kitchen_maid: (*Ambergeldar)
2012-08-11 08:34 pm

Backfield in Motion

It's a lovely day for a football game in Ambergeldar.

Of course, while the game is called football, it bears only a marginal relationship to the American sport by the same name that Parker Lee once explained to His Majesty with the pieces of a chess set and some improvised diagrams.

(For that matter, it doesn't look much like the Canadian or Australian versions, either. Or the sport most of the rest of the world calls football and the Americans insist on calling soccer. No one has gotten around to inventing any of those yet.)

Amy has been meaning to bring Parker to a game for ages, but it the timing has never quite worked out. So Amy was delighted to run into Parker at Milliways earlier, and cheerfully invited her and her friends for this afternoon's match.

"We're up there," Amy says to Scorpius, pointing to the Royal Box. It's a fabulous view of the field, as it sits atop the central tower that stands in the middle of the field, and which the players navigate around the structure as the game progresses. The box is covered, but open on all sides, and while there are chairs, they aren't often used -- there's a lot of drifting from edge to edge to follow the game.

Scorpius eyes it with a grin. "Oh, nice!" It reminds him a bit of the Ministry's Box at the World Cup with the best views. A spot he's never sat, but has always been curious about.

Princess Susan leads the way across the bridge over the moat that surrounds the field. (One of Perry's many innovations -- and the game is played in any weather that doesn't involve lightning or the moat's being iced over.) She has ribbony pompoms in one hand (one for each team as the Royal Family is not supposed to Take Sides) and Parker by the other hand.

There are great cheers as the Royal Family as their guests cross the field to the central tower. The field is far from level -- there are places it has been carefully build up or dug out a bit. Each team's home field has its own topography, and it's very much a home team advantage.

Parker, as the person credited with introducing the sport of football to Ambergeldar, is given the honor by His Majesty the King of signaling the start of the game. Wearing a bemused grin and following Perry's instructions, she stands at the edge of the Royal Box with her back to the field, and throws the ball over her shoulder to the waiting players below.

The players kick, throw, or carry the ball toward their goal. And while that is for the most part the ends of the field, "You will want to keep an eye out, especially near the edges of the box," Amy says to Scorpius who is eagerly checking out the field and its unique topography. "It's called a Regal if they can get the ball into the Royal Box, and it's worth ten points. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen."

The excessive celebration penalty has not yet reached Ambergeldan football, and celebrations after a goal can last for several minutes, involve the entire team, their cheerleaders, and the occasional participation of the assembled crowd. The visiting Newmere Knights are known for the minuet they perform with their cheerleaders after every touchdown.

They're in the middle of one such celebratory turn around the endzone, and the crowd is being quite vocal in their amusement and support, when it suddenly becomes apparent that enthusiasm and high spirits are not the only things rocking the stadium.

X goes stiff partway through the game, the fine line of a frown drawn between her brows. Something is not right. Whether it's a distant sound, a faint hint of flickering movement far in the distance, or a hint of vibration she can feel through her boots -- maybe later she'll be able to separate out the input. But in the meantime, she's opening her mouth to say something about the incoming trouble just as she realizes it's already too late.

"Papa, everything's moving," Merry says, tugging on his father's hand. Susan drops her pompoms and buries her face in her mother's skirts, twisting her hands into the fabric.

Perry looks out over the field, and back toward the palace, and off to the Forest. He announces, in his most Kingly of Algernon voices, "Stop the game."

"Is everyone all right?" Perry asks, once the world does not seem to be shaking beneath their feet. "Amethyst?"

"We're fine," Amy says. "Aren't we, Susan?" Susan nods.

"No one is hurt," X says quickly, nostrils flaring as she scents the air to be 100% sure. "Up here. I do not know about on the ground."

Bruce had sized up the tower when they first climbed it. His first thought as the earthquake struck was that this was not a safe place for children to be.

"We should get down to the ground," he says. "Right now. There might be another one, and it could be worse."

"I have to agree," Parker says. "We should get into an open area." Spend your college years in southern California, and it's amazing how much earthquake safety becomes second nature.

Perry picks Merry up as Amy gets Susan to let go of her skirts and takes her hand instead. Amy and Susan in the lead, the group makes its way back down to the playing field.

