Harlan, Session One

12 Alicor, Year 198 of King Random's Reign

Random was brimming over with good intentions. I couldn't stand it. It was to get away from the sympathetic expressions and too-soft voices that I decided to leave, not because I thought this mission was for real.

After all, the trail was several hundred years cold. Why would Random chose now to look for his twin? And would he have chosen me if he honestly intended anyone to find Mirelle?

I can take a hint.

I rode out of Amber, taking only my horse, my sword and a change of clothes. And my thoughts. I didn't honestly think I could leave those behind.

And now I've had about all I can stand of stunning landscapes and medieval plumbing. If this even is Mirelle's path... well, if it is, I shall compliment the lady on her fortitude, when I find her. If I find her. She's led me a merry chase, that's for sure. Each time I ride to exhaustion, and then find a place to sleep. My head barely touches the pillow, as they say... one good side effect is that I don't dream.

They do remember her here. Not by the name Mirelle, of course, but by some other name: Miranda. There is a large portrait of her in the hall of this land's Emperor. She wears diaphonous robes, and looks out over the court with a direct, clear gaze. Guileless, even. Nice trick, that, in an Amberite.

The portrait is draped with the mourning colors of this country. She looks human in the picture. All here are elves. She was once, it seems, married to the Emperor.

An interesting twist...

I claimed kinship with her, and they believed me, once I displayed the trump.... that alleviated only some of the tension, of course, but at least no one held a sword to my throat thereafter. They gave me a room, and let me walk about, asking my questions, all the while looks of murder and suspicion darting from the corners of their tilted, golden eyes.

I'm almost out of questions to ask. And they want me gone. They are in mourning twice over now; the Emperor had kept formal grieving in practice since the day of his wife's disappearance, twenty or so years ago. Now that he has died as well, they are quite at odds; ministers and councillors are walking on tip-toe, not sure who really is in charge. Everyone wants the throne, but for someone else. No one is brave enough to sit on it, but most wouldn't mind the honor of pulling the marionette's strings.

I am quite ready to leave, but I do not know where to go.

15 Alicor, year 198 of King Random's Reign

If Mirelle left this shadow, she trumped out. If she trumped out, I don't know where. Now I'm just doing a basic search, looking for pictures, showing her picture, seeing if her name or any of her aliases strike a chord. It's dull work. I suppose Belia would think it a fitting task for me.

To make matters worse, the time goes differently here, I'm sure of that, but I can't tell how differently. All I know is that it's slower. Somehow, I don't think going to a slower-timed shadow is the way to get over a broken heart faster.

Sometime in the middle of Alicor, Year 198 of King Random's Reign

I was out in the country quite a ways, heading towards a city, when I found a servant who had once accompanied his master into the capital city. He had a very vivid memory of Mirelle; claimed she was the wife of the Head of House Madaari. How extraordinary. I'm beginning to dislike her quite a bit. Faithless women aren't very easy for me to forgive these days.

Anyway, he gave me a good description of the Madaari house, and so forth; I decided to take a short cut, and went in and out of the shadow. It was strange; just like the first time I'd entered the shadow, I encountered a group of soldiers on patrol. Different soldiers, but almost the same situation, except for the time of day. Looks like a warded shadow to me.

They let me through, though; the wards aren't very secure. Perhaps they report to Mirelle. Or reported, I should say, since Mirelle's daughter claims her mother is dead.

But I get ahead of myself.

My little jaunt in and out messed up the time streams quite a bit. It was dark as I approached House Madaari, but there were lights on all over the house, so I thought it was early evening. It was stormy, like a good All Hallow's E'en. I approached, and knocked. The door was answered by a group of people who seemed balanced on a knife's edge. Everyone was frazzled, and everyone looked at me accusatorily, as though my manners were atrocious. Not too long after my arrival, I figured out that it was long after midnight.

And there was a girl there-- well, I suppose she was a woman, she had such a stiff backbone and such pride, but she was a girl for all of that. Mirelle's daughter. Looked every inch an Amberite. I thought of a story I read once, long ago, about a child gifted with musical talent was never allowed to hear any music but his own so that his music would always be purely his own-- no influences, no subconcious emulation, just the purity of musical genious. Then one day, someone slipped him a tape of Bach, and bam, just like that, nothing Bach ever went into his compositions again because he didn't want it found out that he'd heard Bach. So, of course they knew-- but beyond this point, the story doesn't matter.

She's like one of those pure sonatas. She-- Elaine-- has everything that is good and true about the race of Amber without having ever seen any of us. She holds her chin like Fiona. She is as graceful as Florimel. She is as strong-willed as Gerard. She's as masterful as Caine.

I'll be damned, but I like her. I had been wondering if there'd be any females worth liking again.

Well, and truly, for the qualities I like about her, she wouldn't come with me. Smart girl, not to be lulled by a tale of royal birth and a great destiny. That's how they reeled me in, after all.

I left her my trump-- what else could I do? -- and resolved to come see her before I departed the shadow entirely. I tried to explain the business with Mirelle, but I made a big mess of it. There's just no way of explaining to a person raised in shadow that dying of a sickness just doesn't happen for an Amberite.

I left her in the care of an extended family of servants who obviously loved her. I hope she'll be all right.

Sometime, year 198 of King Random's Reign

Well, she trumped me, and lo and behold, I brought her to Amber. No special trauma marked the occasion, I think, and perhaps all will be well for her.

We spent the afternoon with Keir and Eve and Brianna, and Elaine got on well with Eve. Of course, half-way through town, I saw Belia. Before I had some sort of fit that would disgrace myself and make Elaine regret having trusted me, I begged off for the rest of the afternoon.

I hadn't talked it over with anyone, but as Mirelle has still eluded me, I feel that perhaps I should continue after her.

I think, before I go---

No. Maybe next time.