I struggled against the wire desperately. The blood rushing in my ears was getting annoying. Apparently “break the wire” meant “be right back,” although I didn’t know how. I started shaking in an attempt to break the branch I was hanging from.
Rustling sounding off to my right made me stop. “Heather?”
A group of at least a dozen men crashed through the brush. The first one, a middle-aged man with a ragged brown beard, stopped and held up his hand when he saw me. Everyone else stopped.
The man stepped up to me and squinted. “You ain’t no hare!”
I glared at him. “No, I’m not. Let me down!”
The man laughed and pulled out a knife, then slashed the air above me. I crashed to the ground headfirst, knocking the breath out of me. Everyone laughed.
I shot to my feet and started to gather water around me. All of the men gasped and backed away. Then I realized that I was acting in anger. I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to press it away. The water around me splashed to the ground.
Everyone laughed again. I heard the man in the front speak. “Look like we’ve got ourselves a Mr. Sapphire! Too bad he’s a wimp!”
I opened my eyes. “I’m not a Sapphire. I’m Joshua Emas.”
The man chuckled. “Right! And I’m the king. Nice try. The Urean Science center will pay us a fortune for you. Much more useful than an ol hare.” He took a step towards me.
I tried to use my water powers without getting angry. I single water drop formed in front of me, then fell to the ground in the wimpiest way it could. Everyone started laughing a third time. I tried to ignore it. I couldn’t get angry.
Once the man was close enough, I punched his shoulder. He looked down at it and frowned, not flinching at all. Then he kicked me in the chest.
Everything got blurry as I buckled to my knees. The air whooshed out of me and refused to re-enter my lungs. Something hard hit me in the head, and then everything went black.
I woke up to the smell of food on a stone tile floor, my head throbbing. I slowly got up with the help of a wall I was near. Through steel bars, the group of men sat at a long wooden table and ate while they yelled at each other. I tried to take a step towards them, but something held me back. I looked down to find cuffs around my ankles chaining me to the wall. I gave the chains a good yank, but they didn’t give at all.
I knew that if I got angry and used my strength, I could easily pull them out. It tempted me for a second, but in the end, I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t allow myself to go back to the state of mind where I had made so many mistakes. Hopefully Aiden and Heather would find me, but I had no idea where I was.
The man with the tangled brown beard walked up to the bars with a glass of water. “Ah, the mighty prince awakes! Here ya go.” He flung the glass in my direction, splashing water in my face. I spluttered and shook my head. Everyone behind him laughed. That didn’t help my headache at all.
“Who are you?” I asked. Back in Astaray, nobody had known about all of this Gem stuff, but he did.
The man placed a hand over his heart. “I’m Bert, the leader of this fine crew. We’re all the people who’ve been banished from both Astaray and Urea, for various reasons, and have nowhere to go.”
“You look very well off for a group of outlaws,” I said.
Bert nodded. “We sneak through the war zone and mine ore in the Silver Mountain range. Astaray and Urea can’t resist the stuff.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Then why do you need to sell me off, too?”
The man leaned towards me. His voice was low. “There’s a reason I’ve been banished from every known civilization on the planet, kid. I really like money.”
A thud sounded on the ceiling. Everyone looked up. Then I heard Aiden’s voice. “Ow.”