“A river now runs through it”
A prologue for Ghosts of the Past, an ACUS 2003 Scenario by Paul “Jvstin” Weimer
“Its lovely here, isn’t it?”
The blond-haired son of Flora regarded the dark sable haired Chaosian Ambassador from across the blanket. It had taken time and patience on several ends for him to have this picnic today with Krystiana Aricline. Working his charm on her, of course was the most obvious part of the plan, but, too, convincing Uncle Random that he would assure her good conduct was also necessary. The Chaosians tended to remain in their compound, the King, the Royal family discouraged them roaming through the city, and there were restrictions on things like their shape shifting.
It was Scipio’s firm opinion that Krystiana could not shift to a lovelier form than the one she was wearing now, with vivid blue eyes that he wondered if she had changed to match his own.
“Yes it is. There are forests back home, but they tend to be darker and less pleasant, although some of the Ways in Aricline have standing groves of trees.” she replied, taking a sip of the wine. Bayle’s Best, of course. Nothing but the highest quality would do. The cooked chicken sandwiches on sourdough bread spread with Dijon mustard were some of the tastiest products of Michael’s kitchen.
Scipio was pleased.
“That is Arden yonder, the home and, you might say in the Chaosian way, the fiefdom of my Uncle Julian. We’re still on the lower flanks of Kolvir here, way up that way, in the mountain range is Jones falls.” He pointed backward toward the mountains. “Not quite my cup of tea, but its the site of a famous battle here in Amber. There’s even a monument.”
“I’m sure that you will have to show me the falls sometime.” Krystiana said, trying some of the food. It was rather ordinary by Chaosian standards, the presentation, that is, the quality was high. The Royal family of Amber rightly ate well.
“So, my dear Prince Scipio.” she asked after a moment, putting down the glass. “Why did you invite me here, all alone and away from the rest of the Embassy “Surely not for something as dry as better ambassadorial relations.” Scipio’s reputation had, apparently, even penetrated into the Chaosian Embassy.
Scipio shook his head and smiled, leaning in even as she licked her lips. Their lips moved closer and closer to touching, his hand reached to grasp her shoulder and draw him to her fully. He just about had Krystiana in his arms and his mouth pressed to hers when the ground began to rumble. Their embrace broke in the sudden sound and sensation.
“An earthquake?!” Scipio said incredulously. He had spent significant time in places like Tokyo, San Francisco and analogues. But an earthquake here, in Amber? Inconceivable!
“Come on!” he said, pulling her to her feet. Instinct told him that the threat from the earthquake was before them, they backed up the slope of the hill a good thirty feet. Nothing was around to fall on them, unless the shaking ground opened wide, they would be safe.
Krystiana was quite confused, she had been given to understand that Amber was extraordinarily stable, and here it seemed as tumultuous as a Black Zone shadow. Neither of them, however, could say anything as the earthquake finished, and before them, where they had picnicked, was a river.
And what a river was before them. Flowing fast, running down the slope of the mountain, this river seemed born sui generis, stretching up toward the mountain range to the right, and to the left, it flowed down into Arden. It literally seemed to have come out of nowhere. As Scipio and Krystiana looked in wonder, a man walked toward the far bank, one of the inhabitants of the villages to be found in Arden.
“A fine day to fish the river, my lord.” he said as he produced a fishing pole and proceeded to throw a line in the water.
“I never knew Amber could be as malleable as Chaosian Ways.” Krystiana said, still looking at the beautiful river. Scipio shook its head. “It’s not, this sort of thing just doesn’t happen.” He thought about what had happened to Garnath during the War…but even so, a brand new River. “This River just doesn’t belong here. I think we better get back to the Castle and you to your Embassy.”
As they headed off back toward the Castle, the fisherman looked at them with curiosity. They had to be strangers here in Amber, he thought. The River Wyrr had always been here…