Sat Jul 20 00:55:53 1996
Subject: [AM] Discoveries
        It was the wee hours of the morning when they returned to Castle 
Amber.  Two hellrides, an injured unicorn, and an attack by a manticora 
had been quite an introduction to shadow shifting.  Laura was 
exhausted.  Tovarich had been praised, cooled and given over to the 
expert care of Mikal Grube.  Rainpuddle and Shadowdancer were also being 
cared for.  The examination of the arrow would wait until morning.
        "I'll meet you in the Crime Lab after breakfast, Zachary."  Not 
even bothering to stifle her yawn, she turned to her two other cousins.  
"Goodnight, Julianna, Karina."
        Her cousins said their own goodnights, and Laura started up the 
main staircase towards her apartment.  Tired as she was, she paused for 
a moment before Flora's suite.  Tempted.
        Laura knew that the apartments of the royals were considered 
inviolate, their place of complete privacy.  But the need to learn more 
about her mother would not disappear.  The young Amberite knew she would 
enter these rooms.  But, alas, it would not be tonight.  She really did 
need sleep.
        Once in bed, though, sleep did not come instantly.  Partly she 
was still exhilarated from the hellrides.  It amazed Laura how quickly 
she'd become a true Amberite.  Already her past life on Shadow Earth 
seemed more a memory than the reality of her last eighteen years.  She 
knew she would return to that shadow from time to time.  It would be fun 
to spend time there as she now was, and, of course, there was Rusty.  
Word had come, was it only yesterday, that Bill Roth, Attorney to the 
Court of Amber, and friend to Prince Corwin, had died.  Perhaps Rusty... 
        With her head resting on the cool pillow, other, more 
disturbing, thoughts intruded on the image of Russell Mallory.  Thoughts 
of Lord Julian with his minions keeping an eye on them.  Julian's 
hunting horn being heard... where?  Why would a true Prince of Amber be 
hunting the Unicorn?  If, indeed the sound had been Julian's horn as 
both she and Karina had believed.  Yea or nay, there was trouble in 
Amber and that disturbed Laura more than she would have believed 
possible a few short days ago.
        After a while, the arms of Morpheus did gather her in, and Laura 
slept soundly and woke ready to face the new day with renewed energy.  
When she emerged from her bath, she was delighted to find that Audra had 
brought her up a breakfast tray laden with food.  Laura ate hungrily, 
then went straight to the laboratory which was on the same third floor 
as her apartment.  She brought the arrow with her.
        "Holy experiments, BatZach," she said, pleased to find her 
cousin already in the Crime Lab.  "Morning.  Is it just the two of us?"
        Zachary chuckled softly, realizing that of all his cousins, 
Laura was the one most likely to understand the meaning of Crime Lab.  
It had, after all, come from a television show from the shadow of her 
birth, a shadow his father, King Random, was quite fond of, himself.
        "Good morning, Laura.  For now, it seems to be.  I believe 
Karina went off in search of some things to replace her lost belongings, 
and one can never tell what Julianna will do.  She may be working on her 
problem in her own way, or she may join us here.  Have you eaten?  I 
didn't see you in the Dining Hall."
        "Of course," Laura grinned.  "Do any of us miss a meal if we 
don't have to?  Audra brought me up a tray."
        The castle's laboratory was, as expected, well equipped.  Laura 
took notice of the worktables, hand-written notebooks, jars and bottles, 
and other tools of the trade.  Some time spent here, she decided, and 
her own weapons could end up holding a few surprises.  The thought of 
the formulae she might find in some of those notebooks captured her 
attention for a few minutes.
        "Shall we take a look at the arrow, Laura?"
        "Yes, I've an idea.  I'd like to try scraping away some of 
charring and see if there's anything intact underneath.  If I give you 
the shavings, maybe you can tell what Shadows produce trees of that 
variety ... or at least where we can be sure they ~don't~ grow.  You'll 
surely have a much better idea of that than I," she continued, looking 
intently at her studious cousin.
        Zachary had traveled many Shadows, heard of more from his father 
and uncles, and knew the Castle Library better than anyone.  If they 
could identify the wood, even if he couldn't pinpoint its place of 
origin, he should at least be able to narrow it down.  The heir to the 
throne of Amber agreed to begin with his neophyte cousin's plan.
