Information collated by princess Lara from various books in the Amber Palace Library. Only those texts in modern Thari have been accessed.

Sources

First weirmonken war (432)

  • God of Cleansing Flame, author unknown, 433, translated from Laodh by Lady Clarissa Feldane
  • Journals of Xing Fú, Vol III, General Xing Fú, C440, translated from Wégua by Margrave Bao Vèn Wé

Second weirmonken war (817)

  • Kashfa: The Decisive Victory, Count Tristore Feldane, 819
  • Prince Theodric: A Biography, Aifric Caderyn, 835

Third weirmonken war (1206)

  • Dead Wake: The Last Battle of the Rune, Countess Inka Chantris, 1207
  • Fighting the Great War at Sea: Strategy, Tactics and Technology, Ridder Jarrod Chantris, 1218

Fourth weirmonken war (1599)

  • The Wars of Amber, Vol IV, Lucifer of Amber, 1599
  • Betrayal of Trust: Ghenesh and the Fourth Weirmonken War, Baron Ranald Karm, 1658 (publication delayed to 1915)
  • The Ghost War, Viscount Marko Bayle, 1662 (publication delayed to 1923)

Fifth weirmonken war (1989)

  • The Wars of Amber, Vol V, Lucifer of Amber, 1989
  • Thirteen Hours: An Account of the Breach of Amber’s Great Wall, Olivia Venator, 1989
  • Spells Efficacious and Disadvantageous, Sir Esmond Feldane, 1991
  • Lone Survivor: The Tragedy of Operation Redwood, Sir Bryce Grunewald, 2005

General information, and books where more than one war is covered

  • The Furthest Reaches of Madness, Princess Alma of Amber, C1290
  • The Unicorn and the Beast, Archbishop Nikola Bayle, 1603
  • Notes on Treatment and Infection Control, Prince Madoc ap Moins, 1990
  • More Terrible Than Death: Eyewitness Accounts of the Weirmonken Wars, Palamon Drave, 1994
  • The Honoured Dead, Lessie Dylaru, 2002

Excerpts

On Physiology (what the hell are these things?)

A Thegn
A Thegn

“I have an intellectual interest in the conduct of war, and it seems, a talent for it. These days, I sometimes catch my father looking at me askance, and he refuses now to engage me in sparring. My brothers are similarly inclined, though [Osric] has too much pride to ever let himself think he could lose, and I think [Finndo] spends too much time worrying about the perfection of his form. The one will act too soon, the other, too late.

“My family are warriors out of necessity. My father and his wizard carved this empire of Amber out of four lands not altogether willing to be vassals, and some of my earliest memories are of the clash of steel and the rolling gait of my mother’s horse as she rode into battle. The Mabh are our only willing allies, but they are strange and at times incoherent, and they refuse to lend arms to our cause, preferring to sing our warriors home and tend their wounds. The Tenga were easy allies at first, because we paid their craftsmen well to build our walls and fortresses, but they soon saw that my father intended there to be no other king in Garnath but he. The Laodh are not a warlike folk unless pushed too far (and my father does, at times, push them), then they rise like dragons. The Rabh find it easy to keep to themselves, and their queen treats with us carefully, always at arms’ length. (My sister would never be happy in Amber — she was not bred to war as we were.)

“But I see now that all these skirmishes with our erstwhile allies were simply my father’s way of preparing us for what he knew would eventually come scratching at our walls. Dworkin called them weirmonken, though he refused to tell me what the name meant. As usual, he gave the impression of being in on some private joke.”

Journals of Xing Fú, Vol III, General Xing Fú, C440, translated from Wégua by Margrave Bao Vèn Wé

» — «

“Of the four types of weirmonken, Lethings are created rather than born, and they take on weir-traits with no particular correspondence. Two Lethings from the same shadow, even from the same family, will mutate differently. The only similarity is that mutations usually assist combat in some way. Teeth, claws, and horns are common. Tentacles and other more extreme mutations seem only to occur in older Lethings. Specialised mutations such as mephitic breath also occur, but far less frequently.

“Turning to the Thegns, these creatures have a limited control over shapeshifting. They seem restricted to a handful of forms, perhaps ones they have taken time to become familiar with.

