Through a Mirror Darkly

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. (Gendo also has a riding beast that resembles a small dragon which he used in happier, healthier days to get up and down)

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 of your generation of Amberites 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.

Drake's Offices

Drake'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.  Those wishing an audience must convince the Deputy Lord High Chamberlain, Lady Nabiki, to make an appointment...'tips' help with this greatly if you don't seem to be present on actual Royal business.

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.

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.

Lina's Tower

The tallest tower in Castle Amber is dedicated to the use of Lina, the Court Magist.  Her tower juts about six stories over the top of the Palace; the bottom three floors are simply reinforced spiral stairs, designed to keep the operative area away from the rest of the castle.  The top three levels contain her lab and her meeting room, her library and the bedroom of Gourry, her bodyguard, and her bedroom respectively as one moves from bottom to top.  There are rumors she has a room full of Trump Doors that connect to other locations, but nothing is known for sure of this.

The front door of the occupied parts of the tower usually has a sign on it which invites visitors to come in, or tells them to go away.  She has been known at times to forget to change its setting.

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 Arden with Corrine.
 


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.  Its most famous occupant is a member of the royal family, Ota 'Shaft' Tenjou, sent to the Ward on orders from Princess Nanami to straighten out the place.

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.
 

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.
 

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.


Forest Arden

Forest Arden is a thick, ancient woods riddled with trails which can move about at the command of Corinna, 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 Corrine is 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.  Many of the rangers have some skill at sorcery, and Corrine is known to have supplied them heavily with Trumps for communications purposes.

About thirty years ago, a massive fire devastated portions of the forest.  Travellers now occasionally stumble into areas inhabited only by grass, young trees, and bushes where the fire was at its worst.


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, maybe thousands of miles.  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 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.

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 island in the center of the Begma River, while the rest live in suburbs on the northern and southern banks of the river.

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.

Today:

Prime Minister Nadia Orkuz rules Begma, and her sister Coral is married to the nominal king of Kashfa, King Rinaldo.  King Tylor recently negotiated a settlement of the Eregnor issue, although it remains to see if this will last.  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.  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.

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.

An unfortunate province caught between millstones.  It is now divided into Western and Eastern Eregnor.  The aging Duke Jade rules Eastern Eregnor from the city of Lorraine under the sovereignty of Kashfa.  Palatine Rudolph controls Western Eregnor from the city of Alsace.  Raids continue across the border between the two.  Its southern border with the Plains of Harad is a great forest, the Forest of Eregnor.

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 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.

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.

Today:
It is a feudal state evolving towards a still aristocratic 'Old Regime' style state (think Three Musketeers France).  Kashfa's rulers dream big, and they've had a lot of success ever since Queen Jasra murdered her husband and took direct control of the country.  Despite her son Rinaldo coming to maturity decades ago, and despite his marriage to Coral Orkuz, daughter of a former Prime Minister of Begma, she continues to control the country in fact, if not in name.  Rumor has it that he is plotting revolution against his own mother.

In recent years, Jasra has pushed north into the barbarian-infested wilderness and begun to send out Kashfan ships to found trading posts and colonies beyond the Eastern Ocean.  The pirates of the Shalomar have sabotages many of these efforts, and Jasra is now building a large fleet to deal with them.

The Kashfan army is modelled after that of Amber.  It is quite effective.  The Kashfan navy, however, tends to be rather comically inept despite hundreds of years of Kashfans at sea.

Kashfa has come to adopt the Cult of the Unicorn; it forms the dominant national faith.
 

  Singh

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

Geography:
Singh 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.

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.

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.

Today:
Singh survives by the grace 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.

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.
 

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.

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.

  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 forested 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.

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.

Today:

The Therin government is a puppet state, and the Valois king, King John II, knows it.  His nation is slowly crumbling away around him as the nobles usurp more of his power and the provinces increasingly deny the taxes needed to keep his government running.  The eighteen provinces are slipping through his fingers, and he is becoming increasingly desperate.  To further complicate matters, he has reason to believe Prince Drake may be his father, which could complicate matters.  However, he fears to try the Pattern, as it would kill him if he's wrong.

Therin society is a cross between Old Regime France and the Antebellum South.  Northern Thera is full of free peasants and small landholdings, but as you move south, more and more of the land is worked by slaves growing cash crops for sale in Amber.  Meanwhile, the decadent nobility parties the night away.

The Therin military is notoriously corrupt and lazy, staffed by men who were pressganged and officers who bought their jobs.  Each officer raises his own unit, then pays the men from a stipend provided by the central government.  The Therins use corps of crossbowmen armed with repeating crossbows, spearmen, and lightly armed skirmishers, backed up by a still impressive set of siege artillery and by light cavalry and horse archers.

In recent years, the Cult of the Unicorn has spread among Theran slaves, becoming a faith of liberation that is leading to unrest.  Certain rumors claim King Gendo planned it that way...Amber itself has no slavery, after all.  The nobility worship a close-knit family of militant gods and goddesses from their barbarian past, although being religiously apathetic is currently the 'in' thing.

Uila

Historical/Fictional Inspiration:  Greece under Macedonian rule
Population:  1,000,000 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, very fertile and 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 thirty thousand people, it is the largest city in the Uilan highlands, full of badly copied Dorian architecture.  The palace is rather nice, though.

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.

Today:
Demetrius IV is about to be crowned, having finally turned eighteen.  A power struggle between himself and his mother is expected.  Certain rumors speak of a secret alliance between himself and King Rinaldo of Kashfa, who has a similar problem.  There is some fear of a possible civil war; the nobility favors a revenge war on Amber, as does Demetrius IV, while his mother and the subject cities support continued accomodation to Amber's demands.

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

Rebma is three days ride from Amber, and according to Amberites, it's an underwater reflection of Amber, complete with its own Pattern.  Of course, the Rebmans say the same thing about Amber.  It's underwater, but if you enter by the stairs in, you can breathe the water.  It is similar to, though not completely the same in geography as Amber City and Castle Amber.  It has its own pattern, etched in light green into a dark coral floor.  Rebmans tend to have green and blue hair and skin, but can interbreed with normal humans.  Gendo's fourth wife was from Rebma, Rei of Rebma.

Rebma has been ruled for centuries by Queen Moire; her origins are unknown to the average Amberite, but some rumors claim she is Gendo's sister.  She has been married thirteen times and has nearly twenty surviving legitimate children; it's generally expected that there will be a thinning of the ranks whenever she dies, but she's showing no signs of it.

Rebma is said to possess a 'Coral Circle' of underwater civilizations it trades with, but little is known of that in Amber.

Relations with Rebma have been mixed; currently relations are somewhat cordial, although Rebma has been having problems with Therin, whose ships have been abusing their oceans through overfishing and whaling.

Affiliated Shadows:

Coral Circle:

The largely underwater shadows which Rebma trades with.  A handful of names are known to Amberites:  Lemuria, Atlantis, Mu, R'yleh, but nothing else.

Nedra:

Transit Time from Arden: Just off shore, if you're on the sea coast.
Time Differential: 1 day here equals 1 day in Amber.

Uncle Derith's shadow.  It is a great and beautiful coral forest which defends the 'land' approaches to Rebma under the waves.  Derith has a great mansion here, and it is protected by a variety of sealife, along with giant seahorse riding rangers.
 
 
 


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.


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).



 

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Last Update February 3, 2001