Stephen

Prince Stephen of Amber, Lord Errant

“After the fire is gone, and the rain sweeps the ashes to the sea, only the memories remain.”

Appearance

Stephen stands tall and solid, with keen brown eyes and golden hair to match his mother’s. His countenance is stern and sharp, and there is a hardness to his features that goes beyond simple bone structure. His nose has the distinct shape of having been broken more than once, and his hair is worn long. The weather of the sea and the light of the sun have battered his skin into the unmistakable leather of a career sailor. He dresses in a long brown coat in the style of a duster, and underneath it in a simple doublet and breeches. A heavy, basket hilt saber rests on hip, matched with a dagger on the far side. His fingers are adorned with ten rings made from a dull blue metal, inlaid with intricate geometric designs.

Character Model to be Used: Samuel Le Bihan
Colors: Brown and Iron Grey
Symbol: A single kestrel rising volant, over a basket hilt sabre; ferrous on a field of brown

Background

The son of Renee, and the eldest known grandchild of Oberon, Prince Stephen holds the dubious position of having been the mold that all the rest of his generation has been compared to. Time and again, his contemporaries have been shown to surpass him in some means. Though he is the son of Amber’s greatest scholar of Pattern, he has never demonstrated more than a passing mastery of the power of his blood. Nor has he shown any skill with shapeshifting, Trump, or even sorcery. Each of his generation have proven to be stronger, tougher, more powerful, or simply a better warrior than him. This has not gone over well with Stephen.

Stephen even holds the dubious honor of having been the youngest of the grandchildren of Oberon to have assayed the Pattern and lived. He did so at the same age as some of the first generation, and while it was known that he succeeded, he seemed changed by the experience. Like all of the children of Oberon, he left from the heart of the Pattern into Shadow. He returned several years later with a determination to forge a powerful navy to defend his home.

Grand Admiral of the Navy

While his ability to command the powers of sorcery seemed absent, Prince Stephen returned from Shadow with an extensive knowledge of the more mundane applications of simple magic. After speaking with Prince Gerard, he was given lead to supervise the construction of new ships for the Navy of Amber. Using his knowledge, he designed ships capable of surviving travel between the Shadows of the Golden Circle and beyond. These ships each held a mystic Shadow engine capable of guiding the ship between two points in the reaches of Shadow. Impressed by his nephew’s successes, Gerard promoted Stephen to the position of Vice Admiral of the Merchant Marine. Under his guidance, the Merchant Marine of Amber spread beyond the reaches of the Golden Circle itself, and quickly became endemic to the waterways as far as any could find.

Prince Stephen did not rest upon his previous achievements, however. Working further on his prior theories of magic, Stephen enlisted the aid of several alchemists within the Golden Circle in a new production. The War Fleet of Amber were designed with an improved Shadow engine, one that allowed a pilot to guide the ship through the reaches of Shadow itself, seeking pathways to known nearby Shadows. These ships sailed fast across the waters, propelled as much by the power of the engine as by the wind, and were constructed out of alchemically treated wood to be even further resistant to the rigors of Shadow travel. In twenty years of service, Prince Stephen had turned the navy of Amber from a strong presence to a force to be reckoned with entirely on its own. In recognition of this, Prince Gerard stepped down from the position of the Grand Admiral of Amber, and named Prince Stephen as his successor. Stephen gladly accepted.

A naval outpost on the Isle of Storms, named for its habit of breaking the sea storms due for Amber before they can reach the city, was chosen by Stephen as the seat of his command. Construction began on a heavily defended colony there, to serve as both the fortress of the War Fleet, and his residence. Inspired heavily by the architecture of both Avalon and Amber, the Isle of Storms soon became capable of housing nearly a hundred thousand troops and their families. As its prominence grew, the use of an old sailor’s name for the island did as well. It was called the Rock, to the Lighthouse of Cabra’s “hard place”.

As the construction of his fortress grew close to its completion, Prince Stephen ordered the construction of the new flagship of the Navy. It was the first ship built on the dry docks of the Rock, and it was Prince Stephen’s personal masterpiece of alchemical engineering. Containing one of his advanced Shadow engines, and built for speed and war, it is said that Stephen christened it with his own blood to tie it forever to his will. In the ceremony of its launching, Stephen took the controversial choice of naming his flagship the Kestrel, after his aunt. Many assumed this was done deliberately to provoke his relatives, though Stephen as always had a seemingly good relationship with the aunt that nearly everyone else dislikes.

Resignation and Travel

During Renee’s rebellion, Prince Stephen’s navy proved to be central to the conflict. In the early attacks in the Golden Circle, Stephen’s forces opposed the invaders across several theaters of conflict. Stephen himself lead an assault on the enemy forces in Tenebrae, securing key intelligence on the enemy. He was set on a course of destiny by his mother before her involvement with the rebellion had been revealed, and confronted Thorne. Thorne, who was already critically injured from his previous conflicts, revealed to Stephen that he served the soon to be Queen of Amber, and was expecting Stephen’s arrival. Stephen then dispatched Thorne, and took his head. Setting the Kestrel on a return course to Amber, Stephen used a Trump to travel there. He presented the head to his King, warned him of a coming rebellion, and spoke briefly with his mother before returning to the Kestrel, and hellriding to the Rock.

