From: Sarah Pearson 
Subject: [AM] An unexpected journey

It sure had been quite an interesting couple weeks for those around
the castle. Things had come out into the open that seemed painful for
some, and other things had surfaced that had set the whole royal
family for a loop. Rumors circulated the castle about illicit
affairs. Strange, obscure, and possibly dangerous family relations
were talked about constantly as well. People disappeared from the
castle on occassion, only to wind up somewhere else entirely. Castle
intrigue got more complex and deadly as the days progressed; people
became increasingly suspicious of each other. As life became more and
more complex in the world of Amber....

Sarah lived.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

"What the hell do you think you doing with that!!?"

Sarah vaulted over the fence and headed furiously over to where a
trainer was moving towards a stallion with a long whip in his hand.
The trainer turned around and saw a woman moving towards him angrily;
and being new, he had no idea of his danger so stood his ground as
she came and stood in front of him. "What the hell are you doing
taking a whip like that to train a horse!?"

"Excuse me, but I am a horse trainer," he stated simply with a
chauvenistic air. "Since you obviously don't know how to train
horses, I'd kindly ask you to please step out of my way."

All expression fled from Sarah's face, and her chin came up a notch.
"I don't know how to train horses?" she question softly, a predatory
gleam in her eye.

Feeling a little uncomfortable now, and wondering if perhaps he
wasn't a little hasty judging (after all, he'd never seen her train
horses, and she seemed to think she was good), he sought to get out
of this situation without causing a scene. "Now, it's a known fact
that women aren't as strong as men, and you need strength to break a
horse." At the mention of breaking a horse, those amber eyes he was
looking at flashed; there was nothing else that indicated anger, no
body movement or what not, but the feeling of impending doom crept

Instead of starting a screaming fit as he'd imagined she would do,
however, she calmly held out her hand. "I don't like horses being

Wanting to get away from this woman with the expressive eyes, he
quickly handed over the whip and turned back to the horse, wondering
how he would train it now. The easiest thing to do would be to geld
it, but it would make too perfect a sire...

He barely got five steps away when he heard a crack and felt a sting
on his back. Startled, he stumbled foward a bit and heard another
crack, and a cut suddenly appeared in the calf of his pants. He
stared stupidly at the tear as another crack sounded and something
bit him in the butt. Yelping, he jumped up and around to see the
woman holding the whip to the side in a ready position, a ghost of a
smile on her face.

"Number one," she stated softly, "we do not break horses here."

"What..." he started, but quicker than lightening her arm moved and
the fabric on his shoulder ripped, the seemingly invisible whip
cutting through the layers to nick the skin beneath. He yelped, and
was about to shout an expletive but wisely kept silent.

"Number two," she continued, her voice like steel, "I don't know
where you learned your backwoods ideology, but I have a feeling that
I could probably beat you in training a horse."

Well, he figured, maybe this woman could; but she probably didn't
know how to take a fall or ... OUCH!!! "What was that for?" he yelped
out, rubbing his forearm.

She grinned, and it wasn't a happy grin. "For not believing me." Grin
erased, she continued, "And number three, we treat horses here with
the same respect we treat other people here; and that means no
whips." To emphasize her point, she cracked the whip again this time
hitting him just below the belt just enough to sting. He let out a
high pitch squeal and, grabbing his crotch, screamed, "You bitch!
Who the hell are you to dictate anything around here!?"Even from the
distance, he could see the lightening flash in her eyes and knew he'd
made a grave error. Her hand whipped back, and he closed his eyes,
sure of what was to come.

Sarah was about to let the animal have what he more assuredly gave to
other horses when a hand was laid on her shoulder and someone stated
her name. Whirling around, she came face to face with the stern
expression of the stablemaster.

"Sarah, you shouldn't be doing this..."

"He was going to use this on Diamon! I was simply teaching him a..."

"Sarah, that whip is scaring the horses."

