“I must say, friend, you look nervous.”
Lokiano looked up from his book to find an old man standing directly in front him.
Odd, he thought thought to himself, I hadn’t heard anyone approach me.
The man was wearing the pearlescent white of an Enalian robe and the shaved head of one of the Immaculates, the monks devoted to serving the Lordsent. It was rare to see one out during the morning shift since they were all expected to be on daily mass duty and even rarer to have one speak to you. His face was beaten by both time and weather which left his skin tanned and leathery. His icy blue eyes were so light that they bordered on gray. They were the only other remarkable feature of his appearance. Being that he was sitting on a bench on the outermost edge of the market circle, Lokiano was surprised that he was bothered
“I’m sorry, Upper, I didn’t mean to,” Lokiano said to the man. Upper was the term all citizens were to use when addressing a monk of the Lordent in order to show respect. It was typical for a monk to refer to the common rabble as Lowers so it struck Lokiano odd when he realized that he hadn’t.
“Oh please, don’t call me that. You’ll learn so -” He was cut off by a sudden eruption of voices coming from the center of the market circle. A crowd was quickly amassing around the sound and Lokiano instinctively rose from his bench to assess the situation. As he made a step towards the inner circle, the monk grabbed his shoulder with a firm grip.
“Wait,” he said.
Confused, Lokiano stopped moving. What exactly convinced him that the monk was to be listened to, he didn’t know, but whatever it was froze him in his tracks. Without a word, he stood still beside the man and watched the scene unfold before him from a distance. At first, all there was to observe was little more than the blundering about of people and the yelling of confusion and adrenaline. It wasn’t until a group of men with their faces masked burst from the congregation and made a run for the far side of the circle. Those masks were unmistakable. They were the Faulted, the ones exiled by the government for not “meeting the minimal societal requirements.”
Lokiano was petrified. He’d only seen a Faulted once before in his life and that day had been the worst of his life. Never before, though, had he seen a group of them together in an organized group.
Lokiano and the monk of the Lordsent stood completely still and watched in awe as the group ran over to a merchant stand on the far side of the circle. Jumping over the front counter, one of the masked men disappeared behind the walls of the white tent only to reappear moments later with a struggling street merchant wrapped in his arms. Throwing him to the ground, the other men swiftly surrounded the merchant, who had been obviously stunned by his impact with the ground, and began to beat him in turns. Screams emanated from the center of the small circle as the Faulted kicked and punched the man for what seemed like hours. Although they ran to watch, and some to get away, no one interfered. Interfering with the natural elimination of a citizen was a criminal offense which no one wished to commit.
Just as quickly as they had started, the screams stopped. The Faulted gathered themselves and ran out of sight. The man laid on the ground, completely still.
They never told me they’d send the Faulted Lokiano thought to himself.
“Come with me,” the monk uttered quietly.
I had no plans to obey him but the sharp point I felt in my side convinced me otherwise.