The crowd around them is still working out what happened, the earliest stages of shock and confusion. They're also incredibly loud -- Merry clamps his hands over his ears the moment Perry sets him down. The guards who were stationed just inside the door to the tower have moved to try to protect the Royal Family, but it's obvious they're both not sure what they're protecting them from, and that they're going to be of limited use against this large a crowd.

And Norman, the Royal Dragon of Ambergeldar, who is excellent at crowd control, is off visiting his mother this week.

"Parker, would you mind?" Amy asks, transferring Susan's hand from her own to Parker's, and then stepping over to speak to her husband.

"What do you need me to do, Algernon?"

"Can you handle things here, Amethyst?" Perry asks, as they both look around the stadium. There are a lot of literally and figuratively shaken people in the stands around them. "I need to get back to the palace."

He needs to go be the King.

"Of course, Algernon," Amy says. "If you'll check on the twins."

Perry squeezes her hand for just a second. "First thing."

"I'll be happy to assist Her Majesty," says Sir Allyn, who has made his way over to the group. The knight had taught Perry in his squire days and now serves as the coach of the Amber Dragons.

"Thank you, Sir Allyn," Perry says. He beckons his secretary and the head of the palace guard over, and the three of them set off for the bridge over the moat. "I want riders going out immediately, on all roads. We need to know how how much damage has been done where. And . . . "

Amy watches them for a second, and then turns to Parker and X. "Would the two of you and your friends mind looking after the children for a bit?"

"Yes," X says, in response to Amy's question. "You do not have to worry."

"Thank you." Amy leans down for a moment, to address the prince and princess. "Merry, Susan, I need the two of you to help me with something. Will you take my friends and show them around the gardens, please? Keep them company until I get back?"

They nod. "Yes, Mama."

"Thank you, dears." Amy hugs each of them briefly, and then nods to X and Parker.

She moves off a moment later toward the edges of the field, with Sir Allyn beside her and two guards bringing up the rear, calling "Would everyone please remain calm?" in a loud and rather Queenly voice.

Scorpius looks down to find a very wide-eyed future King of Ambergeldar staring up at him. Merry is supposed to ask him to come to the gardens, but . . . well . . . everything was moving and Mama and Daddy have left and this is all rather a lot to have to deal with, even for a Prince, especially one who is feeling decidedly sniffly at this moment.

From his never-ending pockets, Scorpius pulls out a -- Well. A copy of Quidditch Quarterly. (It has moving pictures at the very least? No? Right -- ) He transfigures it into a small brown mice to distract Merry. (A pet mouse, not a nasty disease-carrying one! Right. Maybe he should have gone with a toy mouse, but -- ) "Do you want to hold her, Merry? Maybe we could find her something to eat?"

Merry nods, and reaches out to take the little mouse. "We could probably find something in the garden." Mice must like things in gardens, mustn't they?

Susan takes X's hand. "We're supposed to show you the gardens," she says. "They're very pretty. You'll like them."

X leans down out to scoop her up and remove her from the field. "My legs are longer," she explains, very carefully. "We can move faster this way. So your parents will not worry as much."

"All right," Susan agrees.

X looks over the top of Susan's head to Bruce. Neither of them says a word, but a moment later, the group is moving, with Bruce in the lead and X (and Susan) bringing up the rear as they head to the garden.
kitchen_maid: (Her Majesty The Queen)
2012-08-11 08:42 pm

Not for All the Jewels in the Crown

"Rise and shine, Amy," Perry says, tapping one finger against the end of her nose.

Amy groans, rolls away from him, and pulls her pillow over her head. "It can't be morning already," she mumbles, and Perry laughs.

Yesterday had been very long and very full, what with the earthquake. There doesn't seem to have been significant damage, even where it was at its worst, which was several leagues away from Amber. A few things fell off shelves in the palace, there was a bit of a mess in the kitchens, but all in all, nothing too significant happened.

But it had taken some time to determine all of that, and there had been a great deal of reassuring people that had needed to be done, and then rooms had had to be be found for her guests who had stayed to help, and ultimately, Amy had gone to bed quite late. Still, she hadn't expected to be this tired when she woke up.