        It was painstaking work.  Slowly and carefully Laura worked, 
scraping away charred remains bit by it, fearful that too quick or too 
deep a pass of the tiny knife would erase forever any clue that might be 
hidden.  From time to time Zachary came and stood behind her right 
shoulder, watching as she worked.  Then he would sweep the shavings onto 
a piece of paper and return to his own worktable.  Several hours passed 
in near silence as they worked and the ritual repeated itself.
        Zachary's head popped up at the sudden sharp intake of Laura's 
        "You've found something," he declared.
        "Something," she answered softly, distantly, as if not even 
aware she was speaking.  Laura's hand had grasped a pen and she was 
drawing lines as she continued to look into convex lens that lay over 
the arrow shaft.  "Something.... I don't know....  something," she said 
        "It looks like some picture or symbol was etched into the wood," 
Zachary suggested as Laura moved her head to let him peer into the 
glass.  "But I can't make it out?  Can you?"
        "No.  A lot of it is gone.  That's why I'm drawing what I see."
        Laura finger stopped and she looked intently at her cousin.  If 
only she could trust him completely.  But he still kept his own reserve, 
telling her only what he decided she needed to know, and he was, after 
all, the one who'd inherit the Crown.  The histories she'd read had 
proven over and over again the lure of power to corrupt.  It was true in 
Shadows, perhaps ever more so in the True City.  
        Still, since they had met, Zachary had done nothing but help 
Laura learn, and at least for now, they seemed to be on the same side.  
Lady Laura knew nowhere near enough to try to do it all on her own.  
Zachary seemed intent on protecting the Unicorn, and Amber.  In this 
time and place, they were allies.
        "I have no pre-conceived notion of what this might be, Zachary, 
even on a subconscious level.  I don't know enough.  If I try to fill in 
the missing lines, whatever comes out will be without prior knowledge.  
See what I'm getting at?"
        He did.  She was quite correct.  If he tried it, his own 
memories might influence his hand.  If Laura did it, she'd be going on 
sheer instinct.  Zachary nodded at her to begin.  Laura picked up the 
pen and began to add in lines of the drawing where her eye suggested 
they were missing.
        "Why, that looks like a unicorn," Zachary exclaimed as part of 
the picture became recognizable.  Suddenly he was worried.  "Maybe even 
you have too much knowledge, Laura.  What happened last night could be 
affecting you."
        "Maybe, but I really don't think so ---- because there's more."  
Her hand flew again.  The lines that should be there seemed to jump into 
her mind, and Laura knew as the drawing developed that it was nothing 
she'd ever seen before.
        "Oh, Zachary, how terrible.  Look at it."
        But the prince was already looking at it as Laura looked at him, 
and Zachary looked worried.
        "It does mean something to you, doesn't it?"
        "It may," he answered, giving nothing away, as he looked at a 
drawing of a unicorn being torn apart by a lion.  "Yes, it's something I 
recognize, Laura, but I don't know what it means.  I'll have to think 
about this."
        Laura's impatience showed on her face.  Did she have to drag 
every bit of information out of every one of her cousins?
        "Oh, come on, Zachary.  Haven't I helped?"
        "Yes, you have, Laura.  But I really do have to think about what 
this might mean.  I'll tell you more after I have."
        And probably talk to Random, too, he thought to himself.  
Zachary did recognize the drawing.  It was the calling card of one named 
Dalt, one thought long dead.  Was he?  If he was, did he still have 
those who fought under his symbol?  Dalt had sworn to crush the House of 
Amber.  Would Julian conspire with such a one?  Or was it someone else 
who chose to use the sign of Dalt?
        Unwilling to speculate aloud, Zachary changed the subject.
        "You really do draw very well, Laura.  This isn't the first time 
I've noticed it."
        "It's always been a hobby of mine."  She allowed the change of 
subject since the new one was something she wanted to talk about anyway.
        "Which brings me to another point, Zachary.  I still have no 
trump.  When may I sit for you and how soon can you finish one?"
        "Yes, you should have one, and quickly," he agreed.  "In the 
face of current events, it's important for all of our newcomers to have 
their trumps designed as soon as possible.  You can sit for me this 
afternoon, if you will."
