Notes: This was originally meant to be part of a trilogy of stories, but the game folded before that was possible. This story has a an ending, yet is left open ended, if that makes sense =)
He was tall and unbearably handsome. Pale skin, hair the color of spun gold, eyes that put the sapphires about his throat to shame. Powerful, his father being the leader of the local government, and rich too. His name was Therin and he was, at that time, my new found love.
Perhaps that's exzagerating a bit, considering that I only met him eight days before. But love(infatuation?) is like that.
We were dancing. One step forward, two steps back, three to the right, two to the left.......it was exotic and complex and I let him lead. He wore a black suite and a collar of sapphire stones about his neck, as seemed the local custom. The shadow was called T'zn and they spoke an oddly accented dialect of Thari, though my lack of rhythm was overlooked.
I had worn red satin with a purple sash that belted about my waist, and my hair had been long, several inches past my waist, and pulled behind my head with a band woven of crimson thread.
It was a beautiful evening; A faint breeze and not a cloud in the lavender sky. Everything had been perfect.
We walked out on to the patio of the club we had been at and walked down the steps, taking a trail into the shrouded woods.
No words were spoken, we just walked on, listening to the breeze and the occasional cry of a night bird.
"Here," he said, breaking the silence and veering off the trail.
"What?" I asked, lifting my dress and trying to follow him through the thick shrubbery without tearing anything.
"Up this way," he called out. "There's something you have to see."
"Just a minute," I called after him, picking my way through various clumps of weeds and roots.
"Cheyanne! Hurry! It's beautiful, but you have to catch it at sunset! It will be dark in a......" he stopped abruptly and I called his name.
"Therin! Therin! What's wrong? Answer me! Therin!"
I panicked. Too many years spent in Amber I suppose, amongst my kin. I through off my shoes and winced as once unnoticed pebbles dug into my feet.
"Therin!" I called again. There was no answer.
His path was easy to follow; a broken branch here, bent twig there. It took less than a minute to reach him though it seemed like an eternity. I burst through several bushes and stopped suddenly.
"Therin." I barely spoke the word as I stared at him.
We were on a ledge of green grass, thick bushes and trees surrounding it. Therin lay near the edge of the cliff, which extended above a sparking lake, beyond which were the Melken Mountains, behind which the sun set.
His eyes were open, though empty of life. One hand was extended toward the setting sun, the other across his stomach. His black tux was stained with blood and a twisted silver handle rose from his chest.
I knelt near his body and studied the knife which lay embedded in his heart, not daring to touch it.
It was silver and inscribed with an odd pattern of loops and lines which melted into the rounded pommel which bore a simple symbol engraved upon it: a shooting star.
I shook my head, trying to pass it off as mere consequence. I hadn't used that symbol since I walked the Pattern and left Amber............
Something hit me then, something hard to the back of my head. I pitched forward, clapsing atop Therin's lifeless body. I moved turned to the side, doubling my fists and prepared to lunge at my attacker, but as I moved my bare foot caught on the satin and slipped sending me precariously close to the edge.
I rolled to the side and gazed up at my attacker who was, well, myself. Red hair, though her's fell just below her shoulders, and pale skin. She wore a red leather jacket and a purple shooting star adorning her clothing. She was me before I had left Amber.
She moved toward me, a silver dagger indenticle to one I had studied moments before in one hand. She moved forward quickly and, without saying anything, drove it into my shoulder.
I ignored the pain and kicked her in the stomach, bearly noticing the sound my dress made as it ripped.
She cursed in my voice and fell back. I lunged toward her and grabbed her left hand, the one bearing the knife, and forced it off to the side, pinning her down with my weight.
"You," I said through clenched teeth. "What are you?"
She gave me a twisted smile. "Your doppleganger."
I twisted my body, slamming an elbow into her stomach.
"I figured that much out. Where are you from?"
"A shadow of Amber."
"How did you get here?"
"None of your business."
She gripped my wrist then, thumb pressing into the pressure point, knife pommel pressing into the back of my hand. I resisted for a good thirty seconds, then was forced to release her.
