Fri May 10 11:06:58 1996
Subject: [AM] The High Road to Amber
     It was time.
     Julianna stood on the stone and mortar balcony, her arms apart, her 
hands gently resting upon the parapets of the ancient castle.  Below 
her, in the evening darkness, the lights of the city of Avalon twinkled 
and glowed with a life of their very own.  A warm breeze stirred her 
long, black hair, and it ruffled ever so slightly, lifting and falling 
back into place as if by magic.
     She gazed into the evening sky, the sun long having made its decent 
far into the horizon.  Above, a moon illuminated the night sky with its 
cold, white light, casting long, dim shadows across the balcony.
     Yes, it was time.
     She turned, a porcelain silouhette against the moonlit night, and 
with a graceful stride stepped back through the balcony doors and into 
her comfortable suite.  Her evening gown was comfortable, if not 
revealing; two long slits up the sides of her legs gave her freedom of 
movement in the long, black gown, and the torso was tight enough to be 
alluring, but loose enough as not to be restrictive.
     Eyes darker than the blackest of nights saught something, and 
wuickly found it.  In a single, elegant gesture, she sweeped a small 
trvale bag up from the bedside table, turned, and headed towards the door.
                                  * * *
     "Miss Angeline Giovanni, room 913.  I would like be bill prepared 
please.  I will be departing within the hour."
     "One moment please, Miss Giovanni," the desk clerk replied with a 
ready smile.  "Yes, here we are."  He handed a datapadd to Julianna 
which she glanced at quickly, giving the illusion that all was in 
order.  She gave him a slight nod, and handed him a credit chip.
     Angeline Giovanni was a name she commonly used whilst travelling in 
shadow.  Like many of her relatives, she preffered the use of pseudonyms 
during her journeys.  It gave her a sense of anonymity.  Of course, not 
that it truly mattered.  There were none here on Steele, let alone this 
shadow, that would know her true identity even if she were to tell them 
     As for the credit chip, that had been a simple matter, really.  
When she had first arrived in this shadow, she had simply thought it 
likely that in her room would be a small travel bag containing a 
reasonable quantity of the local currency, something which seemed to be 
a form of money called credits.  It had been little trouble to establish 
an account for herself during her tenure here once she'd possessed the 
necessary capital.
     Perhaps, if she were one of her relatives, she would not have 
concerned herself with such menial matters as submitting payment for 
services rendered.  After all, one might argue, what did it matter?  She 
would be departing this shadow shortly, and it was only one of an 
infinite number of similar shadows; if she wished to return, she coukd 
simply journey to a shadow that was virtually identical.
     But that was not her way.
     "Leaving so soon, Miss Giovanni?" a voice asked from behind her.
     "I am afraid so, Mister Cantari," she answered, recongizing the 
handsome, well suited man approaching her from behind.  "I have other 
business which requires my attention."
     "A shame," he said.  "I do hope you enjoyed your stay with us."
     "Most certainly, Mister Cantari.  You have done a wonderful job 
with Majestic Peak.  My congratulations to you, and Miss Avalon.  And to 
Miss Sloane, on your impending nuptuals."
     "Ah, you've heard I see."
     Julianna allowed herself a slight smile.  "Of course, Mister 
     "I do hope we will be seeing you again in the near future," he 
said, with a pleasant smile.
     "Of course.  Of that you can be assured."
     "Very good.  Good evening."
     Julianna returned the pleasantry, and watched as Brad Cantari moved 
off, no doubt to meet his beloved for dinner.  He was certainly an 
interesting man, of that she could be certain.  But it was his partner, 
Guinivere Avalon, who had interested primarily.  Certain aspects of her 
behaviour, and her appearance, had led her to suspect that the owner of 
Majestic Peak was none other than a shadow of herself.  During her 
extensive travels, she had encountered such beings, and they always 
intrigued her.  However, her suspicion was impossible to confirm, and 
she doubted that she would ever know for certain.
     She nodded politely to the desk clerk as he returned her card, and 
requested that Majestic Peak retain it for her until she could return.  
The clerk gave her a strange look, but quickly acquiesed to the request.
     She thanked him, and departed the lobby.
                                  * * *
     Gracefully, she slipped the ankle length black trenchcoat over her 
shoulders, letting it drap there much as a cape would, its sleeves 
hanging empty.  A single broach adorned the coat; a small pin of a black 
orchid, its fine petals delicately carved out of onyx, and set in silver.
     Her suite now just as she left it, she stepped back out into the 
cool night air of Steele.  She stood there for a moment, admiring the 
view, before she closed her eyes.
     She cleared her mind, purging it of all thought until nothing but 
utter solitude and darkness remained.  Gone were the sounds of Avalon 
and the Majestic Peak.  Gone was the light of the moon and her suite 
behind her.
     Slowly, in her minds' eye, a pinpoint of blue fire erupted from out 
of the darkness, igniting from nothingness.  That point began to move, 
slowly at first, leaving a trail of blue fire in it's wake as it 
progressed across the blackness.  As it continued, it slowly began to 
pick up speed, moving with a certainty all its own as it began carving 
out a fiery design in her mind.  It twisted and curved, drawing straight 
lines at some points, turning sharply at others.  Drawing in deliberate 
ind intricate pattern.
     The Pattern.
     Time seemed to halt as Julianna continued to call the sign of the 
Pattern up in her mind, drawing its power to her.  After what seemed to 
be both but a moment, and an eternity, the cycle was complete.  The 
Pattern was now within her.
     In her mind, the Pattern began to shift.  Not in shape, or form, 
but rather in angle.  She had been looking down upon it from above as 
she had drawn it; now, her point of view was moving, the Pattern growing 
larger while being squeezed as she moved from above it to in front of 
it, standing upon the same horizontal plane.
