Welcome. You just arrived on Darkover. This planet is my home. The history of Darkover has never been completely resolved. Nevertheless I would like to present you my Darkover as I know it and have experienced it.
At a time when the colonies in our galaxy had already been inhabited by men there must have been a space transporter that got into a meteorite storm. The captain was able to bring it down on a class M planet which is now known as Cottman IV. This theory was but a legend until, some years ago, the ship wreck was found in the Kilghard hills. Some of the passengers must have survived, and since they had no other choice they became the first inhabitants of what they called "Darkover".
Darkover is a planet with a friendly red sun. It is farther away from it's sun than terra so the climate is somewhat colder and the air is thinner than on earth. But don't worry, even Terrans get used to that after some days.
The nights on Darkover are the remarkable. The planet is circled by four satellites and rarely ever gets dark. When all of them can be seen in one night, we usually celebrate. They say "Nothing that is done under four moons should ever be resented nor remembered".
The first and consensual colonists on Darkover soon developed a new community system. The reasons why a technically trained democratic population returned to a feudal hierarchy is still unclear. Fact is, that the humans interbred with some local "half-human" natives on Darkover and thereby and by constant interbreeding developed a sense of telepathy called laran.
When after several generations a space ship re-discovered the planet, they found a well organized community under leadership of the comyn.
I guess it is time to explain to you what the Darkovan system is about. The comyn are the feudal families of Darkover. They posses the Domains, they intermarry and they have the Gifts.
These Gifts are rather strong manifestations of laran. here is a mineral called matrix found on Darkover which enhances telepathy but is also a protection for the telepath to shield his mind from the thoughts of others.
As a female descendent of the comyn there are not that many fates that await you. Either we have faint or no laran, then we are used as brood mares for a comyn brat with no heritage, or we do have laran which means we can be "sold" for a higher price, i. e. to a man with a larger heritage. Some women try to escape this by going to a tower and be educated to use their laran for the wealth of the community. For me this rather seems to be a mere exchange of the prison walls that surrounds them.
I choose another fate and haven't ever since regretted it.
When I was twelve years old I found out I had the Alton Gift. I knew, my father would marry me to someone I was sure I didn't like and so, when he told me he found a husband for me, I saddled my horse and fled.
At that time I did not know where to go and I thought the only alternative to marriage would be a tower. I found the nearest and pled the leronis to test my laran and keep me in if she could. I got a matrix and a training how to use it but my laran wasn't strong enough to become a keeper. I would have been a decent laran healer, but for a full education they needed the acceptance from my parents. When the leronis was just about to send me back to them, I had an encounter that changed my life.
A Renuciate as she called herself, had made her way to the tower. At first I thought she was a man. She wore trousers, her hair was short and she carried a sword on her back. She and her companion had been ambushed by some bandits in the woods. She had fought her way out and rescued the man heavily wounded. She had made it to the tower before she broke down herself, a stabbing in her left leg bleeding quite a bit.
The leronis and some technicians took the man in while I had to care for Gilla. From her I learned in the days to come that there was a guild called the Renunciates or Free Amazons. The had renounced the protection of men and they took in every woman that asked for their help.
Gilla also told me she was working as a guide and body guard for travelers and thus earned her own living.
The idea grew in my mind that this was where I wanted to go: to Thendara, to the space port and to the guild of the Renunciates.
But then, when I asked Gilla to take me there, I was up for a surprise. She scolded me to be a spoilt brat. "You just want to run away from your duties! We don't need another spoilt child to feed. You ran away with a horse that doesn't belong to you, you don't know what you want and you will never be able to adjust. Besides, I have to accompany my customer to his destination when he is well enough to travel. If you want to go to Thendara house you'll have to find your way on your own and with no stolen horse."
Only later I learned that she had to tell me this. The Amazons are forbidden to recruit women for their guild. The comyn are too afraid that their wives might run away should they know what life in the guild is like.
At that time I only thought about running away again. The next morning Gilla left with her customer and I crept out through the stables. Tears in my eyes I let my lovely horse run free, sure it would find it's way home. Then I set off into the woods, south towards Thendara.
What I didn't know either is, that Gilla only had a four hours ride to the place where she had to deliver her companion. She returned to the tower the same evening and found I was gone. From there on she must have been like a shadow on my side while I was wandering towards Thendara. After 5 days of travel it was her, who stood on the steps of Thendara house and held me up when I sunk in her arms exhausted, thirsty and hungry.
"Chiya," she said "you are the bravest little comyn I have ever met."
I stayed a year at Thendara house, cut my hair, learned to use the sword, swore the oath and most important of all, I got an education as healer and midwife. With the knowledge from the tower, my sisters and my laran I was of interest for the Terranan and I was offered a freelance job with the space port. I worked as guide for surveying teams for some years and as a connection between the locals and the Terranan.
The comyn are rather conservative about Darkover. The do not allow any mechanical let alone electronic devices. There are no syringes on Darkover, no communicators nor even bikes or toasters.
After a few years the Terranan made an offer, that I could work with the survey team on foreign planets and afterwards add an education of my choice on terra itself. A dream was coming true! I would fly on a space ship! I could see foreign worlds! I said yes and here I am: Darkovan, Free Amazon, healer and a student of medicine.
As much as I love the earth, I look forward to the day when I will return to Darkover, see the blood red sun again and will serve my people and my sisters as a healer again.
© Jae 5-97