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Journal of Prince Dirk Burness of Amber ‘Taroist’

Based on a Scenario by Rain Donaldson

Written by: R. Cal Westray, Jr. in 1996.

Dirk’s history was written in 1996.



Mother: Fiona of Amber Father: Ian Burness of Scotland

Grandmother: Clarissa Grandfather: Oberon (deceased)

Great-grandmother: Unicorn Great-grandfather: Dworkin


Time conversion: 4 Amber yr. = 10 Earth yr./4 Earth yr. = 1.5 Amber yr.

>Ages 0-17: (1967-1984) (2386-2394 d'L)

Born in Scotland. Boarding school in Scotland.

>Ages 18-29: (1985-1996) (2394 d'L-2398 d’L)

Student at the University of Edinburgh.

>Ages 30-33: (1997-2000) (2398 d'L-2400 d’L)


Scottish Wildcat

Ages 0-17:

I was born in Scotland. My mother Fiona left my father Ian and myself there, while she went to visit a fast time Shadow. She needed to make preparations for the up coming Patternfall War.

It was during this time that I learned to ride bikes and horses. I found and cared for Scottish wildcats, some were injured and needed medical attention. Father and I tended to the animals who were injured. My father kept me busy learning the arts: languages, music, and painting. He felt that it would be important for my development to learn early and to keep busy.

We lived on Shadow Earth. We had two homes, on the coastal areas of Scotland and North Carolina. We had a cabin in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and a coastal farm in Burness on Westray Island, Scotland near the Noltland Castle ruins overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It is in a small village called Burness, the family has resided there for many years. 'Bur- = fortified place' and '-ness = cape', which describes the location quite accurately. Our close personal friends are the Monivey's: 'Mon- = mountains' and '-ey = island'. Their family has resided in Monivey as long as our family has resided in Burness. Their daughter Cassandra is my closest childhood friend.

I chose water sports for recreation in times of leisure. I became adept at swimming, water skiing, wind surfing, sailboating, and operating small motor boats. I learned to play the bagpipes and flute; I am also graceful at Scottish dancing.

I attended school in Scotland.

Father taught me the history of Amber and my family. Mother provided books from the Amber library to read. After an extensive course in Thari, language was no problem. With mother’s aid, we later toured Shadow worlds of varying time lines to seek out the best artists of paintings and sketches and enlisting their tutelage. (Medieval to modern).

I learned to ride motorcycles and cars. It was still important to keep training with horses. Motor vehicles were a luxury and not reliable in Shadow. I finished my secondary education and began college courses. I learned to handle personal finances and the running of the farm. I also had power of attorney when father was traveling. I often was left to my own devices for quite some time. I learned to be self reliant, like my wildcats. I was trained in self-defense using judo and tai quan do and was trained at in-fighting with a dirk and small blades. I preferred the technique of defense and escape rather than prolonged combat. My endurance would allow me to defend myself for a considerable amount of time. I am not above sticking my dirk in the back of an opponent once provoked into a fight, but I would prefer to be just left alone. Live and let live. I was later given a tour of Amber and a room was assigned to me for future visits. Mother provided arrangements of security to her exact specifications, she probably wants to monitor me when I am there.

I toured Shadows with mother and she spent years training me Trump artistry. I took to it extremely well, father’s training made this easier. She coached me in family intrigue. I am untrusting of Amber relatives, yet trust mother implicitly. I learned to listen attentively, learned to meditate on Trump, not talk much or to divulge information, and keep my back covered. Her coaching is working too well. She is pleased with my talents in art and Trump but my neglect of other aspects of magic gives her cause for concern. After all, she may have big plans for me and she wants me to be ready when she is. My response was always, "Mother, there will be time later. Amber is at peace now, and I want to perfect my Trump skills first. Then I will learn everything you wish me to."

I constructed my artifact of a personal Trump deck. With mother’s direction, I also constructed my Trump pen artifact. With uncle Bleys, I was taught basic strategy and learned chess.

I later graduated from school in Scotland.

