With a focus on the Sixth Weirmonken War, and the asymmetrical tactics involved in its prosecution
(all references also the Work of the Learned Author)
There is a Point in some narratives where the Author – whether he or she be a writer of history, fiction, philosophy… or even Instructive Works… where the author moves from the impartial, though Judging, narration of events, and becomes more of a figure within them.
I have reached that point.
There is no doubting that Erica’s time as Queen of Amber was numbered from the moment she took the throne. Many took issue at her presumption, for many Reasons. The most obvious was Corwin – he who sided with Bleys and attacked the Palace itself, avoiding the City, and fighting up the Seaward face of Mighty Kolvir. But others too were opposed, and while some were obvious in their apparent allegiance, others were quieter in their thoughts; Erica was no less adept at seeking them out.
And so she ruled in Amber. The Shining Center of The All, the Multiverse, the vasty regions of that which we, in our arrogance and power, call Shadow. Oberon’s Realm, carved from reality by his Will, and the Art of his Court Wizard, Dworkin.
I learnt the Arts Arcane under his mad tutelage. He was ever a Wild figure, prone to talking when no one was Listening, to putting to his Students tests that had no clear answer. I had ever felt that under his Eye I was an… experiment.
I knew this to be fact when at last I walked the Pattern, that Arcane Mark under the bones of the Palace of Amber. I went there of my own accord, and he followed, my Shadow. I lingered long on that singular precipice in front of the First Step; He watched the time entire. I may have waited an hour, a day, longer, and still – that stooped figure, waiting, watching.
When I took that first, terrifying step, he grew bored; he left.
Now of Erica, let me tell You this: she is my Better in the Arts Martial. One cannot grow up in the Shadow of Benedict and not understand that some people will ever be your better. I am an excellent Swordsman, but as I write this I still think that even the House Chantris Master of Blades could hold me at arm’s length – Swordplay is one of the most esoteric Arts I have ever found, and I am not yet it’s master.
However, then, when Erica was struggling to Employ what limited Resources she had, I knew I could Best her; in fact, in a training session, I had done just that.
As a Friend once told me: the Throne would kill her. That, or something about the Throne, for surely Erica, as our latest War with the Weirmonken ground on, was weakening.
So how could such a Monarch martial her Forces? She held the Weirmonken on her borders in check, and had Soldiery enough to hold them. But that was a noose about her Neck; holding that Front, knowing that other Fronts would open soon enough, that one had already been found in Rebma… What to do?
Worst of all, on top of all of this, the realisation that her own Blood was turning against her in open Rebellion. Brand, another of Dworkin’s ‘experiments’, had returned, like the Bad Penny of myth, and had revealed himself at least somewhat the author of certain of Amber’s woes.
Imagine a scene in Amber’s Throne Room, a confrontation: Fiona, in fear of her life, fleeing Brand. Brand, arriving – late, thanks to Erica’s command of Shadow – only to claim that Fiona’s death would be the most Elegant of Solutions. And then, the admission, the Trickter’s Reveal.
The two had worked to trap and draw the Blood of one Martin, the Son of Random, and let his Vitality upon the very Pattern that made Amber what it was.
Thus breaking it. Thus making it the very Flaw that made a Black Road possible even in the Hallowed Vale of Garnath.
But another Mystery – what Pattern had this blemish been visited upon? Erica and Hagen had investigated all the known Patterns and found no mark. Yet it had to be there, and must be found.
Erica felt also that the lost members of the Family must be found, brought to safety in Amber. To that task she appointed myself, Lara, Sioned, Emil, and Hagen. So we looked for Prince Benedict. For some it was a Royal Task, for others punishment, and for others still a Watch set upon them. I had killed some members of the Rebman Court in our efforts to root out the Weirmonken taint there, and for my sins Erica had Julia and, I believe, Madoc, conjure an alteration upon my sword, Night’s Edge, one that would no longer allow me to us it in conjunction with certain Necromantic arts.
Madoc would indeed grow to be a thorn in my side, Resentful, but this is the least of his trespasses.
After that business, we set off, and – after some Diversions and Alarums – we found ourselves in the camp the one that Erica would most like to see return home: the Lord Benedict, Prince and Scion of House Venway, with some troops that looked remarkably of that House’s ancient lineage. He was laying siege to a castle, one held by Weirmonken, but was oddly aloof about prosecuting the attack. We ate a meal, very politely in the Venway Manner, and it appeared that there was quite a curious relationship between Sioned and my once Lord.
We pressed him about returning to Amber, and he responded… oddly. He took on the manner of Sioned, flippant and gay, seeming to try and prove a point – and he also ordered his army to finally attack. This, to us assembled, seemed a waste – Benedict himself could likely have taken the castle if he wanted. So we pre-empted him, and stormed it ourselves. It was a simple manner to demonstrate before the gates, to cause a concentration of troops at that apparent point of weakness, and then have Sioned, Lara, and Hagen emerge from a hidden postern.
The castle fell in short order, and, amazingly, the Lady Weirmonken surrendered her remaining forces. That was Enlightening enough, and from the reports we’d had of Emil’s own exploration in this area, it did indeed seem that Amber’s ancient Enemy was not a homogeneous force. But more amazing still, was what she was guarding, apparently set to the task by Brand.
Though uncertain, it appeared we had found Oberon himself, trapped in a device that for all intents and purposes was cutting him off from all Worldly contact or interaction. He was alive, but barely so.
I contacted Erica, to let her know of this turn of Events, and the look of near nausea that passed over her features was enough to convince me that the others’ plans to hide Oberon away in Shadow – and to certainly not wake him up – were sound. While talking to her, and of the events of that lead to the Pattern being damaged, I conjured an idea, and bade Erica bring me through, via Trump. Once in the castle, I took her leave (she is much Mercurial since taking the throne, sometimes severe, others more accepting), and made my way down, down to the dungeons and down even lower.
To the Pattern. I will not record here what it chose to show me, but once standing, shaken and in a sweat, in the Pattern’s center, I asked it a simple question, that I shall re-phrase here to add some needed humor to this Record.
“Show me where the bad Brand hurt you.” And it did.