When I awoke, I found myself alone in some type of infirmary. It had a desk across the room with files and instruments on it. It looked like an ordinary hospital, but in some ways it was very advanced. Monitors to both sides of me showed readouts for things I had never even heard of. Yet the feel of the room and the architecture of the walls alluded to the realization that I was in some sort of castle. It was then that I started reviewing the day's previous occurrences in my head from Amia trumping me to our arrival in Amber. I sat up in the infirmary bed groggily. The uncomfortable feeling hospitals gave me were unfortunately present even in Amber. I suddenly noticed that I was dressed in a green robe. The fabric felt finer than silk and provided me with comfortable warmth. My other clothes were nowhere in direct sight. It was then that I began to wonder about the fate of my companion Amia and what, or who had struck me on the head. As if on cue, a person wearing white scrubs walked into the room looking very grim. He was a man about eight foot six and had an extra arm coming out of him. This was all of the conformation I needed to know that I had at least trumped to another shadow, but I was still not certain if I had trumped directly to Amber. The doctor looked at me quickly and turned away. Then I heard him talking in a language I did not understand. At first I thought he was only talking to himself, but then I noticed that he was talking directly to a card. I tried to position myself on the bed to a spot where I could see the face on the card, but that was when I finally became aware of the many wires that connected me to the hospital monitors. They seemed to restrain my movement the more I moved about. I finally gave up and let myself recline so that my head was on the pillow again. l watched the doctor very closely and listened for any English word or more specifically, an English name. Then, quite abruptly, the doctor stopped talking for perhaps seven minutes. At first I thought he was done altogether, but he kept looking at the card. I guess the person he was talking to had a lot to say. Then, the doctor nodded, pulled a chart from the desk, and was gone in a rainbow prismatic effect through the card. The room was silent save the occasional beeping of the monitors. I thought about things for a while, sorting out thoughts in my head. I was trying to decide whether or not I should try to escape when a light knock came at the door.
I assumed that whoever was on the other side of the door was seeking my permission to enter, so I said"Come in". The door cracked open and I saw a green eye peer in. Then, after an appropriate time, the door opened the rest of the way and a woman entered looking about the same age that I was. " I hope you are feeling better." she said, not quite meeting my eyes. I didn't answer her right away, I couldn't. I was at a loss for words from her immense beauty. She was pale and slender. Her silky red hair went down to the gray and red dress she was wearing. Her top was in a similar color scheme. As I looked her over, she finally halfway looked at me before shifting her gaze on one of the monitors. "Well", she said"I suppose you are wondering what happened to you and where you are. But I can only tell you the part I saw. " For the first time she looked at me in the eyes. "I was returning from the Forrest of Arden from a routine patrol route on my horse, Dark Star when I caught a glimpse of the rainbow-prismatic effect that comes from trumping from one place to another. I rode over to see who it was and I saw you and this other girl and a huge trump doorway that was getting bigger. I then noticed the girl was unconscious and assumed it was you who was keeping contact. So... I sort of panicked and to make a long story short, hit you on your head with my crossbow." She said the last part very quickly and diverted her eyes to the monitors again. Since l was still a bit dreary, it took me a while to absorb her words.
I finally realized she was looking uncomfortable, so I chose then to speak for the first time"Would you like to sit down" I offered. To my delight, she did; she pulled a chair close to the bed so we wouldn't have to talk across the room. "Well I guess I should explain myself, but it is going to be very difficult. I don't know exactly where to start. Okay first of all, we are in Amber correct" She nodded. "Very good, okay first of all, my name is Vince and I come from what Corwin, Random, and Merlin call 'shadow earth'…." I would have continued but my lovely guest suddenly got up and paced around my bed"I am sorry to cut you off" she said"but I noticed you speak of my uncles and my cousin very familiarly, yet they are known to very few on your shadow earth. How did you come across this information" I sat back in the bed annoyed. "I was just getting there." "Oh, Sorry" she sat back down. "Hey wait, I told you my name, don't you think it's fair that you tell me yours" She smiled and blushed, her cheeks matching the color of her red hair. "Oh, very well, my name is Raine." I smiled to myself. "What a beautiful name, Lady Raine. It is a pleasure to meet you." I sat up a little and took her hand to kiss it. She smiled to me and responded "The pleasure is all mine Vince from shadow earth. Now, if you don't mind, please continue." "Okay now that the formalities are out of the way, this is the part that is going to confuse the hell out of you, but here goes nothing. There is a novel in my shadow world called The Great Book of Amber written by Roger Zelazny. To my world, it is only fiction, but to you, it would be a written document from the time of the attempted assassination on Corwin's life to Merlin's discovery of Corwin in Chaos." I paused here to allow this to sink in. Raine had this look of utter shock, not confusion. I thought this was good, so I continued. "Anyway, my companion, Amia recommended this book to me and it was just so wonderful and awesome and could only be described as a masterpiece… and now it's right here in front of me." Now Raine had the look of utter confusion and was over the shock. "Vince, do you mean that the personal thoughts of Corwin and Merlin are in this book and that you, Amia, and perhaps half of your world has read it" I nodded "Yup, you pretty much hit the target." "So how did you and her get here then" she asked. "Well, we were in class one day when she sort of trumped me so that I heard her and no one else did. Then we deduced that if we could trump each other Amber must be real, so we used the cover of the book as a trump card to get here and then, well, you know the rest." Raine nodded" I've heard of nearby shadows having the ability to use trump cards, but your shadow earth is a decent way away from Amber. And another thing… the picture and the cover were not designed to function as a trump, which means one or both of you is a descendant of Amber; distant too if it took this long for you to learn how to use a trump." There was a short break in the conversation as all of this rolled over in our minds.
"Raine, don't Amber and Chaos cast the shadows"
"And who populated them"
"Shadows of Amberites and Chaosians I guess... "
"Which means everyone in all of the shadows is somehow related to someone in Chaos or Amber."
Raine sat still. "I never actually bothered to think it out that way... I just never gave shadows that much thought.
"You probably didn't think it was that important, because it's not home to you." Raine looked down at the floor. I took her hand and held it. "Raine" I said"will you take me to see King Random" She nodded and went to the door.
"I'll find some more suitable attire for you."
"Where is Amia"
"Oh, your friend is in the next room."
"Thanks... oh and one more thing." She stared at me with her emerald green eyes.
"You aren't married, are you" She blushed. "No, I'm not." With that she spun on her heel and walked out the door. Then I repositioned myself on the bed and flipped the pillow over to the cooler side drifting off to a deep sleep.