Yadin even held his scarred palm next to the prisoner’s. There was no mistaking it; the two scars were identical. Next, Merik held his scarred, right-hand palm up as well. There were three palms, all right-handed, with three diagonal scars cut across each one.
Merik explained this phenomenon to Yadin. “What you see on Dakmar’s hand is a wizard’s scar, the same type used in blood pact agreements such as you and I made yesterday afternoon. King Yadin, I believe the wizard who put this scar on Dakmar has taken control of him in order to assassinate your father. This is the first time I’ve ever seen the Source used for evil. It’s most disturbing.”
“So, you’re telling me that this man didn’t act of his own free will? Does he even realize what he’s done?”
Merik shook his head. “No my Lord, I don’t think he understands at all.”
Yadin looked at the prisoner. “Who did this to you? Who’s controlling you?” The man’s vacant gaze remained glued to the floor, not looking at it so much as looking through it.
Dakmar remained as motionless as ever; he gave no indication that he heard the questions. Yadin couldn’t understand why the man was unresponsive. The prisoner must be able to hear; he followed Merik’s instructions without hesitation.
“What’s wrong with him, Merik? Why doesn’t he answer me?”
“See for yourself, my Lord.” the Master Wizard replied. With an authoritative voice, he commanded the convict with a wave of his hand. “Dakmar, look at the King and open your mouth.”
Dakmar immediately did as ordered. King Yadin quickly covered his nose and mouth with his shirt sleeve; the man’s breath reeked with the foul odor of rotted meat. Despite the horrid aroma, he forced himself to look at the toothless mouth yawning open behind the bars. The King gasped in open-mouthed astonishment. What he saw in the prisoner’s mouth, or rather what he didn’t see, terrified him.
Dakmar Lancer’s tongue had been cut out.
The King took an involuntary step backwards. He’d never seen anything like this. No wonder the man was silent. Yadin took a few moments to regain his composure and returned his hand to his side. He remained a safe distance away from the bars, not anxious to smell Dakmar’s noxious breath again.
With his thoughts and emotions under control, he queried Merik. “If his tongue is gone, how did you learn his name?”
The Master Wizard answered as though speaking to a child. “My Lord, do you not remember how I read the hair of your wife, Libeth, yesterday? Using a similar technique I’ve extracted some preliminary information, including his name.”
Yadin grimaced. “What about the scar on his hand? You said it was a wizard’s scar. Can you tell me who’s behind this?”
“No, Lord Yadin, not yet. But I believe with enough time, I can find out.”
The King was shocked. “What are you suggesting? That I keep him alive? This man assassinated my father! If a crime of this nature were to go unpunished, it would send a message that Avendis is a kingdom of lawlessness. Anarchy may even result!”
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