Unicorn no Seishi

Setting Page

Table of Contents An Overview of the Amber Universe

All of creation is a panoply of worlds which stretch between Amber, the Eternal City, and the Courts of Chaos. These universes are known as 'Shadows', worlds which dimly reflect the glory of the only two 'Real' worlds. Those who possess the blood of Amber or Chaos may master arts which allow them to move through Shadow from world to world, finding anything they can imagine and bending universes to their will.

Amber is ruled by King Tylor I, son of King Gendo I, son of Fuyutsuki, who drew the Pattern by some unknown means.  Gendo was respected but not much loved, while Tylor I has been a very popular king, in part because he mostly leaves people alone, and when he does meddle, it's usually to try to help them have fun.

The Amber pole of creation is maintained by 'the Pattern', a great spiral sigil inscribed into the stone of the Pattern Chamber beneath Castle Amber. Those who possess the blood of Amber (are descended from Gendo and Fuyutsuki) can walk the Pattern and bid it to send them anywhere in all of creation. They also gain the ability to 'shadow walk', travelling slowly and safely or quickly but more dangerously through shadow to anywhere they can imagine.

Different 'Shadows' have different laws of nature sometimes. Magic works in some, high technology in others. Some are the size of a breadbox, while others encompass billions of light years of space or more. If you can think of it, it probably exists out there somewhere.

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Amberite Geography

This category now has its own page, the Unicorn no Seishi Places Page.
 


Chaos

If one rides far enough from Amber, one eventually comes to Yig, the World Tree, which holds up the vault of Heaven.  Fuyutsuki planted Yig untold millenia ago to serve as a boundary marker for the region of Shadow claimed by Amber.  Beyond Yig, the shadows turn strange, and the world grows dark and chaotic.  The boundaries between Shadows begin to break down, and more and more of their inhabitants wield strange, incomprehensible powers, changing their form like we change our clothing.

It is said that if one rides far enough, one will reach an endless pit called the Abyss, the dumping ground of Shadow where Reality itself goes to die.  Around the Abyss huddle the Thirteen Houses of Chaos, worshipping the Serpent of Chaos.  They are believed to be led by a King, but this remains unclear.  Their goals and intentions towards Amber are unknown, although two of the Houses (Hendrake and Helgram) became involved in the Succession Crisis seventy years ago.  Rumors speak of them having their own Pattern, a constantly twisting and changing one, but nothing is known of it for sure but a name:  Logrus.
 
 


Gunpowder

You all know the basic concept, but no one has ever found a variation that works in Amber that you know of. Efforts to seek such a formula in Shadow mysteriously fail for reasons which remain unknown.  Amber does have fireworks, but they are sorcerous in nature.

Rumor has it the Harad Rebels forty years ago used the secret of Amber gunpowder to defeat Marshal Saionji, but if they did, they took the secret with them into shadow.  The raiders from Galicia also seem to have found this secret.


The Jewel of Judgement

This is the most powerful known artifact in Amber whose existence is proven. Close to Amber it is hard to shift shadow and mold it, but with the Jewel, you could turn Kolvir into a giant potato or turn the Gulf of Amber to blood. It can also control weather with ease, and be used in some way to store spells and do other tricks Gendo never really explained to anyone.   King Tylor wears it on court occassions, and the rest of the time, it remains locked in the royal vault.  Certain rumors claim the real Jewel somehow fell down the Rebma Vortex and Tylor wears only a fake.


Amberite Law

Amberite Law is a complex and tricky thing.  This is caused in part by the fact that Amber is not a completely unitary kingdom, although it has grown more unitary over the last few hundred years.  Different regions of Amber have different lawcodes and judicial systems, united by the supreme judicial and lawmaking authority of the king.

Amber Law:
Amber Law proper extends over Castle Amber/Amber City/Amber Port, the Kolvir Range, the region around Fork (west of Arden), and the Vale of Garnath (the farming region around Amber City that extends down the coast to the Hills of Sethfore).  Amber Law defaults inheritance to the eldest legitimate male child, unless no male children survive, and then females inherit, but that can be overriden by a properly notarized will.  Amber has fairly advanced contract law, and the courts ensure even nobles have to keep to their contracts.  Amber Law uses a judge and jury for criminal cases and a panel of three judges for civil cases.  Judges are appointed by the King outside Amber City and Amber Port, while Amber City and Amber Port have the right to appoint their own judges at the discretion of the Council of Aldermen and the Mayor.

The City of Amber has the right to make its own laws, binding within its borders, subject to the King's veto.  The King, in consultation with his Privy Council, has the absolute right to make laws outside Amber City.

Forest Law:
The Forest of Arden is the personal desmene of the King of Amber.  He has utter, absolute power over it.  If you enter Arden and he decides to kill and eat you, no one can say him nay.  Only members of the royal family can enter Arden freely and hunt at will, and even they can be barred by the Warden's formal decree.  However, formal Writs of Passage are easily available to merchants who wish to pass along the roads, and Writs of Hunting are fairly freely issued to nobles wishing to hunt there at their own risk.  Hunting without a writ is Low Treason, punishable by death, usually by being hunted through Arden.  Banditry in Arden is also Low Treason.  Killing one of the Unicorn's children, regardless of the circumstances, is High Treason, punishable by forfeiture of all goods, money, titles, etc, and slow, horrible death.

Writs of Passage and Hunting can be issued by the King or Warden of Arden personally, or by their duly authorized representatives.  Such agents can be found in Fork, Sethfort, and Amber City.

All trials are conducted by the Warden of Amber; results can be appealed to the King, but this is usually fruitless, as the King generally backs up the Warden's decisions.