Amy sighs and pushes the pillow away.

"Did you not sleep well?" Perry asks.

"I had odd dreams," Amy says, around a yawn. "About dancing all night with a clockwork Prince, till my shoes were worn out." She sits up, stretching. "Not that there is all that much difference in the clockwork sort and most of the real ones I've known."

"I do believe I've just been insulted," Perry says, as he pulls on his dressing gown. "I was a Prince once, you know."

"Yes, but I never knew you as a Prince. You were already a King when I met you, man-of-all-work."

Perry laughs again, and then stumbles slightly as he makes his way around the foot of the bed to her side.


"I'm fine. I just tripped over your shoes."

Amy frowns, standing. "My shoes? I didn't leave any shoes there."

Perry holds up a pair of Amy's shoes. She recognizes them at once. They're dark green, meant to match her third best ball gown. Amy frowns more. "Those are dancing slippers," she says. "I certainly didn't wear them yesterday."

Perry turns the shoes over in his hands. The soles have have been worn through. "I don't think you were dreaming, Amy."

"How is that even possible?" Amy asks, taking one of the shoes and sticking a finger through the hole in it.

Perry has already gone into the breakfast room, calling for his secretary. "Alfred? Alfred!"

Amy follows, still in her nightgown.

Alfred, whom Amy has never known to not appear within seven seconds of being called for, steps into the room. "Your Majesty," he says, with a bow, and then notices Amy and amends, "Your Majesties."

"Alfred, get the Court Historian. Tell him I need to see him immediately. Bring him here. There's to be no delay."

Alfred's eyes widen just a little. It generally takes nothing short of a national emergency for the King to allow anyone to interrupt breakfast with the Queen.

"At once, Sire," Alfred says, bows again, and goes.

"Perry, what is going on?" Amy says.

"Old family story," Perry says, "about worn-out dancing shoes. It was great-great-some-number-of-greats-grandparents."

Five minutes later, when Amy is starting to worry that Perry will wear out his own shoes with pacing, the Court Historian, Sir Harold, comes breathlessly into the room. Like the King and Queen, he is still in his night clothes.

Perry hands the shoes over to Sir Harold, and Amy fixes everyone tea that they will then all ignore while it grows cool and Sir Harold recounts the story of the worn-out shoes.

Some years ago (the correct number of greats turns out to be eight), the King of Ambergeldar had twelve daughters, each more beautiful than the last.

"The usual, if not Ordinary, way of things," Amy says, and Perry shushes her.

The twelve Princesses had all slept in the same room, and were locked in it at night, but every morning, their dancing shoes had been found worn through.

The King, who had apparently been very opposed to that kind of cobbler's bill, had offered the hand of one of the daughters and the throne of the kingdom to whomever could solve the mystery. Many Princes came, but none could discover the secret. Finally, a soldier returning from the wars arrived at the palace to try his hand at learning what happened to the Princesses' shoes.

He had was armed with an invisibility cloak, and he had been warned by a wise woman not to drink the wine the oldest Princess would offer him, which contained a sleeping potion. When they believed him to be asleep, they dressed for a ball, and then the oldest Princess opened a trapdoor in the floor and one by one, they descended into the floor. The soldier threw his invisibility cloak over himself and followed them.

They crossed three groves of trees, once of silver, one of gold, one of diamonds, until they came to a lake. There, each Princess boarded a small boat rowed by a Prince, and the soldier jumped into the last boat with the youngest Princess. They crossed a lake to a ballroom, where they danced all night, till their shoes had worn through, and then returned home.

The soldier collected branches from the groves, took them to the King as proof, and married the oldest daughter. The spell was broken, and they lived happily every after.

"Of course," Sir Harold says, "the story as it's told doesn't line up with historical fact. The King in question had only four daughters, not twelve. Though the oldest did marry a soldier, who was the youngest son of a very low-ranking nobleman, and hardly the sort who would be expected to marry the heiress to a kingdom. So it does seem at least possible that that was a reward for some service to the King. If Her Majesty encountered something similar last night, then ... perhaps there is more truth to the story than we have suspected."

"But that was ten generations ago," Perry says. "Decades. Centuries. There have been any number of Princesses in this palace since. Why didn't anything happen again until last night?"

