Lucien and Tremayne find themselves, without Uther and his knights, on a busy French street. From the presence of the usual tourist traps and other things, it seems to be rather like Paris of the mid 20th century. It's noon on a pleasant spring day, a gentle breeze blowing through the trees that line the boulevard, on which elegant cars are driving.
They are outside a café where inside there is a table set for three diners, whose sole occupant seems to be awaiting them. It's Corwin, wearing a smart suit, with a glass of wine and an empty plate in front of him. He invites them to be seated.
Tremayne tells Corwin how it was that Lucien came to be involved in the current situation, and about Osric's allegiance with the demons, and what he suspects the reason for the delay is. He also refers to Corwin's backup plan, and Mordana's interest in the backup sword.
Corwin, quite unsurprisingly, doesn't want Osric's plan to succeed. It's pointed out that both Khan and Malachi are Osric's sons, though it remains uncertain exactly where their loyalties actually lie. He says that he should leave and talk with the others, but must have a quiet word with Lucien before he goes. He and Lucien go for a discreet walk. There are revelations about Lucien's upbringing and ancestry, namely that Lucien's father is Merlin, and thus he is Corwin's grandson. Corwin says that it's evident to him that Lucien is marked in having walked a Broken Pattern, and that his head is somewhat jumbled. He also points out that the mysterious blue stones will have made it all the easier for someone to track Lucien's movements.
Corwin suggests that Lucien walk the Pattern here, which might unmark him, but Lucien's somewhat wary of that. Lucien then drops Brand in it by saying that Brand caused him to be marked by the stones, and that Brand now has the Jewel of Judgement. Corwin is unthrilled by this. He asks for Lucien's opinion on the others. Lucien says that he trusts Darius to some extent, trusts Joseph as someone with ideals, even if they are somewhat odd, and as Florimel's son. Xavier he regards as definitely trustworthy; Khan he's less sure about, feeling that he must have some hidden agenda, possibly involving his relationship with Osric. Tremayne, he says, is working for the right side; Corwin agrees with that, saying that Tremayne is very reliable and usually does the right thing - it seems that the family has already meddled with him. Steve reminds Corwin of a pirate who once ended up on the wrong side of Gerard's guns. Lucien says that Mordana seems to be reluctantly allied with the party, not always approving of their tactics. Lucien finishes by mentioning Martin and Victoria. Corwin says that he knows who she is, but refuses to break her incognito. Lucien asks what it was that his father intended for him, which Corwin answers by saying that Merlin wanted him to be raised in a challenging world where he'd be able to rise through his own merits with the aid of suitable retainers, the Volki.
Corwin then cautions Lucien: Osric brought them through to Corwin's Shadows by using a fragment of the Ghostwheel. He says that it was a construct built by Merlin, but it eventually killed him. It was insane, dangerous, and clever - he should not let the fragments use him; indeed, he should avoid them if at all possible. He then drops the other shoe on Lucien's parentage by mentioning that Coral is Lucien's mother, and therefore Lucien has some rather interesting heritage in both Amber and Chaos. He says that Lucien should be careful about dealing with Madeleine of Amber, who has been somewhat presuming upon Lucien's birthright.
He then leaves, warning Lucien that he won't pull any punches in the current matter, that he won't let Osric succeed.
Lucien rejoins Tremayne. They order a meal, and which Lucien reveals, much, if not all, of what Corwin has told him. Tremayne says that he'll follow Lucien's lead if Corwin isn't there to direct him. They've just finished their starter when two knights come through a portal. They're two of Uther's, and they seem confused and defensive. They're invited to join Lucien and Tremayne in eating, but refuse when they discover that "Mr Corey" is paying for the meal...
Meanwhile, Steve is travelling through an autumn afternoon in woodlands. Polly warns him that there's a pursuer who's been following them through Shadow, and who is perhaps ten minutes behind them. Steve camouflages himself and hides up a tree. The pursuer arrives. It's a woman with shoulder-length hair, wearing a suit, sunglasses and sensible shoes. She also has blood on her hands and up her arms. She seems to move in a not quite human fashion. She stops under Steve's tree and looks up; she can obviously see him.
