From: Jason Kee 
Subject: [AM] Pattern's Children

The universe resolved itself, and Zachary, Crown Prince of Amber,
found himself deposited in a thick wood.

Well, not precisely. More accurately, he was near the edge of a
clearing in the middle of a dense forest.

Still drained from walking the Pattern of Amber, he took a moment to
rest and examine his surroundings. The forest about him was dense and
untainted by the vestiges of civilization. Massive trees, their trunks some
ten feet around in places, towered above him, their tops lost in a thick
canopy which blocked the lower levels of the wood from sunlight.

Assuming this shadow had a sun, of course.

The earthen ground was littered with bushes and foliage of all
types, ranging from vibrant purple to incandescent green, and vines, moss,
and flowers so bright they hurt to look at covered the vegetation at all

It was cool, he noted, but not unpleasantly so. A muted breeze
brushed at his clothing, carrying with it the scent of the forest.

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, taking in the smells of
the wood.

A muffled voice drew his attention, and he opened his eyes, turning
in the direction from which he believed it came, straining to hear it. It
was then he noticed it, the total absence of sound. As alive and vibrant as
it was, this wood was devoid of the noises one usually associates with
forests: no animals could be heard scurrying about in the underbrush, no
birdsong lamenting from on high, not even the rustling of leaves in the
wind. Nothing but pure and errie silence.

He found it suddenly disconcerting.

Zach pushed these feelings to the side as he heard the muffled voice
again. It was high-pitched, that was for certain, like that of a woman or a
young child, with a lisping musical quality which reminded him of a lullaby.

But who was speaking? Quietly, he approached the clearing and
halted at its edge, crouching behind some thick foliage for cover. Rich
sunlight poured down into it from above, making the greenery look even more
vibrant and filling the area with a certain warmth. From his vantage point,
it appeared to be about fifty feet or so in diameter, and as far as he could
tell, roughly ovular in shape. But beyond that, he could see little.

Was it the Unicorn, he wondered? He had effected his will upon the
Pattern, ordering it to take him to the Unicorn, and was inclined to believe
that it had done so. But what if it'd had other ideas. He;d read Merlin's
journals throughly and was well aware that ther Pattern possessed a will and
mind of its own, which it exercised when it desired. Had it redirected him

Or was that the voice of the Unicorn, whispering alound to itself?
Could the Unicorn even speak? No one had ever heard it do so, or at least
had admitted it if they had. But hadn't the Unicorn instructed Dworkin in
inscribing the Pattern those many years ago? He wished now that he'd had
the opportunity to ask the old sage before he'd disappeared.

Only one way to know for certain, Zachary supposed. However, some
instict advised him not to give up the cover of the forest so easily without
a better idea of what was in the clearing. Quietly, he backed up from its
edge, circling around it until he observed a large tree situated on its
border. Crouching down once again, he carefully poked his head out to
examine the clearing in better detail.

He surpressed a sharp intake of breath at what he saw.

The Unicorn lay there, in the clearing, just right of its centre.
She was on her side, her eyes closed, her golden cloven hooves still. On
her flank, close to her hind quarter, an ugly black stain adorned her
otherwise flawless coat...the point, Zachary noted, where the arrow had
struck home.

While this concerned him greatly, it was not this that surprised
him. Kneeling between her outstreched fore and hind legs was what Zach
gathered to be a young boy, clad in rought, home spun clothing. While he
could not see him clearly from his present vantage point, he observed from
his size and stature that he couldn't be more that 7, or perhaps 8, years
old. His hair was a mop of sany blonde hair which hung unkempt about his

Most astonsihing, however, was where his hands lay. His right hand
hovered over the dark stain on the Unicorn's coat, while the left stroked
her neck soothingly. He could now see that it was he that had been speaking
in that musical voice, as he still was, and Zach now got the distinct
impression that he was singing to her.

