From: Sarah Pearson 
Subject: [AM] Promises made...


It never ceases to amaze me just how often I've been in adventures since
I came to Amber. I suppose you could call my "breaking" Memnoch (yeah,
like that bastard's broken) an adventure; my trip through the Pattern
certainly was! Day to day life here in Amber could be considered almost
an adventure, I suppose; it's certainly interesting being a princess. As
a child, I had servants whom I bossed around, so it's not too much of a
shock; yet to have people ofttimes *bow* to me can be a little
unnerving.

And now this. Of course, this is probably classified as an adventure,
but one that I'd rather not be on. I'm freezing, I'm tired, I'm angry as
hell, I don't have my weapon anymore, and I can't find an exit. I wonder
if this is how Laura felt; but then again she had her trumps and spells.
Me, a newbie to Amber....

Oh, I didn't tell what happened to me, did I? Well, here's the short of
it: I switched with Laura. I think....

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
**Ten minutes ago**

"Laura?"

I turned to look at my relative and noted Brandi's expression:
uncertainty. I was about to ask what was the problem when Brandi gasped
and Tovarich reared. I grabbed the horse's mane, holding on and waiting
for the horse to go down, and suddenly the air turned cold. The next
thing I knew, I was falling to the ground, no horse beneath me!

I didn't land good, to say the least. Falling from a horse, one usually
has some warning and can act accordingly; twisting oneself in the air
can be difficult but if it's necessary you can do it. However, if you
have no clue you're about to fall, or falling at all, you pretty much
hit the ground however your body happens to be turned at the moment. In
this case, I landed on my wrists and knees.

Needless to say, it hurt. Like hell.

I got up as quickly as I could (considering I was favoring both a wrist
and an ankle, you can imagine I was a bit slower than normal), then
noticed how cold it was! Well, there I was, still in my tight riding
clothes, a single shirt on (it had been warmer earlier so it was thin
cotton), and freezing my ass off! You can imagine what that did to my
temper.

It's never a good idea to get me angry. Unfortunately, or perhaps
fortunately, there wasn't anything nearby to let me vent.

So you could imagine my surprise, and yes I suppose pleasure, when these
two guys show up behind me. I'm not talking normal guys; these guys look
like thugs right out of a mobster movie. Big, muscular, stupid looking
faces; they had it all. They'd have made it big as

Needless to say, they attacked.

So I attacked back.

I guess now is a good time to mention that I'm really good at martial
arts. My mom would have freaked if she knew that every Monday,
Wednesday, and Friday of my high school years (less often in the summer)
I hung out at the Tae Kwon Do studio nearby the school. I wasn't in the
library studying, except a few times; most of the time I was asking
Sensei Kwan how she did all those kicks and punches. She showed me all
the moves too; when she saw how good I was, she showed me others. I am a
quick learner; within a year I was breaking boards with my head. I just
told my mom that the big red mark on my forehead was from bumping the
locker above me. It's kind of a funny story; she had the school move me
to another locker, so I had to tell her that I kept bumping my head on
*my* locker door. I think she thought me a klutz at the time; oh well.

I digress; enough to say I know how to fight. Unfortunately, so did
these guys. I did get in quite a few kicks; one guy was bent double with
one particularly powerful one to the groin. However, they were two, I
was one, and it wasn't equal. I'm not a quitter by nature, not nearly,
but in this case I had to concede they were better.

So I ran.

Do *not* call me a coward! You'd run from bullies on the recess
playground too if they were three times your body weight!

They were easy to outdistance, but not easy to lose. That surprised me,
but I didn't mind too much. I still had quite a few miles left in me.
But it was really cold, my hands had become icicles, and my ankle was
throbbing a bit (I've always been a fast healer; guess it's that Amber
blood running through my veins). Amberite or not, I had the feeling that
the cold could kill me as easily as it could kill anyone else.

So I thought back to what I had read. Where had I seen the statement
about molding objects from shadow? I knew it could be done, but I
didn't know the semantics of it. But I really needed weapons, or at
least something to keep them away from me. A bow might be nice, or even
better would be a crossbow. I'd used something like it in college, and I
felt that I'd been pretty good at it then, so why not now...

I almost tripped over it. Well, so that's how it worked! I picked up the
crossbow, pleased. It wasn't too heavy but seemed quite sturdy. It
wasn't nocked though; in other words I needed some quarrels. Well, I
don't see why they couldn't be right around this bend here; I mean, I
knew they'd be there after all....

