Unicorn No Seishi

Amber and Its Environs

Table of Contents
 


An Overview of the Amber Universe

All of creation is a panoply of worlds which stretch between Amber, the Eternal City, and the Courts of Chaos. These universes are known as 'Shadows', worlds which dimly reflect the glory of the only two 'Real' worlds. Those who possess the blood of Amber or Chaos may master arts which allow them to move through Shadow from world to world, finding anything they can imagine and bending universes to their will.

Amber is ruled by King Tylor I, son of King Gendo I, son of Fuyutsuki, who drew the Pattern by some unknown means.  Gendo was respected but not much loved, while Tylor I has been a very popular king, in part because he mostly leaves people alone, and when he does meddle, it's usually to try to help them have fun.

The Amber pole of creation is maintained by 'the Pattern', a great spiral sigil inscribed into the stone of the Pattern Chamber beneath Castle Amber. Those who possess the blood of Amber (are descended from Gendo and Fuyutsuki) can walk the Pattern and bid it to send them anywhere in all of creation. They also gain the ability to 'shadow walk', travelling slowly and safely or quickly but more dangerously through shadow to anywhere they can imagine.

Different 'Shadows' have different laws of nature sometimes. Magic works in some, high technology in others. Some are the size of a breadbox, while others encompass billions of light years of space or more. If you can think of it, it probably exists out there somewhere.


Overview of the Geography of the Kingdom of Amber???Mystaria Naval BaseMystburghSethfortSethfore HillsIsles of ShalomarForkNicephorusMt. KolvirAmber CityRebmaForest ArdenCarlisleSorostShalomar Naval BasePetraBayleportDorcasCaerlonHarad CitySalisburySwanseaAvesburyLake HaradPlains of HaradAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberAmberNorostNocarlKafshaLorraineAlsaceWest BridgeEregnorKarestSihestBerestDarienBegmaTalma (Capitol)TalenKorchTalmaIosiaAegaMegaraThebesDelphiAltenCorinthUliaSingh (Capitol)SinghChalcedonTherinBackground

The exact size and dimensions of Amber proper remain debatable. Close to Amber, shadows blend into each other and tend to resist being molded to a degree which makes it unclear at what point you've actually left the home shadow. Also, those from shadows sufficiently close to Amber can apparently freely travel between those shadows at certain points or areas.

Castle Amber lies on the southeastern slopes of Mount Kolvir, which sits at the far western point of a U-shaped gulf which opens out eastward (It's at the 'bottom of the u'. It is about two thirds of the way up the mountain. At the top of the mountain floats Tir'na'og, also called the Castle of Illusion, a mirror image of Kolvir, Castle Amber and the City of Amber, on nights when the moon shines in the sky. It is upside down and reached by a stair that appears on top of Kolvir when the moon shines. Below Kolvir, at the mouth of the Barimen river, lies the City of Amber and Amberport, two cities grown together into one. Amberport has no walls, although the harbor is guarded by two towers and a chain, while the city is walled. A long staircase, a tunnel into Kolvir, and a long and winding road which switches back and forth frequently allow access from city to castle.

The Kolvir range spreads northeast along the northern side of the Gulf of Amber, blocking any travel by land in that direction, except by the road which circles Kolvir itself, and which can be effectively sealed by the controller of the Castle. The range of mountains also spreads west into the interior of the continent, closely paralleled by the Barimen River, for about three weeks ride, then turns into hills.

North of the Kolvir Range are the Plains of Harad, the agricultural heartland of Amber, home to grain farmers and vinyards and orchards, cut through by many rivers and streams. Three weeks ride north of the Kolvir range is the Eregna River, beyond which lies the Golden Circle kingdom of Kashfa. The Shalomar Naval Base sits at the mouth of the Eregna river; the Northern Fleet is based here. Several castles manned by the army of Amber dot the western border of the plains and protect the major crossings of the Eregna.

Cities of Harad:


East of the Plains of Harad, in the Great Eastern Ocean, to the northeast of the Gulf of Amber, are the Isles of Shalomar, thousands of islands ranging in size from large rocks to the size of Crete. The larger ones contain petty kingdoms, the smaller ones contain wild animals and hidden pirate bases.

West of the Plains of Harad lies the Golden circle kingdom of Begma, nestled among the Begma hills. Northwest of the plains is the region known as Eregnor, a constant bone of contention between Begma and Kashfa.

South of the Kolvir Range, spreading west and south for a week's ride (on the roads, much longer off road), is Forest Arden, the great hunting preserve of the Kings of Amber. It is protected by the Warden of Arden. Along the southern coast of the Gulf of Amber, three days ride from Amber, is Rebma, the underwater reflection of Amber. It claims only a tiny portion of the coast, which is full of farming and fishing villages. Beyond Rebma, the forest gradually draws back from the coast, which turns to run more southeasterly, and rises into hills, which are dotted with mining towns and craftsmen. This region is known as the hills of Sethfore. Eventually, the coast turns completely southward, and the Mystara River empties into the sea. The Mystara naval base stands here. South of the Mystara river is the Golden Circle kingdom of Therin.

West of Arden and South of Kolvir is the Golden Circle kingdom of Talma. The main road into Amber forks in several directions as one leaves Arden. One fork goes straight west to Talma, another runs southwest to Uila, and the last runs along the edge of Arden south to Singh. The terrain here is gentle hills and downs running southwestward.


Castle Amber

Castle Amber is a huge sprawling fortress along the southeastern slope of Mount Kolvir. It overlooks the pass which provides the easiest access to the Plains of Harad to the north. It can be entered in three ways: climbing a steep staircase straight up to it from the city. Riding up a longer, but less steep road which winds up from the pass. Riding into the fortified tunnel that runs into Kolvir and leads to a magically powered 'elevator' controlled from inside the castle. Rumors persist of other access tunnels, but nothing has been proven.

A curtain wall surrounds the castle to the south and east, while the steep slope of Kolvir shields it to the west and north. Inside the curtain wall is a large courtyard, various small auxillary buildings such as the stables and smithy, a large garden on the northern side of the courtyard, and dug into the mountain itself, the main keep and palace on the western side of the courtyard. The 'elevator' access opens into a small building in the courtyard.

The palace has five external stories, plus many subterranean levels dug into the mountains. The ground level contains most of the governmental business and public function areas. The second level contains the great ballroom, the armory, the library, and the great dining hall with related areas (kitchen, servants, etc). The third level contains the quarters for Princes and Princesses of the Blood and the main guest areas. The fourth level contains the King's quarters and the royal vaults. The fifth level is for the king only, and none of you know what is up there.

Below the palace are many layers of tunnels. These include the dungeons, Fuyutsuki's quarters, various laboratories and storage rooms, the wine cellar, and the Pattern chamber. The control room for the 'elevator' system is here as well, and a big door labelled 'Plumbing--Fuyutsuki, Mario, and the king only'. Only they know what actually lies beyond that door.

Anthy's Gardens

Roughly one third of the courtyard of Castle Amber is devoted to Dowager Queen Anthy's gardens.  They consist of a mixture of flower beds, trees, bushes, and benches for sitting organized into a shape that viewed from above resembles a multi-colored rose.  There is a white gazebo in the very center, sometimes used for small concerts by the Court Bard or by bands of musicians on special occasions.  Madoka can often be found here practicing on quiet evenings.

At the northernmost point of the garden, one can find a bower, covered with vines and flowering plants, which contains a bench; it is intended for the convenience of lovers, and provides some degree of seclusion.  A great bed of roses grows in front of the bower.  If two lovers each pluck a flower and keep it, so long as their love for each other remains true, the roses will not wilt.

It is generally forbidden to pick other flowers, although Queen Anthy happily supplies flowers on request; it remains unclear as to how she avoids defoliating the gardens on special occasions.  It is allowed to pick fruit from the fruit trees which dot the garden--peaches, apples, plums, apricots, and pears.  Several efforts to grow bannanas and oranges have failed due to the climate.

Dining Hall

Three times a day, promptly at seven to eight, eleven thirty to one thirty, and six to eight, the cooking staff of Castle Amber serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  The Dining Hall is adjacent to the Great Hall, but smaller, only about one hundred and fifty feet long and forty feet wide.  Two double doors open into the Great Hall, while other doors provide access to the kitchens and other parts of the castle.

A great table sits on a raised dais in the center of the room; seating sixteen, the King and Queen dine here with their chosen guests for the meal, while everyone else eats at the roughly equally sized tables scattered about the room.  The King and Queen sit at the ends of the table, and the closer one sits to one of them, the more honor it conveys.

Breakfast typically consists of wine, milk, water, tea, coffee, fruits, breads/rolls/biscuits and butters/jellies/jams, and cold cuts of meat.  Lunch is usually a chicken dish of some kind (the cook has a mild obsession with chicken), often a stew or casserole.  Dinner involves great heaping amounts of food of every kind you can imagine.

