Magda groaned. Slowly, her eyes opened, widening as they fixed on the face above hers. Her pale face grew even whiter. Her lips fell open as if in wonder before her eyes narrowed, her brow contracted and her mouth set itself in a thin line.
“Magda,” he said.
“Johann.” The name came out hard, harsh, broken.
Tears filled Johann’s eyes. “You—you remember.”
She looked away, turning to see Adam and Tulen in their cages.
“I never knew what came of you…” he stammered. “You disappeared… at first, we thought you ran…”
“You never came after me.”
“I—” he caught the word in his mouth, as if unsure what to say. “I wanted to.”
“I had no say.”
Fury spread across Magda’s face. “What do you mean? Why didn’t you come after me?”
“We knew it was revenge. We had—had to protect our reputation.”
“Revenge? Reputation? I was kidnapped and you did nothing because of your reputation?”
Johann hung his head. “It was my father’s decision. He held control of the business. We could not… we couldn’t do anything because if we did, if we had found you, if we had struck and gotten you back, the townspeople would know that we… that we were in the business. There was no way to get you back.”
Adam’s head reeled. His own people were slavers? His kinsmen were the one who did this to other people? To Magda, their own fellow citizens? He’d always thought it was an external threat. Impianans kidnapping Mahans, or rogue nomads attacking both sides.
“You—what?” Magda shrieked, struggling upright.
Magda slapped Johann across the cheek. “Let me get this straight,” she growled, ignoring the pain from her stab wound. “Your family was always in the slave trade.”
The man nodded.
“And when I was kidnapped on our wedding day, your father decided you should do nothing to get me back because… because it would expose you and jeopardise your business.”
He nodded again.
Magda spat at him. “I hope you rot in hell.”
“Please what? Forgive you? For all the years I have suffered? No. Never. I wish I never knew you.”
Johann only plays a minor role in Absolution but I had nothing to fill J with. HAHAHAHA.