I hadn't gone too far before I spotted him. He was heading toward me, accompanied by a Ruler - a lower class Ruler, because he was really only our foreman, but a Ruler nonetheless. I froze.
"Are you Rin?" asked the foreman once he got close enough to speak to me without shouting.
I cleared my throat. "Yes."
"And were you in possession of this?" He held up the scab, as though it were something disgusting he wanted to touch as little as possible.
"Yes," I said. I extended a hand, ready to take it back. He couldn't possibly begrudge me a scab, could he?
But he did.
"Where did you get it?"
"Why does it matter?" I asked impatiently. "Can I have it back?"
The foreman's frown deepened. "Just tell me," and I saw in his face the unspoken words: I shouldn't have to justify myself to an Underling.
"I found it in the snow," I said honestly. "Can I please have it back, sir?"
"You found it in the snow. Just like that."
"I - ," I began to say, but before I could finish the sentence the foreman grabbed me by the arm.
"I want the truth." The words were almost a whisper, low and intense. "So don't play stupid."
"I'm not!" I protested. "I - ow!"
He had yanked on my arm, only to make me follow him, but it had hurt nonetheless. He went at a good clip, forcing me to either trot or be dragged along.
“Where are you taking me?” I cried. “What’s wrong?”
Curious eyes rose from their gold-sifting pans to watch, but no one said a word. Their eyes followed me all the way to the door.
The foreman lead me through the snow to one of the grander establishments on this part of the mountain: the Foreman’s building. He knocked on the huge pine door, and a few moments later, it swung open and a bearded man poked his head out.
“Harris? What are you doing here? You should be on duty.” He sounded none too pleased to have been disturbed.
“It’s this girl, sir,” Harris said. “She was found in possession of a piece of the Auriye.”