Great Hall

The Great Hall is used for the most formal receptions and when the King must sit upon his Throne to pass certain judgements.  It is a two hundred foot long, sixty foot wide pillared hall with huge gold-plated doors at one end and the mahogany Great Throne of Amber at the other end.  The floor is tiled with alternating golden ships on a blue background and white unicorns against a black background.  Lamps hang next to the support pillars at night; a row of windows to the courtyard light the hall in daytime.

Major feasts are held here; normally food is served in the Dining Hall.

The Kitchens

This multi-tiered room has caused many a late-night pantry-raider to become lost for days, emerging from their expeditions ghostly white from digging around the flour bin.

The main atrium, which spans all three stories, houses the ovens and stoves Chef Bork is often seen slaving over, if he is not busy chasing down the ingredients he needs. There are ten brick ovens and thirty stoves in the central block, and an army of assistant chefs can usually be seen bustling about, each preparing his or her own dish to await final approval by Chef Bork.

The pantry, which is actually more of a labyrinthine warehouse, holds Amber's ample stores of grain and vegetables. The entire pantry, in fact, is furnished in lacquered wood, a luxury that Chef Bork maintains is necessary for the preservation of the perishable goods stored within.  Because the food he prepares is usually excellent, no one has really raised any serious complaints about the expenditure that was necessary to fill an entire warehoused-sized room with lacquered shelves and
cupboards.

The china room is the site of many kitchen catastrophes, as the system Chef Bork uses to store all the fine dinnerware has even the quickest of minds puzzled as to its logic. Dishes are often stacked upright, rim to rim in precarious positions. Dozens of cups, each from different sets, are hung from hooks designed to hold but one cup at a time. Forks, spoons, and knives are arranged in a precarious, interweaving sculpture of  sterling and pewter. One particular set of silverware is kept in a bath of raw egg -- Chef Bork claims that the corrosion adds to the flavor, whatever that means. Naturally, all but Kasumi are hesitant to even open the door of this room. Kasumi seems to have gotten the knack of this room, and even if she breaks something no one, not even Bork, seems to have the heart to take her up to task for it.

The wine cellar, in contrast, in arranged neatly by source, and in turn by vintage. The limestone walls of this room keeps the wine cool, and the lack of windows protects the wine from harsh sunlight. Even when pressed, Chef Bork refuses to explain how an above-ground room could have such thick, apparently naturally formed limestone walls. Then again, he doesn't explain why the kitchen is much larger inside than it appears from the outside, either.

A freshwater spring can be found in the deepest part of the wine cellar, oddly. The water is pure and cool, no doubt cooled by the limestone it passes through to get to the cellar. Chef Bork refuses to use any other water for his cooking -- and once again, no one argues with success.

The remainder of the rooms are either unoccupied or have been turned into chef's quarters.

Lord High Chamberlain's Offices

The Lord High Chamberlain's offices are located near the 'rear' of the castle on the first floor, in an area which is actually imbedded inside Kolvir.  An entire hallway is given over to the Lord High Chamberlain and his subordinate officials.  The Deputy Lord High Chamberlain, Lady Nabiki, is usually to be found here, working hard and waiting for Drake to return so she can kick him in the butt.

This complex of offices contains the most recent tax records, copies of the law codes, Tylor's will and any other notarized wills of members of the Royal Family, more land documents than you can shake a plow at, and endless piles of scribbled on paper.

Miki's Conservatory

This is on the second story of the palace, a circular chamber painted in blue and gold.  A grand piano sits in the middle, and shelves of instruments and sheet music and books line the walls.  There are many benches to sit on while practicing or viewing a performance.  Miki can often be found here.

The Pattern Chamber

This room is of especial note. The Pattern sits in the dungeons of Castle Amber, in a room which is usually locked. The key hangs in the hallway by the door. Yes, it seems to be locked in order to keep something in, not to keep people out of it...

Personal Quarters

Every member of the Royal Family recieves their own suite of rooms in the Palace.  This generally consists of a small bathroom, a closet, a lounge, and a bedroom.  The only standard defense is locks for the doors, but you can install whatever you like, so long as you don't want any maid service.

The Rose Duelling Arena

Situated in the sky between Amber and Tir'na-nog, the pristine white Dueling Arena is where most Amberite grievances are settled. Nestled on top of a pillar five stories high, in a courtyard near the back of Castle Amber, the round platform is large enough to give the duelists ample room to maneuver and outmaneuver, while still providing seating room for anyone who wishes to watch. Indeed, since a duel is usually an event that concerns nearly everyone, the arena has enough seating for everyone in castle Amber, and quite a few guests as well.

The bleachers are actually a fairly recent addition to the Arena, which Dowager Queen Anthy maintains -- three levels, with separate sections for the King, Queen, and their respective bodyguards. Behind the bleachers is a rather low railing, about waist-high to an average Amberite. This has caused much concern, and in fact, the matter has been raised to Queen Anthy's attention several times over the past few centuries, but she claims she has never gotten around to fixing it -- which is odd, considering how quickly she addressed the seating problem, and how she always manages to keep the Arena spotless even after the bloodier duels. Due to this 'oversight', many duelists and overzealous spectators have plunged to their deaths (or painful crippling) by toppling over the edge.

The object of the Rose Duel, as the name suggests, is to knock out your opponent's rose from his or her breast pocket with your weapon -- this used to be 'with your sword', but Utena's liberal use of whatever is handy required the revision of the rules to accommodate any melee weapon.

However, this rule, meant to prevent duels from becoming fatal, has not stopped quite a few 'accidental' deaths or maimings from occurring. The location of the rose, in particular, has caused many duelists (usually diplomats from neighboring shadows) to die from sword thrusts through the heart.

Tir'na-nog is visible in the sky from inside the Arena, no matter what time of day it is. No one is quite sure why this is so; some speculate that the boundary between reality and dream is thinnest within the Arena. Why this might be the case, no one knows, either -- and Anthy isn't telling.

The Stables

The stables of Castle Amber are quite large, housing up to two hundred horses.  Usually only about a hundred are here at any given time, most of them trained for dealing with combat and hellriding without freaking out.  The stableboys are always friendly and helpful if they think you like horses.  If you don't...they'll do little things to make your life hell.

The second story of the stables has two doors which can be opened to allow flying creatures to live here.  Gendo's pet dragon Sparky lived here for many years; he now lives in Ember with Corrine.  Prince Kentaro keeps his pet Wyvern, Mandi, here.

Tower of Heat Diffusion (Lina's old Tower)

This six story tower used to be the home of Lina Inverse, Court Mage.  After her sacrifice of herself against Leviathan, the tower remained empty for a few months, until a horde of sorcerously inclined Princes and Princesses of the Blood descended upon it, transforming it to its current state.  It looks much the same as it once did, except that at night, it glows like the aurora borealis, and streamers of energy can be seen snaking away from it across the entire kingdom of Amber.

The exact contents of this tower are unknown, but there are whispers about spikards, demi-Jewels, imprisoned sea gods, and more.  Whatever exactly its contents, what it seems to be doing is to draw off the additional heat produced by the current Pattern imbalance, and transform that heat into energy for various purposes, transmitting it to various stations around Amber, and especially down into the city of Amber itself.

By this means, the Kingdom of Amber has spared itself from the worst effects of the elemental imbalance, and even put it to good work.  This umbrella of protection has been extended over the kingdoms of the Golden Circle, though it is less efficacious for them, unfortunately.

Forest Arden is believed to possess a similar device.


The City of Amber

Amber is a huge city of nearly 1 million people, supported by trade and craft production and the seemingly endless fertility of the Plains of Harad. Massive amounts of grain are carted across the Kolvir Pass and up the Gulf of Amber every day to keep the city fed. The city possesses its own army, the 'Trained Bands', which are divided into two sections. The 'Burghal Guard' is a small, elite squad of highly trained mercenary cavalry, numbering 100 light cavalry, 300 medium cavalry, and 100 heavy cavalry. The remainder of the army is made up of the 100 'Centuries' of the 100 Wards of the City of Amber. Each ward contributes 100 armed men. The result is an extremely mixed bag which ranges from 100 hired mercenary Ungolian horse archers supplied by the Ward of Gold, to 100 street thugs with clubs and knives from the Ward of the Dead Monkey.

The City of Amber is ruled by a Mayor and the Century of Aldermen, each of whom is elected from one of the 100 wards. The Aldermen serve six years, and the mayor is elected for ten. The Steward can choose to veto the choice of mayor and call for a popular election to the mayorship, which generally leads to the Steward and Aldermen working out in advance who will be mayor. City politics are notoriously corrupt.  The current Mayor and continual holder of the office for the last twenty five years is Sir Robert Walpole.