Ages 18-29:

I attended the University of Edinburgh and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. I Trumped to and from the University and the farmhouse.

I defined and discovered my personal Shadow "M'erth", spent more time with the masters that were transferred there, and kept refining my Trump skills. Fiona constantly visits, checking my progress. Her charm wins over the hearts of the people of M'erth. She is well pleased with the flattery and worship of an entire Shadow. She is also amused with the charm, beauty, and intelligence of the selkies, the seal people. She is privately pleased with my Shadow M'erth and the simplicity of life there. She also hopes that nothing will disturb M'erth; besides the impact upon me, she would also feel the loss.

I returned to Scotland to continue my education. While painting a Trump of M’erth, my first Scottish wildcat of five years, 'Quill' disappeared into the active Trump image of M'erth. She was pregnant and due anytime. She decided to take up residency in M'erth in Noltland Castle and she had her kittens there. The wildcats quickly populated M’erth. I graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a Masters of Arts degree. I moved back to Cape Hatteras to become re-integrated with various cultural Shadow Earth skills, pleasure activities, and to continue practicing my Trump and art skills.

My visits to Amber are frequent but brief, looking for other artists in Amber to make contact with. I met Dworkin and was impressed with the eldest Amberite. We got along well and Dworkin taught me various techniques of Trump artistry and Dworkin was well pleased at my talent.

My Uncle Bleys spent time with me in Trump Artistry. Bleys was charismatic and tried to win me over with charm. However, he grudgingly provided information on Trump. I got tired of trying to extract training from him and decided to ignore Bleys attempts at charm. I am friendly enough with Bleys but I usually just try not to attract his attention. However, Bleys thinks that he has a receptive nephew. I returned to Scotland to continue my studies.

Ages 30-33:

I graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a Ph.D. of Arts degree. There was no more that I felt I could learn there. I returned to my personal Shadow M'erth, and spent more time with art masters in continued training and practice in art and Trump skills. My wealth is redistributed to Shadow Earth to maintain my status and possessions on Shadow Earth, by selling gems to dealers in Shadow Earth from Shadow M'erth. The knowledge of various art styles from other Shadows and time lines improve my image on my personal Shadow.

I return to Scotland to continue training there in art and self defense. My visits to Amber, Cape Hatteras, and M'erth are more frequent for weeks at a time to keep active in all my homes and refining my skills. Due to the time differential, many years have passed on M’erth. My first cat 'Quill' had died on M’erth, generations of cats were born, and the number of her descendants have increased considerably. The relative size of the cats have increased as well. Due to the ready access of food and my altering of the Shadow, they are: highly intelligent, almost four feet long weighing almost 24 pounds, fierce fighters, tolerable of some humans, and they are greatly coveted by the people of M'erth. They are known as Q'cats or ‘Paaah’, for the threatening sound they make spitting at their enemies. The people of M’erth greatly desire the Q’cats to bond with them, the highest honor bestowed upon them.

The second highest honor is to bond with the small flying dragons of M’erth, the "Fairie", at the hatching of the clutch of eggs. They are the size of Earth iguanas with matching batlike wings, prehensile tails, sharp claws, and sharp teeth. They are semi-intelligent and mildly empathic with the person they bond with. They perch on the shoulder of the person they bond with, using their tail to anchor themselves in place. The people of M’erth wear robes with hoods to protect themselves from the cold and the Fairie like to take shelter under the hoods, keeping themselves close to their human for body warmth.

I distrust family members, the lure of the Pattern, the Logrus, and the various sorceries. I deal only with Trump. Shadow walking and hellrides are not things I am even remotely interested in experiencing or learning.

I am highly confident, highly disciplined, very studious, and somewhat guarded. I have a subtle sense of humor that is rarely seen by family members.

I am slow to make friends. Once a friendship is gained, it is secure. Only a threat to Amber or my Shadow homes could break that friendship. I have several close friends in my home Shadows that share similar interests outside of art.

