Part Seven - Dream and Memory

On the wind,
Across the sea,
Hear this song and remember........

Marie, Anastasia

I ached. Not an injurious ache, but one that comes from having slept on something hard for far too long.
Struggling, I flexed my muscles and forced my eyes open.
Then world was gray and dirty around me. To either side were red brick buildings and piles of trash that oozed from nearby dumpsters. There was a pile of punctured bicycle tires behind me and I lay on strained pavement.
My clothes were neat, business attire. A pale lavender pants suit.
Somewhere inside a little voice told me that I didn't like lavender.
I rose shakily to my feet, using one of the walls for support.
Numbly, I wandered out of the alley and onto the street. There were people, lots of them, walking and talking and shopping and doing lord knows what else. Shops and vending booths lined the street and cars passed on the road.
"Where am I?" I muttered. Then a sudden thought struck me. "Who am I?"
Quickly, I checked my pockets for some form of ID. Nothing. Just a wad of used Kleenex and a business card.

Ronin A. Sawall
Dealer in antiques and collectibles.
555 Evergreen Way

"Excuse me," I grabbed the arm of the nearest shopper, a corpulent women in a green over coat.
She eyed me like a piece of gum on the bottom of her shoe. "Yes?"
"Can you tell me where Evergreen Way is?"
The old geezer snorted. "Just where do you think you are, young woman?"
I looked around, searching for a street sign. I spotted one about half a block a way.
"Oh," I let go of her arm. "Thank you."
She turned and walked in the opposite direction.
I stood there for a while, thinking as the world passed me by.
I had no idea who I was or how I had come here. I spoke the language, obviously, and was familiar with certain aspects of the place(like trash cans and street signs), but not others.
"What the hell is going on?" I ran a hand through my hair.
Unable to decide on any other course of action, I started walking, checking the addresses as I went. 243. 245. 247. 249.
Slowly, I passed a multitude of shops - most of the being floral related in some way, until I reached 555.
It was not unlike the other shops. Small and dimly lit with a large window display of pottery and old books. I paused and pressed my nose up against the window, watching as the light danced off a crystal unicorn with a gold horn.
"A unicorn," I breathed, mesmerized by the tiny lines etched in the crystal. Unicorns were important, somehow.
With a sigh, I moved away from the window and turned the knob, entering the antique shop.
The man behind the counter was tall, with long brown hair drawn into a pony tail. His eyes were the most exquisite shade of green I had ever seen. He wore jeans and a pale brown turtle neck. A thin pair of wire rimmed glasses sat on the bridge of his nose.
"Kris!" he said, taking the glasses off as I entered.
Kris....Kris......Kris. The name was familiar. It seemed right, somehow.
"Ronin," I smiled. My fingers traced the outline of the business card in my pocket.
I must have guessed right, for he smiled back.
He stood, coming around a table cluttered with books and feathers and other odds and ends.
"I was getting worried about you," he said, hugging me. I bristled slightly, but hugged him back. He stepped back, not entirely releasing me from the embrace. "What's wrong," he breathed, tracing the line of jaw with the fingers of his right hand.
"I...nothing," I stammered.
"Good." He smiled at me again, then moved forward and kissed me.
I convulsed and shoved him away.
"Just what the hell do you think your doing?" He stumbled back a few steps, colliding with a display case holding various knives.
He looked shocked.
"I'll be damned," he said. "I didn't think you had it in you."
"What are you talking about?" I demanded.
Ronin sighed and held a hand out in my direction. "We were going to have such fun, too."
I glared at him.
He lowered his hand and went back to the table covered with books.
"Mandor's not going to be pleased," he continued. "He was certain that you lacked the power to see through his spell."
"What spell?" Somehow magic didn't seem that foreign an affair.
Ronin sat and stared at me. "Mandor was to erase your memories and give you a set of new ones." He smiled faintly. "You were to be my wife."
"What????" Nothing made sense. Mandor......his name was familiar. But being married to the man in front of me? Never!
"It's a shame," Ronin continued. "I didn't mean what I said back there. About no man wanting to go to bed with you and all."
"You're not making any sense!" I raged.
His mouth dropped open in a little "o" of surprised. "You don't remember at all, do you?"
A part of me said to lie, for lying was best. Another part of me urged for the truth.
"I......I know I'm not married to you!" I announced, taking the semi-safe middle ground. Admit nothing, deny everything........
He laughed, then clapped his hands.
"I'm leaving," I said.
"You'll be back," came his smug reply. "You may have skill enough to see through Mandor's memory implants, but he still managed to erase everything else."
I left the antique shop, slamming the door behind me.
"My name is Kris," I said to myself. It didn't seem right, however. A nickname, maybe.
