The Storms of Shadow
The path wound casually through the deep ancient forest, leaves crackling under the gentle steps of the great warhorse. The trail was not crowded by wildlife, but trees towered just beyond its edges, reaching ominously into the sky, allowing only the trickle of daylight and a gentle breeze to pass through their domain. As if in reverence to their age and wisdom, not a sound was heard from the denizens that lived there, leaving the forest completely quiet except for the slow trot of the lord and his steed. Most who bore witness to the place would say that Arden was peaceful.
The lord knew better.
Changes had come to Amber, but its majesty could not be stolen. That it was the one place that the chaos of shadow could not touch gave testament to its greatness. In the days to come, many would forget how the kingdom stood at the height of its power, but in their magnificence, the ancient oaks of Arden would never forget. He would never forget.
The lord led his horse around the great curve of the forest’s end, a bend he had taken at full gallop in his youth but now approached with grave caution. He led his steed across the final turn, and halted. The edge of Arden opened up before him, ending abruptly in a wall of rippling chaos.
The destrier snorted, but did not balk at the ominous display of power that pressed upon Amber’s borders. The roar of Arden’s end could be overwhelming to even the most brave, but the lord calmed his destrier easily with a stroke of his hand. It was not the first time she had been led this way, and she had been well trained.
The looming energy before him obscured his vision into the depths of shadow beyond, and fear of the unknown crept into his consciousness. He quelled them with but a thought, and, as if in defiance, turned his back to the mystery that lie beyond. He gazed back towards Amber, and while his vision could not completely penetrate the depths of the forest around him, his mind summoned images of that which he could not see.
The castle that was Amber gleamed in the light of day. Beams of light danced from its highest towers, splaying over the coast, and cutting through the placid waters to shine on Rebma below; a likeness too precise to be a natural reflection of what stood above. The great mountain path wound down from the castle’s gate and through its thousand steps to the very base of mount Kolvier, its scars bearing witness to a history marked with both valor and treachery. Before it stood the city of Amber. To it’s left and flank grew Arden. Beyond, there was only chaos.
Amber. The last beacon of hope. The calm within the storm.
The lord turned back to the shadow, and pulled up tightly on the reins of his companion. Duty and purpose cleared his mind of fear, and for a moment, he felt the rush of his adventurous youth rise up inside him. He reveled in its falseness, letting the sensations lighten some of the burden he carried.
He kicked his destrier into a gallop, driving forward into the roaring ocean of storms and shadow beyond, rider and steed as one to face the impending darkness. He tore through the shadow veil with the ferocity of purpose, and did not quake with the onslaught of what lie beyond.
He was a Lord of Amber. He was a god amongst shadow.
It was not the first time he had been led this way, and, in the defense of Amber, he had been well trained.