Tombs-Bleys & Caine
The wind whipped off the high reaches of Kolvir. Chill bitch kitty cold, sea salt and spray, even this high, at the gates of the hollow tomb where Eric so hoped Corwin might one day lay. Now, a short way to the north, Eric himself is interred, dead, but not forgotten.
Corwin's tomb is nearly regal. He rebuilt it to include a chapel, a small fountain, and a few benches for people to rest. A small alcove is dedicated to Deirdre and includes a tomb and a candle stand. Corwin often lights a candle there when he is in Amber. Oberon's tomb is being built to the south of this fine construction though the chance he may rest there is small.
Eric's is to the north, a drab, austere, but formal place. Many have noted that Eric would not have been caught dead there. There was considerable sentiment for building his tomb on the spot he died but in the end Random vetoed that.
It is not difficult to reach these tombs. Tourists come here frequently. Empty tombs for Brand, Finndo, & Osric sit higher up the mountain. Mirelle's tomb holds her it was once said. They are not nearly so accessible. Of course, their histories are either less well remembered, or less lamented.
To this isolated place come the lonely, the lost, and the maudlin. Rules have developed that you do not disturb those who avoid meeting your eyes. One also does not use titles here; not lord, sir, nor your august royal majesty. Only the dead are accorded their ranks.
Sitting on a stair of Brand's tomb waits the redheaded son of Clarissa, smoking a cig.
"Why here, Bleys?"
Bleys looks up to see black-haired Caine coming up the trail.
"No one much comes here. Come on inside and have a drink, Brother."
Caine chuckled and gave Bleys a hand up. Not that he needs it, quite, but it seemed the friendly thing to do.
Into the grim square of black stone go the sons of Oberon.
Bleys attends to the sarcophagus, a stone box surmounted by a slab of marble a foot thick. The two regard what is written upon it.
Son of Oberon & Clarissa.
Born 3308 in Amber Died 5200 before the Fane of Zila, at the Battle of Patternfall.
Unlamented dies the Villain
Lamented is the lost laughter.
Bleys looks at the inscription and chuckles.
"I'll say this much for Random. He writes a mean tombstone."
He grips the slab and pushes it revealing the interior. Despite the loss of Brand in the Abyss, arrow through his eye, Deirdre clutched to his breast; his tomb is not empty.
Bleys keeps his supplies there. He removes a golden bottle and a green one. He tosses the green to his brother.
"Galmin Green Gin still your favorite?"
"It is. I see you've raided Oberon's private stock of Golden Glen Scotch. I was wondering where that all went."
They each take a seat at the front of the tomb. Only four seats grace this stark place.
The brothers sit and drink for awhile. Silence bonds them.
"Strange days, eh, Caine? I never would have seen this coming. Eric looked like he had it wired. Fi & Brand & I didn't see any other way out save through Chaos."
"Eric did have it wired. Jullian, me, Gerard. It would have worked fine. Eric's arrogance worked for him in dealing with the nobility. Oberon was mostly dead, Ben was missing, Random was…well, Random. The only threats were you & Corwin. Have you seen Ben's videotape of your fight up the stairs?"
"How did he videotape it?" Bleys asked intrigued.
"Not sure. He either hired actors to recreate it in an Amber shadow, or he went to the Oracle of Drisna. My guess is the latter. Amazing feat, that climb was. You and Corwin nearly did it. I only heard about it later. Unbelievable, even for one of us."
Bleys looks up to meet his brother's eyes. He looks at him as if he had never received a kind word from a brother.
Bleys smiles and says, "Remember the time we siced the Rengin sisters on Random? He couldn't even flee in to shadow to avoid them!" Caine laughs remembering the look of Random's face. They laughed together.
The evening wears on. They talked of little matters and old times. Of scuttled ships and cut throats. The black night enveloped them and they lit candles against the dark adorning the marble slab that bears their brother's name, if it does not cover his corpse. Byron would have been proud.
As the black stretches, the maudlin age rises between the two. Never really friends frequently enemies. The moment comes they both feared and longed for. To their surprise, it is Bleys who asks first.
"What now, Caine? Random is King. Benedict is Marshal. The bloody Golden Kingdoms are sending ambassadors for Random and single daughters for Martin. How do we trust each other? We fought for a thousand years to secure the throne, to win Oberon's love! Now what? Win Random's love? How can he ever trust us?"
"Bleys, the question is not how can he ever trust us. Julian guards Amber by arming Arden. As he always has. Gerard was always better with the fleet than I was. My own new role is as obvious a one as Fiona's. Even Llewella gets to be an Ambassador to Rebma. Really, whose roles have changed? The question is how can Random trust you? You've been mainly drunk for 18 years now. Sure, you have become a patron of the Arts. A social butterfly, the prince at every party, the man with a million jokes. I would even go so far to say the plays you did on stage at the Brenton and the Albeer Theaters were brilliant. But blast it, you were drunk most of the time. For every act of charm you paired an act of debauchery. Sure, you have helped out when you were needed but the court can't stand the nervous worry about what you might explode in to."
Caine stands and walks to the casket, fiddles with the pooling wax. He withdraws another green bottle and pops the cap.
"It was going to be Eric, Corwin, or you. We all knew it. The girls, most the nobles, Benedict, even Oberon knew it. Corwin has Avalon. Eric has his tomb. Oberon sleeps with the Ancestors of Darkness. Random needs to learn to trust that your imperial ambitions are dead. Until then, you need to find something to keep you busy, or to keep you out of Amber."
Bleys looks up at his fire-lit brother.
"Are we friends, Caine?"
"I would like to think so, now anyway." Caine replies.
"I came so close. A dodge, or a yard wider stair and a militant brother beside me and I think I would have been king."
Caine snuffs a candle, then re-lights it with another.
"If that had been the case, Bleys, I truly believe this night I would be sitting here with King Random, commenting on how finely he wrote your tombstone's note."
Caine extends his hand across the tomb. Hesitantly, the brother he had so often fought grasps it, burying old feuds.
"Come on Bleys. It is getting on toward breakfast. Let's go rustle us up a chicken or two. I hear a couple more cousins are due in today."
Bleys laughs as he grasps the proffered hand, warm, friendly, despite all that has gone before. He closes the tomb of Brand over his alcohol supply with a click, and douses the candles with pinches.
"hmmm. Really? Well then, let's go meet these cousins. Any of them yours?"