From: Sarah Pearson 
Subject: [AM] Entering the castle
Sarah rode, facinated, as Laura dictated all she'd learned about Amber, 
its denizens, and its royalty. It sounded, to her, like a soap opera; a 
dangerous one, to be sure, but the stories and the history was as 
convoluted as anything on daytime TV. It was almost amusing at some 
points; and quite scary at others when one considered this was the real 
thing, not just television's fantasy. Laura was quite a good 
storyteller, weaving the history of Amber in such a way that Sarah was 
utterly enthralled; she asked questions only rarely, not wanting to stop 
Laura's dictation. She didn't notice the sun moving across the sky, or 
the change in scenery. 
When Laura stopped, however, and pointed up the road, Sarah turned her 
head from her companion to face one of the most beautiful pieces of 
archeticture she'd ever seen. She knew it was the royal castle; nothing 
this beautiful could be inhabited by anyone but the highest class. It 
outclassed anything in Sarah's own world; it made Neu Schwanstein, the 
german castle Disney modeled his castle after, look like a simple hut of 
stones. She stared for a long time, and only when Laura called her name 
a third time did she take her attention from the masterpiece before her.
Laura was smiling when Sarah looked at her. "It is quite beautiful, 
isn't it?" she commented.
"'Beautiful' doesn't even begin to describe it," Sarah breathed out. She 
still couldn't believe something so beautiful existed; and she could 
believe even less that she was about to go to live in it!
"I'm afraid we're going to have to hurry to get home, however," Laura 
said, a becoming frown on her face. "It's farther away than it looks; if 
we run the rest of the way, we might make it in time for dinner."
Sarah noticed, then, their surroundings. Already the sun was 
disappearing against the tops of the tallest trees; it would still take 
some time for it to get fully dark, but it might be better to get back 
before then. She nodded in agreement to Laura, then kicked Rainpuddle in 
the sides harder than she had before. Obligingly, and seeming a little 
put off by the sudden pain, the horse broke into a canter that quickly 
turned into a gallop. Laura wasn't far behind, and the two rode the 
horses at a comfortable gallop for the rest of the way.
When they got to the main gate, they slowed the horses down to a trot, 
letting them catch their breath. Sarah took the time to look around, 
taking in the sites. It was different than she'd expected, for some 
reason.  She didn't know what she'd expected; perhaps a medieval 
setting, like those of her own world. But it wasn't that way at all; if 
anything, it almost seemed ... modern, if one could call it that.
Laura rode up to the gates, and with a word to the guards the gates were 
opened and she and Sarah entered the palace grounds. Sarah stared all 
around, from the fountains and the other ornaments to the people 
transversing the grounds. Rainpuddle followed Tovarich as he and Laura 
entered the stables; Sarah didn't even notice where her horse was going 
until someone came up alongside them and took the reins. Looking down, 
startled, she saw a groom holding the horse and holding a hand up to 
help her down. Taking umbrage irrationally, she coldly stared at the 
man's hand until it was sheepishly removed; then proceeded to dismount 
like an expert, her legs swinging behind her as she vaulted to the 
ground. Then, seeking to make amends, she smiled at the man holding the 
horse. "Thanks for trying to help," she stated, using her most charming 
smile. The man smiled lightly, and Sarah hoped all was forgiven.
She joined up with Laura as the horses were being stabled and they 
headed towards the castle. In the distance, Sarah saw someone coming 
towards them, a woman by the way she walked. Gauzy material flowed 
around her, making her look like a model. As she got closer, however, 
Sarah could see this woman was more beautiful than any model she'd ever 
seen; in fact, this woman was more beautiful than *any* woman Sarah had 
ever seen! She was exoticly beautiful, and her whole manner, including 
her clothing, seemed to display that sensuality. Sarah was certain that, 
whoever this was, she never lacked for bed partners.
Laura smiled. "Mother," she said softly, and the vision turned to Laura. 
Seeing them side by side, Sarah could see they were related. If what 
Laura had just said wasn't enough, the resemblence said it all.
"Mother, I'd like you to meet a new cousin," Laura stated, gesturing to 
Sarah. "Sarah, this is my mother Florimel, or Flora to most people."
"Ahh, another cousin! We seem to be having an abundance these days." She 
studied Sarah for a bit, then held out her hands before her. "Charmed to 
meet you."
Sarah took the hands in hers like she'd been taught by her 
social-conscious mother, giving them a slight squeeze. "Thank you for 
having me, ma'am."
"Mother, would you please..."
"Zachary's already talked to me, dear. I'll show her around the castle 
and to her room."
"Thanks mother," Laura replied then with a slight wave goodbye she took 
her leave.
"Yes, well we must get you a room of your own. If you'll follow me..."
Sarah obligingly followed behind the woman, looking around at the 
castle. "It sure is beautiful here," she commented.
"Yes it is, isn't it?" Florimel had a decidedly proud chord in her 
voice. "It's certainly the most beautiful place I've ever been."
Sarah couldn't agree more.
Flora spent the rest of the daylight time showing Sarah around the 
castle, introducing her to the other denizens of the castle. Sarah 
greeted all of them graciously; most seemed to be only helpers in the 
castle, the heads of departments. They did, however, meet a few others.
NRPG: I haven't a clue who is in the castle at this moment, so if anyone 
wants to meet Sarah, or wants to RP one of the book characters meeting 
her, go right ahead. :)
Eventually, Flora stopped before a large door in the center of one of 
the halls. "This will be your room for the night. We had no clue we'd be 
having company, so we could only spare this room."
The door opened as if by a wind, and Sarah stared into a spacious room, 
complete with a canopy bed and candlelight illuminating the walls, the 
light reflecting in such a way that it seemed almost surreal. It was 
almost too good to sleep in, and Sarah commented on such to Flora.
"Oh, this isn't the best room in the castle," Flora replied. "There are 
better rooms. Now, the entrance is right down to the left and down the 
stairs; they'll take you right to the front doors. To the left is the 
kitchen, but it's a little ways away. The rest of these rooms are more 
rooms like this one."
A feeling of finality came upon the conversation, and Sarah thanked her 
hostess graciously. Flora smiled radiantly, and promised to show her 
around the next day as well. Sarah got the impression that Flora liked 
her courteousness; perhaps very few people were gracious to the woman. 
She really couldn't tell, however; it wasn't quite possible.
After Flora left, Sarah went into the room and shut the door. It really 
was beautiful; the way the candles lit up the room made it seem as if 
there were regular electric lights in the room somewhere. She sat down 
on the bed; perfectly bouncy. She slipped off her shoes and laid back, 
resting her head on the pillow. The lights in the room slowly faded, and 
Sarah closed her eyes. Within minutes, she was asleep.
Submitted by
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The Dragon Queen
Sarah Matthews, Amber