Today started off like any other Thursday. A slow and calm morning. The cool, spring, morning air breezed throughout Stoneshear Hall. It was around 8am, the servants of the estate were going about their duties. Moping, cleaning, dusting, preparing breakfast for the family.
An explosion shakes the foundations of the estate. The servants gather their footing and proceed about their duties, seemingly unaffected. Nothing they aren't used to. This time it came from the west wing. Where Talo's alchemy lab is settled.
Peering through the keyhole, one can see a soot covered man in a now ashy grey lab coat and bird frantically shaking it's feathers in an effort to clean itself.
cough cough "Sorry Robin. Here, hold still, I'll get you cleaned up." the man spoke to the bird, picking it up and taking it to a nearby water basin. Talo placed his owl in the deep bowl and watched his companion bathe itself. Behind him, what was once a sturdy wooden table, now is a collapsed ruin of said table. The middle of it completely gone as splinters of wood adorn the cobblestone floor and no longer elegant dressing of a noble man. Shards of glass and puddles of liquid seem to flood the floor and walls more than anything.
A knock is heard at the door. "Come." commands the lord. In walks a maid, carrying a broom and a pail. "Ah, Stephanie. I apologize for the mess. Seems I mixed the wrong ingredients together." The young maid rolls her eyes a bit, unshaken by the frequency of her involvement in the clean up duties of Talo's expierements. "I am sorry to hear, my lord. Your father requests your presence in the main dining hall." she says.
"Does he now? What time is it?"
"It's breakfast time, my lord" said the maid.
"Already?!" Talo said in a half shocking manner.
"Lost track of time again, my lord?" asked Stephanie. "How long have you been up for?"
"I'm unaware. The cleanup won't be necessary this time Stephanie. I need to examine what went wrong and how. Is there a—"
"Right outside, my lord. Your morning attire." interrupted Stephanie, anticipating what Talo would say.
"You're a doll." Talo said, half sprinting out the door. Robin flying over to perch on his left shoulder as he strutted away.
15 minutes later, Talo arrives at the dining hall to find his entire family in the middle of breakfast. "I apologize for my tardiness." said Talo as he took his seat at the opposite end of the table, opposite his father. Who was staring at him as he sat. "And for the explosion." added Talo as he started to eat the now cold meal. His father, shakes his head. His forest green eyes returning to his meal. Robin jumped up to a small perch that was set aside for her at the family table, Violet preparing her food for her, petting the snowy owl and playing with her before the both returned to their meals.
A stoic man, Maxwell Cornelius is a firm believer in God and faith in the Anglican Church. He condemns his son for his practice of "that vile bottled witchcraft" at home, but sings his praises in aristocrat proceedings. Why wouldn't he? Talo is his heir and rightful inheritor of the Cornelius estate.
"If you spent as much time participating in the court and with the other nobles as you do in that hellish laboratory of yours, I may already be a grandfather." Maxwell says with a harumph. "Yes father, you've said that before. And I remind you again that my "hellbound" experiments might be the key to helping you get better." Talo said in a stern retort. "Bah. Enough of your magical nonsense. Today is an important day, my boy. Today is the day you meet your betrothed. It will usher in the union of two great houses in London. With you at its head, son, our legacy will live on forever." gloated Maxwell.
"Must we father? I don't even know if I will enjoy this girl, let alone fall in love with her." said Talo in an exasperated tone. Robin hooted, ruffling her feathers at Talo's tone, seemingly in agreement with him.
"Hush Talo, give this young woman a chance." replied Alexandria, in a stern motherly raised voice. Grasping her husbands hand, gazing into his eyes, she continued "I knew your father and I were meant to be first moment I laid eyes upon him." Despite her loving tone, Maxwell does not respond or return the loving gesture and merely continues eating.
"I know mother, I've heard the story before. Very well, I will humor you both and this girl. I know how important our marriage is to our family." responded Talo. "I hope to be pleasantly surprised." he added, not wanting to sour his mother's mood. "May I be excused? I should go get dressed for my meeting with my future wife." he asked, pushing his seat back as he stood up.
"You may." answered his parents in unison. Talo exited the dining hall. Robin jumping off her perch and walking behind her master.
As Talo walked away from the table, he was quickly followed by his sister Jessica, or Jess as Talo called her since they were kids. The 2 have been as close as siblings can be. Learning to ride horses together, taking up archery together. Jess has always followed in her older brother's footsteps. Even when society and social norms dictated that as a lady she should not have. There is no closer a friend to her than Talo, and by extension, Robin.
"No fair, you're getting married before me" Jess said with a pout. "Mother has yet to set aside anyone for me."
"Patience, sister dear. Your time will come. It may be that my future wife has a cute brother for you to snatch up." Talo said in a teasing manner.
"Shut up!" Jess responded in a high pitched manner, blushing as she shoved her brothers shoulder.
Talo laughed as they walked to his chambers, Robin perched on Jess' shoulders as she was petted and had her neck scratched. "I will keep you apprised to how things went, Jess. Be good. Robin, come." he commanded to his owl as he walked into his room, Robin hopping and walking behind him. "Have fun, Romeo." Jess said, seeing her brother blush as he looked back at her with an annoyed expression just before the door shut. She giggled and started walking towards her won chambers.
Two hours later, at Buckingham Palace, Lords Maxwell and Talo Cornelius were introduced to a Lord and young Lady. Upon the doors opening, Talo and her eyes met.