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Against the Terrans - The First Age (Recontact)
30 years before ?Star of Danger?
A marriage between a Terran and Darkovan will be strange and hazardous for both. Some of the challenges that the couple must face are Callista must gain permission from the Keeper of Arilinn, Leonie Hastur, to leave the Tower, take back her oath to be Keeper, and given her blessing to marry Andrew. Faced with the unconditioning of a Keeper, and Andrew?s sexual frustration, will Callista return to Arilinn Tower, as the next Keeper, despite her feelings for Andrew? Second, even though Andrew says he will be patient while Callista unlearns her Keeper chastity conditioning, will he be able to remain patient for seasons, or longer, or realistically, not at all?
Fortunately, for Andrew, being a horse trainer and breaking horses is a respected occupation on Darkover. Andrew grew up on a ranch in Arizona, where he learned to work with horses. Andrew went into space as an Empire civil servant, moving from planet to planet at the will of the administrators and computers. Since coming here to Cottman IV, he has nothing to his claim besides this skill.
The two couples marry at the same time, (making their telepathic link stronger still.) For Ellemir, Damon?s years in the Tower, those years of which he never spoke, she learned that it made him unhappy if she asked him about it, and would always be a barricade between them, but not between Damon and Callista. They have experience of a life in the Tower, where Ellemir stayed home to care for her father.
To Ellemir and Damon?s delight, she gets pregnant from their wedding night. Their close kinsmanship can prove to be disastrous for the expecting parents. This is one of the cultural differences between a Terran and Darkovan. Because Ellemir and Damon can telepathically sense the awareness in the fetus, it is therefore considered a life, their child, regardless of how early in the pregnancy it is. Children are treasured very highly on Darkover. Soon to be a blessing to the couple Ellemir and Damon, Callista gives Andrew permission to lay with her sister Ellemir, not because of her miscarriage, but because she is not able to lay with her own husband, Andrew. This is another huge cultural difference between Andrew and the other three. Andrew finds himself insulting and hurting feelings, when he believes he is being true to his vows and their honor. The situation is further complicated for Damon Ridenow is an empath, feeling everything Andrew feels. (I find that Andrew?s resistance to lay with Ellemir, even with her and Callista?s permission, unrealistic and difficult to believe. However, for what Marion Zimmer Bradley is trying to convey to the reader, in a wordy novel, is the depth of the telepathic link with the four, it is repetitive and detailed description and explanation is highly necessary.)
By living together, the telepathic link between all four is stronger than ever. Even Ellemir?s laran is greatly awakened and improved. Their challenge is keeping what secrets they can from Dom Esteban, because with his Alton gift, he knows all.
Turmoil and deceit strike with the introduction of Dezi, (Deziderio), as Dom Esteban?s servant. They learn that Dezi is a Comyn bastard. Dom Esteban will not acknowledge him as his son though. However, they learn that Dezi has the Alton gift, has been sent to Arilinn Tower, and dismissed, as Damon was. Dezi holds a hard and mortal grudge against not being acknowledged.
Because Andrew and Callista were not able to consummate their marriage, it is considered null and void until they do so. Dezi desired Callista deeply for her beauty, and hates Andrew equally as deep for being an alien. He schemes to get Andrew out of the picture, so he can then step in as Callista?s husband, and Alton heir. Dezi?s foul act is discovered in the nick of time for Andrew?s sake. Against Ellemir?s advise Damon shows mercy on Dezi. He battles to take his starstone away and burning it out, instead of killing Dezi. On one seemingly fortuitous night for Andrew and Callista, she believes herself ready for sex and they attempt to consummate their marriage, with the aid of their telepathic link to Damon and Ellemir?s coupling across the hall. This ends in disaster for Callista and Andrew. Andrew is almost killed because of Callista?s laran reflexively defending her. Because Callista realized it was Andrew she was attacking, she held back, resulting in her channels becoming blocked. Keepers cannot allow sexual energies and laran energies travel at the same time. Callista is dying.
Damon strongly believes that telepaths who do not want to live in the Towers should not have to. They should not have to sacrifice their life because the need of Keepers in the Towers is so great, and the availability of strong laran holders is too few. He believes that there are enough telepaths to train for healing the common man without screens, therefore allowing Keepers to do the work in the Towers. Leonie preaches that the use of laran without screens will be a return to the Ages of Chaos. You cannot do matrix work outside the Towers, for the Keepers maintain that it is not being misused.
In a desperate last attempt to save Callista?s life, Damon visits with Leonie in the overworld, (the world of thought and illusion. The energy-net double of the real world.) He cannot find what will save Callista in all the libraries of the Towers. Leonie informs Damon that he must do a Timesearch, back to the Ages of Chaos, to find a way to save Callista. In his visit with Varzil the Good, in the Timesearch in the overworld, he discovers a way to save Callista with a forgotten secret become taboo. The old sacramental rite of Year?s End. Damon also leaves with Varzil the Good naming him a Keeper.
Before their journey to the Comyn Council castle, Andrew comes to terms with the relationship between the four and his sexuality. Andrew?s sexual awareness of Ellemir, the tenderness for Callista, and the strong, protective warmth he feels for Damon. They?re all one emotion.
At the Comyn Council, they must face Dezi for another and hopefully for a final time, for Damon Ridenow is named regent. The Alton heir has died under suspicious circumstances. In addition, Dom Esteban Lanart is dying, from a weak heart and must name an heir. Callista is forced to return to the Arilinn Tower because of her illegitimate marriage. Can she prove to not only Leonie but to the council also that her marriage is true, with the help of the taboo discovered in the Timesearch? Damon and the others are in mortal danger, for the Keepers of the Towers claim that Damon has constructed a ?forbidden tower? with Callista, Ellemir, and Andrew, and it has been misused in the eyes of the Keepers of the Towers. Being faced with loosing his starstone as punishment. To go through life without laran, a prisoner forever in his own skull, intolerably alone forever, blinded, mutilated, and deaf. The four stand by one another to establish a new age for Darkover and it?s Keepers!
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