She brought the knife up and attempted to stab it into my throat, but I grabbed the arm midway between wrist and elbow and squeezed while pushing her back.
There was a sound like crumbling gingerbread and she cried out, dropping the knife which clipped my arm on it's way to the grassy floor.
Struggling, she wrenched her other hand free a punched me across the face. It didn't hurt much, but contained force enough to cause me to fall back.
She rose hastily to her feet, left arm pressed against her body, and glared at me.
"This isn't over, Cheyanne," she said bitterly, then turned and ran into the forest.
"Wait!" I cried, though I doubted it would distract her. I rose and rushed forward, stumbling after her.
"Yow!" I fell, tripping over a thick root, and sprawled to the ground, bashing my head on to a rock.
I winced and rose unsteadily to my feet, leaning against the attacking tree for support. I touched my forehead and felt it sticky with blood. It didn't matter. I had to follow her, I had to know how she had come to this place. Shadows can't walk through shadow, damn it!
I made it another five steps or so without the dizziness overtaking me, but when it threatened to I stopped, and brushed blood from my forehead. The cut was deep, for crimson blurred my vision as it dropped from the wound.
Grabbing the hem of my thoroughly ruined dress, I ripped it, then tied the piece around my forehead, below the wound. It wasn't sterile and it certainly wasn't going to do much to stop the bleeding, but the fabric could act as a sponge and catch at least some of the blood before the delicate satin became saturated.
I took another step, then another, then stopped. It was pointless. My head, arm, and shoulder were all bleeding and my feet were no-doubtably bruised and cut multiple times by now. If I were to find myself she would have the advantage, even with the broken arm.
Pausing, I looked back the way I had come. It was bathed in darkness.
I thought of Therin, but realized that there was nothing I could do. Leaving like this would certainly look suspicious, but I wasn't sure I ever wanted to come back.
I ripped the sash off and caught the trump deck as it fell out.
Quickly, I shuffled through cards and located the trump of Amber.
Card in one hand, trump deck in the other I moved fast, heading back the way I came, stopping momentarily to wrench the dagger free of Therin and to close his eyes. Pausing, I said a quick prayer for him, then headed back down the way I had come earlier, snagging my discarded shoes as I went by.
I stopped at the path and, after deciding I was alone, sat and pulled on my shoes, placing the bloody dagger and the trumps to my left. Carefully, so not to get blood on the trump or case, I picked them up again and headed down the path, stumbling from injury; in my haste to return to the path I had twisted my ankle, so I was limping as well as bleeding as I went.
Extending my psyche best I could, I searched the path for anyone, but nothing aside from a bird or squirrel registered.
It didn't matter. I could find her again, I was sure of it.
As approached the country club I stopped and studied the lightning. Selecting a secluded, lighted spot I studied the trump of Amber and slightly prayed to the unicorn that no one was present in the main hall.
My prayers were answered........sort of. Judging from the light spilling through the windows, dawn was just beginning to unfold in Amber. There were two servants dusting or something off to one side when I trumped in. They stopped whatever it was they were doing and watched me.
I carefully placed the trump of Amber back in the case, trying not to get blood on it. One of the servants cleared her throat and I gave an annoyed look.
"Excuse me ma'am," she said hesitantly, "would like any help?"
"No," I said sourly, trying to look stern, though in reality I was fighting to urge to pass out. I was just bleeding too much.
I turned away from them and headed toward my room, placing the trump deck and knife in one hand, then crossed the other over my body and tried to put pressure on the shoulder wound which bleeding profusely.
My one true fear was running into Dad, though I didn't expect him to be up at this time in the morning. He was the only one who I would have to give an explanation to. If I ran into any of my other kin I could brush them off with some sort of excuse, but Dad would require answers.
Luckily, I ran into no one else. Leaning heavily against my door I tried the handle. Locked, and my key was back in T'zn.
"To hell with it," I muttered, rather ungracefully, then braced myself and snapped the handle. Breaking into my own rooms, what next?
