“They’re gone?” Tam sputtered. “They can’t have gotten far. We can track them, get out of here—”
“And go where?”
Matthias spun, raising his bow as the unfamiliar voice rang out. Men came around the rocks, men that Matthias would have sworn hadn’t been there before. Tam and Solomon moved to flank him, staying back out of his line of fire. The men came closer, and one of them stepped forward. His skin was nearly as dark as Solomon’s, his hair hanging in long, thin braids down his back. A pendant rested against his pale shirt. The symbol on it was familiar, and Matthias heard Tam groan.
“He’s a Finder,” Tam whispered. “He knew we were here the whole time.”
“Of course I did,” the Finder agreed. “We’ve been watching you since before dawn. And waiting for you.” He gestured to the men with him. “Take them.”
Matthias fired, drawing another arrow from his quiver as the first one left the string. But the first arrow never found its target — the Finder waved his hand, and the arrow burst into flame.
“He’s a mage!” Solomon gasped.
“This way,” Tam shouted, grabbing Matthias’ arm. Matthias turned, sprinting after Tam, and almost crashing into him when Tam came suddenly to a stop. In front of him were more men, all dressed similarly to the Finder, all of them armed with energy pistols.
“Lay down the weapons,” the Finder called from behind them. “Raise your hands into the air. And please, don’t try anything, Mage. I would hate to harm any of you.”
Matthias swallowed and looked at Solomon, then bent and set the bow down at his feet.
“Good. Now, Mage. Take five steps towards me. Then kneel.”
Matthias licked his lips. “Why?”
The Finder laughed. “Because I told you to. Because I could have killed you already, and I haven’t. That should tell you I want you alive. I wish to talk. So please. Do as I say.”