Residents of Amber City fall into two categories.  About half the population are known as Freemen, for they possess 'the freedom of the city'.  This provides several benefits:  they cannot be enserfed, they can vote in elections, and they may freely conduct business within the city without paying the alien taxes (although guild regulations still restrict them).  They may live anywhere they can afford.  Freemen can pay the weapons tax and bear arms within the city.  The 'freedom of the city' is heritable; all the children of a Freeman inherit his or her status.  If a Freeman marries an Alien, their children will all be Freemen.

Aliens are anyone else.  This includes people from other parts of Amber who haven't been awarded the Freedom of the City.  Children of Aliens born in Amber City are still Aliens.  They must pay a residence tax, and pay a tax on all business transactions (at least in theory.  In practice, this tax is generally only collected on merchant-level transactions.  Thus, the many aliens resident in the Ward of the Far Traveller rarely pay the business taxes, although their residence taxes are faithfully collected).

There are several ways to gain the Freedom of the City.  The Mayor and the Century of Aldermen can award it for service to the city.  In practice, this can be obtained by a sufficiently large bribe if one is from some other part of Amber.  Actual foreigners will likely have to both offer a bribe and play a lot of political games to get the Freedom.  All members of the Royal Family possess it automatically, as do their spouses.  An Alien who marries a Freeman can apply for the Freedom of the City after seven years residence.  The King can award the Freedom of the City, but almost never does without the consent of the Mayor and Aldermen.

The one hundred wards are roughly equal in size, but not in population or quality. The wealth level rises as one moves west, away from the frequently stinky and unclean port to the east. The richest ward is the Ward of Gold, home to wealthy merchants, and the most prestigous is the Ward of the Unicorn, home to nobles and the Temple of the Unicorn. The poorest is the Ward of the Dead Monkey, which lies just south of the gate to Amberport.

Notable Wards:

Ward of the Dead Monkey

Obi-wan got it wrong; _this_ is the most wretched hive of scum and villany. It's the only true one, after all; that cantina on Tattooine was but a poor refelction of this place. The Ward of the Dead Monkey.

You won't find assassins here, just thugs who kill other people for money.  They haven't got style--they can't _afford_ style. Muggers tend to keep clear of this area, because they'd be the targets for a club to the head and a suddenly-lighter money belt. The crooked, shifting alleyways match the crooked, shifty denizens of the ward, located just south of the gate to Amberport. You don't want to be here on a sunny day, and you really, really, really don't want to be here on a dark night.

As you may have guessed, this is the poorest section of Amber. The dregs of Amber society, the bums, the unemployable, the naturally evil (but not rich enough to be merely misunderstood) probably have dwelt here for at least some of their lives.

And yet, it even has its sort of charm, in a look-over-your-shoulder kind of way. Not everyone here is beyond redemption (though such are few, since if they do redeem themselves, they're usually out of here real quick).  Some folks are honest, hardworking, and only so misfortunate to have started life off on the wrong foot and gotten stuck here.

Moreover, certain things can only be found here. Things that look like junk tend to be tossed in with things that actually are junk, and the only people willing to sift through it all and seperate these items live here. If you can't find it anywhere else--you might find it here. Try Blogg's Interesting Knicknacks, for instance, or Jimmy's Pile of Stuff.  They've got an especially good eye for that sort of thing....

But let's not gloss it over too much. It's roach-infested, the majority of the people _are_ the type to slit your throat for a brass farthing, the gutters stink with who-knows-what...if you are going to come here, come prepared for general nastiness--that is to say, armed to the teeth. Most people here aren't truly evil, but most of those people aren't truly evil only because they aren't willing to make the effort.

Ward of the Dead Unicorn:

Some say the Ward of the Dead Monkey is the worst place to be in Amber City.  The Ward of the Dead Unicorn can put in a good arguement as rival for worst place.

Despite it having a modest hand in the shipping industry (being a part of the docks), it continues to be a place of not a lot of honest financial opportunity.  Dishonest opportunity, on the other hand, is another thing.  Many criminal gangs make their home here, and smuggling activity is high.  Crime is not limited to smuggling either, as every crime under the sun seems to exist within the ward.

The Ward's streets are lined with warehouses, shops and apartments, all in a similar state of disrepair and a bit more shady than one would think, even in daylight.  Most buildings in the ward aren't much taller than two stories, making the place strangely
uniform.

Places of note include the docks, Bumpy's, and the local Watch House.

The docks are what you'd expect from docks, with piers, warehouses, and lots of traffic from cargo ships.  Lots of 'familiies' (i.e. criminal syndicates) have territories down here, a haven for smuggling anything in.

Bumpy's is owned by Bumpy, a local gangster.  Its legitimate front is as a bar and casino, but it also serves as a place to get contraband goods and as a house of prostitution.  The place stands out as one of the taller places in the Ward, with five floors, Bumpy's personal offices at the top.  The building is of Cathay architecture, narrowing with each floor up, each floor having an outdoor walkway lining it.  The casino takes up the first two floors, while the other floors are where the less legal matters are handled. The place is also noted for its many holes due to arrow fire and swordplay, reminders that Inspector Shaft has visited often to beat someone down (on several occasions, Bumpy himself).

The Watch House is a stone structure three stories high, built primarily of stone, as it isn't quite as flamable as wood (which the last watch house was made of) and resembles a tall but narrow fortress.
 

Ward of the Embassies

The Ward of the Embassies is one of the older and more influential Wards in Amber City, about a half-hour north-northwest of the Ward of the Aldermen, and situated near the North Gate of the city to allow the diplomats and staff easier access to Castle Amber proper.  It isn't as far north as the Ward of the Iron Pot, but makes up for it by being further west (and therefore more influential and expensive).  It is filled with the embassies of the kingdoms of the Golden Circle and other major governments within Shadow that Amber has regular diplomatic relations.  As such, its development has been organic over the centuries as kingdoms come and go and their fortunes rise and fall.  The majority of the population of the Ward consists of the diplomats, the support staff for the diplomats, and the families of the support staff.  Various small businesses cater to the needs of said families, but major purchases require them to venture further out into the city proper.

The architecture of the embassies and associated buildings vary widely.  They generally conform to the dominant architectual style of their home country, with sufficent space between them for gardens, walls, and privacy.  Especially privacy.  Each embassy usually has enough space to entertain guests and handle the administrative work of a major diplomatic post, as well as house the chief and associate diplomats, their families, and major staff.  A stipend of one Comet per year per country is provided by the Kingdom of Amber to aid with the upkeep of each embassy and the paying of locally-hired staff, but the majority of funds for maintenance and salaries comes from their home countries.  One can often tell the state of foreign affairs of a country by looking at the current physical condition of their embassy, for if relations become hostile and trade becomes strained, then not as much money arrives and the upkeep of the embassy degrades.

The placement of embassies is as varied as their architectual styles. Indeed, those with sufficent immigrant populations in Amber City have moved their embassies to the wards that house the majority of their country's immigrants.  This is especially true of the Daiga and Cathay Embassies, which are situated in the Daigan Ward and the Ward of the Far Traveller, respectively.  The remainder of the embassies tend to spiral outward from the oldest (the Rebma Embassy, set dead-center in the middle of the Ward) to the newest (the Ember Embassy, set near the east edge of the Ward) within the Ward.  This is not -always- true; as countries come and go, buildings and land free up, and old embassies can end up getting levelled to be replaced with new ones.  Major embassies do not tend to be replaced, in the off chance that their fortunes will reverse.  Minor embassies tend to be a little more on the generic side, and easily change hands as new kingdoms appear and old ones fade away.
 

The relative locations of major embassies within the Ward are as
follows (in cheesy ASCII-Grafix!):

--------------------------------------------
|                                          |
|                 7      8            24   |
|                                          |
|          16                  15          |
|                                          |
|                  4     14           23   |
|             3                            |
|    17               2        13          |    N
|                                          |    ^
|                                          |    |
|            5        1               20   | W -|- E
|                             12           |    |
|                                          |    S
|     18                                   |
|                6      11                 |
|                                          |
|                                          |
|                                  19      |
|         22              21               |
|                                          |
--------------------------------------------

1) Rebma            9)  Daiga         17) Ulia
2) Isle of Emeralds 10) Cathay        18) Sailoon
3) Begma            11) Lipun         19) Frostspire
4) Eregnor          12) Hang-Kung     20) Ember
5) Therin           13) Ashante       21) Akashan Leauge
6) Talma            14) Kashfa        22) Beleriand
7) Siam             15) Singh         23) Ohtori Academy
8) Sind             16) Wroland       24) Panopticon University

There are several embassies of note which we will go into here:

The Rebman Embassy

The oldest of the major embassies, the Rebman Embassy sits nearly in the center of the Ward of the Embassies, and with good reason.  Not only is it a representation of Amber's oldest (sometimes reluctant) diplomatic relationship, it is also a representation of one of the few Cross-Shadow powers on par with Amber proper.  Built out of blue and green marble, the embassy is one of the largest in the city, and is elaborately decorated with Rebman sea life motifs.  The interior is naturally cool and lit with predominantly blue and green mosaic stained-glass windows.  An elaborate magic-powered aquarium system is spread between the offices, further giving the sensation of being underwater and a home away from home for Rebmans everywhere.  The great hall of the Rebman Embassy is reminiscent of a coral reef with its carved coral sculptures along the walls and high blue-green skylights.

