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Zelazny, Roger - Amber 07 - Blood of Amber

Zelazny, Roger - Amber 07 - Blood of Amber

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Zelazny, Roger, Blood of Amber
Zelazny, Roger, Blood of Amber

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Published by: mikerw on Feb 03, 2009
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09/29/2012

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BLOODOFAMBETHEAMBERCHRONICLES-BOOKSEVENRogerZelaznyREFLECTIONSINACRYSTALCAVEMylifehadbeenrelativelypeacefulforeightyears-notcountingAprilthirtieths,whensomeoneinvariablytriedtokillme.Outsideofthat,myacademiccareerwithitsconcentrationoncomputer sciencewentwellenoughandmyfouryearsemploymentatGrandDesignprovedarewardingexperience,lettingmeusewhatI’dlearnedinasituationIlikedwhileIlaboredonaprojectofmyownontheside.IhadagoodfriendinLukeRaynard,whoworkedforthesamecompany,insales.Isailedmylittleboat,Ijoggedregularly.ItallfellapartthispastApril30,justwhenIthoughtthingswereabouttocometogether.Mypet project,Ghostwheel,wasbuilt;I’dquitmyjob,packedmygearandwasreadytomoveontogreenershadows.I’dstayedintownthislongonlybecausethatmorbidlyfascinatingdaywasnear,andthistimeIintendedtodiscoverwhowasbehindtheattemptsonmylifeandwhy.AtbreakfastthatmorningLukeappearedwithamessagefrommyformergirlfriend,Julia.Hernotesaidthatshewantedtoseemeagain.SoIstoppedbyherplace,whereIfoundherdead,apparentlykilledbythesamedoglikebeastwhichthenattackedme.Isucceededindestroyingthecreature.AquicksearchoftheapartmentbeforeIfledthescenefumedupaslimpacketofstrangeplayingcards,whichItookalongwithme.TheyweretoomuchlikethemagicalTarotsofAmberandChaosforasorcerersuchasmyselfnottobeinterestedinthem.Yes.Iamasorcerer.IamMerlin,sonofCorwinofAmberandDaraoftheCourtsofChaos,knowntolocalfriendsandacquaintancesasMerleCorey:bright,charming,witty,athletic....GoreadCastiglioneandLordByronforparticulars,asI’mmodest,aloofandreticent,aswell.Thecardsprovedtobegenuinemagicalobjects,whichseemedappropriateonceIlearnedthatJuliahadbeenkeepingcompanywithanoccultistnamedVictorMelmanafterwehadbrokenup.Avisittothisgentleman’sstudioresultedinhisattemptingtokillmeinaritualfashion.Iwasabletofreemyselffromtheconstraintsoftheceremonyandquestionhimsomewhat,beforelocalconditionsandmyenthusiasmresultedinhisdeath.Somuchforrituals.I’dlearnedenoughfromhimtorealizethathe’dbeenbutacat’s-paw.Someoneelsehadapparently puthimuptothesacrificebit-anditseemedquitepossiblethattheotherpersonwastheoneresponsibleforJulia’sdeathandmycollectionofmemorableAprilthirtieths.Ihadsmalltimetoreflectuponthesematters,though,becauseIwasbitten(yes,bitten)shortlythereafterbyanattractivered-hairedwomanwhomaterializedinMelman’sapartment,followingmy brieftelephoneconversationwithherinwhichI’dtriedtoposeasMelman.Herbiteparalyzedme, butIwasabletodepartbeforeittookfulleffectbyemployingoneofthemagicalcardsI’dfoundatJulia’splace.Itboremeintothepresenceofasphinx,whichpermittedmetorecoversothatitcould playthatsillyriddlegamesphinxeslovesowellbecausetheygettoeatyouwhenyoulose.AllIcansayaboutitisthatthisparticularsphinxwasabadsport.
