The Royal Family of Avalon
"The first card showed a tall, imposing man standing atop a half-finished tower of the Citadel Avalon, looking out over the work with a critical eye. He was dressed in a flamboyant uniform of white and gold and pink, with a powdered white wig and a silver monocle, and held a roll of blueprints tightly in one hand while sketching silver lines of energy in the air with the other. His features, hard and soft at once, were somewhat obscured by a shadow cast from above."
Ludwig is... well... mad as a hatter. The eldest son of the King With No Name, he designed the Citadel Avalon, laid out much of the city, and wrote many of the definitive texts and commentaries on the powers and topology of the universe. Unfortunately, he seemed to grow progressively crazier, and a astute eye can tell whether buildings or books were done early in his career (the Great Plaza of White Repose, the Book of Avalon) or later (Pit Trap and Falling Stone Death Trap Avenue, the Tome of What My Dead Parakeet Told Me Last June). He vanished off into Shadow long ago, after taking Juri to be schooled at Ohtori.
Recently, Prince Trucido claims to have met him in the Citadel of Air and Darkness, and to have received the Patternblade Silverthorn from him. Evidence exists to suggest that he and Tess didn't get along.
Finndo, The Ashen Prince
"This trump was done in an odd, blocky style that brought to mind images of Sumerian carvings or Japanese prints or Egyptian tomb decorations. It was a battle scene, with men and not-quite-men dying in droves, and their killer was a tall man in loose robes of black and orange. He had three arms, each of which was striking down a foeman with a massive, ornately carved mace, and his long red hair streamed back as he laughed and slew. His features looked like a devil mask, and his skin was gray and unwholesome."
The second eldest of the princes, Finndo was driven into sociopathic madness by the degeneration of his Patternghost heritage, and rebelled against the throne. He was defeated in the First Siege of Avalon by Ludwig, Tess, and Angus, and spent the next few centuries biding his time, waiting for the right moment to strike. He engineered the death of Queen Ryoko and the abduction of Trucido, who became his personal assassin. Finndo was lured into prematurely attacking Avalon by Angus, Tess, Gideon, and Darako. His army defeated, he was killed on the field by Trucido, thus avenging Ryoko.
Finndo had both a powerful mind and a fearsome swordarm. He possessed both a spikard and the Eye of Earth, which were stolen by Rimmer and Gherman.
"Turning the next card, I found myself looking at a woman in a kimonolike dress of gold and blue, her haori coat emblazoned with silver roses where the crests would be. She had a loose tail of pure white hair tied with a gold ribbon, and her features were young, sharp, and manic. I noticed that she stood ankle deep in a swamp, red eyes in the underbrush glowing, but held a teacup gingerly in one hand, steaming. Her lips were pursed, as if about to chide or rebuke or comment."
Tess is the resident sorceress of Avalon. She has probably the largest fund of knowledge around about Avalon, the Pattern, and the universe in general, with the possible exception of Prince Ludwig. It is generally agreed that she has the most powerful mental abilities in the family. She's also more than a little flaky, and is pretty scatterbrained and erratic. Unless an emergency arises, Tess will rarely leave Citadel Avalon, spending most of her time in the tower she's commandeered as a combination lab/library/apartment. She has some sort of horrible cat-bear-hedgehog beast named Pongo that drools a lot and occasionally eats the servants; she dotes on it and seems incapable of viewing it as anything other than a harmless lapdog.
Tess is usually bubbly and friendly to everyone, except when interrupted in the middle of a project. She was very fond of Darako, her surrogate daughter, and Dar's death has hit her particularly hard. It has also strained her relationship with Juri, who was another of her favorites.
It was recently revealed that she had at some point gotten married to Prince Bleys of Amber (aka 'Burne d'Ambar'), who now spends a great deal of time on the Avalon side of things.
"Staring at me from the next card was an earnest young man, thin and somewhat weedy, a formal garden behind him. He had on canvas gloves, and leaned on a spade. He wore black jeans and a high-collared, tightly buttoned shirt of sea blue, and a pair of silver-framed eyeglasses covered rather sad-looking blue eyes. He had the look of one who hopes to pass muster, but who assumes he will not."