In the past 40 years the embassy has been in a gradual state of decline, though not as much as would have been expected due to the dissapearance of Rebma.  For one, the embassy serves as a focal point for the efforts of expartiate Rebmans to restore their homeland, and this brings in regular traffic and revenue.  For another, several suspect that the Kingdom of Amber has been paying the embassy several times the amount of the yearly stipend to help with the maintenance costs.  If there is any truth to this rumor, Ambassador Arimi, King Tylor, and Queen Yuriko are not talking.  There's at least enough funds to help keep the sea life in the aquariums and outer water gardens thriving, though.

Ambassador Arimi's own offices are spartan, as are the majority of the offices for her staff, reflecting both her personal preferences against frivolous decoration (and overall energy levels preventing her from being IN the office all the time), and the need to cut costs. There is a small but efficent serving staff that are absolute -experts- in preparing Rebman dishes and other seafood meals, and are at times called to cater parties in other embassies.

The Ember Embassy

The newest of the major embassies, the Ember Embassy was built on the eastern edge of the Ward, after several smaller adjacent unoccupied embassies were levelled to the ground to make way for the new ambassadorial compound.  Like the Rebman Embassy, it is one of the larger embassies in the Ward, due to its standing as an up-and-coming Cross-Shadow power.  The outer walls and interior buildings are mostly constructed of white-tan and orange-ocher stone similar in appearance to sandstone but not in substance, and is much tougher than it seems.  Turreted domes grace the corners of the buildings, and colorful mosaics add vibrant detail to the overall interior and exterior Emberite design motif.  The main embassy itself is somewhat smaller than the Rebman Embassy, and not as monolithic, but this discrepency is made up for by the wide courtyards surrounding the embassy propper, the interior courtyards, and the large number of windows in the building making it seem larger on the inside than it really is.

Emberites believe in light.  Lots and lots of light.  Nowhere is this more evident than the Ember Embassy.  Large double-paned, insulated, double-glazed reinforced windows encircle the main building and its courtyards letting in a large amount of sunlight into the embassy's rooms during the day, and trap the building's interior heat during the night.  The interior hallways are illuminated by a series of ducted and reflectored skylights and galleries lit by the corner domes.  Rows of magically-powered (and shielded, to prevent accidental fires in other wards) braziers along the outer wall automatically ignite at nighttime, one of the first facilities to demonstrate the effective use of the power transmitted from the Heat Diffusion Tower.  The interior of the embassy is also kept well lit, save for those rooms that are not being used at the time.

The Ember Embassy has seen a succession of ambassadors over the past 38 years after its initial construction in 1293 AY.  Most ambassadors did not last in Amber for very long, due to the temperature discrepencies between the two kingdoms, even with the higher temperatures due to the loss of Rebma.  Because of this, there were not many personal touches added to the embassy, save for the upper-story 'greenhouse' constructed in the south wing of the main building during one ambassador's tenure, where fresh (magically-supported) plasma is fed to native Emberite plantlife.  In the past two years Ambassador Sumire has settled into the embassy, giving it her own particular touches.  Two of Mutsumi's paintings hang prominently in the great hall, and various works of industrial-themed art have been included in various places.  There is also a small gymnasium, and many conference rooms, to allow for multiple meetings between officials and dignitaries.  Sumire's own office is well appointed and practical, so that she can handle both her official duties for the Kingdom of Ember and those tasks for Kanzaki Enterprises that her deputy up in Ember cannot handle.

Ohtori Academy and Panopticon University do not have embassies.  They have recruiting offices instead, as well as many nice four-color pamphlets.
 
 

Ward of the Far Traveller:

Most Cathayans have no interest in travel to foreign places...but some do, and enough have migrated to other Shadows that most Golden Circle ports have at least a few Cathayans in them.  The Ward of the Far Traveller, also known as 'Cathay City', is home to some 12,000 Cathayans, more than live in many towns in their homeland.  It is also known as 'The Flammable Quarter', because so much wood and paper and cloth was used in its construction, for the buildings here are in the Cathayan style.

The Cathay Embassy, a four story building that most Amberites mistake for a temple, is to be found here, along with hundreds of restaurants, artisan shops, laundries (some of the best in Amber), weavers, groceries, and in fact, just about everything Cathayans could want.  More so than most wards, this one is a city within the city, and many of its inhabitants never leave, except to buy raw materials.

This is the ward to go to if you want fine porcelains, exotic paintings, well cleaned and pressed clothing, or training in unarmed combat.  Eight different schools of unarmed combat operate here, accepting any student who will pay and obey.  The district is also noted for its restaurants, which attract many people from other wards.  Don't expect a lot of meat, but they work wonders with vegetables and rice.

Ward of the Iron Pot:

The Ward of the Iron Pot stands just inside the northern gates of Amber City, on the lowest slopes of Kolvir.  The roads are steep and twisty, and the buildings crowd together and lean crazily.  It's a place of honest hard-workers, who may not have much money, but they have their pride and relatively clean streets.  Most of the locals are Theran in descent.

One place of note here is 'Maison l'Roi', a neighborhood bar and grill sort of place, run by a woman named King.  The building resembles a Theran chateau, and thus looks a little odd crammed into the twisty, bendy streets, surrounded by run down flats and townhouses.  Still, you can find good food, and decent gin and malt liquor there.

Amber Lighting and Power:

A huge crystal spire now rises near the center of town.  At night, crackling energy can be seen travelling down from the Tower of Heat Diffusion at the Castle.  This energy is then transmitted out across the town to maintain a system of ever-burning torches at night, and to run the Lighthouse of Amber.  It is believed that the tower could also use this power for defending the city if it was attacked.

Amber Port and the Amber Ship Channel:

One of the effects of the loss of Rebma has been the lowering of the ocean level near Amber.  The old Amber Port was left high and dry.  Using powerful magics, however, King Tylor dredged a huge canal known as the Amber Ship Channel which runs the twenty miles to the sea, and dredged the harbor deeper.  One now has to climb down huge stairs, use winch driven elevators, or slowly descend long ramps to reach the actual docks proper, then take boat and ride down the ship channel to the sea.

Bill Vincent's Weaponshop:

If you want a weapon made to order, this is the place to go.  Bill makes both magical and technological weaponry, and is noted for his ingenuity in mixing the two.  It squats at an intersection in the Ward of the Iron Pot, an ugly one story building (with basement) with a bright red sign that proclaims:  Bill Vincent's Weaponshop.  While Bill is a fine weaponsmith, one must be warned that he tends to the incredibly literal in naming the weapons and armor he makes: Bigoldsword, Damntougharmor, etc.  He's especially noted for his skill with crossbows.

Bloody Annadil's:

Bloody Annadil's is a rough, but popular restaurant to be found in the Ward of the Dead Unicorn.  Run by a man simply known as 'Chef', it serves various traditional Amberite dishes along with bad beer and worse ale.  It's most noted for the entire wall taken up with a picture of Prince Shaft riddling Annadil with harpoons.  The historical accuracy of this picture remains debated, but it certainly seems to have gotten the place Prince Shaft's patronage...

Bloody Annadil's has music most nights, often very good music.  Twice a week, the usual host, Neil 'Buddy' O'Tip, gets up himself and sings all night long, taking requests into the wee hours.  His voice is hypnotic, and the bands he brings in to back himself up are uniformly excellent.

Caritas:

Not everyone in Amber City is human; some pretty strange creatures call Amber City their home.  One refuge for them away from the eyes of whiny, paranoid humans is Caritas, a karaoke bar mostly patronized by non humans.  Orpheus, the owner, is a green skinned humanoid with short horns and tacky taste in clothing.  He's rather androgynous, and he's said to be able to gaze into the future of anyone who comes and sings there.  On the other hand, after a few of the drinks at Caritas, many humans find themselves hallucinating the future, anyway...

The Cat Cafe

A popular restaurant in the Ward of the Far Traveller, run by a beautiful purple-haired lass from Cathay.  It is a noodle shop, and makes no pretensions to greatness, but what they do, they do well.

