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Amber IC - Ed's journal
Amber IC

Growing up in the courts of Chaos was an interesting experience.

I would say I had an 'unusual' upbringing, but such words don't really apply here.

Suffice to say, those from the ordered end of reality would find an interesting conception of the courts.

You see, the Courts of Chaos isn't a specific shadow. More, it's a region of several overlapping shadows close to the primal forms of Chaos. Reality is very malleable around the courts, which leads to some very interesting structures.

As a child, one of my favourites was the never ending stair. Someone had loop in a staircase, such that you could always walk 'up' it. Amongst childhood friends, it was something of an competition to see how many stairs you could go 'up' before stopping.

I later realised, that this was not entirely unlike the works of an artist called Escher. Given the shadows from where he came were fairly rigid, his visions of unusal forms were most remarkable.

The courts were something of a dangerous place though too. There _are_ places where shadow is re-moulded just by will alone. A very dangerous thing to a creative playing child.

To a certain extent though, this sort of thing was considered a selection process. Those that didn't end up trapped or dead were 'worthy' and those that did, well they obviously were doomed to do so sooner or later.

It may seem a very callous attitude, but consider that many of the children of Chaos are what might be considered 'not entirely legitimate'. Whilst there's no doubt that they _had_ parents, it may be inconvenient to claim a relationship.

Gradually, I came to start learning Sorcery. Suhuy is a remarkably talented sorceror, and some of my early tuition was from him. Sorcery also provides a measure of control over shadow. Especially around the courts. It became something of a game to create 'incomprehensible' items. My personal favourite was a stick with only one end. I believe that's still circulating amongst the younger children of House Helgram - it serves the dual purpose of amusing a child, whilst teaching them to appreciate certain things.

There are certain amongst the courts of chaos who seem to be keen on architecture. When you've got a malleable reality, it's quite possible to build some spectacular structures. Mandorways is one of the more impressive examples.

By my reckoning, it was shortly after I hit 20 years of elapsed age that I had my first encounter with an assassination attempt.

Poison is a favoured weapon amongst the courts, and a nasty one because of it - since a large proportion of the courts are also shapeshifters, the poisons necessary to despatch them become very esoteric indeed.

The one I encountered was a pyschic taint, that causes form instability. Even amongst non shapeshifters such as myself. Essentially, the victim loses all control over their shape, and enters a chaotic primal form. Death is slow, but unless there is intervention, fairly certain, as the victim is forced to continually shift every cell in their body until they are exhausted, at which point residual toxins from the poison are sufficiently able to kill.

Thankfully this one I avoided, but it clarified my mind. I did not want to be playing the Great Game. I have no patience for politics and machiavellian machinations. I definitely have no desire to be an expendable pawn. And so I left.

Cutting through shadow with sorcery is a slow process, but you eventually can make your destination. Mine was a close approximation of a shadow once known as earth. That shadow itself is closed now, but it became solid enough to cast it's own shadows.

It was in one of these that I settled. Mostly because I was curious as to the origins of King Merlin. I later found out that that particular shadow was also popular with a number of the royal family of Amber.

After a few years spent messing around, I gradually settled into a lifestyle. I spent some time as an academic, and went on to become a research scientist.

On my occasional contacts with home, I was lampooned somewhat for my interest - after all, why bother studying something that's only relevant in such a limited segment of reality.

In truth, science wasn't the major lesson I was learning. Whilst it's a subject that interests me, it is of somewhat limited relevance, not to mention the fact that scientific analysis is somewhat ironic in the presence of a sorceror.

No, the major thing I learned was a concept of morality and duty. I gradually came to realise that those of the courts of chaos are amongst the most amoral creatures in existance. After all, it's hard to feel any sense of obligation to a shadow, any more than one might feel an obligation to a speck of dust. Over the time I spent, I gained appreciation for the fact that everything has it's value. I became almost maudlin, but in Chaos terms, just because a shadow has no value now, doesn't mean that it should be discarded. I genuinely grew to care about several people I met, and understood the weight of the word 'Duty'.

Maybe that's why I was left alone for many years.
My return to the courts, and thence to Amber was done at the request of a man I greatly respect, admire and as far as such a thing goes, trust. But it was done out of the duty I learned whilst living here.

(And incidentally, there's an interesting set of amber trumps here)
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