        Working on her trump should give his concentration a focus far 
from the trouble that was coming to Amber.  If he was forced to train 
all his attention on the design of a trump, the way might be clear for 
insights he would not find by trying.  It was a good idea and it was 
dangerous for Laura to be involved as she was without a trump of her own 
if she needed it.
        "This afternoon will be just perfect.  I'll change to the gown I 
want you to draw me wearing, and I'll come down to the Library.  But, 
that's not all," she continued.  A hand deposited itself lightly on 
Zachary's sleeve, a sign that Laura wanted his full attention.
        "It never is with you," he chided affectionately.  "I believe 
you want to learn everything there is to learn about Amber in a week.  
All right, what else is it you want?"
        "The trumps fascinate me," she confided.  "They're so alive, 
even the ones of places.  I want to be able to create trumps.  Will you 
teach me?"
        "Ever since I saw your first drawings here at the castle, Laura, 
I've thought you might have a talent for it.  Especially after the 
sketches you did of Karina.  It remained only to see if you have the 
inclination.  Trump design takes a combination of artistry, imagination, 
concentration and will.  It cannot be denied that you've demonstrated 
all of them, if a lack of prudence.  Yes, I will teach you."
        "When?" she demanded immediately.  "When do we start?"
        Zachary chuckled at his cousin's continued impetuosity and 
impatience and was about to reply when his expression went blank.  Laura 
watched as he put his hand out and another, larger one grasped it.  Then 
a tall, green-eyed young man was standing there with them, dressed in 
pre-medieval clothing.
        "I am called Ryan Fitzgerald," the newcomer announced.
        "Welcome, Ryan, I am Zachary of Amber."
        "Amber.  This be Amber?  'Tis where I was told to come."
        Laura's grey eyes seemed to glow silver with interest as she 
looked at this intriguing young man and saw a spark of interest in his 
as she moved to greet him.
        "Hello, Ryan.  I am Laura of Amber and I second Zachary's 
        Ryan took the proffered hand and bowed low over it.
        "A true pleasure to meet you, Lass."
        "You said your were told to come to Amber, Ryan.  By whom?" 
Zachary questioned.
        "By my father, though I've ne'er met the man," was the reply. 
        Ryan held out the trumps and the letter.  He was looking for 
answers just as Laura had been not very many days ago.  She and Zachary 
read the letter.  Both knew Latin, Zachary from his studies in the 
library, and Laura from her required class in high school.
        My Son
                My hope is that you find this gift well
                We have much to discuss, but fist, you
                must come home.  To Amber,
                Look to the Trumps for answers
                                        Your Father,
        The glance exchanged by Laura and Zachary was pregnant with 
significance.  Ryan's royal parent was male and his initial was B.  That 
would fit only Bleys, Benedict, or Brand.  One look at Ryan told the 
tale.  It was not one of the redheads.
        "What do you know of Amber," Laura asked gently.  Her memory of 
being exactly in his position was still very vivid.
        "I know nothing at all," he answered with a tone of regret.
        "Laura," said Zachary, "I really must go and speak to King 
Random about our discovery.... and about our apparent new cousin, too."
        "We do seem to be coming out of the woodwork, lately," she 
        "This may be a good time for you to be the teacher instead of 
the student," he suggested.
        "A wonderful idea, Zachary," she said, though she made a mental 
note to herself to bring up the trump design lessons again when she sat 
for her cousin that afternoon.  "Ryan, would you like to walk with me in 
the castle gardens, and I'll tell you about Amber?  And then we can have 
some lunch."
        Laura slipped her arm through Ryan's and looked up into his eyes 
as she waited for his answer.  The thought of spending several hours in 
his company was enchanting.  It was the last day of spring, and the 
gardens would be at their loveliest.
Laura of Amber
NRPG:  Troy, you mentioned that Ryan would take an interest in Laura, so 
here's your opportunity to start.  :)  I don't really know him very 
well, so I thought I leave off here for you to respond.  You know 
Laura's history, though Ryan doesn't, so have fun with whatever you'd 
like to do.
Chris:  Well, we had to find out SOMETHING about that arrow.  Some food 
for thought for Zachary.
Jason:  I figured Julianna might be pursuing her own avenues of 
investigation, but she could always pop in sometime if the mood should 
strike her.
Kat:  You mentioned that Karina would want to be off shopping for some 
new things, so I assumed that's where she'd go in the morning.