"Maybe the earthquake shook something loose," Amy says. "There has to be magic involved. For one thing, we're on the third floor; we'd have noticed by now if there were a stairway leading from this room though the floors below, I should think. Maybe the earthquake was enough to start the spell going again."

"But you are not now a Princess any more than I am now a Prince, Amethyst."

"Well, you said it yourself, dear. Decades. Centuries. Maybe magic ages just like everything else. Spells get broken, but broken things leave pieces, don't they?"

"So there's a literally broken spell under my palace that my wife got caught in last night?"

"Maybe," Amy says.

"Perhaps Lord Terence . . . " Sir Harold suggests, a bit timidly. Amy can't blame him. Perry is hardly looking his least intimidating right now.

"Unfortunately, the Court Magician is attending a conference in Forestia," Amy says.

Which is at least a week's ride away, so even if they sent for him this instant, it would be a fortnight before he would be back, and that would hardly return him a day earlier than he plans to, anyway.

"So there's a literally broken spell under my palace that my wife got caught in last night, and the only person I've got who knows anything about magic is gone for the next two weeks?" Perry says.

"Algernon, let's be calm about this, please."

"I'm not going to be calm about this, Amethyst," Perry snaps, and then takes a deep breath, and picks up his cold tea. "All right," he says. "You're right, of course. We'll be calm about this."

"Perhaps the Royal Dragon could be dispatched to retrieve Lord Terence," Sir Harold suggests, even more timidly.

"Norman is visiting his mother this week, I fear," Amy says. "He's really a quite devoted son."

"Besides, I'm fairly certain there are diplomatic ramifications in sending a dragon into the capitol of another nation, even taking into consideration that the Crown Princess of Forestia is the Queen's sister and we normally enjoy an excellent relationship with them," Perry says. He glances over at Amy. "See? Calm."

"You're doing very well, dear," Amy says, before turning her attention back to the historian. "Sir Harold, if you would please excuse us. Perhaps you could come to my parlor around ten o'clock? We may have more questions for you. And, of course, any additional information you can find in the meantime would be greatly appreciated."

"Of course, ma'am," Sir Harold says, and bows his way out of the room very quickly.

Amy sits down next to Perry and takes his hand in hers.

"The first thing we need to do is get Susan out of this palace," she says. "She is a Princess."

"Agreed. You can take the children and go to -- "

"No," Amy says.


"I have to stay, Perry. We have no idea who or what that spell will latch onto if it can't find me. And we can't empty this palace the day after an earthquake. We'll cause a panic. No, I have to stay."

"Amethyst, I can't let you -- "

"I'll be fine," Amy says. "Get Stefan and Rosalind to take the children to visit Wrennford for a few days."

"And I just let you go dancing every night until Terence gets back, then?" Perry pauses, studying his wife for a moment. "And you're smiling at me like you know something I don't, Amethyst."

"Parker's friend Scorpius is a wizard. Maybe he'll have some ideas. And frankly, I can't imagine there are many threats that X wouldn't have some ideas about how to handle. We'll ask them. And then we'll decide what we're going to do."

"And if they think you should leave?"

"I'll take it under advisement," Amy says. "But first, breakfast and proper clothes. As regal as you look in your dressing gown, I think perhaps we will both feel in real clothes. And then we will meet with our friends and come up with a plan."

And, knowing their friends, it will no doubt be an excellent one.
kitchen_maid: (Oh Dear)
2012-08-11 09:00 pm

Firgures Up Ahead Moving Through the Trees

Amy knew when she married Perry that she was never going to have what you might call a surfeit of privacy.

On the other hand, this is the first time since she was a very small girl that she's tried to fall asleep with an audience keeping watch over her.

There's a faint sliver of light through the doorway that Amy keeps opening her eyes to watch. X, Parker, Meg, Scorpius, and Bruce are in the breakfast room, just on the other side of the ever-so-slightly ajar door. ("You do not have to worry. I will hear you," X had said, when Amy had expressed surprise at how little the door is open. "Heartbeats are difficult to muffle. It is okay.")

Amy rolls onto her other side, which at least means that she can't see the light through the doorway.

