The Family of Amber
"The next trump showed a girl in her late teens, walking down a set of stone steps. She wore blue jeans and a white blouse, with a cream-colored jacket over it, and a tail of long brown hair ran down her back from between the back hole of a blue baseball cap. Her right arm was missing from the shoulder down; a sports bag was slung over the other shoulder, and the hilt of a silver sword protruded from it. One eye was blue and the other red, and between them and a shy smile was a band of freckles."
Emily may or may not be the oldest of the family; certainly, she would seem to be the oldest who spends any time in Amber. She does not look like it, obviously. Her arm has been missing for as long as anyone can remember.
To all appearances, Emily is one of the more normal people in the family. She is set in her cheerful big sister role, and tends to take a practical, optimistic view of life. She has not taken part in any of the Civil Wars (although she didn't do much to try and prevent them, either) and gets along well with almost everyone, although she and Senlin fight on occasion.
Emily is very active, and taught most of the family how to fence, doing better with one arm than most can with two. She bears the Patternblade Sorrowmaker, and dwells in a tower in the castle, where she apparently does little else but have visitors, exercise, play games, write letters, and generally have a good time.
"Turning over the next card showed me a young man in a white and purple silk mandarin's robe, sitting suspended in midair. Tubes of metal and plastic coiled about him, wires extended out from sockets set into his fingertips, hologram screens of data spiraled about his head. He had fine black hair and narrow eyes, and he smiled but there was little joy in it. The background was polished metal, the inside of a sphere perhaps, and the lighting was bright and antisceptic."
It is arguable over whether Senlin is as old as Emily, but he is definitely one of the elder known family members. He has never come to Amber as far as anyone can recall, instead staying out in Shadow. It is unclear if he is under some sort of exile or if he just doesn't like the place.
He seems to be very fond of high technology, and is generally found strapped into rigs of some sort. He communicates mostly by trump, but has been known to entertain visitors from time to time. This is not that frequent, as Senlin is not the most friendly or pleasant person in the world, and seems to actively dislike most of the younger siblings.
Senlin has a powerful mind, and is a clever strategist. No-one has actually seen him personally fight. He appears to tire fairly easily for the family; probably the result of too much dependance on technology and too little healthy exercise.
"The next card showed a man sitting in a train station, hulking on a wooden bench under a faded 'TO PLATFORMS' sign. There was a samovar on a trolley next to the bench, and he held a steaming porcelain cup in huge, rough hands. He wore rust-colored robes with a traveling hood, and boots and a belt of some black leatherlike material. His eyes were blue and sunk under a heavy brow, his mouth was lost in a bushy black-and-grey beard that seemed dense enough to hide things in. There was a weighty book beside him on the bench. He stared into his cup, lost in thought."
Anton is very big and very strong. He is not very talkative, although he does like to sing, and tends to be lost in thought or a book. He has a powerful mind, and knows much about Amber that has been otherwise forgotten.
While a usually quiet man, Anton does not like people disagreeing with him. He took place in the First Civil War, but stayed out of the second. He gets along with Emily and Senlin, dislikes Cadence greatly, and avoids his sister Jennahdy.
Anton is a sorceror and wielder of powers; he is also horribly strong and tough. He is said to have eaten a Veriacordia alive after snapping its bones with his bare hands. His attempts to lead armies have not gone so well. He holds the Parchment Tower and the gates around it.
"The trump showed a forest scene, a crude lean-to visible in the background. A woman stood before it, face worn but not old, skin tanned and frame muscular. She wore jeans and hiking boots and a thick flannel shirt, all in colors of green and red, and over one shoulder was slung a spear with a head of red metal. She looked confused in a placid sort of way. A large mongrel lurked at her side, yellow fangs bared, dirty brown coat splotched with blue-black."
Jennahdy is the last of the generation born during the Black Years, and with Emily, Senlin, and Anton drove the Veriacordia from Amber. She is a roamer and a lover of forests and mountains, and rarely comes to Amber. She is accompanied by Moonhowling Poet, her vicious, antisocial dog.