I located some matches and a candle and set about lighting the lamps. I located the keys that unlocked my desk drawers, and proceeded to strip and apply bandages and medicine to my wounds. Feeling better, though dead tired, I pushed the couch up against the now broken door and wrote myself a note about asking someone to get it fixed. Then, I blew out the lamps and slept.
I awoke sometime later, feeling refreshed, but hungry.
Changing into my normal, not to mention noticeable, red leather jacket and purple pants combo complete with the shooting star emblem. I located my good sword, which I hadn't brought with me when I ventured into shadow, and put it on, grabbing my trump deck which lay next to the bloody knife on the dresser top.
Looking in the mirror, I lifted to bandage about my head. A two inch cut ran it's course over my left eye.
"Cheyanne," I told myself, "you have got to get things together."
I shoved the trump deck into my pocket and carefully removed the bandage from my head. The cut was less noticeable from a distance, and I hoped to avoid questioning until I had the matter of my double finished.
The couch still barred the door and I really didn't want to move it since the lock was broken and the door wouldn't stay shut without it.
I withdrew my trump deck and selected the card dipicting Amber. After being satisfied that there was no blood staining it I focused and stepped through.
The windows showed late afternoon, proving that I had slept for at least eight hours, maybe more.
There was no one about, which was good, so I headed down to the kitchen, careful to avoid my siblings rooms. I just wasn't in the mood for family company at that moment.
Thankfully, I met no one that I was related to, and was able to scarf down a quick breakfast, then back the way I came. I reached my room, still meeting no one. Was there a party I hadn't heard about?
I shoved the door open, entered, then pushed the couch back into place. Unlocking one of my desk drawers I withdrew and amethyst which hung on a heavy chain.
Dousing the lamps I lit numerous candles and focused on the source of all my power: the Pattern.
After hours of careful spell casting I opened my eyes, allowing my connection with the great spiral to slip, then fade. I drew a deep breath and extinguished the candles, then spoke the trigger word to one of my spells.
I arrived in the shrubbery, just outside of the place where Therin had died. Briefly, I searched for signs of human life, then, satisfied that there were none, walked forward until I reached the outcrop where the body had lain.
There was no body, though I had not expected one. I knew that T'zen's time flow was faster than that of Amber.
I paused and studied the lake, veiled in darkness. It was the dead of night here, and from the moon it appeared that the witching hour was aproaching.
Drawing a deep breath I placed a hand on my sword and moved forward into the underbrush. If my hunch was incorrect, then all was for nothing, but if this so called double really was "me", then she would be waiting in the forest.
No more than twenty paces were taken when a light appeared before me, a fading red orb with flickering laces of purple. It remained, hanging motionless to my right, for perhaps half a minute, then slowly retreated into the forest.
Smiling, I cursed my own arrogance and followed.
The trees thickened, we sloped first uphill, then down never halting. Right left, left again then back the way we came.
I felt trapped in an eternal chess game, the King being the only piece remaining to my opponent, a piece which was cleverly being moved away each time I came close to ending things. Her real motive was probably to confuse my sense of direction, which worked quite well, though I became suspicious of movement through shadow after a while. Extending my sense though there seemed no change, not even a slight one, in the world.
An hour later I had released my hold on my sword hilt and was trudging aimlessly along, wondering wether I'd make it back in time for lunch or not. I should have asked to see who was at home. After these events had run there course I had the feeling that conversing with certain relatives, say Ash or Heteroch, could prove fatale........for them.
Suddenly, the light vanished, disappearing into a leafy bush that was taller than me. I loosened my blade and took a deep breath. Don't ask me how, but I knew she/I was there. Maybe it was because this was how I would have done things(I never noticed how arrogant I am). Screw there sense of direction, then announce my presence by suddenly have their "companion" vanish. Of course, what came next was up in the air. I couldn't decide how I would handle it had I been luring someone. It would depend on the person I suppose.
Taking a deep breath I pushed my way through the foliage.
