Diane, it's 5:34 PM, I'm in the residence of one Sedgewick Harcourt: scion of Amber, freelance investigator, dark sorcerer, and all around charming fellow. And I'm a talking bird.


The boss is getting ready to depart for dinner, so I'm taking a few moments to update my journal.

So, we got back from frolicking in Shadow and autumn mist to find that Jolan has indeed graced us with a reply. Of sorts. He invited the boss to a poker night. Which the boss was impressed by. Whole jazz about moving the battle to your own turf or some shit like that. So, the boss put off his plans for checking his resources off in shadow and decided to spend the day in the city working on some projects so he could be home for Jolan's messenger. The other sordid bit of mail involved a package waiting to be picked up at the customs office down at the docks.

First stop: The constabulary. The boss wanted leave to examine the body of the dipshit who killed himself in the name of unrequited love. PT Barnum was right. He also wanted a chance to take the dead body of a girl off into another shadow for more intense examination. Marian gave permission for Sedgewick to do his own examination of the body of the man, but wanted to check with the family before releasing Little Miss Dead Chick.

The boss seemed to think everything was normal with the Suicide King. The guy hung himself. All evidence indicated: he hung himself. Looks like duck, smells like a duck... But, the boss felt there was something just outside of reach with the body. Something that wasn't occurring to the boss. He thinks the dead guy has something to do with the prophecy.

Next stop: the docks. There was a package alright. Boss signed for it. Did some mojo on it to make sure there were no spells on it. Which freaked the shit out of the clerk, I think. The boss took it up to the castle, then.

En route, who did we run into but Sebastian. Sebastian was on horseback. We weren't. Sebastian got off his horse.

Not sure what to say about Sebastian. He's Flora's mewling brat, but otherwise seems to be a mostly decent chap. Though he does tend to dress like a reject from a bad sword and sorcery flick. Made for TV, no less. Boss seems to have some respect for the fellow. The boss still beat him at chess, but the guy is apparently no shlumpf in the brains department. We learned that Sebastian had been invited to a card game that night. The boss suggested that it was probably the same game that Jolan had invited him to.

After the boss left Sebastian, he opened the package, fully expecting it to blow up. Inside was a puzzle ball of some sort with knobby bit thingies that could be pressed down. The boss only spent a moment looking at it before

Anyway, up to Fiona's tower. (Kinda phallic if you ask me.) Fiona was actually on her way up, and the boss, feeling generous, offered to help with the books she was caring. How high school. The fact that Fiona is likely stronger than the boss is one thing the boss forgets when he's carrying out his Victorian sense of ideals.

The boss bounced some of his ideas for a way to track the killer off of Fiona. Basically consisted of tagging girls likely to be victims, and setting up a net to scan for the tags. Real elaborate setup. Fiona didn't have any major objections. The boss also made a joke about how it could be that Fiona's behind it all, in which case he just revealed his hand. Now there's a scary prospect. I'd hate to have here as any enemy. She's hot and all. And she gives me food. But she's got a reputation for having a mean streak a mile wide.

Anyway, after leaving the tower, Sedgewick was approached by one of the servants of the castle. Apparently some other servant had seen something that had frightened her, figuring that the boss knew about the occult (ie: He's a weird and twisted fuck that knows way too much about things that are hidden.) and wanted to know if he'd see the girl. The girl (whose name I can't remember we'll call her Mary) was in bed in the servants quarters. She was apparently freaked after seeing some ghost. Hell, she'd probably die after half an hour at the boss's place. The boss had some time to kill before poker night, so he went ahead and decided to check it out.

Then the boss became officially annoyed.

It seems there was nothing to indicate that there had been a spirit in the area. He went and got Mary to show him where the spot was, and he was able to pick up trace energies of "something". Which was neither magical nor spiritual. He was able to create the outline of the thing that had passed through there. It wasn't spiritual, though. He had to leave for poker night, so he made a point of stopping by the Horn Guards office, and asking them to cordon off the area, with a brief explanation of what was going on. The last was given reluctantly.

