It's been, shall we say, somewhat hectic since I escaped my quarters - or, to be more accurate, my prison - and therefore I've had little time to take notes, so some of this may be a little disjointed. I can always check for consistency with the others when - I refuse to say if - we get back to Amber.
Now that Xavier, Khan, Steve and I - not forgetting our new ally (at least temporarily such) Tremayne - were rejoined, it seemed both practical and desirable that Khan should be healed sufficiently for him to make what he calls 'Trump sketches' of those remaining missing. Tremayne's belt could do that, but not speedily, so I devised a plan: namely, that I should take us to a Shadow where time ran considerably faster, and also which should be supplied with food and water so that the rest of us could refresh ourselves. Tired as I was, with the assistance of Tremayne's belt I found that the Shadow-stuff here is so tenuous that it took only a considerable effort to achieve this. We walked to a Shadow of green and pleasant hills, with a running stream and rabbits aplenty, but when Steve returned with some rabbits that he'd caught, they seemed unfit to eat, and that, combined with the continued foulness of the air, made me believe that we'd not come far enough. So, tired as we were, we walked that bit further towards somewhere with less of the taint. Steve caught - though I find it distasteful to mention how - more rabbits, and cooked them for us.
Then it was retrieval time. Darius, his dog and one of his henchmen came first, and then Lucien, my dear Kenton and Mordana. Those of us who had lost our weapons were pleasantly surprised to find that Lucien was carrying them; less pleased to discover, at least in Xavier's case, that they were not undamaged. It was fortunate that we'd retrieved Darius, because, sly dog that he is, he'd kept a full deck of Trumps concealed in his cloak. Trump communication to most places and people was, as we'd suspected it would be, blocked, supporting our notion that these Shadows were restricted for Corwin's use, and that was amply confirmed when Tremayne attempted contact with Corwin.
Oh dear. Poor dear dead uncle Corwin isn't dead. But he is in trouble. He can just about keep his attacker off, but he's sorely pressed. Apparently the man with the katana that Tremayne mentioned is Corwin's last-ditch defence; what Corwin really could do with is his Pattern sword Greyswandir, and if we'd be so good as to fetch it for him, la la la. Family really is so tiresome at times. Of course, it's all Lucien's fault, since more than likely he's one of Corwin's brood...
Interestingly enough, Gideon's trump is blocked too, which suggests strongly that the Gideon who's running the Ministry back in Spire isn't our Gideon. Let's hope we're not about to have to deal with another invasion of duplicates.
So, refreshed and somewhat restored, it seemed like a good idea to do what we could for Corwin. Tremayne had made a promise, and for the rest of us it seemed at least a plausible means of getting out of these Shadows and back to Amber. To do that, we needed supplies: weapons, armour and food. Here again my ability to walk through Shadow proved useful; it wasn't too hard to walk to a city, a thriving walled port full of merchant folk, the indigenes short, with dark hair and golden-brown skin. It being a metropolitan place, though, we didn't stick out too badly, and I'd made sure that we arrived with a wallet of the local currency in my pocket. Most of us wanted good body armour and weapons; Darius, of course, wanted explosives.
Alas, as I was purchasing my compressed-gas rifle, who should turn up than a white-haired clipboard-wielding denizen of the Shadow of Spire who attempted to arrest me, claming that he was from the Ministry of Faith! In no way would I consent to returning to imprisonment as Pope, so a quick sidestep moved me into a parallel Shadow, where fortunately the ever-observant Lucien, who is so good at finding cracks between Shadows, joined me. We quickly ran over to the fountain where I'd told the others to gather after buying their supplies, and stepped back into their Shadow and alerted them to the problem. Given that the shopping was done, it seemed more expeditious to run than to stand and fight, so we ran through Shadow, heading for less advanced technology and more open ground, since more of us are used to low-tech fighting, and I hoped that our pursuers' guns would perhaps not work there. Unfortunately someone noticed that we'd left Darius behind, so we had to pause to retrieve him and his explosives. Too bad.
Clipboard man and his henchmen turned up at this point, and, I'm afraid, all attempts at reasonable discussion having failed, we had to kill them. Holding as much as I knew of the sword Greyswandir in my mind, we headed off speedily through Shadow. We'd got some distance when I felt the discomfort associated with an attempted Trump contact from someone who claimed to represent the person who'd imprisoned several of us in Spire. On talking with him, I discovered that he wished to dissuade us from aiding Corwin, claiming that it was a matter between Corwin and the person that he represented alone. To be honest, if it had been up to me, I should probably have stayed neutral - what has Corwin ever done for me? - had this unnamed Opponent offered us immediate transport back to Amber, but the best that was apparently on offer was that he would see to it 'presently'. The others grew restive, hearing of course only my side of the conversation. I do hope they didn't think that I would double-cross them, or anything like that. However it seemed best for them to have their turn at persuading our jailer's representative - and to get a good look at him for future use - so I pulled him through. He repeated that his was a private struggle with Corwin and that if we stood aside he'd return us presently to Amber. To my mind, and it seemed also to my companions, that that's no more than 'perhaps', and Corwin was hardly in a position to offer worse terms... so we told him that unless he could beat Corwin's offer, we'd ignore him, and so he left.
What could we do but press on? Conditions around us grew worse - I had only enough concentration to hold the image of Greyswandir in my head, so environmental considerations, I'm afraid, had to be ignored as much as was practical. In a short time we came across a young man, obviously somewhat hurt, fallen beneath his horse. He told us that his name was Martin, and that he was allied with Corwin. We managed to persuade him of our good intentions, and eventually he trusted us enough to tell us that he'd been attacked by someone who I fear very much is Malachi and his horsemen. I suppose that means that this time Malachi is working for the opposition; a pity, because I quite liked him. The trouble is, he's a good fighter and by Martin's account he has plenty of men. I think a not quite fair fight is in order...
And sure enough we seemed to be heading into one. Making our way up a canyon, at the end of which I was fairly conviinced we'd find the sword, we spotted Malachi's troops standing on the canyon's rim and looking down at us. Darius - dear Darius - thinks he can do something clever with the explosives that he purchased. Well, perhaps he can. We shall have to see.