The singing had a lulling, vaguely hypnotic effect, and he quickly
lost track of the time the boy stopped, he realized he had no idea
of just how long he'd been crouched there, simply watching and listening.

Who was this child, he wondered? What was he doing with the
Unicorn? Suddenly his mind was awash in speculations. Certainly, it all
looked innocent enough, but appearances could be deceiving. What if this
was some minion of Dalt's, or the Courts, come to finish the job the
poisoned arrow had started? Lulling the Unicorn with serene music, and then
striking the final blow? Or something worse?

Suspicious now, he abruptly stood and stepped into the clearing,
determined to get to the bottom of this and protect the Unicorn if need be.
On impulse, his had dropped to the hilt of his blade to ready it, and he
grabbed air. Silently, he cursed himself for failing to bring a weapon with
him on this soujourn.

Before he could speak, or even move any further, the boys head
snapped towards his direction. Even from this distance, Zach could see that
his complexion was fair, and his features possessed a certain familiarity
which he couldn't readily identify.

Zach opened his mouth to speak, but the boy glared at him and
'shhh'd him sharply. His hand came up, and he motioned for Zachary to halt.

Devoid of a weapon, and now much less certain of what course of
action he should take, Zach did so.

The boy whispered something quickly to the Unicorn, stood, and
trudged over, his pleasant features darkened by an annoyed expression. As
he approached, Zach noted the unusual colouration of his eyes: a deep amber,
shot through with streaks of red.

"What are *you* doing here," the boy whispered harshly once he was
within earshot. "Haven't you done enough already?"

Zachary was immediately struck by the commanding tone which
underscored the boy's words. His face had taken on an imperious and
impatient expression, and Zach was again struck by the familiarity he
couldn't quite place.

Uncertain of how best to deal with this situation, Zachary decided
on a stance that his own father had sometimes taken when he'd been a boy and
gotten a little too big for his britches (as much as he hated to admit it,
there had been was, after all, the sort of behaviour boy princes
were prone to). He crossed his arms over his chest and gazed down at the
boy with his best 'what do you think you're doing, young man' look. "I
might very well ask you the same thing."

He knew full well that he it was a dangerous game he was playing.
For all he knew, the boy was some immensely powerful demon who'd adopted an
innocuous looking form. Or worse, a Lord of Chaos bent on destroying the
Unicorn and with sufficient mystical resources to do just that. But he'd
been detected right off, and even if he had brought along a blade, he
somehow doubted there'd be much he could do against something powerful
enough to harm the Unicorn. Given this, his most viable course of action,
it seemed, would be to try and talk his way through, take on an air of
confidence and superiority and maybe, just maybe, the kid would buy it.

He had, after all, been trained by a master of the bluff.

"I'm helping her get better, which is more than I can say for you,"
the boy whispered. "Now go away and leave her be."

"I mean her no harm, and shan't disturb her rest," Zach countered,
"although I do not know the same about you, lad. Who are you?"

"Hah! Mean her no harm, he says. Listen, there's alot less chance
of me ever hurting the Unicorn than any of you. Go away."

"Then it is evident that you do not know who you are dealing with,"
Zachary replied, using the tone he'd heard Julian use a thousand times
before. "I am Zachary-"

"Oh, I know who you are, Prince of Amber. You and your kind have
caused nothing but misery and pain. If not for your meddling in affairs
your weren't meant to, none of this ever would've happened!"

Zach shook his head. "What are you talking about? We did nothing-"

The boy's hands were now clenched into fists in obvious agitation.
"Nothing?!? This is all *your* fault!!! Now GO AWAY!!!" Wind blew at the
boys hair, throwing it wildly about his face, and Zach was picked up off his
feet as a violent wave of force slammed into him and flung him backwards.
As he soared through the air, he cast a quick glance back at the boy, and
saw him streak away to a pinpoint in a strange distancing effect Zachary had
never seen before...

And he realized, it was not the boy who was winging away, but
himself... almost like a Trump, but in reverse...

It was his final thought before he blacked out from the strain.

