Week 2, Preparing to fit in
There was no action at all this week, because we were re-designing our characters. The majority of us mutated into something new. Dr. Wu turned himself into a Deryni lord, a copy for a particular false identity that has been set up for him by our mysterious benefactor. Aphron, Lorelei, David, and Tom turned into Deryni because they will be more useful that way; they did not change as much in appearance. Lorelei took the name "Vivienne " and Tom changed his surname to "Gordon" and plays the part of a northlander (approximately a Scotsman).
Pfusand, the Naza, changed into a Deryni. She no longer looks like an unearthly elephant. Rather, she is a small, lovely young lady of about 19, with grey eyes and golden hair. It's by far the most dramatic change of many. She now calls herself "Pendred" or "Penny."
The avian humanoid, nee Mr. Cogswell, the cartoon rooster, is either staying on the pantope or turning into something else, but this has not been determined yet.
Cantrel and Victoria did not transform. However, Cantrel did take some reversible cosmetic mutations to change his coloration.
When it's all over, we all have skills suitable for a medieval setting, either because we had them all along or because the autodoc loaded them into our brains while it was re-wiring them.
Most of us also have Deryni magical powers. These powers are really powerful and specialized forms of psychic powers, because this is still science fiction, not fantasy, right? ... Right?
We leave with no hope of seeing it again for at least six months. The year is now 1114 AD, and the day is the first of May. We are in an alternate version of Europe, on a peninsula that corresponds to the British Isles. King Brion Haldane is on the throne of Gwenedd, the dominant power among the Eleven Kingdoms of this quasi-Britain. He will be on the throne for another seven years.
Being Deryni is very unpopular, even dangerous in some places. Ordinary folk fear and hate them. Most Deryni don't admit that they are, and many don't even know that they are. The Greystoke family are closet Deryni. Duke Alaric Morgan, the King's best friend and general, is one of the few openly proclaimed AND successful Deryni.
[We know all this because we read the novels in the library that this world is based on. We have no intention of seeing these august folk; they would almost certainly be worldbenders or worldbender artifacts.]
It seems that Deryni used to be the ruling class of this land, but some of them became oppressive and were overthrown by their more liberal kindred. However, the humans started a general anti-Deryni pogrom and sent the whole race underground.
Our mysterious benefactor first showed up during the early "human restoration." He established a powerful family, named Greystoke (yes, like Tarzan). He raised up a son, then faked his own death, leaving his son as the ruling lord. He subsequently returned and arranged for his infant grandson to be spirited away and reared in a far country. (Farther, in fact, that you could imagine.) After a suitable wait and a rejuvenation, our benefactor re-appeared, playing the role of his own grandson -- a younger son born to a second wife, not the heir to the estate of the Greystokes. This younger scion is afflicted with wanderlust and goes off on travels to far lands. At this point, the benefactor bows out and Dr. Wu steps in, complete with the face and powers of the original. The rest of us cast ourselves as members of his retinue.
We are riding westward, along a mountain road, out of Torrenth, toward Gwenedd, near Mt. Rengarth. (We bought the horses on a quick side-trip back to the first medieval world we visited.) We will be passing through Eastmarch, where we will stop for a visit at the ancestral manor. The diadem tracer is dark, so the segment is not near -- maybe not even on this world yet. So our immediate goal is to establish ourselves as proper and acknowledged members of this society. This means keeping our magic powers quiet.
We always had a number of questions in the backs of our minds.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.