By Diana Wynne Jones
For aeons the mages of Arth, a neighbouring universe, were looting Earth of rules, options and applied sciences, all of the whereas manipulating occasions and developing devastating catastrophes for his or her personal edification. Now this brazen piracy is threatening Earth with overall extinction. it really is as much as the hoop, a mystery society of witches and warlocks devoted to the continuance and wellbeing and fitness of mankind, to struggle the virtuous, unbendingly conventional stronghold of Arth with an arsenal of mental sabotage, inner dissension -- and kamikaze intercourse ...
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His eyes were remarkable. Loving Goddess! the High Head thought. Edward didn't tell me half of it! His eyes raced over spindly legs, narrow chests, feeble chins, at least one potbelly, a stoop, several thick, brutish faces one with a broken nose and a lad with glasses. The only normal one was the short, square- built young man who had to be the Pentarch of Frinjen's son. That one wore his new blue uniform quite naturally, as if he were used to regalia, and he was the only one not panting. Quite an athlete from his build though to judge by his shoulder-length cone of carefully styled hair and his jaunty little moustache, he tried to conceal the fact.
When he learned that this year's high-tide transfers would be bringing the entire Inner Convent of Leathe to see him, he rightly interpreted it as another attempt by Lady Marceny to get his soul under her domination. Report had it that she, and her mother before her, had possessed his predecessor in soul and mind too. The High Head had no doubt that the report was true. Marceny was the hardest and most inexorable of all the women of Leathe. She possessed most of the power in Leathe, but she was not satisfied with that, nor with having made a vicious puppet out of that son of hers.
The High Head was gratified to see that the possibility had never occurred to him. "Great gods, no! No, it's about this year's servicemen I imagine you haven't had a chance to see them yet. " "You mean the numbers are down? I saw that from the list. What happened? " Edward shook his head. "No, it's not that. I talked to some of them, and they all say that this is all of them there ever were. I'm afraid it's worse than that, Lawrence. It looks as if every single district that owes us service, in every single Fiveir, has sent the absolute legal minimum, and on top of that, almost every lad is wrong in some way.