Angus was born lacking in both physical and psyche abilities, being frail, fragile, and weak by the standards of Avalon and Chaos. He was, however, a natural swordsman and strategist, as well as a focused, often arrogant planner. He was the hero of the First Siege of Avalon, killing King Swayvill of Chaos before the gates in single combat, but his legend faded and dropped out of common memory until recently. After being officially placed out of the line of succession and quarreling with Meredith, Joan, and Darako, Angus left Avalon to wander in Shadow. He seems to have visited Chaos for a time, and somewhere along the line developed a 'cure' for his former lack of strength and stamina. Tess kept in contact with him, and he returned to take charge of the defenses during the recent troubles and the Second Siege of Avalon.
Angus is tacturn, cold, and authoritive to the point of arrogance, seeing all of his younger brothers and sisters as subordinates. While he seems to have mended fences with Meredith, he still doesn't get along with Joan. Most of the rest of the family respects his ability, but don't actually like him much. He treats Tess with a certain amount of warmth, deference, and protectiveness.
"I turned over the card and saw a scene shrouded in mist, trees looming hazily in the background out of black earth and dark green moss. A tall, slender woman in white and blue was on her knees in the center of it, eyes closed, head back, golden hair streaming back. She was dressed in bright chain armor with a blue surcoat showing a white rose, and her hands clasped a longsword, the tip embedded in the earth, the hilt pointing skywards. Lines of bright silver traced the blade, glowing with a light that seemed to cut the surrounding fog. I could not tell if she knelt in prayer, surrender, or merely reflection."
Joan is a singleminded woman. She seeks to be the finest duelist of her siblings, and has devoted most of her efforts of late to that pursuit. Exactly why she wishes to have the title is unknown, but she seems to know something that her siblings don't. Recent events have given that ambition a severe blow, as Angus is easily twice the swordsman she is, Trucido is probably a match for Angus, Juri has risen to new heights of skill, and Cupio shows signs of being her equal. Joan has become even more obsessive and hard-edged as a result, often bordering on fanatical. Her streak of mysticism has also been more pronouced lately. She spends most of her time in the Valley of Lethe or the lonely places of the Citadel Avalon, relentlessly practicing or hunting for something.
Joan gets along with most of her siblings except Horatio, who she can't stand. She dislikes Angus, but respects him and can work with or under him. It's rumored that she and Trucido had or are having an affair of some kind.
"The next card showed a library or a drawing room somewhere, with lots of wood paneling and old leather books. Rising from a wicker chair was a dapper man in a blue-gray Regency costume that would not have looked out of place in Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights. One hand rested upon a walking stick topped with a gold knob, and the other was in the beginning of sketching a bow. His features were sharp, sallow, and cheerful, and his eyes were green."
Meredith is a charming, courteous man, second only to Dante and Finn in his ability to overwhelm via sheer personality. He's a fair hand with a blade, and has a powerful mind, but seems lacking in physical power and stamina.
As King, Meredith has worked to improve relations with Nolava and also sets most of the True City's administration and policies. He was under massive stress during the Crisis and still seems slightly irritated by certain people's actions during it, but has tried to be a fair and evenhanded ruler.
Meredith is liked by most of his siblings, which is one reason why he became King in the first place. Horatio seems to have some unspecified grudge against him, and Meredith isn't thrilled with him either, which has strained relations with Amber slightly.
"The next card depicted a wall of white marble, with a carving in darker marble of an androgynously beautiful face with tangled vines of hair taking up the upper section. Rose vines grew upon the left cheek, rose petals were scattered upon the right. On the forehead, a phoenix-like bird rose from what appeared to be the remaining half of a shattered terrestrial egg. A handsome woman with an almost-invisible smirk upon her face stood in profile before the wall, right hand upon her hip, left hand holding a slender sword. She wore orange and white, and her red-gold hair hung in tight ringlets about her face. A ring with a blue gem was upon her right hand. Her features had a vaguely menacing cast, but also a kind of sadness."
Juri the Kinslayer was Ryoko's first child, and possessed in full the martial talents that all of that Queen's progeny display. She attended the enigmatic Ohtori Academy as a child, eventually returning to Avalon to run both the realm and her Academy, which she used to recruit the best and brighest of Avalon and shadow as assassins and agents. At some point she obtained the demonic blade Eternity's Rose, which glowed with an unholy light and could kill with a touch.
