From: Christopher Ackney 
Subject: [AM] Not quite a teddy bear picnic
Scene: Forest Arden
        Zachary rode Rainpuddle along the trail through Forest Arden.  
It had been a while since he had last been out, just for the enjoyment 
of it.  He had been hoping to glean some information from his books on 
the Unicorn herself.  He did feel that she was still alive, but would 
much prefer to see it for his own eyes.  However, he should have 
realized long ago that the Unicorn only appears when and where she wants 
to, and usually to whom.
        Laura glanced over to him, seeing that he was about to lose 
himself in his thoughts again.  She rode up next to him.  "Come now, 
Zachary, you're supposed to be taking a relaxing ride with me."
        Zachary blinked and peered over to his younger cousin, then gave 
a sheepish smile.  "My apologies, Laura.  I guess I do have a lot on my 
        Laura nodded.  "Well, hopefully you can spare some time for 
yourself and your enjoyment."  She looked about herself.  "Well now, 
this looks like a most wonderful spot for a picnic."
        Zachary glanced around himself, seeing the open clearing amongst 
the trees and low-lying hills they were riding through.  Flowers lay 
sprikled in the open spaces between the trees, sunlight glittering down 
between the leaves.  He had to admit that it appeared quite pastoral and 
peaceful; a perfect place to rest and relax.
        The two riders dismounted and unsaddled the horses, allowing 
them a chance to relax themselves.  Zachary unfolded the checkered 
blanket and laid it out as Laura unpacked the saddlebags.  "I don't 
suppose you've heard from Brandi recently?"  Laura asked.
        Zachary knelt down, accepting the glasses and wine she handed 
him.  "No.  But considering the comings and goings of everyone recently, 
it's been hard to keep track, or even worry about those that leave."
        "Brandi didn't just leave."  Laura stated, fishing out the 
delectable lunch that the kitchen staff had prepared.
        Zachary refrained from laughing out loud.  It was his experience 
that no one had ever 'just left' Amber.  But he knew what Laura meant.  
"We may be able to talk to Julianna.  She for one knows Brandi very 
well, and her knowledge of the Pattern may allow her to track her 
through Shadow, or at least do a better job than I can."
        Laura again found it nearly impossible to believe that Zachary 
was of Amber, and the Crown Prince at that.  Most of those she met had 
an air of confidence in themselves, and of their abilities.  And while 
Zachary certainly didn't have a bad self image, he didn't seem to have 
an inflated ego either.  He didn't even have much of an air of mystery 
about him.
        She suddenly felt very guarded about what to say around him, and 
found she didn't like that feeling.
        "I just wish she would answer a Trump call and tell us that 
she's all right.  But then again, perhaps it's just not a good time for 
her to start talking to the air around her."  Laura smiled, laying out 
the food and Zachary poured the wine.
        Zachary found that Laura was right.  He did need to get out 
more.  He hadn't realized just how tense and overworked he had become in 
the last few days.  And it had been days since he last remembered 
actually tasting his food.  It was simply scrumptious.
        He winced and nearly dropped his sandwich as a Trump contact hit 
him.  Strong, and yet unfocussed.  He opened his mind tentatively, 
gazing suddenly at the near ghostly image of the woman before him.  
  She said in a quiet voice, obviously surprised at what she had 
just accomplished.
        "Hello. Who is this?" Zachary asked, noticing as well Laura 
glancing up at him.
          The red-haired woman 
replied.  Another relative?  Already her inquisitiveness overcame her 
        "How are you talking to me?"  Zachary asked.
Sarah explained.
        Zachary gave a reassuring smile.  "Where are you now?"
        "That will take some time to explain.  And it would probably be 
best to talk to you in person.  Now the question is, would you like to 
come here, or shall we go to where you are?"
she was an inquisitive one, that was for sure.
        "A friend and relative of, unless I miss my guess, both of 
ours.  But all this will be explained in due time.  Perhaps it would be 
best if we came there."
        Sarah paused to think for a moment.  
        Zachary smiled.  "No, all you need to do is hold out your hand.  
You will feel someone clasp your hand, and then all you have to do is 
pull gently.  A rather beautiful young woman will appear before you, and 
then you will have to do it again with me.  It may sound strange, but 
believe me, it works."  He motioned Laura over.  "Anytime you're ready."
NRPG: Well, just a few hours too late for some previous plotting ... but 
still an excellent post, Matt!  I never would have thought that about 
Brandi, and it's just great :)
Sarah: Whenever you get back, you can feel free to have a talk with 
Laura and Zachary.  They'll explain things briefly, and then probably 
offer to Trump back to Amber with Sarah is she feels up to it.
                           ///          /// 
                           \ //        /  /           
      Christopher           \ ////   _/  /     Zachary, Librarian of
      Ackney                 \_  ////    /     Castle Amber, son to
                              \___/    /       King Random   /         \_      
                             /,)-_(  \_   \     
                             (/   \\ /\\\\         <\
                                   //               >\
                                    '               >/
        "It was a very foul blow, about four