I woke up with a pounding headache. The world around me was swaying, dancing about just out of my reach. Somehow, I managed to pull out of the blackness.
I was on a bed, in a room. The room was iron, probably to neutralize my magic. There was a balcony in the room, presumably so they could watch me. My cloak was gone, as were my other artifacts. Made sense.
“So you’re a Sivva? I’ve never seen one before. I expected something… more, you know? Something really special. After all, aren’t you guys like, the top magic makers where you come from?”
I jerked up, looking around. A small girl was leaning against the iron railings of the balcony above me, watching with interest. She seemed young, only about ten to twelve.
“What do you want, Hâfléng?” I demanded.
“Well you’re certainly grouchy today, aren’t you? Then again, you did take a hard hit to the head. I thought you were dead when the others dragged you in here. But obviously you’re not. Can you really do magic without artifacts? Can you show me?”
I groaned. The girl’s incessant talking was making my headache worse.
“I can’t show you my magic,” I snapped.
The Hâfléng girl raised an eyebrow at me.
“Iron, you idiot girl. Iron renders magic useless.”
I got an idea, and added slyly, “You don’t suppose you could let me out of this room, do you? That way I could show you my magic easily.”
The Hâfléng girl laughed.
“Very funny, Sivva. Very funny. I let you out, because I’m stupid and innocent, and you get away. No, I don’t think so. I’ll just have to find another way to get you to show me.”
I turned my back on her.
“You’ll get nothing out of me.”
When the girl spoke, her tone was amused.
“You really don’t know how much danger you’re in, do you? You obviously don’t, since you’re being all stubborn. Don’t you know what the others could do to you if they wanted to?”
I turned back to her, my face incredulous.
“You mean torture?”
The girl snorted.
“No more information. I’m leaving.”
The girl turned away, and stalked out of the room. Oh well. So much for getting anything out of her.
I wasn’t afraid for myself; even if the Hâfléngs attempted to torture me in order to force me to reveal information, I could withstand it. They had to have some rooms that weren’t iron. Otherwise they couldn’t use magic. No, it was Miranda I was worried about. What would she think, when I didn’t return? What would happen when they found out?
Eíf would be worried. She would try to tell Miranda not to panic, and try to organize a rescue party. I couldn’t wait that long. Who knew what the Hâfléngs had planned for me?
“So, you’re awake, Sivva.”
I looked up, and locked eyes with the Hâfléng that had originally taken me down in the duel.
“I have nothing to say to you,” I snapped.
“You need say nothing. I am not here to parley with you.”
“Then what are you here for?”
“I thought you had nothing to say to me?”
The Hâfléng’s tone was mocking.
I gritted my teeth. “I asked you a question.”
“As did I,” he snapped back.
“I don’t answer to low creatures like yourself,” I replied.
“You blasted Sivvas think you’re so special. Even when all the odds are against you, you act like you’re still in charge of the world.”
“I don’t fear you,” I replied evenly.
“You do not fear our magic, perhaps, but do you fear metal? Iron renders you powerless, and we have plenty of that, as well as other machines that you could not damage or destroy,” the Hâfléng mused.
“What are you implying?” I snapped.
“You would be amazed at the raw power machines control. Tell me, Sivva, have you ever harnessed a dragon?”
“Never seen one,” I snapped briefly.
“Then you will have the privilege of seeing your first in the arena tomorrow. The men have been waiting for us to capture a Sivva skilled enough to compete.”
“You would pit me against a dragon.”
My tone was casual, not showing any emotion.
“Indeed, Sivva,” the Hâfléng smirked.
“You are bluffing,” I snapped at him.
“We know how to capture a dragon, how to drive it mad with rage, how to make it into a master killer,” the Hâfléng replied evenly.
“You are monsters, to do such a thing to a noble beast,” I replied.
The Hâfléng snorted carelessly.
“It is called power, Sivva, as you will eventually learn.”
“You are a fool,” I replied.
“Very well. Perhaps your attitude will change over time. Nobody will find you here, Sivva. You’d best get used to this.”
With that, the Hâfléng strode out the balcony door, slamming it shut with a loud clang.
Now alone, I slumped, head in hands. For once, I didn’t care whether they were watching me or not. I had gotten myself into this mess, and now it was up to me to get myself out of it.
Unfortunately, what the Hâfléng had said was true. Nobody was going to find me, no matter how hard they looked. The iron would negate tracking spells and locators.
I started, realizing what I was feeling.
Defeat and hopelessness.
Those emotions were alien to me, and felt odd inside my mind. I was a Sivva. I was supposed to be the one in control, to be cool headed, and show no fear or any emotions at all.
I straightened. They could make me their prisoner, but I would never, never show any weakness again. No matter how I felt, I would not give them the satisfaction of knowing I had been beaten down. I was a Sivva. I was above them. I would show them my strength.
I closed my eyes and began to think.