A Brief History
Of "Relative Difficulties"

This history is by nature rather vague. The author did not have access to a comprehensive catalogue of the events that occurred during this period, so only an overview is possible.
Additionally, the events described below are based on the author's perception of those events and in most cases represent the views of the winning side in any particular conflict.

 

In times gone by, there were the first of the new generation of the royal family of Amber. Many fell while a few lived on to fight again (metaphorically speaking at least). This period is known as a time of testing, when the laws of the universes were tested and frequently broken. Later the strongest of these laws became unbreakable.

This time was the true origin of the Power Craze.

 

The time truly known as Relative Difficulties began with the appearance of the Dark Unicorn, a kind of corrupt version of the Unicorn of Amber apparently created by the damaging of the Pattern by Brand. Somehow surviving it's repair, it's influence began to be felt many years later when it set about corrupting the Amberites through their link with the Pattern. The more potent the link, the more an individual's dark side took over. Rylan, self-styled Pattern Master, was worse hit amongst the young ones, while Florimel took up stealthy murder and Random instituted a brutal law of Lesť Majesty. Some sanctuary was found at Corwin's Pattern, but the Dark Unicorn itself was eventually slain (or ensorcelled, no one is quite sure) in a ritual led by Omega, a new but surprisingly knowledgeable member of the family.

 

After a few minor skirmishes the next major event was what is now known as the Saron Incident. It really began with the arrival of Omega via the Hall Of Mirrors; previously an unknown but aware of Amber and it's peculiarities. During a visit to the Courts, several members of the group took it into their heads to form a House of their own. Since Merlin was king there was little real political resistance to the idea. The Minor House Saron was formed soon after by Omega, Helkin of House Hendrake, who also had some dubious connections with Amber, and Bethal, who was well known to be of both Amber and Chaos and was a powerful practitioner of Logrus (though no one knew how) but preferred the company of her Amber kin to those in Chaos.

Unfortunately their recruiting activities were slightly loose and their security was a little forceful. They recruited from amongst the disaffected and the exiled, headhunting around the more powerful Minor Houses with promises of power and prestige. Their activities were opposed by a two of their peers, Andreas and Intruder, who had allied themselves with the then-heir of House Channicut. They joined forces to spawn a construct wielding all the Powers in an attempt to keep an eye of the doings of House Saron and defuse their more destructive deeds.

Such was their success that Omega began an inquisition in Saron, using torture and mind rapes where appropriate, which was apparently at every opportunity. Those who failed the test by even the slightest degree were thrown into the Abyss. He lost many supporters, including Bethal, who turned coat and began informing the opposing group of Saron's activities.

Eventually Saron's potentially greatest atrocity was set in motion. Omega's plan was to replace the children of the Lords of Chaos with demonic changelings so he could instill loyalty to Saron (or rather to himself) in the real children so when they were returned he would soon gain great power though the support of his slaves.

This plan was quickly reported to the Crown, which promptly acted by attacking Saronways and taking the ringleaders captive. Most of the dupes in Omega's power play were put on probation for a very long time; a few were never heard from again. Bethal gave Crown's Evidence; Helkin presumably did the same as he seemed to be little more than a follower and was not seen again afterwards. Omega, however, is said to have entered Merlin's office and never returned. The only official announcement given regarding Omega was that he was in fact Syrex in disguise; the son of Caine had used his prodigious shapeshifting powers to conceal his identity.

His legacy was to be known in Chaos as the Beast of Saron, a bogeyman used by parents to threaten unruly children.

 

What soon followed was the period known as the Spikard War. With the return of Sand and her brother Delwin, the struggle between those Spikards tentatively looked upon as 'good' and those unreservedly named 'evil' came to the fore.

With the trouble the War caused in Chaos it became important to seek out the true heir to House Channicut, Naomi, who had deferred to her younger sister, Yvonne. When she was finally persuaded to return from her self-imposed exile in Shadow the fact that she possessed a Spikard helped to even the odds. After several skirmishes in Shadow and numerous encounters with newly-discovered family members allied with the 'evil' Spikards against the 'good' ones (someone eventually simplified things by referring to them as 'Light' and 'Dark' or 'them' and 'us') the situation was resolved by the destruction of several Spikards on both sides (and their wielders as a result). It is believed that intervention by what one source described as The Neutral, wielded by Merlin, the struggle was resolved. Not long after, many more of the potent but foreboding artefacts were destroyed.

Another aspect of the troubles in Chaos were the actions led and inspired by one particular House, Nalveer. They were fervently anti-Amber and were responsible for a number of schemes intended to weaken Amber and her hold over the sovereign realm of Chaos, as represented by Merlin being king. Needless to say, the combined cunning and power (and sometimes outright luckiness) of their opponents blocked them at every turn.

Much of what occurred afterwards was considered 'clearing up'; those hostile relatives that remained put in a number of appearances before being vanquished one by one.

 

A previously unknown aspect of Amber was also revealed. The Pattern elementally aligned with fire (Amber is earth, Rebma is water and Tir-na Nog'th is air) was discovered. Known as Laralan, it could be reached by stepping into the fireplace in the throne room when lit. It had very strange properties. When Laralan is entered for the first time it prophesises a future event; when entered a second time it prophesises the death of the observer; to enter a third time is death. It proved useful to make use of it's power on occasion, but great care was always taken.

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