Sethfore Law:
Sethfore Law is much like that of Amber, but each major city has similar legal rights to make its own laws, subject to royal veto and appoint its own judges.  Divorce law is much more liberal, and inheritance is equal to all children and the surviving spouse, unless overriden by a will.  Sethfore Law protects merchant rights quite ferociously, and the cities are all ruled by mercantile oligarchies which frequently clash with the nobles who control the countryside.

Harad Law:
Harad is technically still its own nation, although in practice, it goes where Amber goes.  Harad is more feudal than the rest of Amber; the cities are smaller and weaker, and the rural nobility dominates it.  It is divided into four provinces, each with a provincial Parliament, and there is a national Parliament.  They control taxation in Harad, and all laws made in Harad must be channeled through them.  However, centuries of warfare enabled Gendo to put through several permanent taxes, which made him largely independent of the Parliaments for tax revenues.  As a result, the Parliaments have little real power, although they do a lot of work as the supreme courts of the provinces and in conducting improvement projects for the provinces.

Harad divorce law is very strict, and inheritance goes to the eldest child, male or female, unless overriden by a will.

All judges must be nobles or at least knights, and they have to be approved by the Parliaments.  In practice, the Parliaments rarely object, and Gendo and Tylor have both taken care to choose popular nobles.  They serve for ten year terms.  Harad has many palantine courts in the border regions, where some noble is a hereditary judge.  Elsewhere, misdemeanors are tried by nobles on their estates, and felonies are tried by travelling royally appointed assize judges, who make circuits around the country.  Most cities have the right to appoint justices of the peace, who conduct misdemeanor trials in the cities, and Harad City has the right to appoint its own board of judges qualified to try felonies.  Criminal and Civil cases both use Judge and Jury trials, with the Jury being selected from the social class of the highest ranked person involved in the case.  Nobles must be tried in criminal cases before the regional or national Parliament.

Colonial Law:
Amber has many colonies abroad; their law codes vary tremendously, as each one has a seperate legal charter.  In general, the king grants his powers to set laws and enforce justice to the ruling body of the colony, retaining powers to pardon or to override the colonial government's decisions, but this is rarely done.
 
 


Magic in Amber

As per the usual rules, every shadow has its own laws of magic. Magic is fairly powerful, but not vastly powerful in Amber itself and its nearest shadows. It functions by tapping the ambient magical energy of the surrounding area, which tends to be strongest at certain magical hotspots known as foci. If too many sorcerors all try to tap the magic in a given location, their spells may fizzle due to using up all the local juice. Smart sorcerors find a foci and build something to let them tap it from a distance so they don't run into this problem.

Magic requires a special hereditary knack to be learned, making it somewhat rare. Still, about one out of every hundred Amberites has some degree of skill at sorcery.

 My revised Magick rules can be found here.


Metals of Power

Cold Iron

Cold Iron (Iron which was shaped by cold forging) has power against Magick.  Weapons and items made of Cold Iron cannot be directly affected by magick.  (Magically created fire can melt it, but it can't be telekinetically grabbed with magic, and it'll cut through magical defenses as if they were tissue paper).  Cold Iron will also punch through conjured defenses and it will dispel conjured items with prolonged contact (it takes at least thirty seconds).  Merchants in Amber City use cold iron bars to make sure they aren't paid in conjured gold.  Carrying Cold Iron makes it harder to cast spells.

Mithril

Mithril is a rare and precious metal, with several times the strength of the best steel, and a mere fraction of the weight.  It also takes enchantments very well.  Point value weapons are often made from mithril, and Greyswandir is an alloy of Mithril and Silver.  (Werewindle alloys Gold and Mithril.)

Silver

Silver is proof against shapechangers.  Wounds done by silver or silvered weapons cannot be shifted shut by Shapechangers.  If enough silver is stuck in them, they can't shapechange at all.

Tre-Stone
Imbued with Reality, Tre-Stone is the currency of choice in Chaos, it is said, though the stuff doesn't form on Amber's side of reality.


Amberite Money

Amber's money system is fairly simple.  It is based on a decimal system, using metal coins, of which there are a fair number of denominations.

The base coin is the Silver Royal; every other coin is either worth a certain number of Royals or is a fraction of a Royal, in the same way that a dollar is the base unit of American currency.
 
 
Coin Name Value in Royals Metal Type Front Back
Unicorn 10,000 Mithril The Unicorn Rampant "All roads lead to Amber"
Comet 5,000 Mithril A Comet "All roads lead to Amber"
Dream 1,000 Gold Tir'na-nog Mount Kolvir
Castle 500 Gold Castle Amber Mount Kolvir
Sun 100 Gold The Sun Mount Kolvir
Sickle 50 Electrum A sickle A sheaf of wheat
Moon 10 Silver A crescent moon Unicorn Rampant
Star 5 Silver Five pointed star Unicorn Rampant
Royal 1 Silver A crown Unicorn Rampant
Shield 1/2 Bronze A shield A sword
Axe 1/10th Copper An axe A tree
Plow 1/20th Copper A plow A tree
Mug  1/100th Copper A beer mug A tree
Loaf 1/200th Copper A loaf of bread A tree

Most Golden Circle kingdoms use similar coins to facilitate trade.  Beyond the Golden Circle, the metal value of Amberite coins usually enables them to either be sold as curios to get money or even simply spent.  It should be noted that the weight of the various coins is proportional to their value within the same metal bracket; mugs are tiny coins, while axes are fairly large, for example.

Most business is transacted with electrum, silver, and copper, except between merchants and rich nobles, who make more use of gold and mithril coins.  In terms of purchasing power:


The Pattern

You can find a detailed write-up on the Pattern power here at my Pattern Page.

