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AN: remember to rate, review and comment on anything. I will see to any editing later. And dammit I need to start working on that Glossary ....

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When Lyle awoke, Iris was laying half on top of him, her right leg over his own and her arm resting above his heart.

Her small face was pressed against his own, her breath warm against his cheek.

He slowly extracted himself from her embrace... Or at least he tried to. He found that she clutched him, tight, not letting him go. As if scared he would leave. He looked closer and, to his surprise, found small tears by her eyes.

She looked so sad and desolate that his heart felt like it were breaking into tiny pieces. However her expression, as she astonishingly held onto him even tighter, grew increasingly calmer and peaceful. She buried her face in his chest and he froze.

Lyle sighed but couldn't bring himself to try getting up again. He could only endure as his muscles started to cramp a bit.

It was still early in the morning when she roused herself from her sleep, the sun's bright rays shining beautifully onto her golden curls and giving her a angelic appearance, as usual.

" Brother..." She murmured softly, not quite fully awake yet. " I had this strange dream...Like I was carving something...I remember blood, and then..." She trailed off.

He was surprised. From her reaction last night he assumed she didn’t recall her actions at all.

Of course, Lyle was no fool. He knew there could be only one reason for her sudden behavior. After what happened to her, to them, the timing couldn't be a coincidence.

It looks like she, too, has one of those things inside her.

He felt a wave of fury and helplessness.

It was fine if these things were inside him. He had made the choice himself, and so he would bear the burden willingly.

But Iris shouldn't have to deal with that. He allowed those things to help him save her despite not knowing what would happen. But if he could rescue her, then it would be worth it. However, knowing ths forced to endure this same situation made his sacrifice seem meaningless. He could have died, or worse, yes even still she was not safe.

He couldn't help but feel cheated.

"Iris...I'm probably going to go away for awhile." He began suddenly.

"What? Brother, you can't!" She cried, alarmed.

"Don’t worry, there's just a few things I have to look into. A few weeks, maybe, no longer."

"Then take me with you!" She panicked.

"Of course. I never said you weren't coming, did I?" He smiled. "I won't leave you. I promised, right?"

Truth be told, he didn't want to take her. But what he wanted to do required her presence. Well, more like, it was dangerous leaving her here by herself where she might hurt others. What if that thing took over again? What's more, he could only feel alright if he was personally by her so that he could make sure she herself didn't get injured. This was the most important thing to him.

And what he wanted to do was best done if she went with him. To save some time, if nothing else.

She sighed, relieved. Then,

"Heh, finally me and brother are going somewhere together instead of you and that Cecelia. I get to have you all to myself!" She smiled happily.

Lyle said nothing.

-----------------------------

Melanie was quiet.

When Lyle came down for breakfast he found that she didn't meet his eyes and merely served him and Iris their plates before moving to the side, awaiting further instruction.

Miss Belle looked at the girl. " You seem different today, dear. Are you alright?" A raised brow.

Melanie smiled. "I'm fine. Thank you for your consideration."

Iris had a strange expression as she stared at the older girl.

"I see. I was a bit concerned. I noticed you walking by me the other day without even a word of hello and thought something was amiss. Your face was so red at that time I feared you came down with something." A small laugh. She turned to Lyle. "And you seem quiet as well. I notice you two haven't looked at each other directly all this time. I wonder why?"

Lyle smiled. “Who knows? Maybe it's just you? I feel fine, after all. I'm sure Melanie is alright too, yes?" He glanced at her.

"...Right..." She said after moment, seeming lost in thought.

" Hmmm...." Miss Belle looked at the two. Lyle had given nothing away, but Melanie... She was easy to read.

After a short silence she brought her gaze to Iris for a moment before continuing on with her meal.

After some time had passed she stood up suddenly. "Come, Iris, let's go. You have some brushing up to do on your equation solving."

Iris looked between Lyle and Melanie with evident worry. "I want to stay with brother." She asserted.

Miss Belle sighed. "This girl..." She shook her head. “You know, child, if you keep clinging to him someday he may grow to resent you. "

Unknown to the others, these casually said words made the girl flinch as if struck, driving the air from her lungs.

She felt an increasing panic as she looked at her brother and Melanie, witnessing the strange behavior Miss Belle had mentioned. She remembered that scene that evil woman showed her. Could that have been...real? Iris felt her heart clench at the thought.

