Here is an example from the novel where the hero Edward Eastland learns about his power when confronting one of the magicians from the sect called the Covenent.
At eleven o'clock precisely, Imperial Grandmaster Borovic, the Army Governor of Rombuli Province of the Parison Empire, rode into the Alskar town square surrounded by his personal escort. He was there to appraise the men from Alskar aged between sixteen and twenty six. Standing with the rest of the men was Edward Eastland, son of the leader of the Alskar Town Council.
As the soldiers dismounted, Edward’s eyes were drawn to a figure in a white robe beside the Governor.
A red sash held the robe in place. A small wooden staff was thrust through the sash at his waist. Around his neck was a heavy gold chain from which hung an amber jewel. This was one of the priests of the Empire, said by some to have magical powers. It was also whispered that these priests could read men's minds and force any man to do their bidding by shear force of their will.
They were called Covenenters and were bound together by training, breeding and secret incantation. It was rumoured that Tulka their leader, who resided in far away Parison, was as old as time and was the most powerful man in the Empire. The sight of the white robed figure spread dread amongst the spectators.
He instinctively raised his mental barriers as taught by his father when the Covenenter looked in his direction.
His father, Idris Eastland, had warned him that morning. “ Be wary of the Covenenter if he is there. He has some suspicions about your abilities so try not to demonstrate what you can do. Oh come off it Edward, stop making that face. Your mind communicating ability is as strong as anybody in Rombuli. Then there is your ability to move things by thought alone. I can lift things like a pen and into my hand if I am sitting at the desk. I cannot make a hammer or a knife or a saw or a file fly halfway across the workshop into my hand. I have tried and the effort leaves me weak and sweating and the tools hardly move. However, I was on the way back from the warehouse late one night when I saw you rack all your tools and tidy up the bench without moving a step. I expect I am the only one who knows and lets try to keep it that way. I would not like to see you confronting the Covenenter and then throwing a rock at him by your mind power. Let's try to at least keep that side of your power a secret though you will have to shield your mind if he tries to probe into it.”
Once all the names had been ticked off a list, Borovic gave instructions for the sergeant and two soldiers to inspect the men. As the soldiers started to walk down the lines of men, the square fell silent. The slight creak of the soldiers gear was very loud in the air as the tension mounted. The sergeant closely inspected each man, looking them up and down as though checking a prize horse. Certain men had a red ribbon fixed to their chest when the sergeant nodded to the accompanying soldiers.
Edward was convinced he would get a ribbon but the sergeant, after giving him a superficial glance, moved on. Edward wondered why he had escaped the scrutiny of his other friends and happened to be looking at the Covenenter as the sergeant passed. For a moment Edward felt the black eyes burning into his and the slight pressure of a probing into his mind. With ease he concentrated his mental defences. The penetrating gaze of those eyes scared him even though the Covenenter was some distance away. In one brief moment, Edward was made aware of a power in the depths of those eyes he had never encountered before. This, Edward realised was only a hint of the power which, when fully unleashed, could make men obey no matter what they were ordered to do. Once more Edward felt the probing of his mind but his defences held.
All those without badges were ordered to disperse and rejoin their families when the men had been inspected. Around twenty were left standing in the square and Edward now had some idea why he was not chosen. All the men were of the about the same height, six feet or so, a good three inches taller than Edward. Without glancing back, Edward walked towards his family. Morag, his sister, was comforting Matt’s wife and glancing over his shoulder saw that Matt, his best friend, was amongst those still standing in the square. As Edward came to the line of soldiers, he heard a roar from the square and turned to see what was happening.
“ I will not leave my wife and daughter!” Matt was standing rigidly facing the Imperial Grandmaster and shouting at the top of his voice. “ I don't care whether the Emperor has ordered me to come with you or not. Tell him to find somebody else to act as his escort!”
Edward stood rooted to the spot. He knew how short Matt's temper was, having many times felt its full force. Once in the grip of his temper, Matt tended to lash out blindly at anything or any one who got in his way. Many times Edward had come to Matt's rescue by talking their way out of difficult situations when they had been out in the town together. In desperation, Edward thrust his thoughts into Matt’s mind. Desperately he tried to get through to Matt and make him stop. Matt's thoughts were too full of despair and anger. Edward's mental thrust met a complete blank.
Edward stood and watched. Very deliberately, Matt tore off the red ribbon, flung it onto the ground and turned away from the centre of the square, ignoring the sergeant’s order to stop. Walking purposely towards Morag and his wife, Matt did not look back. Two soldiers stepped passed Edward, grabbed Matt by the arms and wrestled him to the ground. There was a surge from the crowd and the rest of the soldiers struggled to maintain order. Silence once again descended on the square.