The Pattern is a great icon carved into the solid rock of the Pattern Chamber, a more or less spiral that sometimes doubles back on itself and is marked by three 'veils', where the going is especially rough.  The exact nature of the Pattern remains debated--how could drawing a big squiggle in the rock create the universe?  Several of the Elders have made as exact a duplicate of the Pattern as they could, but it had no apparent effects.  It is utterly indestructible, although rumor states that Gendo's fourth wife (who was also his first wife) tried to somehow use baby Nanami to destroy it.  How a baby could destroy the Pattern is unknown, but it does tend to make people nervous whenever she enters the Pattern chamber.

It's usually thought that only Fuyutsuki's descendents can walk the Pattern because he made it, but it remains unclear as to how many generations descent from him will inherit this ability.  Anyone else who steps on it or crosses its lines is consumed by fire.

The Pattern casts reflections of itself into Shadow, each of these reflections becoming progressively weaker and more damaged as one moves away from it.  The Patterns of Ember, Arden, Tir-na'nog, and Rebma are both fairly perfect reflections, although the one in Rebma is a mirror image of the one in Amber.  Other reflections are known as Broken Patterns, which have progressively greater holes and kinks and chips in them, and thus grant progressively weaker and more dangerous power over Shadow.  However, such damaged Patterns can be walked by entering through the hole and walking BETWEEN the lines to the center.  Even Shadow people can do this and thus gain a flawed power over Shadow.

From the Amber perspective, the Pattern is the center of creation; everything radiates outwards from it.  Chaos forms the far distant periphery where the power of Order finally fades away, consumed by the entropy of the Abyss.

Since Rebma has sunk into the Rebma Vortex, the balance of Elemental Patterns has become somewhat warped.  The worst of the effects have been contained, but there have been some changes, especially close to Rebma.


Pattern Blades

Pattern Blades are weapons which have a segment of the Pattern inscribed in them. Three are known to exist, Justice--The Dawn Blade (born by Prince Ota), Greyswandir--the Night Sword, and Werewindle --the Day Sword. Greyswandir and Werewindle vanished into shadow on the Second Day of Darkness.  Rumors speak of other blades as well, perhaps one per element and a sixth primal blade, but who might wield them is unknown.

They will cut through almost any armor with ease, they're virtually unbreakable, and they cause those who possess the Blood of Chaos to burn to death with just a nick. This was discovered during the Succession Crisis seventy years ago.

Persistant rumors speak however, of Chaos Blades which do the same thing to Amberites...

Drake tells the story of how he got his Pattern Blade:
From the logs of Shizumaru's Seven Visions at the Tree of Life
 

Drake draws Werewindle and holds it high.  "This is Werewindle, the Day Sword."

"When I was young, I decided I wanted the finest sword in all of creation.  So I hopped on my horse, and I rode forth to explore the four corners of the shadow, in search of the best weapon that exists.  I rode to the Abyss, where  Shadows go to die, but I found no weapon worthy of me."

"I rode to the bitter north, where the world turns to ice, and the frost giants dwell, building palaces of ice and snow.  But their weapons melted in the sun's warmth."

"So I travelled to the south, seeking a weapon made of fire.  I battled the fire giants, and discussed weapon's lore with Mim the smith.  Mim made me a  blade forged of flame, and I rode forth, bearing my new weapon.  Then it  rained and my weapon went out."

"I found a dozen weapons, but each one failed me in some way, until finally I understood.  I needed the one thing which never fails, the thing which sustains all things. I needed a weapon that bore the power of the Pattern."

Drake pauses, becoming more serious.  "And so I rode to Yig, and hung from its branches for seven days, to learn the lore which led me to my blade, secrets I cannot reveal to any who have not also performed that rite."

"I had been gone from Amber for centuries.  And when I returned, I found it locked in war with barbarian invaders.  And so I put my sword at the service of Amber.  At the battle of Maybel, I slew over a hundred Cimbri with it."



The Prophecies of the Serpent

It is a large, black, ironshod book delivered to Ember by...the Sign of the Logrus?  No, really.  Its origins and original purpose is unknown, but it has 14 chapters, one for each of the elders of Amber....
 
 
From Tylor's Chapter:
/Eldest child of the eldest triad
Heart, Mind, Body
Not the smartest
Nor the strongest
But the luckiest
And the happiest/

/He sees the best
and faces the worst
both with a smile
that hides whatever
may lie within/

/Sailor on the seas of fate
Eyes upon the stars above
Setting sail for far Cathuria
Unseeing of the rocks that bar his path/

/Friend to all
Enemy to none
He sails through life
Following stars that only he can see
To a destination no one else perceives
Does he guide the ship onto the rocks?/

/The King is dead
long live the King
After the storm
he is the calm
the dancer on starlight
but who is the one
\who calls his tune?/

/What do you get
for the man who has everything
yet seeks something more
but knows not what he seeks
except that it has not yet been found?/

/Shadows behind him
shadows before him
masks he has worn
the prices he has paid
places left unvisited
roads better left untravelled
forgotten fruit
unsought for choices
destinations unknown
steering his course
by a map he cannot see
who drew the map?/
 
 
 

 


/Sailor wedded to the sea
sailor wedded to the land
he blows like the wind
she stands firm as stone
boat and anchor
but a boat 
cannot have two captains
yet a marriage
knows no lord
will they be
alloy or ettin?/

/He is the lord
of all colors and none
to him the knights bow
the elements submit
the doors open
to realms unknown
until the eye is taken
until the wound is struck
until doors open 
best left shut/

/What ails thee, King?
What hand struck this blow?
How art thou cast down?
Has feeling fled thy heart?
Dost thou despair?
Who enshrouds thine eyes with lies?
Art thou enslaved?
Whyfor ebbs the blood that should give you life?
How may thine wound be healed?/