Sarah lowered the whip, still fuming. Muttering an angry expletive, she
turned around and stormed into the barn as curious onlookers began to

"You ought to keep a better handle on your workers," the trainer
growled, staring daggers after Sarah's retreating form. "Someone could
get killed by her--"

"I want you out of here within two days." When the trainer stared at
his former boss incredulously, Mikal the stablemaster added, "And keep
out of her site; she's liable to finish her job, and I might not be
around." He didn't tell the trainer the real reason he was being let go:
Sarah wasn't one to forgive and forget quickly, and if he was still
around when she was in a foul mood...

The ex royal trainer stared at his former boss for a moment more, then
walked away with a stream of curses pouring from his lips. Mikal watched
him walk away, then turned towards the barn.

He found Sarah inside angrily grooming Memnoch, rubbing the currycomb in
rough circles and slapping the brush onto the black coat. Memnoch,
seemingly knowing that his owner was in a particularly bad mood, wasn't
fidgetting too much. She seemed calmer than she'd been just moments ago,
but Mikal never knew with the royal princess. "You really shouldn't do
that Sarah."

Sarah spared an angry glance, pausing for a moment, then resumed
grooming as she stated, "One thing I can't stand are men beating a horse
with a whip for the simple reason that they don't know enough to handle
it in the training arena!"

Mikal just sighed. "Sarah, that's two in as many weeks you've driven
off. The first one you knocked senseless because he was trying to break
the horse an old fashioned way..."

"Old fashioned! He tied Dierra up until it could only fall to the
ground, then SAT on her while she struggled to get free!!"

"Yes, I know." Personally, Mikal had wanted to beat that particular
trainer senseless himself; the princess had simply beaten him to it. "I
didn't mind that one. But Sarah, you *know* how Diamon is. He's one of
the harder horses we have here. Now," he stated quickly as a venomous
stare was turned his way, "I don't like whips any more than you do, but
for some people that's simply how they were taught to treat problem
horses. I really don't think you should have turned on him like that."

Sarah looked like she was about to grill him on his monologue and Mikal
held his breath. But she held her tongue and turned back to Memnoch; the
grooming seemed less harsh this time however, and Mikal prayed that the
princess was starting to see a little reason.

"I'm going for a ride," she stated, surprising Mikal; then, surprising
him even more, she untied Memnoch's halter from the post and swung up
onto him bareback. Memnoch was off before Mikal could even shout a
warning to her.


After an invigorating ride, which included a couple bucking attempts,
she returned to find the castle in an uproar. Or at least something
close. Princess Laura was in trouble it seemed (she couldn't get out of
any of the servants just what the trouble was), Brandi had been attacked
by a hideous monster from the abyss ("I've got to get caught up," she
thought) and was attempting to use the Pattern to find Laura herself.
Sarah rolled her eyes; couldn't her royal family keep themselves out of
trouble. Since Sarah didn't know any spells herself, let alone how to
truly walk the pattern, she retired to the library, her second favorite
haunt next to the stables. She breezed through the doors and headed
towards the row with the personal journals of previous Amberites.

She paused for a moment, trying to decide what to get. She had an
infinite number of books to choose from, not just those before her; but
she found these to be among the more entertaining stories. It seemed
that her current siblings' penchant for adventure was an inheirited
trait. She chose a random journal from off the shelves then went over to
sit in an overstuffed but comfortable chair. As she sat down, her
muscles began to ache and she wondered if going out bareback with
Memnoch was really all that good an idea. She opened the book and began
to read.

A while later, she could feel her eyelids drooping. She hadn't realized
just how tired she was; and while she couldn't determine the exact time,
she'd been up really early to prep the horses with barely any sleep the
previous night. She was certainly due a nap, even if it was just a power
nap. She crouched down a bit more in the chair and closed her eyes,
laying the book across her stomach. It wouldn't be too long; she still
had to go help Mikal stable the horses later that night. And she really
doubted she was so sleepy as to sleep too long...


