Tue Oct 22 23:19:29 1996
Subject: [AM] While Strolling Through the Park....
        A light breeze was blowing, cooling the warm summer air as Laura 
walked in the gardens just outside of Castle Amber, her arm linked 
through that of her uncle, Prince Bleys of Amber.  The soft sound of 
rustling leaves accompanied the heady scent of fragrant blossoms lifted 
and dispersed by the gentle wind.
        "It's quite a job young Zachary has taken upon himself, taking 
in all the newfound children of Amber and teaching them of the nature of 
reality.  I would think he is doing quite well in that regard though, " 
he asid, eyeing Laura.
        Laura was silent for a moment, pondering her answer, unsure why 
she felt so secretive around him.  Perhaps Corwin was right in that 
Amberites were born with an innate distrust of their relatives.  And 
yet, she didn't feel that way around Zachary, certainly not to this 
degree at least.
        "My cousin has been most kind and helpful," she offered 
cautiously. "To learn so suddenly that you are not what you've always 
believed and that the laws of the universe you know are wrong is 
overwhelming.  Without Zachary to help, I fear I may not have made the 
        "I believe you underestimate yourself, my dear.  Here but a few 
short weeks and already you have walked the Pattern and done a hellride. 
This speaks to your own inborn talents as well as my nephew's 
assistance. Not to mention your loveliness; you have the exquisite 
beauty expected in a Princess of Amber."
        Laura smiled at the increase in pressure of Bleys' hand on her 
arm and his openly admiring visual exploration of her body, gowned to 
reveal to the imagination what it concealed from the eye.  Was her 
uncle's offer of help to find her mother merely a carrot held out to 
entire her into a night's pleasure?  Or was it a disgused search for 
information?  The apparent offhand remark about Zachary... was Bleys 
curious about what his nephew, the Crown Prince was up to?  Had he taken 
note of the friendship growing between Zachary and Laura and was looking 
to glean information out of a new an inexperienced Princess?  Perhaps it 
was all of these, or none.
        "Why thank you, Uncle.  I hope I can live up to what is expected 
of a daughter of Amber."  Laura was at her most charming.
        Bleys was being equally charming and Laura decided she quite 
liked the rogue of Amber.  Liked, but didn't trust.  She remembered 
Corwin's account of Bleys conspiring with his two redhaired siblings, 
and their dealings with the Courts during the Patternfall War.  Nor had 
it been lost on her that her uncle had quickly turned the flow of the 
dinner conversation after Benedict had suggested that someone might be 
helping Dalt with his schemes.  Left unspoken, but not unthought, was 
that this someone could be of Amber.  Yet Bleys had airily suggested 
that it was well in the hands of Julian and Benedict and need cause them 
no undue or immediate concern.
        "I'm sure you shall, Laura, and not only in charm and grace.  
From what I've heard of your exploits since your arrival in Amber, I 
think you may well become one of our most adept royals."
        And thus one who bears watching, Laura thought to herself.  He 
knows what I've been up to.  Has he been having someone watch me and 
report to him?  Probably yes, but then it couldn't be considered 
unreasonable for the elders to take an interest in the welfare of the 
newcomers.  Does he know that I explored Flora's apartment?  Does 
anyone? This attention could be just what it appeared to be... or it 
could not.
        Bleys had presented her with a way to test the waters.  Laura 
decided to put a toe in.  She stopped and turned to face him, opening 
her eyes to their widest as she looked imploringly up at him, then wet 
her lips and gave him a warm smile.
        "I do know who my father was, but you can imagine, Uncle Bleys, 
how important it is to me to be certain which Princess is my mother, and 
then to meet her, if psosible.  If you can help, I'll be ever so 
        "I shall be happy to do what I can, my dear, if you will be so 
kind as to drop the 'Uncle."  Bleys will do nicely in private."
        "As you wish, Unc... Bleys," she responded demurely, and curtsied.
        "And now, the air grows cooler as the hour latens.  I shall 
escort you to your apartment."
