in the Shadow of Greatness


March 31, 2005

Mysteries of Amber :: the Unicorn

Mysteries of Amber
Section 00.01.1 :: the Unicorn
...I followed the direction of his gaze and froze. Neither of us moved as we regarded the apparition: a soft, shimmering white encompassed it, as if it were covered with down rather than fur and maning; its tiny, cloven hooves were golden, as was the delicate, whorled horn that rose from its narrow head. It stood atop one of the lesser rocks, nibbling at the lichen that grew there. Its eyes, when it raised them and looked in our direction, were a bright, emerald green. It joined us in immobility for a pair of instants. Then it made a quick, nervous gesture with its front feet, pawing the air and striking the stone, three times. And then it blurred and vanished like a snowflake, silently, perhaps in the woods to our right.

...It had a way of remaining partly concealed the entire while�looking out from behind something, passing from cover to cover, moving with an incredible swiftness when it did move, avoiding open areas, favoring glade and shade.

...Various intensities of white emerged from the planes of existence, and brightest of all, immense, awful, the unicorn suddenly reared, pawing at the air, filling perhaps ninety percent of creation with what became a slowmotion gesture I feared would annihilate us if we advanced another pace.

...Still, I had mixed feelings about being descended from a unicorn�

...The Unicorn took a step forward and halted.
  She was such a lovely thing that somehow I was heartened just by looking upon her. It was a kind of aching feeling that she aroused, though; hers was a beauty of the sort to be taken in small doses. And I could somehow sense the unnatural intelligence within that snowy head. I wanted very badly to touch her, but knew that I could not.
  She cast her gaze all about. Her eyes lighted upon me, and I would have looked away if I had been able. This was not possible, however, and I returned that gaze in which I read an understanding beyond my own. It was as if she knew everything about me, and in this instant had comprehended all of my recent trials�seeing, understanding, possibly sympathizing. For a moment, I felt that I saw something of pity and a strong love reflected there-and perhaps a touch of humor.

—Corwin on the Unicorn
To steal from a man who knew how to turn a phrase: "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma."

Shall we solve it here? No.

In several centuries of knocking about the universe, Gerard and Corwin have never seen the Unicorn before the encounter described above in the first quote. Gerard mentions that Julian claimed to have seen it in Arden, but that his stormhounds would not approach it.

Corwin makes some skeptical comments regarding the Unicorn prior to the above.

Even by end of Corwin's tale, not everyone has stood before the Unicorn; though the list is shorter: Rinaldo, Dalt, Mirelle, Sand, Delwin, in other words, the second series (or more speculative) characters.

The Unicorn doesn't seem to be particularly curious or desirous of a close relationship with her grandchildren—until the moment is forced by events. Even when present, "it had a way of remaining partly concealed the entire while..." is but a shadow of how careful and tentative the Unicorn is with its scions.

So if it cares enough to "fill in some blanks" and "nudge the destiny" when the chips are down, then one might assume that 'care' is part of the mystery behind the very tentative relationship with the royals.

An interesting philosophy is illuminated by:

"Here is the jewel you lost, now try to save yourselves from the calamity bearing down upon you. Random, you lead. Good­bye and hello, as always."

Exit. Stage dexter.

Filed under : Amber, IMC, Profiles at 31.03.2005