Chapel of the Unicorn:

The Chapel of the Unicorn, located in the Ward of Temples, is grand, but not overly so. It stands tall, at the center of the assorted temples and shrines located in this part of City Amber. Wide columns at the top of stone steps make its facade, the top of which has a bas-relief of the Unicorn itself, captured in mid-gallop. Between the center two columns are a pair of heavy oak doors, the main entrance.

Upon entering, one is usually struck by the high, arched ceilings far above, from which hang numerous banners depicting the Unicorn. At a lower altitude, lining the walls, are ornately carved panels depicting scenes from the Prophecies of the Unicorn. The floor is covered by a deep red carpet, running down the five aisles that separate the four columns of backed wooden pews (cushioned rather comfortably) from each other and the walls. Every other row has a candleholder at each end, for certain special ceremonial functions. Offering boxes are scattered througout this area discreetly.

In front of all these seats is a raised dais, a few steps high, also covered in the same red carpeting. In the center of this is an altar, bearing selected verses from the Prophecies. Above and behind it, on the wall, is a majestic image of the Unicorn rampant, easily seen by everyone in the audience. On the right side of the dais, there is a podium, where service leaders stand to address the faithful. On the left side, there is an octagonal pulpit--this is where High Priest Geo (and the occasional guest speaker) gives sermons and prays publically for Amber, its citizens, and the Shadows. It is carved like the panels, each of the four sides visible to the audience portraying a scene. Behind the pulpit and podium are the pews where the choir sits and leads the assembly in hymns.

Behind that region are the offices of the High Priest and other officials of the Cult of the Unicorn. But they're off limits to most. At any rate, they're simply your standard offices, really.

Lina Inverse Memorial Airport:

Some of the land revealed by the dropping of the water level has been turned into a huge complex used by Amber's Zeppelins.  Three major terminals connected by elevated walkways and carriage shuttles provide flight service to all the capitals of the Golden Circle, and most of the major cities of Amber itself.

Adjacent to this is the military airbase of Amber's Air Fleet.

Maison l'Roi:

Maison l'Roi is a small gin joint in the Ward of the Iron Pot.  Prince Ota, Prince Ramon, and Prince Vash are all known to sometimes go there to enjoy the atmosphere and chat with the lovely owner of the bar, a woman named King.  Maison l'Roi is also known for its cheese selection.


Forest Arden

Forest Arden is a thick, ancient woods riddled with trails which can move about at the command of Hiko, the Warden of Arden. Deep in the forest's heart is the Warden's lodge, a small fortress which serves as her refuge and base. Many small rivers and streams flow into the forest, eventually running into the Barimen river, which runs through the northern edge of the forest. The warden also controls the river locks which make the river navigable, and can open or close it to traffic accordingly.

Warden Hiko and her husband, the Green Knight, are served by the Forest Rangers, an elite force of several hundred highly trained archers.  About two thirds of the force is Elven, the result of Gendo planting a community of Elves in the southern end of the forest.  They ride specially bred horses, and have many packs of hounds and falcons capable of tracking any intruder.  Most of the rangers have some skill at sorcery, and the former warden, Corrine, is known to have supplied them heavily with Trumps for communications purposes.

The Elves of Arden have become somewhat odd in recent years due to Prince Ota's influence, and can perhaps be best described as 'Funk Elves'.  Imagine a cross between Superfly and Galadriel, then run while you're still sane.

About forty years ago, the Black Moon spat death down on the forest, and some regions are still somewhat on the creepy and haunted side.  Travellers beware.

There is known to be a Pattern deep inside Arden, hidden away somewhere.  Rumor has it that some sort of large greenhouse has been constructed around it, part of a larger construct which has enabled Arden to resist the changes wrought by the shift of elemental balances, possibly linked to the Lighthouse of Cabra and the Heat Diffusion Tower of Castle Amber.


Golden Circle

The Golden Circle are kingdoms with which Amber has special trade relations.  Most of them are allies of Amber to some degree, although relations with a few of them fluctuate a lot.  The most prominent of these kingdoms near Amber are listed below.  The rest of the Golden Circle, which lies beyond the seas, can be found here.

Currently, relations have become somewhat confused, thanks to internal coups in some of these kingdoms.  Here's the current status quo:
 


Begma

Historical/Fictional Inspiration:  Canonical Shadow, history modelled on aspects of France
Population:  3,000,000 roughly
Travel Time from Amber:  3 weeks ride by land
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.

Geography:

The Kolvir range turns into hills which run northwestward along Begma's eastern border.  These hills gradually turn into downs as you go west, then finally decline into gently rolling plains which run west to the Forest of Mysteries, a vast wall of trees that runs north and south for hundreds of miles.  With the rising heat levels, it has gradually retreated northward, though it remains vast.  Begma's northern border is formed by the Desla mountains, which rise from the northern tip of the Kolvir hills, then arc westward to the Forest of Mysteries.  The Barimen River, which flows out of the Forest of Mysteries, has usually marked the southern border of Begma.

Most of Begma is alternating patches of scrub forest and fairly flat farmland, cut through by several rivers which mostly run northwest to southeast and flow into the Barimen river.  However, the Harad River also runs through Begma to Harad, having had its headwaters in the middle of the Desla mountains.  The rivers have shrunken in size, but enough water remains for people to irrigate crops, though river traffic has become more difficult.

Begma's capital is Begma City, far west of Amber, a good two weeks ride into the interior from Darien, the city of Begma closest to Amber City itself.  It is home to about forty thousand people; half the city sits on a huge, now even huger,  island in the center of the Begma River, while the rest live in suburbs on the northern and southern banks of the river.  Begma Air Port is on the southern bank.

History:

When Amberites first found Begma, it was divided into dozens of city states along the river valleys and most of the land was overgrown with forest.  About half of them had been loosely united into the Wanecki empire, which was very unstable.  The Catalans came from the northeast around 400 AY, ushering the land into the Iron Age, conquering and uniting it.  But in 455, King Ura of Catala was assassinated, and his kingdom broke up as his heirs squabbled.  In 468 AY, the peace of Alsace divided Catala among three kings:  Kashfa, Eregna, and Begma, under the nominal leadership of Eregna.  However, Begma and Kashfa soon teamed up to squeeze Eregna between them.

Begma's dynasty was short lived--in 490-500 AY, the Pecheneg, driven from Harad, invaded and conquered it, turning it into a state much like Merovingean France.  The Pecheneg dynasty gradually went into decline, and by 604 AY, Begma was reduced to paying a tribute yearly to the Cimbri to avoid being invaded.  Things didn't turn around until the Mayors of the Palace, theoretically simply the stewards of the royal estates, more or less took over the government and ran the country, able to do so because the repeated Cimbri assaults created a demand for leadership.

In 635 AY, Pepin the Short defeated the Cimbri at the battle of Karest, driving them out of Begma.  He defeated them again in 639, 645, and 660.  It wasn't until around 680 that his descendents managed to drive out the Cimbri entirely, though.  His grandson, Pepin the Strong took the throne and founded the Silesian Dynasty.

By the nine hundreds, the Silesian dynasty had also crumbled and become corrupt, with its authority largely usurped by the Prime Ministers.  The Orkuz family managed to turn that position into a hereditary one in the 990s to 1020s, when they expanded into Eregnor in the wake of the collapse of the Alans who had seized it.  This led to conflicts with Kashfa, and a dozen wars since then over Eregnor with Kashfa.

During the Annadil Crisis, Begma supported Amber, and was rewarded with control of all of Eregnor.

Today:

Prime Minister Nadia Orkuz rules Begma, and her sister Coral is married to the nominal king of Kashfa, King Rinaldo.  Her son, Keitaro, has been fostered in Amber, and is a notable trump artist.  Begma clearly has its eyes on Nicephorus, the Talman city which lies between it and Amber along the Barimen river; they could trade with Amber much more cheaply along that route if they controlled that city, instead of the slower route along the Harad River, especially with the Harad river flowing more weakly.  However, Nadia seems more the sort of person to gain the city by intrigue rather than force.

Begma flourishes, mining ore in the mountains and cutting timber from the forest of mystery and producing a wide variety of metal and timber products.  They're especially noted for their production of paper and books; the Begmans do have printing presses and love to use them.

Begman society is dominated by the hereditary nobility.  They've lost most of their personal political power, but they control the regional assemblies, and the central assembly where all the major decisions are made.  The Silesian dynast who holds the throne, Pepin XVI, is largely powerless, while the real executive power is in the hands of the Prime Minister, Nadia Orkuz, who struggles with the assemblies to direct the course of government.  Pepin seems content to make clocks and locks; he's a noted maker of mechanical gizmos, and seems little like a king.  This has made him beloved of the people, who can see him as one of their own.