It was fine if it happened, but if her brother was keeping things like that from her, then...Wasn't he already distancing himself from her? Iris hated thinking of this possibility. Yet, no. She would trust her brother. Becasue her brother never lied to her. Because even if he did, he would always be with her. He said he would.

He promised.

"Go on, Iris, I’ll be here for a bit longer." Lyle didn't seem to notice his sister's inner turmoil. Or at the very least if he did, then he didn't show it.

"Brother..." Was he trying to get rid of her? To talk to that...that little minx? Ah, no, that girl wasn't that bad. Minx is going a bit far...

Her mood soured by the second.

"Iris, go." Lyle commanded gently.

"Alright..." Iris all but whimpered.

Reluctantly, she followed Miss Belle. But not before sending a sudden unprovoked glare to Melanie.

The other girl felt a chill, but didn't know why. Like a cold blade running along her spine...Melanie shivered slightly.

Soon there was only the two of them in the dining room, her and Lyle.

A small silence began to take root.

Melanie's heart beat loudly in her chest. She wanted to be anywhere but here.

She knew he was going to say something about the other day: But she didn't want to hear it.

She held this irrational fear towards whatever he might say. For a long time now the two of them had been...she didn't know what, exactly.
In the wake of what he had done, she didn't know what to think.

Exactly what had there relationship been up to now? Merely master and servant? Or was there another reason that he was so good to her through the time they spent together?

" I don't know what you want me to do, you know. Or what I should do." Lyle spoke up.

Melanie started. "What?" She asked, unsure.

"About you." He clarified." What I did to you. I'm not sure how to make up for it. I nearly..." He trailed off, frowning.

"That's..." Melanie hesitated.

"Melanie, because of various reasons, I can't properly take responsibility at this time. I need you to know that I was not entirely in my right mind at that time, I acted impulsively. That's no excuse, however. So I intend to handle this matter in a straightforward manner. If that's what you want." He paused, looking at her closely.

"Young master, you don’t have to-"

"I know perfectly well I don’t have to." He cut her off gently. " But I don't feel like being the type of person who can simply do such things and move on as if nothing happened. Of course, I will respect your wishes on the matter. But in my mind, we both have two main choices. The first is to ignore it and go about as we have been. The second...Well, we could see where a relationship between us goes. Since you're the victim here, I will let you decide what to do, what you want. It may seem a half-assed way of doing things, leaving it to you, but I feel that you are the only one who really has a say in how we proceed. So anything you decide...I will abide by." He spoke with a rather heavy heart.

It was a complicated matter. Melanie was, after all, a maiden. Older and more traditional customs would mean she would have to marry him since she would have been "tainted" and therefore unfit to be with another man. A very outdated ideology, and a senseless one. But how could Lyle feel at ease, knowing what he had almost done to her? He had to do something. Maybe starting a relationship with her would make the guilt of his actions lessen...

He understood well how this thought process seemed. But his feeling of guilt and sense of honor made him feel he couldn't merely giver her money and then act as if everything was fine. It wouldn't be. He believed that was also a much too casual way of handling the situation given the severity of the crime he had nearly committed.

He only stated the latter option because he didn't want her to feel as if he was simply using her for her body or some such thing. Given her position she must think that she will be reduced to a mistress. He wouldn't blame her even if she thought that this was the reason he first decided to bring her into his life, decided to help her. To stop such thoughts from happening, simple reassurances were unfit for the job.

As for Melanie...She didn't know what to say to that, really. He was leaving the choice up to her, and would accept whatever she wanted to do. It's true that they had spent enough time together, that they knew each other well. And he didn't treat her or any other differently due to barriers such as social status. But when she first arrived she was very clear on her role: To serve as his maid until she either repaid her debt to him or he no longer wanted her around.

She was a servant, nothing more. She had heard of the circumstances that some other servants had when they worked for other Nobles. They were barely treated as human, mainly ignored and thought of as air. Invisible, almost. Here it was much different but the fact that he was her employer had always been something she was keenly aware of. Especially now, given what happened.

He didn't even have to take responsibility for anything. Even if he wanted to take her right now there wouldn't really be anyone who would say anything about it. Why would they? Perhaps something would be done if it were Nobles with lesser power and influence. After all, such things were still considered serious crimes.

