"Iris... She has the most beautiful eyes. Bright purple, they are, but mostly it's their quality of innocence, and, well, understanding. You feel like she's always looking at you for the first time..."
"I remember when she was young... not so long ago. She was so vibrant, and at the same time she was uncomfortable about going against her mother's wishes in regards to a mystical education... I think she still is. But now she's got this air of courage about her that makes you want to be courageous, too..."
"There she is. Slim, about four inches taller than Fiona, sparkling red hair blowing in the breeze, so perfectly crafted... Wrapped in her many-colored armor like the petals of a flower. She's picked up Julian's sense of satire, too. So many contradictions... She leads armies and plays with children, she laughs often and yet she's so serious, she's distant and yet--"
"...Ah, who am I kidding..."
The Amber Play-by-e-mail game that Iris is part of:
Set in a superficially typical Amber 50 years after Patternfall. At first, the only major happenings were the announcement of the engagement of Julian's only son, and the return of a cousin who's been mentally healing from Patternfall for the past 50 years.
Then a new power made itself known by teleporting a possessed man onto a racetrack during the biggest sporting event in the Amber calendar. This may have been an accident. Regardless, the resulting crash put a jockey who was the son of one of Iris's friends into a coma. A day or so later, Gerard presented a son of Eric to the court: a man who had several decades back kept his heritage under wraps while dating Fiona.
And just recently, a gigantic stormhound mauled Bleys and teleported Iris away when she tried to attack it... Using the same new power.
The game is remarkable for the interesting idea of sending all posts to everyone, which incorporates some of the nice points of a face-to-face game; and for being at the forefront of technology-- that is, using chats to deal with long in-character conversations.
Iris is relatively young, as Amberites go; roughly 90. At the same time, though, she is rather accomplished. She grew up pelting around Arden after Julian, who she worshipped. Her mother took advantage of his old fondness for her to allow Iris a safe place to stay while she was in the thick of her plotting.
Iris just never took to the study of the arcane, despite her mother's constant focus on it. She couldn't avoid all the teachings, and she does at present know smidgens of magic, but the only thing she really enjoys and excells at is smoke dancing. It's almost an axiom: "Is Iris awake?" "Is the smoke around her forming into chimerical shapes?"
What Iris learned when given a choice was skill at leading men. When the Black Road intruded on Garnath, her small commands were surprisingly effective. Chasing the retreating Chaosites from one of the early battles, however, she took a very bad chest wound. After she recovered, she took some time off and went into shadow, returning with her trademark armor:
Iris's armor is full plate-- made from what appears to be giant iris petals, somehow fused into the correct shapes. The armor has all the apparent aspects of flower petals: that distinctive slightly velvety, finely porous, vaguely translucent look: yet it doesn't share their ability to be crushed. It is "terribly tough and shock-resistant." It appears to have roughly the same flexibility as centimeter-thick leather, and to be relatively light. Iris wears it summer and winter, so it must be able to deal with temperature and weather.
The strangest thing about it, though, is that it changes colors. It moves from one iris-typical coloring scheme to the next, seemingly at random, seemingly in response to fluctuations in light.
This makes for a really bizzare effect when Iris is walking along a sunny arcade.
Want to check out some iris-typical coloring schemes? Browse through the Historic Iris Society's display of iris photos, which has unknowingly provided the iris photos I have up here.
Want to know what the hell got mashed when Iris bruises her cuisse? Check out the Baron of Richecourt's Armor Glossary for an invaluable diagram.
Iris has a sword and dagger to go with the ensemble: made of a greenish metal with thin, parallel, gold-inlaid fullers, they simulate iris leaves... But they're just not as remarkable as the armor.
Iris spent the 12 years of the Estrogen Interregnum-- er, that is, Gerard's regency-- as Iole's second-in-command in the fleet, helping to mop up the Chaosite forces still coming after Amber. It was a useful period of honing good tactical skills without intervention from Fiona.
Iris had been considering the need for an Amber Air Force ever since the first battles of Garnath. A few years after the return of Random as king, she left the fleet and headed out into shadow to "do the Benedict thing" in regards to air power. She returned some years later and petitioned Random for a charter for an air force, which he granted. Then, as the first Admiral of the Amber Air Force, she collected up the beginnings of the force in Shadow and Amber.
The Amber Air Force has only reached the consciousness of the average citizen of Amber in the last five or so years, since Iris brought in the dragon-like Velantians and the pegasus-like kirlians, set up patrols in the sky, and began construction of a fort/airbase on her land at Treeview in earnest. However, the people and the air force seem to be getting along well, a testament to the worldliness of the populace.
The pictures from Iris's collection are all well and good, you may be thinking, but how about a picture of Iris herself? All I can come by presently is this sketch of Iris and a Velantian relaxing around a fire in Arden. It was drawn by Hope DeLaney, the 12-year-old daughter of one of Julian's lieutenants. While she hasn't quite captured a likeness, and certain facets of the anatomy of the Velantian (such as wings) seem to have escaped her attention, I intend to recommend her to Salem Academy's trump program... Her grasp of expression and attitude are perfect.
1. Make a short list of the following :
a] artists found in your music collection.
"Bach, especially the Fugues. She appreciates the seeming simplicity and actual complexity of rounds and fugues, and Bach really is the best musician Shadow Earth has to offer. She has some music by musicians that would mean nothing to you, since you've never been out in the shadows or the real... Generally assume it's among the best stuff from the shadow, and a pretty eclectic lot-- not in terms of the kind of sound she bothers to get copies of (that is, endless variations on a melody, or interwoven melodies), but in terms of which artists she's picked up, and which of their albums she happens to have. This is because she basically doesn't care that much about listening to music. Performing, yeah: you can always get her going with a new round. (Ed. note: an excellent resource for this sort of thing is at http://www-personal.umich.edu/~msmiller/rounds.html.) Kinda strange... She takes music very seriously, but then again, she doesn't have any objections listening to the stuff she doesn't bother to get. Just kinda detached from the whole sitting and listening thing."
"Let's see... Oh, Martin's stuff. She's got nearly all of that... Most of it's not really her style, but she does really like his thoughtful solos."
"Oh, and here-- 'The Music Man' is from Shadow Earth, right? She's got the soundtrack over here in the back section of her records-- it's something she picked up randomly after happening to see the show on, I think, a trip to Tristan's shadow."
b] books / magazines / authors you read regularly.
"Let's see... She's got copies of all of Benedict's treatises on war, even... Huh! She's got 'On the heart's place in losing battles'! I didn't think even Antonia had a copy of that one. I wonder how she got it..."
"And then there's a bunch of treatises by lesser authors on air combat and warfare... Again, all of them that I recognize are from authors you couldn't tell from Dworkin... Heh. She's made notes in the margins of this one. 'Defenseless against quick attack in ground effect'... 'Flanks entirely unmaneauverable'... My, she doesn't think much of Wansee Magoraneaur, does she?"
"Hum. Speaking of Dworkin, there's a set of his ramblings here; and some solid magic books, though it looks like those don't really fit the bill of 'read regularly'. Maps, guides to sea currents from her naval days, some well-thumbed books about the causes of weather... The only thing on her shelves from Shadow Earth that I'm seeing is Wind, Sand, and Stars by Antoine Saint-Exupery. But then again, I'm in a bit of a rush... I don't really want her to catch me here."
c] movies you own / have seen more than once.
"Aw, hell. Um... Look, you're beyond my knowledge level here. As far as I can tell, she doesn't own any movies. Maybe I can get you a better answer later, right? For now, I'm going to be getting out, if you don't mind..."
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