in the Shadow of Greatness

 

November 12, 2005

IMC :: Llewella, h.r.h.

Llewella

"For some reason, I knew she was not like the rest of us."
—Corwin
"Rebma is the ghost city. It is the reflection of Amber within the sea. In it, everything in Amber is duplicated, as in a mirror."
—Random
"That is not what we would have of you, dear Moire, but only a small thing, to be achieved at no pain or cost to yourself or your subjects."
—Deirdre

In a family of canny and elusive minds, Llewella remains still mysterious to her family after centuries—though there never seems a shade of doubt of her commitment during PatternFall.

In Corwin's tale of Patternfall, there is short shrift given to the alliance and support of Rebma. It is there, clearly seen in the interactions and assumptions of the family. There is an elusive yet tenacious bond between the two cities.

Oberon was not a man to make friends with any but the strongest and best. There were strengths that Rebma brought to the alliance from the earliest days of Amber. Oberon and Lir were nearly like brothers in Amber's beginnings. Rebman history records that Lir died a hero in battle protecting Oberon.

Centuries later, Oberon and Moins knew each other for many decades and had long discussed trying to mate the line of Lir with the blood of Amber.

Moins, granddaughter of Lir, cultivated a repair of lingering Rebman resentment for the loss of Lir to Amber's needs. There was no marriage as part of this and Moins did not require one for her plan. The early years of Llewella's life are recorded only in Rebma. The personal journals of Moins are sealed.

Llewella ap Moins
. Born out of wedlock while Queen Clarissa was still alive and later acknowledged along with Caine by King Oberon when Queen Rilga Ironhand took the throne.

It is a misfortune that Moins' plans for a stronger alliance with Amber and an end to the resentment of Rebma's losses in Amber's wars were not satisfied by Llewella's birth. Almost the opposite came to pass. Llewella caused a huge split between the great thrones. There were secrets in the Athanor blood of Rebman royals. One of those secrets nearly undid all expectations of greater good.

Moins became very ill during her early pregnancy.

Rebman Athanor scholars defined the problem to Queen Moins. Her plans to weld the powers of Amber and Rebma had succeeded too well. She was pregnant with girl twins. The twins developed each in Yin and Yang to the powers they were heir to, and the powers, not compatible in all respects, warred between the twins inside her. It was doubtful the pregnancy could last.

Moins elected not to tell Oberon. Faiella was a good friend to Rebma. Oberon had lost Faiella to childbirth despite a healing struggle with magics and experts brought specifically to save her. He blamed himself for he had promised Faiella he would save her.

Moins tasked her savants with finding a way to save both twins.

They offered several plans to save the Rebman child. Moins refused these options, even when she learned it was the Amber-biased baby that was growing stronger while the Rebman-biased baby suffered. After a month of heated discussion, it became clear that Moins herself might die if some action was not taken. The savants finally reached a solution acceptable to the Queen of Rebma.

The stronger daughter was removed with a delicate arcane procedure and put into a layered stasis. This daughter could be reintroduced to the womb later after Moins recovered fully. The already weakened and crippled daughter was brought to term.

Llewella was saved and delivered in Rebma. Her sister, named Capella, was stored in a special shrine in the palace.

Oberon arrived and reacted badly to his first sight of Llewella. The girl lay pale green, frail and twisted of body, unmoving in her cradle. Her head seemed normal but it was obvious she might never be able to walk on land as her legs were unfinished and her arms were twisted. Left unsaid to any by Amber's King, in Oberon's past there were monstrous offspring--born of strange shadow-women before Amber's founding--that had to be put down. This secret flamed deep in his mind.

Oberon suggested to Moins the girl be quietly killed.

Moins told Oberon to leave Rebma and not return. She left unsaid that if he didn't, she might have him quietly killed.

The ancient alliance of the two cities almost shattered as the monarchs worked through their guilt and rage. Such was Moins' fury that she never told Oberon about Capella. Her daughters would not be raised by that man.