“The Gedriht take their shapeshifting a step further, and are able to perform fast shifts to the whole, or simply portions of their body. Other chroniclers have termed this ‘battle-shifting’. Gedriht are also heavily resistant to magic, either as a natural talent or as some peculiar tuning of shapeshifting.

“I can add little about Æthelings. None have ever been captured alive, and their corpses last only a few hours before turning into what my lab-partner refers to as ‘soup’. From eye witness accounts they seem to have mastered shapeshifting, and are able to change not only their shape but also their mass.

“Naturally, the greatest challenge lies in determining into which genus a weirmonken falls. Underestimating one can be fatal.”

Notes on Treatment and Infection Control, Prince Madoc ap Moins, 1990

On Weir-taint (holy shit what the hell is happening to our shadow-troops?)

A Lething (note post-human weir-taint)
A Lething (note post-human weir-taint)

“There was such hate in them. These were not creatures one could treat with. They wanted, simply, our destruction. And they were almost capable of effecting it. Of my scouts, those few who made it back to Amber to warn of the army approaching our walls refused to go back into the field.

“Of our armies, [Osric]’s suffered the worst. Against my counsel he committed too soon, thinking the enemy’s forces too small to oppose him. I lost half my own force rescuing him.

“I learned quickly not to give the enemy more troops. Of our armies, those we had raised out of shadow were next to useless, for they either baulked at the sight of the weirmonken, or if they did fight, they fell prey to some strange infection the enemy brought with them, and on succumbing to it, joined the weirmonken and fought against us. Only we of the blood of [Oberon], and our Vèn Wé troops, could withstand this polluting touch.”

Journals of Xing Fú, Vol III, General Xing Fú, C440, translated from Wégua by Margrave Bao Vèn Wé

» — «

“In all my research, I regret to say I’ve found no way to cure weir-taint. In simple shadow-dwellers, the taint will usually turn them over the course of a few hours. If an Ætheling is on hand the process can be accelerated, taking a matter of minutes.

“Stronger folk, such as those born in Amber, Rebma, and the Golden Circle, can resist the infection. Even if they do become infected (and this usually only occurs after traumatic exposure), they very rarely become Lethings. They may show signs of infection, such as deformed limbs, but they retain full control of their will. Our allies call such tainted folk the ‘Honoured Dead’. They are out of necessity banished to a place called Saraat, a quaint little church town on the Southern coast.

“Weir-taint is infectious. It can be passed from host to victim by exchange of bodily fluids, usually through a bite. However, it must be noted that only Lethings carry this infection, and to catch weir-taint from a Thegn, Gedriht, or Ætheling is undocumented. The Honoured Dead are not generally infectious to healthy folk, but their taint can be passed on to those who are already ill, and children are particularly susceptible.”

Notes on Treatment and Infection Control, Prince Madoc ap Moins, 1990

» — «

“Amberites are naturally suspicious of shapeshifters. It can be very hard to tell the difference between a natural shapeshifter, and a weirmonken or weir-tainted individual. Whatever tolerance there was for those with a natural talent for shifting died with the advent of the Fourth Weirmonken War. Since then, people with such talents have not been made welcome in any of the Golden Circle shadows.”

The Ghost War, Viscount Marko Bayle, 1662 (publication delayed to 1923)

» — «

“It’s a peculiar, even pitiful, attempt at normalcy. A small fishing village with a chapel and rows of neat houses. There are two kinds of people in Saraat — residents and tourists. The tourists are there looking for some kind of absolution. They feel guilty for what these people have given up so they can live their placid little lives, but most of them don’t even realise that guilt is what they’re feeling. They kid themselves that they’re on pilgrimage, that they’re honouring the Unicorn. They give offerings to the chapel and they think they’re doing something noble.

“I don’t think they see just how much contempt some of the residents have for them.

“Worse than that, some of the residents actually think these pilgrims are proof that Amber still cares about them.”

The Honoured Dead, Lessie Dylaru, 2002

On Weaknesses (how the hell do we kill them?)