With my friends, I am jovial and relaxed. I stay out of power plays, I am the last to choose sides, and will keep a low profile to stay behind the scenes. I may open up about safe topics. If I don’t agree with the direction others take, I may go off on my own.

I intend to protect Amber and my home Shadows, gain mastery of artistry, and power through Trump. I am not interested in ruler ship of Amber for myself, although I have had a taste of it in my personal Shadow M'erth. I have no opposition or conflict there and I don’t wish it in Amber. Besides, it takes time away from my training of artistry. However, mother may insist upon enlisting me to become her active agent and I will probably comply with her wishes.

I will retreat to my personal Shadow M'erth if provoked or backed into a corner, refusing to do anything against my principles. If I am crossed or insulted, you can forget any favors such as a Trump that is needed or desired. "Ye can take a hike through Shadow" would be my response if asked.

Journal of Dirk Burness

I put the finishing touches on a modest rendering of the "Mona Lisa." I think this will please Leonardo DaVinci, but I still prefer his version. He breathes a special life into her. I still can't manage to completely duplicate his style. I envy his flair, talent, and insight to the mechanics of art. I am still developing my own personal style. He's a sly old one. He still refuses to tell me who his model was. If I infuse the painting with Trump energy, I can see her myself. I could then meet the subject behind this famous portrait and satisfy my own professional curiosity.

I have spent many years learning the styles of all the greatest painters known. I have adapted the styles of many of them as my own. I tend to prefer realism. Abstract and surreal art can remain the product of such geniuses as Salvador Dali. Perhaps, I should take a break and think about something else for a while. A walk may be in order to provide a distraction, albeit a brief one, before I start my next painting.

Carefully cleaning the brushes and pad has become an obsession of mine. As long as I can remember, mother demanded tidiness. It is almost ritualistic and I perform the task with almost robot like efficiency. Before long, everything is stowed in its proper place. Now I am free to take a walk through the moors. Scotland is such a beautiful place in the summer and the weather looks quite agreeable today.

My father and I chose this area for the beautiful scenery and the pleasant people. The farmland is very fertile and the fields of heather and primrose are lush, beautiful, and fragrant. The western shoreline is very broad and steep, often with 200 foot high cliffs giving a breathtaking view of the ocean. The graceful seabirds that cover the red sandstone cliffs are guillemots; a member of the auk family. They look like black and white ducks with pointed bills. Today though, I am going to the ruins instead of the cliffs.

Leaving our farmhouse, I look upon the landscape on the outskirts of Burness. Its beauty never ceases to amaze me. The rolling hills, the shore of Norr Ness, the flagstone fences that separate the pastures, the timeless ruins of Noltland Castle at the top of the hill overlooking Pierowall, and the Noup Head lighthouse along the western coast. Due to the deep rich soil and mild climate, herds of cattle and fields of barley are scattered throughout the island. Fishing boats are all along the coast, unloading from their harvest from Westray Firth and the Atlantic Ocean.

There are a few roads near the farmhouse and I can see Narr Ness to the North, the village of Iphs to the West, Couters Hill to the Southwest, the links of the golf course to the Northeast, Pierowall to the East, and the village of Burness to the South. The view here never ceases to fill me with awe, such diversity in a small island. When time permits, I may have Noltland restored to a complete state... maybe not. Some things should remain as they are to remind us of the passage of time.

The ruins of Noltland Castle are just beyond the next ridge. The castle has an interesting history. I remember from Fodor's description: "A former fortress overlooking Pierowall. A governor of the island, Thomas de Tulloch, had the castle built in 1420. Eventually it was occupied by Gilbert Balfour of Westray, and its present ruins date from around the mid-1500's. It was destroyed in part by a fire in 1746. One can still see a kitchen, a stately hall, and a winding staircase. Gilbert Balfour had it designed as a fortress (something his troubled life made him in dire need of) and it was constructed in a 'three-stepped' or 'Z' plan, which provided complete all-round visibility against attack. It was never finished."

