Moonlight Mysteries

Skye's brief look at the ring shows nothing immediately odd. A second look shows her what seems to be an imperfection in the stone itself.

Of course it's imperfect; it's Corwin's. Skye narrows her eyes at it and bends down for a better look to see what kind of imperfection it is.

As she looks more closely, the imperfection seems to grow slightly, and she can see that it looks like nothing so much as musical notes, all on top of each other. Even as she thinks that, she can hear an eerie, beautiful music playing in her ear or around her.

She stops her examination immediately, lowering the bouquet to her side and out from her body to get the thing away from her without actually tossing the bloody flowers down the mountain. The last thing she needs right now was to get whisked away or ensorcelled by a song. Especially one that had anything to do with Corwin. Sometimes she really, really hates magic. She gives Saffron a nervous look and goes back to studying the tomb with Eric's coat of arms on it.

There's a little difficulty in pulling it away, not in the sense of it pulling at her, so much as something inside her being drawn towards the music.

She is, however, able to break whatever connection is there, and clear her mind of the song's draw.

The tomb is very much like Corwin's, save for the writing and the colours upon it. It's clearly intended as a cenotaph as well, being too narrow to lay a coffin within.

Skye walks slowly around the structure in a wide circle to examine it from all sides. No point in getting Saffron riled up by getting too close to it without her. She puzzles over the meaning of the writing while she walks. It sounds like someone needs to find that blade and walk the Pattern. But which Pattern? Does it matter?

Aside from the front of the tomb, there's nothing of note. It seems to be made of the same dark gray stone as Corwin's, and that makes up the walls of the castle itself. It's clear, though, that however it came to be, it's new. There is grass poking up from beneath the tomb, something Corwin's tomb does not show.

After not finding anything new, Skye returns to the front of the cenotaph and carefully checks the door to see if it’s locked. She doesn’t enter, but she does give the ruby over the door a closer look.

It's a deep red ruby, the only thing that doesn't seem to be reflecting the violet light of the moon. As with the ring they found, there seems to be a flaw or some odd trick of the light in the ruby. Like a star, but not quite that well defined.

She frowns at it and narrows her eyes. "Hurry up, Saffron," she mutters under her breath.

The ruby seems to flicker as she stares at it, with an innate light - but it's too high up for her to get a really good look. The tomb gate/door proves to be locked, but by a fairly standard skeleton key type lock.

Sure a scout can sit for hours staring at the same patch of field. But this Ranger isn't on duty, and this mysteriously appearing structure is labeled as her father's, and with a clue on bringing him back to boot. Skye looks back to see if Saffron is any closer to finishing yet before she tucks the flowers under her arm and kneels down to pick at the lock with her boot dagger.

The dagger clicks the lock open easily enough. The gate swings open to reveal a simple stone sarcophagus. It's unadorned but very well carved. There is a plaque above it on the wall inside, noting that Eric was last seen in the battles against the Moon Riders, but has not been seen for nearly 500 years, and is presumed to be dead, his heroism all the legacy he left.

The sarcophagus lid is not sealed, but does seem to fit well upon the base.

Skye stares at the plaque, slack jawed. "Mida kuradit?" she demands of the empty space. Her voice echoes off the walls (as voices are wont to do). "Son of a bitch!" She kicks angrily at the door facing. Skye rarely is the one to lose her cool, but this is too much. After everything else going weird in the world. This isn't the cenotaph of her father; this is apparently another Eric entirely….

Reason forces itself through her angry disappointment in mid-growl and she turns to stare at the plaque again. Another Eric entirely.

Another Eric. That meant…

Skye can feel the blood draining from her face. Persse. Persse-persse-persse. "Saffron!" She turns on her heel and rushes over, grabbing her lover's arm, completely forgetting Fiona and the call.

Saffron's attention seems to be entirely taken up by the call. It's intense enough that she's even beginning to show a light sheen of sweat from the effort, though she's still far from tapping out, given the strength she's shown in the past.

Skye briefly considers snatching the card away, but then realizes Fi would be seriously annoyed if she did that. So might Saffron, come to think of it. Skye growls and stalks over to her horse. She's had about a enough of this weirdness,, and they haven't yet made it off the mountain. She stuffs the silver roses and the weird ring into a saddlebag before gathering Equinox's reins.

Maneuvering her horse right in front of the cenotaph, Skye climbs into the saddle, and then stands up on it so she is at a height she can better survey her target. She's determined to get a better look at that ruby and see if it's what it looks like. If it is, it might come in handy sooner or later.

