Dogbertcarroll wrote the 400th review of my fic Uchibi Sasuke, and I sometimes thank reviewers by writing kiriban giftfics.
The request was for a Chronicles of Amber & Evangelion crossover, which just worked better and better the more I thought about it.
I have only been able to get my hands on one of the short stories published after the tenth book to lead into the third series, sadly, so this may not be compliant with them. I just had my birthday and someone was kind enough to give me a gift card, so Manna from Heaven should be arriving in the mail soon. I'll edit this to make it compliant, if I can.
Also a prequel trilogy about Dworkin and the creation of the Pattern sounds interesting, it's a pity that no one wrote any Amber books after Roger Zelazny died, because of course they would have given the project to Jane Lindskold, who completed some of his other works in progress…
I do apologize for my Merlin voice. I should have written this right after I re-read the five books, but I had other projects. It's several decades later?
The first time I met him, my father gave me an important piece of Amberite wisdom: never trust a relative. You're better off trusting a complete stranger. With a complete stranger, there's a chance you might be safe.
In hindsight, it's pretty clear that my father's side of the family considered me a little 'special' for not regarding that as self-evident, but I rather prefer my Amber relatives and their tolerance of my youthful folly to my relatives in the Courts of Chaos raising me to be a spell-controlled puppet king.
Still, I have to admit that I still have some nostalgic fondness for Mandor, even if things turned out the way they did, so when I banished him from the Chaos half of Shadow there was maybe a little hope that things would turn out the way they, in fact, did.
It's nice when, every once in a while, one of my attempts to manipulate people actually pans out. It gives me some hope that there's a difference between young, overly-straightforward and stupid. The first two are easier to cure. But being someone whose talents run to magic and computer science in two families, or one family if you go back a ways, of expert manipulators leaves one a little out of one's depth. And then they assassinate everyone ahead of you in the line of succession and make you take the crown, which is tantamount to holding your head underwater.
So I was looking forward to the wedding of Mandor and Aunt Fiona, partially because one of my Hendrake relatives told me that he'd built a shrine to her long before they met and I was planning to let that slip whenever a good opportunity presented itself, but also because trekking over to that end of Shadow, hunting down a wedding gift and joining the festivities would give me some time away from the Courts, which were being as Chaotic as always.
I stopped by Shadow Earth, where I'd gone to college in order to feel a connection to my father, who had spent so much time trapped there, planning to pick up a couple of sweatshirts from my alma mater for them, not to mention something for my fellow alum, Luke, and Coral's daughter.
Except UC Berkeley was underwater.
We're all aware that the Shadows are twisted reflections of Amber and the Courts, and what happens there ripples through Shadow. My father told me of countless Shadows devastated by the Black Road that at first he thought was born of his curse on Eric.
I'd thought that Earth was far enough away from the center of things that it would be mostly unaffected by the conflict between the Pattern and the Logrus, the Serpent and the Unicorn. The conflict that had been going on for eons as those two primal spirits of order and chaos avenged slight after minor slight, treating the rest of us as pawns at best. The conflict that flared up again over the Jewel of Judgment, Coral and, well, me, or my mother's plans for me at least.
After all, lots of my far more ancient and observant relatives had visited Earth over the centuries, and there wasn't any sign of even a Broken Pattern, those reflections of the Pattern more distorted than the ones in Rebma, Tir-na Nog'th and buried far beneath Castle Amber.
It turned out that was because it was buried deep under a brand new city in Japan. I wondered if any of Uncle Benedict's favorite gardens were still intact. I might have wondered why no one had told me that my favorite Shadow was half-destroyed, except they probably figured I had enough on my plate and remembered my tendency to mouth off to the powers that be. The Courts of Chaos were pretty well-prepared for what an irritated Serpent could throw at them in the way of reality-engulfing torrents of absolute chaos, but if I'd known that a world full of people with no idea of the true nature of reality had gotten singled out because the two of them were angry at me for refusing to get with either of their programs, Luke wouldn't have been the only person getting the Blood of Amber all over their primal manifestations. The 'blood on the Pattern was actually lemonade he'd spilled to freak the Pattern out long enough for him to get away(I still wasn't sure: Luke was always far more of an Amberite than I was), but the Logrus definitely wasn't.
If I'd used a trump to get there or just gone wandering through Shadow in search of Berkeley, then I would have been cued in that the scenery had changed. Instead I used the spikard and found myself low and wet.