Once, I decided to change that in one of Earth's Shadows. It led to a drastic change in Gilbert Balfour's life, as well as that of Mary Queen of Scots. He wasn't executed and the history of Scotland and England were drastically changed forever. That is another story and it painfully reminds me of the consequences of Amberites mucking about in alternate Shadows. I try to limit interference now that I am older and wiser.

I return to the farmhouse from my walk and begin preparations. I change into my formal kilt and pack my gear. Gathering my possessions into a suitcase, I take inventory. The art gear goes into the briefcase. My Trump deck, rings, pipe, and weed go into the black leather and fur sporran.

I take my silver and jeweled bracelet off and focus my will upon it. It begins to shift form, I will need it as a Trump pen later but now I prefer a dirk. The change is complete; an impressive Scottish dirk with a jeweled pommel of rubies, emeralds, and diamonds. The silver blade has an impressively sharp edge which can cause severe damage. My Trump pen is one of my artifacts that is infused with Trump energies and I use it to create Trumps. It has the ability to shift into a dozen different forms when needed. I just need to focus my will upon it to trigger the shape shift. For now, I put it in the sheath and strap it on my leg.

On the bookcase are several art magazines that I haven't read yet. I better take them along. It helps to pass the time. I stow them away and close the briefcase, setting it down.

I'll write a note in case someone stops by. Cassandra Monivey should stop by at the end of the week. I don't know what I would do without her help. We have spent our childhood together and we are the closest of friends. She knows that I travel a lot, but she doesn't know of my background as a Prince of Amber. It is not something I want known, mostly for reasons of privacy. Mostly for her own safety and sanity.

Cassandra has her own farm and does a variety of jobs to supplement her income. Farming doesn't pay well in Scotland, so she does housework for several neighbors. She also does arts and crafts that she sells to tourists. She sells some of my (non magical) paintings in her sales as well. I let her keep the majority of the proceeds.

I keep my place pretty tidy, so she doesn't have a lot to do. During my absences, she mostly does the laundry and takes care of the plants. This is a valuable help to me. When I am visiting Amber or M'erth, I use a special Trump card I designed. It is a Trump of one of my closets. I use it to get a change of clothes, send back dirty clothes, and keep in contact with Cassandra. I keep an envelope filled with cash to cover expenses. I insist she takes more than she requires. She even buys my clothes for me and I often find a new outfit in the closet. I dispose of damaged or bloodied clothes. I don't want her concerned or involved in something that will disturb her.

This trip to Amber may be short, but it may turn out to be an extended visit. If so, Cassandra may have a lot to keep up on. The time differences between Shadows need accounted for and it is better to plan for the extreme. I place the note in the closet. I gather some items that I may need later and I place them in the closet too.

Visits are few and far between but maybe father will show up. I write a quick one for him, too. My father, Ian Steed Burness, is visiting M'erth. He couldn't resist the opportunity to work with the masters of art that I've acquired. After all, who would turn down the chance to talk with Leonardo DaVinci, Rembrandt, or a host of others? Their contributions to the various Shadow Earth's are amazing and I would rather not impact those Shadows permanently. Eventually, I will have to return them; or do I? The impact of the Amberites upon various Shadows is vague and it is uncertain if what we do truly matters in other Shadows. I guess I will worry about that later. Who knows when or if I'll be back?

I reach into my sporran for the Trumps. I take out the one for my room in Amber and return the rest. Concentrating on the image, the air shimmers in front of me in a rainbow of colors that outline the portal. Through the portal, I see my desk and easel, untouched since my last visit. I pick up the briefcase, then step through, and I'm back in Amber. The Trump portal closes behind me. I look around at the furnishings, all are in "This End Up" crate-like style, very costly yet very simple and solid.

In my studio room, there are 8 X 10 portraits of all the family members that I have known and painted. They are all infused with Trump energies. If I should lose my trump deck, I have access to alternate Trumps. It is my own personal gallery or shrine.

Any others who have seen my room, must think it strange to have that many paintings in one room. It would be potentially dangerous for them to stare at them for too long. It would open a Trump contact to the one stared at. They may not wish to be disturbed, or the place may be too dangerous to visit. They are my toys and my symbol of power.

