Walking the Pattern again


I'd felt the itch in the back of my mind ever since I arrived in Amber. Nothing really identifiable, just an awareness of the presence of the Pattern that was always with me. I'd been carefully ignoring it for the most part, not feeling ready for another encounter like the one in Rebma. Then came the day they brought the King's body home. I was in the city when the procession arrived. I wasn't prepared for the outpouring of genuine grief among the populace - I don't think anybody was. I lost track of how many soothing and healing spells I cast and, when those ran out, how many hugs I gave.

When I finally returned to the castle, all I really wanted was someone to hug me. In the absence of anyone I felt like being hugged by I settled for a glass of wine. This was a mistake. I had relaxed in a chair and let my mind drift away from the trauma of the day. Before I consciously realised it, I found myself halfway down the stairs to the Pattern room. Jasra's insistence that the Pattern should be open access to Family members meant that I would not be challenged if I chose to go on down. I paused to consider. While I hardly felt at my best, the niggling itch was growing rapidly into a conviction that I needed to take the Pattern again, that I would need the additional powers such a walk could give me. I squared ny shoulders and carried on downwards. In Rebma, Morgaine had transported us directly to the Pattern room, so I hadn't had to make that walk before. It felt very long.

When I eventually pushed open the heavy door into the Pattern room I almost expected to hear the Pattern say "there you are at last", so strong had the sense of urgency grown. But of course the damn thing just sat there and flickered at me. I stood there for a while just looking at it. It is, in its own way, extraordinarily beautiful - all whorls of cold fire in the darkness, with just the occasional spark running along them to remind you that it's alive and dangerous.

I walked slowly round to the starting point, still half expecting some remark from the Pattern. Silence. I hesitated before putting my foot on the line. Once you start there is no going back and the Pattern is known for its tendency to play head games. I shrugged and stepped forward. If I hadn't intended to walk the Pattern, I wouldn't have come down all those stairs. The familiar tingling began as I moved onto the first curve.

I'd made it through the First Veil before the images began. Faces, mainly, few of whom I recognised although somehow I knew that they were all family, but not the same ones I had seen last time. I wondered briefly what this might signify, then dismissed it as I concentrated on the next Veil. Following this, there were images of my father and a strong impression that he would soon be in Amber. Along with that came the realisation that this could potentially be dangerous for me. As I moved slowly towards the Grand Curve, I wondered how I might protect myself. The certainty grew that what I was doing here was an integral part of such protection, though I could not yet see how.

I was beginning to tire by the time I hit the Final Veil and it was every bit as hard as it had been the first time around. Eventually I found myself meditating on the whole of the Pattern, holding it in my mind as I tried to push forward. When I did this, the Veil parted so suddenly I lost my balance and found myself on my hands and knees at the Pattern's centre. Now I understood. I had engraved the Pattern's image in my mind and could call it up whenever I wanted. I could use its powers without having to walk it physically.

Thinking this and realising I was ravenous after my exertions, I decided to test it out. I got the Pattern to send me back to the dining room, where I snagged another glass of wine and some bread and cheese. Then I called the Pattern to mind and transported myself back to my room. I don't think I've ever enjoyed a meal more or slept better.

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