     At the beginning.
     With deliberate concentration, she took her first mental step, 
commencing her journey on her walk of the Pattern of the mind.
     Walking the Pattern of the Mind, also refered to some as Pattern 
Mindwalking, was quite different than walking the Pattern of Amber, at 
least to Julianna.  It was strenuous, but not in the same sense as the 
waling the true Pattern.  Rather, it called upon the strength of the 
psyche to push through the veils, and proceed along the Pattern.  It 
required almost total and complete concentration to perform, and a 
willpower far greater than that of any being of shadow to execute.  Any 
lapse in conentration would result in a shattering of the image, and 
while that was not nearly as hazardous as halting while walking the true 
Pattern, it required the walker to redraw the pattern in her mind.
     Julianna continued along the blazing path, proceeding step by step 
in her minds' eye.  With each brish of resistence, she pushed further, 
steeling her mind against the current of energies.
     She twisted and turned, following the line of the Pattern, until, 
at long last, she reached her goal, her chosen destination.
     The centre of the Pattern.
     She allowed herself a moment's respite, a chance to garner her wits 
after that brief contest of wills, before proceeding.
     She chose her destination, picturing it in her mind to lend it 
strength, and willed herself there.
     She opened her eyes.
     Sunlight beat down upon her from a cloudless sky of intense blue.  
The sea which stretched to the horizon was of a similar shade, and 
devoid of both islands and vessels.  The air was still; indeed, no sound 
but her own heartbeat filled her airs it was so quiet.
     Below, deep within the confines of a flat, barren rock, the 
gold-pink lines of the Pattern were drawn in perfect form.
     The Primal Pattern.
     Julianna glanced downwards, and was satisfied to see that her black 
coat had itself shift forms.  It was now her familiar long, black cloak, 
its hood drawn back.  The black orchid, formerly a broach upon her coat, 
was now the clasp that bound the cloak around her neck.
     She threw her shoulders back, tossing the cloak over her shoulders 
so it hung from her neck like a cape.  Her gown was similarly 
transformed; while still elegant, it was now more in the style of what 
some would call rennaissance.
     Carefully, she descended to the waiting Pattern.
     Once she had reached it, she halted, and drew a deep breath.  This 
was what she saught; to walk the Pattern once again, to purge her mind 
and refresh her spirit with what it was to be of the blood.  It had been 
too long, she thought, as she prepated herself for her foray.
     With a final breath, her brow furrowed in concentration, she took 
her first step.
     Immediately, she could feel the surge of energy pulsate through her 
very being.  The Primal Pattern was not like the others.  There were no 
sparks, no flaring of fire as one walked its length.  But the 
energy...the energy was more powerful, more pure...
     With each step, she could feel its power...she felt rejuvinated, 
     She continued onwards, applying more force to her steps as the 
pressures of the First Veil.  Nine paces...ten paces...
     She felt an ease as she passed through, and exhaled the breath 
she'd been unaware she'd been holding in.  Not allowing herself to 
pause, she continued unabated. has begun...the memories...she could feel them, see 
them, touch them as they rivitalized her mind, her soul...
     The Second Veil.  She felt her will and her endurance being tested 
to the limit as she commenced the three final turns of this obstacle.  
She continued, though, pushing...
     And she was through.  She kept going, stepping into a curve on her 
final approach to the Grand Curve.
     Fifteen paces later, she was there.  As she proceeded, following 
the gold-pink lines of the very Pattern Dworkin had inscribed with his 
blood so many centuries ago, she could feel her rejuvination, and 
growing exhaustion.  Part of her wished to halt, take a break, regain 
her breath, but she refused to allow herself the luxury.  She would 
not...could not succumb to the Pattern.  To do so was to risk certain 
     The random hot and cold flashes she began to feel informed her that 
she was approaching the Final Veil.  She coninued, fighting with all of 
her might angainst the considerable resistence she felt...the three 
curves.....and now the turns...
     She slowed, fighting the forces that sought to prevent her from 
completing the circuit.  But she would not stop.  She fought...
     And finished the turns...the Final Veil...
     She focused her mind, narrowing her field of vision down to one 
thing and one thing only.  The Pattern.  That was all that mattered.  
Nothing else.  She pushed, drawing upon all of her energy, both psychic 
and physical, to do so...forcing her way past the resistence...past the 
FInal Veil...
     She succeeded.  Now, just a few more steps...
     She felt herself faltering, weakened by the ordeal.  Her legs were 
like lead weights as she dragged herself the final leg of her journey.  
And still she went on...pushing...pushing...
     With a final burst of power, she stepped into the centre.  The 
centre of the Primal Pattern, the centre of all order.
     She revelled in it.  The purity.  The absolute perfection.  The 
     And, then, she was gone.
                                  * * *
     Quietly, Vialle walked along one of the many corridors of Castle 
Amber, the only sound the slight sweepingof her dress against the stone 
floor.  She knew these corridors well, and needed no guide or assistance.
     She paused for a moment, tilting her head slightly.  Something was 
not quite right.  There was a sound present, one which was not normally 
so in this part of the Castle.
     She followed the sound, her hand running softly against the stone 
walls for guidence when she required it.
     Quickly, she found the source of the sound.  It was originating 
from Julianna's apartment, which had remained unoccupied for some years 
     Vialle smiled softly as she recognize the sound of her niece 
breathing in deep slumber.  Evidently she had forgotten to close the 
door.  She must have been exhausted.
     With an innaudible chuckle, Vialle closed the door.
NRPG: Well, she's here.  Not quite as good as I'd hoped, but I still 
have to get used to writing more descriptivly.  Alas, if I only had 
Mister Zelazny's skill...
Feel free to forward this to anyone relevant