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Anyhow,IreturnedtotheshadowEarthwhereI’dbeenmakingmyhometodiscoverthatMelman’s placehadburneddownduringmyabsence.ItriedphoningLuke,becauseIwantedtohavedinner withhim,andlearnedthathehadcheckedoutofhismotel,leavingmeamessageindicatingthathehadgonetoNewMexicoonbusinessandtellingmewherehe’dbestaying.Thedeskclerkalsogavemeablue-stoneringLukehadleftbehind,andItookitwithmetoreturnwhenIsawhim.ISewtoNewMexico,finallycatchingupwithLukeinSantaFe.WhileIwaitedinthebarforhimtogetreadyfordinner,amannamedDanMartinezquestionedme,givingtheimpressionthatLukehadproposedsomebusinessdealandthathewantedtobeassuredLukewasreliableandcoulddeliver.Afterdinner,LukeandIwentforadriveinthemountains.Martinezfollowedusandstartedshootingaswestoodadmiringthenight.Perhapshe’ddecidedLukewasnotreliableorcouldn’tdeliver.LukesurprisedmebydrawingaweaponofhisownandshootingMartinez.Thenanevenstrangerthinghappened.Lukecalledmebyname-myrealname,whichI’dnevertoldhim-andcitedmyparentageandtoldmetogetintothecarandgetthehellout.Heemphasizedhispointbyplacingashotinthegroundnearmyfeet.ThematterdidnotseemopentodiscussionsoIdeparted.HealsotoldmetodestroythosestrangeTrumpsthathadsavedmylifeoncealready.AndI’dlearnedonthewayupthathe’dknownVictorMelman....Ididn’tgofar.Iparkeddownhillandreturnedonfoot.Lukewasgone.SowasMartineisbody.Lukedidnotreturntothehotel,thatnightorthenextday,soIcheckedoutanddeparted.Theonly personIwassureIcouldtrust,andwhoactuallymighthavesomegoodadviceforme,wasBillRoth.BillwasanattorneywholivedinupstateNewYork,andhehadbeenmyfather’sbestfriend.Iwenttovisithim,andItoldhimmystory.BillgotmetowonderingevenmorcaboutLuke.Luke,bytheway,isabig,smart,red-hairednaturalathleteofuncannyprowess-andthoughwe’dbeenfriendsformanyyearsIknewnexttonothing(asBillpointedout)concerninghisbackground.AneighboringladnamedGeorgeHansenbeganhangingoutnearBill’splace,askingstrangequestions.Ireceivedanoddphonecall,askingsimilarquestions.Bothinterrogatorsseemedcuriousastomymother’sname.Naturally,Ilied.Thefactthatmymotherisamemberofthedark aristocracyoftheCourtsofChaoswasnoneoftheirbusiness.Butthecallerspokemylanguage,Thari,whichmademecuriousenoughtoproposeameetingandatrade-offofinformationthateveninginthebarofthelocalcountryclub.ButmyUncleRandom,KingofAmber,calledmehomebeforethat,whileBillandIwereouthiking.GeorgeHansen,itturnedout,wasfollowingusandwantedtocomealongasweshiftedawayacrosstheshadowsofreality.Tough;hewasn’tinvited.ItookBillalongbecauseIdidn’twanttoleavehimwithanyoneactingthatpeculiar.IlearnedfromRandomthatmyUncleCainewasdead,ofanassassin’sbullet,andthatsomeonehadalsotriedtokillmyUncleBleysbutonlysucceededinwoundinghim.ThefuneralserviceforCainewouldbethefollowingday.Ikeptmydateatthecountryclubthatevening,butmymysteriousinterrogatorwasnowhereinsight.Allwasnotlost,however,asImadetheacquaintanceofaprettyladynamedMegDevlin-and,onethingleadingtoanother,Isawherhomeandwegottoknoweachotheralotbetter.Then,atamomentwhenIwouldhavejudgedherthoughtstobeanywherebutthere,sheaskedmemymother’sname.So,whatthehell,Itoldher.ItdidnotcometomeuntillaterthatshemightreallyhavebeenthepersonI’dgonetothebartomeet.Ourliaisonwasterminatedprematurelybyacallfromthelobby-fromamanpurportedlyMeg’shusband.Ididwhatanygentlemanwoulddo.Igotthehelloutfast.