* * *

Julianna straightened her velvet jacket and examined herself in a
full length mirror. The deep purple jacket, with accomapnying coattails,
overlay a black, elaborately ruffled shirt, matched by a dark, full length
multilayered skirt and black high-heeled boots. Her pitch black hair was
held loosely away from her face by a silver berette, running in a single
rich cascade down the centre of her back, and at her neck hung the grey
ankh-like pendant she customarily wore.

Satisfied, she turned from the mirror and picked up her orchid
clasp. With a fluid movement, she afixed the black glass flower framed in
silver to the lapel of her jacket.

Reaching for her trumps, she deftly shuffled out a card and studied it.


She stared it for several long moments, observing his strong
features, studying his attire, his posture, everything the image on the card
could provide.

It grew cold in her hand, and her sensitive mind felt the initial
stirrings of a contact, so she hastily severed it, placing her hand over the
trump. While transporting to Kashfa by means of the trump would certainly
be faster than travelling via conventional means, arriving in that manner
would be entirely inappropriate as far as Julianna was conerned. She was an
emissary of the Crown of Amber, not a relative in search of a casual
visitation, and while she might be devoid of a retinue she would make her
appearance in the manner which etiquette required.

Plus, she had her own means of traversing shadow.

Slipping her trumps into a breast pocket, she took a deep breath and
expelled any extraneous thoughts as she exhaled. Closing her eyes, she
forged an image of the Pattern in her mind, and regarded it's blue-white
lines before mentally descending upon it and passing through its design.
Within moments, she'd reached the centre, and focussed her will...

She opened her eyes.

Before her stood the palace of Kashfa, its spires reaching for the
twilight sky of early evening. She stood in a courtyard, just beyond what
she took to be the main gate, and took note of servants lighting torches as
well as armed guards stationed at various locations about the palace walls.

"You're late," a voice whispered from behind.

She turned, a faint smile on her face at the familiarity of the voice.

Jehzbyn stood, one hand resting on the hilt of a wicked looking
bastard sword which rested at his hip. Her was adorned in black armour,
some kind of enameled plate, which was trimmed in deep crimson. Flowing
from the shoulder plates was a long black cape, likewise trimmed and hanging
to the ground, and forged into the breatplate was a delicately carved rose,
also outlined in a dark scarlet.

And upon his face rested his trademark dark sunglasses.

"My apologies, old friend. My preparations took longer than I
anticipated." She paused, looking him over. "I must say that I find your
selection of attire most...intriguing."

"You asked for knightly, you got knightly," he replied in a deep,
whispery voice. "Don't complain."

"It was not a complaint, rather an observation." She stepped
forward and examined the rose design upon his breastplate. "Unless I am
mistaken, this inlay is strongly reminiscient of the Death Knights of

"Your eye for detail is as impressive as always, m'lady," he said,
making a mock bow.

"Dare I ask how you managed to separate one from his armour?"

Jehzbyn smiled under his dark goatee, a chilling sight in and unto

"I had thought as much." She turned back towards the palace.
"Come. As you most astutely observed, we presently later than I had hoped
and I wish to make our presence known before nightfall." She started
towards the palace.

"We?" Jehzbyn repeated, falling into step just behind and to the
right of her.

"Very well. I."

"And once again our schedule falls victim to your sense of
asthetics," he commented.

"It was necessary to be appropriately attired for the occasion."

Jehzbyn shook his head, having heard this particular line of
reasoning for tardiness more than one time in the past. However, he let it
go at that.

As they approached the entrance to the palace, the guards standing
to either side of the archway snapped to attention. While they cast a few
wary glances in Jehzbyn's direction, they made no move to halt their
approach, and they passed through into the palace proper unmolested.