Mandor. The name Mandor was important. I thought and tried to place him, but saw nothing. The same with Ronin.
I walked, stopping to inspect various stalls of jewelry and wax designs. I went into a second hand bookstore and studied the spines, looking for something, anything well-known.
The titles were as un-familiar as the land.
After a time I was aware of someone following me.
They weren't known to me in any way, being tall and very muscular. There were three of them and all three looked as though they could bench press all three of the trucks barreling down the street. Strangely, this didn't bother me. In fact, a part of me whispered that I could beat them easily.
I quickened my pace, hoping to lose the dour, dark haired men.
No such luck.
I turned off the main street - Kitsing Way, or some such - and cursed. Of all the alleys to chose I picked one that was a dead end.
It was an awful lot like the one I had woken up hours before - smelly, narrow, and covered in trash.
The men turned down the alley and blocked my only exit with their burly forms.
"Hello, boys," I said, from my perch atop a fairly clean trash can.
They grunted and exchanged looks. One of them, the biggest of the three, moved forward into a shaft of sunlight, giving me my first good look at him.
He was tall - maybe seven feet - with red skin and hair the color of night. He wore a trench coat and leather boots.
"So," I said, shifting my position slightly, "why are you guys following me?"
"'Cause we were ordered to," the big guy barked.
"Ah. Ordered by Mandor or Ronin?" I inquired.
The three exchanged glances, but remained silent.
I hopped off the trash can and started towards them. "You're not going to tell me, hm?"
One of the ones in the back shifted nervously as I approached.
"We don't want to hurt you," the big one said, "but we will if we have to. All we want to do is follow you. No big deal."
I stopped ten feet from the guy.
"And what if I don't wanna be followed?"
His piggy eyes narrowed so that they were almost shut.
"Then we'll beat the crap out of you and drag you back to Ronin."
"Ah, so it is Ronin who ordered you to follow me." Now I was getting somewhere.
"Never said that," the guy in the back on the left replied. "He just said that we would take you to him."
"Well, gentlemen, this is getting us nowhere fast." I raised my fists in an instinctively protective position. "Let's get this fight over with, 'cause I won't have you following me and I don't want to crawl back to Ronin, either."
The biggest of the three grunted and inclined his head slightly. Then three of them moved towards me.
Adrenaline took over and I rushed the first guy, driving a fist into his unsuspecting stomach. He grunted and hammered two fists into my back.
I fell to the ground, slightly stunned but otherwise unharmed.
Rolling away from them I grabbed onto the side of a garbage can and hauled myself to my feet. In turn, I picked up the garbage can and threw it at my attackers.
It hit one of the smaller ones squarely in the face, knocking him down.
The other two lunged at me and I did something completely unexpected.
"Kaijin!" I word echoed in the alley and lightning flashed, frying one of my attackers, who landed a burned, moaning mess on the pavement.
The other guy connected and slammed me into a wall. He grabbed ahold of my shoulders and kept bashing my head into the brick. Over and over and over and........
"Kaijin!" Another bolt of lightning, this one smaller and less bright, slammed into the man who held me. I felt the shock rivet through my own body, though it wasn't as bad.
He fell, dragging me with him, and I pried his greasy fingers from my suit.
The third guy stood, trash can in hand, at the mouth of the alley. We stared at one another for a moment, then he turned and fled.
I stepped over the bodies and I, too, ran, but in the opposite direction.
"Oh, God," I said, stopping to callapse against a building. "What did I do?"
The brick was cool and rough against my face as I sagged there, exhausted both mentally and physically.
"What did I do?" I moaned into my hands.
Time swirled by me as the world passed by........
I don't know how long I stood there. It could have been an hour, then again it could have been only seconds.
Images fluttered by, recollection there, but not quite.
A pale faced boy with dark hair laughed as he ran through a field of yellow flowers...........a mirror lay in pieces, shattered my own fists...........blood on the hem of lavender gown worn by an exotic women who held a lions head in one hand..........a red haired man smiling triumphantly, a blazing circle of blue behind him....... that blue, just over his shoulder, just beyond my reach.......that was the key.........
I gasped, a sudden pain slicing through my heart.
"That blue spiral," I murmured. "It's the key......the key......."
Grasping the singular memory of the red haired man I focused on the image in the background, that swirling of blue sparks. I could feel the tears streaking down my face, as I watched, helplessly, as another girl close to my own age perished in a flurry of white light, not even given time to scream. It didn't matter, because I screamed for her. The red haired man cursed and someone squeezed my hand. Someone, my age slightly shorter with my hair, my eyes, only male.
