Mitra had been out hunting when they caught them. Of course they knew of the risks, every single one of them knew to stay out of the way of traders’ caravans when they came through the desert and yet… here they were, uncomfortably in a small cage, strapped to a camel’s side and bumping into the furry body with each swaying step it took. And of course they had to fall into the hands of traders who knew their business, knew enough to inject them with the antidote that’d make stinging anything virtually useless. Silently, Mitra fumed. What had the old ones told them over and over again, when they were still small and buried under the hot desert sand? If they catch you, you’re dead. They will bring you into the big city and have you fight against each other in a life-or-death struggle until you die. There were no stories of escapees in their lore. If they caught you, you were dead.

They must have fallen asleep over this thought as they awoke to the sound of many people around them, a cacophony of sounds and smells that made them hiss and press back into the cage’s metal bars, the camel’s fur now a comforting warmth. No one paid them any mind apart from a ragtag bunch of children, street rats by the look of it, who looked at the caravan with huge and hungry eyes, pointing and oohing. The traders seemed to have one of the many bazaars as their destination, located in the open places between the mudbrick houses.

At this point they are injected by a trader with something they later identify as a barbiturate. For the time being, everything gets hazy and slow like molasses and when they regain their sense enough to focus, they see a woman coming at the trader’s stall with carefully poised steps, her robes swishing around her every step.

The woman was flanked by five younger ones, sisters by the look of it, who moved with predatory grace, eyes on their surroundings. They were given a wide berth by the commoners, something the younger women seem to accept as their right. The older woman in their middle payed it no mind, she moved with an idle grace that speaks of the sure knowledge that no one would dare to harm her.

“This one. I want this one”, she said. Her finger pointed at Mitra.