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Pepper and Lace: Chapter 9

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MerchantDeryni:
Chapter 9: The Camberian Council

   “I generally tend to ignore the Council as much as possible. They are a silly group, for the most part.” Victoria said, drinking her wine.

   The group were back at Dhyrucc's home enjoying a family dinner. The unpleasantness of the past few weeks was not on display in front of a guest. The dinner had been excellent, and a wide ranging feast of spices and wines from across the world. Alicia and Dhyrucc had shuttled in the various treats and treasures over the last week.
   Conversation had turned to the ancient stories of the Deryni Lords. The Camberian Council and its role in the Duel Arcane of King Kelson had been raised. Victoria's abrupt dismissal of the Council had surprised Dhyrucc.

“You mean you do not work with them to preserve the lore of the past? I thought that they would have been among the first people you contacted.” he remarked.

“It was, although they were difficult to find at first. They are well hidden and appeared to the original founders of the network and warned about portal use. The original adept told them to pound sand. The Council is fine and has preserved as much heritage as they could in Gwynedd, but they are hidebound, bureaucratic and focused entirely too much on bloodline. The have purity tests for who they consider Deryni. If you are not pure enough you are not worthy of their time and effort. Call me biased, but if you operate a portal you are Deryni enough for the network.”

“Well don't hold back, tell us how you really feel about them” laughed Daniel. He lifted his glass of Madhu Mead and toasted her with a grin.

“Believe me sir, I am aware of how important bloodlines are to some people. My family is one such. Even among the people in this room there is a distinction as to who one should marry, there are unwritten rules as we all know. I ignore them all with equal abandon, and am allowed to do so only because of my wealth and abilities.”

Jane's mouth pressed into a firm line and she said nothing. Alicia looked down at her plate to cover her grin, but her eyes flicked from person to person. Simon and Rowan, the two eldest brothers looked uncomfortable at the byplay. Victoria continued,

“I've sent the Council my notes on portals.  I have gained a copy of the Vermilion protocols, the standard text on portals. It is excellent. I've gone past it in some regards. My work on 'tuning' a portal and making it easier to operate is ignored by the Council. It is not covered in the vermilion scroll, so they do not care.
   That being said, they council does appreciate the money I represent and we have funded and staffed two training halls for Healers. Neither of them anywhere close to here, which is another sticking point. The Council detests the frequent use of portals for mercantile or personal business. It is demeaning to the heritage of the Deryni, I am given to understand. No matter. We continue to grow and to learn.”

“So Healing is being taught? I had not heard. I have seen a healer at work. A man was kicked by a horse at a merchant house and another man, a Healer, saved his life by repairing the damage to his ribs and lung.” Alicia said. “Where are the schools?”

“One is on an island a few jumps from here. A lovely island. The school is attracting some excellent medical professionals from around the world. We are combining the knowledge of all the medicine used around the world and seeing what each nation knows.”

Simon spoke up, a surprise since he had little to do with Deryni related affairs. “This Council. I have heard stories of incredibly powerful magicians. Is your network more powerful than the Council?”

Victoria's face took on a thoughtful look. “I would say that the network and the Council work past one another and rarely for the same ends. The network began as a quick and dirty effort at smuggling, and grew into legitimate trade by accident as much as design. Money was the focus. The Council are generally rich to begin with, with the time and fortunes available to gain and practice power. This lets them become very powerful as magicians. They are not concerned with the price of silk in Shingtzen, or lace in Valoret, and if a profit can be made.” At Simon's look she smiled, “Yes, a good profit.
   The Council wants to bring the Deryni back to their old glory. I say we can forge a new path. We grubbers of profit, we mules of trade have enough money to buy land, to buy titles. Will this make people respect us? Honour us and not attack us? Not in my experience. Thing's are much better even from Kelson's time. We are allowed to own property, but there are still mobs. You still hide your heritage out of fear.”

“Things are better. There are some families that have become open about being Deryni.” Simon argued.

“This is true. Yet the mistrust remains, and I think it will likely always be there. The advantages Deryni have will always breed fear. We have the power to know when someone is lying. This will never make you a friend. We also have the power to compel. So nobody ever feels truly safe. There is too much angel, or devil, depending on who you believe, for humans to ever really trust us. Even the portals make us enemies. We change the rules of the game. For us there is no more endless days in a caravan, or perilous journey's at sea. We can flicker from city to city and make money. A human cannot do that, and merchant's suffer for it. We compete with unfair advantages and this will breed anger, resentment, and a rationalization for violence as well as anything else we do.”

“I wonder if there is a way to get humans to profit from portals.” mused Alicia. “If everyone could benefit it could be a first step in changing the attitudes of everyone.”

“This has long been a thought of the New Guard. We want the Deryni as a people to offer something back to the world to try and get past the fear and hatred. The school for healing and medicine is a first step, we hope.”

Dhyrucc stirred in his chair. “There has to be something about portals that can help. I've been thinking about it. I am close to coming up with something. I can feel an idea coming together. When I can explain it all I will come to you and pester you for advice.”

“I look forward to it.”

Laurna:
Oh yes, I look forward to that as well.

Nice, Merchant Deryni. I like the Healers school on an island. humm , I wonder where.

Jerusha:
Another excellent chapter.  I wonder what Dhyrucc will come up with.

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