Opinions of Jennahdy vary. She is clearly very capable, as strong and tough as her sibling Anton. Some of the family think she's a moron, or at least developmentally impaired. Others, surprisingly including Cadence, claim she's actually one of the smartest people in the family, and just quiet. There is a fair bit of evidence either way.
Jennahdy is the Warden of Arden, a post which no-one has ever challenged her right to. She can generally be found wandering in seemingly aimless patterns through it, Moonhowling Poet at her heels. She seems friendly with most of the rest of the family, although she and Anton avoid each other, and she has a longstanding feud with Sterren.
"This card showed a greenhouse garden somewhere, with tile walks and moss-green pools and black loam. A tiny woman kneeled by a bed, her hands black and moist from digging, her ruffled white dress smeared with dirt. She had green eyes and long black hair, and an awkward sort of look, like a doll whose maker hadn't quite gotten the proportions right. She was smiling happily at the viewer. Something was dangling from the corner of her mouth."
Wren was the first of the family to be born during the White Years. She is bubbly and energetic and a little childish-seeming. Some of the family say she's crazy, and her tiny frame is usually covered in potting soil. She does have a strong mind, though it may well be an unhinged one.
Gardening and rain are two of Wren's favorite things. This annoys people who like seeing the sun every now and then, as Wren has proven quite capable of making it rain whenever she feels like it, and turns parts of the castle into new greenhouses at unexpected times.
Wren has mixed relations with the family. Most of them are alternately fond of her and exasperated with her. Cadence hates her, and the feeling is at least somewhat mutual. She is very, very good with a sword; possibly the best in the family. Wren holds the Solarium and Ring Gardens, and is the only person ever to climb Talltree and return.
"The next card showed a low house of stone, empty doorway yawning open on blackness, with white pillars before it. One was broken, and upon it leaned a tall young woman in ornate, black-enameled armor. A black wraparound mantle hid her body beneath the shoulders, falling in velvet darkness to pool around mailed boots. Her head was cocked as if listening, her expression was mild, her eyes were grey under a shock of pure white hair tamed by a circlet of silver."
Sterren is the Keeper of the Dead. She hangs around the Upper Mount and seldom leaves, tending the tombs and cenotaphs. While this sounds like a fairly solitary and antisocial way of life, Sterren is quite affable and easy to talk to, and seems pleased to get visitors.
Most of the family get along well with Sterren; she has taken no sides in any of the Civil Wars. Matthew and Henri constantly try to get her to leave the dead alone for longer periods, and to come out and enjoy the world. This has met with limited success. Sterren and Jennahdy are known to really, really hate each other, which baffles most of the family, as Jennahdy seldom leaves Arden and Sterren seldom leaves the Upper Mount. Oddly enough, she and Emily are the ones who tend to introduce new children to the family.
Sterren is quite skilled at the arts of war, but seldom seems to need them, and has a strong mind and body. Her sword is the Patternblade Ashkandel. She holds the Upper Mount, overseeing the gardeners and White Watch.
"Turning to the next trump revealed a small courtyard, as of a mansion, with white marble urns and a pair of grillework garden chairs. A slim woman sat in one of them, a newspaper held in one hand, a coffee cup in the other. Her skin was black, true black as opposed to a shade of brown, and her eyes were blue, and her hair was red and neatly cropped. She wore a light grey business suit with a white linen shirt and a thin yellow tie and a golden pin in the shape of a hawk over her right breast. Her eyes were neutral; her mouth was beginning to curl in what could be a smile or a sneer."
Cadence has a mind and a personality not that far from a particularly well-made steel trap. She is tidy, organized, always clean, and always prepared. She tends to expect other people to be the same way, and becomes frustrated when this turns out not to be so at all.
Much of the army and government are run according to Cadence's dicates, as she is both willing and talented at running a large organization. Her efforts in this respect are constantly crippled by the fragmented nature of things, which greatly irritates her. She is not a people person, and only seems to really get along well with Emily, Sterren, and Jennahdy. She can't stand Wren. There is a quiet but persistent rumor that she hates men, although there seems to be little truth to this.
Cadence is easily the finest general of the family, planning for every contingency and skillfully improvising when needed. Her talents in personal combat are not so formidable, although not terrible either. She holds the Bastion and the barracks of the Rose and Kingfisher Cohorts.