Queen Clarissa returned to Amber and the entire matter was tabled by Oberon for later.

Events moved on in their complex tapestry. The Restless Sea turned.

Moins had a difficult recovery for a few years. Llewella did not flourish.

Years later, Queen Clarissa went into exile. Oberon was still not welcome in Rebma. He tried many times to pen Moins warnings about what might happen to his own blood gone 'bad'. Moins did not respond to these warnings.

When Moins did recover fully, she began working with Llewella daily on a routine of play and physical rehabilitation. The child was bright, gifted in music, and despite her physical defects a good swimmer. Slowly, Llewella learned to make the most of her ill-formed body.

But Llewella several times contracted long illnesses before she was ten. Her muscles would atrophy during these bouts as if she were being poisoned. These turned out to be allergic attacks. It took time to learn she had allergies to several kinds of forge and metallurgic spells that were often used in Rebma.

The little princess needed to be kept from the arcane forges and enchanted metalwork of Rebma. Though these things attracted her, they could kill her.

Llewella entered puberty at nine years old. Things changed for good and ill. Her body began to stress again, acquiring some missing muscle and height. Her legs grew feet. Her mind was erratically assaulted by depression and anxiety attacks. Her blood began to twist to arcane inheritance and her moon cycles struck early and hard--something unknown in her kin.

In Amber, Queen Clarissa was gone. Oberon ruled without a queen. He sent request to Moins for his daughter to visit Amber. Moins wanted to refuse, but there were many reasons to repair the strained relationship for the good of both kingdoms.

At eleven and with handmaidens and guards, Princess Llewella visited her father for the first time. It was an unhappy and terrifying experience for Llewella. Her lungs could not get enough air. The ground pained her feet and her legs even through shoes as if she walked on knives. Everything about Amber seemed wrong for Llewella.

While Oberon found the child had not grown in monstrous ways he feared his Chaosi heritage might produce, it was plain the girl was timid, jittery, and physically handicapped. In a gesture of good faith, Oberon proposed a status marriage and some possible shadow solutions to Llewella's handicaps. He offered to search shadow for knowledge to straighten her limbs.

Princess Llewella declined with the coldness of the sea. She explained nothing to Oberon as her mother had explained nothing. The visit ended early and Llewella went home to Rebma.

The Athanor scholars diagnosed additional concerns for Llewella immediately on her return. Certain powers of the earth in Amber produced allergic reactions much like the womb conditions that nearly killed her before birth. The nerves in Llewella's feet had died from her week's visit. Her calf muscles were also paralyzed.

Llewella recovered slowly under the Restless Sea. Moins and she determined these things would have to be dealt with head-on and with Rebman determination. So the next invitation from Oberon for a Golden Circle event that involved Rebma and the Amber royal family saw another visit from Llewella.

The greater public got their first look at the 'green girl who could barely stand'.

Llewella's teen years were the 'sad and moist' period that so lingers in the impression of many and somewhat in her official portrait. Through it all Llewella grew stronger literally sometimes by small steps, fighting off the illnesses and developing resistance to the arcane allergies. There was no question she was not invited to see or walk the Pattern of Amber, even Moins saw that the Great Ritual would kill her.

Unexpectedly, Moins became pregnant from one of her courtiers. This child, who was named Moire, was an easy Rebman birth. The business of Capella's birth had been put off for over fifteen years, and so was put off again.

Ten years passed and havoc came to the seas and lands of Amber as another dark warlike force discovered the location of Amber and sent demons and magics to break the barriers down. What was not understood then, but now is known as the Third Chaosi Incursion also included a new tactic: pushing hostile creatures and warriors from other shadows into Amber's surrounds.

Rebma's trading partners and sea lanes came under direct assault. This Incursion lasted close to ten years. Three significant things for Llewella came of this:

  • Moins died in battle
  • Llewella realized that she would walk the Pattern so her younger sister might sit the throne of Rebma. For even in Rebma, Llewella was a symbol, as Lir still was, of the war losses caused by Amber's enemies. Moins' hope to honor the past through a child of Oberon had failed. Rebma was tired of bleeding for Amber.
  • Furthermore, in battles within the city and palace, Capella's shrine was sacked and the stasis egg stolen

It was a dismal time for Rebma and Llewella.

