Fantasy. Alain Harper and fellow Lightchild Basil Bridgeland receive the Scroll of the Mandate of Heaven. Together they confront Duke Henry Highridge, his bastard brethren, his wife and his army in order to prevent the sack of House Highridge’s newly gained holdings. With fellow Triond author Jack Shepherd.

“We’ll see about that. Bind this man and chain him to the back of a horse. We’ll see to him later, after he walks off some of his stubbornness. Not a word from you, Jordan, this man is doubly our enemy and I intend to deal with him accordingly.”

Ivan remained seated as he eyed a pretty young maiden, then a handsome fellow. Maybe he would have both that night. Or maybe not; there were plenty of fish in this particular sea…

“At least restrain Ivan, this is not a war…”

“Shut up, Jordan,” Henry said. Ivan winked at his younger brother and rode off with a party of soldiers, seeking people to ravish.

Henry sighed.

“Henry forgive my speech but I know you hate sexual immorality and favor marriage…”

“You know nothing, bastard. I’ve done plenty of raping in my time, too. It’s the bloodline of the House I favor – nothing more.”

Jordan looked down in sadness.

“Fine! I’ll stop him, but only for tonight. I can’t hold him forever.” In truth, Henry had a soft spot for Jordan, though he’d never admit it in public. “Captain,” he said to the nearest one available, “take your company and bring Ivan back here on my orders. If he refuses to come, shoot him.”

The captain, startled but not altogether surprised at Henry’s harshness, rode off swiftly to obey.

“Thank you, Henry, you are…”

“Just don’t. Please don’t.” Why did the boy look up to him? Henry always wondered at that. He always treated Jordan badly, but the boy always looked to Henry.

Alain could tell Henry if he were only willing to listen: Jordan had taken his brothers’ best traits and combined them while learning not to repeat their faults. This endeared him to Alain and though Henry would never admit it, this made even him look on the boy with respect.

Ivan was a “legal” brother as he was the son of a known concubine. Henry had to grow up with Ivan in the castle. They had their own relationship, though a rocky one, and at least they both looked like House Highridge. Henry hated the fact this bastard challenged his throne, but they were brothers.

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