Brand was evidently in the grip of that powerful awareness that’s characteristic of the Children of Light. He seemed almost inhumanly calm and completely detached from what was about to happen.
Immediately after father arrived, however, Brand’s expression and manner abruptly changed. His face took on a look of inhuman resolve, and when he spoke it was in a voice of thunder or the deep subterranean roar of an earthquake. ‘In the name of Belar I defy thee, Torak, maimed and accursed! In the name of Aldur also I cast my despite into thy teeth! Let the bloodshed be abated, and I will meet thee – man against God – and I shall prevail against thee! Before thee I cast my gage! Take it up or stand exposed as craven before men and Gods!’
Torak, with Zedar close behind him, had come out of that ridiculous tin castle by now, and Brand’s challenge didn’t seem to sit too well with the God of Angarak. He roared out his rage and lashed out with his massive sword, shattering boulders and showering the area around him with sparks. That’s when Zedar bolted.
‘Who among mortal kind is so foolish as to thus defy the King of the World?’ Torak bellowed. ‘Who among ye would contend with a God?’
‘I am Brand, Warder of Riva, and I defy thee, foul and misshapen Godling, and all thy putrid host! Bring forth thy might! Take up my gage or slink away and come no more against the kingdoms of the west!’
The entire purpose of the challenge, of course, had been to so enrage Torak that his mind would stop functioning. Had the God of Angarak been thinking clearly, he’d have smelled the trap being set for him. His rage, however, seems to have obliterated any suspicion or even any traces of sanity. ‘BEHOLD!’ he said in a mighty voice, ‘I am Torak, King of Kings and Lord of Lords! I fear no man of mortal kind nor the dim shades of long-forgotten gods! I will go forth and destroy this loud-mouthed Rivan fool, and mine enemies shall fall away before my wrath, and Cthrag Yaska shall be mine again, and the world also!’
And that, of course, was what the entire battle, the whole war, had been all about. Everything we’d suffered had only had one goal – to get Torak close enough to the Master’s Orb so that it could dispose of him.
The thunderous exchange had stunned both armies into immobility. The fighting broke off as Kal Torak strode north through his cringing troops and Brand, with my wolfish father trotting along beside him and mother and I in our combined owl hovering over his head, marched south to meet his enemy.
When they were about twenty paces apart, an EVENT occurred, an EVENT that father didn’t even notice. Brand identified himself and added a few more insults just for good measure to keep Torak’s brain on fire.
Torak, however, spoke to father. ‘Begone, Belgarath,’ he warned. ‘Flee if thou wouldst save thy life.’
Father responded appropriately, snarling his defiance.
Then Torak fixed his single eye on me, but he did not threaten. His tone was honeyed, and the force of his Will overpowering. ‘Abjure thy father, Polgara, and come with me. I will wed thee and make thee Queen of all the world, and thy might and thy power shall be second only to mine.’
I’ve seen small, helpless creatures in the presence of a snake on occasion. The mouse or rabbit knows that the snake is there, and he knows that it’s dangerous, but he seems frozen in place, unable to move as the reptile slowly approaches. I found myself in much the same condition. Torak’s Will had simply overwhelmed me.
The histories of that brief encounter all state that I screamed my defiance of the One-eyed God, but I didn’t. I was unable to utter even a single sound. Torak had met me, and he had conquered me. His single eye burned with triumph as he felt all of my defenses crumble.
What Torak didn’t know, and could not know, was that he faced three of the Master’s disciples in that moment rather than just two, and he didn’t even know of the existence of the third. It was the third disciple who defeated him at Vo Mimbre, probably because the third disciple had ties not only to Aldur, but also to UL, Torak’s own father.
Our owl, trembling in every feather, hovered indecisively over Brand’s head, and then I felt the whole of my awareness shunted off into a very small corner of our shared form, and the third disciple, my mother, took over. I’ve been in the presence of Gods many times, but I’ve never felt anything as overpowering as mother’s Will on that day. She drew that force about her and hurled it directly into Torak’s teeth. Had he been human, that force would have exploded him into atoms. The vehicle of her Will was our shared voice, and had it not been so carefully directed, it probably would have shattered glass in all the kingdoms of the west. Because that voice was so tightly controlled and directed, I don’t think anyone actually recognized just how enormous it really was. Birds squawk, warble, tweet, and scream all the time, and nobody really pays much attention. Torak didn’t shrug it off, though. Mother’s shriek of defiance carried overtones of the voice of Aldur, and it also was the voice of UL. Torak’s Will, which he thought to be so overwhelming, had been directed at me, since he didn’t even know that mother was there. The shriek of response, which he thought was coming from me, was so vast that it made the blow he’d aimed at me seem puny by comparison. The maimed God of Angarak was suddenly made uncertain and afraid. I think I may be the only one who saw him visibly flinch when it struck him or saw the burning of the Eye that Was Not flicker with fear and indecision. It was at that point that Torak’s supreme self-confidence shriveled within him, and he was filled with self-doubt when he faced the Rivan Warder. That doubt and fear made the outcome inevitable:
History reports that it was Brand who defeated Torak that day before the walls of Vo Mimbre, but history is wrong. It was mother who defeated him, and she used our combined voice to do it. In a peculiar way, my mother won the Battle of Vo Mimbre.
‘Prepare then to perish all!’ Torak thundered, but the faint hint of doubt in his voice suggested that he was not as absolutely certain as his doomsday pronouncement seemed to indicate. The Ashabine Oracles had warned him about the third day of the battle, but so firm was his belief that he’d face the Rivan King and his star-born sword on that day that when it was Brand who offered the challenge, Torak exultantly believed that he’d won and that the warning about the third day was no longer valid. It was that and only that that persuaded him to come out of the iron pavilion on that fatal day. What he failed to realize was that Brand wasn’t his opponent on that field, it was the Master’s Orb.