As promised the man waiting for them in the court has horns curling down out of his head, heavy horns and ribbed. They seem too big for his head, too massive and weighty for a merely human neck. Other than the horns, he’s an unexceptional example of the slave race, dark and compact and precise. Jannes and Mambres pause for a few moments on the other side of the archway that leads into the court to watch this new wizard unobserved.
“What do you think, Mambres? Is he a fraud, or what?”
Mambres sucks on the end of his beard meditatively. “Hard to say. Maybe, maybe not. He looks too young.”
“I don’t know,” says Jannes. “There’s something…”
They’ve waited long enough. The wizard is getting impatient, although he has too much self-control to show it openly. It’s more the set of his shoulders and the way he swings his arms as he walks, just a little too crisply. Jannes and Mambres come into the court in step with each other, faces turned toward the king but eyes busy. There’s another man in the room, standing quietly behind the wizard. He’s younger, but clearly related to the other man; a son, perhaps, or a brother. His robes are sun-faded and dusty and he leans wearily on a cane. It is all he can do to keep his head up. Jannes watches him sidelong while Mambres speaks to the king. “Here’s one to watch,” he says to himself, and suddenly he’s alive and excited.