It was one thing to maintain a facade when facing inner turmoil. After all, Julian had been doing that for a very long time now. It was not so difficult for him to continue to do so, even if perhaps the strain on his heart was worsening by the day. But to have someone else comment on it, to acknowledge the voice of his little girl-
That visibly shook him, if only for a short moment. He simply did not have the composure, the awareness, to react to that in stride. Least of all right now.
"I...am not aware of what you mean."
Another lie, and he knew that it had been a shoddily given one at that. Well, he was not a man who tended to give up. Such was, at least, obvious to the two parties in this conversation. More pressing, however, was the reaction to eyes gazing within his soul. Instinctively, he wished to run, but in truth, some of him just hoped that maybe he could die now."Oh, a visitor? Isn't this so very unexpected. Please, join us if you wish. It does get dreary in this place, you know.
The Inner World was a lovely place, an unspeakably ornate hallway that seemed to stretch on for all eternity. Chandeliers hung from above, magnificent frescoes adorning the ceiling if one were to look upward. On one side, a series of grand arched windows ran forever, and upon the opposite wall, a series of mirrors which seemed intended to take much the same shape as the windows. Outside was...nothing at all. An endless blue sky, and nothing more. Standing by one of those windows was an almost abstract-looking being, a jester who, despite his appearance, seemed pensive as he only continued to watch the empty sky.
Within this hallway lay a single table, rather small and with three chairs around it. Two were occupied, the third seeming to go perennially unused. The first seat housed a spirit which, paradoxically, did not seem to have any legs with which to sit. He was dressed so formally, yet what little of his body there was appeared only to be made of the darkest cosmos, a single red eye peering out from behind the rim of a white top hat. He seemed to have been the one to greet their guest, if the blood red grin trailing across what might be called a face was anything to go by.
Within the other sat a girl who, just at a glance, was surely who Ulv was looking for. Unfathomably pale, in a dark black dress, with yellow eyes from which seemed to trail two dark red lines. Around her neck was a deep red scar, seeming almost exaggerated in its appearance, hardly natural at all. Her flowing white hair was done in twintails, almost girlish in their nature, and around them was wrapped a single rosevine, winding its way upward. As the gaze became apparent to her, she smiled faintly, a small grin of what could only be described as malice, and gave a very gentle wave."Has papa called for help from another? I had thought he cared more..."
In the real world, despite his demeanor, it was clear those words carried more weight than they likely should have. Julian's gaze faltered just a touch, unable now to keep a confident stance. He was, in a word, defeated.