The following is an excerpt from “Quellseek: Army of Empaths,” the novel I’m in the process of writing. The excerpt is taken from the opening of the fourteenth chapter: “Quellseek Comes to Endicott” and the POV character is Toleus, the brutal Quell from the Fortress at Haverton. In this chapter, Toleus and the Seekers have arrived on Quellseek to the little village of Endicott in the Hungry Hills. The brutal practice of outing the Quell members of the village begins:
Fire was roaring on a makeshift Plentim bier, armed men were placing pokers into its hot, raging maw. People were running in all directions, screaming; men pulling their wives along by their arms, and mothers in their turn, pulling younger children or cradling infants and toddlers protectively against their breasts. Panic was slowly turning to order, though, as the villagers soon realized the entrances and exits of the town were effectively blocked, guarded by solemn men clad either in all-gray or all-black. Men with drawn swords and angry eyes.
Toleus stepped out of the chaos and shouted an order.
“Everyone under the age twenty-two stand off to one side! Do it! Now!”
It took several minutes for his order to be completely carried out. Some parents were reluctant to part with their children; or in the case of young couples, who clung to one another while being prodded with the ends of swords into the Test group, refusing to let go of each other… which was fine with Toleus…the Seekers would know that either could be tried for the others Testing.
Last into the fray of onlookers were a father, mother, and their teenage son, herded by four Seekers from the direction where the less-populated area of the village lay.
“Merchant. Had to beat down his door,” called one of the Seekers to Toleus. One of the other Seekers grabbed the boy by the scruff of his tunic and hauled him into the group of those who had not been born during the time of the last Quellseek.
“Rafael!” the woman cried.
‘Mother. Good,’ thought Toleus. ‘We’ll work on her first, when comes his Testing.’
When they were all sorted, Toleus stepped up to the fire and removed a poker from the flames, its tip glowing yellow-red and hot.
“All right, now.” Toleus said, with a menacing grin. “Who’s first?”