The main hall was a subdued bustle of activity as servants of all
manner of rank and dress scampered about in a harried yet civilized manner
making preparations of some sort. Several were lighting candles, while
others carried a wide variety of items to and from side corridors, and up
and down the main staircase which stood before them. She paused and
gestured for Jehzbyn to do the same as she noted a fair hair man which she
assumed to be a steward separate himself from a small group of similarly
dressed figures and make a beeline for them.

"M'lady," he greeted with a short bow. "I'm afraid the reception
has already started, and the guests concluded their evening meal some time
ago. However, if you would care to join them now, they have retired to the
sitting room for after dinner drinks." He pulled a large book and quill pen
seemingly out of nowhere. "If I may have your name and title for the guest
list, I would be happy to escort you."

Julianna cast Jehzbyn a quick sideways glance, which he responded to
with a barely perceptible shrug.

"Lady Julianna, Duchess of Amber," she introduced. "And this is my
escort, Sir Jehzbyn of Ambrosia."

"Amber?" he asked, looking up at Julianna and back to his guest
book. He turned a few pages. "I wasn't aware that were were expecting a
delegation from Amber."

"It is entirely possible you were not, as I am equally unaware of
any reception His Most Royal Highness King Rinaldo I might be holding."

"Then why-"

Julianna held up a black gloved hand for silence. "I come as an
emissary of His Most Royal Majesty King Random I of Amber, and require an
audience with King Rinaldo as soon as he is available."

"This is most irregular," the steward muttered, obviously perplexed
and flipping through his books as if the explaination were hidden deep
within its pages. "Why didn't the page at the front gate announce you?"

"I cannot say, Master Steward," she lied, knowing full well that she
had entered Kashfa beyond the front gate. And as for Jehzbyn, he had his
own means of crossing shadow, and she was certain he could have easily
entered the palace undetected if he had so desired. "However, you may now
consider our arrival announced."

The steward looked from Jehzbyn to Julianna, once more at his book,
and nodded. "I will advise King Rinaldo of your presence at once, m'lady.
If you would please wait here." With that, he turned and dashed off,

"Sir Jehzbyn?" Jehzbyn asked with a raised eyebrow once the steward
was out of earshot.

"It is easier this way, old friend. Or perhaps you would prefer me
present our erstwhile hosts a lengthy discourse on the reasons as to why I
am presently in the company of a demon?"

"I see your point," he whispered. His mouth then curled into a
smirk. "Although I'm not sure Random would be overly pleased to know I've
been elevated to the status of your offical escort."

"His Majesty did not say anything on the issue of your presence, one
way or the other. However, I do believe it would be prudent to avoid
burdening him with such unnecessary details."

Jehzbyn gave a slight, raspy chuckle which he cut short as a woman
in a forest green evening gown emerged from a hallway and approached them.
She had a certain regal bearing about her, but moved with the agility and
grace of an athelete.

"Lady Julianna, Sir Jehzbyn," she greeted, "I am Nayda, Lady
Chancellor of Kashfa. My most sincere apologies for the misunderstanding:
we are in the midst of holding a reception for the royalty of several
adjacent shadows and it must have been assumed that you were one of the
appointed delegations. Unfortunately, due to this, his Highness will be
unavailble until tomorrow morning at the earliest. I will make arrangements
for guest quarters, and you are, of course, more than welcome to join the
reception if you so desire."

"You are most gracious, Chancellor. Sir Jehzbyn and I accept your

She smiled. "Good. Then if you will follow me, I will escort you."
She turned to the side, pausing long enough for Jehzbyn and Julianna to
catch up before leading them down the hallway she had recently exited.
"It's been some time since we last entertained guests from Amber," Nayda
observed. "Might I ask as to the nature of your business with the King?"

"You may ask, Lady Chancellor, but I am afraid I would be unable to
provide an answer."

"I see. Well, I do hope King Random has considered the amendments
he suggested to the Golden Circle Treaty."