One more reason to try to wean myself off the habit of relying on that thing, but I don't have a lot of free time to design and hang conventional spells for use anymore. Once I'd managed to get to land and dry off, I felt less embarrassed about calling for Ghostwheel.
In the old days, when I was still figuring out that sentient creation effectively meant I now had a son and needed all the help I could get, getting me out of that kind of situation would have been what he was for, but after finding out that my mother had me just as a useful tool, I started to worry about what my creation thought of me, and fatherhood comes with certain obligations, like not looking like an idiot in front of your kids and not getting kidnapped and imprisoned the instant you've finally managed to reunite with them, before you can do more than have a single conversation.
Alright, so I have a lot of catching up to do in those departments. At least I got myself out of Luke's Crystal Cave faster than my dad escaped my mother's little shrine to him, but then Dara was the master, Jasra only the apprentice.
Ghost is an artificial intelligence that I constructed in a far-off shadow where the laws of physics were amenable to some of the ideas I wanted to play with in his construction. Elements of both the Pattern and the Logrus are present in his circuitry (or what works for circuitry), and he's managed to walk, or rather float (he usually manifests as a ring of light) both of them, although they weren't too happy about this. The Logrus chased him all over the Courts and he had to run to me and hide on my wrist pretending to be Frakir, which in hindsight is incredibly cute.
And he'd already realized that despite his considerable power (he's faced down more than one Spikard wielder) he wasn't a god. Something my Amberite relatives generally took centuries to admit, if they ever did.
They grow up so fast.
After discovering the truth about the April 30 attempts on my life, I was rather busy for awhile, but eventually I got around to creating a spell to detect relatives and adding it to Frakir. If I'd gotten around to that a little sooner, it would have saved me a heck of a lot of trouble, but Coral's daughter would probably never have been born. I visit them whenever I'm at this end of Shadow, and Luke is definitely much better at fatherhood than I am. He says it's the salesman training.
I was using the phone I'd picked up to look up this website called eBay (lot happened while I was gone, even leaving the apocalypse out of it) to check prices on UC Berkley memorabilia (given the time flows, I figured I should pick up the next birthday present around now, and she was old enough that she should be thinking about slipping off to some Shadow to go to college herself, even if she wasn't young enough anymore to be fascinated by stories about where her two dads met and how long it took Merle to figure out that Luke was trying to kill him).
I did notice that the streets were a bit on the deserted side, but I'd never been to Japan, and most of what I knew about it came from the corporate culture (I'd worked on Silicon Valley for awhile, while I was working on the design for my Ghostwheel project) and Benedict's gardens. If it was somewhere else my mind would have jumped right away to 'too quiet,' but most of my attention was taken up by how much of a ripoff the 'Buy It Now' prices were (even assuming I'd missed a lot of inflation) and wondering if I could justify staying around for the days it would take some of the auctions to end. I could have had Ghost handle the bidding for me, but presents deserve a personal touch. A little thoughtfulness is important, although spells to control thoughts are definitely going too far.
I wouldn't have cared before (it was just Shadow money) but when it comes to running a kingdom, mishandling money is right up there with saying no to primal entities when it comes to ways to make a hell of a lot of trouble for yourself.
When the giant monster attacked, it wasn't heading for me, so after making sure it wasn't from the Courts (even if it did have the taste of chaos about it) I headed over there, using the touchscreen to enter a bid on a hooded sweatshirt.
Frakir pulsing on my wrist to ask me exactly what I thought I was doing wouldn't have been too surprising.
The Detect Relative spell going off was.
The Detect Relative spell going off because of the giant robot definitely was.
It's far from unusual for someone using my spell to come across a relative they didn't know they had back in Amber. Oberon's philandering was legendary, and rightly so. Given what my father told me about his father, it was like him to stop in on Earth every once in awhile to keep an eye on his wayward children, willingly wayward and otherwise, and even more like the old bastard to sow his wild oats while he was there. If the legend's true that Oberon's mother was the Unicorn (and there's nothing to say it isn't), then spreading the blood of the Pattern might have been in order to keep it from being wiped out by the angry Serpent, even though the blood of Amber can also be used to wound the pattern, as Brand and his son Luke proved.
My first attempt to do a little fiddling with the modern computer systems ended with Ghost saying, "Uh, maybe you should let me handle it, Dad." I consoled myself with the thought that it wasn't just that I was out of practice: there must have been a lot of change over the years I missed. They'd finally succeeding in creating AI, for one thing.
