Fri May 10 11:06:54 1996
Subject: [AM] One Path to Amber
        It was her eighteenth birthday.  Laura Davega was spending it in 
the cold, white, impersonal atmosphere of a private suite on the 5th 
floor of the Klingenstein Pavilion of Mount Sinai Hospital on New York 
City's Upper East Side.  Her father, renowned and successful stage and 
screenwriter Paul Davega lay dying.  Laura sat in an uncomfortable, 
straight-backed chair by his bedside and watched his breathing grow 
shallower and more labored.
        The date was March 20, 1965.  The happy, carefree, rollicking 
era of the 50's was being replaced by the dissident, protesting students 
of the 60's, but Laura's life of privilege hadn't been much affected.  
Raised in the opulent lifestyle of those successful in the world of show 
business, she grew up in a large East Side apartment where her often 
absent father saw that she wanted for nothing material.
        Laura gazed down at him now, the father she hardly really knew.  
Her mother, she didn't know at all.  She'd been told that her mother had 
been a beautiful dramatic actress, tragically killed in a plane crash, 
not many months after Laura's birth.  It was about all she knew.  Paul 
never spoke much of her mother.  Laura had assumed it was because he 
missed her so that it was too painful for him.  She was right, but not 
in the way she thought.
        He'd become engrossed in his work and the jet-setting life it 
entailed, leaving her to be brought up by loving servants.  She hadn't 
really felt deprived, but wished she'd known him better.  She -was- fond 
of him and was desolate to know she was going to lose him.
        Thinking about it, Laura grew more aware of how alone she was 
now.  There were the servants, but love them as she did, they weren't 
family.  She had no family.  She was pulled out of her reverie by a 
whispered call coming from the hospital bed.
        "Laura......  come closer.... must talk.... before.... too late."
        "Ssh, Father.  Don't try to talk now.  Save your strength."
        "Won't help....  must tell you.... please.... important."
        Her father tried to raise his head from the bed in his urgent 
need to tell her something.  The strength wasn't there; he fell back 
against the pillows, but his eyes begged her to listen.  Laura moved 
closer and took his hand in hers.  He was right.  Nothing would make a 
difference now.  
        Paul Davega had been on his way home from LaGuardia Airport.  
He'd just flown in from the coast where he'd signed to write the 
screenplay for the film version of his latest his Broadway comedy, 
"Revolving Doors," and was well pleased with the deal his L.A. agent had 
worked out.  So pleased that he'd had the cabbie stop on 47th Street, 
the site of New York's jewelry exchange.  He'd gone into Geldman's, and 
been greeted enthusiastically by the proprietor himself.
        "Successful trip, Mr. Davega?"
        "Adequate, Geldman," Paul had answered with a smile.  "Adequate 
enough for me to pick something out for Laura.  Any suggestions?"
        Richard Geldman knew Laura's taste in jewelry well.  Both she 
and her father were valued customers.  He accompanied Paul to a counter 
and pulled out a large brooch in the design of a bow and arrow.  The bow 
was set in diamonds with its grip made of onyx.  The strung arrow was 
also of diamonds with its head and feathers fashioned from rubies.
        "Perfect," Paul had said.  "I knew you've have just the right 
thing.  Box it, and I'll take it with me."
        "Always a pleasure to serve you, Mr. Davega. I'm sure Laura will 
like it."
        "She'll love it," he answered, paying cash and putting the box 
into his inside jacket pocket.
        Down on the corner, Bert Peters was having a bad trip.  The 
sugar cube, laced with the new hallucinogenic drug, LSD, had been 
absorbed into his system.  He was seeing demons, screaming at them to 
get away.  "No, no!  You can't have me," he yelled.  Passersby were 
giving him a wide berth.  New Yorkers, accustomed to seeing anything and 
everything in the streets of their city, simply minded their own 
business.  Bert spotted Paul walking towards him.
        "GET AWAY!  LEAVE ME ALONE!"  Paul was startled, but like the 
rest, paid little attention, simply changing his direction to go around 
the deluded man in his path.  But Bert sensed the move as an attack.  
Screaming wildly he plunged a knife in Paul, stabbing him over and over 
again, then running madly away.  Suddenly people were paying attention.  
An onlooker flagged down a police car.  They phoned in the call to Mt. 
Sinai's ER, and in minutes an ambulance was there.  
        The surgeons had worked feverishly to repair the damage, but it 
was too extensive.  Laura had been called and had spent the night 
watching her father gradually give up the struggle to live.  Now, she 
leaned in close to hear his last words.  Paul gathered his remaining 
reserves of strength to tell his daughter what she had to know.
        "Laura."  His voice was a grating whisper.  "You are not... who 
you think you are.  There isn't time left for me to tell it , but I've 
left a box with Rusty.  What it contains will tell you all that I know."