        "Why, thank you."
        Laura took his arm once more and they strolled leisurely back 
inside the castle and up the Grand Staircase to the third floor.  
Stopping just outside her door, Laura thanked her uncle once again for 
taking such an interest in her.
        "What man could not take an interest in such as you, my lady? 
Perhaps you'll allow me to see how you have decorated your apartment?"
        Laura tilted her head downward, then raised only her eyes to 
look up at him.
        "I should be honored to have you visit me, Bleys, but the hour 
grows late and I have some matters to attend to before I retire.  
Another time, perhaps?"
        "Another time, most certainly."
        Laura turned to open the door of her apartment only to find 
herself spun about and in the embrace of her uncle.  Bleys bent his head 
and kissed her in a manner far from avuncular.  It left Laura a little 
breathless.  He was really quite good at it.
        "You will find it pay, my dear Laura, to have friends among your 
relatives.  The two do not always go hand in hand in Amber."
        The words were not threatening and the tone in which Bleys 
delivered them was almost a caress, but there was an undercurrent of 
steel beneath that Laura did not miss. She gave no hint of this as she 
answered him.
        "I hope that I may always count you among my friends at court, 
Bleys.  Thank you again for our stroll.  It has led to so many... 
possibilities.  I'll think carefully on all you have said to me tonight."
        With that, Laura opened her door and quickly closed it behind 
her, stopping to lean back against it for a moment.  What it had all 
been about she could hardly be sure, but what she did know was that she 
stimulated Prince Bleys' desires.  This was something any woman, royal 
or not, could use to her advantage.
        Laura did know who her mother was.  Her visit with Queen Vialle 
in her workshop had confirmed it to a moral certainty and Laura had told 
only Zachary.  Apparently neither her cousin nor her aunt had shared 
that information, at least not with Lord Bleys.  It would be interesting 
to see what information he brought her -- and what he wanted in return.
        Not at all displeased with the eents of the evening, Laura 
quickly disrobed.  Her apartment felt like home now, more like home than 
anything she'd ever felt before.  She had decorated it to taste but had 
left room for many additions.  Who knew what wonders she might find in 
Shadow to bring back?
        Wrapping herself in a white silk robe trimmed in scarlet at 
wrists and hemline, she tied the matching red shas about her waist.  Her 
bare feet sank in to the plush crimson carpet as she walked to the desk 
in her sitting room.
        Laura ran her hands over the polished ebony as she sat down.  
The workmanship was flawless, sleek back wood with mosaic inserts of 
pink and grey streaked marble, some to hold pen and pencil, some paper, 
others place on which to rest a glass with need for a coaster.  Mangus, 
fils, has personally attended to Laura's special requirement.  From the 
lack of reaction on the part of the younger Mangus, Laura assumed it was 
not an unusal request, coming from a member of the royal family.  So, in 
addition to being both exquisite and functional, Laura's desk had an 
assortment of hidden drawers and compartments, each with its own method 
of ingress.
        In her hand was her deck of trumps, the one she'd lost three 
hours to that afternoon.  Laura looked at them once again.  The cards 
had a fascination that called to her much as bow and arrow had done.  
But... what had she learned?
        Though cold, the cards felt alive in her grip.  That was it -- 
what she had learned.  The cards were not mere portraits, reproductions 
of people and places.  There was a life essence in them, the essence of 
the subject, even those that were inanimate. Laura would have to put her 
own feelings into the cards she designed.  She saw why Zachary had 
suggested she start with someone she knew well or cared deeply about.
        Zachary.  They got along well together, she and he, and seemed 
to make a good team in times of trouble.  He was amused, she knew, by 
her eager impetuosity and impatience to learn all that Amber had to 
tell.  Unlike their cousin, Julianna, however, Zachary did not 
condescend.  He merely cautioned.  He was a good teacher, instructing 
when necessary but allowing her to learn on her own when she could.  A 
teacher who suited his lessons to the learning style of his student.