Ghost went off with the lovely ladies three, and I went to pick up my new ID card, with three different organizations convinced that while I was obviously a plant, I was a plant by one of the other ones.
"You could have told me," I said later that night, sitting in the apartment above a certain other apartment, repast spread out before the three of us.
Julia'd brought the wine. Turned out she'd developed quite the palate while she had access to the Keep of the Four Worlds and its impressive wine cellar.
"I thought you didn't," she started to say archly, before admitting to herself that she was being unfair and swallowing the rest of those words. It's hard to get along with ex-girlfriends when the entire reason the breakup happened was that you were a callow louse and never trusted them, but that just makes making it up to her and trying to mend those bridges even more important. Especially since she and my half-brother Jurt have been going steady for decades now.
I can blame Jurt hating me on Dara, our mutually non-beloved mother, but Julia was entirely my fault. Jasra deciding to try to convince Julia to use me as a human (insofar as that word applies to Amberites, much less Chaosites with our demon forms) sacrifice to obtain power was an effect, not the cause.
Jurt tried much, much harder to kill me, but then his pattern ghost died saving my life. Otherwise, I wouldn't have trusted him when he tried to bury the hatchet somewhere other than in my back awhile later. Ironic that the one who always hated me turned out to be the most trustworthy of my family on Dara's side. Then again, it was that honesty that made him show that he honestly hated me. Someone like Mandor would have pretended to be my best friend.
Jurt and I have always been more alike than we wanted to admit.
"I didn't want to tell you," Julia said, after taking a sip. "There wasn't anything even you could do."
Just like there was nothing Julia could do, for all the power she'd gained from the Way of the Broken Pattern, and all the power she'd given Jurt, by performing the incomplete ritual to transform him into a Living Trump?
"So they've been avoiding the subject around you for this long?" Jurt said, laughing. "You always were slow on the uptake," he added, adjusting the eyepatch.
I had to admit he was right about that: I didn't figure out that Mask was Julia until she was staring me in the face.
The rest of the meal was uneventful. They left after coffee, Julia thanking me for a wonderful evening, and when they trumped out I was left with several dozen yellow roses scattered over the entryway, on top of my shoes.
Say it with flowers.
Dr. Akagi (a little research had confirmed that she was related to Dr. Naoko Akagi – her work had interested me even as an undergraduate, since it was a field definitely related to my interests) didn't seem to be very interested in what I had to say.
The flowers might have been a mistake, but the atmosphere warmed a bit after Maya Ibuki revealed she knew the symbolism of yellow roses. I got the impression that Ritsuko Akagi wasn't fond of overly smooth types: one of the few times in my life I've been grateful that I don't have the skills of my father or Mandor.
Grayswandir, the Nightblade, and the Daysword Werewindle were supposedly engraved with sections of the Pattern, one from the beginning and the other from the end. Except, I'd later been told, the two swords predated the Pattern.
And now I was finding similar glyphs in NERV's systems, although since this was a Shadow, who knew how much what they'd found in the environs of the Broken Pattern and Broken Logrus had to do with reality.
It had been a few years – time flows faster in the Courts of Chaos – and far too long since I'd taken any time for research. If the angels – manifestations of chaos, and what was a Broken Logrus doing on this end of Shadow – were still attacking the place of my halcyon days of research, irresponsibility and people only trying to assassinate me once a year, then it seemed like a good time to take a vacation.
Meeting Ryoji Kaji told me where Ritsuko and Misato had gotten their dislike of suave men who came bearing flowers. Finally getting in range of Gendo Ikari for my spell to work told me that Shinji'd inherited the blood from his father.
If Gendo had suspected that Shinji wasn't his, that might have explained how he treated the kid.
Inhabitants of Shadows should not try to challenge Amberites to drinking contests. If I'd even started to get a little tipsy, excusing myself to the bathroom and transforming into my Chaos form and back again would have gotten rid of most of it.
Kaji had been trying to find an excuse to chat with me for most of the week. My taking a couple days off midweek to attend the actual wedding couldn't have made things easier – my father had composed a ballad for the occasion, and started jamming with Random and Martin and I'd stayed for a lot more of the afterparty than I'd expected. With the way time flows at different rates between here and Amber, it cut into the time I'd allotted to independent research but I didn't miss work, thank goodness. Ghostwheel and the three lovely AI ladies had promised that no one was going to notice any spellwork I did to reinforce the Evas. All three of them: I might have a bone to pick with the Unicorn, but the New Pattern was a decent fellow, keeping Luke's pattern ghost alive, and Rei was a good kid for a manifestation of the primal force of order.