A Thegn
A Thegn

“For all their ferocity, they died as well as any. Their appearance was designed to frighten, but tooth and claw were but a bluff. Their foot soldiers were no more capable than any of our shadow troops. Their advantages lay in shock, and in numbers, for our own troops rose to fight beside them.”

Journals of Xing Fú, Vol III, General Xing Fú, C440, translated from Wégua by Margrave Bao Vèn Wé

» — «

“For the Unicorn is not a kindly god, though He may sometimes wear that mien. His claws sink deep into Earth; His touch brings forth sweet Water; and His wings are filled with Air at His command. But He is a god of Fire. Look you; see how His enemies touched His Earth and poisoned it; see how His enemies touched His Water and made it foul; see how His enemies breathed His Air and made it mephitic. But see how His enemies met His Fire and were destroyed.”

God of Cleansing Flame, author unknown, 433, translated from Laodh by Lady Clarissa Feldane

» — «

“The Tinari desert was awash with foul smoke. The captured weirmonken were executed, then their bodies were bound together with those of the fallen, and burned in pits. The allied fallen were gathered together by racial group, rites said, and then great pyres were built to burn them. This was a great affront to the Kashfans, who practice air burials, believing their souls cannot leave their bodies unassisted, and must be consumed by birds of prey to be released into the realm of the gods.”

Kashfa: The Decisive Victory, Count Tristore Feldane, 819

» — «

[On Prince Bleys] “I don’t mind saying that he was a moron, and the next clever bastard who suggests we should ‘just drown them’ can go fuck himself. They’re shapeshifters, of course they can fucking breath water. Benedict had the right idea — beach ‘em and torch ‘em. Had I the battle over, I’d rather have been with Erica on that suicidal boarding action to capture the last Ætheling than take another order from that stuck-up red-headed land-lubbing fool. I’m betting the Rebmans would agree with me, too — after all, they’re the ones who had to clean up a second front when the ‘drowned’ weirmonken assaulted Rebma.”

Fighting the Great War at Sea: Strategy, Tactics and Technology, Ridder Jarrod Chantris, 1218

» — «

“The Unicorn protects us. His Pattern is as a burning brand to the weirmonken. This is why they drive foulness through our lands. They cannot bear to let their feet touch the blesséd soil of Amber.”

The Unicorn and the Beast, Archbishop Nikola Bayle, 1603

» — «

“The question I get asked most often is ‘what spells work best against weirmonken?’ The truth is: any of them. If you’ve any battle mage training (and if you don’t, why in the Unicorn’s name are you reading this?), you’ll make short work of Lethings. Thegns take a little more thought, but if you’re clever and you stay on your toes you’ll be fine. Better still, don’t be the guy in the front row. Be the guy distracting the weirmonken while your buddies fill them with arrows.

“If you ever meet an Ætheling though, don’t be stupid. Just run. Run for the nearest prince and pray it doesn’t follow you. Because I can guarantee you that the weakest Ætheling has more magic than you do, and he’ll have a dozen Gedriht with him who can tear you apart before you can drop your first lynchpin.

“Sure, call me a coward. But I’m still alive, and I don’t think it’s cowardice to have stood behind Princess Julia and kept the Gedriht from flanking her while she tore the Ætheling apart.

“They can’t stand Pattern, you see. And the princes literally have it running in their veins. A couple of them have swords imprinted with the symbol itself, and I’ve seen them cut swathes across a battlefield and leave only burning corpses in their wake.”

Spells Efficacious and Disadvantageous, Sir Esmond Feldane, 1991

» — «

“In Saraat, there is a peculiar tradition enacted when one of the Honoured Dead finally reaches the end of their life. When a resident feels that their time is near, they will gather their friends to start a watch. Often these watches involve copious quantities of alcohol, and they have much in common with a Garnathi wake.

“At the very moment of death, the gathered watchers will bear the body out quickly to the shore. Usually three or four bonfire beacons (for such is what visitors assume them to be) are kept there unlit. On the death of one of their fellows, the watchers carry the body to one of the pyres and set it alight.

“This is done because the weir-taint does not die with the will of the carrier. In fact, without the carrier’s will to keep it in check, it will take over the body entirely, and a new Lething will be born.”

The Honoured Dead, Lessie Dylaru, 2002

On Strengths (what are they capable of flinging back at us?)