/Where wilt thou turn, o Lord?
Willst thou climb to the heavens
or sink into the depths,
trust in destiny
or fall to fate,
be saved by what you do not know
or be damned by what you do?
Willst thou bear the pain
or don the pallid mask?
What price the end of pain?/

/The circle has no end
yet end meets beginning
and the cycle is renewed
new life springs forth
to seek what came before
to sail the seas of shadow
to find Cathuria
or find damnation
for knowledge
is its own reward
and its own punishment/

 


 
 
From Touga's Chapter:
Middle child of the eldest triad
Heart, Mind, Body
trusting not in luck,
nor in strength which fades
you invest your all
in the mind which knows
the eyes which see
the mouth which speaks
you are your father's son/

/When father betrays mother/and child betrays parent/and blood is shed/and curses hurled/there can be no peace/no rest/and little hope/

/None understands your heart/none understand their duty/none know what must be done/to fulfil both/none but you/and so you will make them/do their duty/even if it kills them./Like father,/like son/

/For in your life/you have loved only three things/two betrayed you/but one will not/so long as you/do not betray it/

/Everyone is a pawn in your game/sacrificed when you must/promoted when you can/but never free to leave the board/But are you sure/who is player/and who is pawn?/

/The mask of the traitor/the mask of the loyalist/the mask of the brother/the mask of the general/the mask of the child/the mask of the father/have you any longer a true face?/Or is there nothing/But an empty shell/in which all see/what they choose to believe?

/You know treason/you know the blackness of hearts/and yet you will believe/when all despair/for you know a trick/when you see it/
 
 
 

 


/The prodigal returns/but his father has fallen/there is no feast/there is no welcome/few hail his return/but he is content/for he what he has left/was far worse than what he has found/yet peace cannot be found/under false pretenses/

/Blood is nothing to you/but it must be everything/for blood can preserve what you love/or it can destroy it/

/Blood cries out for vengeance/blood answers the call/for the sacrifice becomes the hunter/the savior becomes the victim/and what is loved/perishes while its fledglings/fall to savaging one another/

/The furies pursue/he who slays his mother/the furies pursue/she who slays her child/who kills for justice/and who for vengeance?/Who shall the furies smite/and who spare/and can the difference be told?/

/As you slew/so shall you be slain/but in death/you may find life/when the one who is your child/but not/breaks the cycle of parent and child/the cycle of death/the cycle of betrayal/by choosing hope/over fear/ those who do not learn from history/are doomed to repeat it/
 
 

 

From Drake's Chapter:

/Youngest child
of the eldest triad
Heart, Mind, Body
Ill luck dogs you
Your mouth outraces your mind
But your blade is keen
your arms are swift
In battle, you reign supreme/

/Your mouth is quick/your wit is sharp/you cut as readily with words as blade/to crush the foes you cannot strike/

/Most keenly of them all you saw/the cracks which became chasms/the flaws which became sins/the mistakes which turned love to hate/but you blamed the messenger for the message/and drove him to his end/

/Yet still you stood/by your father's side/though he betrayed you/you would not betray him/for you would show/you were better than any of them/

/Your heart is a fortress/into which none can pass/protecting the vault/where you hide your dreams/

/Gaze into the fire/Gaze into the sun/see the wonders of creation/and how they can be tamed/how they can be used/how they can be turned/to do your will/

/And so you turned from war/to master those secrets/to create a city/where there would be no betrayal/where there would be no deceit/where you could walk your father's road/without his errors/a city lit by reason/a city lit by science/eternal city made clean/

/But the dream eluded you/and imperfections crept in/for when you build your house on sand/the tide eats away your foundation/and so you were stymied/And yet you came to love it/How could you not?/

/But the time will come/when the tide will rise/and sandcastles will be washed away/when harsh reality/will smash even damaged dreams/and the face of chaos will laugh at us all/for what you only pondered/others have done/

/And then you must choose/between dream and reality/between loyalty and revenge/between duty and desire/the road often traveled/or the way whose end cannot be seen/

/War is your tool/War may yet be your bane/for you will rouse the sleeping dragon/you will bring forth the hydra/and it will devour you/unless the one who is not/brings you to bay/for in all this world/only one is your master/
 

===============
 

From Saionji's Chapter:

/Wrapped in your brother's shadow/You walk alone/Striving to be/Worthy of him/

/No brother ever knew/more love than you gave/to your elder/before he walked/the path of the hero/to an early grave/

/You longed to follow/but your father held you back/forbade you to go/forbade the power to forge shadow to your will/to seek him/wherever he might be/And so you waited/in vain/for the call/to glory/to come/

/A sword never drawn/is never tested/cannot be trusted/not to break/when need finally calls it forth/

/So you sought other ways/walked other roads/became a gangster of love/for that was a war/you were allowed to fight/

/But victory was empty/it came too easily/and even victory/brought only mocking/and muttering when they thought/you couldn't hear/

/And so you turned/to other roads again/and nearly stumbled/into the darkness/but your father spared you/where others died/for less/the one time/you have been sure/of his love/

/So you took up your sword/you sought glory/but no glory did you find/only battle, war, endless struggle/and in infinite shadow/what you sought most/could not be found/

/Resentments boil/and might have beens/dance before your eyes/Your father sacrificed so much/was the one you loved/but a pawn in the game?/

/Now you walk the walk/and talk the talk/and do the job/of which you long hoped/but deep inside/you fear/whether you are/up to the task/

/Your daughter/your only child/you gaze on her/and understand/a little of why/your father did the things he did/they grow too fast/to understand/the dangers they face/what will you do?/