        But what did she really know of him save that he was the Crown 
Prince, heir to the throne of Amber?  She knew, as everyone did, his 
thirst for knowledge and love of books.  It was also common knowledge 
that he was well liked among the elders.  But what were his plans?  He 
must have some. One day he would be King, or perhaps Regent if matters 
took Random away for an extended period as they had done Oberon during 
his reign. The thought of his eventual rule must have meaning for Zachary.
        What did she know of him personally?  Very little.  Aside from 
the books, what were his hobbies?  What did he look to for just plain 
fun?  Was he a sportsman?  Had he ever been in love?  He would be King 
and a king must have a queen.  Laura smiled to herself... an interesting 
        Who to draw?  She held the trumps and and fanned them in front 
of her face.  Three names crossed her mind... Zachary, Rusty, and.... 
Florimel. Which one to start with?
        There were good reasons for choosing any of them.  Zachary was 
close at hand; she had spend most of her recent days with him, and he 
was there for her to observe for detail.
        Rusty, she knew him so well. Russell Mallory, her attorney on 
Shadow Earth and her lifelong friend.  They had been intimate, and 
little gives as much knowledge of another as the joining of bodies in 
the act of love.  A trump of Rusty would forge a link to her Shadow of 
birth, too, and become a quick path for visits there.
        Flora.... the mother she didn't know and had seen only in 
drawings and a small collection of photographs that Paul Davega had 
kept.  Could she draw a trump of someone never met?  Laura didn't know, 
but what stronger bond was there than mother and child, coupled with the 
need Laura felt to face the Princess Florimel?
        Which to try first?  Laura closed the deck and let it reast in 
her palm.  With her other hand, she reached for the jeweled bow and 
arrow that always hung from the thin chain around her neck.  That chain, 
a shimmerly silver metal unknown in Shadow Earth looked like the fine 
jewelry it was, but it had a higher tensile strength than forged steel.
        Holding the brooch directly in front of her eyes, Laura focused 
on the ruby arrowhead.  Deep with were the lines and swirls and curves 
of the Pattern, embedded the night of her patternwalk.  Mesmerized, 
Laura lost herself in the nature of reality, reaching for what the 
Pattern had to give, pressing the ciy deck to her breast.  In her mind's 
eye, she watched herself walk the Pattern, the memory of that night 
inscribed in her brain.
        More than an hour had passed when the pin fell back into its 
resting place.  Laura rose and headed for her bedroom.  She was 
exhausted, but knew this contact with the Pattern had given her another 
piece of insight into Trump.  With time, effort, and persistence, she 
would become its mistress.
        "I'll do all three of them," Laura said alound as she removed 
her robe and lay down.  Pulling the fully satin comforter over her, she 
outlined step one of her plan.  "Tomorrow, I'll go into the City and buy 
a set of pens and inks."
        Instinct told her that the tools she would use were unimportant 
really.  It was her own perceptions that would guide her hand to 
designed working trumps.  Still, she wanted to start fresh, with a 
drawing set of her own choosing and never used.  When she had it, she 
would ride into Arden, find a peaceful grove, and being to work on the 
three cards.  Zachary, Rusty, Flora.  As thoughts or feelings about one 
of them entered her mind, she would turn her attention to that card.  To 
discover which would be the first to turn from drawing to trump would be 
exhilirating, and very possibly significant.
        Satisfied with her plan for the morning, Laura turned to her 
side, pulled the comforter higher, and slipped into welcome sleep.
Princess of Amber
Student of Trump
NRPG:  Well, I'm really eager to continue with Laura's adventures the 
following day, but if I do it now, this post will be longer than one of 
Jason's bios.    I've got some ideas though, so look for a 
continuation real soon.
Matt:  Welcome to Amber and WW.  Laura and I are both looking forward to 
meeting Brandi Blackswan asap.
Chris:  Re your Dramatis Personae, you might was to add Rusty.  I have 
plans for him.  Also, it's Mangue and Son, not Magnus, next time you get 
around to editing it.  :)