“Perhaps one in a hundred of them had some skill at sorcery, but my father bent the ways of Amber and their spells fell to mere cantrips.”

Journals of Xing Fú, Vol III, General Xing Fú, C440, translated from Wégua by Margrave Bao Vèn Wé

» — «

“Of course, the weakness in Prince Theodric’s army was its lack of sorcerers. Due to the ongoing feud between Feldane and Caderyn, he refused to accept Feldanic mages in his army. He feared that they would turn on him. This was not simple paranoia, for Theodric’s mother had fled Amber because of threats to her life from Feldane agents. Fortunately, Theodric was a brilliant general, and he also had access to shielding artefacts which protected his army from the worst of the sorcerous powers pulled down on him by the Thegns.”

Prince Theodric: A Biography, Aifric Caderyn, 835

» — «

“There were two forces making up Prince Benedict’s army at the final battle. Benedict’s troops consisted of a large group of shadow archers, Kashfan heavy foot soldiers, Venway heavy cavalry, and a small cadre of Feldanic sorcerers. Prince Theodric commanded a smaller but no less effective force made up of Garnathi light cavalry and Kashfan heavy war-riders.

“The weirmonken lines were no match for the Kashfan war-beasts, who broke through shield and bone as easily as grass. Behind that smashing force came the Garnathi, rallied to fell deeds by Prince Theodric. Thegn magicks washed uselessly over them, and they suffered only light casualties. The action split the weirmonken army in two.

“That distraction allowed Prince Benedict to bring his hidden Venway cavalry into play. They smashed through the small force at the army’s vulnerable left flank and attacked the commanders directly. While the Venway knights fought singly with Gedriht, Benedict called out the Æthelings. The first response was a magickal assault so strong it killed half his Feldanic sorcerers instantly.”

Kashfa: The Decisive Victory, Count Tristore Feldane, 819

» — «

A Kashfan Knight on a kifaru
A Kashfan Knight on a kifaru

Xa’muro of Kashfa, describing the kifaru charge, Second Weirmonken War:

“I was afraid, and in the tremble of Kruzai’s flanks I could sense she was afraid too. But fearful is not cowardly, and we charged with the [clan]. The [monsters] scattered before us; some were trampled, some were speared by our kifaru’s horns. My [weapon] was soon coated with grey blood, as was Kruzai’s horn. Then a [clever one] was on me, so fast I didn’t see it approach. I fell from the [saddle] with the [clever one] on top of me. As I struggled with it, I was aware of Kruzai standing near, to keep me from being trampled by other kifaru. I found an opening and inserted my knife — the thing cried out and pushed away from me. Kruzai took that opportunity to use her horn, striking at its centre of mass and lifting it off me, streaming blood. Such a wound should have killed any normal [monster], but the [clever one] was still dangerous. As slow as clouds I saw it reach across and sink its claws into Kruzai. In the time it took me to find my feet again, Kruzai was no longer Kruzai.

“It was a terrible fight, but in the end I killed the [clever one] and my poor poisoned friend.”

More Terrible Than Death: Eyewitness Accounts of the Weirmonken Wars, Palamon Drave, 1994

» — «

“There were burning ships from horizon to horizon, and I couldn’t tell which were ours and which were theirs. We shortly discovered the difference, as that great thing surfaced again, and vomited sea-water on a burning weirmonken vessel off our starboard bow. Quenched, they started firing on us. I saw the creature’s wake ripple out to the east, and then there was a great crack as one of our ships vanished into the foam.”

Dead Wake: The Last Battle of the Rune, Countess Inka Chantris, 1207

» — «

Last Battle of the Rune
Last Battle of the Rune

“Mad bastards, every one of them. Mad, proud, brave bastards. None of our ships had anything that could touch that thing — the harpoons couldn’t pierce its hide, and magic just bounced off. Somebody told me that Deirdre offered to jump down its throat if somebody could get her close enough to it. But it came down to regular folk to kill it. The Rune wasn’t even a warship — she was a supply vessel, full of gunpowder and mines. If you’re ever in a Chantris bar and you hear the bard start up with ‘Come loose every sail,’ you’d best charge your tankard and drink to the crew of the Rune.”