But him? She didn't know the full extent of his family's power, but after working here for so long she knew it was vastly incomparable to what was normally possessed by those of Noble blood. It likely even stretched far beyond the kingdom they currently lived in. Maybe...it was even greater than she imagined. To think he would be restrained by any laws of this kingdom was ridiculous. He could do what he wanted and there wasn’t many would speak out against him.

So if he had a thought to push her down right now and make her his, probably nothing would be done about it. Of course there were many women who wouldn’t entirely find something like that a misfortune. There were benefits to having such a relationship with a person like him, after all. In the past weeks since his birthday party many had come for just that reason.

So he really had no reason to hold himself back, or take responsibility for any of his actions towards her. Yet he did. He put himself in a position in which he gave her the power to decide what would happen from now on regarding the matter at hand.

But she had no idea, exactly, what she wanted to do.

Moreover, she knew that Lady Greyborne favored Lady Cecelia. And that the two had a deal of sorts worked out...

With Lady Greyborne's aid, and with the close relationship they already had, it wouldn't br long until young master Lyle and Cecelia...

Even if Melanie wanted to, there was no way Lady Greyborne would approve of her, a servant, holding such a relationship with Lyle who would someday wield the entirety of the Greyborne family's power and fate in his hands. Melanie had nothing to offer him...

She understood well that Cecelia liked young master Lyle, too. Melanie...she was just in their way...

Melanie truly was at a loss as to how she would handle this...Did she even want to start a relationship with the young master?

...It would be an honor, and yet... She didn't have the qualifications to stand at his side in a way like that... But, if he was okay with it, if he could see her in that way...Then maybe...

"Well," He stood up. " I won't rush you for an answer. I'm planning a trip somewhere and Iris, along with a few others I have in mind, will be coming with me. You can too, if you wish. Remember, I will follow whatever it is you decide to do. To forget, or to see where it could lead. Once you decide what you want, simply let me know."

Regarding his own thoughts on the matter, Lyle had no problems with staying true to his words. He was no longer in any relationship at the moment so his heart was clear and untroubled.

Although, he didn't entirely like the idea of getting into another one so soon. He did, if he was honest, have lingering feelings for Sophia. But that was a given seeing as how much time the spent together. Apparently it wasn't enough to cultivate a truly strong bond between them, as evidence by Sophia's lack of trust towards him and instant misunderstanding of the situation without choosing to confirm whether her suspicions were true or not, but nevertheless it still meant something to him.

With Melanie...he felt she was a good woman. He wouldn't truly mind getting to know her on a deeper level. Although he had originally wanted to have a connection with Sophia's family due to their influence, such a thing was never needed. It would have been a nice perk, but nothing more. His family didn't need the connection anyway, which is why for the most part they had no problems with he and Iris choosing their partners themselves.

Besides, he was still good friends with Cecelia. And that was more than enough. In the time he was sent out on missions by A'daire Lyle had also made connections with a wide variety of people. Some even wielded considerable influence and a wide network of information.

So it was no problem if he started something with Melanie. He wasn't opposed to the idea and had no reason to dislike it. Despite the fact that his actions the other day were a result of that Azamat character influencing his actions a bit, Lyle was told that his actions were his own. If taken at face value, then all Azamat did was truly just weaken Lyle's inhibitions.

Perhaps heightening his lust at the same time. So, if true, then Lyle himself was to blame for losing himself like that. Even if not, Lyle would still believe he should have more willpower and not be so easily swayed by a thing like that. No matter how powerful it used to be.

So he felt he had to take responsibility for his actions towards Melanie. The only problem was that it wasn't only him involved. Melanie was also caught up in it. Lyle thought it right that Melanie, as the victim, be the one to decide how things would progress between them, not he.

If she chose to ignore it happened, he would as well.

Is she wanted to explore where it could lead them...he wouldn't simply sit back passively. At such a time, a man had to take action, no?

So if she wanted to start something with him then Lyle was prepared to take things from there. Either way, he would respect her wishes on the matter. Even if she thought of some other option apart from the two, such as a punishment.

He would accept that, too.


-------------------

Iris felt more sour with each passing moment. She couldn't concentrate at all on the mathematical problems currently lying in front of her.

She never had any problems with leaving those two alone before. Yet now she hated the thought of them spending even a second together without her present. She kept up a relatively good relationship with Melanie in the past, but now she felt an increasing dislike for the girl. Just thinking of her made Iris' blood pump harder, a oily black feeling spreading throughout her chest as she thought of what the two might be talking of, or doing, while they were alone.

