Meeting the Amber Queen

After countless twists and turns, Kendall's escort halts before a staircase and comes to attention for a tall woman dressed in a gown of deep purple velvet trimmed with gold. A deep 'v' neckline allows for a charming view of cleavage, where a large emerald nestled comfortably.

The Knight in emerald armor at her side laughs throatily at the red haired beauty's words, but their conversation stops abruptly when they both notice the group of five waiting below. In the center of the circle of Knights, a young man watches them with a guarded expression of polite interest. His rumpled green robe is dusty and worn with travel, and the lines of his face reveal fatigue.

The Knight lays his hand on the hilt of his long sword, but the woman places a calming hand on his shoulder, a single large ring gleaming on her ring finger. Her eyes display amusement and curiosity as she studies the five figures waiting at the bottom of the stairs.

"Good afternoon," she greets him.

The young man glances at his escort, still and silent around him, before he gives her a formal nod. "Good…afternoon." His hesitation and pronunciation reveal a word foreign to his ears. He waits expectantly, easily discerning this was a personage of importance but not sure yet how to gauge their relative statuses.

"I'm Morgana," she says with a smile, holding out her hand.

His eyes widen in recognition of her name, and he immediately steps forward to accept her hand. He kisses it with a graceful courtly bow. "I am Lord Kendall of House Chanicut, Lord of Protocol and Minister of Friendship to the Court of Amber," he answers in otherwise flawless Thari. "I have only just arrived at the Castle with some haste and believe and hope that I am being escorted to rejoin my party…" The end of his statement hints at a question as he straightens up again.

She waves her hand at the escort. "I will see him to his party." With a salute in unison, the escort departs even as the Knight at her side momentarily looks rather alarmed. She looks at the Knight with a heart-melting gaze. "Have faith, Sir Kaye."

The Knight nods, trading wary looks with the young Chaos Lord. "As you desire, Majesty."

The slightest quirk of arched eyebrows before the Queen continues. "Come, I will see you to your companions. Minister of Friendship… That's very charming," she says, turning to walk down the hallway. "What does a minister of friendship do?"

Kendall clasps his hands behind his back as he turns to walk with Morgana down the hall. "I am to bridge the gap between our two Houses," he answers. "There is much that is… unknown between those of Chanicut and Amber. I would both instruct, and learn."

"I concur," she says with a smile. "I look forward to learning from you. There is much of Chaos that I am interested to hear about. I hope your journey here was pleasant and unencumbered."

He manages to smile though he remains stiff and wary. Something like ironic amusement glimmers in his eyes as he nods to her statement. "Indeed, sometime I would enjoy a tour of the countryside I saw so briefly earlier. Did Ambassador Brisbane arrive safely?" he inquires.

"To the best of my knowledge, yes. I did not hear otherwise but I have been in meetings all morning. Do you have immediate family back in Thelbane?" she asks before pausing and erasing the amusement from her features. "You really should try to relax. You are safe in my presence. I am quite fastidious about hospitality."

Kendall nods, slowly releasing a deep breath and forcing his shoulders to relax. He smiles at her, and the expression warms his eyes this time, making him look even younger. He pauses for a moment, perhaps considering her question. "I am uncertain what you mean by 'immediate' family in Thelbane. I have attended Court there," he answers at last.

He frowns then in a thoughtful expression, adding as though answer enough, "My family is Chanicut."

"I believe that carries more information than I am familiar with. My exposure to Chaos is rather limited," she explains as they walk. Kendall nods understandingly. "Do you have a family there…children, wife, wives…." She smiles again. "I'm a new mother and newlywed, it's a frequent topic for me."

"No children," Kendall answers, grasping at a concept he understands. He hesitates again, then continues, "And I am not yet bonded. Chanicut Ways is not in Thelbane, if I understand your question correctly?" A heartbeat pause, and then, "What is 'afternoon?'"

"Ah, you know I am so ignorant about your home I thought Thelbane was just another name for it," she says, looking chagrined. Her voice drops to a hoarse whisper, "Don't tell that to my aunt Fiona… I shall never hear the end of it."

