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Nine Princes in Amber, Abridged

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So I woke up in this hospital with nothing but a lot of aches and pains and my resplendent wit. The nurse wanted to stick me full of sedatives, but after sleeping on and off for a few centuries, I was really looking for more of an upper. After a frank exchange of views with the hospital administration, I limped out of there with the address of my sister, some money, and a gun. And, of course, these guns.

I winced. "I got the joke. Do you have to kiss it, Dad?"

"What's the matter, Junior?" he said. "Emasculated in the presence of a real Prince of Amber?"

"I told you, my name is Merlin." I said. "Just get on with the story."

Dad shrugged. "Well, eventually I made it to Flora's, and I noticed, first of all, phew, she knows how to dress, and she sure fills out that dress nice. Have you seen her, Junior? I mean, off the battlefield."

"She's my aunt." I mumbled, not sure what else to say.

"Like that sort of thing would ever stop Corwin." said Random, not turning his head.

"Aren't you busy trying to save the universe?" said Dad in annoyance. Random didn't reply. "Thought so." said Dad, taking another swig of wine.

Well, according to Florimel, my name was really "Corwin of Amber". I didn't see why I would've been named after a cheat code from a 1994 computer game, but I was a little too busy trying to convince her that I knew absolutely anything about was going on to ask that sort of question. I did a bang-up job of convincing her, actually. The next day I remembered how good I am at medicine and swords. It turns out I'm good at everything. You have good genes, Junior, and ought to be thankful you got them twice over, what with me being both your dad and your great-great-great-half-uncle.

Eventually I found Flora's Trumps, which allowed me to admire a proper rendering of myself, and also stare daggers at my hated brother Eric and his horrible handsome, beautiful, gorgeous face. Obviously these things were part of some kind of children's card game, but I couldn't find anything about them on BoardGameGeek. I was inspecting Deirdre's card with particular care when I got a surprise phone call from your uncle Random.

"Listen, Corey," he said, "I'm in big trouble. Can I crash with you guys?"

I was too busy feeling relieved that Random wasn't some kind of wacky kid-appeal character who was constantly talking about robot monkey ninja zombies, as his name suggested, to pay close attention, but I managed to say "What sort of trouble?"

"I'm not sure." he said. "Roger hasn't written that book yet."

"Oh no, are we in a trilogy?" I said.

"That's what I'm hoping," he said, "but I fear the worst."

"Ugh. Well, get over here as fast as you can."

While I waited, I joined Flora for another little smoke-and-drink, my fifth of the day, or maybe the sixth.

"Here's to feelin' good all the time." she said, doing another shot.

I became contemplative. "Y'know Wolverine?" I said, taking a bite of a cannabis brownie.

"Who?" she said, arranging some cocaine on a mirror.

"The little guy with the claws from the comic books." I said, searching for a vein on my arm. I felt a kinship with Wolverine; like me, he was witty, subject to questionable medical treatment, nasty in a fight, amnesiac, beloved by all, and not quite American. "He's got this so-called healing factor that means he can be perfectly healthy even if he smokes three packs a day and drinks like a fish. So why does anything get him high in the first place?"

"He still feels all the same pain from being wounded, even if the wounds heal quickly, doesn't he?" said Flora, getting a lighter and one of her less nice spoons.

"Yes, I suppose it's only fair." I agreed, taking a sip of tea.

At that point our little sewing circle was broken up by Random crashing in at a great random (get it, Junior?). We quickly dispatched the trash mobs that had been chasing him.