Fighting the Great War at Sea: Strategy, Tactics and Technology, Ridder Jarrod Chantris, 1218

» — «

Masud Chantris, on the Fourth Weirmonken War:

“The princes were all looking elsewhere, of course. They were so busy infighting that they didn’t see the army gathering right on their doorstep. I think Benedict knew, but he was hoping one of his brothers would pull their finger out. And the king? Well, he was off tupping some sweet young thing in shadow. When he finally made an appearance, it was just in time to see the end of the weirmonken and make the proclamation that led to the next war.”

More Terrible Than Death: Eyewitness Accounts of the Weirmonken Wars, Palamon Drave, 1994

» — «

“I was exactly where my father had told me not to be. But there was a cute captain I was trying to catch the eye of, and so there I was. I don’t know how my captain heard it. I heard nothing at all out of the ordinary, and the men didn’t react, either. The first I knew of it was that my captain was suddenly very close, and I was too distracted by that unexpected intimacy to notice the monster looming over us.

“It was a single weirmonken, and it died quickly. But the troop were suddenly surging with urgent action. Because we were standing in the Cartographer’s Square, where no weirmonken should be. Where no weirmonken could be.”

Thirteen Hours: An Account of the Breach of Amber’s Great Wall, Olivia Venator, 1989

» — «

Illadeth Rall, cook (second class), on the assault of Amber Palace, Fifth Weirmonken War:

“We were all but undefended. The princes were in Arden’s shadows, fighting the main force. They didn’t know it was a feint — a way to distract our defenders so they could sneak a war-band into the city. We didn’t know they’d somehow blocked communications, arranged for troops to be out of the way, put a cascade of things in motion to make it easy for them. I don’t know why Princess Deirdre stayed behind, or how she detected them. What mattered was that she stopped them.

“But what a cost. Her small band of watchmen did their best with us, but truly, what did she think a group of stable-boys, maids and academics could do against such creatures?

“Thank the Unicorn for the Watch-Captain’s daughter. Without her there to keep our spirits up, I think more of us might have run. And then, I fear, the Palace might have fallen.”

More Terrible Than Death: Eyewitness Accounts of the Weirmonken Wars, Palamon Drave, 1994

On Leadership (who are they taking orders from?)

A Gedriht
A Gedriht

“One in a thousand were entirely different creatures. Based on what they did to our shadow troops, I suspected that these generals (for I must call them something) were the true weirmonken. Their armies were raised in shadow, as we would have done, altered by the shapeshifter taint and thus bent to the generals’ wills. I shared this theory with Dworkin, and he told me not to ‘think myself so unique’.”

Journals of Xing Fú, Vol III, General Xing Fú, C440, translated from Wégua by Margrave Bao Vèn Wé

» — «

“Prince Theodric is usually credited with having provided the names for the various weirmonken troop-types which are still in use today. However, the terms are not Thari, and nor are they from his mother’s native Karbh. They may be related to the languages of the many seafaring shadows from whence the Chantris hailed.

“He called the standard weirmonken troop type a Lething. These weirmonken are generally foot soldiers, numerous but not very intelligent. It is thought that the weir-taint that makes them beastly also reduces their intelligence so they are less likely to disobey orders.

“Thegns make up perhaps one in a hundred weirmonken and are equivalent to a captain. They command the Lethings, and are usually capable of light sorcery.

“One in a thousand weirmonken is an Ætheling, or General. Athelings seem almost equivalent in power to a prince of Amber, and are truly terrifying on the field. They usually go in to battle with a dozen or so knights, called Gedriht, defending them. These knights can best be described as combat shapeshifters.”

Prince Theodric: A Biography, Aifric Caderyn, 835

» — «

“In the aftermath of the war, Oberon decreed that all ethnic Solbon should be interned. This was done both to protect them from their fellow Gheneshi, who by that point were seeing weirmonken everywhere, and to ensure that such an infiltration could never happen again. Later chroniclers felt that they should either have been executed, or not imprisoned at all. Oberon was not the type to be squeamish about genocide, but he had the eye of all the Golden Circle upon him, and could not be seen to be too vicious to his own allies. In the end, the internment proclamation created an entire generation of Solbon terrorists bent on revenge.