I open the deck and return the card of my room to the bottom of the deck. Thumbing through it again, I place the Trump of my closet in the farmhouse in Scotland on the top of the deck, placing M'erth behind it. Returning the deck to the sporran, everything is now in order. The familiar sights and smell of Amber return. The French Vanilla potpourri is relaxing. My pipe is still on the desk, I had forgotten where I left it and I had to purchase another one after I left Amber on my last visit. My pouch of French Vanilla pipe tobacco is on the desk as well. As long as I have the basics of life, what else is important? Oh yes, don't forget the lighter.

My mind returns to Leonardo again. Lords, how long ago was it? I remember when I retrieved DaVinci from one of the Shadow Earths, a lone guard caught me by surprise. I shifted to protect Leonardo and get him out through a Trump Gate. I felt a shock that traveled up my left arm. The guard attacked me with a mace and I heard the bone break. The pain stunned me. Leonardo wanted to go and he somehow distracted the guard. I was able to ignore the pain, barely, to maintain my focus on the Trump Gate to M'erth and we fell through. The guard followed us before I could close it. When Erin saw him, he came at the guard intent upon killing him. "Just capture him!" Was all I could say before shock overtook me and I passed out. Why is it that some things trigger the most intense memories? I force myself back to the present hearing the screams and shouts.

I think back again to that guard who followed us to M'erth. The memory of the pain triggered more than I thought. Erin followed my orders as I expected. When I regained consciousness, I was in a bed in Noltland Castle. Our physician had reset my broken arm and I was wearing a sling.

The bone pierced through the skin and I lost a little blood. With my Amberite constitution, the arm healed within a month. That first week was pure hell. The arm hurt miserably and Erin was furious because I did not take him along. At the very least, I should have brought some guardsmen.

I felt it unnecessary at the time and Erin Kirok was being over protective as usual. One would think that he was personally responsible for my safety. Well, in M'erth he is, but this was my decision.

Leonardo wanted to go to M'erth with me, I was very convincing. The guard, Mikael, had surprised us as we were preparing to Trump out of their Shadow Earth. Mikael was a close friend of Leonardo, who thought I was kidnapping him with some form of witchcraft; the sight of the shimmering Trump portal is impressive, convincing, and quite beautiful to behold. Well, I 'was' kidnapping him, but there was a small matter of consent that he was unaware of. That is why I wanted him taken alive. I value honor and loyalty. I also learned that I should have done more planning to prevent that mishap. It prevented plenty of accidents during later trips.

Leonardo was in Vatican City, teaching in the Pontifical Academy of Science. Mikael was a Pontifical Guard of the Vatican who was fond of Leonardo as a father figure and was impressed with his inventions and artwork.

To this day, the guard remains with Leonardo as his personal bodyguard, as if he needs one in M'erth. Mikael also became my sworn man, vowing to be my strong left arm when I have need. He has a strange sense of humor. After all, he 'broke' mine.

Before I explain what happened next, I better explain something first. Nearly twenty years ago, my subjective time, my pet cat Quill disappeared into a Trump portal to M'erth. She was pregnant and was looking for a place to have her litter. The tabby kittens and later generations are the descendants of Quill. Due to my intervention, there was a ready access of food, an altering of the time flow, and the altering of M'erth itself, the cats developed to become: extremely powerful, quick, agile, and intelligent; fierce fighters; domesticated and faithful; and three times the size of Shadow Earth cats. They bond with their human counterparts. The people of M'erth covet them and they feel blessed when a Q'cat (Quill cat) adopts them. A bonding is a sign of prosperity and blessing from their Lord Dirk. I won't discourage any affections, superstitions, or devotions my people have for me.