Once she gets to eye level, the apparent flaw in the ruby becomes more clear - a kind of square like imperfection that seems alternately yellow, green, blue or red as the light strikes it differently.

As her gaze remains on it, it seems almost to move slightly - perhaps rotating, perhaps just a trick of the light. A similar trick of the light makes it look more like a cube than a square.

She shakes her head and closes her eyes; fighting the compulsion to keep gazing into the red depths. With a sigh, the only child of a different Eric hopped backwards off her horse, landing in a crouch she does not rise from as she ponders the evening's happenings.

Equinox nickers, bending her neck around so she can nuzzle at Skye's hair. Skye absently reaches up to stroke on the underside of the great chocolate head while she clicks her back teeth together thoughtfully. She is tempted to send a note with her horse to Julian because she has no idea what to do here. This is beyond her; it's beyond both of them. They needed someone with more experience with weird. Skye looks over her shoulder at Saffron and wonders why Fiona hasn't insisted on coming home to see all this for herself. Damn redheads…

When Equinox lifts her head, Skye moves upwards with it. She pats the horse affectionately before nudging her away from the cenotaph's doorway so she can step inside.

Time to see what's inside the sarcophagus.

The lid of the sarcophagus comes off easily, showing that it's entirely empty. What's odd, however, is that she can feel a kind of energy coalescing. Cool, tingly. Like diving into a pond, expecting a cold shock, but getting only a drizzle of cold drops.

She frowns at the empty interior. Felling silly as she does so, she pokes the empty air with her finger before jerking it back quickly. The air remains empty, but the sensation of power grows. It seems to be focused on or in the empty sarcophagus.

Skye eyes the space warily as she starts to slowly step back to the doorway. "This can't be good," she mutters under her breath.

Whatever the power is, it doesn't seem to spill out of the sarcophagus. However, as the moments pass, Skye begins to see the power manifest before her eyes, filling the sarcophagus.

Worrying her bottom lip with her teeth, Skye looks over her shoulder towards Saffron still in conversation with Fiona. She sighs and looks back at her horse.

"Be ready for anything." The mare eyes her briefly before nodding with a huff.

With that, Skye draws Heartbreak from the scabbard on her back and watches the coalescing energies.

The energies continue to coalesce as the moon approaches zenith above her. At the moment of zenith, the energies seem to focus themselves, strengthening and sharpening. Skye gets a definite impression of some kind of scene through the energies, though it's darkened and unclear.

She rolls her eyes and grumbles impatiently. “Oh, come on…”

Turning back to her horse, she sighs. “So, if anything happens, let Saffron know what it was.” If horses could roll their eyes, Equinox would have done so.

Skye snorts and turns back to the weirdness. She moves slowly as she steps back inside, trying to get a look at the scene beyond. The scene, even inside the tomb itself, is still dark and unclear. What she can see looks more like a path or a corridor than a destination. Though, of course, the path could be the destination, something about what she sees tells her that it's just a path.

Skye?" Saffron says. "I'm done with the call…"

Skye visibly starts at suddenly hearing another voice besides her own. She gestures Saffron to join her, but doesn't look away from what has her attention.

She sounds distracted when she says: "This place is riddled with creepy. The ring, the ruby, this sarcophagus. The plaque that says Eric's been missing since the war with Genesh."

"What?" Saffron asks as she moves to join her. "Okay… did we wander into an alternate Amber?"

“No…,” Skye trails off and takes another step inside, peering intently. “But I think this came from one. Look.” She points towards the inside of the now lidless sarcophagus. “Do you see a … a path?”

Saffron squints at the spot, frowning. "It's… something," she says tentatively after a moment.

Skye straightens and glares at it. "All right, look; the stupid ring is enchanted somehow, and the ruby above the door is too. I had to yank myself out of whatever it was they were trying to do because I knew if I went off on some sort of adventure without you, you'd burn my favorite boots. Now this. What do you want to do? We can walk away and go find the axe. We can call Random or Julian or somebody to look into this, or we can play Eenie-Meanie-Miney-Mo and let Fate pick a course for us.

"If we call Random, he's just going to tell us to look into it," Saffron answers testily. "Are we curious, or have we had enough of this crap?"

Skye looks conflicted before she offers: "Both?"

Saffron blinks at her, and then reluctantly laughs. "Okay, I asked for that. What I meant was, I think our choices are poke it some more, or run away screaming. I… kind of want to know what it is, but it's been a long day."

"What do we poke at first?" Skye asks, still eying the energies before them. She cocks her head. "I wonder if we can take the horses?"