The Begman military is very efficient when well paid, but has constant financial problems.  It consists of regiments of pikemen and crossbowmen, supplemented by a small force of light cavalry for scouting and a very competent noble-dominated heavy cavalry corps.  Begma is noted for its excellent siege equipment and skill at seige warfare.

Many Begmans have adopted the Cult of the Unicorn; the rest worship the Sons and Daughters of Pechena, the twelve dieties worshipped long ago by the Pecheneg, the usual squabbling pagan pantheon of horny people who act out humanity's worst impulses.  Each city has a different member of the pantheon as its patron; there are many minor deities, the sons and daughters of the Sons and Daughters.

A large swathe of rural Begma exploded recently for no apparent reason, then just as quickly mostly was repaired.  Many people died, and investigation is continuing.

Eregnor

Historical/Fictional Inspiration:  Canonical Shadow
Population:  500,000 roughly
Travel Time from Amber:  3 weeks ride by land
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.

Eregnor is now ruled by Palatine Rudolph from the city of Alsace.  Its southern border with the Plains of Harad is a great forest, the Forest of Eregnor.  The forest seems to have not been hurt much by the rising heat, which has benefited the locals, who sell a lot of timber to areas where forests are dying.

Still, there is discontent in Eregnor, and periodic problems with various lunatic groups seeking Eregnor independence.  Some believe these are being manipulated by Kashfa, but who knows?

Kashfa

Historical/Fictional Inspiration:  Canonical Shadow
Population:  3,000,000 roughly
Travel Time from Amber:  3 weeks ride by land, 12 days by sea to the nearest major Kashfan port, 9 days by sea to the Shalomar Base, from which one could ride into the interior
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.

Geography:
Kashfa lies north of Amber along the coast, beyond the Plains of Harad.  It is roughly square.  The sea coast forms its eastern border, the Eregna river marks the south, the western border cuts north from the Eregna to to the Silphin River, and the Silphin flows into the sea, its course defining the northern border.  The land gradually rises as one moves west and north, becoming hills in the far north and uplands in Eregnor.  Much of the land is covered with farms, but the northern highlands are forested, and small forests dot the land still.  The northern highlands remain cool, but the southern forests are gradually turning to scrub.

The capital is Jidrash, two weeks ride from the southern border, along the Rishfa River.  The royal palace is surrounded by a triple ring of ivy covered walls, each encompassing several buildings with a cluster of four in the center.  The city also has a wall, but the river splits it and the city has long outgrown the walls.  Some eighty thousand people live there.  Jidrash possesses a new Zeppelin port, and King Rinaldo has been working to build air strips in all the major cities and extend local zeppelin service across his kingdom.  The Kashfans have shown a flair for Zeppelin design.

As in Begma, the river levels have declined, creating water shortages at times.  This has shifted the population northwards, as areas once too cold for good farming have become just right.

History:
Before 300 AY, this area was divided into many Bronze Age city states and small kingdoms.  Contact with Amber enabled the coastal city of Catala to arm itself with iron and superior military methods, then spread along the coast and into the interior, forming the Catala Empire over what is now Begma, Eregnor, and Kashfa.  A member of the Royal Family even married Gendo, King of Amber.  But when Catala turned its eyes towards Harad, Amber inspired civil war after 455 AY tore Catala apart.  The peace of Alsace in 468 AY divided Catala among three kings:  Kashfa, Eregna, and Begma, under the nominal leadership of Eregna.  However, his kingdom soon found itself squeezed between the others, and devasted by Pechenegs, who overran Eregna.

Kashfa absorbed part of that land, but a century later, it was overrun by the Cimbri, divided up into many small kingdoms, united in a loose confederation.   Kashfans became slaves and bondsmen to their new overlords.  After 660 AY, the defeat of the Cimbri at the Battle of the Plains of Harad led to the collapse of the confederation, and the kingdoms went their own ways.  These states paid tribute to Amber and squabbled among themselves.  The Old Kashfans and Cimbri fused together into one people.

This process was sped up when, after the murder of Haruka of Harad by Cimbri assassins, Gendo invaded the Cimbri lands and sold the entire aristocracy into slavery (915-919 AY).  This left the lands defenseless when the Alans invaded, overruning everything.  By 992 AY, however, the Alans were in turn pounded to rubble.  In the aftermath, the state of Jidrash began to conquer and assimilate the others, aided by Amber, who wished to create a buffer state.

By 1100 AY, this state controlled all of modern Kashfa and proclaimed itself New Kashfa.  It had begun to expand into Eregnor, gobbling up the petty states there, and came into conflict with Begma, beginning the first of a dozen wars over the area.

During the Annadil Crisis, King Rinaldo staged a coup and over threw his long reigning mother, with the help of Princess Wakaba.  He now rules with his wife, Coral Orkuz, a Begman, who is not very popular in Kashfa.  While the couple doesn't seem to be very close, he refuses to divorce her.

Today:
It is a feudal state evolving towards a still aristocratic 'Old Regime' style state (think Three Musketeers France).  The Kashfans have suffered since their defeat by Amber, forbidden to build a navy, and hampered in their trade and by heat. Most Kashfans are very resentful of Amber, but also fear another defeat.

The Kashfan army is modelled after that of Amber.  It is quite effective.  Kashfa is beginning to build a zeppelin fleet.

Kashfa has come to adopt the Cult of the Unicorn; it forms the dominant national faith.  Many Kashfans have turned to other cults in recent years, rejecting Amber's religion.
 

  The Singh League

Historical/Fictional Inspiration:  Athens
Population:  70,000 roughly.  Some 280,000 total in the Singh League total.
Travel Time from Amber:  2 weeks ride by land
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.

Geography:
Singh proper is a roughly triangular nation, with its capital, Singh, in the northern tip of the triangle where two rivers and two trade roads intersect.  Southeastern Singh is hilly, as the western end of the Sethfore Hills gradually fade into downs then fade away into flatlands, covered with forest in the southwestern corner of Singh.  The hills are mined for ores and precious metals, and the forest is lumbered.  The forest is declining into scrub, hurting Singh's timber trade.

Singh itself is a walled city, home to 10,000 of the 25,000 citizens of the country.  Another 10,000 of the 20,000 'galla' (resident free non-citizens and foreigners) live in Singh, along with 5,000 of the 25,000 slaves held by Singhese citizens and galla.  The rest of the population lives in scattered small villages and mining towns.  Singh has an unusually high percentage of free citizens for its culture,by deliberate city policy; this enables them to maintain a larger army.  Singh is most noted for its temple of the Goddess Sing, patroness of hunting and the Moon.  It possesses a zeppelin air port now.

However, Singh now heads the Singh League, a collection of former Uilan cities dominated by Singh.  Alten, Corinth, and Megara are the other major cities of the League. They effectively control all of Uila's best trade routes to Amber and have used this to squeeze the Uilans.  Alten, Corinth, and Megara each number about twenty thousand people, with some 150 thousand in the land around them.  This has vastly increased Singh's power.

History:
The regions now known as Talma, Uila, and Singh have seen many transitory kingdoms in the millenia that Amber has known of them.  Around 650 AY, the Dorians defeated the Kingdom of Linkha and began to overrun this area.  While Talma united to repel the Dorians, all of the cities of Uila and Singh fell to them, and they then pressed east against Amber.  In 678, they defeated Corrine at the battle of the Barimen River and invaded Arden.  In 680 AY, Dorian forces besieged Amber City.  But after their defeat, they retreated and their federation fell apart into a dozen squabbling city states, each independent.

The most powerful of these was Singh, which in the nine hundreds gained a brief-lived ascendency over the others.  Talman intervention, however, aided a revolt against Singh, and the states reverted to their usual squabbling.  Around 1150-1165 AY, under the leadership of King Philip I, the Uila swept down from the mountains to the south and conquered the squabbling states, who proved unable to unite against them, despite aid from Talma.  He then turned to attack Singh, who had appealed to Amber for protection.  In 1167-1180 AY, Philip dueled with Marshal Juri of Amber, and was repeatedly defeated by her.  He withdrew and died shortly thereafter.

However, Singh now heads the Singh League, a collection of former Uilan cities dominated by Singh.  Alten, Corinth, and Megara are the other major cities of the League. They effectively control all of Uila's best trade routes to Amber and have used this to squeeze the Uilans.  Alten, Corinth, and Megara each number about twenty thousand people, with some two hundred thousand in the land around them.  This has vastly increased Singh's power.