/The storm rages/the battle begins/this is your day to shine/or to plunge into the pit/and to take/your nation's hope/with you/

/And what then/what road will you walk/your father's road?/your mother's road/your brother's road?/or some path yet unseen?/

/Like your brother/you have yet to learn/that violence/is not the final answer/If you do not turn back/you will face his fate/and share it/
 

===============
 

From Juri's Chapter:

/Five ride forth/but two return/only the sword/and the bow remain/for the wind does not blow/and the waters have frozen/and the fire has guttered out./Can two do the work of five?/Or has destiny given way to fate?/

/The sharpest blades/are forged in fire/the strongest hearts/are forged in adversity/the strongest souls/the finest soldiers/are forged in battle/but where is the soldier/when war is at end?/

/Love brings pain/so you closed your heart/and raised high walls/over which no one could climb/not with words/not with deeds/not with song/for you would not/be fooled again/

/And yet you were/and laid in chains/but from those chains/sprang forth your legacy/from rape/was born your child/and a third time/you were fooled/

/Yet a child/born in hate/need not hate/for a child/is more than/the sum of its parents/do not fall/into the trap/of hating the child/for the sin of its father/that it might not hate you/for yours/

/Hate guided your hand/vengeance guided your blade/rage guided your actions/and you waded in blood/across the stream/that leads to damnation/and only the lack/of enough to kill/kept you from crossing over/

/For the fire burns within you/though you hide it behind your mask/though you pour water on the fire/and pretend there is naught but ash/what will you do/when duty is not enough?/

/Will you learn to fly?/Will you learn to love?/Will you open your heart/or close the gates/when your only child/your enemy's child/returns to seek/what she has lost?/

/Gaze into the mirror/See what might have been/See what yet may be/Then make your choice/for good or ill/to cross the stream/or defend this shore/

/Take to the sky/find your wings/learn to dream/that you may rise to the heights/instead of sinking to the depths/that you may not die/as you have lived/

/Beware the sea/for you know not its secrets/you know not its mysteries/you know not the fate/which threatens you there/

/The abyss reaches out for you/but it cannot claim you/unless you open your heart/to the darkness/you must ride the whirlwind/and trust in others/as you have not before/for some tasks/are too much/for a single soul/

/Ever too easy it is/to blame the child/for the sins of the father/but remember that good fruit/and bad fruit alike/can come from the same tree/that your closest friend/and bitter foe/hail of the same blood/blood you share/

/Trust has failed you/suspicion has failed you/vengeance has failed you/ your past confronts you/ your future confounds you/what road will you walk?/

From Corrine's Chapter

/Five ride forth/but two return/only the sword/and the bow remain/for the wind does not blow/and the waters have frozen/and the fire has guttered out./Can two do the work of five?/Or has destiny given way to fate?/

/To her is given/the strength of wood/to bend in the wind/and snap back into shape/She strives to be metal/to shield her home unbreakably/She strives to be wind/to make dreams real/She strives to be water/bring healing to all/she strives to be fire/to infuse a passion for justice/But can one be all things/to all men/without breaking?/

/For the flame burns within/and the past cannot be forgotten/but can it be forgiven?/Murder/Death/Betrayal/Lies/Despair/have broken many a soul/the weakness of wood/is that it burns/

/And yet the fire calls to it/the fire is its destiny/the fire is its fate/the question is not whether it will burn/but why/for justice/and vengeance/are two sides of the same blade/

/Blood on her hands/rage in her heart/only far from her memories/could healing start/to find a way/to let what lies within/shine forth unclouded/to turn the mind's eye/into the hand's guide/and open for her/the power of the sky/to take a vision/and turn it into/something to be held/

/Ride the serpent/grasp its eye/follow its lead/to a city in the sky/Open the way/Unlock the door/to a world unknown/in ancient lore/

/No man may serve two masters/no woman ride two horses/worse yet if one rides yet more/to try to do everything/is to do nothing/and yet/how does one choose?/

/The crown sits hard/upon her brow/calling her forth/and calling her back/giving power/and taking it away/for the more you have/the more demanded of you/

/Like mother/like child/wood to wood/fire to fire/one takes after father/and one after mother/but both are beloved/

/A secret shared/is a secret no more/a secret weapon/known to one's friends/is soon known to one's foes/

/Those who give refuge to criminals/can expect to reap the whirlwind/can expect to pay the cost/when the mob knocks at their door/and burns down their house/even if the mob/stole the thing to begin with/

/Can she use/the new/to save the old/or by grasping at both/attain neither?/
 

===============
 

From Gil-Galad's Chapter

/Bastard son of a bastard/caught between two worlds/and never feeling/part of either/you sought to find/a middle way/

/Heir to a fallen throne/heir to a fallen land/heir to a fallen oath/your mother could give you/little but life/and her love/

/Wrapt in schemes/swaddled in plots/ruling the world/with iron fist/your father seemed/to rarely notice/you were alive/

/So you sought to make him notice/you sought to reclaim your heritage/to forge a kingdom/since one would not/be given to you/

/You thought yourself the master/you thought yourself a god/entire worlds/were yours/to shape like clay/

/You would be the potter/shadows would be your clay/from them you would forge the perfect art/achieve the perfect vengeance/lead the perfect return/to finish the tasks left undone/the war left unwon/the oath left unfulfilled/

/But into darkness/fell your star/swallowed by the shadow/consumed by the night/left to languish/where light never shone/nor hope reached/

/Yet torment is not forever/suffering is not the all/your chains will be broken/your punishment will end/the shadow will fall all around you/but the shadows within/are not so easily banished/

