Disclaimer: You know the drill by now.
AN: This is the point where my writing takes over and is written purely by me.
The forest was (or so it seemed) devoid of intelligent life.
There were no paths, no roads and definitely no homes of any kind as far she could tell. Time and time again, she found herself pushing through thick undergrowth that barred her path. There wasn't even signs of campfires. In a way, it was reassuring. Had Thorn stormed through here, she had no doubt that he would have left an unmistakable trail.
On the other hand, it was worrying. It could easily mean that she was alone at…wherever she was. Or when for that matter. She had no idea of how much time had passed since she had trapped Thorn.
Birds chirped in the distance and the sounds of all manner of animal life could be heard. Nothing to indicate that she was anything other than completely alone. Her arms stung from the various thorns and stinging edges.
"Kameo!" she shouted, more out of hope than any real expectation of success.
"Who's Kameo?" a hard, unforgiving voice asked her and Kalus turned her head sharply.
Emerging from the trees around her, several elves wearing some kind of armour stepped forward. Or magical robes. She couldn't be sure. The suits were like nothing she had ever seen before. Sleek, green and black clothing with thick padding with slightly glowing lines that resembled magical robes, but nothing like any magical robes she had ever seen before. Or armour for that matter. And they were carrying some kind of weapon...? She wasn't sure. It didn't resemble any weapon she had ever seen before. The weapons were slim and boxy and had some kind of trigger similar to that of a crossbow, but that was the only similarity as far as she could see.
"I said, who's Kameo? And how did you come to be here? Who are you and who are you working for? Answer me!" one of the figures demanded, jabbing
She pulled herself up to her full height and glared at the man who appeared to be the leader.
"Queen Kameo is my sister and I am Princess Kalus of the Enchanted Kingdom," she said imperiously, before staring down their leader. "As for who I am working for, I don't know what you're talking about. I woke up on a beach not far from here." She paused for a moment and gave their leader a hard look. "Who are you and where am I?"
The figures exchanged brief glances of surprise, before turning to look back at her.
"Do you really think that's going to work?" their leader barked with a hint of incredulity. "This whole area is sealed off. Has been for centuries. The only way that you could be here is if you deliberately forced a way in. Unless you want to say that you're centuries old?"
The men around him snickered and Kalus drew herself up to her full height and glared at the man.
"I know nothing of where I am, nor how I came to be here," she said in a cold voice. Several of the men snickered with amusement, but Kalus ignored them. She continued to stare down their leader, looking at where she presumed his eyes were. "Now tell me. Where am I and who are you?"
"I am lieutenant Legolas, of the Twenty-Seventh legion, tasked with patrolling the Remnant Zone and destroying any hint of an intrusion," the man said, waving his weapon at her. "Now tell us the truth! Where are you from and who are you working for?"
Kalus stood silently for moment, contemplating her options. She could try telling them the truth, but they didn't believe her. She could try to fight her way out, but...the odds were not good. They would almost certainly take her down and she would be no closer to knowing the answers to her questions.
"A truth spell will ascertain the truth of what I am saying," Kalus finally said after a few minutes and she saw a slight movement of...surprise perhaps ripple through them. She wasn't exactly sure.
"You're a magic user?" their leader asked incredulously, as if he couldn't believe that anyone would admit to such a thing. Kalus frowned.
"I am a competent mage, yes," she said with a slight frown. She could feel a rising sense of dread as the atmosphere suddenly became even tenser. One of the men's weapons abruptly glowed and a ball of blue energy hit Kalus in the chest. With a cry of pain, Kalus fell to the ground. She desperately tried to summon her magic, only to find it shockingly beyond her reach.
Her eyes dimmed as her world faded to black.
The light at the end of the tunnel was far too bright.
That was Kalus's first thought as she tried to open her eyes. Too bright and far too painful. Her head was pounding and she really didn't like it. At all.
"Ah, you're finally awake then," an unseen voice said and Kalus forced her eyes open to see a troll looking at her. Instinctively she reached for her magic and abruptly screamed as pain shot through her body. The troll gave her a bitter laugh.
"No, you're not dead. Although perhaps it would have been better for you if you had."
"Who are you?" she demanded. "What have you done to me?"
"Me? Nothing at all," the troll replied nonchalantly. He pointed to Kalus's neck and for the first time Kalus noticed the slim metal band around her neck. "I would be more concerned about the people who put that fancy new collar on your neck."
Kalus touched the collar and ran her finger along it. It was smooth and fairly thick, but not particularly heavy. There were a few bumps on the side and it wasn't particularly uncomfortable.
"What is this thing?" she asked, glaring at the troll as she sat up.
She instantly regretted it as a wave of nausea rolled over her and despite herself, she blanched slightly. The troll steadied her with a hand on her shoulder.
"You should be careful," he said after a minute. "I'm guessing that they shot you with one of those pulse rifles of theirs. It's going to take at least another thirty to forty minutes for you to recover from that. And then there's that obedience collar of theirs." He gave her a grim chuckle. "It hurts, as you just found out. Try to use magic and it's going to do that to you. Don't do what you're told by the guards and they'll give you another shock like that."
"Where am I?" Kalus demanded through gritted teeth and the troll gave her another bitter laugh. He waved his arm around the room and for the first time Kalus noticed that they were in a grey, messy cave with dozens of ragged brown beds in lines.
"We're the 'guests' of the Survec Empire," he said sardonically. "As you can see, they've provided us with accommodation and our fine new jewellery." He gestured to an identical metal grey collar on his neck. "And of course, they've even provided us with new experiences and exercises, as long as you don't mind digging for silver and steel. Welcome to the Silverspark mine. I hope you like it because the only way you're leaving is in a coffin."
Kalus closed her eyes and tried to shut out the world around her, trying to focus through her headache. The troll was obviously as much a prisoner as she was and he wasn't an immediate threat or he would have just killed her where she lay. Then she laughed bitterly.
"I suppose that this is what I deserved," she said as another wave of nausea washed over her and she blanched once more. "I betrayed my people, my family and my father's legacy." She laughed bitterly. "I suppose death was too good for me really."
The troll gave her an odd look, as if giving her words some thought. Then he stood up.
"Get some rest," he said. "You have a long day tomorrow. I'll come and get you when dinner is due, but tomorrow you're on your own."
Kalus closed her eyes once more, trying to drive her headache away. She was a princess of the Enchanted Kingdom. She was supposed to be better than this!
"You're not going to recover any faster by pushing yourself like that," the troll said with a sigh. "You'll only make yourself worse.." He sighed once more. "What's your name?"
"I'm Kalus," she said as she tried to centre herself and focus her mind. The troll leaned closer, a look of almost kind concern on his face.
"Where are you from Kalus?" he asked and gave him a grim, bitter chuckle.
"Somewhere far away from here. I doubt that you've ever heard of it. A place known as the Enchanted Kingdom."
"Don't take me for a fool!" the troll said angrily and Kalus looked at him in surprise. "If you didn't want to say, you should have just said. Everyone knows the Enchanted Kingdom fell out of the sky nearly four hundred years ago."
"FOUR HUNDRED YEARS!?" Kalus shouted, sitting up sharply and abruptly wishing that she hadn't.
"Yes," he said, before giving her a curious look. "You're not lying, are you? You genuinely believe that you're from the Enchanted Kingdom?"
"I AM from the Enchanted Kingdom," she growled and the troll nodded.
"I can see that you're not lying," he said and she glared at him. He ignored her and continued. "No matter. I am Grag." He stood up. "We will talk more later," he said and he walked out, leaving Kalus alone with her racing thoughts.