"Now then, shall we begin?" I asked the girl. I didn't expect this to take long. This one was only a child, and, despite her magical ability, I didn't foresee her standing up to rigorous ah... questioning... for long.
Approaching the small tray of instruments, I picked up a hooked apparatus and fingered the point. It took only a few seconds before the point inevitably punctured my skin. I made sure none of this escaped my prisoner's notice. Walking up to her, I rubbed the flat side of the hook against her cheek.
"Tell me young Night Hawk, are you afraid to die?"
"The fear of death is ignorant, though we all have it. Might I ask you a question, Marshall?"
"Ignorance you say? And you may ask."
The glare she had been giving me, never once wavered as she replied, "Yes, ignorance. To be afraid of death is to be unaware that death, which happens to all, is a normal part of life."
I waited for her continue, and when she didn't, I prompted her.
"And your question?"
"How do you intend to pay for the deaths you caused?"
Letting the tool fall from her face, I stepped back and raised my eyebrows questioningly. Her glare, merely a mask to her true feelings, broke to reveal a look of hate and despair. She stood suddenly, pushing back the table and nearly knocking over the chair.
"Do not pretend that you do not know! Do not dishonor them by feigning ignorance!"
I drew my sword and held it to her chest, tacitly ordering that she was to return to her seat. Slowly she complied. As she did, I caught a glance of something that had escaped my notice up til now. I slipped my sword behind it and pulled it out from under the rough cloth shirt the girl was wearing.
A necklace. One that I had seen before.
Before I could utter a syllable the girl slapped my sword away and tucked the piece of jewelry away once more. The glare was back.
And I was done playing.
Replacing the hook back on the tray of tools, I selected instead a small vial and pair of pliers. Then I set about tying the girl to her chair, making sure to tie each limb tightly in case she tried to use her magic. Pulling a chair around, I sat down next to her and took one small hand in my own.
Ever so slowly I brought the pliers up to one rough fingernail.
I closed my eyes and exhaled slowly.
"Come in and be quick about it!"
"As you command Marshall" came a slightly muffled voice.
A slightly muffled, distinctly feminine, voice. I looked up to see two of the masked marauders standing in the doorway, weapons drawn.
"Your guards seem to have fallen... asleep... on the job Marshall" said one.
Another shook his or head in mock disappointment, "Very unprofessional. That should be punished by a day without rations."
"But they have no rations to give!" This last was met with laughter. As it died down, footsteps could heard, and in moments the group of two became four and then six.
Before I knew what was happening, an arrow was whistling by face. Then there was hissing, and I turned to see the girl, one arm, or paw as was now the case, free and clawing at the remaining bonds. There was the ring of steel being bared and two figures, one of them masked, rushed me.
Injured as I was, I didn't put much stock in being able to hold off both of them. The one without a mask was unmistakably male, and I turned my attention to him first. I managed one swing before the other stepped around me and held a blade at my neck.
A familiar voice sang out from behind me.
"What do you think? Should we tie him up or lock him in one of the cells?"
The cat, now free, leapt from the table to my shoulder, flicking my face with its tail before gracefully jumping down to land on the floor and change back into a human.
"I say we kill him."
This put a hush on the group, but no objections were offered.
The voice from behind me spoke once more, "Are we in so desperate a position that we must sink to his level? No. We will not kill him. I will ensure that this one does not follow us, the rest of you go and meet the others watching the courtyard. We do not have much time."
They all nodded, save one of the masked ones, and turned to disappear into the coming night. The one who hadn't nodded waited for the briefest instants, giving me and my captor a pointed glance before following the others out the door.
I was led over to the very chair that had held my prisoner a few short minutes ago. My arms and legs were tied securely, perhaps too securely, and then the remaining Night Hawk also went for the door, stopping at the threshold to turn back towards me.
The thief removed their mask to reveal the face of the one who had escaped me in the forest.
"I will find you" I growled, which earned me a wink before the mask was put back into place.
"Find me? A man? Impossible!"
And after blowing me a kiss, she disappeared along with her band.