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“How have you been?” Meriwether asked his wife.
“Very well, thank you,” she said. Her Valgan accent was faint enough that Hector hadn’t noticed it at first. He only recognized it from its prevalence in television and movies. “How is your sister?”
“She has been quite busy proving herself more capable than my brothers and I ever dared imagine.”
“I am sorry I could not stay longer in Atreya. My father was very insistent that I return home.”
“You told me before. There is no need to explain again. How are the children?”
“They have missed you. Rashad, especially.”
It hadn’t even occurred to Hector that Meriwether’s wife had brought their children to Sair as well.
After that, the ride in the limousine became distinctly uncomfortable. The married couple exchanged no further words, leaving a heavy silence in their wake. Hector’s eyes drifted to the sight of increasingly taller buildings through the window. Many of the streets were covered with huge tarps, offering plenty of shade to the legions of palely-dressed pedestrians afoot.
Since no one else in the car was speaking, Garovel apparently took that as his cue to speak with the other reaper present. ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Garovel, and this is Hector. Might you tell us your names?’
The other reaper seemed hesitant but said, ‘Emerix. And this is Badat of Hahl Saqqaf.’ He motioned to the person on Nasira’s left.
‘Ah, I see.’
With only the dark eyes to go on, Hector still couldn’t tell if Badat was a boy or a girl. Badat sounded like a masculine name to him, but given how unfamiliar he was with this culture, he decided not to assume anything. ‘Hall Sock-off?’ he asked Garovel.
‘“Hahl” is a Valgan word referring to a noble family,’ Garovel explained privately. ‘Like the word “House” in Mohssian. He’s saying that Badat here is a Sandlord from the Saqqaf family.’
Hector had to consciously avoid nodding. Another heavy intermission passed, and Hector thought Garovel might revise his previous introduction to add that Hector was also the new Lord of Warrenhold, but apparently, the reaper didn’t find it necessary. And Hector was glad for it, frankly. He didn’t want to try to seem more important than he really was.
After a while, Garovel tried again. ‘I don’t suppose you feel like giving me a brief rundown of what’s causing the recent instability in Sair, do you?’