"I am certain he has," Julianna responded non-commitally, actually
unaware of any such pending amendments. "On the subject of alliances," she
said after a moment, mostly to divert the topic, "it would seem as if your
relationship with Begma has strengthened considerably in recent years, given
your own status as Lady Chancellor and your younger sister's position as

For a brief second, Nayda seemed to bristle, but then it was gone.
"Yes, quite. However, Coral has been absent for some time, so Begman
influence in Kashfan policy is not as great as one might think."

"Intriguing. To where did the Queen absent herself?"

"I'm afraid it's not a subject I can discuss."

"A pity."

"Yes," Nayda said with a knowing smile. "It would appear each of us
is in possession of information the other wants, Lady Julianna. Here we
are," she announced, stopping by a set of double doors and swinging them
open. Music, blended with the murmurings a dozen conversations, flooded
from the hall and swept over them, and they stepped in.

"The Lady Julianna, Duchess of Amber, and her escort, Sir Jehzbyn of
Ambrosia," a herald announced the moment they'd crossed the threshold.
Several dozen people, all dressed in finery of varying design and quality,
milled about in small groups, some standing in clumps while others were
seated on or about antique chairs and plush couches. The pronouncement of
their entrance garnered them a few quick glances, but overall their arrival
was ignored.

A broad figure approached, his visage intimately familiar to
Julianna although she had never met the man. A wide, welcoming smile was on
his face, and he rifled a hand through red hair as he drew near them.

Julianna dropped into a courtsey. "Your Highness, our most sincere
gratitude for your gracious hospitality, especially at such a time-"

"No problem," Luke interupted with a dismissive wave. "State visits
from Amber are always welcome here." His voice dropped slightly, and he
leaned forward. "Although, given the circumstances, it would be best if
official business were kept until tomorrow." The smile returned to his
face, and he resumed his previous posture. "After all, be a shame to waste
a good party, especially when I'm the one hosting it."

"Agreed, your Highness."

"Good!" he said, clapping his hands together. "We'll have quarters
made ready for your stay, and in the meantime enjoy yourselves!" He slapped
Jehzbyn on the shoulder, causing him to take a step backwards. Jehzbyn
simply regarded Luke's hand for a moment, and then, in the interests of
diplomacy, forced a smile.

"Wine, liquor, cheese and other munchies abound," he continued, "and
if you need anything else just snag one of the stewards. Later, folks.
Gotta mingle." With that, he gave a brief parting wave and quickly vanished
into one of the larger gathering convalesing near what appeared to be an
open bar. With a nod and a smile, Nayda took her leave as well.

Jehzbyn returned to his position to Julianna's side. "Julianna," he
whispered, his voice barely audible over the subdued bedlam of
conversations, "there's somethign you should know about Nayda. She isn't

"I am aware of that."

"No, I don't think you are. She's-"

Julianna turned her head sharply, silencing him with a look.

Behind the shades, Jehzbyn's eyes narrowed, but he nodded. "Very
well, it can keep. But I warn you to watch your words around her."

"I shall take that under advisement."

He looked away from her, casting a glance about the room. "Now
what?" he asked.

"You heard his Highness," Julianna answered, somewhat smugly. "We
mingle, as he so quaintly put it."

Jehzbyn gave her a long, hard stare. "I do not mingle."

"Than locate a dark corner where you can situate yourself and
cultivate the brooding and aloof manner at which you are expert."

He nodded and started off, taking her seriously. She, however,
halted him for a moment with a light touch on his shoulder. "Keep alert and
on guard, old friend. I do not entirely trust the informality of this
gathering, nor the apparent generosity of our hosts."

"Don't I always?" Jehzbyn said, and then was gone, evidently to find
his dark corner.