Suddenly Matt sprang upright, flinging the soldiers holding his arms away. Letting out a roar of frustration and rage, he rushed across the square towards Borovic. Matt was too quick for the soldiers occupied as they were with the crowd and in one round house swipe he smashed the sergeant out of his way. In a daze, Edward saw the Covenenter standing directly in Matt's path.
Edward yelled desperately for Matt to stop, pushed his thoughts into Matt's mind and tried to somehow warn his friend. He was too late. The Covenenter placed his feet firmly apart and calmly drew his staff from his belt. To Edward, standing helplessly at the edge of the square, everything happened in slow motion. The Covenenter pointed the staff at Matt and blue flame sprang from the end. Two tongues of flame spiralled together across the square and focused on Matt.
It was as though Matt had run full tilt into a brick wall, so abruptly did he stop. He did not fall however. Like a puppet, he was held upright in the blue corona of light, twitching as though having a fit. The Covenenter let the blue light fade and Matt slumped to the ground as though dead.
Edward found himself running across the square towards the place where his friend lay twitching. Skidding to a halt, Edward sank to his knees. Ignoring everybody, he grabbed Matt's wrist hardly able to feel anything because of the racing of his own heart. Feeling a slight flutter, for a while he knelt beside his friend trying to calm the wild beating of his heart on the realisation that Matt was alive.
The Covenenter had not moved. He stood, his white robe fluttering in the breeze, his black eyes boring steadily into Edward's. His staff pointed unwaveringly at Edward's chest.
“ Leave him where he is,” the Covenenter ordered. “ He will be unharmed when he regains consciousness.”
“ You are evil,” Edward spate out, feeling the full force of the Covenenter's mind trying to will him to get up. Edward easily resisted these efforts.
Ignoring the Covenenter while turning to talk to the Imperial Grandmaster, Edward said very slowly. “ Why do you permit this? All he wants is to be with his wife and baby. If your baby was only a few weeks old, wouldn't you resist every attempt to take you away by force? No, I suppose not. All you see is duty to the Empire. Your family and your life can go hang if you get an order from the Emperor.”
The Imperial Grandmaster stood by the table his expression impassive but did not reply.
“ Get up and leave him here.” The Covenenter ordered in a tone which brooked no argument. “ Go back to your workshop and stop interfering in matters which are no concern of yours. I will not forget your defiance and we will meet again.”
Kneeling in the dust by his friend’s side, Edward stared at the Covenenter almost willing him to use his staff.
‘Go on’, Edward's mind projected, ‘ make me do what you want’.
For a wild moment their minds locked. Edward resisted the pressure to make him get to his feet but he wondered whether he could resist the power of the staff. In his mind he caught a swiftly hidden feeling of doubt in the Covenenter's mind. Resignedly, he understood that too much resistance on his part could result in many people getting hurt. Sighing, he let his mental defiance slowly drain away. He did not drop his mental defences. Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, Edward turned to two of the young men who were staring open mouthed in his direction.
“ Come here and help Matt to his feet.” They looked from Edward to the Covenenter as though not certain how to react. Seeing no reaction from the Covenenter, they came and helped Edward get Matt to his feet. Edward deliberately spent some time brushing the dust from Matt’s cloths. Matt's eyes fluttered as he started regain consciousness. The two men helped Matt back into line leaving Edward alone facing the Covenenter.
Edward brushed down his own cloths and approached the Covenenter. Thrusting his face close to the Covenenter's, Edward said in a low voice. “ We will meet again and I will remember the lessons I have learnt today. You could not compel me with your mind and maybe I could resist the power of your staff. The trial between us will have to wait for another time.”
Turning away, Edward sensed the silent laughter of the Covenenter. Underneath the laughter, he detected doubt in the Covenenter as though for once the Covenenter was uncertain.
Ignoring everybody, Edward walked away from the square. He passed through the crowds without looking back and on up the street towards his home. He did not hear the sergeant bark the order for the Rombuli to march. He was almost home when Imperial Grandmaster Borovic lead the column of men out of the square.
Edward's thoughts were in turmoil. He knew that all the people in the square had been cowed by the power of the Covenenter. Everybody watching had been struck by their sheer helplessness when Matt had been beaten down. All they had was work calloused hands against the power of the Covenenter's mind and will. Even I, thought Edward, one of the few with any hint of power did very little to counter the power of the Covenenter. Though I may have defied him for a little while, in the end I climbed meekly to my feet and came home as though compelled by the force behind those deep black eyes.
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