/Will your star rise again?/Or will you remain/forever chained/by your past?/
 

===============
 

From Makoto's Chapter

/Child of a traitor queen/Born to be a pawn/Born to be a tool/Raised in scorn/You play the fool/

/Prince/Heir/Bastard/Prince again/The wheel turns/it raises high/it casts down low/how it judges/you still don't know/

/Child without a mother/Child without a father's love/Surrounded by Hate/Surrounded by Whispers/But you bent/And did not break/

/Tell a tale/Sing a song/Crack a joke/Take a fall/Whatever will turn/the arrows from your heart/

/You must tame the fire/You must calm her wrath/You must guide her/Away from her mother's path/Lest history repeat/And tragedy result/

/Slayer of your mother/Savior of your nation/Wearer of Masks/Wherever he goes/You know not/Whether to be glad/He saved your sister/and your home/Or angry/That he took your mother/From you/And so you watch/And wait/But trust not/

/Of your flesh/You make a tool/A mask of your own/Many masks/That you might know/What is going on/That you might not/Be surprised again/

/Spider in the center/of a far-stretching web/ waiting/ watching/ listening/ to every disturbance/taking the strands/and weaving them/to something new/

/The king is dead/Long live the king/But what secrets/Did he leave behind/What fearful legacy/will you grasp?/And when you do/what use will it have?/

/A secret/once shared/is a secret no more/Your father/never used it/but passed it on/but for what purpose?/It is a key/but to what lock?/And when should it come/out of the shadows/and into the light?/

/Weaver of webs/tangler of plots/tangled now/by chains you cannot break/chains you cannot touch/which bring you joy/but were not of your own making/chains that must be hidden/for they are chains/that should not be/

/Mountains grim/Mountains dark/hide a secret/in their heart/The resting place/of a star/the hiding place/of a sword/the birthing place/of ancient race/Yet secrets yet remain/when truth comes to light/

/That is not dead/which did not die/but within hidden places/doth lie/until its day/shall come again/to seek revenge/blood spilt/leads to spilt blood/where one did not suffice/another may do the trick/

/Hide your cards/until it's time/to lay them on the table/and win the game/but when is it time/to lay them down?/Show too early/and lose the game/wait too long/and lose as well/Wait not too long/nor too little/
 

From Nanami's Chapter:

/Lonely child/born to die/born to be/a blood sacrifice/to avenge deaths/to avenge hurts/to worsen wounds/you never saw/

/You gave hate for hate/spite for spite/scream for scream/fire burning within you/against fires without/unloved/unloving/except for two/who saw beyond/the ring of fire/

/Only one dared/to stand in your name/in the ashen days/of youth/and you loved him/more than anything/in all the world/He lived for you/you would die for him/or kill./

/You burned to know/secrets of ancient lore/to give you power/to give you freedom/to give you vengeance/to rain down death/on all you hated/for their hatred of you/

/You sought the death/of your mother's slayer/knowing nothing/caring nothing/but that he took her/from you/and made your life/a hell/But all he did/was laugh at your vengeance/and spank you/

/So you laid deeper plots/wheels within wheels/traps within traps/that none could escape/which included you/when he put you in them/

/Time passed/hatreds cooled/spite faded/the wheel turned/and into your life/came a great mystery/

/He served your brother/he wished to serve you/like a puppy/following you around/You'd drowned/the last puppy/or was that/someone else?/

/Yet puppy persisted/and to your shock/you found you liked his presence/you liked his smile/you liked his faithfulness/and he liked you/no one ever liked you/but your elder shadow/

/And so you saw/another way/another road/another path/to follow/

/And so you wove/the deepest web of all/the greatest game of all/reaching for the greatest prize/not for you/but for the one you loved/yet when it came within his grasp/he let it slip/

/But to you/he gave a prize/a gift of his power/a city to mold/a city to cleanse/and you set to it/with a will/

/First comes love/then comes sex/then comes a bun in the oven/a child you never expected/a tiny miracle/a tiny disaster/

/You were not ready/you knew what to do/except that you/would not do/as had been done/unto you/you did your best/but still don't understand/how he became/the way he is/What child of yours/is this?/Perhaps he is/his father's son/more than yours/

/Keen of eye/sharp of tongue/you know more than you tell/and see more than is known/but your wisdom/remains your own/for all fear/the angry sage/

/Hatred for your savior/compassion for your killer/a dangerous game to play/but it's a game/you can't forsake/for few have the strength/to hate their mother/a weakness/prone to exploitation/

/Five chains bind you/three of love/one of memories/one of hate/forged of spite/and memories still fresh/You cannot let go of any/but can't keep all/Which will you choose?/
 

===============
 

From Miki's Chapter:

/Threefold the oracles of water are
to him belongs the grace of the peaceful ocean
to him belongs the music of the crashing waves
gently, he moves, the sea at peace/

/He sings with open heart
he walks with open mind
he sees with open eyes
and music follows him/

/His smile melts the coldest heart
his words draw home the distant one
he bends, but does not break
until he is given no choice/

/Thrice he has known love
    One he could not have
    One he did not want
    One who loved him too
But the Final Notes of their Song
are not yet Writ/

/Man of two cities
Man of one heart
What will he do when his world tears apart?
Follow his blood?
Follow his love?
Follow the road that leads into the light?
Or be dragged down the road
that leads to the dark?/

/Blood calls to blood
Music calls to the musician
Each grasps an arm
And between them, he is tugged
Which will he choose?
Who will pay the price?
Can any man escape the war of Destiny and Fate?/

/Who will he betray?
Love conquers all
And the triad is shattered
And the spiral into darkness begins/

/Hatred
Revenge
Betrayal
The Whirlpool rises
to swallow them/

/Yet the final notes have yet to be writ/

/For his three loves still roam free
They hold the keys
To set him free
From chains forged of music
That he might not fall
into the land
where the shadows are/

