Random and Benedict
A Cautionary Tale
Random and Benedict and the Creation of the Marshal of Amber
It was at a court dinner, a few months into his reign, where Random offhandedly-confirmed Benedict's continued command of the military of Amber.
Dignitaries of every flavor, ambassadors and heads of State from a hundred Golden Circle Signatory worlds had arrived to spend several months meeting the new King of Amber. Merchants from the great houses, nobleman and citizen of Amber & Shadow were in attendance. The new Ambassador to Amber from the Courts of Chaos, Despil Darason Sawall, resplendent in a black tuxedo of silk and Daga fur, twirled his silver staff and did little parlor tricks for those he talked to. He patiently explained the difference between a Sorcerer and a Prestidigitator.
Fresh from Patternfall and Chaos, newly made King by the Horn of the Unicorn, and still uncomfortable with the crown of amber on his brow and the Jewel of Judgment on his chest, Random mingled as a born entertainer. He worked the room like the ringmaster of a circus; One grown large and dangerous at that.
The topic of the satisfactory conclusion of the Patternfall Treaty led to Random commenting that with Ben in charge of Amber's defenses Chaos would be foolish to renew hostilities. Ben responded that he was soon to return to Avalon. The conversation continued, straightforwardly and circularly, till Random had casually made Ben agree to defend Amber, while not really thinking it meant what it did. Nearly an hour later Ben realized he had been manipulated and tried to renege on his agreement. Random refused to let him. They began debating. Neither wanted to back down, Ben began to get angry and insistent. Random got argumentative & loud. Random also tried to end the conversation by frequently turning away, at which point Ben would whip around to face him again. The tension rose around them and nobles and notables began to get nervous.
Finally Random reached the end. He turned and stared up at Benedict, thumped him on the chest, looked into his eyes and said. "Fine Ben, if that is how you feel, then go. Go back to your little shadow. Feel free to leave Amber defenseless at any time you like and return to your orchards and rose gardens."
Random then turned his back abruptly and walked over to a drink tray. Shock filled the room. After Random's final comment a silence stretched out across the room as the listeners braced for some kind of explosion from Benedict.
Benedict stood stock still, eyes wide, anger, even fury danced in his eyes. Shock, at having been outmaneuver, by Random no less. No one had thumped his chest like that and lived in centuries. Even Oberon had never done that. If Benedict is known for rarely smiling he is also known for never showing anger. Those that cause Benedict to crack even the barest of smiles bask in it like sunlight. Those who raise anger in Benedict rarely have time to flee.
The area around him became, not just quiet, but silent, as a morgue. People slowly drifted away, out of Benedict's sight, lest they catch his eye and become the target of the fury he could not release at his king.
His drink began to shake, sloshing a few drips on the ground. Eyebrows already stretched wide strained for more room as the drops landed. Many of those present had seen death at a dagger's length and had delivered it with a sword's edge in the midst of terror, war, and Chaos. Many were veterans of Patternfall. Yet none could remember a moment they were more frightened. Some went so far as to envy the stupid who did not understand, or those whose conversations had made them miss the moment when a pleasant evening became a field of battle, where a kingdom hung in the balance.
Yet, even those began to notice. Conversations ended. Eyes cast around for danger, finding it, and suddenly they too knew that death was near.
Lord Marasol, a courtier from Diego, walked past Benedict, unaware, and stopped to ask him a question. Mouth open, voice almost engaged, he noticed it all. Ben's eyes shifted to focus on him. His severed stump of an arm shivering visibly. Never had Marasol been so terrified. He fled, running, realizing he had not only disgraced himself but he had wet himself as well. Ben stared directly into the air that had been vacated, noticing the liquid trail on the ground.
Random saw Bleys, sipped his drink and walked over to him. Bleys, his pardon at the Abyss still fresh in his mind, paled, had eyes that were wider than most in the room and held no jokes, and not just a little bit of fear. Random commented to Bleys how fine the weather had been lately. Bleys found himself wishing, not for the first time, that he really had throttled this guy when he was a kid.
Ben walked up behind Random.
He turned, grinning. "Ben?! Glad you could make the scene, Bro! Did you bring me some apples out of Avalon?" Smiling a joke as he said it, daring regicide with a mai tai in his swordhand.
"I will have my majordomo ship you a wagon full since it appears I will be remaining here for the next few centuries."
Random waved to a guardsman, who approached and gave the King a thin bag. He removed a breast decoration and jeweled baton. Benedict frowned as he accepted what he all too well recognized as the badge of the Marshal of Amber, last worn by Oberon, and the Baton of War, last wielded by Eric. With it he accepted the role of Marshal of Amber, chief commander of all the military of Amber, answerable only to Random. Ben realized that the little ratfink had it planned all along.
He has been quiet, but proper to Random. He was none too happy.
Random's security on the throne was dramatically improved. His siblings didn't think anyone, especially not Random, had the guts to stare Benedict down.
What tatters of ambition that may have survived Patternfall and the Unicorn's choice died. The deepest, most devout of them, drowned as Bleys grabbed a pitcher of Mia Tais from a passing waiter and decided to make of it a night to remember. Or perhaps, one to forget.