Her brother shouldn't have to be alone with any girl but her. He shouldn't want to pay attention to any girl other than her, his adorable sister.

Other girls were only a nuisance. Like that Sophia. Iris had not quite understood exactly what happened between them at his birthday party some time ago, but knew that they were no longer an item. From what she knew, it was a result of a misunderstanding involving Melanie. Probably the girl thought that brother was cheating on her. He didn't tell her this, but she was smart enough to notice the clues.

She knew that would happen from the start. That strumpet played with her brother's heart. She, like the others Iris had seen, was only interested in brother for his looks and social status. What's worse, she was the jealous and possessive type. She didn't trust brother and thought he was the type to play around with other women while being in a relationship.

Hmph. That little girl doesn't know anything. Iris didn’t think it would be a big deal even if her brother did cheat on the little harlot. Her brother was cool, kind, strong and came from a powerful family. In other words, he was perfect. Why should he mind about having two or three women?

That Sophia-bitch, she should be grateful he ever looked her way. However, her brother was not such a person to have mistresses. Unlike what others would do in his position, he didn't fool around with the hearts of women. No, he was better than that. Though Iris thought that it would be alright if he did, she respected and was happy with the fact that he didn't.

Of course, she didn't care if he hurt the hearts of a girl or two: Why would she? They were nothing to her. No, she was merely happy that he didn't because that would severely shorten the time that Iris herself would have with him had he chosen to play around in such a way.

Also, she would probably hate it if he did that since she firmly felt he shouldn't pay attention to girls who weren't her. Which is why she felt it was horrible that he chose to have a relationship with that Sophia-bitch.


Nn, indeed, she predicted they would break up eventually. That despicable woman couldn't appreciate big brother, couldn't understand his worth. Even though she, that whore, was like the tiniest of insects in comparison. As she thought, lower lifeforms like that slut were incapable of recognizing brother's true value .

So, again, other girls were merely a pain for brother to deal with. He should concentrate his attention on his cute sister instead and spoil her more.

All this said, why were the two acting so strangely towards one another? That Melanie, her face was just a bit too red at that time, wasn't it?

She thought back. Although she considered it a mere dream...That image of her brother and Melanie....Could it truly be--?

" I wonder what those two are talking about. Aren't you curious as well, dear? Why don't we have a peek?"

A voice suddenly resounded through Iris' mind, one not her own.

Iris's cheek twitched. " Shut up. You never have anything good to say. I won't listen to you." Iris responded venomously.

This arrogant, annoying voice had come into her mind at times. She had thought that she was going insane at first but soon come to accept the voice. She thought that perhaps this voice was a mere figment of her imagination. Or maybe a subconscious part of herself speaking up. She didn't know.

Maybe it was real. Maybe this voice come from something that wasn't part of her. But it didn't matter. Whatever this voice was, Iris no longer rejected it. It was simply that it annoyed her. It never had anything positive to say about anything.

Always saying mean things about how her brother would leave her behind for someone else. He promised he wouldn't ever do that to her. Why would she trust some voice in her mind more than her brother? Why would she doubt him when he gave his promise to her?

His words had infinitely more value to her than some annoying voice in her head.

"How rude. Well, I suppose it's to be expected. I truly find you an amusing one. Who would think such a little girl would still have some resistance to my influence? I had to force it last night. Drained me quite a bit too. Interesting. But, disregarding that, I think you really should care a bit more about what they are discussing. I just sent a bit of my consciousness to see what they were talking about. I think you'll find it pretty important."

The voice laughed lightly, as if it knew some great secret and was trying to entice Iris to ask what it was.

As for her other words, Iris thought it was talking non-sense. What about last night?

Other than that weird dream, nothing odd happened. Well, whatever. She got to sleep with brother, so she didn't think much about anything else last night. Brother said it was nothing, so of course she would believe him

The only thing the woman's words--for indeed it was a feminine voice--accomplished was to remind Iris of the bliss at being able to sleep by brother's side. He rarely let that happen these days, which she found completely unfair. He had told her it was something about her being too old to be sleeping with him. She didn’t understand that reasoning.

Something like age, why would it matter?

She fully had intentions to still be sleeping with her brother even when she was an adult. Why would that be considered wrong? It was a sign of a strong and healthy sibling bond. To know he was trying to stop such a wonderful thing...

Ah, he felt so warm and comfortable....