Can I just take a moment to point out that "Horn Guard" is a silly name? I bet Oberon thought it up. Wanker.

So, off to the home, the boss checking in at the constabulary on the way home in time to find out that he couldn't run off with the noble girl's body. The boss checked for new messages, and spent time reading the news waiting for his escort, who arrived in a punctual manner.

What can I say? The escort was a mix of young noble and consummate frat boy. Tried to play all tough while walking along with the creepiest man in Amber. The trip brought us through the nastier parts of Amber. Which I don't really have a problem with, since that's where the boss tends to wander around the most anyway. But that's where we were.

The building itself looked like a run down home, and the escort went up and knocked. As the door opened, the frat lord announced, "He's here." Jolan insisted that I stay outside, but the boss wasn't having any of that and nearly left.

Aside from some other piss-ant Amberite nobles, the only people of note were Silas, Jolan, and Sebastian. And the games began. Silas lost like a bitch. It was like he was getting spanked by a four-handed monkey in a sheep-shearing factory. Sebastian was doing probably best of all. The boss was doing decently. Jolan wasn't doing too great, but he wasn't losing hand over fist like Girard's happy-go-lucky retard of a child.

While at the shindig, Ariel made her presence known to the boss and me. Ariel's this air elemental that the boss knows. One of those spirits that he had regular interaction with in the past that somehow managed to maintain a regular existence outside of the outer planes of existence where they dwell. Sweet kid. Kinda young seeming. Bit of a flake, but fun to talk to. Drives the boss nuts when we hang out above his head and have conversations.

At one point, Jolan started doing a lot better and apparently made the boss a tad suspicious. So, while raising his drink to his lips, the boss asked Ariel if Jolan was cheating. The game progressed. Ariel returned, and admitted that she didn't know how to play poker. Since the boss had the cup raised to his lips, he nearly did a spit take when she said that.

Suffice it to say, the boss was not pleased.

The game continued, with Jolan being the big winner at the end. Sebastian had tried to intimidate Jolan at one point by just betting an insane amount of money, and Jolan apparently had the better hand and came out financially on top. After the game, the boss lingered around, wishing to speak with Jolan, but Jolan asked to put it off till the next day.

So, we got home, and the boss had to explain the idea behind poker to Ariel. Ariel took it all in, and then asked, "So, is it cheating to use magic?"

"Yes, it would," the boss admitted.

"Then you were cheating, because I'm a magical creature."

The boss was struck speechless. One of those rare moments.

"I want you to think about what you've done," Ariel insisted. "I'll talk to you again in the morning."

She was gone. The boss was about ready to kill something. I made tracks for someplace out of his line of sight while he got ready for bed, and sent Thomas off to deliver some sort of message.

The next day Ariel arrived and proclaimed, "Cheating is very bad." Dramatic pause while the boss wound up slowly to lecture Ariel. "Jolan was cheating. He was using those magic things with the pictures."

"Trumps?" the boss asked.

"Yeah, trumps. Remember when I tried to make a trump of you Sedgewick?"

"Unfortunately," the boss replied tersely.

Boy howdy did she try to make a trump of the boss. Ariel has sort of special dispensation to come and go through the boss's wards on the house. She came looking for the boss one time when he was off in shadow, and was quite put out by the fact that the boss wasn't around. So, she tried to make a trump of the boss. The best explanation the boss was able to come up with in retrospect was that she managed to contact and bring through shadows of the boss. Ariel quickly realized with each version of the boss that she brought through that it wasn't the right Sedgewick Harcourt (provided that was even their name ). So, she'd try again. Eventually she got about 30 versions of the boss through the thing. Some were killed off pretty quickly by the defenses. Some were sorcerers and were able to turn things off. Nearly all were fairly anti-social and proceeded to kill off all the other versions of the boss. Those that were kinda friendly got killed off first. The last two managed to somehow kill each other off at the same time. Mutually assured destruction.

