The Scions of Amber
A prominent and conspicuous constellation on the celestial equator
The first card I beheld bore the image of a rakish man with a square face, narrow jaw, a smudge of beard. His right hand was lifted to his temple, either in the midst of a cavalier salute or to brush a frond of dark blond hair away from his green eyes. He regarded me with the calculating squint of someone accustomed to staring down men he can’t be bothered to fight. His clothes were the no-color of rain or dust or silt over white, with buttons and tiny decorations in a variegated green like malachite. The portrait was arranged such that he seemed in geometric alignment with the background: a wall of carved stone. This had the effect of making his surroundings seem like an extension of his personality, which I knew to be by turns careless and remote. His name was Orion.
—Scions of Amber
- Entry 01 – i
- Entry 02 – 0
- Entry 03 – γ
- Entry 04 – 1
- Session 5 – Absent
- Entry 05 – ζ
- Entry 06 – ρ
- Entry 07 – √2
- Entry 08 – φ
- Entry 09 – √3
† This could easily be the theme song for the entire Amber universe, or at least the royal family.
There is no such thing as an average dweller in shadow. But if there were such a being, then an upper limit is set on the feats he is able to accomplish. I might concede that only one such height exceeds the capacities of those mortals, that being the traverse of the Pattern, but we are considering here a hypothetical person who knows nothing of the nature of the universe. From the perspective of people like Mother and my aunts and uncles, to say nothing of their elders, the reach of the average dweller in shadow is almost not worth considering. This is probably responsible for no small part of the sometimes intolerable air of smugness that permeates the royal family.
But I digress. This average person might climb the highest mountain, or swim the longest distance, or provide a correct solution to Fermat’s Last Theorem. He might bed the greatest number of women, or invent a means by which every inhabitant of his world might never go hungry again.
Until I was ready to take the Pattern I felt relegated to the same rank as this average person. I felt I had something to prove, naturally enough, given the looming personalities in my life. I suppose there was a lot of laughing about it all: the little upstart princeling, so far from succession to the throne, trampling and swaggering about the world to show off his impressive abilities. How I must have amused them.
I climbed the mountains, I tested myself with exposure to the elements, I dove into the practices of meditation and asceticism, I learned to fight with swords and guns, I sailed around the world in a tiny yacht, I went on voyages of discovery into deep caves, I spent time with ruffians and savants.
One of my favorite sojourns was as a safari guide of the sort that takes lordly hunters onto the savannah to look for rare game, but ends each night at sumptuous lodges that are carefully spaced along the route; the safaris would all include a carefully scripted “unexpected adventure” that would give the lords a thrill and some stories to tell their comrades when they got back to civilization.
“Yes, ladies, that was the sound of your panties evaporating.”
When the time came to walk the Pattern, I felt of course that I was ready for anything. I wasn’t, but anyone who’s walked it knows they really weren’t, either. I didn’t inherit the exploration bug as strongly as Aderyn or Pilgrim, but I did take some grand tours and try to see how far toward Chaos I could make it before things became too crazy. I did a lot of looking around cities, finding I enjoyed the lifestyles available in them. I spent some time on Shadow Earth, establishing several residences in my favorite places. Liked New York and Scotland and Seychelles.
With the recent truck with Chaos, magic has come into vogue, and I found it an excellent way to bring my natural talents to bear in a practical way. I studied long and hard, and developed a habit of maintaining my spells, as well as a penchant for experimenting with new ones.