[A tattered envelope arrives for Hagen, brought by magic weakened by vast distance. It contains a letter, and a sheaf of papers.]

Prince Hagen,

I enclose herewith some notes which you may find useful in your war.

I have found for myself, if not a new home (for that was lost to me in the storms of Amber’s expansion), at least a place of peaceful reflection. The people here have heard of Amber, but only as a place very far away and of little interest to tourists. Politics and factionalism are rife here, and can take up all your time if you allow it to. Fortunately there are some groups who pointedly distance themselves from such things, and it is to a lord of such a faction that I have apprenticed myself to. You would not like him, I think. He is too fond of trivial things.

It pains me to write this, but none of my troupe survived the journey here. I did my best for them, or at least I hope I did, but just as Amber’s shadows are terrible to us, so too are the ones approaching this place. Perhaps it is a rite of passage, finding the way here. I performed the dirges as each fell. It was many shadows distant from the walls of this place that the last of us passed, and I sang alone.

But I should not try your patience with such indulgent stories. I shall close by telling you that I am as alone here as I was anywhere else. There are very few lords of shadow who find their way here, and fewer still who thrive. I have heard many stories, mainly because I am something of a rarity, and thus much in demand at dinner parties.

In any case, I remain indebted to you, and I hope that these rough notes of mine may help you in some small way.

Despil

Factions of the Weirmonken

Note: The term ‘Weirmonken’ is rarely used by the denizens of my new home. They prefer to call us ‘Lords of Shadow’. They seem to find the former term offensive, and will apologise for the word just as they do for a profanity. From my own experience, we certainly use the term, but only as a convenient word to describe more than one faction. For the most part, we refer to ourselves by the names of our individual groups. I cannot tell where the word comes from, but it seems most likely that it was coined by a Prince of Amber. There is a much-treasured book in my master’s library by one Theodric Caderyn, who may have been from Amber. It contains much theory about the weirmonken people, but besides using the correct names, very little of it is accurate. From careful re-reading, I have surmised that this Theodric had an Aethling prisoner who furnished him with a great many fabrications.

Tingstead

These are my people, and I will be kind, for there are some Tingstead I still count as friends.

Others call us ‘the destroyers’, because for the most part we are singuarly focused on the destruction of Amber. I am not sure why we took it upon ourselves to be Amber’s doom. Other factions seem to agree broadly with our goals, but many regard us as too hot-headed. Prince Brand had, and probably still has, close dealings with our leadership, and it was under his orders that I was posted to that tower where you found me. It is true that I was by that point no longer regarded as trustworthy by my superiors. I argued with them too many times.

I still do not believe that Tingstead can win that war, or that we should have made deals with Prince Brand. Many others have said, quite correctly I think, that the enemy of our enemy is not our friend. Oddly enough, we do not associate with The Curiate because of their assumed links to Amber. We do not trust Kurultai, but we hire them as mercenaries from time to time. Witena we dislike for their inertia, because they would rather talk than act.

Witena

A group who prefer to talk and plan rather than actually do anything. They are called the builders (a name used with varying degrees of sarcasm). They are trying to build a stronghold to protect them from Amber’s encroachment, and they sought military support from Tingstead but we refused to help them. We don’t think there is any place in shadow safe from the Pattern, and they are wasting their time trying to find one.

I have learned since leaving shadow that one of Witena’s leaders, a man called Suhuy, visited here seeking knowledge, but did not stay (I may be translating that incorrectly, for in another sense it may be that this was his home, and he abandoned it for Witena). He said that his people deserved a home, and that he would build them one if it killed him. There are some very old versions of this story that mention Suhuy as not one person, but two, as of twins. These twins argued with the King and were cast out after having done some abominable thing which is not detailed. This story also says that the twins fought and killed each other after doing this unmentionable thing, so I’m not sure how accurate the story is.

The Curiate

They call themselves the lost children. We call them religious fanatics. One of their old tales also has a Suhuy in it, with a twin brother called Dworkin, who stole power from ‘god’ and thus brought their people misery. The Curiate believe that they were cast out of paradise in punishment for this wrong. They worship the unicorn, and they regard Amber as the heavenly paradise they are no longer ‘pure’ enough to enter. To them, Amberites are sort of misguided demi-gods. We don’t really get along with them, and they don’t really get along with us.

Kurultai

Nomadic and opportunistic, Kurultai range through shadow, picking off weak shadows to add to their war bands. I’m sure they think they are doing it for the shadows’ own good, since the people of those shadows would be destroyed by the Pattern’s encroachment otherwise. We call them the wolves.

Veche

I had actually never heard of Veche until I came here. They seem to be traders, and have favoured status with some of the groups here, but they never seem to hang around very long. They are called searchers, because they range far out in shadow looking for artefacts and places of power, and bring that back here for trade.

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