A Cat, An Amulet and Eris

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I'm not that good with stories really. Good at making them I think, but telling them... that's more my brother Corwin's fortè than mine. The King isn't so bad either when he puts his mind to it, and I do suppose I'm better than Benedict. He has this habit of taking the most exciting, heart-wrenching, fight against incredible odds type of story and get it down to 'I killed him.' He's that kind of guy. Just don't tell him I said so. Where was I? Oh yes. I'm not that good with stories, but I think I'll try and put down some of mine anyway.

It started with a girl, Chiara by name, a pretty curly-haired wench from Shadow, and I'd like to say she comes into this story, but it's not that kind of tale. She's sort of a catalyst, or more importantly the amulet was. See I'd been seeing Chiara for... well never actually. But I was going to I swear, I'd picked out this like gold piece for her, shape of a flower, with some rubies. Not big hunkering ones mind, they were more subtle, and finished the piece off. I just don't want you thinking I'm the flashy sort, not the cheap sort either mind. I just liked it. It was pretty and when I saw it in the stall I thought of Chiara, so I bought it for her with the full intention of making a little gift to her next time I passed her way. You know? A talking point, something to get me on the road to... well I think you get the idea.

I'd bought this little piece and put it in my pocket, stayed there for a year or two, and I found it by accident one day when I was back in my chambers in the castle. Which castle? That'd be Amber. Hey, my Dad's the old king, my brother's the new king, of course I have chambers in Castle Amber. Anyway, I was in my chambers and found the amulet in a long-forgotten pocket in one of my jackets. I was musing over it, remembering Chiara (who's long since dead by now I think) and the good times we might have had if I'd remembered this sooner. Have I mentioned we live a long time? I have no idea how old I am really, I get confused mainly because Amber-time, Shadow-time and Court-time gets all skewed the more you travel and I've travelled a fair bit. Might only be a millenium or so ago I was born in Amber, but what with fast-time shadows and the like I think I've been around at least more than double that. So I was musing over the amulet and sat it on my desk to remind me to make a gift of it to Sara, long story, again not really relevant to this tale, and went to join the others for lunch. Things have been quiet in Amber since the war, and Random isn't as big on ceremony when there's only a few of us, us being 'the family' around. So lunch was a pretty informal affair, the usual lot who're around, me, Julian, Gerard, Benedict, Random and Vialle. The rest were off in their own shadows, Corwin's probably off exploring the worlds he created with his own personal Pattern. I prefer the informal get-togethers as opposed to the state things we go through sometimes when everyone's around or there's some ambassador or other to entertain. And on this occasion I was pretty fortunate, this lunch lasted shorter than most or I might have missed what I otherwise didn't.

I'd just got back to my room and there was this cat sitting on my desk. Sitting on my desk and looking straight at me. I have nothing against cats, I've had a few in my life, though they never seem to hang around that much. This one however had 'that' look in his eye and I knew he was trouble. And the little bastard had my amulet for Chiara or Sara or whoever in it's mouth. He took one look at me and broke for the door between my legs and ran for it down the hall. Just on instinct I chased him, but for a cat he was fast. I mean I'm fast, I know that, but this little guy just... when I say he flew you're going to have to believe me and you're going to have to take it literally. One minute he's bounding down the halls of the castle, next minute he takes a leap into the air and doesn't come down. Whoosh, he's off. Fortunately I have the usual traits of those of my blood and I was able to keep up, out the castle, down the steps, there's a lot of those and out into the forest. I must have chased him a good hour or so when we hit the forest. That's when the strangest thing happened. See around Amber, even I have difficulty shifting the stuff of Shadow. But this cat was off, one minute he was there, then he was... gone. And I could just tell he'd shifted somehow. Fortunately Julian came upon me then and I explained sort of what had just happened. Asking for Morgenstern was out of the question of course, but he did let me have one of his ranger's horses. See when you're chasing someone through shadow, it's easier to do when you're moving, and near Amber you have to be moving /away/ from Amber as fast as you can, horses make that much easier. Out in shadow of course I'd just go around a bend and find a beautiful white horse waiting for me, but in Arden, I was still too close to make that sort of thing work. So the Ranger's horse Windsmoke would have to do.

I was nearly an hour out from Julian before I felt ready to start grabbing shadow and shifting it, little things at first, flowers from white to yellow, yellow to green, green to purple. Sky to match, sunny, blue, clouds, rain, the weather to match my mood. I threw in a lightning bolt for good measure and I knew I was far enough away to start the hell-ride. Hell-riding isn't the gentle changes I was doing earlier, or even normally do when I walk through shadow seeking my desire. In a hell-ride you throw your whole mind onto one place, one person, one thing and you wrench the worlds of shadow around you to match. Not for the faint of heart, I assure you. I kicked Windsmoke into a full gallop and focussed on that amulet. The beast was panting and foaming at the mouth and I was exhausted to the point of weariness when I knew that I should let the worlds settle around me.

I found myself in the center of a courtyard, the statue in front of me... well after the Patternfall War we did a little reading up on some of the more interesting concepts of Chaos out there and I knew this to be Discordia. However sitting below the statue was a cat, and it had an amulet in it's mouth. I frowned at it and I swear he frowned back at me, surprised I'd followed him all this way to retrieve my little trinket. He dropped it and scampered off. Bemused I picked the amulet up and swore I'd give it Chiara or Sara next time I saw them. So I was in a court, with a statue of Discordia, emblem of chaos? This... could get tricky. Windsmoke was still blown from the hell-ride and I knew I wasn't up to much. I did think about shifting enough of shadow to at least, you know maybe change it to a Statue of Gavadel The Saviour or something. But... I could check this place out whilst we rested no?

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