Juri was somehow corrupted by Brand, and killed both Prince Venir and Princess Darako in order to free him. While she fought in the Battle of the Fount, it is unclear which side she was on, as she reportedly killed both Prince Gideon and Brand himself. Juri then set off into Shadow, vowing to kill the King of Chaos and return to claim her rightful place.
Juri is in many ways a bogeyman figure, painted as a both bloodsoaked traitor and a semi-mythical scourge of both good and evil. The royals do not often speak of her.
"The next card showed a street or alley somewhere, the crumbling brick emblazoned with graffiti. A corpse lay facedown next to a motorcycle that was mostly engine and seat, and hunked down by it in a sort of slouching sprawl was a burly woman in brown canvas pants, a black leather jacket dripping chrome, and a black tank shirt emblazoned with a brown rose. Her features were broad and Asian, and had a sullen, unattractive cast to them. One hand was busy wiping blood off the blade of a knife and onto the corpse's shirt, and the other was extended in an offensive and easily understood gesture."
Darako was a musician and a warrior, both cunning and plainspoken. She dedicated her life to avenging the assassination of her mother by Finndo the Ashen Prince, and served as the top agent of Avalon, luring Finndo's armies and Finndo himself into a trap. She died in an attempt to stop Juri the Kinslayer, struck down by sorcerous treachery and Juri's hell-forged sword. Juri went on to kill Venir, and dragged both bodies back to Avalon behind her car.
Darako is respected as the hero of the Siege of Avalon, and is regarded by the Navy as their patron saint. Her virtue was such that the Pattern brought her up to its realm to serve as its herald and messenger after her death.
"The card showed a young man of eighteen, black-haired and smiling in a white blouse and blue hakama. He stood before a burning heap of twisted rubble, and he held two killing swords, while a smaller one was sheathed at his waist. His smile was warm and friendly, his eyes were cold and gentle. There were flecks of crimson on his clothing."
Trucido was the strongest of the Ten Swords, Finndo's elite warriors. Finndo stole him when he was a child, murdering his mother in the process, and Trucido joined Avalon once he discovered the truth. He killed Finndo on the field during the Second Siege of Avalon.
Afterwards, Trucido tended to disappear for long periods of time, reappearing only to make short visits or when the realm was threatened. With the possible exception of Angus he is the finest swordsman in the family, and probably the most fearsome all-around warrior.
Trucido and Joan reportedly had (have?) an affair of some sort. His relations with the rest of the family are rather distant otherwise. He seems to have had a great affection for his full sister Darako. He is held in a bit of awe by the more martially inclined.
"The next card showed a tall, lean man in a jacket and leggings of stiff, hardened leather. His black hair had been cut into spikes and dyed a virulent yellow, and he leaned on a saw-toothed sword that glinted viciously. His mouth was leering and mocking, and his eyes glittered with something resembling mania. He had a likable air, somehow, despite it all."
Cupio's exact ancestry is unsure, although it appears he was a child of Ryoko's. He was the second strongest of Finndo's Ten Swords, and once fought Juri the Kinslayer in a duel still celebrated in ballad and legend. His sword, Ripper, was a potent weapon that could turn into a snake-headed whip. He led Finndo's fleet during the Second Siege of Avalon, and was defeated there by Joan and Darako. Cupio fled the battle and has not been seen since.
Darako was known to have been on good terms with him. His blood ties with Trucido and Juri suggest some feeling there as well, either positive or negative.
"The card showed a tall, gaunt man wrapped in a cloak, hair gray, clothing gray, the jewel glittering in one ruined eyesocket gray as well. His left arm was missing, replaced by a skeletal metal prosthesis, and he held a long staff. His expression was cold, almost inhuman, thus matching the rest of him fittingly. He stood in the cold marble ruins of a Roman temple, the smooth black ground traced with circuitlike glowing designs."
The oldest of Cait's children, Venir was a remote, distant scholar who wandered off into Shadow on a quest for enlightenment and truth. Somewhere along the way he ran afoul of Brand, who corrupted his search for knowledge into something darker. Venir broke free of Brand's control at the last and attempted to redeem himself by stopping Juri. He perished on the Kinslayer's blade, as had Darako. He is not often discussed in Avalon, save as an object lesson on the dangers of relying on powers one does not understand. He is buried beneath the Citadel in a plain but finely-wrought tomb of grey steel and marble.
