A Task From Father
Many were the invasions that tried to breach the Amber. Some were a bloodletting. Countless others were repulsed with ease. Many were the invaders. Each strange. Unique. All, in the end, futile But one, we do not like to speak about. Ah, the horde of Waldonia. I bet you two don’t know about that one. Among invasions, that one was truly one of a kind.
It all began a while ago as these things go, when father still ruled supreme in Amber and brother Corwin hadn’t gone missing yet courtesy of our dearly departed ‘King’ Eric. Father seemed jumpy to me though he hid it with his usual hammy smile. All my older brothers and sisters wisely kept quiet and found all sorts of ‘important stuff’ to busy themselves with. Not I though. I was bored silly at the time and foolishly dared to ask father what’s gotten him so bothered. To my surprise a big, fat smile spread over his handsome face and he exclaimed “Just the man for the job! My son. I have an important task for you. Do not disappoint me, Random!” the last, with the stern face. At least it wasn’t the disappointed face or the far too common annoyed face.
I answered “Yes father!” enthusiastically, chest pumped and eyes shining. I was still very young back then. “What is my task?” I added belatedly. It was too late to back down now. I hoped this task father had for me wasn’t that tough. Maybe I could beg one of my stalwart big brothers for their help? It was a thought. But first I needed to learn all I could about the task.
“Well, you see, there was this girl I met once…” father began. An odd little smile I didn’t want recognize stole onto that stern visage. His eyes shone and he muttered “…kind of cute.” to his half raised palm, his smile growing even wider. Was he even aware I was still standing right in front of him? When I could take it no longer I cleared my throat loudly. He didn’t blush. Not our Oberon. He glared at me instead. I didn’t want to back down. It was his fault. The lecherous old fool. Why should he get annoyed with me? I was the one slighted. This time, I thought, I will speak my mind. I was going to rebuke father for his unbecoming conduct at court and damn the consequences. His lips thinned. “Stop slouching, Random! Show some respect in front of your father and your king. I don’t know where I failed you.” Or maybe not. “Now then, as I was saying, a long long time ago, while I traveled through the far reaches of Shadow, I took shelter for the night in a convenient farm in a curious place called Waldonia. I decided to stay for a while. It had its charms and one thing led to another and now, ahem, a young man possibly claiming to be my son is journeying at the head of his huge army of Waldonians to Amber. Nothing too serious. He’s harmless, I’m sure. But! This could be a hassle for me. Your brother Benedict was in his mother’s belly when all this occurred. It would be bad for the kingdom if rumors about this spread. Can you handle this for me discreetly? For the sake of Amber and your king.”
“How can he be young if he’s as old as Benedict?” I asked confused.
“Oh, you know how Time’s flow differs in different corners of Shadow. Here’s a likeness of him.” He gave me an enameled portrait miniature. It showed a smiling, brown haired man with round glasses, possibly false, wearing red and white sweater and bobble hat, blue pants and walking shoes. He carried a simple walking stick. He didn’t look very impressive.
“Did he walk the Pattern?”
“I see. And what do you wish me to do with him?”
“Get rid him.” There was no hesitation in his voice. “So, Random. You know your task. Will you handle it?”
I wasn’t all that enthusiastic for this task but, all things considered, such a juicy piece of blackmail material could conduce our king to support me during the usual family quarrels for a change. Maybe he’d even feel he owed me a favor if I handled this well for hi,. “Very well,” I bowed grandly to the king. “Leave this matter in my hands.” I didn’t doubt I could handle this small matter. I was a son of Amber and this bastard didn’t seem like much.