From: Rodger Burns 
Subject:  [AM] A Sudden Arrival

From the Diary of Kail Wlyrian

I awoke to the taste of old, stale chloroform on my tongue and a strong
scent of wet burlap filling my nostrils. Neither of these can ever be
called pleasant, save possibly by the most charitable; together,
combined with my position - knees pressed against my face, ankles
crossed, hands behind my back and almost numb from the ropes cutting
against my wrists - they almost made me vomit. I sucked in musty air
almost instinctively and coughed down the bile. Almost as I did this,
the implications of the muffled shocks bouncing me around sunk in. I
realized that someone was carrying me, and tried to start being quiet.

A few moments was enough to imagine my surroundings. I had been knocked
out, obviously, tied up and bagged, and now - from the feeling of the
hard muscles pressed against my left side - I was being carried,
somewhere. Somehow, I didn't feel that the person holding my sack had my
best intentions in mind - call it logic, or hunches, or simple
hereditary paranoia. It was still there.

I tried to keep as still as possible while I evaluated my surroundings,
and pondered whether to slip my bonds. The dark brown material of the
sack let through only the faintest hint of light, but it was enough for
me to tell that the light's source was nothing natural. There were many
of them - at least three or four at any one time, and they bobbed and
flickered, like open flames or one of Jasper's globes. Torches or
lanterns, or my brother's magic, most likely.

My captor was large - at least six feet high, given the fact that my
head was mostly upright and reached the middle of his - her? - back, yet
my feet never touched the floor. He was carrying me - that meant
nothing, of course, *I* could have easily carried myself three times
over, and I am far from being a bodybuilder - but without effort, and
probably in a single hand. And that did mean something. Echoing
footsteps nearby told me that he was accompanied by at least two
companions, and possibly three. All of which told me that I had less
chance of winning a fight then did a novice bladesman against a Lord of
Helgram. So I stopped the almost instinctive slimming of my wrists and
ankles between the ropes, and waited. They had to put me down sometime.

"This is good," came a voice from my left. Deep, rasping as if spoken
through a forked tongue (a trick I'd tried myself a time or two),
pitched low as if to avoid detection. "Drop him here, Lars."

"Right." My world flipped upside down, my head spun, and pain erupted
through my body as I landed chest-down on cold, rough stone. I choked
back on a scream of pain, kept my teeth clenched, and waited, drawing
deep, shuddering breaths. Rainbow light flared behind me, twice, three
times, and I acted. Added a few joints to each of my hands and feet.
Thrashed a bit, rolling a few feet here and there on the floor. Got the
ropes off. Fought my way into a sitting position, welcoming the chill of
the stone against my back, thought a bit about how to get out of the

Cutting my way out would be the easiest way, but also the most
conspicuous. I didn't know what Lars and his associates were being so
careful to avoid, but I doubted that I would be much more welcome. If
that had been the case, I wouldn't be here. So. A tentacle, up through
the top of the sack, might untie me, and allow escape. Or I could stay
put. A few tendrils, or a spell of teleportation, would send me far, far

As it turned out, I did none of those things. Sharp, steady claps on the
stone foretold another visitor, and I froze, trying to avoid detection.
No use. The person approached, stopped right in front of me, grasped the
top of the sack, began tugging at something. A few seconds, and the rope
tying the top of the sack came away, and I was sitting on the floor,
staring sheepishly up at my rescuer.

One eyebrow raised, and her mouth quirked. "Would you mind telling me,"
she said, slowly, "just how you got into the Main Hall of Castle Amber
tied up in a sack?"

I looked around. The corridor I was in was several paces wide, with a
ceiling more than twenty feet high. The torches I had half-seen earlier
burned in gold sconces. Paintings of stern, noble men and women lined
the walls. I sighed, levered myself to my feet, opened my mouth to

A shout stopped me. From a side hall, several men with naked blades,
green tabards with the sillouete of a golden unicorn rampant. One of
them spotted me, motioned with a free hand, and I found myself with half
a dozen blades leveled at my chest. One of them - its owner more daring
or foolish then the rest - brought the point of his weapon directly
against my throat, just under my chin. "Who the hell are you?"

The lady who had found me reached out a hand, pushed the blade down.
"That's none of your business, Sergeant. He's coming with me to Random."

The guard's grizzled, beaten face paled as he looked at my companion.
"I... but, my lady..."

"But nothing, Sergeant. You and your men are dismissed." She turned to
me. "Might I ask your name?"

I bowed from the waist, almost instinctively. "Kail Wl - " I began, and
paused. I had put names, faces, heraldry together, and I now knew where
I was. About as far from home as I could get. And a place where
revealing a House name - any House name - might be very foolish indeed.
" - Kail. And yours?"

"Laura Davega. Daughter of Princess Florimel, of the Blood of Amber." A
slight twinkle was in her eye as she spoke, as if she knew that I could
have matched her delivery if I had so chose. "Shall we go speak with the