Hi. The name's Mortimer. This is my journal.
To start off with, I should explain that I'm a raven. In Flora's neck of the woods that's a Corvus corax, or "common raven". I like to think of myself as kinda uncommon, though.
I work for a guy named Sedgewick Harcourt. He's a noble of this place called Amber. It's a sort of medieval city that's supposed to be the "real world", which creates a whole lot of alternate dimensions. You can find all sorts of things in these dimensions, which the Amberites call "shadows". Space ships, nuclear bombs, all that fun stuff. It's all supposed to be some sort of reflection of Amber.
Yeah, that was kinda my reaction.
So, I'm what you might call a "familiar". A magical servant. The way the boss explains it to me is that I used to be a normal raven, and he summoned forth a spirit to inhabit the body and enhance my intelligence. I think the spirit he summoned, that is my spirit, used to belong to someone out in shadow. Perhaps the dearly departed. I have vague memories of being human.
It's a little odd having some lingering memory of being human, as well as the natural instincts of a raven. Take for example the role of ravens and crows as scavengers. The first time I discovered a dead animal, the first thing I did was start pecking at its eyes. Then I realized, "Holy shit, I'm eating some animal's eyes." I got pretty disgusted with myself. I mean: what the hell kind of person eats the eyes out of a dead animal.
So, I flew off, determined to forget the fact that I just tried to eat some creature's eyes.
A few minutes later, all I could think of was how tasty those eyes were.
Let's just say life is full of little compromises.
Alternately, I don't miss sex a whole lot. I just don't have the right hormones, I guess. And let's just say that avian sex is notably... unsatisfying. And most ravens just aren't great conversationalists. "Pretty bird! Pretty bird!" "Shut the fuck up!"
Anyway, the boss is nobility but he doesn't act much like it. Rather than living in the castle with the rest of his family he has a place out in the city where he can do his research in peace. He's a moody bastard. When he's got something that is interesting him, he chain smokes, and paces around and relishes the joy of having something to challenge his mind.
And then, there will be nothing to do. He'll send off the letters to people he plays chess via mail with. He works on his sculptures. He buys puzzle boxes and the like. And then one day he'll just lock himself in his rooms, light up his pipe and sink away into oblivion as his pupils shrink down to tiny points.
He worries me when he does that. He's a scrawny bastard anyway and I can't imagine his health can be too good. I think he does opiates, but he never takes the time to explain that part of his life to me. He'll surface a day or two later, take some of his "wake up juice" to clear his head, devour the recent news, reply to his mail, wait around for a bit for something interesting, and then lock himself back in.
I suppose I should explain what the boss does: he's an investigator. He advises the city constabulary, does occasional work for individuals in need. Generally snoops around and tries to solve crimes. He considers the criminal mind to be an "excellent whetting stone for honing his mind". The constabulary seems to like him, even though he creeps them out a bit. The hottest days of summer he'll come in bundled in clothes because he never feels warm, clutching his walking stick and carrying a raven on his shoulder, and silently begins investigating the quote "scene of the crime" unquote. More than once people have thought he was Death and had arrived to ferry them to the great hereafter. Had one lady even faint. Once past that people seem to get along with him. I sometimes think the constabulary is just happy he's on their side.
Sometimes I think that the boss considers his work of investigation a war of sorts. The city is his battlefield. His street urchins are his scouts. His soldiers are pimps and whores, thugs and sailors, and his ammunition is a barrage of well placed bribes.
I just wish I knew who the war was with.
He's got a brother, name of Mallory. One of those big ass-kicker types with a sword. Once the boss challenged his brother to a game of chess, and soundly trounced him. I swear the boss smiled for a week straight and didn't touch his vial of dope the whole damn time.
The boss sometimes nicks off into shadow for various things. Sometimes one of his family has a problem in shadow and needs his help solving something. Sometimes he uses the resources out there for his own purposes. One shadow he goes to has a lot of technology and he uses it for his forensics work.
I remember there was one time when the boss's Aunt Flora wanted his help with a matter in her shadow. She lives in this place called New York, and she was working with a guy named Bill Roth on a case for the crown, and the boss was called in to assist. When the job was finished, the boss was invited over to the Roth's place for dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Roth, and Flora.
The boss doesn't like me to talk to most people as he likes to keep my intelligence a secret, so I just parrot out stuff once in a while. At the dinner table I spent most of my time picking food off the boss's plate and relishing the strange looks Mrs. Roth was giving me.
Bill was apparently really impressed by the boss, and at one point even comments, "You know, you're just like a regular Sherlock Holmes."
I swear on all I hold sacred that wine came out of Flora's nose when Bill said that. No shit. She laughed so hard while coughing and trying to breathe. A week later Flora had a copy of The Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes sent to the boss's place. The boss read the whole thing, cover to cover, with what I guess was a mix of chagrin and alarm. He let me read it and I thought it was pretty good. Now she sends him all sorts of gag gifts. Deerstalker caps, pipes, Persian slippers for his tobacco, etc. She's also started sending these other books by a chick called Laurie King who wrote more Sherlock mysteries with some girl named Mary Russell as the narrator. I haven't decided if I like them yet.
The similarity, though, is a little funny, and the books are a hell of a lot more entertaining than boss's books on forensics or the "penny-dreadfuls" he picks up for me at the market once in a while.
Oh, and yes, I read. I'd kinda have to if I was writing this narrative. I bird-nap a lot so I have a lot of time on my hands when the boss is asleep at night. I've been doing a correspondence course through ICS to get a certificate in interior design and my associates degree in hospitality management. When I get those that will make five.
Anyway, the boss is waking up. I think this makes enough of an intro. Toodles.
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