"This card showed other cards; it portrayed a gambling hall, with the river running past a jetty seen through an open door. Cattails and the suggestion of cane sugar. A man sat at a table with his back to the door; he was small and red haired under a tall hat, and he wore a black frock coat with a red waistcoat and gold ornaments. He was the deep brown of river water, and his eyes were blue and lively, and he held five cards with a bird of some sort on their backs. There was a pistol and a glass of bourbon on the table before him; the bourbon was untouched, the pistol still with a hint of smoke at the barrel."
Henri is not very much like his sister Cadence. He is jovial and spontanious, fond of the vices and pleasures of human life. He is as crooked as a dog's leg, but has a kind, selfless side which everyone in the family has had occasion to see and be thankful for, making him roundly liked if not trusted.
Most of the time Henri can be found in the City, which he is in charge of running. He runs it like a ward boss, a sloppy ward boss, much to the intense frustration of Cadence. He tends to clean his act up in a crisis, but reverts back to form afterwards.
Henri is fairly average in most areas, although he is a noted Trump artist. He and Matthew alternately are the closest of friends or the fiercest of rivals, depending on the week, the weather, or the phase of the moon. Henri is Legate of the City, and holds the barracks of the Urban Cohort.
"This card showed the deck of a riverboat in fog, piled with barrels and boxes and corded wood and deck cargo. A man stood at the wheel. He was short and thickly built, and his beard was black, and he wore no shoes. A mudbrown brimmed hat was on his head, and he wore rough clothing of brown and blue, with a wide leather belt that held a large knife. He glared challengingly, daring river or man to bar his way, and his eyes cut the fog like searchlights."
Jean is one of the explorers of Shadow, a man not frequently seen in Amber. He travels the rivers of infinity in his black riverboat -- trading, traveling, searching. It is unclear why.
It is probably good that he is not a frequent face in Amber, as he is surly, antisocial, and has a vicious temper. He has a longstanding feud with Henri, has gotten into savage brawls with Anton, and is known to make unprintable comments about Cadence. He sems to like Jennahdy, and be amused by Wren.
Jean is very tough, and very good with his fist or a knife. He probably knows more about Shadow than anyone in the family, and one of the few things he actually seems willing and friendly about is telling stories of his travels. He holds the River Gate, and is Admiral of the North.
"Turning over the card, I saw a field between low hills, bounded by a picket fence with peeling white paint and guarded by a scarecrow. Looking up at the straw figure, grinning, was a lean figure in red and blue who lay at ease on the ground. He had yellow hair and yellow eyes, and he wore pistols and a broadsword. His shirt buttons were brass, and he had a earthenware jug of some sort by his head, and an apple in one hand."
One of the youngest of the family, Matthew is still in his wanderlust stage, although he takes the roads instead of the rivers. He is a bit of a trickster and a rake, although not often in a malicious way. He is generally easygoing, and fairly relaxed in the grand scheme of things.
In general, Matthew gets along with everyone. He seems particularly close to Emily, is alternately friends and rivals with Henri, and seems to enjoy trying to get Sterren off her mountain and into the world. While he wanders Shadow more frequently than most, he can still be found in Amber on a semi-regular basis.
Matthew is fairly handy with a weapon,has a reasonably potent mind, and is more or less undistinguished. He doesn't hold anything, which is known to irritate him somewhat, and is Admiral of the South, which he's not very well suited for.
"The trump showed a tall, bearded man with a serious expression, standing in someplace high and dark before a block of black stone. There were mountains in the background, dim and shadowed. He wore a formal costume of deep midnight blue, with a black belt and black boots and a pair of black gloves tucked into his belt, and a black half-cape that swirled around his shoulders like shadows. There were rings on his hand, and a longsword was gripped loosely in one, though he had no scabbard at his belt."
The second of Annebel's children and the only son of hers, Merlion was a warrior and sorceror, gifted at both. He was capable and wise, but also had a brooding, mocking side to him that frequently manifested in dark humor.
It is unclear why Merlion betrayed the family with his mother, and joined with the Courts of Chaos to attack Amber in the Second Chaos War. It is also unclear if his treachery was a spur of the moment decision, or a plot long in the making. Regardless, it badly hurt the family, as he had been deep in their councils and was a potent man, skilled in war, second only to Cadence as a general.