        He stopped for a moment, struggling to get the breath for the 
rest of what he wanted to say.
        "I'm so sorry, Laura, that I wasn't with you more.  I always 
thought.... there would be time.  But time has run out.  Please remember 
that I love you dearly, have always loved you."
        Silent tears rolled down Laura's cheeks as she leaned forward to 
kiss her father's forehead just as the monitor he was hooked up to let 
out a steady whine.  She looked up at the heart monitor.  The flat white 
line told her he was gone.  She moved outside as nurses and doctors 
hurried into the room, examined him, and pronounced him.  Then she did 
what needed to be done, collected his things and left the hospital.  In 
the taxi that took her home, her hand felt something in his suit 
pocket.  Laura pulled out the small jewelry box and opened it.  A sad 
smile crossed her face when she looked at the pin, knowing from its 
colors and its design that it was for her.  She pinned it to her blouse, 
her hand lingering on it for a few minutes.  It was the last gift her 
father would give her, and she would treasure it always.
        The next days were a flurry of activity.  She had told the 
servants of Paul's death and comforted them as they grieved, letting 
them know they would all stay on if they wished it.  She had called 
Russell Mallory, their family attorney, immediately.  Rusty took care of 
all the arrangements.  The funeral was a spectacle in itself with the 
great and near great of the entertainment world coming to pay their 
respects.  Laura said and did what was expected, moving through it all 
as if she were on automatic.  Her father's last, enigmatic words 
remained in a corner of her mind, but she did nothing about them until 
the hoopla was over.  A week later, it was.
        Laura sat in her father's study, thinking about what he'd said.  
"You are not who you think you are."  What strange words.  Yet Laura had 
always felt different, set apart in some way she didn't understand.  
Bright, friendly, outgoing, she'd always had friends, things to do, 
places to go.  She'd achieved a lot.  At 18 she'd already completed two 
years at Barnard, sister school of the Ivy League Columbia University, 
in Upper Manhattan.  An expert archer, she was a leading member of the 
university's varsity team and also played golf and tennis for them.  She 
would state, if asked, that she'd had a happy childhood.
        But with it all, over the years and as far back as she could 
remember, when Laura looked at her friends, those who took care of her, 
her father's associates, the many people she knew, she had somehow felt 
they weren't.... quite.... real."  The thought had come to her unbidden 
many times.  She didn't understand it and never spoke of it.  "Too 
weird," she'd thought to herself when the feeling came upon her, and 
she'd dismiss it.  Still, it would always return.  She took a deep 
breath.  It was time to investigate her father's words.
        Laura dressed quickly for the quick trip from her apartment on 
52nd Street and Park Avenue to the law offices of Stern and Mallory at 
666 Fifth Avenue.  The reading of the will was scheduled for 11 AM.  She 
was ushered into Rusty Mallory's office immediately.
        "You look lovely as always," the young lawyer told her, taking 
note of her red silk suit, black silk blouse, and black high-heeled 
pumps.  She carried a black, grey, and red leather patchwork purse, and 
her archery pin lay above her left breast.  
        Rusty was only four years out of Columbia Law, but a brilliant 
tax and estate lawyer, he'd been recruited by Julius Stern directly upon 
passing the New York Bar.  Recently, Julius had made him a partner; 
their letterhead now read, Stern and Mallory, Attorney's-at- Law, P.A.  
Rusty had long been attracted to the ethereally beautiful Laura, but had 
waited until she'd reached her majority before doing anything about it.  
The night of her father's funeral, Rusty had stayed with her at her 
apartment.  He made love to her, quite expertly, and they'd both enjoyed 
themselves thoroughly and looked forward to other such encounters.  
Neither was ready for a committed relationship.  They were both content 
with things as they were.  Laura was glad to see him.
        "Let's get it over with," she said, and he nodded agreement.  
Laura knew the contents of the will as well as he did, but the statutes 
of the State of New York required there be a formal reading.  Paul had 
made generous bequests to his staff.  Other than that, everything was 
left outright to Laura.  Rusty had drawn up contracts where he'd take 
care of the management of her money and investments.  He was good at it 
and he was honest.  Nevertheless, Laura read the contracts carefully, 
Rusty nodding his approval.  He'd made provision for her to review her 
accounts at any times of her choosing.  Laura signed and Rusty asked her 
to join him for lunch.
        "My father said you had something else for me, Rusty.  A box 
he'd left in your care?"
        "Yes.  I thought we'd have lunch and then I'd give it to you 
before you left.  If you prefer, you can have it now and leave directly 
from the restaurant."
        "Yes, I would rather that."
        He unlocked his office safe and withdrew a small enameled box.  
It was about eight inches long, three inches, wide, and three inches 
high.  Rusty handed her the box and a small gold key.  Laura put both in 
her handbag and they stood and went up to the Top of the Sixes, one of 
New York's finest eateries.  They spent a pleasant two hours over drinks 
and luncheon, then Rusty accompanied her downstairs and hailed a taxi.  