His muscles were fairly hard due to the constant training he put himself through but even that wasn't unpleasant. Hm, and his scent was fine too. A bit spicy, a bit minty, mixed with slight sweat. He may not have remembered to take a bath that night. Which was unusual for him. But it made his smell more pungent, which Iris found she didn't dislike...

"...Hey, girl, are you listening? Hello? Damn brat. What, finally done fantasizing about that boy? Good. I know we have a good compatibility, girl. Your one-track mind proves that. So, I ask again, interested? Come now, take a look." She cooed.

Iris ignored her and refocused on the equations on the paper before her.

Miss Belle was starting to get suspicious, looking at her from the other side of the room. The warm light from the parlor's window were starting to disappear due to the oncoming clouds.

Iris, having been pulled from her memories of her night with her brother, found that the room, to her, was distinctly cold.

"Such a feeling, it seems as if something pretty entertaining will happen. You probably won't be affected much, but that brother of yours...I'm interested to see how long he will last. A shame he has Azamat inside him. That person's power, the aspect of lust he possesses, wasn't originally his. Since this is the case, that brother of yours will likely face something fairly degrading soon. I wonder, at that time, will he ask them for help and risk the consequences? Or will he endure? I'm eager to see what he decides" She laughed.

Iris couldn't help frowning.

She wanted to see her brother again soon.


-----------------------------------------------

Mother and father had rarely spoken since the four of them returned. Lyle didn't care, though. After what his father did, though he understood it, he couldn't see past his actions.

After he conversed with Melanie, he found and talked a bit with his mother. " I'm going on a trip soon. Iris and a few others will be coming with me." He spoke abruptly, with little explanation.

She blinked. " Lyle, honey, what are you talking about, going where?"

"Zeshar." He replied.

She looked at him oddly. Zeshar was a sprawling, prosperous city located far to the north of here, centered within a large kingdom known for it's technological advancements. It was a hub of knowledge and innovation. Zeshar was also the city where the kingdom's most expansive library was held, the Udril Whren. It wasn't known exactly what the name translated to, but many had taken to calling it the Workshop.

It was called such because it was the place where many experiments and scientific breakthroughs were common. It was where all young elites who pursued knowledge hoped to someday enter.

Well, not like they couldn't enter, exactly. It was a public library after all, with a wide assortments of books, scrolls and hologems that covered....Pretty much everything. Some knowledge was restricted, but for the most part you could find the answer to nearly any question you had if you looked hard enough. The restrictions being only knowledge deemed dangerous and not fit for public display, such as the art of necromancy, cursed texts, hidden histories and other things.

The reason they wanted to go was in the hope of joining the Research and Development program, something which came with much prestige and other benefits.

It had various levels to it and mainly the common folk had access to the first and second levels, whereas those with a fair amount of influence could go on to the third level.

Anything past that was usually restricted and heavily guarded.

With the Greyborne family influence entering the higher levels was a simple thing. They were the family that helped found the World Council many years ago, and despite their low-profile tendencies they still had special privileges. Lyle, as the next head of the family, could of course enter any level he wished.

But a place like that, why would her son...?

She thought back to the plans that dastardly group had in store for her son. They were being taken care of now by Gideon, but she didn't like the thought of Lyle going even still. Especially since things were not entirely resolved.

" Hold up. Do you have to go now? Wait a few week, then you can leave, but until then I think you should stay-"

"I cant." He spoke over her, voice firm. "It's important. If it's our safety you worry about...well, we both know I’m not weak. And I 'm intending to take some hired help. Some trustworthy mercs I made friends with a while back. Not to mention a few reliable fellows I know quite well. Nothing will happen, I assure you. But I have to go. I can't explain why, but it has to be done. I'll only be gone a few weeks anyway." He said smoothly, confidently, as if he had everything under complete control.

She hesitated. " Alright... But be careful. Look, I didn't want to worry you since it was already in the middle of being dealt with, but not long ago I discovered that-" She never got to finish.

A knocking sound made her stop.

Lyle walked to the front door as he wasn't far from it.

It was Cecelia

---------------------------------------------------------

Some time earlier.

Within a certain location there currrently existed a large stretch of land. It wasn't ordinary land, though. No, it was much more. It was a beautiful sight, almost paradise-like. Tall mountains capped with ice, flowing rivers, numerous vividly colored flowers. The figures of small fairies flying about, their wings like gossamer and glittering with an inner glow as their owners took care of the plant life. A large city, designed with gorgeous curves and bright stones that seemed to radiate with light.

