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All Skullius could do was imagine how this was going to be like. He had a full imagined version of the possible first things that he was going to hear from Theurien, Stylla's father, and how he would respond to said things.
Most of these hypothetical scenarios weren't thrilling by any means. In fact, Skullius didn't expect anything good to come out of this first meeting at all, mainly because of the emotion he imagined Theurien to be carrying.
As he walked through the wide, carpeted halls of the Governor's mansion, Skullius played out the possible reactions the Head of the Bryne Family was going to unleash. He had no doubt his existence had already been made known to the man, since, according to Darwel - the petty scoundrel - he had awoken an hour ago.
The disappearance of his Stylla.
All of it was likely spinning in Theurien's head right now.
"So I hear you took over my Family and somehow my two children ended up disappearing."
"You damned sockethole! You renovated my favourite mansion and now it's a nest for wild beasts?!"
"Sir Festos, I presume. I have heard a great deal of the deeds you did. You saved my Family and have been working tirelessly, selflessly, to bring it out of the bottom wrung of Family circles. I was doubtful at first, but even Ed spoke highly of you. I have no reason to believe you are anything but a good man. Thank you."
"Oh. No big deal. I was just paying my dues as someone part of the Family now."
"Hmmm. I see. Speaking of… I don't approve of you taking my daughter."
Skullius shook his head.
Most of these scenarios were silly and unrealistic but he couldn't help it. He had no idea what kind of a person Theurien was. No matter what Stylla had said, raising her father on a mental pedestal was natural. However, the treatment someone like him would receive was going to be incredibly different. He was an entity that was invited into the Family by Stylla, but many of the things he did could only be expressed by the maidservants and Ed, individuals whom he didn't know if they had that much weight in words to Theurien.
Family Heads were supposed to be headstrong, prideful monsters that were very critical, and Skullius should know since he had met two or them, both with an interest in him.
An interest that he wanted to purge because of how annoying it was.
Aurolio Velanqi and Vali Kinn.
"Let's just get this over with. I have many ways to stand firm with my case," Skullius convinced himself as he marched over in the direction of the new settlement designated for the Bryne Family.
As he moved through the halls, he noticed that were many rooms, each customisable through a set of arrays to increase size and to create divisions within - walls.
This was a very useful feature that the Governor had had set in place both for casual convenience and for emergencies.
The reason why the civilians had been evacuated to the centre of the City during the invasion was so that this special mechanism of the Governor's Manor could be used to keep the millions of people safe in the wide array of rooms. That was if the situation reached a very dire turn.
Of course, the manor wasn't created in a way that made it fit to endure battles, as evidence by how the tall woman, the assassin from Maqi had easily entered through the window, but if all the city's forces could work without worrying about the defenceless people behind them, it would do a lot of good.
That said, Skullius had been right to think the Governor was just that generous to let the Bryne Family stay here, even though the one to prompt the decision was Darwel. Of course, she had mostly done it for his sake.
As Skullius appreciated the building - a cheap attempt to distract his mind before the inevitable encounter with a man who might think the Hybrid Luman was some money hungry, self imposed son-in-law - he finally reached the wide doors to the new compressed abode of the Family.
The Hybrid Luman took a deep breath.
This was unusual for him. He didn't really understand why he was so nervous.
Maybe it was because the hype Stylla had shed surrounding her father was starting to appear more real. Too real.
Theurien was the strongest user of the Bryne Family's Technique, according to Stylla. While the redhead acknowledged that her application of it to fire and water to generate steam was sub par, her praise for her father's utilisation was sometimes overbearing.
Now, Skullius was about to witness it first hand.
Maybe he would be on the receiving end.
Skullius knocked on the door.
Almost immediately, it was opened wide, much to his displeasure, and a guard who was stationed on the other side bowed upon seeing him.
Skullius didn't pay him much attention. Instead he marvelled at the decor behind the armoured man.
If Skullius didn't know any better, he would have thought he had just slipped into the Bryne mansion which had been destroyed hours ago!
The designs and all were almost exactly the same. When he walked into the house, he found a familiar lounge to the distant left and to the right - since this wasn't a storied arrangement - there was a hall that led to a myriad of rooms.
'Did Darwel had this done too?' Skullius asked himself. It wasn't impossible. In fact, it was likely that he was right.
The Hybrid Luman was doubtful that it could have been Ed who had been leading the group in his stead who made a request to whomever allocated this room to have it customised.
Speaking of the loyal guard, Ed approached Skullius with quick steps seconds later.
"Yeah. Is everything in order?" Skullius pretended to have his sh*t together.
"More than, sir! Please come with me quickly! Lord Theurien has woken up!" Ed said while trying to conceal his joy - an bitterly dismal attempt at maintaining his professionalism.
Skullius could 'see' through it though and he didn't say another word, merely gesturing for the excited guard to lead the way.
Through the halls within the room that was practically a mansion of its own the two went and with each second that passed, Skullius felt extremely tense.
As they drew close to their destination, the Hybrid Luman's [Graceless Hunter] picked up on a powerful presence hidden within a large enclosure, and seated on a large bed.
It was him.
The pressure he exuded, even from a distance was fitting for a Family Head.
Skullius immediately deduced that this man was definitely at the Peak of Master Stage, and his vibrant core that flared like a miniature sun seemed to be ready to spill its blue lustre for a purple one at any time.
On one hand, Skullius was relieved and on the other, he was unsettled.
Unfortunately for him, time seemed to skip over some frames so as to accelerate his meeting with the powerful man.
The moment the duo reached the door to Theurien's room, a subdued, yet refined voice called before Ed could even knock.
Skullius wore an exaggerated smile as Ed quickly marched into the room, and he followed.
The large space became clearer to Skullius… especially the vibrant man seated on the bed.
Theurien had medium length fiery hair, and a moderately thick beard of matching colour. Now, with his eyes open, one could see their ocean blue hue that held an extraordinary depth to them, as if they were indeed bottomless pools of estranged waters.
He had high cheekbones that were accentuated by his sunken cheeks, and his skin which hadn't been washed naturally in a long time, had a peculiar sheen to it, likely because it had been tended to my mana all this time.
His body still looked fit, but wrinkles on particular positions showed that he had lost some muscle mass despite actually being healthy, and his frame overall seemed quite sturdy.
Truly, the body of a Peak Master Stage expert could withstand most things.
One wouldn't believe Theurien had been under the cruel effect of a dreadful curse all this time.
Theurien gave his full attention to Skullius.
His eyes gleamed as he appraised the man.
"Lord Theurien. Festos Dawn Bryne," Ed gave a timely introduction.
Skullius wanted to murder him for it, but he held himself back.
What's the rush, dammit?!
Theurien nodded, his eyes turning dark.
A vast amount of mana poured from the man's core and focused around his legs and feet!
The motion was so sudden and robust that Skullius was caught off-guard, almost bringing up his arms to guard against one of the hypothetical scenarios he had imagined, which began much like this!
But he held himself.
There was no need to be so on edge, right?
Theurien wobbled a bit and then stood up, with his legs practically becoming two shining pillars of light.
He took steps closer to the duo, with Ed dismissing himself instantly, much to Skullius' spiritual calls that the loyal guard was a coward!
Now only him and Theurien remained.
"So I hear you took the reins to the Family, and both my eldest children's whereabouts are unknown…"
'Oh for Somanda's sake!'
Skullius screamed internally.
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