“It is hard to say if there is any truth to the rumour that there were Æthelings interned along with the Solbon. It was the Solbons’ natural shapeshifting talent that attracted the weirmonken in the first place, and which made it so hard to tell one from the other. Certainly, when the Moonriders assaulted Amber forty years later, they were well-trained troops, complete with sorcerous support. When investigations were made at the internment camps, evidence was found of a finely-wrought compelling spell that made the guards ignore the Solbon while they calmly walked away. We know from Gheneshi records that only a third of their population joined the war-band bound for Amber. What became of the other Solbon is unknown.

“There are no longer any Solbon in Ghenesh.”

Betrayal of Trust: Ghenesh and the Fourth Weirmonken War, Baron Ranald Karm, 1658 (publication delayed to 1915)

» — «

“We saw creatures there, but they would have nothing to do with us. If we approached, they retreated. Finally, at the point where I felt we could no longer remain and keep our sanity, a figure approached us. It was slightly taller than us, sinuous and strange but definitely bipedal beneath the hooded cloak it wore. It seemed quite unconcerned by our presence, and unlike all the other weirmonken we’d encountered, not in the least bit afraid of us. I asked it its name, and it said it was called ‘Suhuy’. It said we were welcome to stay.

“We chose not to accept its invitation.”

The Furthest Reaches of Madness, Princess Alma of Amber, C1290

» — «

“Some have suggested that we should treat with the weirmonken. These people have never seen what they are capable of. These people have never soothed the brow of a tortured soldier as he begs you to kill him before the weir-taint takes his mind. These people have never seen a funeral for the Honoured Dead.

“They cannot be reasoned with. Their foot soldiers are mindless puppets. Their captains are little better than trained dogs. And these so-called Æthelings ‘lead’ from the very rear of their armies, and vanish before they can be captured.

“They want only our destruction.”

The Unicorn and the Beast, Archbishop Nikola Bayle, 1603

On Shadows (where the hell do they come from?)

An Ætheling
An Ætheling

“Intriguing that Dworkin seemed unsurprised by the arrival of these creatures. I think that, not only had he expected them, but he’d expected them earlier. [Oberon] was merely contemptuous, both of the creatures, and of my asking him what he knew of them. He implied that I should find comfort in simply following orders. It is clear that if I am to fight effectively, I must seek answers elsewhere.”

Journals of Xing Fú, Vol III, General Xing Fú, C440, translated from Wégua by Margrave Bao Vèn Wé

» — «

Princess Deirdre, on arriving at Chaos:

“It’s a trial to even describe it — there simply are not words to explain a place the mind can’t comprehend. There was nothing the eye could lay upon as solid, nothing that wasn’t shifting and changing the moment you began to understand it. I think the only reason we survived that place is that the longer we stood there, the more solid the world became beneath our feet. We, by our very presence, were changing that place.

“No wonder they hated us.”

The Furthest Reaches of Madness, Princess Alma of Amber, C1290

» — «

“Let me tell you what a Black Road feels like.

“Have you ever dropped something breakable? Something precious? There is a moment, just before it shatters, when your adrenaline kicks in but you know that there is nothing you can do. Destruction is inevitable. It can’t be saved. It can’t be fixed. You can only watch it shatter.

“That is what it feels like. Rebellion. Panic. The thing you are walking on hates you. It’s not sentient, but it hates you. Your boots begin to smoke, then your feet start to burn. Soon you feel as though you’re wading through acid.

“But you can’t stop, because if you stop, you’ll die. So you can keep going forward, or you can try to turn and go back. You might see one of your fellows pause and look back, considering his chances. The time it takes him to think those thoughts is all the time the Road needs. You see him look down, the blood rushing out of his face as he tries to shift his feet again. He’s stuck now. He’s a dead man.

“You can’t stop. You can hear others asking you — begging you — to help them, but if you stop to help you’ll be stuck too. The cries for help become sobs, then screams, then silence.

“I hear them every night when I sleep.”

Lone Survivor: The Tragedy of Operation Redwood, Sir Bryce Grunewald, 2005

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