Merlion was slain on a bridge over the Castle's Ring Gardens by his elder sister Wren in a sword duel that literally hundreds of songs have been written about. His head was cut off and displayed upon a pike, and his body fed to the hogs. Few in the family have much good to say about him except Emily and Wren, and then only with anger and regret mixed in, although Cadence has been known to say that while he was a bastard, he was a GOOD bastard and a hell of a war leader.
"This card showed a pale, attractive woman with blue hair and black eyes. She was on a balcony overlooking the city, in a sort of kneeling crouch, and she wore white scaled armor with a crimson surcoat bearing the blazon of a white sun. She held a lance in one hand, with a barbed silver tip, and around it was twined a rope of flowers. The other hand held a wineglass. She smiled, looking pleased with herself."
Laura was the youngest of Annebel's children. She was brave and daring, a skillful fighter, and a gifted leader of men. She and her command were overrun during the battle for the city during the Siege of the Dead, and Laura was killed.
Obviously none of the younger generation knew her. The older siblings generally speak well of her when she is mentioned; she was either well liked or they are reluctant to speak ill of the dead.
Laura apparently wrote music and verse; several songs penned by her are still popular favorites in the city. She also laid down stocks of wine, and founded several of the more famous vineyards of Amber. She has little else as a legacy.
"This card showed a woman standing alone on a cliff by the ocean, seagulls winging circles above her. She was small and slight, perhaps a little above 5 foot, and she had long red hair that was tightly bound into a topknot and hung down her back, and quizzical blue eyes. Her skin was so black as to almost have a bluish tint, and her upper body was bare. She wore a sort of divided sari around her waist made out of some silver-green fabric that shimmered in the sun. A length of silver chain lay pooled at her feet."
Moins was a noblewoman of Rebma who came to Amber during the Migration, purchasing land in the City and a small shipping concern. She seemed unexceptional other than that, until the day she gave birth to Cadence, after which Sterren announced that the child was of the blood. A Patternwalk some years later confirmed this.
By all accounts, Moins was a quiet woman who did not often mix with the family. She mostly stayed at her estates or in her set of rooms in the castle, although reference is made to her exploring the maze that is Castle Amber at odd hours. She never spoke a word about exactly where her children had sprung from, or why Sterren (and later Emily) knew about them.
Moins was killed by Annebel in circumstances that are still bitterly disputed. According to some, it was a fair duel, to others, outright murder. Regardless, the killing led to the First Civil War.
Adrienne di Corci
"This card showed a woman with long yellow hair reclining on a divian. She wore a white gown akin to a toga, with a belt of golden links, and she held a glass of something red in one hand. She had green eyes, which were hard and narrow, and a smile that was suggestive of something."
While Adrienne was a noblewoman, her exact origins and heritage are uncertain. She had a rather low reputation, and thus it came as a surprise when Sterren announced her as the mother of the newest Prince.
Adrienne was a bit of an embarrassment to the family, shamelessly peddling 'influence' and engaging in activities that did not exactly heap honor on her house. She was killed in a low establishment by someone thought to be her lover, who was shortly thereafter killed by Jean.
"The next trump showed a worried looked lady in white, with rather tan skin and black hair bound up in a rather severe cut. She was sturdy although certainly not fat, and wore a silver necklace and a green sash around her waist. In one hand she held a letter, just opened, and in the other she tightly grasped a silver letter-opener."
Mina was an immigrant from the Golden Circle, a noble who bought a transfer of her nobility. She lived on her estates in the east for many years, until Sterren left the Upper Mount and rode to fetch her under unclear circumstances. There are rumors that Sterren had to fight their way back to Amber.
Whatever the circumstances of that trip, Mina seemed timid and somewhat frightened for most of her time in Amber. She crept around the castle, was thought to have hiding places and planned escape routes, and locked herself in at night.
Mina apparently committed suicide by throwing herself from the top of the Tower of Veils one night. Or maybe she fell. Or was thrown. There was no evidence of foul play, which combined with her odd behavior led most people to conclude it was her own doing.
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Last Update June 11, 2003