Castle Amber

In the Eye of the Storm

#1 by Stephen , Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:29 pm

My mother holds my hand as we stare out over the Pattern. Its blue flickering light fills my eyes, and somewhere, I know I will forever remember this moment. I will return here, time and time and time again. My mother holds my hand as we stare out over the Pattern.

"One day, Etienne, you will walk the Pattern. Once you do, you must never stop. If you stop, it will destroy you. But do not be afraid... because you will master it, and make it your own. I know this, because it is true."

I do not know if it is her words or the Pattern's words or the Unicorn's words or my words. But the words echo through me. I hear them again as I set my foot upon the flaming path, and the world falls away around me, and I step forward. Forward, and forward, and forward. The First Veil tries to slow me. It fails. The Second Veil tries to stop me. It fails. The Third Veil tries to break me. It fails. I stand in the middle, triumphant, but I do not stop. I keep going, feeling my destiny ahead of my more clearly in that moment than I ever had before this moment. I am in this moment forever.

"One day, Etienne, you will walk the Pattern. Once you do, you must never stop. If you stop, it will destroy you. But do not be afraid... because you will master it, and make it your own. I know this, because it is true."

The central square of the city of Amber is filled with troops, and the air itself nearly crackles with the tension. Two armies have marched through the city, unprecedented in its long history, and I look upon my mother with the confusion that only a child can have. I throw the blade of her champion at her feet, broken by others but dispatched by me. She sent me to finish him, to end his pain. Nothing more. And I followed, because it was the course of my destiny. And now I am here, knowing my course will cost me thousands of lives of men and women whom I swore to protect. They die for me. Not for Amber. Not for Oberon. They die because I command them against my mother and her conspirators because I am loyal to the throne. I had hoped that she would have begun the fight before I arrived, but she waited for me. She knew I would be there. And I give the order that I must, and all around me is death.

"One day, Etienne, you will walk the Pattern. Once you do, you must never stop. If you stop, it will destroy you. But do not be afraid... because you will master it, and make it your own. I know this, because it is true."

I start from the center and walk outwards. It has never been done before. That idea had not actually truly occurred to me before I took that first step. I had assumed someone had. My mother, surely. Elmdor, possibly. But someone surely must have tried it, even if they tried it and failed. None had, though. They were all too frightened of the power of the Pattern to attempt it. I was frightened but it was the only path in front of me. The only other option was to accept the fate of Shadow to be consumed and destroyed by the Eagle. I had to fight, and this was the only course that made sense to me. And there she was, Grandmother and Mother and the Unicorn. She asked me to love them, to give up my revenge. I was not sure if I could love them, but it seems I did not have to. I only had to try to. And I tried. And by trying, I succeeded, not at loving, but at being who I was. I was greater than my need for revenge.

"One day, Etienne, you will walk the Pattern. Once you do, you must never stop. If you stop, it will destroy you. But do not be afraid... because you will master it, and make it your own. I know this, because it is true."

It was impossible, and we achieved it. I achieved it. I stared into the unblinking eye of the end of all things, into the very heart of something that could not exist. My will made it exist, and my desire made it manifest. We had to stop it, and so stopped it. The actual deed is not what mattered. The Moment in Virgil's hands, Winter's deadliness, and Jubei's perfection made short work of a thing that thought itself an unknowable god in our water. It cost me my ship and my crew, but I do not know if that was a cost paid or simply a part of me letting go of what they meant to me. It was what had to be done. It was the goal we set out to achieve, but no one knew how to see through, except me. I saw it, at the end. I saw what I was. Before that moment, I had thought it was destiny that had brought us there. It was never destiny. It was me.

"One day, Etienne, you will walk the Pattern. Once you do, you must never stop. If you stop, it will destroy you. But do not be afraid... because you will master it, and make it your own. I know this, because it is true."

I stand at the end of Shadow, and one by one, I kill every possible beginning. So alike in dignity, all possibilities, but in the moment, there is only one choice. There is only the course we take. We are together, here and now, as I was always meant to be. My grandmother always said I was a better Chaosite than an Amberite, and in this moment of deicidal apotheosis, I cannot help but think she would approve. I was good at loving. I was never good at knowing. My moment lies after the decision has already been made. There is infinite possibility, but there is only one course. Only one destination. Only one end. I have always known this. I will not hesitate for I cannot hesitate. The course I have taken is this moment, and there was never any turning back. Virgil set me on this course. My mother set me on this course. The Unicorn, the Eagle, the Serpent all set me on this course.

Shadow set me on this course.

Do not belittle my pain, my sacrifices by saying I chose it. There was never a choice. There was only the heading, and I have always been upon it. I cannot stop any more than I can want to stop. Stopping is to being destroyed, and you must destroy me to stop me. And I remain.

I am no longer afraid.

Stephen  
Stephen
Posts: 21
Date registered 04.02.2012


   

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