Emerging I sighed, and relaxed slightly. She sat before me, wearing my colors, the strange witch light floating above her head. She rose from the ground, but made no move toward her weapon.
Smiling, she inclined her head slightly in my direction. "I've been waiting."
"I assumed as much." My hand did not leave the hilt of my weapon.
She laughed, taking a step towards me. Perhaps ten feet separated us now.
"I don't suppose talking is an option?" I asked rather nastily.
"Nope," she said, drawing her blade in a fluent motion.
I drew my own. "Didn't think so."
She started toward me, still smiling. "How often is it you get to fight yourself?" she mused.
"Your left handed self no-less," I replied, matching her smile. I moved forward too.
"Afraid?" She swiped at the air.
I shook head. "Not especially."
"You should be," she whispered, stopping and bringing her blade before her. With out warning she attacked, trying a head cut. I parried and riposted, stepping back after the move.
Seeing me move away she paused, bringing her blade forward again. Lunging, I went for her head and made a point of beating her back, the witch light illuminating us both.
I paused in my attack, and she twisted violently, dropping to the ground. She lunged for me, trying to tackle my lower legs. I was unprepared and was only able side step partially. She caught my left ankle and brought me down, discarding her weapon as she did so. Stupid, very stupid.
She squeezed my ankle, trying to break it as I had earlier broken her arm. I kicked violently with my free leg, knocking her off and to the side. In a flash I was on my feet, sword tip at her throat as she lay sprawled on the leafy forest floor.
"Now," I said cheerily, "why don't you tell me exactly what you are and why you're here, and maybe I'll let you live."
She glared at me. "You know yourself well enough to know that I won't say anything."
Continuing to smile I said, "True, but I'm not completly stupid. When it comes to information and my life, I'd rather hold on to my life."
She smiled at that. "Do you really think I was stupid enough to come here without some sort of back up plan?"
"Are you that stupid?" I goaded.
She laughed. "See for yourself," she whispered.
The light in the clearing increased, purple exploding vibrantly around us. Glancing over my shoulder I saw that the globe was beginning to spark.
Turning back to her I saw her smirk.
"I couldn't kill you, so I figure I'll just drag you to hell with me."
"Sorry," I replied, slacking my blade and grabbing her shoulder, "not interested." I lifted her to her feet and began hacking at the foliage. I couldn't pass through, it was just too thick.
I cursed and she laughed. Turning to look at her, I released my hold on her arm. She was glowing, vibrating shades of purple and red, just like the floating sphere.
"You," she said smugly, "are going to die."
I replied with "I don't think so" and began to chop aimlessly at the foliage again.
She began to crackle with energy, her lower legs and arms vanishing in the brilliant light. It was a strange thing, watching my self being eaten up by purple electricity.
I yelled several more demands at her. Demanding to know where she had come from, how she had come to this place, why she wanted to kill me, the usual. She just kept laughing, which was annoying.
Giving up I withdrew my trump deck. I had to get out before I joined my doppleganger as a piece of electric Bar-B-Q.
I pulled the Amber card from my deck, and glanced towards her again. She was completly engulfed by the light. I suppose I could best compare her to a fire elemental, though she seemed ablaze with vibrant purple electricity. Purple electricity which was beginning to make my hair stand on end.
I studied Amber's main hall, tinted lavender by the bizarre light. Contact was sluggish, almost impossible. Purple sparks kept flashing across the card, causing me to lose my concentration. Pushing my abilities the reality of the trump exploded in front of me, and I fell through, though wether I was pushed by the forces around me or drawn through by the forces of Amber her self, I can't say.
Landing on my knees in the main hall I stood, purple sparks dancing the length of my blade, my hair now frizzy.
Acting as dignified as possible, I ignored the stares from the servants and walked to my room, shoving the door open. I then replaced the couch and starred in the mirror at myself.
"Just look at that hair......" I muttered to myself. Unbuckling my still crackling sword I sat on the couch and closed my eyes, pondering just what the hell that was.
I planed to find out.................
Return to my Mis. Amber page!