I've often wondered if I've ever been married. I remember dalliances of course, lovers surely, but I don't recall that special place eternal damnation known as matrimony.
The boss received an invite to a wedding. I swear he spent half an hour looking at the thing and wondering who the fuck would invite him to a wedding. It was the marriage of Sir Garrett, some high-ranking stooge in the Arden rangers, and some bink named Leona.
The boss decided to dress in black, for which of course he caught shit from Flora. She outright forbade me from even attending. Fortunately, it was an outdoor wedding, so I was able to watch from the nearby trees. So, as a big summary, I'd have to say that the wedding was boring as all hell. They'd managed to get the high muckity-muck of the Unicorn Church, Archeon some shit or other, to officiate the thing. Duke Rolfe, Eric's 2-by-4 of a kid was up there in gleaming armor as a witness. The boss's brother, Mallory, was up representing their father, Benedict in the line-up of the royal family. The boss stood near the back, and managed to create sort of a buffer between himself and everyone else.
I noticed he kept within spitting distance of Sophia, another one of his cousins. Sophia is the epitome of "angular chick". You look at her one way and you think, "Wow, she's gorgeous." Look at her another way and you think, "Dear lord, there should be laws against ugly sticks." I guess it's not her fault. The boss says she's been scarred by acid. All I can say is I'm glad she wears a veil out in public. I prefer my rotting carcasses dead and snackable.
To be fair to Sophia, she does have one redeeming virtue. She sells shiny things. Infrequently the boss will stop by her store to pick up some gewgaw for me. It's one of the things I really look forward to. I feel like some kid in a candy shop. If I could, I'd fucking burst with excitement.
You see, the thing about shiny things is this: they're shiny. You hold them up in the light, and they sparkle with the radiance of heaven. And they're shiny. If you hold them different ways, sometimes they sparkle differently. It's never a dull day when you got something shiny to peck at.
But, anyway... the boss usually gets the expensive shit from her shop. He says that Sophia's business is her only source of income, so he tries to support her in some fashion. I think the boss views her as some sort of kindred soul. Whatever happened to his health, it seems to hang over him. Lord knows he isn't cruising for nookie. Aside from his professional relationships with a few women, and his family members, he seems largely uninterested in the fairer sex. I can't decide if they don't represent a pure challenge to him like his mind games, or if he just doesn't want to be distracted from his war.
Anyway, enough digression. The wedding. Blah, blah, blah. I do. I do. Smooch, smooch.
Then there was the reception. Julian did some toast to the newlyweds. The boss said howdy to the Lady Provost, Maid Marian, and then ducked out into the gardens. I took the opportunity to hit the boss up for some hors d'oeuvre, which he obliged me with.
Out in the garden we got to catch part of some delightful domestic dispute. Two young betrothed lovers having a row. He was in love with her, she wasn't in love with him, and she was married to someone else. Doo-lang, doo-lang, doo-lang.
During this time, storm clouds were gathering. Hardly the most promising of omens. (I'm a raven. I know all about this shit. Really.)
Suddenly, there's a disturbance in the reception, which naturally attracts the boss's attention. He's flocks to that stuff like a raven to a battlefield. No pun intended.
So, there in the middle of all Amber's best and well-dressed guests is this old woman muttering. The boss drew closer and pulled out one of the sound recording crystals he carries around, activating it with a magical phrase. I began to be able to hear what the old woman was saying. It was some sort of chant, which went a bit like this:
What you hold will never last
Sure, I'm a carrion eater, but even I gotta say that's pretty damn morbid. The mood of the party sort of dampened after that. Especially since she keeled over once she repeated herself enough times. Rolfe, in the name of the church, or the military, or whatever happened to be the current stick up his ass, immediately began trying to take control of the situation, and when Mallory brought in Llewella to check out the stiff, Rolfe glommed onto her like a lion after a prize bit of antelope.
Amber's luck is fading fast
Winding curls growing tight
Throbbing with a greater light
Mother cries and mirror breaks
Brother's seed shall sorrow make
As depths below grow opaque
and land above rends and quakes
White face hides, long night bides
Morning dawns and grief reins
Amber's luck by love is slain.
When Rolfe had had enough of being in charge of the body, the Provost and the boss went in and began checking for clues. When the boss found out Fiona planned on doing an autopsy, the boss contacted her via trump and requested to be present for the examination. Later, the boss used "moving the body" as an excuse to leave the party and follow the guards up to Fiona's tower.
