They were guided to a small campfire, where others laughed and told stories about traveling or their families. Among the tents and fires that lay beneath the night sky, Monstroth also noted several kids running around. What were so many little ones doing in this place.
Monstroth looked around some more, this time focusing on a few men's faces. Yes... they were forcing themselves to laugh. And there was more than would normally be here. He looked at their clothing next. Worn. Several people had rips in the fabric they wore. As a group, they all looked sleepy, too....
The Soverein nodded. "I know, son," he said, looking around. His gaze went to the far east, towards Asuna pass and the plains. "I fear these people come from the border of the desert. They must be refugees."
Monstroth nodded. So, these people had been attacked. It was a pity.
A small child ran up to Monstroth and his master. The boy couldn't have been more than six years of age, but he talked with a steady and polite voice. "Mister, do you have any food to spare?"
"Does it look like we can afford food, boy?" the Sovereign snapped at the child. Monstroth glared at the man. It was true that this man was his Master, but he had a hard time actually viewing him as one.
Monstroth leaned down to the child and smiled at him. "Do not worry, I don't eat too much and my master here doesn't either." He pulled out some dried wolf meat and handed it to the boy. It was wrapped, so he didn't bother with telling the boy to wash his hands first. "Be sure to share this, OK?"
The boy smiled brilliantly and nodded fast. He looked more like a a kid with the excitement in his eyes. "Thank you, Mister!"
As the boy ran off, Monstroth could feel his Master's eyes on him. He had made the man angry, probably, but he didn't really care. He would not betray his principals. He had swore this when Rhazin had first came to live with the Void master in their castle and told his story. It had taken a month to get his friend to open up, and when he did...
Monstroth took his seat by the fire, trying not to think of his friend's past. He hoped Rhazin was doing OK. He had escaped, but it was probably out of fear. Rhazin was too innocent to have done anything malicious, but if he was scared he would always hide. All Monstroth had to do was become a Sovereign, then he could focus on finding Rhazin's hiding place.
The Sovereign's voice made Monstroth almost jump. Well, it was more the fact that he said his name. The man hadn't done that since they first met and discussed his apprenticeship. He could have, of course, refused, but that would have made him look like a fool to the confident and his father.
"You still believe yourself to be the prince, don't you?"
Monstroth gave the man, who still stood, a sideways glance. "I am a prince no longer. I am only an apprentice to you, so-"
"Do not lie to me," the Sovereign snapped. "I know that you think just because your name was taken away and you follow me now that you are an apprentice, but you aren't. You still believe yourself to be the prince and lack the resolve to follow me truly."
Monstroth wanted to say he was only being just and helping, but he knew the man was right. He hadn't been acting like an apprentice, really. Even if he didn't see this man as his true Master, he should have at least tried to be an apprentice in earnest.
"In order to become a Sovereign," the man said, sitting across the fire from Monstroth, "you must steel your emotions. You cannot help theses children because it is not your place. You must only offer guidance, not goods." The Sovereign paused for a moment, pulling some sand from the ground with his Mystic. "And NEVER challenge my word!"
The sand moved in an instant, surrounding Monstroth's neck and squeezing. Scarred Father! What was the Sovereign doing?! Monstroth struggled for air, but found none. He tried to pull the sand away with his own Mystic, but realized he couldn't even grasp onto Mineral. The sand made several cuts along his neck, making pain flash through his mind. Darkness started to enter his vision, too....
Just as Monstroth thought he would faint, the sand released him and fell onto his shoulders and lap. He coughed several times, pain moving through his lungs as new air flowed in. Sands! That had hurt! Monstroth had a high tolerance of pain, but... Sands!
"That is punishment." The Sovereign looked to the East, a cruel smile spreading over his face. Unscarred Creator, help him... Monstroth wondered just what kind of Master he had.
One thing was for certain, though; he would be an apprentice from now on. He didn't dare do otherwise.