Isaac studied the boy in front him. He didn't match the description he knew the Young Master by, but he knew it was him. His eyes were blue like his father's, while his hair was blonde like his mother and sister.
This was not his true appearance. Hair the color of a fine red wine, and eyes that would glow a bright golden yellow not unlike that of the sun itself.
Isaac mentally changed his colorings, and in his mind's eye the two figures converged until he saw the strong, tall visage of a young man with the same sort of regal bearing and proud gaze one would find on a ruler of nations instead of someone barely at the age of 15.
Indeed, the Young Master didn't disappoint. He fit his status as the Heir of the Greyborne family perfectly.
He had a special sort of aura about him too.
It was a calm aura, a mature aura. Saying he was completely at ease in their own skin. It was a not a feeling that was easy to project, but when done right it created a powerful image.
Few members of his generation, from Isaac's experience, had this same kind of feel to them.
He recalled that tournament some time ago, remembering the overwhelming might the boy before him used to crush his opponents. How old was he then? 14?
Facing those nearly five years his senior. That alone proved his talents to everyone present.
Probably every single one of the Greysons he was bonded to had heard of the feat.
They must be quite proud to have such an excellent Lord, Isaac thought. Serving him in the future will surely be something to boast about. Our Young Master truly seems worthy of his name.
Never would Isaac have predicted that the Young Master Lyle whom he respected would show up here. It was a surprise. One he didn't know was good or not.
Because the thing he wanted to know, strictly speaking, was a bit sensitive.
Isaac asked, "Young Master...may I ask why you want such information?"
The man had a bad feeling. He had a favorable impression of him, but he'd long since heard of the Young Master's eccentricities that sometimes appeared. For some reason he thought now was one of the times when they would pop up.
And true to his expectations, the young man stared at him. It wasn't a hard stare, no.
It was the kind of quiet, disdainful stare a king would give to a disrespectful subordinate.
"Does it matter?"
Isaac was no fool, shaking his head without hesitation. "Of course not, Young Master."
No longer asking any questions, Isaac began his report.
"Currently the situtation has grown worse for the young Princess. In the last week four more attempts on her life had been made. The general populace, however, does not know of this. Because of that they are outraged by the King's latest decision regarding the Princess."
Isaac peered at the Young Master's face inquiringly.
"I'm following so far. Go on."
A nod. "Simply put, the Princess is under house arrest."
It was Lyle's turn to frown. "This wouldn't happen normally. What happened to her?"
"She was injured. I hear that despite her precautions her life was once again put in danger."
"...A child." Came the heavy reply.
Lyle was stunned, but his eyes narrowed dangerously as he contemplated the implications of what was said.
"A child...you say. Explain."
Yet Lyle already guessed, and the man's next words only confirmed his suspicion.
"They spellplagued the lad. Broke him." Lyle's hands gripped the edge of the stone table, hard. " From what I know, during a stroll within the Imperial City the ones behind the recent attacks mixed the child within the crowd and waited until the Princess was within range. The child was kicked onto her path, and then--"
"When she went to help, he attacked." Lyle finished for him.
Su'Mei...From Lyle's knowledge she was a kind and righteous person. She'd be unable to resist checking to see if the child was alright. She'd rush to his side before anyone could say a word.
Isaac noticed a subtle change in the young man just then. There was clear coldness emanating from him that made the room drop several degrees. And he knew why.
"It is as you think, Young Master." Isaac's voice was solemn. "Dead."
And just like that, Isaac heard the table crack, the stone unable to bear the young man's anger.
For an instant, Isaac even thought he saw the Young Master's current blue-colored eyes flash there usual gold, then turn a terrible blood-red.
A thick, coppery stench seemed to assault his nostrils, the room appearing to darken and warp nightmarishly.
Rage. Raw, uncontrollable rage. That's what it felt like.
Isaac, for a moment, sensed his heart grow cold as the shadow of a monstrous beast seemed to appear behind the Young Master Lyle's body.
Yet the moment passed, as quickly as it came, making him doubt it was ever there at all.
"Bastards." Lyle cursed viciously.
"Monster." Isaac, still shaken, said as much. And this point he wasn't sure exactly who he directed that to. The one behind this...or the one in front of him.
But he shook himself and regained his bearings, putting the strange happening into the back of his mind.
After he calmed himself, he added. "They'd never have let him live anyway. And even if he did...he'd be a simpleton for the rest of his days." It was perhaps a good thing that he died.
At least it meant he wouldn't have to suffer becoming a fool who would never be able to live a normal life. He supposed it was a mercy of sorts.
"Being spellplagued at that age..."
Isaac sighed, not deigning to continue. It was a tragic fate. A life snuffed out so young, it was always saddening.
He knew that in times like this many innocents may be harmed. That didn't make knowing about it any easier.
"Mei, how is she?" Lyle forced back his anger and moved the conversation back on track.
"The dagger pierced her side, but she lived. It was poisoned but it wasn't anything too deadly so she was on her feet within hours. It's just that that the poison used was a rather odd choice for an assassination."
"Let me guess." Lyle gave a sarcastic smirk. "It was weak, wasn't it?"
"Rightly so." Isaac nodded.
"They never really had an intention to kill her, did they? At least not right now." A thought came to him. "Isaac, the child, was he--?"
"Human. Yes." Isaac's face was grim.