Not to digress, again, but I just have to say this about Fiona: eminently fuckable. I may just be biased because she gives me food. But if I was human, I think I'd be quite fond of a little tete a tete with her. Either way, Fiona started carving into the body with the boss assisting, occasionally making small talk over the body or other recent events. (You know... there's just something about a hot woman working with the insides of a dead body. Hubba-hubba.) She occasionally fed me. No, not with the body. In the end the verdict was that the old coot was some Rebman who had channeled so much power through her body she just burnt out.
Afterwards, the boss went home and got a bit of shut-eye. I spent some time reading a bit of time working on my associates degree and digging into my shiny thing stash. Ah, the life of a familiar.
In the morning the boss met up with the Lady Provost. Seems the "he" from the "discussion" in the "garden" killed himself. One less dipshit in the world. Made me think of lunch. And it was only breakfast. There'd been another death by the serial killer that the boss believed existed in Amber. Which is high on the list of, "Don't ask the boss too many questions because it'll just piss him off." Seems whoever is killing these women is taking the time to remove all forensic evidence from the bodies. Which the boss interprets as a jab straight at him, since he's gone through great pains to advance criminal investigation in Amber.
So, off to the scene of the crime. Yup, she was dead. The boss poked around. Found a distinct lack of clues. Looked annoyed. Headed home. He sent off a bit of correspondence to, of all people, Caine's wanker of a brat Jolan. Basically an opening chess move. The boss thinks the wanker might be useful since there seems to be some emnity between Jolan and Mallory. I guess the chess move was a test. The boss finished up with his correspondence and such, and went to bed early as he was heading down to Rebma.
Next morning he changes into some Rebma-appropriate clothes, and heads on down to the city beneath the sea, leaving me to my own devices.
He won't miss those cigarettes anyway.
Anyway, did some more reading. The boss came back, and then we (or, rather, he) rode a horse out to the boonies of Amber to talk to the ambassadors of Eirea. I just rode on his shoulder. Apparently their shadow got turned into so much ick when the Courts of Chaos decided to lay siege to Amber.
Okay, I realize I should take a brief moment to talk about the Dark and the Courts of Chaos. Yes, that's a capital D, folks.
A while back, probably five to ten-ish years, Amber was involved in a war with a place called the Courts of Chaos. Ominous, eh? Seems the Courts of Chaos also thinks that everything if but a reflection of them, and they wanted to destroy Amber. Not sure if the two are necessarily related, though. For all I know Chaos just wanted to prove they had bigger dicks.
Anyway, that five-to-ten-ish years is only five-to-ten-ish if, towards the end of the battle, you went through with Benedict et al to the other end of reality to give Chaos the old what-for. Otherwise, if you were in Amber, life began to suck. For something like 30 years, Amber was under siege. It was sealed off from nearly everything else by this huge shadow storm, and big nasty things started pouring through.
So, Mr. Congeniality, Rolfe, managed to nab one of these things alive. We'd thought they were Chaos demon thingummies, but really they were The Dark.
And they were the eternal enemy of Amber. Why? Because they were. Eternally.
Really. That's all we got from them. And here you thought this shit only happened in B movies. Sucker.
The boss was horribly curious about the Dark. They adapted very well to everything that the boss and other people came up with to ward them away. First Pattern made them burst into flames, then it didn't. Then these wards the boss made against them worked, and then they didn't. The boss continued to be fascinated. The challenge of the puzzle kept him off the stuff for years at a time. Even now he continues to try and unravel the mystery of the problem.
Slowly, Amber lost the war until there was only the city. And then the storm abated and all the armies of Amber returned from the Courts of Chaos and helped fight off those thingies of the Dark that weren't already withering and dying.
Yeah, just one of those sordid little interludes.
So, in the process of this, Eirea got lambasted and only a small number of their people were still around, and they were looking for a new home. In the meantime they were hanging out near Arden. The boss says their ambassador approached him at the wedding and asked for his assistance in finding a new shadow for them to live in. Apparently they were pretty picky about the damn thing, since they wanted it to look exactly like their old place, but not have other people there. And they wanted it close to Amber. Pick, pick, pick, pick, pick.
I mean, really: You could have some place better than your old shadow. New geography, change of scenery, more pleasant weather, better natural resources. And what do you ask for? Same old shit you had before. Jackasses.
Anyway, the boss met with them, talked about what they were looking for, and then rode his horse off into shadow. We spent a couple days out there just sort of moseying around. Headed back. The boss isn't exactly the most skilled of shadowwalkers. It's not his area of excellence, you might say. However, he did manage to run some tests to detect for the Dark.
The boss sounds like he's done checking his mail, so I'm ending this here.
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