Yet Llewella survived the Pattern of Rebma. Moire took the throne at just past twenty. Rebma breathed a collective sigh of relief that Oberon's sickly daughter was not their eternal queen.

Llewella took on the quest of finding her stolen sister; a quest into shadow and danger that drew her from Rebma many times. A sober quest that included many learning experiences for the mysterious Rebma princess. It was a quest that ulitmately failed.

Her sister remained lost after many decades of search.

Llewella attended on the requests of her father in Amber when she must. It was no secret that she was seldom happy there, but the bond between the kingdoms of Amber and Rebma was still more important than one person, and Llewella was still a symbol of things that hurt both sides. She worked to lessen that and Moire aided her in this. Llewella made a bit of peace with her older sisters, Deirdre and Fiona. She was charmed by young Brand. She was awed by steady Benedict.

But Llewella had no love for Oberon even though she could walk in Amber without misery.

The young Moire became a popular Queen. And Rebmans felt better about Llewella, as the sisters were very close and supportive of each other. In some ways, Moire grew strong from the many lessons that Llewella shared.

Moire also aged in ways that Llewella did not.

And every trip into shadow showed Llewella new beauties, new inventions, and new possibilities. She grew stronger with every year, seeming to slowly bloom as never before. She studied dance, performance, art, music, and became a gourmet chef in her many trips. She learned to laugh; such was the power of shadow for Llewella.

She brought treasures and techniques back to Rebma. She taught exclusive classes in the palace, and dealt with arcane mysteries as studied by the Athanor.

The Restless Sea turned. Some of the things Moins hoped for came to pass. A new era in Amber began with Queen Rilga.

Amber easily forgot 'sad' Llewella.

Yet in those years, Caine learned much of Rebma and heard old stories from Moire and Llewella. He often brought gifts on his visits. From this came understandings that would help much later, when Amber conquered the double-dozen seas.

The Restless Sea turned. Now a very young woman from shadow was queen in Amber. The shock of Paulette's suicide was felt in Rebma and old whispers about Oberon surfaced. Especially when the King became a grim shadow of himself.

The Restless Sea turned.

Moire had a daughter, Morganthe. Other moments, other politics came and went in Amber. These years were good. And Morganthe grew up ambitious concerning Amber's extensive pathways and power over shadow. Moire's young daughter envoyed to Oberon's court.

She returned to Rebma fascinated with Random. Because of the sadness surrounding his mother's death, Random was welcomed in Rebma. But his edgey character and lack of courtly manner seemed far too much of the legends regarding Oberon's attitude for things Rebman. Random became unpopular with the public. Morganthe grew outraged at this reaction. Llewella tried to smooth things behind the scenes.

Morganthe was young.

Llewella knew how Rebman sentiment regarding Oberon (and his scions) could manifest and suggested to Morganthe that it would pass with some judicious public guidance. Moire suggested the engagement be reconsidered. Morganthe balked, planned and fled into shadow with Random.

In a year, Morganthe returned to Rebma pregnant. She had not been able to re-make Random, but she had a child that Rebma would accept.

Martin was born, Morganthe died by her own hand and Llewella raised the boy as if her future depended on this small thin son of Random. She knew he would be torn by his heritage. She tried to prepare him. She schooled him about his Uncles and Aunts and other secrets of the wonders of shadow.

The Restless Sea turned.

When Moire forbid the young Martin from the Pattern, it was his Aunt Llewella that looked the other way. Martin walked the Pattern and left Rebma to learn about shadow and himself.

Llewella and Moire spent time finding common ground again.

But then Patternfall.

