Pssst!
Dworkin Doesn't Like You.

"Anything you like. Have you any preferences? My flight from Chaos to this small sudden island in the sea of night? My meditations upon the abyss? The revelation of the Pattern in a jewel hung round the neck of a unicorn? My transcription of the design by lightning, blood, and lyre while our fathers raged baffled, too late come to call me back while the poem of fire ran that first route in my brain, infecting me with the will to form? Too late! Too late. . . Possessed of the abominations born of the disease, beyond their aid, their power, I planned and built, captive of my new self. Is that the tale you'd hear again? Or rather I tell you of its cure?"

---Dworkin to Corwin (as Oberon)
The Hand of Oberon by Roger Zelazny


You play the game of Amber?

Portray the role of a royal descendant of the Eternal City?

Good, I thought so. Let me have a moment with your Character. We'll come get you when we're done talking. Thanks.

. . .

Here, have a brandy. Your ancestor is Dworkin. That's right, the strange old coot that King Oberon, bless his ways, decided not to let your aunts and uncles know was part of the family. Ever wonder about that? Ever ask your father, mother, uncle, or aunt how it was that Dworkin was the advisor and artist but never Grandpa?

No?

Very well. Close the door. Take this leaden towel and stuff it into the crack at the bottom. Get a good seal. Scan the room for spells. Good. I'm only going to go over this once.

Dworkin doesn't like you. Any of you actually.

Oh, yes, and he dislikes you with a passion that grows as the years congeal. In older days, that passion was dangerous enough that he nearly ate a few young ones. He has killed some of your elder relations on the Pattern, of course. I would think you've heard some of those stories. 'Never stop once you start your Patternwalk.'

Fine then, let's go through it from first to last.

First. He died to create you.

Yes. Drawn into something larger than even he could guess, he perished. Captive of his new self, he created that which was abomination to his insight and genius in his earlier days as a Lord of Chaos. Dworkin passed through the Jewel of Judgment and was transcribed into a new being. He knows himself as he was, as he is, and as a captive of his vision. He remembers the naïve young genius that he was as well as the love-sick fool that thought to create a new splendor in the name of Love.

Second. Love hurts.

The Unicorn is the Love that led him to the Making-- only to abandon him in favor of his creative child. Like a mother absorbed with a new child, that Love abides and watches over Amber and succors the land. But not Dworkin. No, just you little twerps and your offspring.

Third. Genius burns.

The man is a creative genius and your matchless personal power stands on his blood. You use him. He is the Pattern. The Pattern is he. You walk him, use him, and fear him. Rightly so. He has killed those of the blood not equal to walking his length. He'll do that again, swallowing them whole in sparking clawing death until there is nothing but the stink of ozone and singed clothing. And he'll laugh, shake his head and wonder that you never saw it coming.

What burns in you?

Fourth. Amber is an awesome failure.

Yes, Amber itself is a failed experiment. Amber that lies beneath a pure blue infinite bowl with no cracks or crazed stipple. The landscape a verdant growing greenness representing all that is wild in nature. That awful golden sun staring down from cloud slashed sky.

Yes. As much as you love Amber, that's a fair measure of how the old man despises it. Like a scorned lover, or a burned neophyte, Dworkin has no sentimental vision pulled over his deep insight of primal Amber. Amber is not a golden paradise to a former Lord of Chaos.

He spends time there as a lover might open an attic trunk of photos of what once was.

So know that Amber was never Dworkin's from the start.

Amber was Oberon's to sculpt; Oberon's to love---sometimes with the inspiration of the Unicorn, sometimes only with grit and tenacity. And when King Oberon needed primal knowledge or deep philosophy of what the Land might need to strengthen and protect it---he dragged his father back to the Land and drew upon his knowledge. And when those answers were found, then might Oberon release Dworkin to go and find his own peace, or seek to study other things which we shall not speak of here.

Bah! Amber, and its demands! Like an anchor around his neck.

Fifth and last, there's You.

You. What are you? What have you done? What grand vision do you have? What sacrifice do you offer to the Muse?

Are you half-mad with the strength of Trump burning in your mind? Do you dance the flesh of your form by act of will? Are you torn and stretched between the Logrus and the Pattern? Are you seized by those Poles and twisted and pulled until your inner self resembles a distorted rubbery reflection of the universe? Are you some part of these things? Perhaps, you think you are all of them.

Are you a poet? A warrior? An artist? Or a student of the magical threads of Shadow?

Or do you just want to be Dworkin's buddy? Do you want the prestige of rubbing elbows with the madman that the Courts of Chaos still hopes to incarcerate? Or to kill? Is it his mystique that draws you?

Bah.

And the endless questions. Ceaseless. Prattling. Nonsense questions.

"Did you really steal the Jewel from Chaos? Or was it the Unicorn? Do we really have the Unicorn as an ancestor? What was sex with a higher being like? Is it true that Brand hoodwinked you? Were the Patterns in Tir and Rebma planned or accidental? Did the Pattern of Rebma reverse Corwin's personality when it cured his amnesia? Is the Pattern really a better Logrus? Does the Pattern talk to Merlin as he says? Why did you put the Jewel in Coral's head?

"Did you know the Unicorn would pick Random?"

Hold. Enough now.

What can a youth know about interesting conversation with an old man of a hundred centuries? What does any youth know about being old and having no one with whom to share vision?

It isn't your fault; it isn't yours to fathom.

Let us leave it there then. Understand that the gulf is that wide. The years continue to pour through the old man's mind like the dark rushing foam of the sea of night. Now his only son is gone, too. A younger man sits the throne of Amber and grandchildren of his grandchildren walk the halls of Amber.

The passion of that old Love for the Beast of High Regard is yet a burning ember. Stir it not, lest it burn you from inside to out. No one of this time could ease what has already scoured the heart so long. Do not tempt wrath, by stirring that old fire which springs up in blue sparks along the path of the Pattern.

Leave be.

Leave be.

Dworkin is not for you. Leave be.


'Show me the strumpet that began this stir,
That with my nails her beauty I may tear.
Thy heat of lust, fond Paris, did incur
This load of wrath that burning Troy doth bear:
Thy eye kindled the fire that burneth here;
And here in Troy, for trespass of thine eye,
The sire, the son, the dame, and daughter die.

The Rape of Lucrece -- W. Shakespeare

He smirked, my own face twisting before me.

"Have you lost your taste to be a lord of the living void, a king of chaos?" he asked.

"Mayhap," I replied.

"By the Unicorn, thy mother, I knew it would come to this! The Pattern is as strong in you as is the greater realm. What then is your desire?"

"To preserve the realm."

He shook his/my head.

" 'Twould be simpler to destroy everything and try a new start-- as I have told you so often before."

"I'm stubborn. So tell me again," I said, attempting to simulate Dad's gruffness.

He shrugged.

"Destroy the Pattern and we destroy Amber-- and all of the shadows in polar array about it. Give me leave to destroy myself in the midst of the Pattern and we will obliterate it. Give me leave by giving me your word that you will then take the Jewel which contains the essence of order and use it to create a new Pattern, bright and pure, untainted, drawing upon the stuff of your own being while the legions of chaos attempt to distract you on every side. Promise me that and let me end it, for broken as I am, I would rather die for order than live for it. What say you now?"

"Would it not be better to try mending the one we've got than to undo the work of eons?"

"Coward!" he cried, leaping to his feet. "I knew you would say that again!"

The Hand of Oberon - Roger Zelazny