Fantasy. Duke Edward Solaris learns of his father’s death and rushes home from patrol, only to encounter a family friend having mysterious powers: Alain Harper the Undying Singer. With fellow Triond author Jack Shepherd.
“As for my friendship, young Duke,” Alain went on, “I wouldn’t presume too much on it if I were you. I know the prophecy about the Seven Kingdoms as well as you; I wrote it, after all. I also know that this very past night, you dreamed that you would fulfill it. Be warned: I foresee what will be fulfilled, but not who will fulfill it. That depends on your choices between good and evil, and those of many others. Long years of war lie before you and yours in any case. What side I take in that war depends on who follows my Lord’s will most fully – and that remains to be seen.”
“And this is why you came to meet us? To deliver that message?”
“Yes, and to remind you of something in your father’s stead. People like you forget all too easily how important the feelings and values of other people are. You want to act as if life were merely a chessboard and people merely the pieces you can move on it. That approach is wrong and foolish, young Duke, even if it is easy for you. In real life, dealing with people is as much like choosing gems for their value and beauty as like playing chess. People like me choose gems better than most, but we’re also fair enough at playing chess. Our strengths and weaknesses lie elsewhere – just as every style of armour has its strengths and weaknesses in battle.”
Edward was all but nonplused. “I had forgotten,” he said at last, “that you also can read the thoughts of others at need.” The young Duke cleared his throat. “I had been thinking about styles of armour in that very way, just before we broke camp,” he added by way of explanation to the others.
“Is there any limit to what you can do, Master Alain?” Eric asked. He was still having trouble believing what he’d seen of Alain’s abilities – a mere fraction of what his real capabilities probably were. Eric had no trouble believing that, even sight unseen. The guileless confidence of the man, without ego-inflation yet with no shadow of turning, spoke to Eric’s noble heart wordlessly, profoundly.
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