spi•kard (spikard') n. 1. a mythic artifact of perfected powers. [vernacular] 2. an artifact of penultimate power that exceeds the understanding of its creator. [Arcane reference] 3. a magical tool that solves a critical need beyond the ability of the wielder. [Encyclopeadia Glantri] 4. a multi-faceted magical device that combines several power sources, as opposed to a single source. [Courts of Chaos] 5. a device of magical prowess that, once activated, can not be rendered passive again. [Second Cycle Empire] 6. Informal. a doomsday device.

So based on the above definitions gathered from the poles of the Universe, there is much known, but little explained regarding the spikards.

Perhaps there are nine. Some say eleven. Reference may state only 5 remain. Insiders keep mum about who has them. Since you and I are insiders, let's speculate. . . . .

In recent times. . . King Swayvill. Sandmorel. Delwin. Corwin. Brand.
Well that's old news, isn't it?

King Merlin. Dworkin. Bleys.
Yes. Now we're getting interesting. What? You say, "No way." We've just begun, friend.

Add to the above . . . Moire. Vialle. Suhuy.
And don't forget that Merlin has two. What could Delwin have been thinking? Hmmm. It doesn't stop there, I'm afraid.

Really. Can you actually see Merlin keeping both of the ones he has? My bet is that Ghostwheel will get one to take apart. Merlin might offer. . . or Ghostwheel might just not ask. Ghost sort of is that way. And does Vialle give hers to Rinaldo? Is that what that ring scene is all about? Wait. If Rinaldo already has his father's sword then he has two spikards.

Damn. This spikard business is really out of hand. Merlin has two. Rinaldo has two. Delwin still has one. Sand has hers. Dworkin and Suhuy. Moire and Corwin. Bleys has one or three depending on which Trump of him you believe. That's eleven minimum, thirteen perhaps. Are these people running the spikards, or are the spikards running them? There's the one that killed Mirelle that's still missing. Then there's mine. How many spikards do you have?

. . . . . . . . . feel free to eTrump me for any spikard clean up trouble that you have. I'm sure the situation will just get worse.

eTrump here. Prose by Arref Mak

Proposal: Let's suppose that something else within the milieu Amber will point a finger at the mythic sources of these spikards. Or let's just indulge me. We have nine or eleven ancient "things" that our protagonist Dworkin somehow manages to change or transmogrify into Pattern allied (or Pattern subservient) Items. What if these pre-spikard "things" were willing accomplices? They had Names, an indication that they had identity and thought. Yet RZ writes that the Pattern needed "protection" from these things. Interesting that the Logrus, by implication, didn't need protection. Or perhaps the Logrus doesn't have the same levels of influence as Pattern because it doesn't have these "protections". This pursues the 'Pattern is an improved/greater/newer version of Logrus' theory.

Realize that an interesting twist on this might be to discover within a campaign that the ancient "things" saw new and greater possibilities in helping Dworkin to change Them into something new and different. What if Prometheus had spent his Zeus-defying motivation on helping the Titans to change with the times, in lieu of ignoring them in favor of helping the newer, weaker mortals? Couldn't this be a model of the mythic past? Dworkin plays Prometheus. The Courts of Chaos plays the Olympians. The pre-spikard "things" play the Titans.

In fact, this appeals to me for a number of reasons. I think RZ would have gotten a kick out of a storyline in which the Titans (truly chaotic and monstrous early Forces) had the foresight to see their own time ending. In much of his other work, RZ takes the familiar and makes it monstrous, while the monsters become familiar. Not to mention the themes of change, the price to be paid for change, and who pays, which are all in the Chronicles of Amber. The theme of the spikards then vacillates between two points of view, renewal and dominance.

Merlin and Rinaldo are three generations removed from these elements of history. RZ has them acting in modern "ignorance" of the forces which have formed their world view. Perhaps a plot line would have developed wherein "freeing" the "trapped" spikards to their former status would have unleashed monstrous catastrophe. A comment on short sighted "Western" thinking? Too speculative. Sorry. I'm digressing.

Each spikard then must have represented some more "focused", narrow source of pre-history Power. They existed before Amber. Before the Logrus. Logrus and Pattern are Shadow spanning powers of some sophistication, so we ought to look for something more fractured, chaotic, and elemental. We are looking for the Prime Sources that shaped primeval Shadow.

Sources. Well, the biggest, most obvious thing of a primal nature in the Chronicle is the Abyss. Source or anti-source? Does power spring from it or wash to it? RZ describes it as both boundary ("beyond the Abyss") and a zone accumulating the wreckage of the universe (the "Pit divers" salvage items from the Abyss). For this latter reason I don't think the Abyss is a primal source. It has a mystic veneer of complexity and sophistication. It is not pristine. It is conditional and environmental. Perhaps it is anti-source. The Demons prosper there, but not much else. Without the Abyss as a Prime Source, we are left with a dearth of examples. The Fount of Power and the Keep of Four Worlds? No. Small change. So turn back, despite reservations, let's accept the Abyss as a Prime Source, something that is singular in the universe. What other element of the Chronicle compares to it? None, I would say.


 
Now what?
 
Let's return to the Demons. They seem to be the most obvious connection to elder days, and unlike the Dragons, Manticores, etc. they are described more than once in the Chronicles. One of the most useful things that we know about demons, for purposes of my discussion, is that they can be controlled, compelled, bound to service. Before Logrus, Pattern, etc, these beings could be bound by the judicious use of Other Forces.
 
Demonlogy. Right. That's why I've been throwing that pentacle graphic at you. It's called foreshadowing. :-)
 
Notice how many areas are divided off by the lines of a pentacle. I'll wait while you count them.
 
Uh huh. Eleven. Good. Think that's an accident? Doubt it.
 
How many spikards? Eleven. How much easier could it be? Hey, RZ made the pentacle Fiona's heraldic symbol. That should have been a major clue. (Of course, she's not talking. Knowing how many Primes there are doesn't do you much good without the metaphysical keys.)
 
Now we could start to draw all kinds of topographical inference from this little diagram. But Fiona would probably strip my mind and re-tool me for domestic service.
 
So I'll keep it simple and let you do your own research. Shadows of this diagram show up in esoterica across the universe. The cardinal points of sentience, five. Number of sides to Castle Amber, five. Mortals have five senses, but Demons have six and Dragons have eleven. Hey, no point in beating a dead spikard, you've got the idea!
 
Are these people running the spikards, or are the spikards running them?

eTrump here. Prose by Arref Mak


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