Shadow in Storm
Then there was Benedict, tall and dour, thin; thin of body, thin of face, wide of mind. He wore orange and yellow and brown and reminded me of haystacks and pumpkins and scarecrows and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. He had a strong, long jaw and hazel eyes and brown hair that never curled. He stood beside a tan horse and leaned upon a lance about which was twined a rope of flowers. He seldom laughed.
‘Excuse me, please. You do not understand. You do not really understand who it was we talked with in the tent that night. He may have seemed an ordinary man to you—a handicapped one, at that. But this is not so. I fear Benedict. He is unlike any other being in Shadow or reality. He is the Master of Arms for Amber. Can you conceive of a millennium? A thousand years? Several of them? Can you understand a man who, for almost every day of a lifetime like that, has spent some time dwelling with weapons, tactics, strategies? Because you see him in a tiny kingdom, commanding a small militia, with a well-pruned orchard in his back yard, do not be deceived. All that there is of military science thunders in his head. He has often journeyed from shadow to shadow, witnessing variation after variation on the same battle, with but slightly altered circumstances, in order to test his theories of warfare. He has commanded armies so vast that you could watch them march by day after day and see no end to the columns. Although he is inconvenienced by the loss of his arm, I would not wish to fight with him either weapons or barehanded. It is fortunate that he has no designs upon the throne, or he would be occupying it right now. If he were, I believe that I would give up at this moment and pay him homage. I fear Benedict.’
Benedict, the master tactician of the family as well as the unmatched master of all martial weapons, and a man who seldom smiles. He chose to remove himself from the struggle for the crown, leaving Eric and Corwin as the eldest surviving heirs. Moreover, Oberon declared his marriage with Cymnea null and void, rendering all his children by her retroactively illegitimate. Benedict has had an affair with Lintra the Hellmaid of Chaos, during a brief interlude in hostilities between them, and is unaware that she bore a child as a result of this. Benedict and Lintra subsequently came to blows again, and Benedict slew Lintra but lost his arm. He still fights better with one arm than anybody else with two.
‘Enough!’ cried Benedict, slapping the table so hard that it cracked.
The land danced and spluttered, but by some small miracle was not upset. The tent’s entrance flap was immediately pushed aside and a concerned guard peered in. Benedict glanced at him and he withdrew.
‘I do not wish to sit in on our respective bastardy proceedings,’ Benedict said softly. ‘That obscene pastime was one of the reasons I initially absented myself from felicity. Please continue your story without the benefit of footnotes…’