Sif’s eyes snapped open. She still couldn’t see a thing. Ropes looped tight around her, biting into her arms and chest. She struggled experimentally. Nothing came of it.
Her heart raced. What was happening? The last thing she could remember… she couldn’t. She had no idea how she’d ended up here. Panic welled up in her throat.
She fought it. She was a magiker, wielder of powers beyond the imagining of whoever had taken her. She would find a way out, and bring justice on those who had done this.
Calming down, she listened. Water dripped somewhere nearby. The air was still, and tasted stale. Underground? Perhaps a jordsmagiker’s tunnel, or simply a cellar somewhere in the High Quarter, or in one of the few stone buildings in the Riverfronts. She doubted they were in the sewers. The smell was wrong.
Her mundane senses had done their best, but she had another, better tool. She reached out, felt for the weave… and found nothing. She recoiled into her chair, tried again, and found her heart beating faster again. She had no magic.
Hinges creaked, and a light shone from the doorway in front of her. She squinted against it. Her eyes adjusted, and it resolved into a hooded figure carrying a torch. The figure came closer. Unconsciously, Sif leaned back.
“You are right to fear me, aspirant.” It was a young woman’s voice, but it had an odd creak to it.
“I don’t even know who you are,” Sif replied. She tried to put some bravery into her voice, but heard it waver as she spoke.
The woman noticed. “I am nobody,” she said, facing Sif directly. “I am one of many, all dedicated to our glorious cause. And you, child, you have seen too much. You know too much.”
Sif didn’t like the sound of that. She stalled for time. “Why can’t I feel the weave?”
“Do you think we are fools?” The woman spun around, pacing in front of Sif. “We are magiker, too. We have warded this place against weave-working.”
“Who is we?” Sif persisted.
The woman stopped, faced Sif, and held up her palm. For a moment, nothing happened. Then, her hand began to glow.
The Shining Hand. Sif swallowed. “How are you doing that, if this place is warded?”
Sif could hear the dark smile in the woman’s voice. “There are secrets you do not know, child.” She stepped closer, produced a knife from her sleeve, and raised it high. “And you never will.”