/Let songs of love
fight songs of hate
let it be a beacon
to guide the ships to shore
the caravans to home
the travellers to their destination
Sing, sing to the mountains
That they may echo their reply/

/Point and Counterpoint
The Darkness within
The Darkness without
Yields to the Light
Day Divides the Night
Night surrounds the Day
Beacons can guide home
Or onto the rocks/
 

From Kozue's Chapter

/Pity the child
whose parents could care not
if she lived or died/

/Pity the child
born to apathy
raised to derision
matured unseen and uncaring/

/Pity the child
who shouts at the world
when the world is silent/

/The rage of the ocean
is hers to command
and the allure of the seas
is the sword in her hands/

/She knows why sailors abandon all
to know the embrace of the sea
to feel the water beneath them
the waves the mother who rocks them to sleep/

/Middle child she is
Music draws her to the land
Understanding draws her to the sea
Only they understand/

/But the tides pull in different directions
Blood calls to blood
But what can one choose
When blood divides?/

/She is the wolf who hunts
she is the hound who protects
she is the sea
which gives life
and takes it away/

/The edge of a blade
slices the ties
and drives the wolf out to prey
until she is ready
to avenge her loss/

/Betrayed by her own blood
her course is chosen for her
but it is not the course
they think they chose for her/

/She will have vengeance
she will extract blood
the price will be paid
a thousand fold/

/But can she escape
the whirlpool of fate?
Mother and children alike
slowly circle
into the jaws of Leviathan/

/But one light yet remains
for there is no taint
which cannot be purged
there is no wound
which cannot be healed
And the fruit of her sin
may yet be her redemption.
 

From Derith's Chapter

/They said he had/his father's eyes/to see what could be/and make it so/

/They said he had/his mother's hands/to shape the clay/and work his will/

/Student of the ancient lore/weilder of the ancient blade/seeker of the
ancient secrets/bearer of an ancient eye/champion of an ancient
city/wedded to the sea/

/He turns his back on the past/and gazes into his future/to see a vision
of the world made clean/of his city freed from slavery/and so he turns/to find the key/

/But he sees chains where none exist/ghosts behind him/phantoms before
him/he sees all/yet sees nothing/

/What is to become of a liberator of those already free?/If no chains
existed, it would be necessary to invent them/They shall sell him the rope with which they will be hung/

/He passed the test of the gate/into that madness he will not fall/but
there are many doors/and many staircases which open the way to them/

/Blood betrayed him/The land of his birth betrayed him/And in the end, his lore betrays him too/

/He raises his hand and grasps the eye/he raises his hand and gazes
above/he grabs the world/and makes it his garment/he grabs the world and
bends it to his will/He shatters the chains binding his love to the world he hates/

/And so he sets it free/free from safety/free from protection/free from
all that shields it/

/His dream is come to full flower/but how long the dream/that turns not into nightmare?/Is his strength enough?/Is his vision keen enough?/Is his arm long enough?/

/Or is the chasm at world's end/to forever bar the way/to fair Cathuria?/

/The answer is not to be found/in ancient lore/and that may yet be his
bane/
 

===============
 
 
 


The Prophecies of the Unicorn

The Prophecies of the Unicorn form the main holy text of the Cult of the Unicorn, and a great riddle which Amberite mystics and scholars struggle to unlock to this day.  It consists of thirteen chapters of varying length, each of which is divided into verses of varying length, although the number of verses is always a multiple of thirteen.  The verses range from single line sayings to thirteen page long stories or parables.  Each chapter is named after something prominent in it.

While the Cult of the Unicorn treats it as a religious document, many Amberites use it as a fortunetelling tool, whether by opening it randomly or using complex methods to either randomly select passages or to turn people's names into passages.

Some samples from the Prophecies:

"Love will surely find a way..to make trouble."  Turtle 34

"The time will come when the mountains will fall, when the wind will cease to blow, when the seas will empty and the sun will fall from the sky, when the forests will perish, and the dead shall walk.  Then the adults will follow and the children will lead.  But not today." Tiger 28.

"The Lion and the Unicorn were fighting for the crown.
The Lion whipped the Unicorn all around the town.
But when the smoke cleared, there was no longer a crown to be had.
And so the Unicorn was very sad, but the Lion was very glad.
While the Unicorn mourned, the Lion stole the crown.
Ashes to Ashes, all fall down."  Lion 1
"Old Age and Trickery will always defeat Youth and Enthusiasm, the Lion said."  Lion 2

"I say thee nay, the Unicorn replied.  For Spring always defeats Winter.  If not, all would perish."  Lion 3

"Then perhaps all is best dead, the Lion replied.  Then the Serpent strangled him for his impertinence.  But he did not die.  No, Lion then went to the land of the dead to learn the secret of Death, that he might have life everlasting.  But was life everlasting really such a good idea?"  Lion 4

"One day, I gazed into the mirror, and looked upon myself.  Yet, it was not myself, for the me in the mirror was backwards.  Nor was it myself, because it was enslaved to my will.  I could make it do anything I wanted.  But then I wondered...was it thinking the same thing?  Perhaps it was looking at me, and thinking that I was its puppet.  Had someone chained us together?  Enslaved us to dance in unison for eternity?  Unable to be free to change?  What if I decided to be the backwards one?  I could not.  And so I resolved to shatter the mirror, for the mirror must crack, if the reflection is ever to be set free of its slavery."  Mirror 1.

