Zankar's face was like a mask of death. He strode through the streets of the city, his long black robes billowing around him in the wind of his passing, and those who saw him were afraid. Most looked away, unwilling to meet his empty eyes, but some were caught in his dark gaze and stared after him, helpless to look elsewhere until he was out of sight. He had always been a strange individual, the King's Wizard, but since his wife had taken ill, he had become almost a hermit, spending hours a day in the Library searching for a curative for her malady.
Today, however, his destination was not the Library, but the Palace. The guards at the gates nodded to him as he passed, hardly noticing that he did not acknowledge them, that he stared straight ahead as if he saw nothing around him. They were used to the Wizard visiting the King.
The guards at the doors to the Council Chambers, however, did try to stop him. King Derrik had asked that no one interrupt the meeting with the Council today, so they stepped forward and were about to inform Zankar of this when the Wizard lifted his hand and the doors to the Chamber were thrown open. The guards, with only a second of hesitation, crossed their halberds, blocking the entrance. Another gesture from the Wizard, and they were flung apart and away from the door to crash against the walls on either side of the corridor. Not pausing to see them fall, Zankar entered the Chamber.
Derrik had risen from his chair when the doors opened. Now, seeing his friend and advisor enter so precipitously, he was momentarily speechless. In that moment, the Wizard passed through the doors and approached the table around which the King and his Councillors were seated. Coming to a halt, Zankar raised his right hand, palm up, before himself, almost as if he were offering or asking for something. The King opened his mouth to speak, to greet his Wizard and ask why he had burst into the meeting unannounced and in so ill-mannerly a fashion, but before Derrik could utter a word, Zankar closed his hand into a fist, and the King found himself unable to speak.
King Derrik gasped and clutched at his left arm with his right hand as he fell heavily back into his chair. He groaned as from a great pain. The Councillors watched in horror as their King's face turned grey, his whole body suddenly drenched with sweat. Those closest to him rushed toward Derrik, and those closer to the door turned on Zankar, reaching for the ceremonial daggers they wore in their belts. The Wizard lifted his left hand, palm forward, and all in the room but the King and Wizard were stopped instantly, in mid step, the expressions of shock, anger, outrage, and confusion frozen on their faces.
The guards from outside the door had now picked themselves up and returned to the Chamber door. Seeing that the Wizard was attacking the King and Councillors, they lowered their halberds and charged him. Zankar flicked the fingers of his left hand toward them without turning around. At once, they were as unable to move as were the Councillors. All watched in horror as the King's breathing became more and more laboured. Derrik's eyes never left Zankar's, and his lips moved as he tried to speak. Finally, he managed to whisper, “Why?” The Wizard did not respond, his gaze pitiless as he watched his King struggle to breathe. After what seemed an age to those watching helplessly, Derrik's gasps slowed, then stopped, and the King slumped in his chair, his unseeing eyes staring blankly at the Wizard who had been his friend.
Zankar turned and left the room. As soon as he was out of sight, those held motionless were free. As the Councillors rushed to check on the King, the guards raced after his killer. But no one ever saw the Wizard Zankar again.