"I can't really tell whether Llewella believed me or not. She doesn't much give a damn what the rest of us do to one another, so far as I can see."
—Corwin
"Llewella, off in a comer, pretending to study a book, had her back to the rest of us, her green tresses bobbed a couple of inches above her dark collar. Whether her withdrawal involved animus, self-conscious in her alienation, or simple caution, I could never be certain. Probably something of all these. Hers was not that familiar a presence in Amber."
—Corwin
Incredibly significant things were happening off-stage. Rebma played a part not only in Corwin's recovery, but in warding some of the probing of weakened Amber by dark things out in shadow.

Llewella was not the sickly sister now.

Studied in several arcane methodologies, healed and made strong by the incredible regenerative endurance that Amber blood is heir to, Llewella moved her hand gently in the shadowed background of these events.

Suddenly he was there. At the far end of the room, Gerard had turned to his left, said something, and extended his hand. An instant later, he was clasping the left and only hand of Benedict, the final member of our group.

All right. The fact that Benedict had chosen to come in on Gerard's Trump rather than mine was his way of expressing his feelings toward me. Was it also an indication of an alliance to keep me in check? It was at least calculated to make me wonder. Could it have been Benedict who had put Gerard up to our morning's exercise? Probably.

At that moment Julian rose to his feet, crossed the room, gave Benedict a word and a handclasp.

This activity attracted Llewella. She turned, closing her book and laying it aside. Smiling then, she advanced and greeted Benedict, nodded to Julian, said something to Gerard. The impromptu conference warmed, grew animated."

—Corwin
Nearly as old as Fiona, and having pulled herself forward each painful step of acceptance and self-respect, Llewella moved in mysterious ways that were prompted by all that had gone before. Saving the Bonded Cities was needed. The conference 'impromptu' or message?

Message.

Llewella was gulled by Brand, her friend, but otherwise she navigated the war with clear vision. She sided with Benedict and stood against Chaos as her Rebman ancestors had for centuries.

Llewella's silent hand drifted through Patternfall. Llewella knew Corwin, Deirdre and Random had passed through Rebma. Llewella knew of Martin's injury by the time Corwin and Bleys set themselves against Eric. She knew Martin survived and that Brand was a traitor. But were all the redheads likewise? Llewella slid a wedge into the redhead conspiracy saving Bleys from his fall off Kolvir and putting him in her debt. In such a fall of seconds, Bleys had no time to use Corwin's Trump deck, but Llewella watched the battle from the sea.

He fell in the Restless Sea instead of the shoulders of Kolvir.

When Eric and Corwin turned back the Chaosi at Kolvir, she knew Corwin had been to Avalon. She knew that Benedict scouted and prepared out in shadow for a great confrontation. She knew that Corwin had not killed or injured Benedict when he had the chance. Corwin had passed Benedict's muster. The night Corwin took the regency with just spirit and forgave the traitor in absentia, Llewella, standing next to Benedict, kissed Corwin.

"What was that for?"

"A number of things," she said. "Good night."

—Corwin
For the new regent, this kiss was Rebma's blessing and a promise of better things to come. Benedict and Llewella stood united and worked to oppose events Corwin did not yet understand.

That promising kiss bore truth at cost.

Post Patternfall and after Oberon's death, Llewella was no longer a stranger to Amber. Vialle sat the Eternal Throne and Llewella was a close advisor. Martin was reconciled with Random, though there was great distance between the two. The Bonded Cities were safe again, even from the wild young adventures of Merlin and Rinaldo and Dalt.

And Llewella? Well, the habit of mystery was hard to quit.

"Everybody's been so busy lately," Llewella remarked when I'd finished talking. "It almost makes me feel guilty."

I studied the delicate green of her more-than-olive complexion; her full lips, her large catlike eyes.

"But not quite," she added.

—Merlin chatting with Llewella and Vialle

And the lost sister? The missing part of Llewella's heart that traced such sadness in her Trump portrait?

Shhh. Not now. Another mystery, another time.


Filed under : IMC, Profiles at 12.11.2005