"Look and see, the Queen sacrifices her daughter to strike at her husband.  There can be no forgiveness."
"Death comes from the sky when the eldest king finally falls."
"Five they are, the Children of the Elements, and when they come, then one knows that the End of Days is upon us."
"The daughter of the sea falls before the golden blade.  Let us weep for her."
"Brother will lift hand against sister, and many will fall by the hands of their own kin..."
"And lo, the prodigal returns, but there is none to greet him on his coming."
"Seek ye the Star of Light in the deepest pits of the mad god."
"Look, the land wars against the sea, and both sink in flames."
"And I saw a red rider, and from his hand blazed death."
"When the sea turns to blood, then shall come the second day of Darkness, when all the world will take up arms against Amber."
"Even the purest of hearts can be fooled, and ill come of it."
"All that can be opened can be shut."
Mirror 8


The Serpent of Chaos

Rumor speaks of a Serpent of Chaos who watches over Chaos as the Unicorn watches over Amber.  His powers or appearance (besides being a snake) is unknown.


Spikards

Legends speak of these items, rings which draw magical power from Shadow, granting fantastic powers to those who wear them.  These legends claim the Spikards pre-date the Pattern and the Logrus, that they were used to make those Icons.  It is said that whoever controls all of them will become a god.  Then again, legends also claim one of the Chaos houses is descended from a cow...

The number of spikards remains debated.  Scholars currently believe thirteen exist.  Amberite legends identify six, possibly seven of them:

Magnus the Unseen:  This spikard made its wearer absolutely undetectable by any means but another spikard, and granted its wearer power over the minds of others.  Prince Van perished in battle against the dragon who wore this spikard, which was never found.

During the Annadil Crisis, it was revealed to have been recovered by Kozue, who lost it to Embra-Derith.  Drake cut off Embra-Derith's arm and now wears it, wherever exactly he is.

Gaerthos:  The Ring of Tides:  Queen Moire is known to wear this Spikard.  It grants her great power over the ocean, to change the tides and currents, to make the sea rage or calm it.  She is known to have once destroyed an entire fleet with a single gesture.  It is believed lost with Rebma.

Silya:  The Ring of Wood:  This was possessed by the royal family of Harad, and passed to Queen Haruka when she married Gendo.  After her murder, it was never recovered.  It granted great power over green and growing things, and power to reshape or destroy wood.

The Breath of the Dragon:  This spikard granted its wearer the ability to generate many forms of deadly gases and energy.  Legend claims Fuyutsuki did battle with its wearer, a Lord of Chaos named Keele many centuries ago during the first years of Amber.  The ring supposedly was destroyed in the battle.  However, it has now resurfaced in the hands of Princess Hiko, who defends Arden with it.

The Master Spikard:  This Spikard was used to make all other spikards, the legends say, but it was lost with Annadil beyond the Gate of Revolution.

Vilya, the Ring of Air:  The ring of air is a band of white gold depicting a flying winged Unicorn.  It is attuned to magics which produce wind and movement.    Queen Anthy wears this Spikard.

Rathos:  The Ring of Passions:  Said to have once been worn by Casanunda, the world's greatest Dwarf lover, it's current fate is unknown.  It was believed to make everyone love its wearer.

Many speculate that Fuyutsuki bears a spikard himself, one he used to overcome The Breath of the Dragon long ago.  If so, its powers remain unknown.
 
 


Technology in Amber

Technology in Amber is at roughly a Renaissance level, without gunpowder. Steam engines do work, but a practical fuel which could fill the role of coal in the industrial revolution is lacking, keeping them expensive toys. (Amber has no coal deposits, and imported coal will not burn for reasons unknown). Water power is the most common substitute for muscle power, used in mills and some forms of craft production. Amberites have, however, advanced to a much higher level of skill in chemistry and medicine than in Earth's Renaissance.

In recent years, a joint project of several princes has brought about a major technological break through:  Zeppelins.  Amber now has a large air fleet and conducts some of its cross shadow trade by those means.  One can ride in comfort and grace to all the Golden Circle in the great white blimps of Amber.


Trump Decks

The 'Standard' Amber Trump Deck for this chronicle contains:

Cards with a [] around them are found only in older trump decks, since the person they show is dead or lost in Rebma.  Fuyutsuki also generally provides every member of the Royal family with a Trump of their bedroom in the palace.


The Unicorn

The origins of the Unicorn remain debatable.  It definitely predates Amber, and probably assisted Fuyutsuki in creating the Pattern.  Many Amberites worship it as a god, and all Amberites know that it watches out for Amber.  Most have never seen it and never will, but it tends to manifest itself at times of crisis.  Amber City has a great Chapel of the Unicorn where High Priest Geo presides over the Unicorn Cult.  There is also known to be a Grove of the Unicorn in Arden where the Unicorn sometimes appears to those who seek it.

The Cult of the Unicorn is the great civic religon of Amber; by participating, the participants also re-pledge allegiance to Amber itself.  For many people, the Cult provides the great civic celebrations and eight major festivals a year (roughly every 45 days). These festivals effectively mark the start of each of the eight Amberite months.

Many people practice other faiths in conjunction with it.  Some people are rather more devout, which wins them a mixture of respect and exasperation.  All of the Golden Circle shadows are required to tolerate the Unicorn Cult, and many join in with some degree of enthusiasm.


Unicorn Tracks/White Roads and Narwhale Currents/Sea Lanes/Alicorn Winds

The origin of the White Roads is unknown.  At some point in the past, some force burned roads through some of the shadows on the Amberite side of Yig.  Legends claim they're made by the movement of the Unicorn through Shadow, but it's been seen travelling about without creating any such roads.  Thus, their origins remain a mystery.

Similar routes through Shadow exist at sea, known as Narwhale Currents. (Rumors speak of Alicorn Winds as well, but few Amberites can fly to find them).


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Last Update March 20, 2001