Erin wasn't sure whether Mikael was trustworthy and felt he should have been sent back, but a strange event clinched it for both of us. An unbonded male Q'cat raced from the nesting grounds and planted himself firmly in front of Mikael to protect him. The guard didn't know what to think, but Erin and I both noticed the bonding occur. A Q'cat had never bonded with a person who was not of M'erth before, and I considered that event to be the final word regarding the disposition of Mikael. The Q'cat was named Mikah and they have become inseparable. Mikah is mature now, and is a strong fighter like Mikael. It is uncanny how they think as one in combat. I have seen them and they make an incredible team.

I am tempted to find one to bond with; my control over Shadow M'erth would endow a Q'cat as a personal artifact and formidible companion. Imagine what effect it will have on the festival! It will be talked about for centuries. It may indeed be time to have another Q'cat. A travel companion and additional set of eyes would be great. Definitely soon...

Mikael has become one of the chief guards and a trusted second-in-command of Erin's. Once seated, I look at my ring to pick up surface conversations from M'erth of Erin Kirok, discussing trade negotiations and plans for the next feast. The people are discussing the latest litter of Q'cats that have almost opened their eyes. All of M'erth are hoping to imprint themselves to one by Festival Eve. All is well in M'erth at least. I can devote my full attention to Amber without worrying about M'erth. Festival Eve is next month. I hope I don't miss it. It is my turn to imprint a new Q'cat. I better remind mother. She hates to miss the festivals more than I do, I think she will especially like this one. I expect that she may even become bonded, if she wishes it.

I lock my room and make my way to the Great Hall of Castle Amber. If I am lucky, I will be able to avoid another portrait session for Aunt Flora. In Castle Amber, there are virtually thousands of portraits of people. I believe at the last count, the highest percentage are of Aunt Flora.

I have done over twenty so far, outside of my personal gallery. I have done others of the family, maybe one or more of each, but Aunt Flora monopolizes my time and exhausts me. The side benefit is that she dotes on me, treating me like her favorite nephew. Some would not consider that a benefit, does the term 'albatross' ring a bell? That is how she is received by others. But I don't ignore her or underestimate her. Others have made that mistake, but I won't.

Upon arrival to the Hall, I pour a glass of Amber's best rose' semi dry wine, and load my pipe again. I sit back and observe the activities in the hall. After a bit of bread, cheese, meat, and wine, I decide it is time to head to my room.

A servant comes by to tell each of us to attend the family dinner, at 6 bells. That gives me a few hours to investigate solo. I gather up the Trumps, organize them, and put them away in the sporran. I finish my drink and I re-light my pipe.

I take the stairs to my room. At the top of the stairs, I take the hall towards the library instead of my room. The large double doors are open. The lights are on in the room. Good. I walk over to the ornate Trump case in the glass trophy case. The location of the Trump case constantly changes. It is rummaged through so often, maybe it is never put back where it belongs.

I remove the decks and withdraw the Trumps from each deck. I examine each Trump to see if there are any new ones. I like to make sure that I have as many that I can acquire. It saves me a lot of work doing new ones, my hobby is collecting Trumps. It is a minor failing of mine.

There are no 'new' ones, it was worth a try. Sometimes, one shows up when least expected. The first one I found was one of the Unicorn Grove. I had used it once to visit the Unicorn. She was a creature of pristine wonder. We had a splendid conversation, if you could call it that. She spoke to me mind to mind, what a powerful psyche she possessed! She told me of Amber, the history and the family. I was flooded with an array of images that encompassed untold ages. I nearly blacked out from the mental overload.

Yet, she was a gentle soul that expressed fury only at the memory of the Serpent of Chaos. I felt bound to her then, for she knows the truth in the hearts of men. She knew of my devotion to Amber and smiled upon me because that was her desire as well.

I left, visibly shaken to the core of my being. When I recovered. I did a portrait of the grove for my room, while it was fresh in my mind. It is the one closest to my desk. It often gives me inspiration. That was years ago and I find that I must one day visit her again. I hesitate to disturb her peaceful grove, yet I look forward to being in her presence.

I have heard whispers of others finding a Trump that was obviously meant for them to find, to help them with a problem or provide direction. I never miss the opportunity to check the library. In cases of desperation, it often helps to read the Trumps, much like Tarot cards. Any scrying method available should be taken advantage of. However, I am not desperate, yet...

