in the Shadow of Greatness


February 22, 2005

IMC :: Caine, h.r.h.


"Then came the swarthy, dark-eyed countenance of Caine, dressed all in satin that was black and green, wearing a dark three-cornered hat set at a rakish angle, a green plume of feathers trailing down the back. He was standing in profile, one arm akimbo, and the toes of his boots curled upwards, and he wore an emerald-studded dagger at his belt. There was ambivalence in my heart."
"Caine is a coward."

As mysterious and elusive now in death as he was in life—though one of Caine's great-grandsons is working on a biography of the hero of PatternFall.

In addition to Corwin's tale of Patternfall, there is one by Caine, which is larger than Zelazny's but much smaller than Corwin's. Lots of scenes that don't appear in either of the other two, plus it is written in third person. For those with a taste for sex, violence, and nail-biting suspense, it is the preferred version.

Caine Rilgason. Born out of wedlock while Queen Faiella was still alive and later acknowledged along with Llewella by King Oberon when Queen Rilga Ironhand took the throne. The early years of Caine's life are mystery. Oberon and Rilga met in shadow, and the records show that she was not of noble birth.

In the long period that followed Faiella's death, and through the reign of Clarissa, including the birth of Llewella, there is no official record of Rilga and Caine at all. Some accounts say Rilga was once a pirate. Other tales tell of her career as a smith of fine weapons. Still others note she was a mercenary sword for hire. Most of these are discounted as the name is not uncommon in shadow before or since.

What is known is that some seventy years after Clarissa returned to her far southern shadow, Oberon went into shadow and came back to Amber with Rilga. They were married in the castle. Caine was an experienced man already and gave his mother away at the ceremony. Caine ceased his travels in shadow during the first years of Rilga's reign at Oberon's side. Once Julian was born, Caine went back to the double-dozen seas of shadow.

Caine was a frequent visitor to Amber during the childhood of Julian and Gerard. When Gerard was about ten years old, Caine returned and settled again at the castle, adding to the near-shadow maps. Shortly after this, Rilga and Oberon started the Golden Circle travels that knitted the first shadow alliance Amber had enjoyed since the ill-fated Eregnori Incursion.

While Oberon cemented the Golden Circle alliance with his personal politicking, Caine was not idle. He spent time sharing his expertise of shadow and life with his younger brothers, giving Julian and Gerard some of his love of exotic people and discovery. Caine brought a new style to Amber during Oberon's absence: interaction with common citizens and travelers to Port Amber. It is said that the news and gossip of Port Amber flowed through Caine's many outrageous parties. These bashes also attracted a good number of mercenary captains who later became officers in Amber's growing merchant marine.

Street rats of Amber also became secret visitors to the Green House in midtown where the sorceress Lippa lived. During the Golden Circle diplomacy years, the sorceress Lippa was an advisor and bed-partner to Prince Caine. She was from the Jungle Kingdoms, far south of normal shipping lanes. Her skin was darker than Caine's with a texture like silken chocolate.

When Oberon returned from his travels, Amber began an expansion of trade and influence of nearby shadow that is hard to imagine today. This is the period of history when the phrase, "all seas lead to Amber" became popular. The Golden Circle had a great influence in the next twenty years over other distant shadows. The first contact with the Empire of the Gleaming Banner occurred at the peak of this expansion period.

Prince Caine was the first Amber royal to visit Darrheabarr, where he was well received by the Emperor.

This vibrant period of Amber's history bears the steady trace of Prince Caine's deeds. It was Caine who mapped the undersea typhoons of Mahlik, brought back journals of dragon-magics, made treaty with the Ravnos, flew the Golden Circle on the back of a NightenRukh, and disrupted the Crimson Pirates and slew their King.

It was also Caine who helped established the first foreign bank in Port Amber and convinced his father to outlaw foreign mystics and sorcerors from forming or belonging to guilds in Amber without swearing fealty to the throne.

This last led to several small wars with arcane out-shadow guilds who supported a new generation of Crimson Pirates and other depredations on Golden Circle shipping. During this time, though the Out Guilds were thrown down and destroyed, Caine lost his long-time lover Lippa in battle. He retired to Amber and did not travel for several years. After Julian was made Warder of Arden and Gerard had served many years as the Captain of Fleets, Caine built a lodge in Arden and abandoned the Castle Amber.

But news of the Queen's illness brought Caine back just a few years later. Rilga was dying. After almost two centuries, Oberon was about to lose another queen to misfortune.

Rilga's illness proved to be long and draining on many of the family. Finally she decided to relocate to a shadow that had influences on her pain. For several more years, Caine, Julian and Gerard visited her there. Near the end, she requested no one to attend to her. Her sons were faithful to this request. She died alone.

It might be said that Rilga's influence never really waned. Amber's strength recovered from the unexpected loss of her most personable queen, most notably in the great character of Rilga's sons.

Dybele was never queen. Paulette was an exotic choice who ruled with Oberon but never set policy. Lora only married Oberon for politics and left after twenty years.

The oddity of Deela the Desecratrix is best left for other entries.

In short, Rilga left a deft and healthy mark on history. So too did Prince Caine.

Caine was the first prince to marry and the first known to have a child. His son went to universities in the Golden Circle. With Caine's blessing, his son married a woman he met at university and soon had a son of his own. Caine and Maureen were very happy to have a grandchild.

But Oberon vanished. Dark things seemed to be straying near Amber. Caine's son and family vanished: parts of their bodies were found on a bloody field.

During the dark years of Oberon's absence from Amber, Caine did many searches for missing family members. He also approached Darrheabarr for aid and was rebuffed. The stage was set for the family struggle that became the PatternFall War.

When Amber's safety prompted Eric to the regency, and then throne, there were many who felt that Prince Caine had a better claim to the crown. Eric was still unacknowledged by the King's choice. Those who knew Caine were not surprised. Caine had things to do, and was not one to normally send others to do his own work. Eric's position was solid as long as the sons of Rilga supported him.

And Gerard and Julian often took their lead from Caine. Though the three brothers were like different seasons, they held a true respect for each other.

Many think it was Caine who first discovered that the redheads knew something of Oberon's disappearance. There is no doubt that Caine stopped Corwin on the seas leading to Amber. Corwin, a more experienced warrior with a larger force, fell to the surgical use of shadow and resources brought against him by Caine. While Rebma did not aid Caine at that battle, it is now known that Caine arranged for sinkings of ships to be attended by Rebman officials who rescued over half of the potential casualties from both sides. Queen Moire kept those men out of the rest of the war as guests of Rebma.

When it became apparent that there was a traitor in the family, it was Caine who narrowed the choices to Corwin or Brand. While Caine never discovered the source of the army attacks, he was prepared to kill either Corwin or Brand should opportunity present. In order to best do this, he 'died' himself.

History shows how successful this strategy was.

And it was Caine who did kill the traitor.

For some years now, Caine is dead. He was killed in Deiga, on a social day in town with Gerard and friends from that shadow, while in that country to renegotiate an old trade agreement. He died near instantly in Gerard's arms. He left no epitaph. He whispered no final curse.

He smiled as the light vanished from his eyes.

Dramatis Personae: For the Good of Amber ...

Filed under : Amber, IMC, Profiles at 22.02.2005