A sudden jolt woke her up instantly. Disoriented, she looked around
confusedly. 'Where am I?' she wondered, brow furrowing in confusion and
frustration. Gone were any books; it was very obvious, both from the
site and the smell, that she was no longer in the library. But where the
hell *was* she then?

The air was humid and heavy, with a distinctly moldy odour to it. She
wondered if she was in the basement of the castle....Suddenly it hit
her: she was in the dungeons. She spun around and stared at the winding
staircase behind her; she'd navigated *those* while she was asleep? In
front of her was another door, and she could feel what was beyond it:
the Pattern. She thought she remembered that a guard would be guarding
the door, yet nobody was about. She figured the problems with Laura
and/or Brandi had lured him out. But hanging on the wall was a set of

Sarah felt the pull of the Pattern, and forgot about thinking about how
she got there as she reached for the keys. Her first attempt to open the
door was a success, and as it swung open she got her first look at the
Pattern. It was absolutely breathtaking, yet she could feel danger
eminating from it. It was calling her, and almost as if she wasn't
really herself she took the necessary steps to enter the Pattern.

The Pattern sparked under her feet as she stepped onto it, but she
wasn't immediately consumed. Her mind flashed back onto the numerous
account's she'd read about the walking of the Pattern: the three veils,
how each got more and more difficult, but she knew she could take it.

Within a few more steps she encountered a resistance. She pushed onward,
and broke free: one veil down. With her next steps, however, walking
became a little harder; it felt as if she was walking through water, and
the feeling became worse as she stepped onward. It felt like she was
hiking up a steep hill, the effort to pull her legs foward more and more
difficult. She refused to stop though; the thing she sought was at the
end of this path, so when she came to the second veil it was by sheer
force of will she broke through.

The last few steps were utter torture. Tears pooled in her eyes but
refused to run as she took her second step; by the end of the third they
were running down her cheeks. "Stop it, you big baby" she told herself,
weighted down feet trodding alone at a crawl. "You've done worse than
this. Maybe..."

It seemed that the pattern was laughing at her. It danced around her
faster and faster, as if taunting her. She could almost hear laughter
in the back of her mind. 'Give up, you can't do this' Sarah wasn't sure
if it was her own mind speaking or the Pattern, but anger flared up and
she took the last steps, arriving at the last veil. The pattern was
flashing around her as she faced the insurmountable final veil; and in
one last push, using the last of her strength and her willpower, tears
streaming down her face, she broke free of the entrance and came into
the Pattern.

It was as if one went from climing a treaturous precipice to walking on
a lush country path. She was still tired from her arduous journey, no
matter how short it was, but she could feel herself recovering quickly.
She looked around and smiled. She felt like shouting; she'd made it!
But, where to now?

A wave of homesickness overcame her, but she pushed it back. She truly
didn't know what her shadow was like; perhaps if she went back now,
twenty years might have gone by and she wouldn't know anybody. Yet,
perhaps just twenty minutes...

No, she had responsibilities still here. She formed a picture in her
mind, asking/demanding the Pattern take her there. And just before she
was transported, she heard the sound of laughter. And it certainly
wasn't hers...


Mikal was staring suspiciously at Memnoch when Sarah walked serenly out
of the tack room. Mikal nearly kissed her he was so relieved; nobody had
wanted to take care of that devil horse, him included. "Sarah, would you

"Not at all Mikal," she replied, smiling. She untied Memnoch, punched
him square in the nose as he tried to bite her, kneed him in the belly
when he attempted to kick her, and led him towards his stall. Mikal just
shook his head; the two were quite a pair. The horse wouldn't give up;
even when she released him into his stall, he laid back his ears and
snapped at her, but she just smiled and gave him a knockout blow on the
side of the mouth Mikal knew would have knocked out any man. As she
passed him for the night, she grinned and whispered, "Isn't he just a
little devil?"

Mikal couldn't have agreed more.