Sat May 25 18:56:44 1996
Subject: [AM] The Plot Thickens
Scene: Castle Amber
     "You're going to shift shadows to where Karina is?"  Laura asked 
rhetorically.  "Could I accompany you?"
     Julianna gave Zachary a look, indicating her general opinion of the 
request while leaving it in the Crown Prince's hands to decide.  'It is 
too soon,' her eyes told him.  'And there is much at stake.  But the 
decision is yours, cousin.'
     He sighed deeply.  "Something is going on here.  Something big.  It 
would be best if you learn how to shift shadows as soon as possible.  A 
trial by fire, as it were.  Julianna, it may be best if you go ahead of 
us. If Karina needs help, it's best she get it as quickly as possible."
     "Agreed," Julianna replied with a slight nod of her head.  "You may 
find it easier to follow my path.  But I shall ready myself and leave 
immediately."  Julianna nodded to her two cousins and departed.
     With a quick, graceful step, Julianna walked back to her apartment 
to ready herself for her journey.  Unlike the majority of her cousins, 
her own apartments were located on the same floor as the library, near 
those of the elder Amberites, so the jaunt was a quick one.  Closing the 
door behind her she removed the black dress she had been wearing and 
slipped into her riding clothes; a white, lace shirt with frills upon 
the neckline, cuffs and down the centre of the chest; a black, velvet 
vest over top it; black riding tights and her black riding boots.  She 
added a touch of colour to her outfit by tying a dark crimson sash about 
her waste, one end of it hanging down to her knees.  With a silver clasp 
she tied her hair behind her head, letting it cascade in a singular, 
long tail down the length of her back. Finally, she adorned her velvet 
cloak, attaching it with her black orchid clasp at her neck and throwing 
it over her shoulders as to not obstruct her movements.
     Now properly clothed, she departed her apartments and made post 
haste for the Royal Stables where the familiar Mikal Grube was tending 
the horses.
     "Mi'Lady," he said with a slight bow as she slipped into the stable 
parlour.  "It has been some time since I saw you last."
     She nodded silently in agreement.  When she and her younger cousin 
Karina had taken their ride the day before, Mikal had not been present 
when they had arrived to collect their steeds.
     Now, however, she was glad that he was available, for her was the 
only one who could offer the assistence she required at that moment.
     "Is she ready?" she asked.
     Mikal smiled broadly and chuckled quietly at her comment.  "He, 
mi'lady.  He.  You forget, it has been some years since you departed.  
The steed I now tend for you is the grandson of the Twilight you 
     She nodded once more, forgetting for a moment how drastic the time 
differences between Amber and shadow could be.  Her former horse and 
stalwart companion, Twilight, had been left in Grube's care when she had 
last departed so many years ago, and he had promised to take care of her 
and any of her children in her name.  It seemed as if he had been good 
to his word.
     He gestured for her to follow him to the back of the stable, and 
she did so.  "What is his name?" she asked as they proceeded into the 
darkened building.
     "Shadowdancer," he answered simply as he stopped at their 
destination. She peered into the small cubicle where the aforementioned 
horse was kept. His coat was a deep, dark scarlet that reminded her of 
the colour of blood. His mane and tale, however, where an inky black, as 
were his eyes, which now gazed calmly back out at her.  While not overly 
large, her was well muscled and sinewy; most definatly a riding horse.
     "Has he been properly trained?" she asked the stable master.
     "I followed the regimen you left for me to the letter, Lady 
Julianna," Grube answered.  "As was his father before him, he has been 
trained in the exact manner you instructed."
     Once again she nodded, not taking her eyes off the creature who's 
grandmother she had discovered in shadow so many years previous.
     Breaking eye contact with the beast, she turned back to Grube.  "My 
most sincere thanks, Mikal.  You have kept your word to me, and I am 
indebted to you."
     Mikal smiled once more.  "Think nothing of it, mi'lady.  'Twas the 
least I could do for a member of the Royal family."
     "Nevertheless, thank you.  I shall saddle and prepare him myself."
     He nodded and left her to it, knowing better than to offer to do it 
himself.  Opening the gate, she stepped into the diminutive cubicle and 
placed her hand on Shadowdancer's forehead while gazing deep into his 
     'Hello, my friend,' she said to him, touching his mind with her own 
through the eye and skin contact they possessed.  She let the thoughts 
of what they were about to do pass into his mind, and she did her best 
to fortify his will with her own and lend her some of her own calm.  
However, only time would tell if Grube's training had been sufficient.
     'Dancer whinied in responce.
     It took her a few minutes to properly saddle him and ready them 
both for the journey ahead.  Guiding him out of the stables, she stepped 
into a stirrup and slipped on his back.
     "To Arden and Shadow," Julianna commanded quietly and, as if 
understanding her, Shadowdancer began a steady trot towards the mighty 
forest that surrounded Mount Kolvir.
     Julianna became quickly impressed by how well 'Dancer knew the 
paths of the Forest Arden.  It was obvious that he had spent much time 
here and he knew the forest far better than she, instinctivly taking 
paths left and right, paths which would take them away from Castle Amber 
and the Pattern of Amber and into the mutible multiverse of Shadow.
     As 'Dancer took her deeper into Arden, Julianna began to 
concentrate more vividly on the task at hand.  While Karina appeared 
unreachable by Trump, there was nothing that they had experienced so far 
that suggested that she could not by reach by travelling through 
shadow.  And, as that appeared to be their only option, that left them 
with the difficulty of the hellride.  Perhaps, if they had more 
knowledge of what exactly had occured and what had happened to the 
unicorn the three of them had seen with Karina (which, until she knew 
otherwise, Julianna was going to assume was the Unicorn of Amber), they 
would be able to take a more leisurely route in locating their errant 
cousin.  However, time was of the essence if something had indeed 
happened to the unicorn.  Thus, hellriding was the only real choice left.