"I say we try. If we leave them here, we're going to scare the relatives." Saffron smirks. "Not that I don't think they deserve it sometimes, but I also would rather not have to walk if we end up somewhere else."

Skye ponders a moment more before turning to face Saffron. "And your mother's axe?"

"I'd like to get it for Mom," Saffron admits. "But according to Aunt Fiona, it's not going to help with all this." She waves in the direction of the moon. "And unless something is thoroughly screwed up, if this goes somewhere, it should just be into Shadow… which is where we were headed anyway."

Skye looks pointedly at the plaque over the sarcophagus. The one noting that Eric was last seen in the battles against the Moon Riders, but has not been seen for nearly 500 years, and is presumed to be dead, his heroism all the legacy he left.

Saffron blinks at her, then at the plaque. And then she reads it, frowning. "Could still just be an alternate Amber," she points out, "which would just be a Shadow of Amber. Although I don't have any clever theories for why it's *here*…"

Skye chews her lip uncertainly. "What if it's not a Shadow?"

"Then you're going to have to do some uncomfortable explaining about why you're not much older than you are," Saffron deadpans. There's a moment of silence. And then she bursts out with, "I don't KNOW! Either it's a Shadow or it's not! Either we're going to be stuck or we're not! It's not… it doesn't make sense that it's here or that it would go to Shadow or that it wouldn't go to Shadow!" She waves her hands, a bit helplessly, and looks exasperated. "Almost everything today hasn't made sense!"

Skye just watches and waits until she's done. Then she reaches up and strokes Saffron's cheek with the back of her hand. "It's all right." She smiles then returns Heartbreak to her back. "Well, maybe not entirely. But it will be. If we are going, I think we should go now. But if the horses are coming with us, we can only go one at a time."

Saffron sighs, and then smiles a little. "Okay, okay, I'll stop freaking out. Even if the world is out to drive me insane today. Single file, you first, then Equinox, then me holding on to her tail or something, and then Sage? I don't want to get separated, and you and a horse then me and a horse just seems like it's asking for trouble…"

The sarcophagus looks like it might be just about wide enough for the horses, assuming the two women can convince them to enter. It's certainly long enough. The energy seems to be peaking.

"Well," Saffron says after a moment, "it looks like it might fit them. And it's vaguely Trump-like - which is both reassuring and not at *all* reassuring. Let me get Sage…"

She retreats from the tomb for a moment and returns with her horse. She stops when Sage and Equinox are side-by-side and looks at Skye again. "I guess we'd better make this a good explanation, huh?"

Skye shrugs and stands in front of her horse. "Don't look at me like that. Now, this will be easy; just follow me into that…" she points at the open sarcophagus. "It's an odd walk, but unless you want to be left behind, you have to follow. While Saffron holds your tail and leads Sage."

It doesn't take a genius to see how dubious Equinox is of this plan. Skye just looks at her mare. "Make sure Sage understands, please. We don't have a lot of time."

Even the help of Equinox is only barely sufficient to get Sage into the tomb and into the sarcophagus. Still, they manage, and pass through, the portal closing behind them.

They emerge in mountainous terrain, climbing out of another empty tomb. The air is cold and clear, and the mountains surrounding them give a feeling of immense age, but the world itself seems alive enough.

Skye shivers at the cold. What a time to not have worn her uniform. Dropping Equinox's reigns, she turns to examine the tomb they stepped out of to see if it is identical to the one they left.

Saffron moves to the side with Sage, rubbing the horse's forehead soothingly (and apologising under her breath) as she looks at the landscape around them.

The tomb they step out of seems crude - almost more a man-made cave than a proper tomb, but there are definite signs that it's intended as a tomb. It's also empty of any body, and apparently by design.

The landscape around them is mountainous, with peaks soaring above them. They seem to be at the apex of a valley between two ridges, with the tomb being set directly at the apex itself, clearly intended to be the focus of the valley. There is a clear, though faded and unused, trail leading from the tomb down into the valley.

“This is weird,” Skye observes with a frown. “You want us to do aerial reconnaissance before we ride on?”

"We should check the basics first. Pattern, then sorcery." Saffron adds, a bit sheepishly, "If sorcery doesn't work, I'm not sure I want you haring off somewhere without me…"

“I do not go haring off,” Skye replies indignantly while feeding Equinox a peppermint. “I could have let myself be whisked away at least three times while you were chatting with Fiona, but I waited for you.” She sniffs and busies herself checking over her mare’s tack.