"The next card showed someplace high and craggy and windswept, with a blue-green sea in the background and gulls wheeling overhead. A figure sat sprawled on a broken marble column, his hair black, his eyes bright, his bearded face turned upwards towards the sun. He was dressed in jeans and a loose shirt of green and gold, and was playing a stringed instrument of some kind, a mandolin perhaps. A glass of wine, a book, and a plate of bread and cheese sat atop a second nearby column, and I got the impression that it was them he was playing to."
Dante is a sort of poet, scholar, and musician. The Prince of Art is elegant, dashing and easygoing, and loved by everything female. He has painted most of the Trumps in common use, written much of the renowned literature of Avalon, and has composed most of the music popular in the city. He's also strong enough to uproot stone buildings, and is held to be probably the most physically powerful of the siblings. Noted for his luck, cheery outlook, and general good company.
Dante gets along well with practically everyone, putting the men at ease and charming the ladies. King Meredith has been shown to place a good deal of trust and reliance in him, and his opinion carries a great deal of weight at court.
Status: Dead or Missing
"Turning the card, I saw a tall, thin man in heavy leather poncho of red and black. His hair was a spiky silver-blond, and his eyes were hidden behind circular lenses in silver frames. He stood in a barren, scorched desert, and held a silver revolver in one hand. The other hand was translucent, liquidlike, and held a trump card depicting a scene in Chaos. His expression was serious, puritanical."
Gideon, also known in Chaos as Gideon the Ravager Beast, was a walking natural disaster disguised as a Avalonian. Among his many exploits, he twice faced down the Logrus, sunk an entire forest preserve, blew up part of the Citadel Avalon, killed the heir to House Helgram, destroyed the city of Arras, killed many of the Cadets of Gascoyne, stole several of the Eyes, and generally wreaked havoc.
The Ravager Beast was known to have lost an arm to Trucido in an epic fight throughout the halls of the Citadel, after the latter prevented Gideon from killing Horatio. He was slain by Juri during the Battle of the Fount, although rumor has it that Gideon survived and lurks somewhere in Shadow, plotting revenge.
Horatio in particular seems to have a grudge against Gideon, and has often spoken ill of him.
"The next card showed a man with closely cropped blond hair, broad shoulders, alert, smiling confidently. You could almost smell the soap and apple pie; he looked like a Boy Scout recruitment poster, a Norman Rockwell one. He wore a suit of plate armor, and a massive twohanded claymore was slung casually over his shoulder. A cloak of blue and silver and gold wrapped his neck and back."
Walker is one of the youngest of Amber's princes. He wants to be the best in everything, and has been sort of crosstraining in everything he can. He's solidly built, fairly popular with people, and doesn't seem to have any obvious weak points that anyone knows of - he appears to be as adept with a sword as a spell.
Of late, Walker has branched out more into the scholarly arts, and can often be found consulting with Dante or Tess. He is a staunch supporter of King Meredith, but frequently clashes with Joan.
"The next card showed a solid, tall man with flaming red hair dressed in simple black and orange, laughing, a glass of the best held in a toast. A broadsword was buckled at his hip, and behind him was a pub, all wood and tinted glass and cheerful faces. His eyes were bright, and his hands were large and capable-looking."
Finn's exact geneology and origin are something of a mystery, or at least not widely known. He is the court's master of revels and protocol, and owns a tavern in the city called The Hound. Held to be an expert hand with the blade and a tough customer, he also has a wide range of arcane abilities and knowledge.
Just about everyone in court and the city likes Finn, especially the women. He has a wide range of contacts and acquaintences, and seems to know everything going on in the True Realm.
"This card showed a tall, young figure, muscular but slim, with piercing eyes and red-black hair. He was dressed in a suit of purple and red, and held a pocketwatch in one hand. Behind him were trains, rows upon rows of steam locomotives, and around his neck was a red jewel. He was smiling confidently, almost cockily."
Horatio is the son of Prince Bleys of Amber and Princess Tess. He grew up in Avalon, but transferred his allegence to King Random after Meredith took the throne. He now serves as Random's ambassador in Avalon.
Horatio is a powerful sorceror and crafter, and is known to have built several impressive devices. He is usually quite cheerful and garrulous, but appears to have an old grudge against King Meredith, which has hampered relations with Amber somewhat. Still, he clearly has an affection for the realm, and can generally be counted on to act in the interests of both kingdoms.