He kissed her very nicely good-bye though neither of them dreamed it 
would be the last time they saw each other for quite a while.
        Back in the apartment she now owned, Laura hurried upstairs to 
her bedroom.  She kicked off her shoes and changed to a filmy, chiffon 
lounging robe in vertical stripes of red and pink.  Custom designed for 
her, it hugged the curves of her body as it fell in soft folds to the 
floor.  The flick of a switch on her headboard filled the room with soft 
music.  Feeling somewhat mystical for some reason, she selected the 
soundtrack from the musical show Kismet and hear the beautiful words and 
music of 'Stranger In Paradise.'  Holding the small box and its key, 
Laura lay back against her pillows.  She stared at it for a few moments 
before her hand slowly turned the key.  Her fingers gingerly lifted the 
lid and removed the contents.  Only a letter and a smaller box were 
inside.  Laura opened the tri-folded letter and began to read.
        "My dearest Laura,
        "Where do I begin to tell you the things that will change your 
entire vision of your life?  I haven't known when might be the right 
time to tell you, but if you're reading this, then my own life has come 
to and end, and it is only fair you have the chance to find your true 
        Laura looked up, confused but enrapt.  Whatever this meant, she 
was fascinated.  She began to read again.
        "Your mother was not an actress, and she did not die.  To this 
day, I'm not certain what she really was, only that I loved her dearly.  
The name she used, and the one that appears on your birth certificate, 
was Vanessa Dare.  It is the only name I ever knew.  But she told me she 
was a Princess of Amber and that you were also of royal Amber blood.
        "I know nothing of this Amber but that Vanessa said it was the 
one True City, and that when it was your time to know, you would find a 
way there.  When she left, she said she had other, royal, duties to 
attend to.  She has visited, on occasion, to spend a night with me, to 
check on you, though she's not been back now for many years.  On her 
last visit she told me she was pleased with you.  'She will find Amber,' 
Vanessa said before she left again.  'When you feel the time is right, 
give her this.
        "*This* was the small box of playing cards you will have found 
with this letter.  Vanessa asked me not to open them and I never have.  
Find your destiny, child, and you may one day find your mother.  
All my love,
        Laura read it again and again, trying to make sense of it, 
failing.  Her mother, a Princess of Amber.  What was Amber?  What was 
Laura?  She had no answers but the word, 'Amber' struck a chord deep 
within her at a place she couldn't reach.  It had meaning for her, but 
she'd no idea what that meaning might be.  Amber... it was a pull at her 
        With fumbling fingers Amber opened the card box.  She gasped as 
she fanned out the deck.  This was not a deck for bridge or poker.  It 
looked more like the Major Arcana of the decks of Tarot cards she saw in 
some of the  shops she visited.  But these drawings were like none she'd 
ever scene.  Their artistry brought them to life.  She began examining 
each one.  Some were of places, but most of people.  Men and women 
dressed in what looked liked Medieval or Renaissance costume, their 
faces vivid and lifelike.  These were real people she was sure, but who 
were they.  Were they from Amber, as her mother claimed to be?  She 
felt, staring at them, as if she should know.  Laura examined each card 
in minute detail.
        Then she came to a face, the face of a young man with sandy 
blond hair and blue eyes.  Laura leaned forward, looking even more 
closely.  This face seemed familiar to her.  She felt she had met this 
young man sometime, someplace, but try as she might, she could not 
recall where.  She sighed in frustration.  Laura's memory and gift for 
quick specific recall was well-known.  But this, this which might be the 
most important to her, this she could not remember.  She knew only that 
when she *had* met him, she had had the feeling that this one, unlike 
all the others she knew, was real.  Laura stared and stared at the 
serious, yet friendly face on the card.
        She was concentrating hard when the deck seemed to grow cold in 
her hands.  She gripped it even harder, waiting to see if her body heat 
warmed the strange coldness she felt.  It didn't.  The deck grew colder 
yet.  The face of the young man began to shimmer.  Laura's senses were 
whirling.  She felt dizziness overcome her as the face she looked at 
came to life.
        "Who is there?" he asked.  "Who calls?"
        "I don't know," she whispered.  "Help me..... help me."
        A hand reach out to her.  Frightened but determined, Laura 
clasped it and......
        .....found herself a few seconds later in a bawdy, raucous 
saloon, standing across from the face in the picture.
        "Who are you?" he asked kindly.
        "My name is Laura.  I am.... of Amber, I'm told.  But I don't 
know who I am.  I was directed to find Amber.... the True City.  I don't 
know what that means, but my mother left word that I must try.   Can you 
help me?"
        "This is Amber," he answered.  His arms caught the beautiful 
blonde young woman as she fainted.
Laura Davega
Laura of Amber