Towering walls upon which were carved uncountable numbers of intricate runes. Town folk, of every race and color, going about their business. There were quite a few smaller cities nearing the edges of the land. They housed harbors, and gathered by those harbors were giant, monolithic ships that were also covered in glowing runes from top to bottom. They had many sails, and the most eye-catching of it's features were long, balloon-like structures that wouldn't be found on ordinary ships.

But for all this, the stretch of land had one characteristic that trumped all others: It flew.

Very few understood how it accomplished this feat. But fly it did. All over the world, to every continents, every nation. Why? Because that's what it was created for. To gaze upon those below from high up into the sky, monitoring, observing every detail like the eye of an all-seeing god.

Within the largest city built at the very center of the island, was a structure reminiscent of a castle. Or a cathedral. Outside of this building were five tall statues, each one looking heroic and imposing with beautifully crafted armor made of some kind of silvery material that had not shown one sign of rust or decay even throughout the ages it had endured.

In a room within this building an old man with a long white beard and kindly expression sat wearily upon a comfortable-looking chair as he gazed with slight consternation at the paper in his hands. His fingers bore stains of ink, and felt sore.

A knock came. " Come in. " He called out irritably.

In came a man, lean and fit with salt-and-pepper hair which reached just over his ears. He had a sharp look in his eye, one that would make even hardened warriors wet themselves.

His body emitted a faint aura of red. It wasn't visible to the eye, that was merely the impression he gave. As if he was wrapped in a haze of blood-mist and looked down upon you like death.

But to the old man, this newcomer was a harmless as a newborn kitten. Of course he would be: After all, this younger man was his son.

"Ah, Corvus, how nice to see you. To meet with this old bag of bones, I assume you have bad news?" The old man smiled, glad that he would have a short reprieve from the paperwork. These days with that troublesome group stirring things up he rarely had a moment to relax. Such a thing was hard on old folk like himself. Honestly, he had to retire soon. It was only fair. He deserved a break.

" Lord First," The man greeted, using the old man's title. He paused from a silent look the man sent his way. "...Father. " He corrected. "I have come to report a massive influx of magical energy which was caught by our Oracles not long ago. The energy seems to align with that of Curse magic. More specifically...we believe it to be of the Sin Series." He finished grimly.

The old man pause, considering. Then, " Which of the Seven was sensed?" He asked with a frown.

"Multiple. Not all, but definitely more than two or three. What's more, we are not sure if this is the work of a powerful mage or not. Perhaps a Death Lord variant, or an Undead Hydra that has achieved Ascension. It could be any number of possibilities. The energy that was sensed was truly monstrous. We can't be sure who or what has been cultivating their powers in the Sin Series to such an extent, but we know it if left unchecked it could evolve into a serious threat."

The man, Corvus, reported.

A tired sigh. The old man's frown deepened. There were several powerful beings that could practice the Sin Series and any one of them were dangers that couldn't be ignored.

If it was a Death Lord variant, then it's destructive capabilities would be catastrophic. Who knew how many would die before it was struck down. If it were an Undead Hydra who had reach it's Ascension after surviving numerous life and death battles, then it would require a fair amount of resources to hunt down and seal. Killing it? That would have to wait until they were able to dismantle it down to its Core.

With it's regenerative powers, that would be a nightmare to deal with.

A powerful mage would be simpler. From the looks of it, he or she would have become a jack of all trades and master of none. Wasting time on multiple Sins instead of delving deep into one.

Of course, it was possible there was more than one powerful mage.

" Are you sure that it's a threat?" The old man asked. Sometimes the Oracles got things wrong. Interference. static, whatever the reason some threats were blow out of proportion.

" Almost positive. However, these are all mere theories. We don’t know what is happening. We assume the worst. Your orders?"

The old man went into thought.

What his son meant was that they had no idea exactly what was going on, they simply felt a large energy reading that was of the darker attribute and thought, as he said, the worst of possibilities.

However, this wasn't something that could be ignored.

"Send a team to investigate. Have them take a Spatial Lock specialist. If there is a real threat then that would buy us time to prepare for handling it without too many casualties. Do it quietly. We need information, not a panic."

To be honest, the problems they feared were not ones that were capable of being called a global threat. Death Lords, Hydras, those were powerful beings but they were able to put them down without too much difficulty. They would cause the old man another headache, but little more.