If I hadn't helped out with magic, Julia and Jurt would have: this Shadow was still Julia's home.
I certainly don't think Misato believed for a minute that it was a coincidence that I'd ended up in the apartment right above where she was staying with Shinji, and now Asuka. I'm certain she was the one to put Shinji up to baking a cake as a 'welcome to the neighborhood' gift in order to get a chance to look around inside my apartment.
When I saw Shinji looking at the Polly Jackson painting of the snow-bedecked red Camero (thank goodness I'd gone and gotten it out of storage before the storage flooded), I used that as an opening to ask if he was interested in art and pull out my Trumps. He seemed to like the ones Luke had drawn (I'd have to let him know that another cousin of his thought he was a good artist too: it would be a shame if he gave it up just because Jasra thought he didn't have the talent for it and being kings was keeping both of us busy) and he may have noticed that they felt a little cooler than paper and paint normally would, but there weren't any signs of recognition at all. I'd already heard through the grapevine that Gendo hadn't even visited him since Shinji was way, way too young to have survived being taken to walk any of the Patterns. It was possible that Gendo might have been in contact with the rest of the family and not recognized me: possible, but not likely, not after my elevation to ruler of half of reality (not that most of the people in those shadows knew the Courts existed, much less considered themselves subjects, any more than Earth paid tribute to King Random back in Amber).
Gendo might not have any idea he wasn't perfectly human. He had a few more years to go before anyone might start to notice that he wasn't aging.
It was a sobering thought: how many people like Shinji and Coral were out there? With no one to tell them they were Amberites, no one to take them to walk the Pattern, to tell them that they could walk through Shadow until they found (or created, as some of them thought in my father's generation) a place where they could be happy? If it weren't for Misato and some of his friends at school, Shinji would have left Shadow Earth in a heartbeat, and I couldn't really blame him.
Sadly for him, I wanted this Shadow to survive, and I wasn't going to put that power in his hands when I couldn't trust that he wasn't going to just wander off into Shadow and abandon piloting.
Never trust a relative.
Of course, I wasn't the only one keeping an eye on Tokyo-3. It was Julia and Nayda that ate most of Shinji's cake, when Luke sent some people down from Kashfa to help put some defenses in place. With Ghostwheel, powering them wasn't an issue. I'm sure that Ghost could have taken care of the entire thing himself, but it was nice to be doing some spellcrafting again, although honestly warding large areas was something I was a little too familiar with, after a certain quantity of Logrus ghosts assaulted my palace during a rather tense little exchange with the Serpent regarding what it calls The Bride of the Jewel and I call my friend Coral, my best friend's wife and the mother of one of my children (the others being Ghost, and Frakir). And also my half-aunt.
After I invented that Detect Relative spell, it seemed like half my aunts and uncles didn't know whether to kiss me or kill me. The ones who weren't hitting themselves asking why they'd never thought of that, anyway.
"So, what's your angle?" Kaji finally got around to saying after 'just stopping by' and we'd both had a couple of beers. "Who are you working for?"
"Who are you?" I asked, just to see what he'd say.
"All of them. But you're working for none of them. I've made inquiries."
And that would have made people aware that if Kaji didn't know who I was with, then I might not be with any of the organizations Kaji was spying on.
"There's a Merle Corey with a computer science degree, but he was declared dead sometime after Second Impact," he said. "And you're about thirty years too young to be him."
"I'm just here checking up on some relatives," I said, which was pretty obviously the wrong thing to say. I held up a hand to tell him to calm down. "No one's ever called me any kind of angel." Although come to think of it, a Fire Angel would make a good demon form. Having two hearts is always useful, when cardiac arrest spells are one of the basics that every competent sorcerer should have in their arsenal. "Shinji. I'm related to Shinji."
"Through Yui Ikari, huh?" he asked, looking as though that made sense to him. I remained silent in the hope that he'd share. "Her background was scrubbed, but there are a lot of hints she's connected to the Committee for Human Instrumentality." Which would make me related to SEELE, the most secretive of the organizations involved in this. And for good reason.
Ghost's lady friends might not want to talk about Gendo Ikari, but he'd passed a lot on to me, which I passed on to Julia. Jurt might not have gotten as much of the power of the Keep of Four Worlds as Brand did, but the ability to teleport made for a dangerous assassin, as he'd nearly demonstrated on Luke and I on Luke's coronation day at the Temple of the Unicorn in Kashfa, no less.
