From New Babbage Department of Records and Archives
Zachary ("Zac") Camber MacRorie Somerset, tanist of the Somerset sept of Clan Strathearn,was born on an alternate reality Earth in the Kingdom of Gwynedd in 18-mumble-something. He is the first-born son of James Rhys Somerset, Laird of the Somersets and Chief Armsman to His Grace Charles Morgan Strathearn, Seventeenth Duke of Strathearn, and Laird Somerset's late wife, Lady Angharad MacRorie.
As the scion of the Somerset line, Zac has spent most of his life in the service of House Strathearn, and specifically in the service of its Ducal Household. He holds his position as an armsman in House Strathearn partly by right of heredity, but also in large part by merit. Only Somersets (either direct descendents of the original Somerset of Kinsale, or those others who are in some way related to the House of Somerset by blood) are permitted to serve House Strathearn in this capacity; however, the privilege is only accorded to those who have fully demonstrated the willingness and ability to serve the Ducal House in this way. The Somerset Armsmen must be well versed both in the arts martial and in diplomacy. While the Ducal Household considers domestic service to be held separate from the usual role of the armsman, the highest level armsmen are often called upon to serve in a "Jack-of-all-trades" capacity, pinch-hitting in the roles of butler, valet, or amanuensis (personal assistant) as needed, especially in situations when absolute discretion and confidentiality, even from the regular household staff, is required. As the son of Laird Somerset, Zac has been groomed for this top tier of service since he entered adulthood.
Zac grew up with the children of the Duke of Strathearn, and it was assumed that he would someday enter the service of Alaisdair Strathearn, the Strathearn Heir, upon reaching adulthood and completing his armsman training. Alaisdair was two years Zac's junior, but despite the slight age difference between them, the two developed a close friendship as they traveled from one Strathearn Estate to the next, each learning the skills along the way that would prepare them for their respective roles as Ducal Heir and Ducal Armsman. However, after Alaisdair's untimely death at age nineteen during the Ducal Wars of Gwynedd, the Duke reassigned young Zachary to his eldest daughter, Lady Penelope ("Nell") Strathearn, who at the tender age of fifteen suddenly found herself thrust into the role of Inheritrix for the Duchy. A close bond was soon forged between this Somerset and Strathearn pairing also, one only made stronger by the shared grief for Alasdair which linked them. Under Zac's tutelage, Lady Nell's training in the defensive arts flourished, and for a while the Duke was quite pleased with the progress she was making in her studies with the newly-vested armsman. However, his pleasure began to turn into discomfort when he realized that his daughter was beginning to show signs of a romantic attachment to young Somerset as well, and although the armsman was more adept at concealing his own feelings, His Grace suspected that the feelings were reciprocated. Zachary soon found himself transferred to the Kheldish Riding, to serve on one of the Duke of Strathearn's more distant estates.
Years passed. Zac grew into his new responsibilities and took on others, moving up in the armsman ranks along the way, while elsewhere Lady Nell also grew into her own responsibilities as Heiress of Strathearn. After sufficient time had passed, and Nell was safely betrothed to the Heir of House Forsythe, the Duke of Strathearn sent Nell to the Kheldish Riding as part of her Grand Tour experience to complete her education and ease her into assuming more of a leadership role in the estates she would one day command. Upon returning to the Riding, Nell asked Zac to resume his training of her in the defensive arts, due to a series of recent "accidents" which she suspected were deliberate attempts on her life. Zac joined her personal armsman staff during her stay in the Riding, taking on the responsibility for grooming her in her use of her Deryni Talent as well as in the use of more conventional defenses such as firearms and edged weapons. The friendship between the two was rekindled, although each denied any stronger feelings existed between them, as both were acutely aware that Duty called them each to follow separate paths in life. Eventually, Nell moved on again, continuing her Grand Tour, while Zac found himself recalled home to Strathearn House to be groomed for a position within the Ducal Household itself.
When scientists and engineers in the employ of House Strathearn's aethernautical ventures discovered a new technology capable of stabilizing both ends of a nearby wormhole to allow reliable travel between Gwynedd's dimension and another, this discovery upset the fragile balance of power between Gwynedd's Ducal Houses, causing House Strathearn to rise to the fore. House Forsythe, longtime rivals to House Strathearn (a rift which Lady Nell's betrothal had originally been intended to heal), determined that they should acquire this new technology for themselves, no matter what the cost. House Forsythe's aspirations spelled out increased danger to Lady Nell, and Zac was dispatched by his Duke to return to Nell's household (which was still on Grand Tour) and take over her security as her new Chief Armsman. He arrived barely in time to lead the evacuation, barely in advance of House Forsythe's hired forces. In an effort to hide Nell from her highly trained Deryni attackers, Zac took the novel and high-risk approach of blocking her Talents, hoping this would help her escape the Forsythe's notice during their flight. The tactic succeeded to a point, but during the chaos of the escape, Nell and Zac were separated. The aethership mercenaries hired by House Forsythe managed to track Nell down despite all precautions and gave chase, damaging her aethership and forcing her to flee through the Portal in order to escape capture. Her ship began to break apart almost immediately after passing through the Portal, destabilizing her end of the wormhole and leaving her stranded in a strange dimension, far from her guardian.
After his Lady's disappearance into the Portal, Zac returned to House Strathearn and, with the aid of their best physicists, managed to work out the most likely coordinates where Lady Nell might have emerged on the other side. With the aid of another Maldon Device (the Portal stabilizing technology), he took his personal aethership the HSS Gwynedd through the Portal in search of Nell. After a brief but thorough search, he managed to locate her in the City-State of New Babbage, where they have chosen to remain hidden from House Forsythe's assassins until such time as it either becomes safer for Nell to return home, or their duties to House Strathearn demand their return.