Still, they were not sure of what they're dealing with so it was best to send a team that was able to investigate and contain the situation. A Spatial Lock would seal it in an unbreakable barrier where the space within was cut off from the rest of the world, but something of that magnitude wouldn't last for more than a few days.

Obviously it wasn't something that was used too often but it was better to be safe than sorry.

" Yes, father." Corvus put a hand over his heart and made a small bow, extremely formal.

The old man smiled. This son of his was always like this. So strict and unbending. Well, when he was on duty anyway. The younger man tuned to leave.

The older man called out to him just as he had a hand to door knob. " Where was this energy felt from?"

"At first it seemed to come from Nos'Thragnea, that dreadful place. But later, it moved."

This worried the father. " Moved where?"

"Drann Kingdom. But it was much weaker then. Still, it was noticeable."

Drann....The named seemed familiar....

"That place..." The old man struggled to remember. " If i'm not wrong, the young master and Heir of the Greyborne family has made his home there some time ago, along with his sister Iris. Let's see...He just had his fifteenth birthday some few weeks ago, yes?"

His son nodded. " I assumed a fake identity and went to see what the boy was like. Though, A'daire may have recognized me."

"Your impressions of the young man?"

Corvus looked at him. He replied instantly. " A prodigy. The way he moved, the way he carried himself...like a king. Prideful, regal, full of confidence. Yet different, too. Sharper. Deadlier. He will someday become truly formidable."

"Someday?" The old man asked with a raised brow.

" Yes. The boy isn't weak, from what I was able to discern. He could still improve skill-wise, but that will only be a matter of time and experience. However, he obviously isn't without weakness. For example, his sister. Those two, they are rather...close. From the rumours, abnormally so." He dismissed the notion with a wave of his hand. " Those rumours are likely baseless, but I see where they are coming from. That young man, the way he looks at the girl, you can tell instantly how much he cares for her. And I think that, above all, will be what will hold him back in the future. He appears like the type that is ruled by his emotions. At least to some extent. A dangerous habit, that."

"Yes, as if often the case. But he is human, after all. Such weaknesses are as to be expected. And it isn't as if he is some common foot soldier." The other man said. " He will rarely, if ever, be on the frontlines." He would have to worry about the cut-throat game of politics, but that was all. "There is no reason that these weaknesses should matter." Not entirely true. Having such a weakness meant you were vulnerable. And there are many who would use that against you. The old man himself knew this from experience.

"I don't believe that." His son stopped him. " I sense troubling times ahead. I smell death around that boy. Not just him, however, but all around us. Much death. Too much. And I don't dislike him, but I find that he will likely cause rather large waves in the days to come. This feeling..." He struggled for the words. "...It's almost instinctual. Also he may be on the frontlines soon enough. In a manner of speaking. Everything points towards a war on the horizon. You and the others may not want to see it, but I am more cynical on the matter. This mysterious group...I think they may be only the beginning."

The old man stayed quiet for some time.

" I can't tell if you liked the boy or not. Also, this seems like more than what you would get from a one-time meeting." He said finally, ignoring his son's other words.

"Who said I haven't been keeping tabs on the boy? Someone of his lineage, obviously I would keep track of him. Oh, and I do like him. I simply pity him. I know all too well what sort of burden family and duty place on one's shoulders. This boy, because of who he is, can never have a normal life. People will judge him over every little word or action. And there are too many things that are expected of him. Maybe that's why he likes to pretend to be someone he isn't." Corvus spoke the last words almost to himself, a slip of the tongue, a betrayal of his inner thoughts. What these words meant, the old man didn't know.

"...All that aside, yes. As I said, I like him. Well enough, anyway. But I don't think the Gods favor him. Or maybe, more accurately, they favor him too much."

How rare to see his son talk so much. " Why do you think that?"

"I'm not sure. It's merely a feeling I have. I don't think i'm wrong, though. And nothing good has ever came from having too much of the Gods' favor." They had both seen firsthand what such a thing could do to a person."With the current situation of the world I have little doubt we will be seeing some major changes soon enough."

For a long time after Corvus left, the words still echoed in the old man's mind.

He merely asked his thoughts on the boy, yet it escalated to so much more without warning. His son, he was always a perceptive one. Unnaturally so. To the point where it was terrifying.

He was rarely wrong when he had these "feelings" of his.

The old man was afraid that what his son predicted would come to pass this time as well.

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