"Andrew," I gasped. Andrew, Andrew........yes, that name meant something. He was important. Familiar. More familiar than Ronin or Mandor. But who was he?
I sobbed suddenly and sunk to the ground.
"Are you alright?" A heavy hand came down on my shoulder.
He was short and portly, with gray hair and neatly trimmed beard.
"I...yes, thank you." I sniffed and gave him a small smile.
He smiled back. "I own the shop right here," he jerked a thumb towards the building I had been leaning against. "I was getting ready to close up shop when I heard you crying. Would you like to come in for a cup of tea?"
"Tea?" I looked around. The streets were empty, the sun nothing but a red globe. "I'd love some tea." I wiped my noes cautiously on my sleeve.
"Good!" he said in a jolly voice. He ushered me into the shop and disappeared into the back to fetch the tea.
It was small shop with many display cases and shelves all boxes.
I picked up the nearest one, silver with a painted rainbow, and began to wind it. An un-familiar tune floated out.
Carefully, I turned it over and inspected the bottom. A neat white sticker with red print informed me that the tune was "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." I smiled as the tune faded and put the box back on the shelf.
"Beautiful song, isn't it?" the old man reappeared a tray lined with tea cups shaped like flowers.
"Yes," I replied, "it was lovely."
"Go ahead and play another," he said, putting the tray down on the counter. "Would you like cream or sugar?"
"Mmmm......sugar, two please," I said as I selected a sleek black diamond with a shiny rose inscribed. The tag read "Masquerade" and another lovely melody floated out as I opened the lid, this one hauntingly familiar.
"Phantom of the Opera," the old man said, hobbling over and handing me a cup shaped like a water lily.
"'Phantom of the Opera,'" I repeated. That was familiar, however vaguely.
He nodded, pouring himself a cup of tea inside a rather large bluebell. "Wonderful bit of opera. Special effects and all. A tragic love story unless I'm mistaken, and I sometimes am." He dumped a handful of sugar into the bluebell and began to stir furiously. "They don't have it here. It's a Shadow Earth bit."
I took a drink of my tea and nearly choked. "Shadow Earth?"
He nodded, sipping his tea. "Yes, yes. You'll remember soon. Just drink your tea, dearie." He began to pile more sugar cubes into his.
Obligingly I took a sip. "I'm afraid I didn't catch your name."
He took another long sip of tea, then put the cup down, apparantly satisfied with the amount of sweetener. "Dworkin."
"Dworkin......" I rolled the name on my tongue. It, too, was familiar, but I couldn't think of where I'd heard it. A brief image of a tarot card came to mind........
"Yes," he replied, downing the rest of his tea, "Dworkin."
I took another sip. "I feel as though I should know you, but don't remember."
"You shouldn't remember me, 'cause we've never met. Now drink your tea." He began to rummage through a nearby cabinet, shoving various music boxes aside.
"Not to be rude......." I began, but he cut me off with a triumphant, "Aha!"
"Here." The old man tottered towards me. He grabbed my free hand and thrust a small green box into it. It was smooth, a white unicorn the only decoration. Gold lined the edges and the clasp. I turned it over, but there was no sticker stating the tune.
"What's it play?" My voice was hushed. This was important somehow.
The old man smiled. "A very old song, one which is a part of your blood."
"A part of my blood......" I turned the box this way and that before finally pausing to set down my tea and wind it. The golden key turned without a sound, the golden clasp lifted without effort.
A song floated out and, while I did not know the words, I did know it. It was a part of my soul. A part of...of Amber.
Amber! How could have forgotten the one true realm! The land of my father and his father and his father. My head jerked up and I stared at Dworkin Bariman, who smiled gleefully.
Memories swarmed back to me. Andrew, Adamantis, M'ky, my Mother, my Father, Delwin, Cyanne.........they were all there and in my mind I riffled through their images like I would a deck of the family cards.
Amber, Chaos, Earth, Shadow, The Abyss, The Pattern........they all came to back to me, filling me with power.
Carefully, I closed the music box cutting the song off in mid-verse.
"Dworkin," I began, but he put a hand up to stop me.
"Get out of here child! There are forces which seek to corrupt you!" His voice was deeper, no longer that of an old man, but of a demon sorcerer.
He said something, but his words were lost to me as the world, literally, shattered around me.
As pieces of the music box store fell to the ground a distinct chiming like that of breaking glass could be heard.
Darkness surrounded me, confined me, overpowered me. As I fell "Greensleeves" played somewhere in the distance................

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Also, the quote used is not the original quote, but I felt that it was fitting. Many thanks to Ky(whose e-mail is sporadic, therefore it won't be linked here =) for his help.