[File Archive - One hundred and second year of the Reign of Our Lady, Zesiro - 06:32 PM local time, Ineb-Hedj]
A man dressed in bright red and yellow, riding down the main street on a white horse, metal armor glinting in the sunlight. He stops to speak to no one. Several peasants and small children watch him as he rides by, quickly scurrying out of his way as he passes.
[A woman's voice begins to speak over the footage.] I was watching a troupe from Avaris dancing for my entertainment when the reports began to come in. I have traveled the length and breadth of my land, and this was not merely a visitor from another city. Perhaps this was a servant of the gods who had fled this place in times of legend.
[File Archive - One hundred and second year of the Reign of Our Lady, Zesiro - 08:05 PM local time, Throne Room, Palace of the Sands, Ineb-Hedj]
A woman sits upon a throne of gold and marble, with cotton and linen cushions, carved with intricate filigree. Several snakes and scorpions travel in and out of the carvings. She is dressed in pleated white linen robs and golden jewelry inlaid with lapis and other precious stones. Crook and Flail in hand, a magnificent golden scorpion seated upon her brow. Four men with the heads of scorpions surround the throne, their watchful gaze covering the courtyard.
The man from the earlier footage is led into the hall, accompanied by four men with the heads of snakes. He stands before the woman, fearless.
Surely he must have been from elsewhere. Even the bravest of my people would not stand before me with such bravado.
The woman speaks, "Welcome to the Floating Nile. What business have you with the Firstborn?"
His voice, steady, echoes through the chamber, "I am Aimery, Viscomte de Thouars, Knight of the Pattern, Servant of Siobhan II. I pass through your lands on a quest most holy. I am charged to find that which is called Le Joyau de Jugement, a holy relic of vast importance to my people."
"Tell me of your quest, and why it brings you here. What is this jewel? We have many here."
"Le Joyau is a symbol that was worn by the ruler of my home, before the coming of the great wars that laid it to rest. I am but one of a holy order seeking to restore the glory of my people and La Ville Premiere, The First City, Ambre. It is a ruby of immense size, hung from a golden chain. Inside is an intricate Pattern, the holy symbol of my people."
"The First City? There is no city called Ambre in these lands."
"I fear my religion will differ from yours; I warn you my story will be heresy to your ears. All cities, even this one, are a reflection of La Premiere, for it contained the Pattern, the source of order in all things."
"But this 'First City' was destroyed, and now you seek a Jewel that would make the bearer ruler of this lost city?"
This jewel intrigued me. Perhaps I could make something of this quest...little did I know what he was about to show me.
"It does not bestow rulership, but confirms birthright. The ruler must master Le Joyau to recreate La Premiere, and all the reflections thereof. Only one born of the blood of the great artiste will be able to wield it, or recreate Ambre."
"How did your quest come to bring you here?"
"Those of this lineage may walk the Pattern and the secrets of worlds are revealed. Then, with thought, they may seek what their heart desires, and all roads will lead them there, no matter how many worlds lay in their way."
"Interesting. So you come from a world outside of this one? Is this your destination, or merely a stop along the way?"
"I come from La Premiere, the center of existence before it was gone. My destination is Le Joyau, but I explore the possibilities that the Pattern places on the path to my destination. It may have brought me here for Le Joyau, news of its guardians, or a missing relative, or the next king or queen. I must decipher these omens as I travel."
"So, if you found this jewel, you do not know who would use it?"
"It is my quest to safeguard it, till the next ruler is found."
"And how do you find this ruler, then?"
"The pattern will guide us when it is time."
"So this pattern, it is your god?"
"Not a god, but the source of order, created by our first father."
"So then this First Father is your god?"
"I have no god. He is my ancestor, Dworkin, the first of our family. The one who created the Pattern."
"No god? Are you, yourself, a god then?" A man with no gods. Even now it still interests me.
"To many we are gods, but I do not seek for people to worship me. I merely go where Pattern or Pope send me."
"A strange man, with no gods, yet on a holy quest. Stay here this night, as my guest, and tell me more of your lands and this...Ambre."
"It would be my honor...Cousin."
I admit, this was something I was not expecting. Never had one been so bold as to claimed to be related to me.
"My vision passes through the lens of the Pattern, and it reveals to me that which is real," he waves an arm at the people surrounding them, "from that which is shadow. I am as sure that Dworkin's blood burns in you as I'm sure that the power of chaos is the source of your guards."
"Chaos? My guards bring order to this place."
I control the world-eater, Apep...although his influence grows stronger.
"There is order in chaos, and vice versa. Dworkin and his bride both arose from the primal chaos to create order. But these creatures come from the depths of chaos most assuredly. Someone there either wishes to protect you...or imprison you here."
"Imprison me?" She laughs. "I can leave this place any time I wish. I fly through the stars regularly."
"These stars perhaps, but your heritage allows you to travel farther." He looks up to the starry night shining over them. "You have seen these stars countless times before, I am sure. But, have you seen these?"
She watches as the patterns in the night sky begin to change. At first the changes are subtle...a new constellation, a brighter star. Then, the stars blink out completely, and the darkness of the sky changes from deep blue, to green, to a bright pink. Priests run to the woman, complaining of instruments going awry and sensors off the charts.
I had nothing to say to them, enthralled as I was by the changing skies. By the time I was able to form a coherent thought to answer them, the sky above had returned to normal.
She looks over Aimery for a moment, then claps her hands for her servants. "It is time for dinner. Bring it, and then leave us."
There was much I wanted to know about this man, who truly was from another world, but my people did not need to hear it. I was not entirely sure it would not undermine my authority.
Both the man and the woman wait, silently, as servants lay out a sumptuous meal. She is the first to speak again. "Tell me more of those other worlds."
"I cannot tell of all the worlds. For all is possible in the shadow of Ambre. If one seeks their desires, it will be found or created in shadow."
"If Ambre is destroyed, how does it cast a shadow?"
"The shadows remain, but they will not last if it is not restored. All that holds them together now are the powers of the Great Pattern Church,and Her Grace Pope Siobhan II."
I had to know what this could mean for my lands?
"Even this world?"
"Oui." He nods.
If this were true, I needed to act. To some, I may seem uncaring, but I have a responsibility to my people.
"And the only way to stop it is to find this Jewel, and give it to the King or Queen to recreate the city? And the Pattern will help you find both?"
"Then it seems I have no choice but to assist you. What aid can I offer?."
"A night's rest so that I might perform my holy observances is all I seek. I then intend to continue my path lest you have need of me."
I wanted to keep him for ages, and ask all my questions. But, I knew that could not be.
"I do not, but if there is other assistance I may offer, call upon me. I will have a servant take you to your chambers."
He retired, and I did not see him again until the morning meal, which he joined me for. During our meal, he told me more of the worlds apart from mine. That there were paths through these shadows even those not descended from this Dworkin could follow. That if I found them, and if I was able to use them to find the Pattern, and if I managed to traverse it...then I would also be able to travel worlds as he did.