Stephen’s fleets were already in motion. The Rock had been evacuated of non-military personnel, and the War Fleet of Amber had called upon their full crews and numbers. Leading an assault on the city itself, Prince Stephen was seemingly surprised and disappointed to discover that the forces there had not yet engaged each other. After a confrontation with the City Watch, the Grand Admiral ordered the City Watch to be slain for clinging to the idea of neutrality in the conflict, and lead his troops to confront his mother. Siding with the loyalist forces, the Navy of Amber suffered heavy losses during the conflict, but were the only force present to oppose the invaders until the timely arrival of the unified Golden Circle forces, lead by Dormaguez. Prince Stephen was one of the few Amberites to openly oppose Oberon’s punishment of Renee, requesting her imprisonment in the castle or her death being preferred over what was ultimately done to her.

Prince Stephen returned to the Isle of Storms with the rest of his Navy, and took stock of the staggering losses they suffered. He made the necessary arrangements for the treatment of the sailors who had survived the initial conflict only to start suffering from the terrible illnesses unleashed by Talwyn’s sorcery. The funerals for the sailors lost in the conflict were performed, complete with the traditional carving of the lost sailor’s name and the dates of their service into the bricks of the seawall of the Rock by Stephen. The death toll was staggering, and perhaps only truly counted by Stephen himself. Once his duties to his men were complete, Stephen resigned from the Navy entirely and took the Kestrel into Shadow beyond the Golden Circle.

Lord Protector of House Raja

Stephen’s absence from Amber ended on the Feast of the Unicorn on the night that Dworkin was slain. He made little conversation with his cousins and family, managing to upset more than a few of them before he departed the feast for the library. Having discovered the body several minutes before the captain of the guard, Stephen followed the clues left by Dworkin to his chambers. He discovered a page hidden inside his desk, baring the image of the Unicorn, the Serpent, and a third creature, an Eagle. Identifying it as coming from an old book, Stephen set sail for Athenaeum. On his way, he was approached by Lucky, and offered the answer to his question. Stephen, determined to find his end on his own terms, denied him.

Stephen spoke with Keifer at Athenaeum, and was given a copy of the book that Dworkin had indicated. Stephen began the task of translating it, and returned to Amber in time to assist his grandmother with her assault on the kingdom. Finding Serpentis at the Island of Tempests, Stephen acted to remove the shapeshifted creatures defending Amber’s waters from House Raja’s dragonturtle navy. Accompanied by his cousin Serpentis, Stephen set sail to pursue the knowledge in the book. At the end of Shadow, Stephen found a strange man sitting on the edge of Shadow itself. Stephen spoke with him regarding the nature of the Eagle, and the threat coming to Shadow. Finding no good answers, he left for the Raja Ways, leaving Serpentis behind.

Upon returning the Raja Ways, Stephen discovered the fate that had befallen Amber and his grandmother. As the heir apparent to the House Raja, Stephen paused in his long journey. There were greater things which must be done, and there was no one else to do them. Stephen, alongside Sir Dan’Vir and Dame Alanna, have been rebuilding House Raja’s holdings in Chaos. Named the Lord Protector of House Raja until his mother’s recovery or his grandmother’s return, word has spread of the recovering House and its regrowing army in Chaos.

The High Cost of Revenge

With the navies of House Raja restored, and many of his retainers ready to make war with the Eagle, Stephen journeyed to Tir-na Nog’th and walked the Pattern there. He went from the center of that Pattern to the center of the Pattern in Amber. From there, he walked along the Pattern outwards, unknowing what would occur. Stephen has shared little of his experience with his cousins, but has claimed that doing so brought him in contact with the Unicorn. The exact details were never illuminated, but Stephen emerged more powerful in Pattern than any others of his generation. It came at a very high price, though. He walked into the Grand Hall at the end of the Feast of the Unicorn under Elmdor, and surrendered himself while decrying the danger that now faced Amber.

In the days that followed, Stephen demonstrated a marked change in personality. The formerly angry and vicious Admiral of the Navy attempted to be kind to his cousins, often speaking quiet words of support where before he would have verbally cut them down. He avoided conflict where before he would have flown towards it. Most tellingly, after his escape from the dungeon of Amber, he traveled back to the Raja Ways in time to hand his mother over to Terridus so that he might undo the damage his father had done. From there, Stephen’s forces vanished into Shadow, and Stephen himself took the Kestrel on a course of destiny, seeking out the member of the family who would need his help the most. He found Jubei on the edge of a Shadow storm, with Razgriz in hot pursuit. Stephen fled with Jubei, returning to Amber and reuniting with a freed Virgil.

