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.

“As a Ne’ti, I want to show people compassion and peace – and justice too. You know that.”

“I do, but there’s something I’d like you to consider. People on this world don’t respond well to your chief ego-strength of insight combined with systems thinking – not as such. Even if they have the same talents, their cultures tend to suppress them. You can use those two gifts to teach about compassion and about enduring persecution for righteousness’ sake in an unjust world, but to reach them you have to focus your attention on the virtues, not on the thought processes that lie behind them.”

“You mean, be focused on results and not just on processes?”

“Right. That’s not natural for either of us, but for most on Sept-Ternia that’s what we have to do. Their regard for moral conscience, which is part of my chief ego-strength, is suppressed even more, especially in the higher echelons. But there are ways of working around even that stubbornness – you’d be amazed what a little Blademaster hand-to-hand technique can remind some of them about.” Alain chuckled at the memory of what he’d done to Henry Highridge. “Look. You have to know your own strengths and weaknesses on the one hand and your audience’s circumstances on the other. That’s all I’m saying. The Message will look after itself if you do that. Those who have ears to hear will hear and respond to it.”

“Then what am I doing wrong, that things are taking so long?”

“Basil, you can’t just rely on your Inner Mischievous Child and the way it uses ‘Blessed are the pure in heart’ to reach people. And it’s even worse if you try to play the Inner Critical Parent and set people’s lives in order by browbeating them on the Ten Terms of the Covenant. If you do such things, then people will use the slightest pretext they can find to label you a deceiver – as if people don’t do that to the Lord’s servants readily enough anyway.”

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