Well surprise surprise, there they were. A bit different from the simple
target quarrels I'd used years ago, but at the moment I needed hunting
tips and that's what I'd gotten. Ooh, but I did love this Amber power!

I was arming the bow when I noticed something strange up ahead. Now, I'm
sure I saw nothing earlier, but suddenly it looked like I'd found my
light at the end of the tunnel (literally); as to whether it led to
heaven or not I couldn't say, but I was curious. I peeked around the
corner, watchful of any lurkers. Nothing there, at least at the moment.
Satisfied, but still ready with my crossbow, I walked as quietly as I
could towards the light up ahead.

The tunnel I was in opened up into a large room. Blue crystal lines the
walls, jutting out periodically from the surrounding walls and polished
as if by a master's hand. Columns that didn't look like nature had made
them were place periodically through the cavern, a few of which were
also adorned with the crystals. A pale blue pool about ten feet in
diameter near the cavern's center radiated a low, pale light that
illuminated the cavern with a bluish glow. The crystals seemed to
magnify the light, spreading it in rays about the cavern, making it
almost seem like a laser show.

Eat your heart out Hollywood.

Crossbow still in hand, I headed over to the small pond. Call it
curiosity, call it stupidity, but I had to see how that light was made.
Perhaps it was a way out of here; God knew I'd have done just about
anything for that. Mostly though I just wanted to see where that light
was coming from. Besides electricity, I could only think of two things
that could make light: magick and phosphorescence. The first was a
distinct possibility, especially from what I'd seen so far, the second
was just something to fall back on.

I came to the edge, squatted down and peered inside. I couldn't see too
much; it seemed almost like a two way mirror. I could see my reflection,
and that of the cavern ceiling above me, but I could also make out a
depth to the water. I couldn't see the bottom, but whether it was
because it was deep or not I couldn't tell.

Giving up, I took a look at my reflection. I wasn't looking quite normal
at the moment. My hair was haggard, most likely from the fighting.

Wait a minute, I wasn't smiling...but the reflection was. What the...!

Before I could even react, the water shot up straight at me. Giving a
cry, I fell backwards, dropping the crossbow to scramble back faster.
The large column of water splashed onto the ground mere inches from my
boot and started running backwards toward the pond again. I was about to
give a sigh of relief when I noticed my crossbow moving. The water was
pulling it into the like the tide pulls objects, or people, out to sea!
I watched, dumbfounded, as it scraped against the floor and into the
water.

I lunged for it just before it disappeared beneath the mirrory water,
but strong hands grabbed my arms and hauled me back. I reacted
instinctively; I kicked backwards, struggling as much as I could. Of
course, as I'd said, these were strong hands; they didn't let go. So I
watched my crossbow disappear into the mirror, realizing I was powerless
and weaponless.

Light flashed brightly from the pool, as if somebody had turned on a 50
million watt flashlight under the water; it left me seeing all black for
a moment, and when my vision returned there was a man. Well, I wasn't
sure at the time he was a man; he had a robe on after all.

We just stared at each other for a moment, then he moved towards me. I
can't say he walked; walking implies movement of the legs, a somewhat
jerky up and down motion; he glided. He was either using magic, a
hoverboard, or was one hell of a good model.

"Ahh, I see we've acquired a new... guest," he stated (by the voice I
knew for sure it was a he). "I'm curious to know just how my previous
guest was able to get out of here."

"You and me both," I muttered darkly, giving my arms a little tug. Nope,
he wasn't going to let go anytime soon.

The man in the robe looked above me and nodded; and I was released. I
didn't move, just rubbed my shoulders. I glanced behind me: yep, it was
one of those guys. Wonder where the other one was.... "Where the hell am
I?" I asked, angry.

"Tsk tsk little one," he cautioned, shaking a finger at me, "didn't
anyone teach you it isn't polite to curse in front of ones elders?"

"Fuck you! Where the Hell am I?"

"Hmm, good description of it, although it's a little colder here." He
glided around me, obviously checking me out. My lip curled angrily, but
I didn't do anything but stand up and brush off my knees. "Like what you
see?" I asked sarcastically.

He didn't answer, just kept staring at me. I let him for a few moments
longer, then it just finally got to me. I can't stand prolonged silences
unless I'm making them. "If you're done, could you please let me go
home?"

"Home? You mean Amber-home or Earth-home?"

It didn't really occur to me at the time to question how he knew that
about me; I guess I supposed it was common knowledge. "Amber would be a
nice start," I replied coldly.