     This, of course, created other problems.  Problems which were only 
enhanced by Laura's presence on this journey.
     It was more than possible that if someone or something had gone to 
the trouble in isolating Karina from the Trumps, they would attempt to 
block other contact as well.  This, of course, was assuming that 
whatever was doing this could shift shadow, which Julianna had assumed.  
If this was the case, she had to be prepared to encounter obstacles in 
her path, obstacles which could be potentially quite dangerous if not 
     Now, if she had been making this journey alone, or it was simply 
Zachary who was accompanying her than she would have not been so 
concerned; after all, she knew that there was little in the way of 
shadow that she could not handle, and she was confident in the Crown 
Prince's ability to take care of himself as well.  However, Laura had no 
experience at this; her presence could easily be a liability to Zachary 
if they were to come accross any blockages in their path.
     This would require her to clear the path before them to ensure that 
they encountered no such difficulties.  This, of course, was the main 
reason that she had agreed to depart before the others; her own skill at 
manipulating shadow was more adept than that of Zachary, and while it 
would be draining, she possessed the necessary ability to clear the way 
for them.
     As she rode she closed her eyes, clearing her mind of all conscious 
thoat and letting the motion of 'Dancer's movements calm her and put her 
into a meditative state.  Her mind now calm, she called up the fiery 
image of the Pattern in her mind's eye, visualizing every twist and turn 
of the eldritch sigil.  It burned and fired in her mind, charging her 
blood with it's power as she called upon it.
     Then, keeping the burning image in her mind, she called up a vision 
of Karina, pulling up an image of her when they had first met.  She 
superimposed this image onto the fiery Pattern, keeping both string in 
her mind and distinct with one another whilst intergrating them.
     Absently, her hand reached for her neck and grasped the thin chain 
that lay around in, pulling out the pendant she wore everpresently.  The 
Pattern etched in the centre of the pendant glowed slightly with the 
same fire of the pattern in Julianna's mind, and she let the pendant 
drop to her chest, atop her lace shirt.
     The images now consolidated in her mind, she touched theback of 
'Dancer's neck, whispering one word through the contact.
     With that, Shadowdancer launched into full gallop, and the two 
raced off into Shadow.
                                    * * *
     The trees parted as Julianna and her blood-red steed tromped slowly 
through the forest of the shadow they had ended up in.  She knew that 
they had finally reached their destination; she could virtually feel the 
substance of Karina's presence against the shadow of this world.
     Soon they slipped out of the forest and into a clearing.  Karina, 
having become alerted by the noise, faced them.  Her experession turned 
to one of relief as she recognized the rider.
     "Oh thank goodness you are here, Juliannna. I didn't know what to 
do" Kariana exclaimed and dropped the branch she'd been holding.
     "I am glad I made it," she said quietly without explaination.  
"Zachary and our other cousin are somewhere behind me.  They should be 
here shortly. Now let us see if we can do something else to help the 
     Julianna got down off Shadowdancer and went over to the unicorn. 
"It appears you managed to get out the arrows," she oberserved as she 
looked over the Unicorn's wounds, now partially healed.  "She should 
heal herself now. Now what happened?"
     Kariana shook her head. "I don't know, all I know is that I found 
myself here when Zachary tried to pull me thru and that there was a 
hunter and something else chasing the unicorn. I heard what sounded like 
a wolf coming close to the lake but then it backed off when a hunters 
horn called it."
     Julianna immediatly glanced at Karina at the last few words of her 
statement.  "A hunter's horn?" she asked.
     Karina nodded, not quite understanding the reference.  "Does that 
mean something?"
     "It might," she said cryptically.  "What did the wolf look like?"
     "I don't know.  I didn't get a good look at it, or any real look at 
it at all.  It just sort of sounded like a wolf."
     Julianna nodded, and turned back to the Unicorn.  After a few more 
moments of examinations, she seemed to furrow her dark brow.  Once 
again, she looked over to Karina.  "Cousin, do you still have the arrows 
you removed from the Unicorn?"
     Karina nodded, and moved to retreive them for her cousin.  Once she 
saw the three arrows she had tossed to the ground the night before, she 
gasped slightly.
     Julianna, picking this up, moved over to Karina and gazed at what 
she was looking at.  Three charred and burnt sticks that may have once 
been arrows but were now virtually unrecognizable as anything but 
kindling lay on the ground.
     "These are the arrows?"
     "They should be.  I put them right here, and this is nowhere near 
the fire."
     Julianna kneeled over the three blackened sticks and looked at them 
closely.  "It is as I suspected," she commented quietly.
     "What is?"
     "The arrows.  They were poisoned."
     "Poisoned?" Karina asked, a little incredulously.  "That doesn't 
look like any poison I've ever heard of.  Looks more like sulphuric acid."
     "It would take a poison of considerable potency to harm the 
Unicorn," Julianna continued.  "Assuming, of course, that the Unicorn 
could be harmed at all.  We know little of what she is."  She looked 
back to where the Unicorn lay and just stared at her for a moment before 
returning to her side.  As Karina joined her, Zachary and Laura appeared 
from out of the forest.
     "It would appear," she said, standing to greet them, "that the 
situation is more grave then we first thought."
NRPG: Well, enough for me .  Yes, Julianna did encounter obstacles 
on her hellride that she cleared for Laura and Zach but I don;t want to 
reveal what they were just yet .  Suffice it to say that she is very 
drained and tired, but is not showing it (she's just a little trooper, 
ain't she? )
Mistress of Pattern
Lady of Amber