Chapter 21 - Interview

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Hydro trailed the Garian to the lobby. The oaf had said nothing to him since the last trial. Hydro didn't blame him; he knew the Garian hated owing their advantage in the Trials to him. Likewise, Hydro hated earning a point for him.

When the hallway spilled out into the circular lobby, Hydro noticed the senile servant, Colin, bracing himself against one of the two marble columns that stood at the base of the staircase.

Upon seeing them, Colin readjusted his posture. "Are you both ready?"

He is always leading everyone anywhere. He must be Guardian Eska's favorite. The man yawned and used his white-gloved hand to cover a mouth with missing teeth. Probably past his bed time. Hydro clicked his teeth.

"Yes," the Garian replied.

Was the Garian ready though? How many interviews had he ever done? During his schooling at Finesse Academy, Hydro had won five tournaments of power against other schools on Onkh. Each time he was interviewed, Hydro never lacked anything to say. The Acquavan Attribute, Hydro had named it. He knew words were water, taking form to whatever situation was current. That is why he never stumbled on a question.

Hydro and the Garian followed the butler up the winding marble steps to the second floor. The expansive library greeted them as they stepped onto the dark-blue carpet with red and white intersecting lines and black borders. Colin maneuvered them to the left. Two silver statues stood at the front of the hallway. Long, loose-fitting cloaks covered the idolized men. Stars and sentences Hydro could not read patterned those cloaks.

Farther down the hall, they arrived at a closed oak door. Inside was a room, as Colin explained, where Eska met with lords and ladies and his council if urgent matters ever arose. Had Hydro's own father spent any time on the Core? 

To the right was another door. When Hydro had explored the estate earlier in the week before, he was told that the room was especially for visiting sages of Gladonus—the beings who helped Guardian Eska banish Deimos to the Chains of Chaon; they were tasked by the Twelve to regulate the flux of power amongst all the people in the universe. When Hydro had cast his first spell, his father told him he would need to cast in front of the sages to be declared blessed. That was the only time he had seen them. There were four of them, but only one talked—an old man with one blue and one amber eye. Hydro could never forget eyes like that.

At the end of the corridor, they turned right. Soon after, Hydro saw Senator Numos waddle out of his room, leaving the door open upon seeing them.

"Senator Numos, your guests," Colin announced.

"Ah, excellent. I was just going to come and find you."

The butler left, and Hydro strode past the senator, who was adorned in a white silk robe. A red sash held up his breeches just under his large girth; however, the robe did little to conceal it. Gray breeches—the color of the mockingbird sigil located on a badge to the upper left of the overflowing robe—expanded fully around his legs.

"Please, come in and have a seat on the couch."

Hydro still smelled the food on the senator's breath. Although the man showed the mockingbird sigil of Lady Liliana, Hydro thought such a sigil was too regal for him. Instead Numos should use a lesser sigil—like the curly-tailed pig showered in mud used by the Talhend family of the Crunx province for Cresica.

He entered the room, and the first thing that he noticed was that there were no windows. How strange. Instead, ivory walls surrounded them. The walls were portraits of great sand dunes and Ancient golden temples and pyramids. The room had its own bathroom, like his father's. A glass table, large enough for a family of four, stood to the right of the black couches. Hydro took his spot on one of these couches, sinking into the leather.

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