From: Christopher Ackney 
Subject: [AM] There will be ... trouble
Scene: Shadow
        Dalt shifted, eyes opening slowly.  He raised a hand to his 
face, feeling the morning stubble rough against his palm.  A murmur and 
shifting beside him caught his attention, and his instincts reached for 
the dagger hanging on the weapon stand beside the makeshift bed.  His 
memory came to him a second later, and he turned towards the person 
lying beside him.
        Red hair splayed about her like fire, her chest rising and 
lowering gently with each breath.  He reached out to touch her, but 
stopped just short.  Brandi.  She really did come to him.
        But now what?  Would she join him?  He knew she had little love 
for Amber and it's Royal Family.  But to actually take up arms against 
them?  That was something they would have to discuss.  If she didn't 
join him, he would have to get the army moving, and ensure that Brandi 
didn't report back to that snivelling wretch of a King.  That he 
wouldn't look forward to.
        He let out a deep breath and rose from the bed.  He needed to 
think.  But he couldn't think of a better distraction than Brandi at the 
moment.  He smiled to himself as he slipped his breeches on.  A cool 
voice carried to him from behind.  "The Pattern works in mysterious ways."
        Dalt spun around and growled.  "What do you want?"  He said hotly.
        The Robed One stood silouetted in the entrance by the dawn.  "I 
want to know why she is here ... alive."  He said in a frigid voice, 
obviously indicating Brandi.
        Dalt glanced to the red haired woman, and then back to the Robed 
One.  "That is my affair, not yours.  She's not threat, if that's what 
is concerning you."
        A moment's silence.  "Do you trust her?"
        "I love her."  Dalt felt his body tense, ready to lunge if need 
        The Robed One made no reply, and after a long silence, Dalt 
continued to dress, pulling on his clothes in barely contained anger.  
"If she gets in my way, I will dispose of her."
        Dalt raged foward.  "You will not touch her, even if she has a 
blade to your spindly neck.  You've already destroyed her home, with 
everything that had any meaning to her.  Isn't that enough?"
        The Robed One's laugh chilled Dalt to the bone, and froze him in 
his tracks.  "You were the last I would have expected such ... 
moderation from.  We are at war, Dalt, and I assure you that I will do 
much more than just obliterate one insignificant Shadow."  He turned in 
a flourish of his black robe.  Lifting the tent flap, the Robed One 
paused and looked back to Dalt.  "Much more."
Scene: Front gates of Castle Amber
        Zachary stepped forward, his body shimmering in the rainbow hues 
of Trump travel.  He stood momentarily to get his footing, and then 
strode in through the castle gates.  The guards up on the battlements 
knew of the Amberite's sorceries, but Zachary's arrival still surprised 
them enough to raise weapons.  Upon seeing that it was the Crown Prince, 
they quickly went to work opening the castle to him.
        "Lady Laura will be arriving shortly with a guest, another 
woman."  He informed the Captain of the Watch as he passed through.  The 
Captain merely nodded, seeing that Zachary was well into being lost into 
his own thoughts already.
        Another cousin, at a time like this?  Zachary did believe in 
coincidence, but there were limits even to his belief.  But Sarah knew 
nothing of Amber or its ways.  But then he had to remember that Laura 
was like that only a short while ago.  Perhaps this time Sarah had 
indeed just happened upon her discovery of Amber at the wrong time.
        "Zachary, dear, how pleasant to see you."  A cheery voice broke 
Zachary from his revelry.
        "Aunt Florimel, it is good to see you as well."
        "'Aunt Florimel', is it?  Must be pondering something 
important."  Flora smiled.  "Mind if I walk with you a ways, or do you 
prefer only the company of your thoughts."
        "Depends on what you consider important.  Seems yet another 
cousin has contacted me from Shadow.  Rather unexpected."  He paused.  
"And of course you may walk with me, I would love your company."
        "Another neice?  Or is it a nephew this time?"
        "Neice for you, Florimel.  Sarah is her name.  Laura is bringing 
her back to the castle."
        "How wonderful.  I always thought the family was a little too 
small.  It will be nice to have some fresh blood around here for a 
change."  Flora gestured grandly.
        "Perhaps I could ask a favour of you.  I came back ahead to 
ready things for Sarah's arrival.  But no one rivals you in such things, 
especially myself.  Could you ..."
        "I would be delighted, dear nephew.  I can assume that she knows 
nothing of Amber and environs?"
        Zachary nodded.  "You may.  She comes from a Shadow Earth.  
Which one I am not too sure of, most likely the late twentieth century.  
Quite pleasant, from the little I've seen of her so far.  A bit 
bewildered, but seemingly handling it all very well indeed."  They 
stopped at the grand staircase.
        "I'll ensure she receives nothing but the finest.  I'm guessing 
you have some thoughts to follow up on?"
        Zachary again nodded.  He smiled at his Aunt's persistance as 
well.  "You have found me out.  But I'm not sure if these are just idle 
thoughts or ones actually worth some merit."
        Flora nodded knowingly.  "Well, perhaps you will tell me of them 
someday."  She tusseled his hair.  "Now off with you, I've got guests to 
prepare for."
        "My thanks, Florimel."
        "I'll add it to the list of things you already owe me."  She 
winked, and headed off back down the main hall.  Zachary shook his head 
with a smile, and proceeded up the stairs, his mind falling quickly into 
his previous thoughts.