I could almost feel his grin. He studied me again for a moment, and I
finally just gave up. "Fine then." I turned around and walked right
back the way I came. "I'll try to find my own way out thenó"

"You can certainly try," he replied. "Of course, I've got this shadow so
warded I doubt you'd even get through to Amber."

"Laura did," I replied angrily, whirling around.

"Yes, she did," he answered. His voice seemed troubled, or was that just
the echo? "I hadn't counted on other ways of contact; a poor judgement
on my part. Yet you have no such devices; you don't seem to have
*anything* now, do you?"

"What the hell do you want from me!" I shouted, blowing up. "Just send
me home!"

"All in good time my dear," he answered, and a shiver crept up my back.
I didn't like him; mostly because he was irritating me to no end, but
also because he scared me. I don't scare easily, but something about him
made me extremely nervous.

"I have a proposition, one which will get you home."

"What can I do for you?" I countered, angry but intrigued.

"I will send you home to Amber scotch free, if you promise me that some
time in the future you will do a favor for me."

I really wanted to just laugh in his face; but what he'd said earlier
was most likely true. I had no other way to get out of here, no trumps
or whatever to contact my relatives (I *really* had to get some of
those!), no magic spells that would blast open the walls. Nada, zippo,
zilch. Zero. "Why me?"

He shrugged. "You're available, and you seem to have no other option.
And I feel you are a woman of your word."

Well, he got the last part right. And, I suppose, the first part...boy I
hate to admit that. "What would I have to do?" Anything involving bodily
harm, and I was out of there.

"Nothing that would hurt you yourself, I promise. I truly don't even
know what it will be yet. But I want you to promise me you will give me
my request when the time comes. Once you do that, you will go back to
Amber."

"Just who are you?" I asked, trying to peer beneath the robed hood. "And
what kind of thing will I have to do?"

"I will give you time to think on my offer," he stated, his voice
seeming to be far off. The pool behind him began to brighten, and she
could still see his dark outline in the growing light. "You need only
call your answer and I will reply accordingly." His voice was echoing
across the walls now, and the light intensified even more, making his
edges blurry. I turned my head to shield my eyes and shouted "What if I
say no?" But there was no answer; when I looked again, I was alone.

"You stupid..... stinking.... aargh!!!" I wanted to attack something,
and kicked at a little pebble on the ground. The movement of my leg
stirred up a wind, and it was brought to my attention that it was cold.
It seemed to come on suddenly; he disappears, and I'm cold again. And it
is COLD.

Shivering, I head back the way I came. There's no obstacles now, no
people trying to catch me; somehow that makes me even more apprehensive.
He said I had only to call out, and he'd send me back....but I had no
clue as to what he wanted me to do! Killing someone in their sleep, for
example, means I'll get no bodily harm from the act itself; but if I get
caught I'll get hung, or beheaded, or worse! And how was I to know if
he'd keep his word anyway? I got the feeling that he'd lie if it would
help his case, but he seemed to be telling the truth.....

So here I am now, debating over accepting this man's offer to go home
while I'm walking here, freezing my butt off, cursing myself for not
investing in what every one of my family probably has, a set of Trumps.

If I don't accept the offer I'll stay here and freeze. I could tell that
he meant that part; he'd leave me here to "think" for as long as it
took. I'd heard about the strengths of my ancestors; it might just take
me a long time to die here.... And anyways I didn't want to die. After
all, there were a million things he might ask me to do. I might simply
need to help him get a horse, or get into the castle. After that my
promise would be off, and I could do whatever I wanted; if he was evil,
I could even rat on him. Of course, he'd probably retaliate about
that.... But it couldn't be all that bad, whatever he planned to have me
do.

Man, it's COLD! I'm walking with icicles that are threatening to
shatter, and I knew that once I got down I wouldn't get up. And Amber
was simply a promise away, it couldn't be that bad.

He better not be lying to me.

"Alright, I give." My voice wasn't all that strong; freezing does that
to you. "I promise I'll do you one favor. But ONLY one! And it had
BETTER NOT KILL ME!"

I heard chuckling from somewhere around me, then my legs finally gave
out. I was too cold to even try to catch myself, and prepared for the
impact on the....

Grass below me?!

I looked around; I was in Arden! Half a moon was shining above me,
illuminating the forest with a much more natural shade of blue. Sounds
of the night were all about me, and, glory be, it was WARM!

I sat up on my knees, then lifted myself up unsteadily. I was still
wobbling when I heard hoofbeats behind me. Rubbing my arms, trying to
get the heat to soak into them, I turned around to see Orbus, Brandi,
and Laura riding up to me.

Hmm, I wonder how I'm going to tell them how I got home.....