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.

“You always do. Why stop now?”

“I’m guessing that you hope Ivan will inherit in time instead of Henry, because he’s an educated man. I think that speaks well of Ivan too, but it’s not enough. Henry’s outwardly brash, but Ivan’s just as bad.”

“What have you heard about him? It probably wouldn’t shock me.”

“Only if you’re already heard it and adapted to the news – and for you that wouldn’t be easy.”

“No kidding – it wasn’t. Go on.”

“Henry’s a butcher, but Ivan’s as sexually immoral as Henry is violent. He has every kind of sex he can think of with everything that moves; and he doesn’t discriminate between male and female. And just like Henry, Ivan uses rape to control his victims, only much more often, and on top of that, often just for sport. Yes, he’s an educated man, but he uses his knowledge for evil.”

“We Ne’fis are often shocked, but seldom surprised once we’ve lived long enough. Ivan’s a carnal Se’fi and there’s nothing that a carnal Se’fi won’t shag – sorry for the vulgarism. I could practically smell his mental stink from the bowels of Castle Highridge when I was there not long ago. Henry’s a carnal Se’ti, and his ego could use an appointment with the business end of an aluminum baseball bat. I’d prefer Ivan over Henry, but only because I know how to hit Se’fis where they’re weakest mentally. Henry’s a tougher case for a Ne’fi to tackle. So where would you put your hope?”

“Jordan’s a teenager, the youngest, and the purest of the three. I hope his brothers’ influence doesn’t change this.”

“True enough; Jordan’s a Fi’ne. He won’t give up his integrity easily, but he’s also not apt to put himself forward in a leadership role. He needs a mentor to give him the courage to find and assert himself in the right way.”

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