On the other hand, she can now see the side of the bed where her husband isn't. Perry has removed himself to the seventy-third best bedroom. He would much prefer to be here, but he found it quite impossible to refute the logic of Parker and X.

"Helloooo, you're the King," Parker had said.

X had been slightly more diplomatic. "We will bring her back. You know I do not lie. And people will need to know where to find you. If there is an emergency. While we are gone."

Perry probably isn't sleeping any better than she is, Amy supposes. On the other hand, Perry probably isn't even trying to sleep.

Amy sticks her head under the pillow, but there's not enough air.

She rolls over again, takes a deep breath, and starts counting backwards from one hundred.

Come on, Amethyst. Just fall asleep.
kitchen_maid: (Golden Woods)
2012-08-11 09:14 pm

Who You Gonna Call?

Despite all the time they lost in the woods, their party still reaches the edge of the woods just in time to see Amy stepping into a small boat. The boat's other occupant is somewhat hidden from view by a large hat with an even large plume, pulled low over his face. The moment Amy is settled in the boat, he begins rowing her across the lake.

The water is dark, and utterly still, save for the ripples caused by the boat and the oars. It's not a large lake, and on the far side, a second dock waits in front of a castle.

The castle is made of dark stone, and its windows glow with an almost thick, heavy golden light. It rises, all jumbled towers and jagged parapets, toward the dark "sky" above them, and it's impossible to tell just where the castle leaves off and the sky begins.

But that is a problem for later. First, they must get across the lake.

There are a dozen other little boats moored at the dock before them, each with a pair of oars, and room for a rower and a passenger.

There's a small structure next to the dock, one which looks like it cannot contain more than a single room. Unlike everything else they've encountered, it looks . . . aged. Neglected. The windows are dusty, the wooden sides are dingy, here and there shingles are missing. No smoke rises from its small chimney.
kitchen_maid: (White Dress)
2012-08-11 09:15 pm

Round and Round in a Magic Spell

By the time they reach the far side of the lake, there is no sign of Amy on the shore, save the boat she had crossed in, tied up to a dock that's the twin of the one they departed from.

There is, however, music coming from the castle in front of them, and it's easy enough to see through the windows of the brilliantly lit ballroom.

The path from the dock leads up to a grand, and apparently unguarded, doorway. Still, it's with a fair amount of caution that they make there way up the path and into the castle.

The door opens onto a small square room, lit by towering iron candelabras in the corners. Tapestries hang on either side of the door in the center of each wall. The door to the left is obviously the ballroom -- it stands ajar, and the host of clockwork guests and serving people move easily around, unconcerned about their observers (at least at the moment).

The door to the right conceals, improbably, a small storage cupboard, with brooms and mops and buckets. Parker, who has opened it, closes it again with a bit of a shrug.

That leaves the door straight ahead, which leads to a long, torch-lit hallway. "That way, I think," Scorpius says, nodding at it, after un-shrinking Sir Harold's book and consulting something in it.

"You go. We will keep Amy safe," X says, to Scorpius and Parker. There's a beat, and then she adds, "Yell if anything is trying to kill you."

"Oh, that's a given," Parker promises. And on that dreadfully encouraging note, they start down the corridor.

Bruce and X move into the ballroom. Around them, clockwork footmen and serving girls carry trays of glasses and plates, clockwork musicians play notably mechanical music, and clockwork noblemen congregate in corners and along the edges of the brilliantly candlelit room.

In the middle of the room, Amy is dancing with a clockwork figure, around and around and around.
kitchen_maid: (Golden Woods)
2012-08-11 09:16 pm

Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?

In contrast to the candlelit ballroom, the corridor is dim, lit weakly by a few (generously spaced) torches. There are door down both sides, all closed, and placed almost randomly along the way. The hallway runs away from the ballroom at an angle, and either the lighting or just its sheer length make it impossible to see where it ends.

It's clean, completely free of dust and cobwebs, either because the spell has kept them from accumulating or because someone (or something) has tidied recently.

It is almost perfectly silent, save for the quiet hiss of the closest torch.
kitchen_maid: (Golden Woods)
2012-08-11 09:17 pm

Chimes at Midnight

"Where are the others?" Amy asks, following X out into the small square room between the ballroom and the exit, Bruce close behind them.