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MyAuntFiona,whoisasorceress(ofadifferentstylefrommyown),hadnotapprovedofmydate.AndapparentlysheapprovedevenlessofLuke,becausesheaskedmewhetherIhadapictureof himafterI’dtoldhersomewhatconcerninghim.IshowedheraphotoIhadinmywallet,whichincludedLukeinthegroup.I’dhaveswornsherecognizedhimfromsomewhere,thoughshewouldn’tadmitit.ButthefactthatsheandherbrotherBleysbothdisappearedfromAmberthatnightwouldseemmorethancoincidental.Thepaceofeventswasacceleratedevenmoreafterthat.Acrudeattemptatknockingoffmostofthefamilywithathrownbombwasmadethenextday,followingCaine’sfuneral.Thewould-beassassinescaped.Later,RandomwasupsetatabriefdemonstrationonmypartofthepoweroftheGhostwheel,mypetproject,myhobby,myavocationduringthoseyearsatGrandDesign.Ghostwheelisa-well,itstartedoutasacomputerthatrequiredadifferentsetofphysicallawstooperatethanthoseI’dlearnedinschool.Itinvolvedwhatmightbecalledmagic.ButIfoundaplacewhereitcouldbebuiltandoperated,andI’dconstructeditthere.Itwasstillprogrammingitself whenI’dleftit.Itseemedtohavegonesentient,andIthinkitscaredRandom.Heorderedmetogoandturnitoff.Ididn’tmuchliketheidea,butIdeparted.IwasfollowedinmypassagethroughShadow;Iwasharassed,threatenedandevenattacked.Iwasrescuedfromafirebyastrangeladywholaterdiedinalake.Iwasprotectedfromviciousbeasts byamysteriousindividualandsavedfromabizarreearthquakebythesameperson-whoturnedouttobeLuke.Heaccompaniedmetothefinalbarrier,foraconfrontationwithGhostwheel.Mycreationwasabitirritatedwithmeandbanishedusbymeansofashadow-storm-athingitisnotfuntobecaughtin,withorwithoutanumbrella.Ideliveredusfromthevicissitudesbymeansofoneof theTrumpsofDoom,asI’ddubbedtheoddpasteboardsfromJulia’sapartment.Wewoundupoutsideabluecrystalcave,andLuketookmein.GoodoldLuke.Afterseeingtomyneedsheproceededtoimprisonme.Whenhetoldmewhohewas,IrealizedthatitwasaresemblancetohisfatherwhichhadupsetFionawhenshe’dseenhisphoto.ForLukewasthesonof Brand,assassinandarchtraitor,whohaddamnneardestroyedthekingdomandtherestoftheuniversealongwithitsomeyearsback.Fortunately,Cainehadkilledhimbeforehe’daccomplishedhisdesigns.Luke,Ilearnedthen,wastheonewho’dkilledCaine,toavengehisfather.(Anditturnedouthe’dgottenthenewsofhisfather’sdeathonanAprilthirtiethandhadhadapeculiarwayofobservingitsanniversaryovertheyears.)LikeRandom,hetoohadbeenimpressedbymyGhostwheel,andhetoldmethatIwastoremainhisprisoner,asImightbecomenecessaryinhisefortstogaincontrolofthemachine,whichhefeltwouldbetheperfectweaponfordestroyingtherestofthefamily.Hedepartedtopursuethematter,andIquicklydiscoveredthatmypowerswerecanceledbysome peculiarpropertyofthecave,leavingmewithnoonetotalktobutyou,Frakir,andnooneherefoyoutostrangle...Wouldyoucaretohearafewbarsof“OvertheRainbow”?1Ithrewthehiltawayafterthebladehadshattered.Theweaponhaddonemenogoodagainstthat blueseaofawallinwhatIhadtakentobeitsthinnestsection.Afewsmallchipsofstonelayatmyfeet.Ipickedthemupandrubbedthemtogether.Thiswasnotthewayoutforme.TheonlywayoutseemedtobethewayIhadcomein,anditwasn’tworking.
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