So, the boss comes home, and finds 30 dead Sedgewick's littering the floor, and an enthusiastic Ariel explaining how she'd tried to make a trump of the boss.

The boss destroyed that trump. He wasn't very happy.

Anyway, the boss went out for breakfast after talking with Ariel. The Church of the Unicorn was holding an inquest (Not to be confused with an inquisition) regarding the kelp witches of Rebma. He kind of expected things to go poorly, and brought marshmellows along in case they burned anyone at the stake. The boss went into some restaurant near the church, leaving me to patrol the area (and dodge religious zealots who thought I was a creature of ill-omen.) When the boss emerged from the restaurant, he had Sebastian and Rolfe with him. Apparently they'd had breakfast there as well.

And off we went to the inquest.

The event was primarily a grilling of one Serenity of Rebma, daughter of Llewella. One all around first-class babe. She was escorted in by Mallory, which was probably a big mark against her in the boss's eyes. I, on the other hand, thought she was quite the looker. I wonder how she was in terms of feeding ravens. A shame she lived in Rebma, though. I ain't down with being wet.

So, long story short, sea witches were women of Rebma who go into hiding in the kelp forests (?!) outside of Rebma trying to avoid the harsh conditions that drove them into hiding. In doing so, they give themselves over to this mysterious force which they don't understand, and occasionally fucks them over.

Don't get me started.

So, in short, Deacon Nestor, the severe looking wanker, and Rolfe, who I've already summed up in the past, set about grilling Serenity. Trying to determine the nature of the kelp witches' power and why exactly they live the way they do. Then Sophia, who was also there, opens her big yap and asks the priests of the Unicorn if they can tell the difference between good and evil.

That's like asking a man if he can tell the difference between a hot chick or an ugly one. Or asking a chick if she can tell the difference between teal and lime green.

The boss and Sebastian looked at each other dubiously, likely certain that Sophia had consigned herself to the inquisition's racks.

Sophia tried to clarify by explaining that she had used some sort of power to analyze the place where the prophetess arrived at. It was warm, kind, loving. Barf.

Anyway, after the inquisition, Sedgewick and Sebastian escaped, had lunch at some significantly more low-key establishment than the ones near the church, and went their separate ways.

The boss returned to the castle in order to resume his investigation of the "ghost", stopping by the Horn Guard offices to see if they turned up anything and found that they had mainly tried to avoid disturbing the boss's magics. On the way, the boss popped in to check out the ballroom. After doing a superficial examination of magics, and getting a generally warm-fuzzy feeling, the boss tried to summon a "benefic" spirit. Basically one of the shiny happy spirits, as opposed to mean nasty ones. One came up surprisingly quickly, informed that it's origin was not for the boss to know (which is something you never want to tell the boss) and that the boss was "silly". The boss was kind of annoyed. Then the spirit left before being given leave to. Which really irked the boss.

So, the boss went back to the hallway, and resumed examining. Decided in the end that it was likely some creature who had the natural ability to walk through walls, and left the rest of the examination to the Horn Guard.

On the way home, the boss received a trump call from Sebastian, who wanted to discuss the bit of freaky poetry from the wedding reception. While they had similar views on how some portions of it could be interpreted, Sebastian caught the boss flat footed when he proposed that the prophecy might refer to Martin. The boss was impressed, and "delegated" the task of following up on it to Sebastian. Personally, I think the boss was just covering his ass for not thinking of it first. They also decided they were going to go up to Tir-na Nog'th when the moon was full again.

After that the boss trumped Sophia and asked her out to dinner that night, as he had some things he wished to discuss with her. Speaking of which, it sounds like he's done getting ready, so I'll continue this later.

There are two things that continue to trouble me, and I am speaking now not only as an agent of Sedgewick Harcourt but also as a talking bird: What really went on between Michael Jackson and that kid, and who really sang all those Milli Vanilli songs?

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