Roger Zelazny. The Guns of Avalon. The First Amber Pentology – Corwin’s Story: Book 2. Chapter 3, 4

The Guns of Avalon. The First Amber Pentology – Corwin’s Story: Book 2. Chapter 3, 4


I thought back, one morning, upon all that had gone before. I thought of my brothers and sisters as though they were playing cards, which I knew was wrong. I thought back to the rest home where I had awakened, back to the battle for Amber, back to my walking the Pattern in Rebma, and back to that time with Moire, who just might be Eric‘s by now. I thought of Bleys and of Random, Deirdre, Caine, Gerard, and Eric, that morning. It was the morning of the battle, of course, and we were camped in the hills near the Circle. We had been attacked several times along the way, but they had been brief, guerrilla affairs. We had dispatched our assailants and continued. When we reached the area we had decided upon, we made our camp, posted guards, and retired. We slept undisturbed. I awoke wondering whether my brothers and sisters thought of me as I thought of them. It was a very sad thought.

In the privacy of a small grove, my helmet filled with soapy water, I shaved my beard. Then I dressed, slowly, in my private and tattered colors. I was as hard as stone, dark as soil, and mean as hell once more.

Today would be the day. I donned my visor, put on chain mail, buckled my belt, and hung Grayswandir at my side. Then I fastened my cloak at my neck with a silver rose and was discovered by a messenger who had been looking for me to tell me that things were about ready.

I kissed Lorraine, who had insisted on coming along. Then I mounted my horse, a roan named Star, and rode off toward the front.

There I met with Ganelon and with Lance. They said, “We are ready.”

I called for my officers and briefed them. They saluted, turned and rode away. “Soon,” said Lance, lighting his pipe.

“How is your arm?”

“Fine, now,” he replied, “after that workout you gave it yesterday. Perfect.” I opened my visor and lit my own pipe.

“You‘ve shaved your beard,” said Lance. “I cannot picture you without it.”

“The helm fits better this way,” I said.

“Good fortune to us all,” said Ganelon.

“I know no gods, but if any care to be with us, I welcome them.”

“There is but one God,” said Lance. “I pray that He be with us.”

“Amen,” said Ganelon, lighting his pipe. “For today.”

“It will be ours,” said Lance.

“Yes,” said I, as the sun stirred the east and the birds of morning the air, “it has that feel to it.” We emptied our pipes when we had finished and tucked them away at our belts. Then we secured ourselves with final tightenings and claspings of our armor and Ganelon said, “Let us be about it.”

My officers reported back to me. My sections were ready.

We filed down the hillside, and we assembled outside the Circle. Nothing stirred within it, and no troops were visible.

“I wonder about Corwin,” Ganelon said to me.

“He is with us,” I told him, and he looked at me strangely, seemed to notice the rose for the first time, then nodded brusquely.

“Lance,” he said, when we had assembled. “Give the order.”

And Lance drew his blade. His cried “Charge!” echoed about us.

We were half a mile inside the Circle before anything happened. There were five hundred of us in the lead, all mounted. A dark cavalry appeared, and we met them. After five minutes, they broke and we rode on. Then we heard the thunder.

There was lightning, and the rain began to fall.

The thunderhead had finally broken.

A thin line of foot soldiers, pikemen mainly, barred our way, waiting stoically. Maybe we all smelled the trap, but we bore down upon them. Then the cavalry hit our flanks.

We wheeled, and the fighting began in earnest. It was perhaps twenty minutes later. . . We held out, waiting for the main body to arrive. Then the two hundred or so of us rode on. . .

Men. It was men that we slew, that slew us—grayfaced, dour-countenanced men. I wanted more. One more . . .

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Categories: Zelazny, Roger