Weekend Quote – Roger Zelazny


September 11, 2014
Yossi Sheriff




“Lord Corwin of Amber!”

He was waiting for me as I rounded a bend in the depression, a big, corpse-colored guy with red hair and a horse to match. He wore coppery armor with greenish tracings, and he sat facing me, still as a statue.

“I saw you on the hilltop,” he said. “You are not mailed, are you?”

I slapped my chest.

He nodded sharply. Then he reached up, first to his left shoulder, then to his right, then to his sides, opening fastenings upon his breastplate. When he had them undone, he removed it, lowered it toward the ground on his left side and let it fall. He did the same with his greaves.

“I have long wanted to meet you,” he said. “I am Borel. I do not want it said that I took unfair advantage of you when I killed you.”

Borel . . . The name was familiar. Then I remembered. He had Dara’s respect and affection. He had been her fencing teacher, a master of the blade. Stupid, though, I saw. He had forfeited my respect by removing his armor. Battle is not a game, and I had no desire to make myself available to any presumptuous ass who thought otherwise. Especially a skilled ass, when I was feeling beat. If nothing else, he could probably wear me down.

“Now we shall resolve a matter which has long troubled me,” he said.

I replied with a quaint vulgarism, wheeled my black and raced back the way I had come. He gave chase immediately.

As I passed back along the culvert, I realized that I did not have a sufficient lead. He would be upon me in a matter of moments with my back all exposed, to cut me down or force me to fight. However, while limited, my choices included a little more than that.

“Coward!” he cried. “You flee combat! Is this the great warrior of whom I have heard so much?”

I reached up and unfastened my cloak. At either hand, the culvert’s lip was level with my shoulders, then my waist.

I rolled out of the saddle to my left, stumbled once and found my footing. The black went on. I moved to my right, facing the draw.

Catching my cloak in both hands, I swung it in a reverse-veronica maneuver a second or two before Borel’s head and shoulders came abreast of me. It swept over him, drawn blade and all, muffling his head and slowing his arms.

I kicked then, hard. I was aiming for his head, but I caught him on the left shoulder. He was spilled from his saddle, and his horse, too, went by.

Drawing Grayswandir, I leaped after him. I caught him just as he had brushed my cloak aside and was struggling to rise. I skewered him where he sat and saw the startled expression on his face as the wound began to flame.

“Oh, basely done!” he cried. “I had hoped for better of thee!”

“This isn’t exactly the Olympic Games,” I said.




From Courts of Chaos, Roger Zelazny

akban rose