Here's the extract - set sometime before the start of Strand of Faith:
She found him pacing between the stacks in the library; for all his other faults he was a conscientious student.
“What are you looking for?” she asked, sensing his frustration.
He brushed her off. “It doesn’t matter, just something I heard about.”
“Tell me. Maybe I could help.”
He thought about that; maybe she could. Although they were both student doctors, she was several years older and nearing the end of her studies. “Someone mentioned power stones and master stones. I want to know more.”
Now she understood. Such things would be irresistible to him. “You won’t find anything here. They aren’t stones. You’re looking in the wrong place.”
He rounded on her. “You know about them? What class are they covered in? Where can I find out more?”
“They aren’t taught in class. You’d only find out about them at the very end of your training, depending on the specialism you choose. Or if you became a monk.”
That made them both smile; anyone less likely to become a monk was hard to imagine.
“Or a High Lord,” she added.
That took the smile off his face. The risk that might happen was something that both kept him awake and tormented his dreams.
“So how do you know?” he asked.
She shook her head. “Not here. Somewhere private. Come on.”
He followed her eagerly, lengthening his stride to catch up and wrap an arm round her waist. Although they weren’t a couple they had been lovers on and off for some time; he had no problem persuading her to talk.
“I overheard my mother and him talking about them years ago, when he became Abbot. His ring is one, you know,” she confessed, referring to the High Lord of the Great House they both currently lived in. Here, the Great House was based around a monastery and the High Lord was also the Abbot. “Then I made it my business to find out all I could,” she continued. “Most of the information is hidden away but I tracked it down.”
That didn’t surprise him. There was no one quite like her for getting into places she wasn’t allowed and finding out things she shouldn’t know.
“They aren’t jewels like that,” she told him, gesturing at the emerald in his signet ring. “They’re constructs, a sort of miniature cross between an EEG machine and Shields.”
As doctors, this couple were both familiar with machines that sensed, measured and tracked brainwaves. As a part of the quarter of the population that were Gifted with extra abilities, such as telepathy or telekinesis, they also were familiar with what the mind could do and with the Shields that could contain or prevent the use of such Gifts. He nodded, understanding, and urged her to carry on, his thirst for knowledge consuming him.
“They’re about linking two or more Gifted people together,” she said. “You activate them by touching them with your mind, a bit like telepathy, and they transfer the energy you’d normally use for your Gifts to one dominant person, from all those who are connected.”
“So that one person has more energy and it enhances their abilities?” he asked, eagerly.
She nodded. “Yeah, but they’re limited. Power stones restrict how much energy is transferred to protect their users. And they only work over a short range. Master stones work over a much greater range, and they collect the energy and store it, like a battery. But they take all the energy they can from their user, too. People don’t survive using a master stone.”
“What do they look like? Have you seen them? Where can you get hold of them?” he demanded.
She laughed. “I’ve seen them and so have you. They are always disguised to look like jewels set in silver or gold. Some say the setting helps them transmit and receive energy.”
“So? Where are they?”
“Each of the Gifted monks or nuns has a power stone in the cross they wear. And I told you, his Abbot’s ring is one. I think it’s a master stone. And my mother has a power stone too, in that brooch she nearly always wears.”
“How can you tell? How can you be sure it’s not just an ordinary jewel?” His curiosity was overwhelming.
She shrugged. “If you touch an ordinary jewel with your mind, it’s just that, a stone, inert and non-responsive. If you touch a power stone you can feel it hum, a bit like the Shields do.” His disbelieving look stung her. “I can prove it,” she insisted. “Meet me on top of the Abbey Tower at midnight. I’ll show you.” With that, she was up and off, leaving him to ponder over all that he’d been told.
He met her at midnight, as she had known he would, still insatiably curious. They made love first, at the top of the tower, another private place where they wouldn’t be found. She was insistent and he was hardly averse. Afterwards, she showed him what she had brought. First, one of the crosses worn by the monks and nuns. He didn’t ask how she’d got hold of it. Best not to know, he thought.
“That central stone is the power stone,” she told him. “Just touch it with your mind.”
“How can I?” he asked. “It’s night time and this is the Abbey. The place is shielded.”
The whole campus – monastery, college, House and hospital – was shielded at night for protection but those Shields didn’t stop an adept using his or her Gifts within the area. The Abbey itself, the focus of the campus, was shielded at all times so that no adept could use their Gifts within it.
“Not here, it’s not,” she said. “The Shields don’t reach this high. Try it and see.”
Still not sure, he did as she had told him and found the stone hummed gently at him. Now that he looked with his mind he could see it was a construct, and it was obvious how to use it should he wish to. He withdrew his mind and looked again with his eyes. However hard he tried he could see no visible distinguishing marks; the stone looked like a small sapphire.
Reading his discoveries in his face she was satisfied and brought out her other find, a long thin box. She opened it in front of him to reveal two identical necklaces. Both were finely wrought in silver, intricately woven in the crossed keys pattern symbolic of House St Peter. Each had a large central sapphire, with smaller blue stones set elsewhere in the design.
“One is a copy,” she said. “Silver and sapphires, just what it looks like. The other… He said the central stone was a master stone. I heard him tell my mother.”
“Have you touched it?” he asked, his voice almost a whisper in awe.
She shook her head. “I haven’t dared,” she confessed.
He dared, though. Like a moth drawn to a flame, he was unable to ignore it. Gently, slowly, delicately he touched it with his mind. Like the power stone it hummed quietly and in that moment he understood it was a lock to which he didn’t have the key.
“Wow,” he said reverently as he withdrew his mind. “Where do they come from?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “Traders brought his ring and this necklace when he became Abbot. That’s all I know. Apparently, they said this was for his daughter.”
That made him look up, tearing his eyes away from the jewels. “He doesn’t have a daughter. How could he?”