While I'd been trying to keep a couple of ancient spirits of ultimate power and immaturity from tearing apart the universe with their eternal feuding, Julia had been trying to repair a devastated Shadow Earth, coming within a hair's breadth of coming into open conflict with Luke and Jasra again in order to get her hands on the Keep. Not for the fount of power at its heart, but because she'd wanted to study how it maintained the four environments around it. Fortunately or unfortunately, she'd found out that it wouldn't help fix the climate damage caused by Earth's axial tilt being altered by Second Impact before Jasra hired Dalt to do something about the former apprentice who had turned her into a coat rack.
Jasra got better. Thanks to me, although sometimes Luke wasn't all that thankful. At least Jasra was a little better than Dara in that regard. She'd nagged Luke to kill me, but she hadn't put a spell on him to try to force him into it after he decided to knock it off. Still, the two of them loved each other, in their own particular warped way, which was a lot more than I could say for Dara and myself. She was my mother, so perhaps some part of me might always love her, but I wasn't tempted to go talk to her in her prison, much less release her, to try to recapture some relationship that had never been there.
A note on the Black Unicorn, or rather a lot of notes. I think the New Pattern got its taste in music from the man who drew it.
Having two functional patterns strengthens order, which annoys the Serpent, but the fact the New Pattern is not the Pattern, Amber's Pattern, The Unicorn, and refused to be absorbed and become simply another manifestation of the primal order ticks the Unicorn off too. I'm fairly convinced most of what made both of them stop trying to destroy it was realizing how much it ticks the other one off just by existing. These days, they both keep hoping that it will give them an advantage, either by strengthening order or dividing it, so it's not necessary for it to be constantly guarded anymore and Luke's pattern ghost can go reign in Kashfa temporary when Luke wants a break, and the two Corwins will go off and have jam sessions, or adventures of crucial importance to the survival of all of reality as we know it, or a lot of wine. Or all three.
I call it the Black Unicorn, but half the time it appears to me as a Red Unicorn, probably because of the car in the painting.
Not that it appears to me very often.
Especially not by knocking on the door with its horn while I'm having a few beers with random shadow denizens.
"Is that a unicorn?" Kaji asked, coming up behind me as I stood there in the doorway.
Most of the people of Shadow Earth will just avoid seeing any evidence of magic. That was why I tested Julia the way I did with the cave, not that I realized at the time that I was not just testing her, but setting her up for failure. They don't want to think that they're going mad, so they just don't think about anything that seems implausible when examined too closely. So Julia wanting the truth meant she was aware that there was a truth to be had. Meant she might be aware of magic. Meant she might be connected to the April 30 attempts on my life.
Well, I figured that I'd best let it in to my humble abode, and blue followed black. I have to admit I was a little concerned. After the Pattern made me fix a broken pattern with the Jewel of Judgment by holding Coral hostage, it absorbed that pattern. What other interest could another pattern, even my father's pattern, possibly have in Rei, the manifestation of Earth's Broken Pattern? Then again, this Pattern had always been the nicest of the three, even if my Amberite instincts (stunted, but still present) whispered in the back of my head that since Corwin only had one son, it only had so many potential agents and couldn't afford to alienate us by being as high-handed as either of the others of its kind.
A dog, looking like the kind of stray that had been in too many fights, swaggered in behind Rei. After I closed the door, I gave him a long look. "Really?" I asked, before the actual doorbell rang this time.
"Hey, Merlin," Luke said cheerfully, hefting a black plastic sack over his shoulder. Coral followed, bearing shopping bags and wearing sunglasses to hide the red Jewel Dworkin had replaced one of her eyes with.
"Is that a body in there?" I asked. Luke could have trumped me: had he instead just walked through Tokyo-3 with a body in a bag over his shoulder? Or perhaps the New Pattern had dumped them all in the hall in front of my apartment.
"He's not dead, Merlin," Luke chided me. I didn't feel very chided, not when Luke should remember certain April Thirtieths too. "He tried to grapple with me after I took his gun. I told him to get that hand out of my face or I'd bite it off."
"He tried to grapple with you?" I said, a certain suspicion rising in my chest. Luke and I both carry the Blood of Amber, and that makes us stronger than most of Shadow. Luke used to run with Dalt and his merceneries: if anything, he's much better trained as a fighter than I am, despite all the efforts of one of my Hendrake relations. One of Section Three's security goons wouldn't have lasted long enough for Luke to get off a one-liner.
