Naseem could feel the port the men used. They weren't far from her. She could smell and feel that same corruption. Necromancers. She looked back to make sure the tents were not visible through the trees. She then dropped her mirror and ground it with her foot until she could hear the snap of broken bits. Then she turned around to greet the men with her hands up.
"Put those shackles on her," The one ordered. The other complied silently.
The shackles flashed a rune upon closing.
"What was that?" She asked.
The man looked crossly at her but did not reply. Instead, he pushed her towards the port that had been opened in front of her. She stepped through and was greeted by the sight of other prisoners. She stared helplessly at the frightened and angry faces, all wearing shackles like hers. They brought her to a group of men and women she recognized from some of the other clans. The guard sat her down and opened her shirt sleeve with a knife to see her fox tattoo on her arm. Then he put an iron collar around her neck. She could feel another rune flash to life on the collar. She felt heavy and cut off from her magic. All she could feel was the rune. It closed in on her.
"Don't try, and it will stop. If you keep reaching for it, you'll only hurt worse," The guard said as he walked away.
She tried again just to see and the rune glowed sharply and the pain split through her like white hot metal. She screamed and she heard the guards laugh. She coughed and lay there feeling as though all her bones were broken. She could barely breathe. Then she felt a cool hand on her forehead.
"Shh. Just be still, it will fade," The voice was firm, and the man spoke with sadness.
Naseem could feel the tears run down her face. The pain in her head throbbed, but she could breathe and move again. She tried to sit up and open her eyes. The throbbing was worse with the effort and her muscles ached. She heard screams from further off in this awful place that smelled of metal and blood.
"What are they doing?" Naseem asked the man.
"They are cutting off the hands of all the healers they find." His voice was angry and grim. Naseem sat back in horror.
"What does that accomplish?" she asked angrily.
"They no longer have the power with the mark gone," He said as if the words were poison. Naseem felt defeated.
Then Naseem realized the men did not check her for weapons or anything else. She pulled her little toolkit from her boot. Then she dropped them in front of her and undid the string to allow her to roll open the lock picking tools.
"Give me your hands," Naseem gestured. The man held them up for her. She quickly picked them open.
"We don't need magic if we have our hands," Naseem looked again at the astonishingly small number of guards there were in total, "Now let me see that collar."
The man bent awkwardly towards her, but the thing was seamless.
"There is no lock to pick," Naseem was astonished.
The man grabbed Naseem's collar and turned it around on her neck looking for any indication of a lock. He looked puzzled.
"I am guessing this is what inhibits our magic," Naseem was not happy. She continued moving through the people sitting around her and picking locks.
When all were free, but her, from the shackles they stood swiftly and rushed the table holding weapons taken from other prisoners. They cut down almost every guard until a mage came in and with one swift motion of her hand, the collars all lit up and they cried out in pain. Weapons went to the ground and scattered, clattering. Naseem fell to her knees gasping for air. The remaining guards seized their advantage quickly and they were herded into a place behind bars.
Naseem was dragged by her shackles. She wasn't put with the others. This time they put her in a box, and the harder she struggled the more painful the collar became. She finally slumped and listened as they nailed the box shut on her. When she could no longer hear them outside of the box, she began hitting and kicking the lid as best she could in the limited space she had. Her collar activated again and she stopped her pounding.
"This one goes straight to Lord Trune, he likes to break them," She heard the mage say.
Naseem felt the box move and sway, it was like being dizzy, only there was no grass to fall into barefoot and laughing. Now dread hung around her every thought. A shadowy companion for the trip. Then she was dropped suddenly and banged her head. She listened intently trying to figure out where she was. She could no longer feel any magic around her past the rune and collar. She heard a man sobbing.
"You made me do this!" came an angry accusation from the sobbing man.
"Come now Marta, be civil," She heard another voice that sounded hollow.
"My wife is dead," Marta wailed.
"By your hand, or mouth to be exact," The hollow voice calmly replied.
"That thing in my head, you put it there, how it gnaws, it made me do it," Marta still sobbing yelled back at him. Then she heard the man scream in pain.
"Now what did I tell you," The hollow voice was exasperated and sounded as though it were chastising a small child for a minor annoyance. Naseem did not dare make a noise.
"Tell me how to make the blood call him," She heard the hollow voice demand. It was met by silence.
"I will kill every last one of your kind, call him." She heard the frustration in the hollow voice. Again the demands were met by silence. The silence was broken by the man screaming again.
"Do what you want, I will never yield." Marta angrily howled, then another scream in pain.
"Never is not such a long time, and I have forever, do you?" The hollow voice laughed. Marta was quiet. A chill ran down Naseem's spine.