[AM] Finding a home  
Date: 1999/03/21

March 20
Dining Hall at Castle Amber

Piper curtsied at the welcome of King Ransom as did Evelle and Kelara, as
them men bowed.  

"Thank you for your greeting and hospitality,"  V'redan said.  "If it were
my warren under attack, I might not hurry to accept strangers from a far

Piper looked at the table and the food.  Laura motioned for the
dragonriders to move to the table, which had plates set around it.  The
King held a chair out at one end of the table for his wife and then moved
to the other end and sat, giving the cue for the others to be seated.

Piper watched the Amber princess, wondering just what to do.  This was so
different than what she had been used to.  A casual buffet style was common
in the warrens, where, one way or another she had spent most of her life.
Never had she dined where servants served the food, and she was used to
dealing with no more silverware than was needed for the meal of the day.
She watched Laura carefully.  The woman seemed at ease.  Noticing Piper
watching her, the Princess winked and smiled, giving her a hint at which
fork to use next.

The meal was delicious and there was no lack.  If any of the dragonriders
had misgivings about the food, they had none by the end of the meal.  

The king spoke to the riders, asking them about the land they had come
from, their families, listening with interest to their description of their

"The wraiths have seemed to get stronger and ... well.. more intelligent
through the years,"  S'brogh said, thoughtfully as he sipped his after
dinner coffee.

"That's true," Piper said.  "Much smarter if the battle at Geode was any
indication.  There are these 'hellspawn' that seem to possess men and
dragon alike.  It was horrible.  I thought I was dead..."  she grew quiet
at the memory of being surrounded by wraiths that should have been
mindless, but had attacked with such fury.

Random listened thoughtfully.  If Brand knew of this shadow, he could be
behind the wraiths, pushing them, evolving them into something that would
suit his plans.  Or not.

The others continued the conversation for sometime, but Piper was wrapped
in her own thoughts, now, the memories of those she had left behind and of
the strange battle that had brought her to this place.

S'brogh's voice brought her out of her thoughts,  "Are you alright, Piper?"
he asked, laying a hand gently on her shoulder.  "You look.. well, a little

"I'm fine, I just.. I was just remembering.  Maybe not such a good thing to
do,"  the dark haired dragonrider said, quietly.

She looked up and noticed that she was the only one still seated.

"Oh! I'm sorry,"  she said, leaping to her feet and dropping a curtsey to
the king and queen.  "I.. I thank you for your hospitality, .. Sir, Ma'am..
um.. your Majesties"  she stuttered, not quite sure how to address such

Random and Vialle smiled at the girl,  "You are welcome, Piper," the queen
said, her voice quiet.  "Please, make yourself comfortable here for the
night.  Shelter more suited to your dragons can be found in the morning."

The king and queen bid their good nights and left the dragonriders alone,
once more with Princess Laura.  

She smiled at them.  "I could give you a short tour, or would you like to
find your beds?"

Now that they were full and relaxed, a bed sounded most welcome, so,
leading them to their rooms, Laura took the lead and mentioned different
things along the way.  

Finally, they were all in their rooms, and Piper was just about ready to go
in, but she turned.  "Princess Laura, there is something that I still don't

"Yes?"  the woman said, smiling kindly.  "I'll answer it if I can."

"What is shadow?  I saw it in the books you gave us to read, and the King
mentioned it several times and you also."  Piper thought back over the
things that were said, trying to formulate her question.  "You.. all of
you.. talk as if everything is shadow, not real... but you don't mean ..
the land where I came from.. it's real isn't it?"

Laura sighed, perhaps remembering how odd it seemed that her New York City
was but a shadow of the True City, and yet how real Amber felt, how
different than shadow that could be manipulated and changed, if you had the
power and knew how to do it.

"Piper, maybe I should wait till morning to try to explain it to you.  It's
rather hard to explain."  Laura smiled and laid her hand on the girl's arm.
"Tomorrow, we'll have time while we look for a permanent home for you."

Piper nodded,  "Thank you, Princess, you are most kind."  She turned to go
in the room but then turned back and looked deeply into Laura's eyes.
"This place is different, though.  I don't understand how, but it...
well... it feels different.. like.. coming home."

Laura smiled as Piper said good night and closed the door.  The smile
turned thoughtful as she turned to go to her own sleeping chamber.

The next day.

The dragonriders dropped to the earth in lazy circles where Laura had
thought to have buildings designed for their use.  They looked around,
trying to imagine buildings as places to live.  

"It will take some getting used to,"  S'brogh said, trying to keep a
positive outlook.  "I'm sure it would be perfectly safe.."

The other spoke quietly among themselves.  It would indeed take alot of
getting used to.

"Aren't there any caves around here?"  Evelle said, thoughtfully.  "Usually
there are some near the sea."  

"Near the sea would be nice,"  Kelara said with a smile.  "Jasra was such a
beautiful place near the sea."

Piper nodded, remembering sitting in the moonlight, listening to the waves
rush into shore as tunes danced from her pipe.  "Caves would require less
materials, also," she added, not feeling comfortable with the thought of
living in buildings on flat land.

Laura pondered for a few minutes.  "Well, perhaps..."  she said,
thoughtfully.  "There are some caves along the mountainside, facing the
eastern sea. Those might be suitable."

They mounted up, Laura riding her horse,  Tovarich and the dragons
launching into the air above her.

Soon the caves came into sight and the riders went into each one to examine
them and see if they would work for the homes they sought.  

They were beautiful, and while there was no way to get down from the caves,
save by a treacherous climb or jumping into the sea below, the ones that
they chose had natural tunnels that joined each cave.  It would take a
while to find an easy way in from the land.  But they felt that these were
a secure sight and made plans to settle there.

As Evelle and Kelara made their plans and S'brogh and V'redan moaned about
having to carry half the world to the top of a mountain on dragonback,
Piper found Laura and cornered her, smiling.

"You promised to explain shadow to me, Princess,"  the dark haired
dragonrider said.  "Please, I want to know."

Respectfully submitted,
Piper and Bishvilea

NRPG: well, I hope I didn't get too much goofy this time ;)  Would love to
meet other folks besides Laura, but not quite sure who is here (besides
Brandy who has disapeared from here. :)