Fri May 10 11:07:23 1996
Subject: [AM] Small Steps Towards Discovery
        Laura wakened early the next morning.  She had anticipated 
having some difficulty sleeping, but she'd been wrong.  Her sleep had 
been deep and she felt energetic, though restless.  She was here, in the 
place she had sought, Castle Amber, but she had more questions than 
before.  She thought of lounging in the large, comfortable bed for a 
while, but her curiosity wouldn't allow it.
        Swinging her legs over the side of the bed, Laura looked around 
the room she'd been given.  It was elegantly furnished in the period 
that in her own world had been know as Louis Quatorze.  Definitely 
French in nature, the bedstead, dresser, armoire, night tables, and 
escritoire were of a rich brown wood, intricately carved.  The large 
mirror that hung above the dresser was framed in gold and carved in the 
same manner.  On the west wall, across from the bed, was a large stone 
fireplace, its mantle made from white marble.  A set of gilded tools for 
lighting, stoking, and damping sat to its right.  The room was furnished 
very much in Laura's taste; only the colors, shades of blue from pale to 
deep indigo, were not hers.
        The heavy, brocaded drapery that hung on the northern wall 
opened with a light pull of the braided gold cord that fell from its 
right cornice.  The large bay window opened onto a panorama of 
mountains, valleys, and lush green forests.  She wondered what might lay 
in that rugged, beautiful terrain, and she knew suddenly that she'd have 
ample time to find out.
        She opened a door to the left of her bed and was relieved and 
delighted to find that though there was no electricity in the Amber, 
apparently they did have modern plumbing.  Impatient for answers, Laura 
opted for a shower.  She did look longing at the sunken tub, but there 
would be time for a good long soak later.
        "Now, what do I wear?" she pondered.  The lounging robe she'd 
arrived in would simply not do, she was sure, but where she could find 
the right clothes and what she'd use to buy them were among the many 
questions Zachary had not answered last night.  Exploring the room 
further, she found a closet.  Several items of clothing hung inside.  
They varied in style, fabric, color, and size, but all had the same look 
of the Renaissance that she'd already come to associate with Amber.
        With the practiced hand of one who'd spent many hours shopping, 
Laura flipped through the hangers until she found a dress that suited 
her.  It was of a pink and silver taffeta.  The full skirt fell to the 
floor, while the neckline of the fitted bodice dipped low.  the sleeves 
were long and puffed at the shoulders, and a pink sash hung waiting to 
be fastened into a bow around her waist.  The colors were perfect and 
her expert eye told her the garment would fit as if made for her.  
Donning it quickly, she spun in front of the mirror and was satisfied 
with what she saw.  She pinned her bow and arrow brooch just above her 
left breast and slipped her pack of cards into the of the skirt's deep 
        "Let's see, she said to herself upon leaving the room.  "He said 
the Dining Hall was on this floor."
        Laura thought about Zachary as she wound her way along the 
hallways.  She remember their first meeting after her archery 
tournament.  He'd been charming and she'd had a lovely lunch with him 
and her father.  She'd remembered Zak Random for quite a long time.
        He had been kind last night, too, since he'd helped her get from 
her Earth to Amber.  Yet she was quite aware that though they'd talked a 
great deal the night before, he had really said very little.  He seemed 
to have accepted that the other girl, Karina, was who she claimed to be 
-- he'd even called her 'Cousin.'  That told Amber that Zachary was a 
royal.  Karina had said clearly that she knew her father to be Prince 
Corwin.  Laura had no idea who her mother might be -- perhaps that was 
the difference.  Did he not believe her?  And how could she prove it?
        Questions.  So many question, so few answers.  But the answers 
were there to find and Laura would find them.  She hoped Zachary would 
        "Good morning, Laura.  Did you sleep well?"
        It was the young man of her thoughts greeting her as she opened 
the door to the Dining Hall.
        "Yes, thank you, I did.  The room was very comfortable and I 
feel wonderful this morning."
        "The dress becomes you," he said with a smile?"
        "You like?"  She smiled in return and twirled around for him, 
enjoying the swishing sound of the taffeta as it moved.
        "Would you like some breakfast?"
        "Would  I?  I'm ravenous!"
        Zachary guided her to a buffet which housed steaming bins of 
eggs cooked in every manner on might want, accompanied by bacon, ham, 
steak, potatoes, and freshly baked breads and bun of all kinds.  Laura 
heaped her plate full and sat down with Zachary.  For the first several 
minutes, she turned her attention fully to her meal.  Zachary watched 
her eat with interest.  She seemed to have the appetite of a royal.
        Zachary made pleasant conversation while they ate, asking about 
her life back on Earth.  She told him the story of her father's death 
and how it had led her to Amber.  He sympathized and expressed his 
regrets for her loss, but still he volunteered nothing of importance.  
When she'd had her fill both of food and of small take, Laura leaned 
back in her chair and sipped her third cup of coffee, sugar sweetened 
and topped with a large gob of whipped cream.
        "What do I do next, Zachary?  Are you going to help me find out 
who I am?"
        "I'll help you, my dear, but I have some business I must attend 
to first this morning.  Perhaps you may want to stroll about the 
grounds.  There are some lovely gardens."
        "I'd like to see them," Laura responded after considering it for 
a few moments, "but I think I'd prefer to go back to the Library, if I 
        Laura's voice was cultured and courteous, her manner that of a 
guest who didn't wish to presume, but a fount of impatience was welling 
up in her.  If he was going to put her off again, she'd jolly well begin 
her own investigations of this place called Amber.
        "Of course," he agreed.  "I'll be happy to escort you there if 
you're quite sure you've had enough to eat."
        "Escort me or watch me?" was what she thought, but what she said 
was, "Oh, more than enough.  I've always had a good appetite.  This was 
all utterly delicious."