        Things would be a lot simpler if he just had more information.  
How was Dalt able to track the Unicorn?  No Amberite had been able to do 
so, at least not until now.  Zachary supposed that the Unicorn wasn't 
invulnerable, but how did he come across the poison?  Even with the 
lacing of Chaos within it, the poison itself would prove just as deadly 
to any Amberite.  If he could just find the Unicorn, or even just find a 
way to know that it was still alive.  But not even the Pattern was 
talking on that one ...
        Wait ... The Pattern ... Of course!
        Zachary spun around on the stairs and bounded downward.  Why 
didn't he think of it earlier?  True, it could prove to be a wasted 
effort, but it hadn't even crossed his mind until now.  He turned on the 
landing and hastened down the second flight of stairs, and nearly ended 
up bowling over one of the maids.
        "Oh, my apologies!"  Zachary said, gripping the young woman by 
the arms.  "Audra, isn't it?"
        The young maid caught her breath from the shock of the 
collision.  "Yes, m'lord."
        "I am glad I bumped into you ... well, I guess it was quite 
literally at that, wasn't it?"
        "Yes, your Highness."  Audra agreed automatically.
        "Please, none of that.  I am hoping you could do me a favour, 
for which I will be very grateful."
        "Of course, m'lor ... Prince Zachary."  Audra blushed.
        Zachary mentally sighed.  "If you could please tell Laura that I 
have gone in search of the Unicorn.  If she needs me, she can attempt to 
contact me through the Trumps.  If not, I shall contact her as soon as I 
        Audra nodded.  "I'll tell her as soon as she arrives back, my 
        "My thanks."  Zachary flashed her a smile, and then bolted back 
down the stairs.  Audra busied herself catching her breath, and running 
over Zachary's instructions in her head.
Scene: The Dungeons of Castle Amber
        "Greetings Kristoff.  A lamp if you please."  Zachary said upon 
arriving at the bottom of the stairwell.
        The young guard peered up quizzically from his writing.  "A 
lamp, sire?  Are you going to the seventh passage?"
        "Indeed.  If things go well, you shan't see me return this way.  
If they don't ... well ..."
        "I understand, sire."  He rose from his seat and looked over the 
lamps, finding one whose oil reserves were full.  "Here you go, though I 
doubt you will need that much fuel."
        "Thank you, Kristoff.  Sorry I can't stay to chat, but this is 
quite important."  Zachary called, already heading off down the main 
        Kristoff peered after the Crown Prince, shrugged, and turned 
back to the space battle filled with cats.
Scene: The Room of the Pattern
        Zachary took a deep breath, standing at the foot of the 
Pattern.  The room was lit with a slight bluish tinge, the lamp that had 
guided him here waiting outside.  "Nothing to say, eh?"  Zachary asked 
the open air.  "Well, we'll see if we can force the answer from you then."
        Zachary put his foot out, placing the first step onto the path 
of the Pattern.  Blue sparks sprang up from around Zachary's boot, but 
he did not hesitate to continue.  The walk always begins easy enough, 
but soon the resistance began to build up, memories flooding his mind.  
Zachary steeled his mind, concentrating on putting one foot ahead of the 
other, ensuring that he remained on the path.  He knew full well the 
dangers of the Pattern, a risky price for the power it offered.  His 
mind went back to another cousin, one who wasn't prepared for the walk, 
or whose mind was not strong enough.  The cousin had faltered at the 
First Veil, which Zachary now reached.  Impossibly, he broke through, 
and Zachary attempted to catch his breath.  The cousin never made it 
this far.  His next stepped missed the path, and he had erupted into 
blue flame.  His scream seemed to go on forever, and yet he was gone in 
a twinkling of an eye.
        The way was easier now, at least for a bit, and Zachary's 
memories came back to him full force.  His travels through Shadow.  
Killing the bandits that had attempted to take his life and his find.  
His father with him on his lap, being showed how to play the drums that 
still sat in the Library.  The first time the Library changed, expanding 
into the first wing for Zachary's tomes and grimoires.  Cassandra, left 
in Shadow.  Resistance began to build again, a wall seemed to be just in 
front of him, barely able to be pushed back.  Zachary struggled against 
it, pushing with all his might.
        He nearly stumbled as the resistance gave way.  The Second Veil 
had been passed.  He cleared his mind, knowing that the Third Veil 
remained, more impossible to pass than the previous two combined, and 
yet he went on.  He could not stop, not once the walk had commenced.  
The only choice was to continue forward.  The Third Veil hit him hard as 
he rounded the curve, driving the breath from him.  He staggered 
momentarily, but regained his footing and struggled forward.  Zachary 
gritted his teeth, pushing forward ever so slowly.  Struggling, pushing 
against the impossible weight and force in front of him.
        And then he was through, standing in the middle of the Pattern.  
He paused to catch a breath.  "You know where I want to go, don't you?  
To the Unicorn."
        And then Zachary was gone.
NRPG: I couldn't resist ... everyone else seems to be going off and 
getting themselves into trouble, so I want in on the fun :)
                           ///          /// 
                           \ //        /  /           
      Christopher           \ ////   _/  /     Zachary, Librarian of
      Ackney                 \_  ////    /     Castle Amber, son to
                              \___/    /       King Random   /         \_      
                             /,)-_(  \_   \     
                             (/   \\ /\\\\         <\
                                   //               >\
                                    '               >/
        "It was a very foul blow, about four