|Chapter 23: Knowledge|
Bannor's gaze did not waver. In his familiar, awkward, atonal inflection, he replied, "Ur-Lord, we have seen the Desecration. We have seen the fruit of perilous lore. Lore is not knowledge. Lore is a weapon, a sword or spear. The Bloodguard have no use for weapons. Any knife may turn and wound the hand which wields it. Yet the Lords desire lore. They do work of value with it. Therefore we do not resist it, though we do not touch it or serve it or save it.
"High Lord Kevin made his Wards to preserve his lore--and to lessen the peril that his weapons might fall into unready hands. This we approve. We are the Bloodguard. We do not speak of lore. We speak only of what we know."
Covenant could not go on. He felt that he had already multiplied his offenses against Bannor too much. And he was moved by what Bannor said, despite the Bloodguard's flat tone.
But Elena had learned enough to pursue his reasoning. Her voice was both quiet and authoritative as she said, "First Mark--Bannor--the Bloodguard must make a decision now. Hear me. I am Elena, High Lord by the choice of the Council. This is a question of loyalty. Will you serve dead Kevin's widsom, or will you serve me? In the past, you have served two causes, the dead and the living. You have served both well. But here you must choose. In the Land's need, there is no longer any middle way. There will be blood and blame upon us all if we allow Corruption to prevail."
Slowly, Bannor turned toward the First Mark. They regarded each other in silence for a long moment. Then Morin faced the High Lord with a magisterial look in his eyes. "High Lord," he said, "we do not know the name of the Seventh Ward's power. We have heard many names--some false, others dead. But one name we have heard only uttered in whispers by High Lord Kevin and his Council.
"That name is the Power of Command."
When Amok heard the name, he nodded until his hair seemed to dance with glee.