In Amber, Stephen worked tirelessly in aiding his cousins with the preparations against Razgriz. Several small experiments with calling the power of the Three proved successful, and Stephen proposed to those who would listen that this power needed to be brought against Razgriz. The family agreed, and set forth on a course of attack aboard the Kestrel. Stephen, accompanied by Virgil, Winter, Annalee, Serpentis, Garrick, and Relda, sailed into the very heart of Razgriz’s assault. By the power of the Three, forged into being by Stephen, Virgil, and Relda, they were able to assault Razgriz while Annalee summoned help in the form of Kestrel, Astrid, and Graham. Inside Garrick’s mind, they called Razgriz fully into Shadow, and gave it enough form and destiny to be defeated.

Two great things happened to Stephen in that battle. Calling destiny into being, Stephen saw that there was simply not enough to succeed. Razgriz would not be called into Shadow, and they would all be destroyed. Stephen drew upon a strength greater than he knew he had, and formed a new destiny entirely out of his own desire, sacrificing his own destiny in the process. The cost was terrible. The Kestrel was lost with all hands, and Stephen himself was broken by it. With Razgriz defeated, the others fled while Stephen clung to the destiny of the Kestrel, buying the others time. Soon, there was only him and an echo of Garrick left on the ship. What words passed between then were lost to the shredded tatters of Shadow there, but Stephen released the destiny of the Kestrel and vanished into Shadow.

The Weight of Inevitability

Two days passed in Amber, and dozens of years passed for Stephen. Hidden away in Shadow, he lived as he never had before. In Shadow, he spoke his vows to Dame Alanna, taking her as his wife and starting a family. It was in these years that Stephen was finally happy. Their two children, Elizabeth and Alexander, has grown to near adulthood during these years, before Stephen was finally contacted again by Virgil. It was time for Stephen to complete his part of the Moment, Virgil’s weapon crafted from the talon of the Eagle. Stephen took his time, instructed Alanna to contact his mother to keep his family safe in these final days of Shadow. He kissed his children good bye, and left.

Arriving in Amber, Stephen moved directly towards the Pattern. He completed his part of the Moment upon it, forging it with the power of Pattern forever. From the heart of the Pattern, Stephen viewed all of Shadow, seeing the web threatened by Chronos’ resonance cascade. Knowing there was little he could do until Virgil finished the Moment, he placed himself in the path of Iain. Stephen confronted his cousin over his actions and the state of Shadow, seeking the wisdom of the outside perspective. Iain provided Stephen the means to find both Aquila and the missing Shadows. As Iain departed, Stephen set his course for the nearest primal shadow, to build a vessel to infiltrate the stolen shadows.

Stephen found himself, instead, within Aquila. Once Stephen discovered his new location, he settled in to a low profile, claiming to simply be a lost sailor. He studied the Aquilans, and grew to understand them. He was confronted by the Eagle itself, and argued with it for the preservation of Shadow. While no peace was accorded between them, Stephen felt the shudders of Shadow and the rise of Krebsartig. Finally, Stephen revealed himself to Aquila before departing to meet with Virgil.

As Virgil, Stephen, Lises and Relda contemplated how to forestall the movement of Krebsartig, Chronos’ purpose was fulfilled. Shadow began collapsing rapidly, and the end became unavoidable. While Lises left to be with his family, Stephen departed to complete the plan given to him by Virgil. He traveled to Firegate, seeking the Logrus. He found Graham at its foot, having been left there unconscious by Astrid. Stephen woke Graham, telling him to seek that which he loved the most before saying goodbye. Calling up the sign of the Pattern one last time, Stephen gripped the Moment, and strode onto the Logrus to fight and kill the Serpent.

Remnants of the Past

Vengeance: While its name was not commonly known before his departure from the realm, Stephen’s cold iron saber quickly developed its own reputation in Shadow. Never seen without it, Stephen has inlaid the blade with several magical runes and treated it with powerful alchemical compounds. The basket hilt has been carved with the Sign of the Pattern. Stories speak of the terrible wounds the blade inflicts on those that Stephen injures with it, as well as a persistent sense that it has its own mind that speaks only of its hunger for the blood of Stephen’s enemies.

This blade was set aside after the attack of House Coldsea on Amber, and has not been seen since.

The Kestrel: Formerly the flagship of Amber’s War Fleet, the Kestrel is considered by many to be the masterpiece of Stephen’s engineering and alchemical skills. Powered by a special Shadow engine of Stephen’s design, it can out maneuver and outrun nearly any other ship in Shadow. It is capable of travelling Shadow without Stephen’s guidance, and is crewed by the finest sailor of Amber’s Navy. All are intensely loyal to their commander, and proved themselves to be a superior armed force during the rebellion. When Stephen resigned from the Navy, he took the Kestrel with him into Shadow.

The Kestrel, along with its crew, were lost in the space between Shadows during the battle against Razgriz.

The Coat: It has been shot. It has been stabbed. It has been caught at ground zero of a major bomb while in the city of Amber, but all the while, Stephen’s brown longcoat has remained not just intact, but has been shown to be able to keep Stephen intact underneath it. While it is not clear precisely how it does this, it is assumed that this is a result of Stephen’s knowledge of practical alchemy and its applications.

This coat was given to Graham after Stephen’s capture by Terridus and subsequent escape.

Theme Songs:

Stephen

Mirrors and Reflections Byanuskevich sndwurks