Tir Na Nog'th

City in the Sky

The City in the Sky. The reflection of Amber written in moonlight and silver. What madness brings a Childe of Reality to the steps of Kolvir to walk up into the night on moonbeams? What sights are seen there that do not touch the wonder of the soul?

For those descendants of Oberon drawn to the powers of mystery and metaphysics and wonder, Tir Na Nog'th represents an endless source of whispers and visions of things that remain hidden or just beyond even the extended senses.

Dangerous? Oh, yes......... the ancient corridors of Tir Na Nog'th are full of danger. The City is the antithesis of mundane. And it represents a very personal danger.

Of course, the unknown is dangerous. In a kingdom that reflects ever outward into Shadow, Tir Na Nog'th is a ghostly reminder to the inhabitants of Amber that there is always another, more distant permutation of what is known. Somewhere in Shadow, perhaps the dead live again and laugh at the dream of their own demise. To the fearless, this manifestation in the sky might seem to whisper... "So much for the separation between what is Real and what is Shadow."

So wait then for the full moon. Take a horse to the higher reaches of Kolvir. Stand in the fierce winds clawing up that mighty cliff face and pause until the moon's grace falls upon the steps carved there in the very edge of Kolvir.  The decision to climb the steps made of moonlight is perilous. The rewards of the visit are ephemeral, the visions are ethereal, the veracity is existential.

Beware the sea.  It is cold and hard if the light fails while you stand on silver dreams within the halls of the city of ghosts.

Beware the clouds, those soft stalking shapes loping through the sky above. They may steal away the moon.

Beware the dreams that you meet there. Dare you listen to them? You could find your heart's desire and never return. But wait..... is it all lies and deft mirror tricks?

Beware.

Reflection of Castle Amber


............Finally, you have reached the top of the stair. About you lie soft veils of faint color which seem to perfectly reproduce the castle and mountain behind you and far below. Then, the glimmer of a man approaches. His form is a mix of moon painted silks and shadows, through which you can see the constellations beyond. His feathered tri-cornered hat is raked at a jaunty angle that casts more shadow on his features and part of his torso, leaving them in soft dark invisibility.

His teeth glint briefly in the moon's refraction cast from your own blouse and a soft friendly chuckle reaches you.

Ah, welcome. At last, a individual of courage and canny intellect has decided to ascend the stair. I knew that if I watched long enough, a talented cousin would join me at the Well of Knowledge. Welcome to you, Cousin of the Blood.

Come now! Don't be startled. Yes, yes. I, too, have heard that the walking dreams of Tir Na Nog'th ignore the mortal visitor unless that visitor is especially prepared with magics. Suffice it to say, that I am not an ordinary manisfestation any more than you are.

Since we both have limited time, and yours could get you killed, let us move along while you pose what questions you will? No, do not take that way. Ignore the trace of ramping stair there to the left, that way leads down to the lower precints of the port City's reflection and you have no time to explore the odd reflections of the common town of Amber. We need to get to your questions, so we must enter the castle itself.

As you can see, the fortifications, the entry portacullis, and even the Watch are reflected here. The Guards are as attentive as you might expect, but they will not see you, and they know I have full run of this domain.

Left and right as we enter you can see the familiar receiving rooms and the Master Clerk's Scribery. Sometimes fascinating to watch, but nothing there will intrigue you tonite.

Eh? Oh, how do I know what you are after? Forgive my smile, for your need is written large in everything you do, each gesture and hesitation speaks volumes to me, and you will find your answer here... you may count on it.

Ah, notice the main stair still has the original ballastrade. Let's go up. I would show you the Great Hall, it is enthroned right now, but there is a soire' in there tonite that has nothing to do with your quest, and some of the Dreamwalkers therein might try to detain you. I think you will wish to go directly to the King's Chambers.

So tell me, how is Random handling things? We get so little news here. Really? Glad to hear matters are not dull. The most dangerous of times, when things turn dull, you know.

Oh, one moment, despite our time table, could you fill me in on how or why these large changes were made here on the second floor and third floors? It was not so, when first I came here, but it seems that reworkings of Castle Amber below eventually affect our accomodations here.

An explosion? You're not joking are you? Well, well.

How long ago? Interesting. So much more time than I expected has past. Tell Random to keep the changes to a minimum. The Dreamwalkers here do not liked being disturbed with all this newness. Some of Dad's old Champions have holed up in the lower armoury and won't come out because they are disgruntled with the 'new' castle. Great game of Wizard's Poker going on down there.

What? Never heard of the Champions of the Golden Circle? Don't they teach history anymore? Dad's old cronies is what they are. Who do you think carved out the limits of Amber? Dad didn't do that all by himself, Cousin.

Here we are, fourth floor, the King's own chambers. I have been staying here, myself, so I don't think we will be disturbed. Have a drink? Oh, damn. I beg your pardon, some things we cannot share. It is enough that I can tell you some things, perhaps you will try my brandy some other time.

No. Don't be startled, that was just a cloud passing a fringe edge near to the moon and changing the value of the light that sustains your presence here. Ho, ho, you pulled that dagger in record time. When the room shivered you thought I might be pulling something, eh?

I notice that the dagger blade is silver. Clever thinking, but useless. You would not be able to touch me with it, and neither can I touch you. Here, the best you might hope for, without potent magics of Pattern or other advanced philosophy, is to watch, listen, and be inspired by the dreams that dance here.

Like myself.

Unless you mean to walk the Pattern of Tir Na Nog'th. You can get to it quickest from here through the large library, same as you are used to in Castle Amber. But if that is your mission, better hurry, it's a long way down the winding inner stair under this place and I don't think you have all night.

Not here for the Patternwalk? I didn't think so.

Well, I do love to dally when apropos......... There are pretty ladies..... even Queens of Amber walking the gardens of silvery Kolvir tonite. There is dancing in the Great Hall. If you had a mind, or maybe half a mind, you could look in the stables to see if some reflection of Morgenstern has been left there. Why, you could take him for a ride under this clear sky you see out these windows. With his help, perhaps even reach the edge of this argent Kolvir and look upon the sea below.

But you would miss looking at this scroll in my hand. Aah, the sudden light in your eye tells me you would prefer the scroll to those other adventures tonight.

Can't give it to you, of course, but I can hold it open for you to read. Yes, this is just like the one that was stolen from Dad's chest. I know all about it. You will have to read it here and now. Memorize it for it may not be here if you come back.

Luck is fickle here, just as in your world.

Do I know who stole it? Ha ha ha ha ha. It's a pleasure talking to you, Cousin. Of course I do. But you better keep your mind on what you came here for and make sure you don't miss a single damn squiggle on this scroll! You are going to need this information more than you realize.

Got the first part? Good, time is short. Let me open the rest. Now while you're committing this part to memory let me tell you what I want from you.................

*  *  *




Such a night. Drawn sharply in my memory, despite its dreamlike qualities. The stair drawn in the moon's sheen and slippery as ice, no more than a meter wide. Three hundred steps in all, and made in an off kilter scale that could transform inattention into an deadly stumble. The transparent fog of the city, coming into focus above, while far below the hard steps, the night sea textured in whitecaps, slowly twisted in hypnotic fashion.  I remember thinking....

Even a tightrope would have a more grounded feel than this rising grind of endless icy steps. For a rope would move with me and the winds. Instead, here I am, exposed. Waiting to be swept off this precarious path and crushed in the midnight waves above Rebma.

Will I ever dare it again?

Could I resist not doing so?


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Art and Prose by Arref Mak