She winks once more and then answers in her normal, sweet voice. "Afternoon is a time during the day. Look yonder at the ball of light," she says, leading him to one of the windows and pointing to the sky. Kendall takes note of the indicated object and then turns back to the Queen as she continues, watching her with an intent expression.

"We have only one here to light the land and sky as you see now. Sunrise is when it appears on the eastern horizon, sunset is when it dips below the western horizon." She moves her finger overhead to indicate the motion of the sun. "Our day runs from Morning, when the sun first appears, to Noon, when it's half way through its journey, to afternoon, that time before twilight as it dips to the west. Evening is when the sun has gone down and it become dark."

At her explanation's conclusion, Kendall nods, though his pale blue eyes shift to take in the Knight standing nearby. Though the Queen seems to be at ease with the Chaosian and her tutelage, Sir Kaye remains guarded and tense. He stands as close to the Queen as etiquette allows, his hand never straying from his sword.

The young Lord turns his attention back to Morgana. "I had wondered about that," he finally answers. "In Chaos, the sky changes colors on a regular cycle, which is how time is measured. So 'morning' here would be similar to Orangesky there, although there are more divisions than you listed." He nods formally. "Thank you for the explanation. It was most helpful."

"We have clocks that help us discern the exact time," she says, her lips gracing him with a smile once more. "And you are most welcome."

She turns and walks on for a bit before saying anything more. "Why is it you did not come with the Ambassador?"

Kendall looks about at the castle's interior with interest as they walk, but returns his attention to her at the question. He pauses, his gaze again wandering to take in Kaye before coming back to her. "I overslept," he answers at last. "While in your Veil." Again a glimmer of irony in shines in his eyes for just an instant.

Morgana winces a bit at the mention of the Veil. "It's got a mind of its own," she remarks.

"I was somewhat less than accurate in answering one of your questions earlier," Kendall continues. "Though I am not currently bonded, that status may change soon. The arrangements were under negotiation when I departed for Amber."

"Are you pleased about your coming binding?" she asks, intensely curious.

"I am neither pleased nor displeased," he answers. "I will probably never meet her. Tis a political thing."

Her brow furrows. "How do you end up married to someone you never see? Even for politics. You're not expected to have children?"

Kendall makes a negative gesture with one hand, cutting outward and down. "Not at this juncture," he replies. "Arrangements for such may be made in the future, but not as yet to my knowledge."

The Queen shakes her head. "That is very different from here," she remarks. "Is every person regardless of rank expected to follow such guidelines?"

He ponders her question for some steps, before venturing politely, "Tis difficult to know how to answer that question since I know not how the practice differs here."

"Do people always marry and mate where they are told to?" she simplifies.

"Ah. Yes," he says as understanding blossoms. "Tis always for the best interests of the House. The House decides who should bond with whom and it depends on the agreement what the relationship entails. Tis unlikely I will be required to sire children soon, though."

"Do people have relationships outside their marriage?" she asks, trying to understand.

This question seems to stump him for a while. He walks for a time thoughtfully, looking out another window at the activity in the courtyard below. When he turns back to The Queen, his expression is thoughtful.

"I am not certain I understand what you mean by 'outside of marriage'," he says finally. His mispronunciation of 'marriage' stands out in stark contrast to his otherwise formal and precise Thari.

"But to answer the question I believe you are asking," he continues slowly and carefully, "I expect to be bonded many times. As Second Son, tis not unusual for certain agreements to be made through me, since children need not be a concern."

The Queen listens, her face betraying amazement as she trades glances with the stoic Knight at her other side. "Do you have monogamy? Relationships that could produce children with only one person?" she asks, hoping that would clarify things.

"Certainly," he answers. "There are some situations that require mates to have a singular relationship with each other, and planned offspring often lead to such agreements." He pauses a moment. "It all depends on what stipulations are made by the Houses. Some Houses have different protocols for such arrangements."

"This will seem silly, but do people fall in love? Bond by their own desires? Or is it all predetermined and they grow to love their bondmates?" the Queen asks.

"Ah…" Enlightenment dawns in Kendall's face, and he nods once. "I understand now what you ask. Your pardon, but you appear to have quite a different way of speaking of such matters."