She spent the next several hours sipping three or four glasses of
Bayle's Best (which Rinaldo had arranged to be specially imported for the
occasion) whilst engaging in the meaningless small talk of which diplomats
and social functionaries are so fond. Or, more accurately, listening to it
and responding with an appropriately timed nod or agreement while actually
saying little herself. A few careful probes revealed that the reception was
in honour of a new trade agreement Kashfa, along with seven other shadows,
had recently signed. She also soon discovered that Rinaldo had taken quick
advantage of her unexpected arrival, hinting to several of his guests that
the presence of an Amberite ambassador at the reception was an indication of
Random's approval of the treaty. Julianna said nothing on the matter,
neither confirming nor denying something of which she knew little, and
understanding that such a position gave her an additional edge over Kashfa's
sovereign when it came time to discuss their 'business'.

Armed with this knew knowledge, it was little wonder that Nayda had
been anxious about the Golden Circle treaty. This new agreement would
change Kashfa's economic status, and her position within the Golden Circle,

Overall, however, there was little about the reception that Julianna
found even vaguely interesting. To be sure, she would overhear the
occasional intriguing tidbit, but her interest in Amberite and Golder Circle
politics bordered on the virtually non-existant, save as a mere intellectual
curiosity and a certain perverse respect she felt for the multi-layered
machinations of her relations.

All in all, the evening was proving to be a rather tedious endeavour.

With one possible exception.

When she had been announced upon entering the room, she'd been
certain that she'd observed a woman adorned in luxiourious cream coloured
robes at the rear of the room almost start, as if her arrival had been noth
unexpected and unwanted. Intrigued, she'd slowly wandered to the woman's
vicinity, but upon closer examination, she had not proved to be anyone whom
Julianna readily recognized, so she had been prepared to let it go as a
misconception. However, as the evening had progressed, she'd noted that the
woman, a striking lady in her twilight years, was studiously avoiding
remaining in her presence for any mentionable period of time, meandering
away at her approach, and casually removing herself from conversations
Julianna had been drawn into. A subtle inquiry had identified her as Tria
Solanari, Grand Vizier to Meloren Geldspar, King of the shadow Azuul'Berahn,
a shadow with which Julianna had no familiarity.

And yet this strange behaviour. Did this Tria Solanari simply have
an aversion to Amberites? Julianna had encounter such attitudes in the
past: to say that those from the True City were not universally loved would
be a gross understatement.

No, there was something else, something familiar about this Tria
Solanari...not her name, nor her appearance, but something in her movements,
her manner, which struck some long forgotten cord in the Duchess of Amber.

Now, Julianna sat in a highbacked chair, watching with relative
disinterest as the occasional guests walked passed her on their way out.
When asked, Jehzbyn had noticed nothing unusual about the mysterious woman
when she had brought it to his attention, and in fact had barely even
acknowledged her existence before she had mentioned it, something odd in and
unto itself for the ever watchful demon. There was some form of sorcery at
work here, she had concluded. Perhaps simply a disguise to avoid attention,
or perhaps something darker.

Which lead Julianna to the present quandry she now found herself.
Discovering the presence of magic itself was a straightforward enough feat:
simply a matter of calling forth the Pattern and utilizing it as a lens of
sorts. The conundrum which Julianna found herself mired within was derived,
rather, from the protocal of such matters. As a rule, it was considered a
significant breach of etiquette amoungst mages to use any form of mystical
sight upon one another whilst engaged in a social setting, and if this Tria
Solanari was a sorceress, as Julianna suspected, then she would most certain
detect Julianna's utilization of a higher form such as the Pattern.

Eventually, after almost an hours worth of internal debate on the
issue, her curiosity finally won out: while many had classified her as a
sorcerss, a witch, or worse, over the years, her own power was derived from
the Pattern and the Pattern alone, and not from the spells one required to
be a sorceress. Thus, she rationalized, she was not a mage in the true
sense of the word, and could consider herself exempt from their peculiar
form of etiquette.

Flimsy reasoning at best, she realized, but it suited her purposes
and satisfied her own rather complex code of behaviour.

She drew forth an image of the Pattern, and rendered it vertical in
her field of vision. The blue-white fire of the image faded towards the
centre, and she peered through it, searching now for the enigmatic sage.
With the Pattern Sight, she could now clearly see the dark lines of Primal
Chaos dancing through Jehzbyn's body, and superimposed in dark red over him
was the dragonlike shape of his Chaosian Demonform.