"Meg is with the ghost. On the other side of the lake. She is providing a distraction," X says. "Parker and Scorpius -- "

"-- are getting the hell out of here," Parker puts in, as she and Scorpius come all but skidding into the room and stop just short of colliding with Bruce. "Y'all coming?"

While this plan is sheer elegance in its simplicity, they quickly hit a snag. The dock has fallen into to the water and the boats are drifting out into the middle of the lake.

"It wouldn't be hard to swim out and get them," Bruce says, stepping into the lake to do just that.

From the castle behind them, there's another BONG of the clock. The previously still water begins to move, and then swirl, and then to drain, turning the entire lake into a giant, rushing whirlpool.

"Bruce," X says.

Bruce, who had made it as far in as his ankles, steps quickly back onto the shore.

They stand watching the lake for a moment.

"Swimming will be stupid. Now," X says.

"What do we do instead?" Amy asks. "Fly?"

Scorpius looks back to the castle. "I have an idea," he announces. "I'll be right back." He turns and runs back down the path.

"Are you crazy?" Parker yells after him.

"I will go," X says, stopping Parker and following Scorpius.

"What's going on over there?" Meg yells from the other side of the lake.

She's standing on the shore, straining her eyes to see across in any detail. She and the ghost came out to investigate after the first clock chime, and watched the dock collapse.

He's beside her now, ringing his hands, and repeating, "Oh, dear."

"Hush," Meg tells him.

"But they were supposed to wait here," he says, hovering just above where the dock isn't anymore.

"Well, they didn't," Meg says. "Now, if you've got something useful to contribute, let's have it, and otherwise, shut up." She turns her attention back to the group on the other side of the lake. "Parker? Laura? Are all of you all right?"

"We're fine. Amy is, too," Parker yells. "Stuck, but Scorpius has an idea. We'll get back to you!"

Scorpius ignores both the ballroom and the corridor in favor of opening the storage cupboard. Brooms, brooms, where are the -- ah. There are three, which he grabs from in amidst the mops.


The room shakes slightly and one of the candelabra falls into the tapestry behind it.

"We are leaving," X says. "Now."

Scorpius manages to keep hold of the brooms as X propels him out the door.

"The castle is on fire," X tells the others. "It is better not to go back."

Scorpius drops the brooms on the shore, pulls out his wand, and begins casting spells.

"Brooms? You went back for brooms?" Bruce asks.

"We're going to fly out," Scorpius says. He's even better than half sure it'll work!

Parker looks down at the brooms in utter confusion for a second, then grins. "Awesome."

"Right," Scorpius says, setting the brooms in a line on the ground. He holds his hand out over the closest one and orders it, "Up!" The broom jumps promptly to his hand, and he almost sighs in relief. The spell should be working, then. It's not fancy or sophisticated -- no one could use one of these brooms to pursue a Snitch -- but it should be enough to get them across the lake and through the woods.

He hastily gives instructions in Basic Broom Flight and then assigns Bruce and Amy to one broom, and X and Parker to another. The most complicated part of this is going to be collecting Meg on the way out, and as the only person here who has ever flown a broom before, he keeps that job for himself.


Behind them, there's a massive shattering of glass as the fire blows out the windows in the ballroom.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Parker says, "welcome to Air Ambergeldar, with nonstop service out of here."

On the other side of the lake, Meg has been trying to follow the activity of her friends with rather limited success. And now . . .

"What on Earth?"

Three things come zooming across the lake at her, above the surface of the whirling water. It takes her a moment to work out what exactly she's seeing, and another two to believe it.


With a groan and then a crash, one of the trees at the edge of the woods falls toward them, crushing the little building by the lake.

"Hang on," Scorpius calls. "I'm coming to get you."

There are other crashes coming from the forest now as trees fall into each other, followed by the eerie metallic clangs and twangs from their leaves.

"It is better to be quick," X advises.

Right. No time to stop, then, or land. Scorpius steers his broom away from the others, diving a bit and then leveling out just above the ground. He's never tried to pull someone onto a moving broom before, but years of Quidditch mean that he's good on a broom, that he can see how this is going to work even before he does it.

