Darius is in London, and the crime rates are improving; he has instituted a reign of terror, and implemented an advanced fiscal plan. All is (therefore) Officially Well. The only evident problem to require his personal attention has been the Indian unilateral declaration of independence, which was speedily put down by replacing the government and instituting benign social policies.
Darius and his friends decide to visit Amber. Using his Trump, he, Harry, Jack and Caine arrive in the courtyard of Castle Amber, where everything is looking spick and span; it's evident that there are visitors, and no effort is being spared to make the place look good. Darius dispatches his goons to their usual sniffing about and tormenting the servants duties. He freshens up, and goes to the banqueting hall, where he has arranged to meet them in thirty minutes.
Gerard is there, talking with a stranger, a Rebman by appearance. Having greeted Darius, Gerard introduces them to each other, and then Darius and Gerard briefly discuss Xavier and Mordana's upcoming marriage.
Darius then goes to visit Bleys, who has much to discuss with him, it seems. He details the diplomatic parties, and mentions how good relations with the Golden Circle may aid in restoring Amber's somewhat depleted troops. He tells Darius of this evening's planned tour of the drinking dens and fleshpots of Amber for the visitors, asking Darius to keep an eye out on the guests to ensure that their valuables don't go astray, and to watch out for any unusual activities, since there are rumours of a possible assassination, which would reflect badly on Amber.
He then comes to something that interests Darius: that "Jack" hasn't been who he says he was. Darius meets this with incomprehension, and Bleys spells it out slowly, after having had guards bring Jack to him for examination. He dismisses Jack and the guards, and offers Darius a drink and a seat. It seems that "Jack", until very recently, wasn't Jack at all, but Caine in disguise. No, not the dog; the prince of Amber.
Darius, to Bleys' surprise, takes this with amused equanimity and admiration rather than reacting with shock at the danger that this has placed Amber in. Bleys, seeing that he's not going to get anywhere, tells Darius that he'll see him at dinner.
In search of someone else to talk with, Darius digs out his Trump of Joseph, whom he bugs, unable to take the hints that Joseph is actually busy, so he then turns up at the library where Tremayne, Lucien and Joseph are trying to get on with some work; namely, finding out useful information for Tremayne and Lucien's proposed attempts to walk the Pattern. He tells Joseph about the missing hip flask and the note that were supposed to have been found along with Caine's dagger, but Joseph replies that no doubt the servants tidied them away, and that he knows no more about the matter than Darius does.
Uther has been asking a servant about the tapestries that have been hung around the castle as decoration. He specifically wants to know who suggested hanging the particular tapestry outside Tremayne's room. The servant doesn't appear to know much - the choice of tapestry and position seem to have been fortuitous. Uther then probes the servant's mind to see whether he's telling the truth; he is, though some of the memories are obviously synthetic. The only real nugget of information is that the servant dreamed about the scene in the tapestry the night before everyone arrived back from Corwin's Pattern - and it was the evening after their return that the tapestries were hung. Uther heads for the library, where everyone else is.
After Darius has left to find his henchmen, Uther asks Joseph where he might obtain Trumps. Joseph says that Uther should ask Khan if he needs a specific Trump made for him, otherwise Bleys would probably be the best person to ask.
Darius et al. go off for a chat. He asks Jack how he's feeling... and tries to explain what he understood of Bleys' explanation. Jack is understandably perturbed. They do have some news to report: Gideon has ordered a new set of quarters, but for whom nobody will say; it's all hush-hush. He and Flora and Gerard are pretty much running things around Amber. Bleys is settling in nicely as Regent. Roderigo has dropped by a couple of times.
They discuss the plans for the evening's entertainment, and separate, only for Harry to come running back in a state of agitation - he's recognised someone from their previous adventures. They go downstairs together: they see Roderigo, a woman, and someone whom they all recognise.
Uther, Tremayne, Lucien and Joseph go to dress for dinner, and then head off to the banqueting hall, where they meet Darius and his cronies, along with the aforementioned strangers, whom Roderigo introduces as 'Frederick' and 'Josephine', which they are given to understand are not real names. Bleys arrives a little later, and he seems somehow unthrilled to see Roderigo and his companions. Soon Gideon appears, and there is some reminiscing banter between him and Darius concerning Darius' Shadow.
Darius is then introduced to the various representatives from the Golden Circle, Rebma and Chaos, and is particularly appreciative of Queen Gwendolyn's family jewels. She says that she knows of his reputation as a collector, and wonders if he would be prepared to part with any of his collection. Darius apologetically refuses...
And now... bed! *slumpthump*