbance, making contact with others of our generation. Trump contacts were possible only within the area of disturbance, and the others all had been caught within the disturbance and were unable to leave, just as we were. When all were contacted and collected (and some private explanations given to a few others who were quite puzzled by their lack of recognition by Harlan), we examined Harlan’s Trump.

It was a man, kneeling before a large picture of a woman. Several of us tried to make Trump contact with the man, including Bronwyn, but the best anyone could get was a clarification of the image, including the information that the picture was of Flora. The man pictured seemed completely oblivious to any attempt to contact him.

One of Harlan’s companions had an inspiration. He pulled out Flora’s Trump, which was glowing. Concentrating on the image, he suddenly disappeared. Harlan was quickly contacted via Trump, and was Trumped to his companion’s side, and he subsequently Trumped the rest of us through. We found ourselves under the night sky in the open, in a rude campsite. The kneeling man identified himself as a half-breed son of an unknown and unacknowledged son of Flora. He also explained that he had transported Harlan’s companion in the mistaken belief that it was Flora that had contacted him, and that he was trying to contact Flora in order to convince her to stop his father and brethren, her child and grandchildren, to keep them from tampering with the power of the Star.

The man further explained that his power came from this metaphysical construct known as the Star. He demonstrated some of its abilities for us in lieu of explanation. The power of the Star gives its wielder the ability to transport objects and individuals instantaneously from point to point, much like that of the more advanced masters of the Pattern. It allows some manipulation of the surrounding area, much like Shadow-shifting, but it does not seem to allow the actual crossing between Shadows. It also makes the wielder impervious to contact via the Trumps, or to any form of psychic assault, when concentrating on the power of the Star.

When questioned as to the source or origin of the power of the Star, he could not explain it, nor could the assembled kindred of Amber, either, although several theories were expressed. All we could discover was that it had no apparent relationship to the Pattern in any way. All he knew was that after Flora had disappeared, his father had discovered it and passed it on to his children, including him, a half-brother to the others. He and they were obviously unaware of the true nature of reality, of Shadows and Amber, and especially of the Pattern. (I am aware of Flora’s disposition towards casual assignations, but I had assumed that she kept better track of her offspring.) After the demonstration, one of our kindred attempted to have the man give her the power of the Star, but when she made the attempt, the merest touch of power convinced her that only a descendant of Flora’s could do so and survive. Sadly, none of the kindred present were descended from Flora.

The man then explained his father’s and his brethren’s plan: to mechanize the power of the Star so as to better command it. He was the only one of his family that rejected the mechanization of the power of the Star. That, he said, was an unnatural corruption of the natural power implicit in the Star.

Already the plan had begun, which would explain the sudden changes and fluctuations in Shadow, especially the types of changes, if they had been similar to the Shadow where I had first encountered them, as well our inability to make use of our Pattern-born abilities. He knew the location of the place where the Star would be fully energized, and was organizing a raid to attempt to stop this plan, a raid that all knew was doomed from the beginning. We convinced him to transport us there instead.

He transported us into the chamber of the Star. This was a large circular ampitheater, open in the center but surrounded with a array of machinery; a large room with a glass window that looked out over the ampitheater was high up on one wall. His father and brethren were there, threatening to activate the Star and destroy us if we persisted in interfering with them. After several moments of futile arguments and fruitless activity, I pulled out Flora’s Trump and held it up, saying to them that we were their cousins and that we could arrange for them to meet her. Flora’s son transported the Trump away from me, then transported himself to stand before me and ask me if it were true. If so, they would turn off the Star. We said yes, and told him that the Star would have to be turned off before we could contact Flora. The Star was deactivated, and Flora was contacted.

Most of the kindred of Amber left to other Shadows as quickly as possible as soon as the Star was deactivated, although some, like myself, stayed out of curiousity. Those of us who did stay learned very little more about the power of the Star. As soon as possible, I returned to Amber and proceeded to write you this letter.

Mother, I find it more than passing strange that someone of Flora’s lines could possess such power. Have we been underestimating her ability? The power of this Star, whatever it is, seems only usable by those of her line, an oddity unknown of any other member of the royal family.

This power of the Star has been demonstrated as being a possible threat to the power of Amber and the Pattern, given its ability to change Shadow and restrict the operation of those gifts that walking the Pattern gives to us of the royal blood. For that reason alone it must investigated and destroyed, before the Courts of Chaos become aware of it and seek to use it against us. I also do not like to think of what might happen if one of the possessors of the power of the Star were also to walk the Pattern. I remember the controversy concering Merlin walking both the Pattern and the Logres, but the power of the Star seems totally foreign to both, and could possibly be destructive. I must ask you again to consult with Dworkin about this at the earliest possible time.

Other things also disturb me. Many of my cousins, particularly Harlan and his companions, no longer recognise me or Bronwyn, or many others of my generation, yet we all fought together against Brand during his return from the Abyss. This too is a puzzle that requires a solution, and quickly.

I realize, mother, that we, like most of the royal line of Amber, have not had such a close familial relationship as could have been, but we have always seen fit to work together at times when the stability of Amber and the Pattern was at stake. This is one of those times. I am sorry that I cannot say this to you in person, but even thinking of these events confuses me, and I must write them and re-write this letter until I feel satisfied that I have the events straight.

I also do not feel comfortable approaching Dworkin with this tale, for I know full well the fate of bearers of bad tidings, and also I have no false modesty and I recognise quite well that even in his madness his powers dwarf my own. You have your long apprenticeship with him and the many years of study into the deeper mysteries of the Pattern with which to protect yourself, and so I must ask that you do this for me. Do not delay! By the time you read this, I will have left for some far distant Shadow, hoping to put most of these past few days far behind me, perhaps by using a cure that Corwin and Random are reputed to have perfected, by getting completely and totally drunk.

Signed, Damarian

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