He pauses, and the Queen can see some thought process reflected in his eyes though his expression remains politely neutral. "As long as it does not interfere with the good of the House, one may have as many liaisons as one wishes, and with whom one wishes."

A short pause, and then he adds the caveat: "Within the House. Inter-House relationships are by their very nature much more complicated, and not encouraged. Some may even have the option to choose to whom they bond permanently within the House, though that is not common. Even though Chanicut is one House, there are many branches that settle agreements through bond arrangements."

Morgana grins, delighted with his answer. "I see. Thank you for the explanation. It pleases me. Another question. If someone is bonded… are they allowed liaisons outside their marriage… er… their bond agreement?"

Kendall considers the question for a moment and then ventures one of his own instead. "Your questions lead me to think that here you have an agreement with only one person at a time. Is that an accurate supposition?"

"In marriage, yes. Not all shadow is like that of course, but in Amber, that is what marriage is. Not that everyone keeps their vows, but that is another matter, " she says with a smile and knowing look to Kaye. "Of course, some people have what is called an open marriage. They both know the other has different partners and they accept this."

Kendall nods. "Would you please tell me why my explanation before pleased you so?" he requests, curiosity edging past his formally polite expression.

She touches a well-manicured nail to her lips. "Perhaps in the future I shall. Let us just say it gives me renewed hope in the future relations between our realms."

Kendall looks dissatisfied with that answer, but then his face changes to puzzlement instead. "Did you think that we would be too strange for you to understand if we cannot choose our mates?"

"Do you mean me personally, or us as in Amberites?" she asks with a gesture about. "As I suspect you know, I was not raised here and there are many things both in Chaos and here that I find…strange."

"What do you find strange about…here? Amber," he inquires, still curious.

The Queen looks around at the castle as she ponders the question. "I have never stayed in one place for more than a century. Yet some here stay their entire lives. Prior to coming here, I was not very…" she taps her lips, "…dedicated to much beyond my own pleasures. But Amber has an infectious way of changing that…. making you want to be different as though she were some sort of enchantress…. a siren whose call you can not resist. Frankly it's very frightening, but you learn to get used to it."

She pauses and smiles again. "Ask me more after you have been here some time…. I think it will make more sense then." She gives him a measured look then. "What does the average Chaosian think of us… of Amberites?"

Kendall's demeanor, though not exactly at ease during the conversation, stiffens even more though he continues to walk beside her calmly enough. His expression does not change so much as freeze, gaze becoming veiled, and he pauses a moment before attempting to answer that one.

"Tis difficult to assess what an 'average' Chaosian is," he begins at last. "I may speak only for Chanicut, and only as far as my position allows."

"Then please do," she says in an even tone. "I would like to know your people better and I think its best to understand what the notions of us are."

He smiles pleasantly, though the expression this time does not warm his eyes. "The 'average' person in Chanicut knows the war involved Sawall and Hendrake. What the other Houses do is their own affair, as long as it does not impact our House. We know very little of Amberites."

"I suppose this is not the most pleasant of topics for you. We shall see an end to it then," she declares as they continued. "How long did it take you to reach Amber?"

"Quite some time, I believe," he answers more easily. "I believe we were at least twenty Turns on the road." He looks down at himself and his rumpled and stained condition. "I am not certain traveling thus is much to my liking in the long term," he admits.

She chuckles. "I can sympathize. Tis nearly as loathsome as using trumps. Hopefully you shall be staying in one place for a while and thus able to avoid such unpleasantness."

"Yes," he agrees. "Unpleasant is a very good word." He walks a couple more steps, looking down at the floor for a moment before turning back to her, a similarly measuring look in his eyes as he searches her face. "Would you be able to tell me what the average Amber person thinks of 'my kind'?" he asks. There is something of irony in his tone at the last two words, as of repeating something he had heard.

"If you have chance to visit Arden and see the devastation there, you will have a good guess. For those of us that know what happened to Julian…. it's difficult to imagine you are anything more than monsters that enjoy torturing people. I saw the prison he was held in and what it did firsthand and nearly lost my mother and brother to the rescue," she answer, the air around them suddenly dropping in temperature. She takes a calming breath.