Steve asks her what she wants. She doesn't reply directly, but says that he has the creature with the acutest senses: are they being watched? Polly looks around, and says that they're not. Steve jumps down from the tree. She explains that she knows about Malachi and Osric - in fact, Osric is her master. She says that she is old, and serves her master well, but then rather enigmatically says that he must neither win nor lose in the forthcoming struggle, but must draw. This seems to refer to Osric's attempt to set up a Logrus analogue against Corwin's Pattern; apparently Osric is no longer in charge of most of his actions - the demons are.
Unfortunately, just when the conversation's getting really interesting, Polly squawks an alert. A demon's on its way. Steve and the woman break off their discussion and start fighting - it's another sham fight, much like the battle with Malachi, just enough to convince the onlookers. At least that's how it was planned, but this time things don't go so smoothly, because the demon decides to involve itself. There is much fighting, as seems to be usual around Steve. The woman and the demon get pretty comprehensively beaten up, and she vanishes. Unfortunately a couple of dozen more demons turn up, and they're bigger and badder than ever. Steve tries Trump contact on Lucien and gets static, so he decides that running away is the better form of valour. Polly zooms off with Steve though Shadow...
Back on the hilltop, everyone else is bickering about strategy, except Joseph who's busy trying to work out whether there's anything useful he can do with the bit of Pattern that's tied up in Greyswandir. Unfortunately it doesn't seem that there is. Steve arrives, which rather surprises Osric. Steve says that he's been "conversing" with Osric's pals. It's unclear whether he means the demons or the woman he just beat up. Osric tries yet again to explain what the situation is, at least from his viewpoint, and unfortunately uses the word "beachhead", which Darius immediately pounces on as damning evidence of Osric's perfidy. He goes on about this at great length, with Joseph trying to shut him up enough that Osric won't decide to kill him on the spot, though to be honest wondering whether it wouldn't actually be better in the long run if Osric actually did kill Darius...
And in Paris, more knights having arrived and a settlement of protocol for paying for the meal having been reached, Uther turns up. He has a trump of Victoria, which Tremayne uses to contact her. Apparently she's in a fairly nasty situation. She says that Steve's finally reached the rest of the group, and she suggests that they all join her. With some difficulty they all get through the trump, finding themselves on a hillside from which Victoria is watching Osric and the others through a pair of powerful binoculars. She points out that they're surrounded by even more demons. Tremayne secretes Victoria's trump behind one of his shin guards. They all head down the hill and join the others. There is, predictably, even more bickering about whether they should immediately hand Greyswandir over to Corwin, and Osric takes advantage of this by counter-suggesting that they should hand it over to him now. Everyone tries to point out that that would breach the terms, that they'd agreed to a delay, not to giving him it, and he gets pissed off enough to disrupt the Shadow they're in.
Everyone seems to end up separated from everyone else in the fallout. Joseph, predictably enough, ends up somewhere rather unpleasant with Osric, who demands the sword, and a couple of knights. There don't seem to be many - any - options, but Joseph's sense of honour is piqued enough that, even though he knows he won't stand a chance in a fight, he feels that his honour would be smirched if he didn't at least insist on a duel. No magic, no Trump, nothing but swordsmanship. As you'd expect, Joseph gets minced, and Osric picks up the sword and vanishes. Though he's badly hurt, Joseph insists on getting to his feet and, supported by the knights, Shadow walking to wherever Greyswandir's got to.
Tremayne contacts Corwin. News of current events is transmitted, and Corwin says that he and Victoria will be in touch.
Lucien is in a stream. He contacts Corwin, and suddenly finds himself in Paris.
Steve stands up, dusts himself down, and tries Trumping Lucien again. This time he gets through, and also ends up in Paris.