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In the Old Lands, the penalties for slaves who disobeyed their masters had always been severe, with little option for reoffending. Those who lied would lose their tongues. Those who stole from their masters would lose their left hand on their first offense and their right on the second. Those who attempted escape, first one eye and then the other.

But, the masters of the Old Land didn’t like to see disfigured slaves; they were offensive to cultured eyes and worse, were an obvious indication of the master’s inability to control his own slaves.

Master craftsmen sprang up around the land; experts who could carve a replacement hand and paint it to precisely match the slave’s skin, or could make a glass eye which perfectly matched the removed original.

One such craftsman was particularly renowned. His eyes were absolutely perfect, down to the tiniest speck of colour, and were sought out by the highest society. Many, however, said that such perfect eyes were a temptation to slaves. It seemed to some that, once fitted with one of his creations, they were more likely to attempt another escape than slaves fitted with any other kind of eye. Not only that, but slaves with one of his eyes somehow seemed more likely to make a successful attempt.

He shook his head gently at such accusations; a slave who attempts escape once is not going to be dissuaded by the loss of an eye, he said. It was certainly coincidence.

He denied the accusations, and when his accuser’s back was turned, he smiled. He smiled, and returned to his laboratory, where he imbued each eye with the ability to see exits where none would otherwise be noticed.

© Kari Fay