Where Monstroth had felt the fear of death creeping up, he now felt astounded as his 'golems' fought off the invaders. They used Flame to try to dry out the golems, but Monstroth simply copied his master and removed the dried sections with his Mystic and pulled clay from the ground for replenishment. The way the golems fought was sloppy, as Monstroth still lacked control, but their defense of him was something they did exceedingly well.
'Is this what it is like to be a Sovereign?' Monstroth thought as he backed away to give his golems more room to fight. 'If we could teach the others to make these creatures from the sand, no more would soldiers be sacrificed'
Monstroth's thoughts were interrupted as a masked man slipped past his golems and ran straight for him. The fear returned. Sands! He needed to flee! No, this man was faster than him by far.
"Die, Sovereign!" the masked figure yelled, thrusting his hand high and forming a large ball of flames. For a minute, the man looked like Rhazin had in their last duel. Strong, fierce, and eyes full of determination. It was ironic. Monstroth, a large bear of a man, was about to be burned to death by a masked assassin he thought looked like his best friend.
Was this really the end?
The man never reached him. He simply stopped a few feet from where Monstroth cowered. The ball of Flame in his hand died out and he slumped, but did fall. It took Monstroth a while to realize there was a spear of clay stabbing through the man and holding him up like a doll in a display case. Sands! He... had never seen a man die so close. This man... despite the mask... Monstroth had seen the light leave his eyes.
Monstroth shook his head and stood up as his master appeared beside him. The clay golems had fallen and the people they were fending off where held up in a similar fashion. Despite seeing executions before, Monstroth felt sick. But, these were assassins sent to kill a Sovereign! Surely they had deserved this? Still...
"Master, I thought you told me all life, despite it's origin, is important? That killing someone is bad?" He needed a distraction from the fact he was now a target. For assassins...
His master nodded. He still had a few dried pieces of clay on his face - which he was wiping away with a few choice curses - but he was not injured. That was something... Though Monstroth wished his master was at least hit, so he couldn't focus on Monstroth's own fear.
"These people were as good as dead, though," the man said. He looked at the spikes holding the men closest to them and focused. In a few moments, the earth opened as if invisible hands had dug into sand and drug the bodies down in the earth. "The masks they wear gave them away as Darkwalkers."
Monstroth shivered as the earth closed up, hiding any trace of anyone losing their life. His golems, Monstroth realized, had vanished into the earth as well. How much control did that take? "Darkwalkers, master?"
"They are an assassination group based in Mar in the Northeast. I've had my fair share of dealing with them." He nodded to the place where he had been fighting. Not a single trace of the enemy remained. Sands! How had he done it so fast? Monstroth only stopped watching moments before he was attacked. "If they fail, they are killed. If they succeed, they gain riches beyond imagination."
That still didn't answer why they attacked Sovereigns. "Do they only go after Sovereigns?"
"Right on the orb, boy," the Sovereign said, using a Tav saying that related to monetary orbs. Monstroth carried a large sack of them from his father. "They have killed three former Sovereigns so far and have a current Sovereign as a prisoner."
"What?!" Monstroth shouted, a little louder than he meant.
The bald man laughed. He actually laughed! Sands, but it was creepy. "Worry not, foolish boy, it is the Sovereign of Air they have. It is unlikely they CAN kill him if they tried. I doubt I could even touch him."
Monstroth nodded, trying to change the subject. He was still disturbed and ashamed at what had just happened. Luckily, his master had not seen him cowering. What embarrassment he would suffer if the man had. Monstroth, the giant of a man who weilds Mineral better than anyone in the world - save the Sovereign himself for now - cowering at one opponent. It would be-
"Pretty pathetic how you were pissing yourself there, boy."
"We will need to get you used to life or death situations." He looked thoughtful for a moment. "How about we travel to Mar and save the Sovereign of Air?"
Monstroth felt his heart stop. "Um..." What should he say. It wasn't like he didn't want to save the Sovereign of Air... but, he was afraid of fighting. The thought made him feel shameful, given his expertise in dueling and his large stature that many said made him an ideal Mineral user. Death was death, though!
No! He had to be brave. If being Sovereign was like this, then he had to adapt.
"Yes, master," Monstroth said, taking one last look at where the ground had swallowed those masked assassins, "I think it is a good idea."
An evil grin spread across the Sovereign's face. "Seeing Leader is going to be an interesting ordeal for you, boy," he said, heading off, "But if I save him it will free drinks for me."
Monstroth nodded and followed alongside his master. "One question, though."
The Sovereign grunted, signalling Monstroth to ask.
"Those clay golems... Can we teach the people of my kingdom to make them? It would be great for sparing lives and even better to boost the defense of-"
The Sovereign was sighing. Monstroth had NEVER seen the man sigh like that. "Boy, that is something that could cause harm. They must learn on their own. Did you not pay attention to my lessons?"
They walked in silence for a little while longer.
"Boy, there is a difference in your Mineral Mystic and that of everyone else's," the bald Sovereign said as they moved over a hill. "In time, you will realize why it is so easy for you to do what many others couldn't do in all their lives with training."
Monstroth simply nodded. He wanted to ask about his master's words, but at the moment he couldn't focus and find the urge to care. All he could see was the spike of clay killing that man. Just a few paces away... He wished his mind would stay focused on other things, but no matter how much he tried, he kept moving back to that.
It was scary to see someone die...