Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thursday's Opening Scene from Woman Freed From Amber part of the Amber Chronicles by Janet Lane Walters

Woman Freed From Amber

The youngest prince of Rivand stared at the sky. The moon had risen and was
new. He lifted the bottle of wine and drank deeply. If only he could find something to be
other than the wastrel prince, a man without a place in the kingdom. He drank again and
finished the bottle. When he gestured for another, he saw the palace page appear.
Kristen tried to make himself invisible. There could be no other man or woman in this
tavern being sought by the king.

He watched the page search the faces of the men gathered around the tables.
Perhaps he wouldn’t be seen here on the balcony. His hopes were dashed when the page
hurried through the crowded room and appeared at Kristan’s side, “Your sire requests
your presence.”

Kristin rose and followed the boy to the tavern door. At least he hadn’t imbibed
enough to make his stagger. He mounted his horse and rode through town to the
imposing stone building that had been his home for all his life.

As he entered the throne room, she saw his father waited. His oldest brother
usually sat at the king’s side. Where was the crown prince? Did this mean his heir was
about to be born? Kristen shivered. One day, a crown prince might be called to face the
Witch of the Woods. He recalled the cryptic words he’d read in his grandfather memoirs
and remembered his vow to free the woman caught in the amber gem.

“Kristen,” his father’s voice was low and rumbled with anger. “Your conduct is
unbecoming to a prince. I’m tired of hearing of your constant pursuit of wine, women
and dice.”

Kristan straightened. “What else is there for me? My oldest brother follows you.
The second will be his advisor. The third will head the army. The fourth, the navy. The
fifth the treasury and the sixth the agriculture of Rivand. There is nothing left for me.”

“Not so. There is marriage. One has been arranged with the daughter of Wevald.
Put your affairs in order. You leave at the end of the week.”

“I don’t want to marry someone I’ve never seen.” Kristan turned and fled the

“You will do as ordered,” The king shouted.

Kristan raced along the empty corridors until he reached his chambers. He sat on
the edge of the bed and wished the numbness of the liquor he’d drunk would return. He
had to make plans. This marriage his father had arranged wasn’t for him. From deep
inside came the certainty that for him there was another destiny though what he didn’t

He rose. He had to leave the palace tonight. Where he would go, he wasn’t sure.
He found a haversack and quickly packed a few changes of clothes. From the chest at the
foot of his bed he took the sleeping blanket he had used on hunting trips. His hand
brushed a tear-shaped globe. He lifted the amber crystal and held it to the candlelight.

“Emme,” he whispered. His thoughts flashed to the night his grandfather had
died and how the valet had brought the amber orb to him. For years, he had kept the
globe beside his bed and stared at the woman trapped inside. Without knowing why, he
tucked the sphere in his haversack. He stuffed coins in his boots where many men kept
knives. He hurried to the stable and saddled his horse. He rode quickly through the town
and exited the gates and rode toward the forest.

The crescent of the new moon rose but the light cast was dimmed by the trees.
Though the leaves were those of spring and small, the trees were crowded. Kristan heard
a rustling. The wind or an animal, he thought. The small light cast by the crescent moon
cast shadows.

“Hoy.” The shout startled him. Someone leaped from one of the trees and
knocked him from the horse. The animal squealed.

Kristan was unable to free his sword. His attackers slashed with knives. He was
able to land a few blows before something hit his head so hard he was dazed. He
collapsed and held his breath.

The thieves grabbed his pack and began to rummage in the contents. He was glad
he had thought to hide his coins.

“What’s this?”

“Amber and a large chunk.” Suddenly one of the men screamed. “No.”

The amber globe fell to the ground. The men ran. Moonlight illuminated the
globe and the shimmer around the sphere appeared to grow. Kristen tried to get to his
knees. His head felt as thought he’d been spinning for he couldn’t believe what he
thought he saw.

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