Humans on the Demon continent weren't all that rare. They were not common at all, but since the peace treaty among the two powers had existed for some time now there were some humans who migrated there for one reason or another.
"And the people won't give a damn how the child was coerced into doing the act, all they'll see is a human trying to kill their beloved Princess." Lyle was very cynical about the situation, but he knew he wasn't going to be proved wrong.
"That will likely be the case." Isaac ageed. "And that was only the second attempt this week."
"Second?" Lyle's voice was riddled with confusion.
"The Princess...was very stubborn. The incident was the last straw, after that the King couldn't bear it any longer and entreatied her to stay in the Palace. Despite this, the Princess went out again and again. Finally the King refused to allow her to continue, forcing her to stop. Right now the Princess is a prisoner in her own home. "
Lyle rubbed the bridge of his nose, thinking dark thoughts.
Dammit, Mei...you really don't know how to compromise, do you?
If it were Lyle he'd know when to ease off a bit. He'd know his freedom was sacred. Without it, what could he do? Nothing.
That girl, she was too reckless. Although he had to say, he admired her a bit for her stubborness even as he chided her for it.
He understood well her reasons for wanting to keep going outside the Palace grounds despite the danger.
"She wants to try and ease the tension between the demons and humans. But now she can't do that." He muttered.
"As expected, the Young Master is able to see into the heart of the matter. Yes, I believe that's her intent too. The King should also understand this, but he won't risk her life for something like that."
"And he made the right call." Lyle said with respect clear in his tone. "Humans and demons can repair their relationship any time. So long as there is life, there is hope. Specifically her life. She'd be able to mend the rift eventually. Even without her, it can still be done by someone in the future no matter how bad our relations get. Since it's like that, why expose her to the threat of death? It'd be absurd to risk her life needlessly."
"That is indeed so. If only the Princess herself realized this."
"What do you mean?" Lyle was already thinking that she'd done something stupid, but hoped she wasn't that unreasonable.
"She tried to escape. Several times." Isaac monotoned. His lips pulled at the corners, faintly amused. "I hear she even put one of the guards in the hospital."
Lyle shook his head in wonder, marveling at her rash behaviour. Apparently she was that unreasonable.
"Of course she did." He sighed tiredly. "Foolish girl."
Lyle slid off the stone table he'd been making his seat up to now.
A hard light of determination came into his eyes, a light that gave Isaac a feeling of dread.
"Send in the Wardens."
Isaac's mouth nearly fell open. "Young Master, you can't be thinking of--!"
"I am." He cut the man off. "I want five of them sent to her by morning. From this point on those five will be her eyes, ears, hands and legs. Both within the Palace and without. They will listen to her commands, all of them, as if they were the words of the gods themselves."
"Young Master, the Wardens aren't to be used so carelessly!" Isaac's eyes blazed at the outrageous idea. "They're the elites of the family, taking years to raise, costing unholy amounts of resources to mold...Giving them away like that, your father and Lord Alec would never allow or accept it!"
The Wardens of Death...In this life and the next, Isaac didn't believe there was ever a more terrifying force.
Purged of their humanity, of their wants and desires, of fear and hesitation.
Without emotion. Cold, bloodless.
It wasn't that they were all-powerful. But rather the powers they did wield was the kind that could bring you to the edge of your sanity and threaten to push you over.
Because that's what they did to those that became the enemies of the Greybornes.
This why they were called the Wardens of Death. You didn't die until they bade it so. Until their masters, the Greybornes, allowed you that luxury.
The Wardens didn't merely kill.
"They don't have to allow it, because I'm not asking for permission." Lyle smiled. " On my authority as the Heir-Apparent of the Greyborne family, I am issuing a command. And whether it's you or them, it will be followed. This is my right as Heir."
...Isaac felt unwilling yet was also unable to deny the words.
The old made way for the new. This is how it was with the Greybornes.
He was the Heir, and that was all that mattered.
What's more the Young Master's father had already long since lost the majority of his strength due to his injuries.
This fact alone made many of the younger generation of followers within the Greyborne clan impatient for his son to take command.
Especially those who were directly Bonded to him.
And this is because even in his prime Lucius was not like his son.
The Young Master was not just a regular Greyborne, he was one blessed by his ancestors. Not only did he have the crimson locks of the original Greybornes but he also posessed the golden eyes of the Bathory clan.
Both traits were ones that hadn't been seen in generations. Was this not what one called heaven-sent?
The truth was that with these alone, with the great promise he held...If he truly wanted...he could take the reins of the family straight from his father's hands.
And not a single person would be able to stop him.
Not a single person may even want to.
Because who was better suited to be in power other than him? He was a true Greyborne. More than his father. More than his father's father.
And the Greyborne clan as a whole, the forces who followed the Greyborne family, all recognized this.
"I...Understand, Young Master." Isaac could only grit his teeth and acknowledge the command.
"It's good that you do." Lyle patted him on the back in a friendly manner, his previous kingly air from just moments ago vanishing without the slightest indication it was ever there at all.
He started walking towards the exit, then stopped.
"Isaac, before I go...does the name Seraphina ring any bells?"
The question caught Isaac completely off-guard, stunning him for a few moments.
He answered with a hint of confusion, clearly a bit shocked. "Young Master, off the top of my head the only person of note bearing that name would be Her Holiness Lady Seraphina Felhorn, Patriarch Felhorn's only daughter."