Saffron laughs after a moment. "Okay, fine. Maybe that was overstating the case. Do you have anything you don't mind if I set on fire? I think I'll start with sorcery…"

“Hang on,” she says, pulling a sword from her back scabbard. Skye goes to the nearest downed limb and, hacks it in half and brings the pieces back to Saffron.

“Have a day.”

"Perfect." And Saffron tries to use plain old sorcery to light the branch on fire.

The branch lights exactly as she desires. Oddly, even Skye feels the power build, and notices the power around them.

Skye looks suspiciously around. "I felt that." Straightening, she nods to Saffron. "Right. Try the Pattern now."

"Did you? Hmm." Saffron frowns. "That was way more power than I was expecting, but I didn't lose control of it. So do we want to try and Walk a little, or just get lucky and find something we didn't bring?"

"We could use a couple of cloaks," Skye mused while keeping an eye on their surroundings. "Or we could try for the axe."

"Mundane first," Saffron answers. "Let's see if there might be some cloaks stashed away for safe-keeping under those rocks over there." She leads her horse in that direction, pushing at the stuff of Shadow to make it so. It isn't long before Saffron comes to an abrupt halt, with a sigh. She looks back over her shoulder at Skye then. "Well, this isn't entirely unexpected; our luck couldn't possibly hold. No cloaks, no shifting. We're too close to something Real."

Skye couldn’t possibly look any less surprised. “I had my suspicions. The surprise is how easily your spell worked and that I could feel it building. Let me try something now.”

With that she stepped away from the horses and concentrated on her alternate form. The familiar feeling of change comes over Skye, and her form shifts quickly - almost as soon as she begins to concentrate.

The hawk that is Skye ruffles her feathers and shakes out her wings before giving a triumphant cry and launching herself into the air. Climbing high, she circles the valley while sharp eyes look to get an idea of the terrain around them.

Saffron turns and watches the hawk rise into the air, smiling a little at Skye's enthusiasm. Then she leads Sage back to where Equinox is standing and settles down on a rock, shielding her eyes as she watches her girlfriend's flight.

The valley is long and relatively narrow, surrounded by peaks of varying sizes. Other valleys lay around the area, but none in the immediate area seem inhabited - though, to a hawk's eyes, human habitation isn't generally the most important feature of the landscape.

A hawk’s joyful cry pierces the valley’s quiet as Skye dives towards Saffron’s position. She pulls up in time to be able to land gently on the woman’s shoulder. Where she proceeds to preen Saffron’s hair.

Saffron laughs. "That tickles, you know," she says, trying to sound stern and failing. "Anything useful up there?"

Skye makes a noise that sounds negative. Then she hops off Saffron and down to the ground. The bird’s eyes close as Skye focuses on resuming her natural form.

The shift back to human form is just as quick and easy as the shift away was. As Skye's human eyes open, she sees - briefly - an afterimage. Lines in the sky and ground, lines of power, that seem to disappear in an eye-tearing twist. Once the shift is entirely complete, the image goes away.

She blinks, looking rather dumbfounded and she immediately sits before she falls. “Huh. That is new.”

"What's that?" Saffron asks, reaching out to steady her.

“Lines of power,” she replied with an all encompassing gesture of her hand. “Everywhere. I didn’t see them until I shifted.”

"Really." Saffron reaches for mage sight, looking around again.

Skye opens her eyes carefully, one at a time, before finally looking up at the sky with both eyes open. Thankfully, it's back to normal for her vision. It is so good to fly again. Maybe if she practices while they’re here, it will be easier in Amber. For a moment she forgets the weirdness that led them here and just revels.

"That," Saffron says, sounding a bit awed, "is *weird*. I see them. They're here, but there are parts that aren't really here." She frowns.

Skye looks over from contemplating things and asks: "Where are they?"

"Not here?" the sorceress answers. "They twist out of this world somewhere. I'd have to study it, and without doing that, I don't even know if I can tell, much less where they're headed. It's kind of like… oh, no." She sighed. "Remember that Pattern we found? It's kind of like that."

Skye’s brow furrows. “Right. Well. We aren’t finding anything out by staying here.” She stands and moves briskly to her horse. “Let’s ride. See if we can tell where we are.”

Saffron nods and drops her mage-sight. "The good news is, we should be able to get back out the way we came in. Apparently it does this every so often. And we should try the Trumps; that's the only Power we have that we haven't tried yet."

Swinging up in the saddle, Skye settles in before replying. “To tell you the truth, I have been a bit wary of trying Trumps. If we are in a world where my father vanished centuries ago….” She shrugs. “Are the people we reach the ones we know?”

TOC - That's A Wrap

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