Monstroth watched Matt disappear through one of the Voidgates and then turned to his master and Naetia. His master had a sour look, which meant he was just being his usual self, while Naetia seemed utterly terrified. It would be hard not to try and comfort her. She may have done wrong, but she had also just lost her brother. Monstroth had no idea how that must have felt but he could imagine what he would feel if Kaela died before him.
Well, maybe not completely.
The Sovereign seemed to notice Monstroth's longing and shook his head. Thank the Unscarred Creator he didn't comment on it. "We're wasting time," he said with a stern voice, "Let's be off to the City."
Then they began to walk.
The plains reminded Monstroth more and more of his desert home as they went. The hills that dotted the landscape matched the dunes and the way the long grass blew with the wind seemed very similar to sand. It would have been a pleasant sight had it not been for the cold. Naetia and his Master seemed fine - maybe even a little hot - but Monstroth nearly shivered with each gust that passed him.
Monstroth pulled his desert jacket tight, though it did little to help. "Master, why would the Nightguard kill Matt on sight?" he asked, trying to keep his mind off shivering. He knew the Nightguard were ruthless and generally had nasty tempers to go with it, but they seemed to do their jobs well from what his teachers said.
"Things have changed recently in Mar, boy," the Sovereign said, not bothering to take his eyes away from Naetia. Probably trying to find a reason to harm her. Monstroth didn't even doubt he would harm her, to be honest. The Sovereign of Mineral had already proven to be ruthless. "Void users are outlawed now."
"The Scarred Sanction?" Monstroth asked, curious now.
"Aye," his master said with a faint nod, "Though only partly." He nodded once more toward Naetia. "Some Void users in Mar started a mass theft, hitting several places all over the city. I assume now that our friend here is part of the group responsible."
Naetia seemed to sink at that, giving Monstroth and his master a little confirmation.
"Naetia, how can you be part of a group like this?" Monstroth asked the woman. Did she really have no will but to be a servant to this group? It was sad. Not even pitiable anymore.
"I..." Naetia shook her head a little, as if torn over something. How hard was it to choose to do the right in that situation? Kidnapping and stealing weren't exactly borderline deeds like what Monstroth and his Master had discussed before.
"Well?" Monstroth asked again. He wanted to hear her answer. He knew he probably wouldn't like it, but he wanted it anyway.
"There is no other way."
"No other way?" Monstroth was getting angry now. "What is the alternative then? Let your victims lead a peaceful life?"
Naetia halted and jerked her head back to look at Monstroth. There was still a fear in her features, but something else sparkled in her eyes. Determination? "You could never understand! You're just a sheltered prince! Why should I even-"
The Sovereign backhanded Naetia to the ground. Monstroth was surprised to find... that he wasn't surprised. Or even fazed, honestly. The woman had pissed him off. Why should he care if she was put in her place for her misguided beliefs?
"Girl," Monstroth's master said slowly, standing over her, "While I agree with you over this boy still being an ignorant... well, boy, I must ask that you give us the chance to understand." The sovereign grabbed Naetia by her collar and pulled her up, though didn't release her. "Why are these actions necessary, then?"
For all that his instincts told him to save her from the Sovereign, Monstroth stood still and said nothing. It wasn't that he was too angry to care anymore. No, he was still angry, but he had gotten it under control the moment his master slapped the woman. Now he simply knew to let his Master do what was right. Learning why this woman wanted him would lead to why Faereign was attacked. Why the general's eldest son had nearly died and his youngest was taken. Maybe even who had controlled Rhazin...
Naetia shook in the Sovereign's hand, but said nothing.
After a moment, the former bandit leader snorted and shoved his captive back, then started to walk once more. "A waste of time is what you are, Child."
Naetia froze. "How did...?"
Child? What did the master mean by that? And why did it make Naetia freeze? Her tanned face looked several shades lighter and she stared harshly at the Sovereigns back. Whatever fear she had held was gone, replaced with shock.