Dymal came up from deep meditation as the scream tore through him, and he knew instantly that it was Tidac. He held perfectly still for a space of time, but there was nothing more. The scream had been cut off at the source. Unkinking himself from mehakan, he called for an acolyte to saddle his mount.
# # #
Dymal dropped down from his kakai and strode into the manorhouse. He carried his wand of office in his right hand, glowing slightly, and the servants drew back. He followed the stairway and hall to Weikata’s room. He needed no guide; the stench of power in the air led him directly to his goal.
The boy had been placed against the wall, but he was unresponsive. Marquart knelt on one side of him with Clevis on the other. Dymal passed his wand before the boy and Marquart swatted it aside, ignoring the burst of sparks when his untuned flesh touched the priest’s wand. “Rem’s balls,” he snarled, “what are you doing here? Get out!”
“If you want the boy to die, stop me. Otherwise, let me do what I can.”
Dymal passed his wand on either side of the boy’s head, then laid his bare palm flat on his forehead. He frowned deeply, and shook his head. He pulled a runeboard from the bag slung over his shoulder, along with his bag of counters.
“What are you doing?” Marquart demanded.
“Before I can help your son,” Dymal replied, “I have to know what happened here.”
Weikata lay stretched out on a table. His limbs were as stiff as a corpse found in a snowbank, but his chest still rose and fell. Marquart saw that Dymal’s eyes had lingered on the other priest. He said, “Weikata was the cause of this, wasn’t he?”
“I think so. Let me find out.” Dymal held the counters in his hands and closed his eyes, concentrating on the power surging around him, drawing a bit of it into the counters he held. He cast them down and looked long at the result.
Finally, he grunted and turned to Tidac. He placed his right hand on the boy’s forehead and his left hand on his heart. After twenty minutes of intense concentration and murmured spells, he sat back. Tidac had lost his glassy stare and lay back now in what appeared to be natural sleep.
“What happened,” Marquart demanded. For once his voice lacked the brittleness of command; it contained only the concern of a parent.
“Why do you have to ask me?” Dymal replied, his voice full of anger. “You were a commander of a thousand. You know how to read men. Weikata is a rapechild; he is half-Dzikakai in a world that hates and fears the Dzikakai. You can imagine what his life has been like. And your son is a nexus of power.”
“So you said before.”
“Aye, so I said. But did you listen? Weikata was put in charge of a child of power, and the temptation to try to control him was too great.”
“You knew this, and you did not warn me!”
“How could I know? You brought Weikata in without consulting me. I never saw him before today. But you should have known better than to put your son into the hands of someone like him.”
Marquart rose roughly to his feet and stood over Weikata, saying, “He did this to my son?”
“No. Weikata had no power to do this. He released power that was in your son. Tidac did this to both of them, in an untrained reflex.”
Marquart’s voice was very calm. “Senior, is there any way in which this one’s life is tied to the life of my son, or reason why this one’s death should endanger my son’s survival?” more tomorrow