He simply sweeps Meg onto the broom in front of him, and she simply lets him (which is good, because if she hadn't, she could have upset the whole metaphorical apple cart).

"Are you all right?" Scorpius asks, directing the broom back up to join the others.

"I think so. Thank you."

Behind them, the ghost is yelling something about requisition forms and incident reports and running along after them, through the air.

Meg turns, and more importantly leans a bit to look at him and the broom shifts a bit to the side. "Er--don't-- try to just hold still," Scorpius says, correcting their course.

"Sorry," Meg says.


"How many of those do you think we get?" Parker asks. "The chimes?"

"Twelve, probably," Amy says. "Traditionally, spells break at midnight, and everything goes back to the way it was."

"I don't think we want to be here when that happens," Bruce says.

"How many do we have left?" Parker asks.

X and Meg answer at the same time. "Five."



Amy looks down at the crumbling forest before them, stretching as far as the eye can see. "I don't remember the way out." She doesn't think she ever actually knew it.

"I got it," Bruce says. He detonates the the small black devices he attached to the trunks of trees at regular intervals as they'd made their way through the woods.

Just off to their left, there's an explosion, and flames rise from one of the tree trunks. A second later, further on, there's another explosion, and then another, and another, like beacons on hills, until there's a bright path of burning trees leading back to Amber.

"Oh, that is better than breadcrumbs," Amy says, delighted.


The first of the marked trees stands on the edge of the clearing with the large, moving tree in the middle of it. On the plus side, the explosion seems to have taken out most of the biting leaves. The tree itself, however, has abandoned any pretense of allure, and reaches its branches out toward the brooms.

"Climb!" Scorpius yells, directing his own broom further up and out of the tree's reach, and hoping that the spells on the brooms hold.

They stay high, above the tree tops, flying as quickly as the brooms (and their pilots) can manage. Below them, trees continue topple as the spell breaks ever further down.


There are three burning trees left before them when the bird flies up and across their path. It circles X and Parker's broom, with a click-whirr of its wings.

"Go on, shoo," Parker says, reaching out to swat it away.

X maneuvers the broom away from the bird, coaxing just the tiniest bit more speed out of it. The bird clicks its beak twice, and follows them.


"That's eleven!" Meg says.

"And that's the stairs," Bruce adds, as they're coming up on the last of the marked trees. It has, in fact, fallen across the path, either from the explosion or part of the general collapse. This, handily, has created an opening in the trees that they can descended through, with minimal being whipped in the face with tree branches.

"Take point," X tells Bruce, veering to avoid the bird again. "I will take rear guard."

Bruce and Amy descend through the trees and head up the stairs, followed closely by Scorpius and Meg (who are, in turn, followed by the ghost, still ringing his hands and muttering about paperwork).

"Let's blow this popsicle stand," Parker says, as she and X bring up the rear. They fly down through the trees and up the stairs, crossing the threshold of the trapdoor a split second ahead of the final, distant BONG.

The bird, still following them, explodes in a shower of gears and cogs and springs, and the trap door has vanished before they hit the floor.
kitchen_maid: (*Ambergeldar)
2012-08-11 09:18 pm

Continental Breakfast Included

The King and Queen have a great many parlors at their disposal, ranging from the very grand to somewhat very grand.

And then there is this one, which is generally reserved for the use of the family and their closest personal friends. It is a comfortable, sunlit sort of room, where one may find the children's toys and the Amy's embroidery and Perry's carving projects.

It is also where Amy has instructed her staff to lay out a breakfast for her friends this morning. They were all shown back to their rooms for what was left of the night before after their adventures, to at least attempt to get some rest.

Amy herself is a bit busy at the moment catching up on Official Matters: giving reports to the Deputy Captain of the Palace Guard and the Court Historian, seeing to the palace's new ghost (she's settled him in the Northwest tower, which is, she assures him, a perfectly lovely place to haunt), and reassuring her husband that yes, darling, she really is perfectly all right. She'll be along when she can.

In the meantime, everyone is free to make their way into the parlor in their own time. When they arrive, they will likely find company, and definitely find a table laid with everything the kitchens could find to send up: bread and jam and marmalade, cakes and pastries, eggs and bacon and sausages, a giant bowl of fruit, tea and juice and milk.