        He offered her his hand to help her rise and then his arm.  
Together they strolled back to the Library.  He left her at the door, 
telling her she was welcome to examine any of the books in the main room.
        When the door closed behind her, Laura walked around for a bit, 
getting the feel of the room.  She looked closely at the fine paintings 
hung on the walls in a very well-planned arrangement that gave the 
appearance of being totally random.  Several she recognized as being 
original Old Masters from her own world.  There was a Degas ballet scene 
that was one of her favorites and some wild El Greco's that seemed to 
fit the aura of this place.  She also noted the set of drums in the 
corner.  Zachary had said they belonged to the King.  Laura couldn't 
help wondering if the monarch might come to play while she was here.  
She suddenly felt with great certainty that she would spend many hours 
in this library.
        Examining the shelves, Laura thought about what she wanted to 
know and where she wanted to start.   she 
asked herself.  
        Having set her initial priorities, Laura looked again among the 
volumes that filled the bookshelves.  She selected two:  "A Visitor's 
Tour of Amber," and "Thumbnail Sketches of the Children of Oberon."  She 
removed them from the shelves and sat down at a long table which looked 
to be of highly polished oak.  Laura chose first the book about the 
people.  She began to read descriptive passages abut the Elder Princes 
and Princesses.  Her hand slipped into her pocket to retrieve the deck 
of cards.  Spreading them out on the table, she began to match faces 
with names.
        First she looked at the men for she knew she would want to spend 
more time on the women.  For a while she stared, transfixed, at the 
cards themselves.  They held a fascination for her she couldn't 
explain.  There was knowledge in the eyes that seemed to look back at 
her... and power.  As it had last night, her left hand began to move as 
if she held pen in hand.  She was hardly aware of this movement until 
she felt a desire building inside her strong and demanding.
        "I would like to be able to draw them," she state to no one but 
herself and the walls, then wondered if these particular walls had ears.
        As she read the somewhat amusing, highly irreverent character 
sketches in the book, Laura found it fairly easy to put name to 
portrait.  It wasn't difficult to spot the lean-faced, long-haired 
Benedict, somber, unsmiling, Defender of Amber.
        The red-haired brothers, Bleys and Brand were just as easy for 
her.  The book said Brand was dead, as was the manipulator Eric, and the 
seaman, Caine.
        There was no mistaking Corwin.   He looked like the one claiming 
to be his daughter, and the silver rose that held his cloak about his 
throat was identical to her locket.  They were all handsome men, but 
Corwin was head and shoulders above them in that department.
        "What a hunk!"  Laura voiced her admiration, a gleam of interest 
in her eye.  Somehow it didn't seem to matter if he might be her uncle 
or half-uncle or some such.
        She pinpointed Gerard and Julian, and then the one called 
Random.  The book said he was now the King of Amber.  He didn't look 
very kingly in her trump, rather more like some of the lounge lizards 
she'd met when she'd accompanied her father to Las Vegas.  Perhaps he 
had changed over the years.
        Laura's head snapped up.  Random!  King Random.  Zak Random, the 
young man she'd lunched with on earth.  Someone could as easily sell her 
a controlling interest in the Brooklyn Bridge as convince her there 
wasn't a connection between King Random and Zak Random.  What that 
connection was was added to her list of answers to be gotten.
        Forcing her concentration back to the cards, Laura found herself 
looking at the face of a powerful, heavily bearded older man.  She 
stared, transfixed by the face of the one that must be Oberon.  This 
man, if things were as they seemed, was her unknown maternal 
grandfather.  The book said he, too, was dead.  Laura suddenly wondered, 
for no reason she could fathom, if that was really true.
        That took care of the males royals.  The book mentioned a few 
others, notably Finndo and Osric, but it said they were long dead, and 
there were no cards for them.
        Laura stood and walked around a bit.  It was time to look at the 
sisters.  There were only four... would one of them stand out as the 
mother she had to find?  She spread the four cards in front of her.  
Each woman was a beauty, unique and very different from the others.
        She looked first at the one called Llewella, easy to spot with 
her jade green hair and skin.  The book said she lived mostly in a city 
beneath the Great Sea, a city called Rebma.  Not this one, Laura 
thought.  Dad would surely have mentioned if my mother was green- 
skinned.  Unless, of course, the royal family could change their 
appearance.  She just didn't know yet what was possible.
        The black-haired Dierdre was next.  Laura hoped it wasn't 
Dierdre since the book listed her as having died.  She looked somewhat 
like Corwin and Eric.
        Fiona and Flora.  Flora or Fiona.  Why did she feel it was one 
of these two?  The fiery redhead was Fiona, sister to Bleys and Brand, 
according to "Thumbnail Sketches."  She had a look of wisdom and fierce 
determination about her.
        Flora, she was exquisite.  An only child, the book said, whose 
mother had died when she was born.  Golden hair tinged with reddish 
highlights,  eyes as blue as the sky.  Laura felt an affinity here, but 
was there one, or was she seeing something she wanted to find?
        Her eyes roamed back and forth over the four cards.  Llewella, 
Diedre, Fiona, Flora.
        "Which of you is it?" she cried out.  "And why aren't you here 
to tell me?  Why did you never come to see me and tell me who you were 
and who I really am?"
        "I do understand how hard it must be for you, Laura.  I'd like 
to help you."
        She hadn't heard Zachary come into the Library.  Nor had she 
realized that several hours had passed.
        "I need to find out who I am, Zachary, and what I am."  Her 
voice was calm and quiet, but there was a tone of greet need in it.  She 
smiled at him.  "I'm not the most patient of people.  New Yorker, you 
        She faced the young man with a look of expectancy.
Laura Davega
Laura of Amber