I return to my room and open a fresh batch of French Vanilla potpourri. There is a little time before dinner. I do a quick scan of the Trump portraits along the wall. I can sense some of them in use but I don't want to eavesdrop, that would be gouache. Flora's is in use, no surprise there, she is organizing this party. Benedict's also, maybe he is being recalled to Amber. Caine's is active, probably being recalled too. Dworkin's is active too, but goes still instantly. He probably senses someone scanning him. This is rather risky, even for someone of my skill, to scan the Trumps of the psychically powerful.

My curiosity is somewhat abated for now. It is time to go. I lock up the room as I leave and head downstairs to the Great Hall. I believe I will have a glass of semi dry wine before I get seated. Maybe I will pick up on some family gossip. It is best not to become rusty in this skill, any information becomes important to someone. I will ignore the play, even those of Shadow Earth have been terminally dull. It is better to observe others during these activities. More is learned this way.

Whatever happens during dinner, I hope Michael has prepared some Key Lime pie for desert. He is the master chef of Amber, a genius and perfectionist. He is the general of the extensive kitchens, larders, and pantries of Castle Amber.

Some time ago, I brought to him a recipe and a sample from Shadow Earth, which nearly brought tears to his eyes. After giving me a hearty thump on the back, he nearly sprinted back to the kitchen. Later he demanded access to Shadow Earth or have someone bring him a library of cookbooks. It was time for more cooking research of various Earth cuisine's, covering the entire spectrum of cooking. He was not going to tolerate a lack of information on cooking. Furthermore, he was not going to be caught off guard by anyone asking for something he has never heard of. Did I say he was a perfectionist? He was not refused. Quite the contrary, when King Random heard the story and was given the 'request' from Michael, he summoned 'me' to take Michael to Shadow Earth for a personal tour.

I was his escort for nearly a month. We traveled many places, starting at my farmhouse in Scotland. He met Cassandra and when I introduced him as my cousin Michael, a master chef, Cassandra nearly dragged him into the kitchen. They were there for hours, discussing various recipes and comparing notes on techniques. He later asked me if I could bring her to Amber, "never have I met a woman who was such an extraordinary cook." I was nearly jealous, I told him that she was unaware of Amber and who we were, but I may invite her soon. He was looking forward to that, but he would never forgive me if I don't bring her soon. I 'am' jealous!

After that, we spent the rest of the month in different countries. With Trumps of various places, passports and visas were not needed. I had them, but getting any for Michael was unlikely, since he does not 'exist' here.

Finally, we ended up in the United States, our last visit was the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. After sampling Gumbo and a dozen other local treats, he insisted that we stop at Cafe' du Mond for beignnet's and cafe' au lait. He had visited Shadow Earth many years ago, yet so many things have changed since then. He felt at ease with me, his last visit was with Florimel (Aunt Flora) and she ran him ragged. By now my studio room in Amber was filling with books that I Trumped through - no sense in carrying anything we didn't have to.

He was looking forward to going back to try everything that he learned and sampled. I knew that his staff was in for a long training session, very long. Few people have taken the time to stimulate his imagination. He even liked the haggis I brought, but it was a taste I never personally acquired. He mostly enjoys the ceremony of presenting it at banquets. The sight of a cook slicing open a haggis with a sword appeals to many Amberites. He has prepared it at every banquet since and others have eaten it without knowing what it was. They are better off not knowing. That was all some time ago.

I arrive in the Great Hall early for dinner. Stopping for a glass of wine, I make my way to the main tables. Name tags are used, with our personal symbols, to indicate our seating arrangement. The elders are arranged at the central table, the rest of us are at tables on each side. Reminiscent of the little kids tables, the jest is not lost on 'any' of us. Only when few are in residence, do all of us use the central table. But tonight there will be a large turnout. Something of import, I suspect. We will know when we are expected to know.

To be continued...

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R. Cal Westray, Jr.
Revised: January 29, 2009.

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