Today:
Singh survived the Annadil Crisis with the help of Amber, and they know it.  As a result, they've elevated the Cult of the Unicorn and do their best to be as gracious to Amberites as possible.  The city's government slavishly follows Amber's foreign policy, in return for which Amber largely leaves them to manage internal affairs as they see fit.  Singh is governed by a council of ten archons elected yearly by the assembly of citizens, which meets periodically in Singh itself to elect officials, to decide on matters of war and peace, and to approve or reject proposed laws.

The Singh League is governed by a council of nine archons.  Each city sends two representatives, and the High Priestess of the goddess Sing in Singh is the ninth, presiding member.

Singh has a citizen army; every citizen is subject to randomly chosen terms of military service and monthly drills.  They have adopted the Uilan military methods of the use of phalanxes and archers.  They have also adopted Amberite cavalry tactics.  Singh also frequently uses its wealth to bribe Theran lords to raid the Uilans in times of war.

The Singhi worship the great huntress Singh in ten yearly civic festivals and many smaller rites.  They have also adopted Unicorn worship, placing it on an equal level.
 

Talma

Historical/Fictional Inspiration:  Renaissance Italy, if it had united
Population:  1,500,000 roughly
Travel Time from Amber:  2 weeks ride by land
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.

Geography:
Talma stretches out along the river valley of the Talma River, gently rolling plains, covered with farms and pastures.  It is about a hundred and twenty miles wide, and some five hundred miles long.  The capital of the league, Talma itself, is home to some 80,000 people.  There are eight major cities and many small villages and towns.  The capital and several other cities now have zeppelin ports.

The rising heat and sinking water levels have hurt Talma, reducing food production and hurting river trade.  This has created rising poverty in Talma as bankrupted farmers flee to the cities and scrabble to live.  And there are continuing problems with patches of the Red Death, a fungal infestation which devasted Talma during the Annadil Crisis.

History:
The regions now known as Talma, Vila, and Singh have seen many transitory kingdoms in the millenia that Amber has known of them.  Around 650 AY, the Dorians defeated the Kingdom of Linkha and began to overrun this area.  While Talma united to repel the Dorians, all of the cities of Uila and Singh fell to them, and they then pressed east against Amber.  In 678, they defeated Corrine at the battle of the Barimen River and invaded Arden.  In 680 AY, Dorian forces besieged Amber City.  But after their defeat, they retreated and their federation fell apart into a dozen squabbling city states, each independent.

Talma, however, remained independent of them, having pulled together in the mid-7th century to repel the Dorians.  It became a league of cities, working to manipulate the Uilans and keep them disunited.  It also had to repel periodic invasions from the expansionist Begmans.  Since entering the Golden Circle a few centuries ago, this has become easier.

Talma was invaded by crazed nomads and hordes of mobile fungus during the Annadil Crisis and is still recovering.

Today:
Talma is a league of eight cities, each ruled by a merchant oligarchy, who select the central council of the land.  The league mainly functions to resolve border and mercantile disputes and to provide for a common defense in times of war.  Talmans are very mercantile in mentality.  There have been some problems with Begman customs officials extorting from Talman merchants; this is expected to lead to trouble.

The Talmans maintain forces of mercenaries paid for out of the central treasury.  The bulk of their army is moderately well-trained pikemen backed up by crossbowmen.  They maintain a force of heavy cavalry, but it is inferior in quality to that of Begma and Amber.

Some Talmans follow the cult of the Unicorn, but most worship various mystery cults which initiate their members into secret rites and levels of initiation.  Most of these cults teach some degree of sorcery, and thus magic is quite common in Talma.

Some regions are still dangerous to live in, due to the Red Death, which keeps growing back.

  Therin

Historical/Fictional Inspiration:  A cross between Absolutist France and the Antebellum South
Population:  20,000,000 roughly
Travel Time from Amber:  3 weeks ride by land, another three weeks to the capital to the south.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.

Geography:
Therin is a great sprawling nation which stretches southward for a thousand miles from Amber, and from three to six hundred miles into the interior at various points.  Northern and western Therin tends to be hilly and upraised, with the country becoming lower and wetter as you move east and south, finally terminating in a massively impassible swamp along the southern border.  Most of Therin is plains and downs, devoted to growing various cash crops, although the land grows more like jungle and rain forest as you move south into the hotter zones.

The capital, Roncesvalles, sits on a delta some three hundred miles south of the border with Amber, where the Ronce river dumps into the sea.  It is home to nearly a million people, about half of whom basically are on the dole for life.  Once beautiful, it is now beginning to crumble.

Chalcedon is one of Therin's major trading cities, home to 30,000 people. Much of the population is of Dorian descent.

Jungle spreads, claiming more and more of Therin as it grows hotter.

History:
Unlike many of Amber's neighbors, the formative period of Therin history was largely free of Amberite influence.  Many Bronze Age states arose in the fields of Therin long before any Amberites saw them.  Amberite traders settled along the coast, but had little impact, for there was little good trade to be had at the time.  The Therins were a barbarian peoples from the southwest who poured into the area around 300 AY, pushing north into the regions closest to Amber and conquering them, then pushing back southwards.

Therin peaked around 700 AY, then started to go into decline as the economy decayed and the central government increasingly lost control to the provincial governors.  Around 800 AY,  a series of civil wars began, which culminated with the ascension of the Capetians around 920 AY.  They began suppressing the provinces fairly harshly and consolidated their power.  They also began growing cash crops which could be traded to Amber for money to hire mercenaries to further crush the provinces.

The result was a stronger Theran state, which then began gazing hungrily at Amber's southern provinces.  In 974 AY, Prince Corey, an illegitimate son of Gendo, insulted the Theran ambassador and was cut in half in a duel.  Gendo demanded Therin hand him over for punishment after he fled to Therin. The Therans, pointing out it was a legitimate duel, refused.  Gendo declared war on Therin.

In the First Theran/Amber War (974-985 AY), Drake led Amber's armies south, and repeatedly crushed Theran field forces.  Gendo returned the conquered lands to Therin, in return for Therin ceding independence to several of its outlying provinces which had been recently rebellious.  This began a process of disintegration.

This process was briefly halted by the last great Theran king, Louis XIV (1050-1075 AY ).  In 1060-3 AY, King Louis XII had exploited Rebman/Amber disputes to quietly overrun and reannex the provinces his ancestor had been forced by Gendo to grant independence to.  Gendo now ordered him to release them, and he refused.  The result was the Second Theran/Amber war (1065-1075 AY).  Juri, having returned from Shadow, resumed the office of Marshal of Amber and marched south, crushing the Therans repeatedly.  She forced the conquered lands to be released and carried back the King of Therin to Amber herself.  The Therin Estates General tried to declare her Queen, but she refused the offer, convincing them to elevate the House of Valois to the throne instead.  Therin became a Golden Circle Shadow.

Crushed during the Annadil Crisis when they made war on Amber, Therin is now a mess.  See below.

Today:

The once mighty nation of Therin has sunk into chaos and anarchy.  Its military was devastated by Princess Shinobu, who then forced the Therinese nobility to free the slaves, who responded by slaughtering the nobility.  This drove King John II Valois to finally risk walking the Pattern.  He succeeded, and promptly lead half the Therin nobility off into shadow, abandoning Therin to its fate.

His nephew, King Henri of House Bourbon took the throne and pledged fealty to Amber in return for help in pacifying his nation.  While Therin is now at peace, it is a very different state than once it was.  The power of the Therinese nobility has been crippled, as they were forced to cede most of their lands.  The large plantations have ceased to exist, as freed slaves preferred subsistence farming for themselves.  Some of the best plantation land is now jungle or too dry to use anyway.

Much of Henri's power has passed to the Estates General, the national assembly.  The first house is made up of nobles, the second of city folk, the third of the rural folk.  It controls taxation, and only its constant squabbling and disunity keeps it from stripping the nobility of the last of their privileges and turning the king into a glorified manager.  Therinese politics remains a very intense and deadly game.

The Therin military has become a much less corrupt body.  It consists of a small full time cavalry corps (mostly staffed by the nobility) and crossbow corps (supported and supplied by the cities), backed up by large, poorly trained freeman militias armed with spear and pike.  The old siege artillery train remains available, but few people understand how to use it.

The Cult of the Unicorn is worshipped by most folk, and the church wields great influence.  Nobles are barred from becoming priests by Therin law.  The nobility worship a close-knit family of militant gods and goddesses from their barbarian past, and their religious fervor has increased in recent years.

Uila

Historical/Fictional Inspiration:  Greece under Macedonian rule
Population:  800,000 roughly
Travel Time from Amber:  10 days ride by land
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.

Geography:
Uila has two main geographic regions.  Northern Uila is a region of gentle downs and lowland river valleys,  covered with fields for crops.  This region was once divided into fifteen squabbling city states, now united by Uilan force.  Southern Uila is hilly, gradually turning into mountains.  These highlands once held the Dorians before they conquered the lowlands, and now the Uilans live there.