She continued looking, searching about the room until she located
her target...

And saw nothing. Not the faintest trace of magic, higher order or
otherwise, was about the woman.

Impossible, Julianna thought. The Pattern Sight revealed all forms
of magic within its scope, unless...

Unless those under observation were of sufficient skill to mask it.

But no, that could not be. If this Solanari was of that level of
ability, Julianna would have detected her presence upon her arrival in
Kashfa, let alone this room.

Again, unless she could obscure that as well.

Abruptly, she noted that Solanari was casting the occasional
cautious glance in her direction, taking pains to make it look as casual as
possible. Evidently, her observations had been detected...a fact which
substantiated Julianna's current line of reasoning.

The hint of a smile played upon Julianna's lips. Very well, Tria
Solanari. You are obviously an initiate of a higher order than I
anticipated. But two can play at this...

The lines of the Pattern redrew themselves in her minds' eye,
glowing brighter as they obscured her vision. Then, the image of the
Pattern now fully reformed before her, she imposed the full strength of her
will upon it, shifting it, shaping it, reforging it...

The lines flared and began to warp, distort, stretch and shrink
simultanmeously. Edges streaked away into the distance, while lines grew as
they shot towards her, all dancing with infinity...

And there it was, glowing brightly before her.

A three-dimensional image of the Pattern.

The glare dimmed and fizzled, fading to a dull silver-grey and
revealing the incompreshinsible intricacy of the design. In moments, even
these began to dim slightly, taking on a transparent quality, and Julianna
looked beyond them...

Ah, yes. The pieces suddenly fell into place. She should have
expected as much.

Tria Solanari excused herself, bidding the gathering good evening,
and strolled towards the exit at a deceptively brisk pace. After she passed
by Julianna, carefully avoiding her ever-present gaze, the Lady of Amber
stood and started after her at a respectable distance. When she detected
Jehzbyn stirring, she motioned for him to remain where he was, are
gracefully followed the woman out.

By the time Julianna had slipped past the doors, her quarry had
already started down the hallway.

"Ah, Grand Vizier Solanari," Julianna said in a pleasant, knowing
tone as she advanced toward her, "I had hoped to have an opportunity to
speak with you this evening before you retired."

Solanari halted in her step, and half turned towards the approaching
Amberite. "As did I, m'lady," she answered, her voice raspy and deep, "but
it had best wait until the 'morrow as I am rather weary from this evening's
festivities and am presently quite incapable of holding an intelligent
conversation for any meaningful length of time. Until then, I bid thee good
evening." She bowed quickly, turned away and resumed her pace.

"Trinity," Julianna said quietly, "did you truly believe you could
conceal your identity from me?"

Tria Solanari froze, pausing in mid-step. She continued with the
step after a moment, and then stopped again, as if indecisive.

Finally, she turned once more, her own steel blue eyes locking onto
Julianna's eternally dark ones and a crooked grin playing about her lips.
"Damn," she muttered, her voice suddenly much smoother and slightly higher
pitched then it had been a moment before. "Is it really that obvious?"

"Not at all. But you forget whom it is you are dealing with."

Trinity's features began to melt, age lines washing away as her
visage reshaped itself, becoming far softer and pleasant in aspect. Her
eyes became larger and almond shape, although they retained their steel blue
colouration, while her cheekbones became more pronounced. Tightly bound
silver-white hair flared as if caught in a sudden gust of wind and darkened
to a midnight blue hue. It lengthened, straightening out, sweeping over
from the left and falling to her mid-back with the exception of over her
left ear where the bangs were short and teased. Her lips, still thin,
continued to display that crooked smile, and a washed out grey-rose gemstone
appeared on her forehead, as if a vertical third eye.

"I suppose I should've known better when I saw who it was," she
admitted once her transformation was complete. "Hello, mother."