"There is war and its normal terrors…and then there are rumors of Hellmaidens feeding on people's flesh and that really changes people's views," she continues. "I can't say that the average person likes the idea of a Chaosian, but as for me, I realize different Houses partook in this. I am Queen and it's a queen's priority to know mercy and to show it. As a mother, sister, daughter, wife… I will see that nothing like this ever happens again."

"It really is a very unfair question," Kendall remarks after hearing her out. He turns to look down the hall again as they walk. "Not everyone can survive Chaos. Our ways are obviously not the same as yours."

He is silent for several steps. Then, "I have gathered that most of the people here bear mine a deep hatred. So why do you bring us to your Court?"

"Would you feel differently than us if the tables were turned? I am sure many don't like us in your realm. But we do not wish for war for the rest of our days. Tis no legacy for children to inherit," she counters.

He looks back at her, that sharp intensity back in his gaze. "I am given to understand that you possess the power to crush all of the Courts." His skepticism at that notion is perceptible. "Why then do you not do so and be done with it?"

A grin tugs at her mouth, and she touches her generous chest. "I have the power to crush them? Or we do?"

"Amber," Kendall answers, completely serious.

The Queen shrugs. "I don't know… It's not something the King or I are interested in."

Kendall looks perplexed. "If you have no interest in extending the sphere of influence of your realm… then… as a Monarch… what does interest you?" he asks.

The Queen gives a throaty chuckle, "Do you know how big Amber is? How much we do influence? In my opinion it's plenty big. My interest as queen is protecting my people and seeing to their well being, to create a better place for them. I suppose that sounds… typical, but I have no interest in war. I would like to see my husband live long enough to see his grandchildren, same for my father and the rest of my family. I do not believe we need violence and war to be a better people or better culture."

"There are some who would suggest that without growth there is only stagnation and death," he answers. "I did not inquire about violence and war. I inquired about extending the influence of your realm. If you do not, do you not think others will make that choice for you?"

"Don't you think we can achieve that without warring with you?" she asks with a cock of her head. "You implied war and violence. We do have growth; shadow is unending and our realm never ceases. No boundaries."

Kendall suddenly smiles. "I see," he answers.

"As for others…." she adds "That remains to be seen. What motivates people isn't as obvious as one would think."

Kendall nods to the Queen's reply. "That is very often the case in my experience," is his answer.

Sir Kaye takes this moment to touch the Queen's elbow, jerking his head toward the iron doors ahead of them. Four High Guard Knights stand guard before it. Beyond these massive iron doors are the quarters where all Chaosians will be housed during their visits to Amber.

Kendall looks at the doors, divining they indicate his audience is nearing and end. He hesitates uncomfortably for two heartbeats before continuing, "I have found this discussion quite fascinating. Perhaps we would be able to meet again sometime soon, possibly on a regular basis while I am here, to share more information about our two peoples." He says it all in a rush, as though having to nerve himself up to actually suggest it.

The Queen gives him a melting smile. "I would enjoy that. Make the arrangements with my secretary, Genoveve." She leans forward and kisses his cheek suddenly, whispering in his ear, "Kendall, try to relax a bit."

Kendall freezes at the kiss on his cheek, expression disbelievingly dumbfounded. He nods back, numbly, hand coming up to touch his cheek where she kissed him, and watches as she begins to leave. Then, gathering his wits back together, "Ah, Majesty?" He clears his throat self-consciously, glancing at the four guards at the door. "Thank you for ah, escorting me."

The Queen turns back to the guards. "This is Lord Kendall, a friend to us. Please see him to his companions with all the courtesy you would show us." Her voice brooks no discussion or chance that her words would not be followed to the letter.

The High Guards snaps to attention, their Captain saluting. "It will be as you ordered, Queen Morgana." At a simple hand signal, two of the Knights pull open one of the heavy iron doors. Once it's open wide enough, both see a long walkway made of wrought iron and glass that makes it way to across a chasm to a series of towers overlooking the ocean. Even from a distance, the towers emanate an aura of loneliness and sadness.

He bows. "Thank you again, Majesty. I… look forward to speaking with you again."

The Queen gives him another smile before taking Kaye's arm once more and departing for her next appointment.

Back to list of Kendall's game threads
Journey to Amber: Rest & Recovery

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