The capital, Uilapolis stands a little way into the hills.  Home to forty thousand people, it is the largest city in the Uilan highlands, full of badly copied Dorian architecture.  The palace is rather nice, though.  It possesses a zeppelin port.

With the loss of the northern regions and the growing heat, many people have moved south into the hills and mountains of the south, where it is cooler.

History:
The regions now known as Talma, Vila, and Singh have seen many transitory kingdoms in the millenia that Amber has known of them.  Around 650 AY, the Dorians defeated the Kingdom of Linkha and began to overrun this area.  While Talma united to repel the Dorians, all of the cities of Uila and Singh fell to them, and they then pressed east against Amber.  In 678, they defeated Corrine at the battle of the Barimen River and invaded Arden.  In 680 AY, Dorian forces besieged Amber City.  But after their defeat, they retreated and their federation fell apart into fifteen squabbling city states, each independent.

The most powerful of these was Singh, which in the nine hundreds gained a brief-lived ascendency over the others.  Talman intervention, however, aided a revolt against Singh, and the states reverted to their usual squabbling.  Around 1150-1165 AY, under the leadership of King Philip I, the Uila swept down from the mountains to the south and conquered the squabbling states, who proved unable to unite against them, despite aid from Talma.  He then turned to attack Singh, who had appealed to Amber for protection.  In 1167-1180 AY, Philip dueled with Marshal Juri of Amber, and was repeatedly defeated by her.  He withdrew and died shortly thereafter.

Uila joined the Golden Circle in 1227, under king Demetrius III, who hoped to promote trade and turn his land into a modern trading nation.  Trade has flourished, but now the Uilan nobility grumbles and fears loss of control to the reviving Uilan cities, who chafe at the Uilan yoke.  In 1272-74, King Alexander II tried to conquer Singh while Amber was distracted with the Sea Peoples, but he had waited too long. Saionji crushed him and forced him to commit suicide for his breach of treaty violations.  Berenice, the Queen Mother, became regent for Demetrius IV, his two month old son.

Shortly after being crowned, Demetrius IV overthrew his mother and led his phalanxes north, only to be met by Touga and crushed.  He was forced to cede Alten, Megara, and Corinth to Singh, and had to make humiliating trade concessions.  The heat hasn't helped either.

Today:
Demetrius IV is a bitter old man.  Years of worry are aging him faster than is normal for the Golden Circle, and his impotent anger eats at him.  He tyrannizes his family, and it's generally believed that one of his eight children will finally kill him some time soon, before he kills any more of them (He's sent six of them to the gibbet so far).  He rages against Talma, Singh, and Amber, but can't do anything about it.  He especially hates Touga, who responds with amusement, which further enrages him.

The subject city states are autonomous in internal affairs, but there is an Uilan garrison in each of them, and they have to provide levies and tribute to the Uilan government.  Most of the population of the plains is Dorian in descent; the uplands are the homelands of the Uilans, who are largely farmers and herdsmen.

The Uilan military is based on the phalanx, backed up by slingers and light cavalry for scouting.  In recent years, they've built up an archer corps modelled after that of Amber.  The cities provide similar forces and medium cavalry.

The Uilans and the Dorians worship the same pantheon of gods and goddesses under the rulership of Amaranth the Thunder Lord, although the Dorians tend to pick a specific patron and the Uilans try to appease them all.


Rebma

Once, Rebma was the beautiful underground reflection of Amber.  Now Rebma is gone for reasons which remain unclear, replaced by a mile across whirlpool some ten miles off the shore.  It's surrounded for miles by shadow storms which ebb and surge irregularly.  Sometimes the gulf of Amber is completely blocked off by them, sometimes not.  The Lighthouse of Cabra provides guidance for ships through the storms, enabling trade to continue, although this has made Amber's trading quite a bit more dangerous.

The Demi-Jewel of Water went missing for forty years, until it was recovered by Prince Lucien, along with Greyswandir.

Not all Rebmans were within Rebma when it sank.  Many of the surviving traders have blended into the surrounding nations, and a large group has gone to live in Atlantis.  Most Rebmans blame Annadil, and a few blame Derith, believing he must have botched some experiment.  But a small group of Rebmans, naming themselves 'Bloc Rebmaquois' blame Amber.  They want to see the earth open up and swallow Amber.  They want to see Castle Amber fall into the sea.  They are convinced that this is an effort by Amber to further oppress the Rebmans, and they're not going to take it any more.  Sabotaging ships, blowing up buildings, trying to sabotage the Heat Diffusion Tower, stockpiling gunpowder that failed to explode under the Town Hall of Amber City (The so called 'Gal Fawkes' disaster), and taking random potshots at Princes of the Blood from clock towers are their stock in trade.

Bloc Rebmaquois now controls Rebma itself, and has crowned its leader Queen Dolphin I of Rebma.  However, Prince Lucien has organized an army to contest this.
 
 


Tir-na'nog, the Castle of Illusion

When the Moon shines bright in the sky over Amber at night, a great duplicate of Amber City and Castle Amber appears in the skies over Kolvir, floating upside down.  Gravity is reversed within it, and it is accessed by a staircase that appears on those moonlight nights.  Should the Moon be covered, it begins to fade, and if it vanishes completely, all within it fall, usually to their doom.

Where Amber is What Is, and Rebma is What is Reflected, Tir-na'nog is What Might Be and Could Have Been.  It is a place of dreams, visions, and illusions, where the wise seeker can learn the answers to mysteries, and the unwise seeker misinterprets what he sees and rushes off to his doom.  Shadows of everyone in Amber, maybe everyone in all creation can be found here, and will interact with you, generally in ways unexpected. They play on your doubts, on your fears, on your hopes and dreams.

Three things usually bring seekers here.  In the Hall of Paintings, every painting is a trump which can bear you to places you've only dreamed of...if you pick the right one.  Deep 'below' the Dream Castle is the Pattern Chamber, which works just like the ones in Rebma and Amber.  Well, except for the risk it'll evaporate under you and you'll die.  And then, there is the Forbidden Gate.

The Forbidden Gate lies in a chamber which can only be accessed by climbing down a ladder from the center of the Dream Pattern.  It is a thirteen-sided chamber with a huge rectangular door in its floor.  There are four slots in the door which look like keyholes, although they'd require fairly huge keys.  No one has ever successfully opened it.  Once you climb down into the room, the way back up vanishes; hope you brought trumps with you or you can survive a long fall when the Castle vanishes.  Runes on the door say in Thari:  Beyond this Gate lies power unimaginable, waiting for whosever finds the keys to unlock it.  There is more writing, but no one has ever admitted to successfully translating it.  Fuyutsuki once claimed it was runes of the Sidar, but has never told the same story twice as to what a Sidar is.

During the Annadil Crisis, it was discovered that some Guardian waits beyond the gate for whoever might open it, a final challenge for them to overcome.

In recent years, the castle seems more solid and sometimes flickers into existence during the day.  When this happens, pleasant, cooling breezes blow across the land, bringing relief from the heat.  The cause of this is unknown.


Yig, the Pillar of Heaven

It takes about three weeks to move through Shadow to Yig; hellriders can make the distance in three days if they don't get delayed by riding into some disaster.  Yig roughly marks the boundary point at which the power of Amber fades and that of Chaos waxes.  It is also believed to hold up the heavens in some manner or sense.  Yig often seems different every time one visits it; it remains uncertain whether one is simply seeing different Shadows of Yig or the true Yig changes.

Some things, however, are constant.  Yig is always a tree with a trunk a good half mile across that rises so high into the sky you cannot see its top.  Tunnels sink into the earth around its roots, guarded by a serpent (not the Serpent of Chaos, but possibly a relative), while a flying unicorn defends its upper reaches.  Yig always stands in the center of a great, barren patch of earth.  It rains every afternoon.

And from the branches hangs a giant man, a good hundred feet tall or more.  Sometimes he is being hung by the neck.  Sometimes a rope or spear pierces him, holding him in place.  Sometimes he is crucified.  Sometimes the serpent bites his heel and the unicorn pierces his chest.  Always his eyes are shut, he does not speak except to moan, and his face mixes agony and pleasure.  Who he is or why he is there is unknown.  Rumors say that whenever his tortures end, he will learn the secret of life.  Other rumors claim enlightenment comes to those who hang from this tree.  Some say Fuyutsuki hung himself from it to learn how to make the Pattern.  (Fuyutsuki himself claims he found the instructions in a book called Pattern Making For Dummies).  Prince Shizumaru is known to have hung from Yig to gain the Seed of Hope, and it is said that Prince Drake hung from Yig to learn how to make Werewindle.
 



 

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Last Update March 20, 2001