It turned out it wasn't a body in a bag: it was a sheet that Luke unrolled on my floor. Under the traces of red that came from a broken nose (he'd heal, but I could hope it wouldn't heal cleanly) that was Gendo Ikari. "Should I make sure he doesn't wake up?" I wondered. I actually had a spell hung for that: I'd been using it to cover up some of my prying down in the Geofront.
"Oh, he's down for the count," Luke said confidently. "I said I'd bite him, didn't I? Remember when my mom got you?"
"You're venomous too?" I asked. I hadn't known that Luke had inherited that little trace of Chaos from his mother. "You never told me that."
"It never came up," he said, and I nodded in acknowledgement. When would something like that came up?
"I didn't know until I asked why he never bit," Coral told me. I'd have preferred it if she hadn't. It doesn't make me all that happy to know that my half-aunt has been in bed with both me and my half-cousin, and prefers him. When she'd given me that judgment, I'd wanted to protest that she hadn't been fully awake for the one and only time we'd slept together, but that was just reminding both of us that she hadn't been fully awake when I was forced into sleeping with her.
Have I mentioned that I don't like the Pattern all that much?
"I'm not deadly poisonous," Luke said with a little grimace, because that took most of the fun out of it. "At least not on Amberites. Tried it out on Dalt when I was about yea high," he said, holding his hand in around the vicinity of his hip.
Seeing my wince, Luke said, "What? No, it was fine. He's the one who dared me."
I considered telling Luke that since he was bigger now, he'd probably have larger venom sacs, but this was Gendo Ikari, so I kept my mouth shut. "So, why is Jurt?" Here and in this shape?
"I got caught on a security camera while I was grabbing the members of SEELE," my brother said, the scruffy dog turning into scruffy relative. It would be the sane thing to prefer the wolf. "Forgot about those."
"SEELE had security cameras?" I asked. From how hard it was for even Ghost to find footage of them in the world's networks, I'd figured they were pretty security obsessed.
"I had to get past their security to teleport out with them," Jurt reminded me. "These days, if it's an unfamiliar location I usually stick to line-of-sight. The Fount should keep me from going into a wall, but I didn't get the full treatment." Thanks to guess who? Not that I was going to apologize, when otherwise I'd be dead.
"You kidnapped SEELE?" I asked him.
"Murdered," he corrected me.
"Surely it would have been the fall that killed them." Since gaining access to the Fount's powers, Jurt has a fondness for teleporting up into midair and dropping people, provided they're not Chaosites and can't just shapeshift into a form that'll manage. If he likes you, he'll catch you. My daughter adores him.
"No, I'm fairly sure it was the lava. In most cases."
"Lava? Why lava?"
"Julia didn't want them on her planet anymore, so I dropped them off back at the Keep."
That was quite a ways through Shadow, but more astute minds than me (Luke and Nayda) don't get why Jurt and Julia aren't married yet either.
"So…" I inquired, pointing at Gendo Ikari. Why wasn't he ash yet, if Jurt was taking out the trash responsible for Second Impact?
"Luke and I ran into each other in his office," Jurt explained. "I said I wasn't teleporting him anywhere but a lava pit, so we ended up walking here. I still don't know why he didn't want to just trump."
"In case there was someone else with Merlin on the other end."
I pointed at Kaji, who was holding up the wall by the balcony along with his beer.
Luke just shrugged. "Got any of that beer left?" I decided that Luke must have done it for another reason and I didn't want to ask. At least not right now: I should do it later. I clearly needed another lesson, although my first guess was that it had something to do with why Rei was with them and giving her time to pet the horsie. Or the other horsie, given that Rei was the avatar of the local Broken Pattern and thus possibly a unicorn herself, but the white giant in the basement looked more humanoid than equine.
And I didn't want to put off posting this any longer, given that I've owed it for a long time now.
I will probably add a second chapter with the Broken Serpent and also Shinji walking the Pattern when I get my short stories and can be sure I'm canon compliant.
I did yield to the headcanon that Coral conceived, but had the child be female instead of male because so far the Amber books have gone from father to son and if there was a third set of five I really wanted Ghostwheel to be the narrator, not Coral's offspring, because I like AI and Ghost is adorable.
Four thousand words into this, I was tempted to make Julia and Jurt the main Chronicles of Amber characters, since they had the most reason to be hanging around Earth and Jurt telefragging SEELE appealed. And Kaji becoming Flora's latest.
Shinji actually descends from Oberon both through Gendo and through Yui's father, a member of SEELE: Oberon really got around.