[center “I am going to pull them from their pedestal and I will watch them burn.”]
Wistina, a small but prosperous country located on the southern peninsula of Esteroak. Being one of the few neutrally aligned ports in the area they keep good standing with their neighbors. All in all they seem to be in a golden age. The only real complaints are those of a naïve and frivolous king, but with many well-trusted advisors at his side no one pays him much mind. That is, not until he died. Leaving behind his wife and a young son, there is much debate on what will be done and things are not looking good got the widow and her child.
To say Nicolai’s tap to her shoulder was unexpected was an understatement, Flora had been expecting neither anyone to touch her, nor for said person to be the elf general when she looked back. But after a day of near exclusion from conversation, she was eager enough to follow fast after him when he motioned for her to do so. The young woman did not know what he wanted, however she would hear him out. The only thing that might make her turn tail and run was if he tried to make her endure another crash course in Wistinian. Everyone seemed to be throwing those at her today and her brain had taken more than it could take. Thankfully this meeting seemed to be for something else entirely: her wellbeing. Yet another surprise, especially since she got the feeling Nicolai did not much care for her.
The fact that she could scarcely believe it must have shown on her face, because the tall gentleman was quick to explain the reason for his curiosity, though she flinched at the mention that she might be Queen. She conveniently liked to forget about that minor detail. Still, she wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth. Flora wanted a chance to talk to Nicolai was well. [+plum “I think I am fairing pretty well, all things considered. I mean, I could be better on the language front. It really sucks to be left out… but other than that I am adapting to the outdoor lifestyle and excited to see the place that Augustine came from.”] Despite all the things that could possibly go wrong, she still knew there were just as many things to look forward to, and for her, that made it all worth it. Plus, she had a bit of a leg up with what was to come. [+plum “I grew up on war stories, so I think that helped me bounce back a little easier after the battle in the pass.”] Marko did not have that luxury. She knew he was still having some problems with it, but this conversation was not about him. It was about her and that is where Flora excelled. [+plum “Is there anything in particular you want to know about me, or should I just start from the top?”] A smirk graced her face as she made the second offer. The dark eyed girl seriously doubted he wanted a whole life story right here and now, besides, it would be fairly boring.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Although she may have intended for her jest to be directed toward her brother, the choice of subject was perhaps not the best. Indeed the elven man offered a gentle smile and was civil enough to allow the others to keep to their conversation, though he drifted immediately away from it as his mind went elsewhere; specifically to his daughter. He would not have her brother’s issue as he could not even keep track of one child, let alone many. And given the only woman he had eyes for disliked his merest touch, it was doubtful he would have any more.
So for the rest of the ride that day he remained rather quiet and only spoke when asked a question directly. He was amicable and polite, if a little blunt with his answers, to the point the others perhaps saw this and stopped trying to engage him in their conversations. When Töka enquired what was up with him he managed to pawn her off with an excuse that he simply had a headache and that it would soon pass.
His little mood lasted until they stopped to make camp. It was not through any fault of Florence. She had made a humorous observation that had hit a nerve within him. There was no ill intention with her words and he did not intend to take it out on her. It was more a self-lamentation. It was hard to associate his daughter with anything else but his own failure. Thankfully for Nicolai he had come to control this emotion and not let it out on those around him. He had matured with fatherhood – at least a little.
After camp was constructed, the horses fed and brushed, a fire built and a quick lesson with Augustine to test him on his situational awareness about the weaknesses of their present location – which he passed quite easily – Nicolai was happy for them to finally rest for the evening. However, as the food for their meal was cooking, he tapped Flora on her arm and beckoned for her to follow after him with a curt nod of his head. Leading her from the fire, the sun over the horizon but the last rays still casting an orange hue on the sky, he only took a short way before turning them on a small perimeter of their resting place.
After a few more tantalising moments of silence, he looked across to the small fiery haired woman.[+royalblue “I’m curious; how are you fairing Flora?”] He smiled lightly as he clasped his hands behind his back.[+royalblue “Don’t worry, it is not a trick question or with hidden meaning. We have not talked much if at all since meeting, and I would like to get to understand you more – especially if you are to become my Queen.”]
The idea that advisors were to play the role of babysitter was infinitely amusing to Florence. She did not think Nicolai was wholly wrong in that line of thinking, but it did sound terribly tedious. The woman had not needed to do such things during her stay in Wistina, despite there being times when she wished to. It was difficult for her to watch a leader act so frivolously, but she also knew that Wistina was a place that could afford such luxuries so long as there were people like Nicolai there to keep him from getting too out of hand. And it was interesting to hear the elf’s go to strategies for keeping Germaine in line, though the last one had her raising a brow at him. Normally, she would not be altogether happy to hear of this, but seeing the way the violet-eyed man reacted to his slip of the tongue, it was clear he knew he was stepping into an area that required him to tread lightly. It was entertaining to see how he backpedaled and diverted. However, Florence decided not to let him off quite so easily.
[+mediumseagreen “Yes, perhaps it is best to steer clear of that last one, least you end up with my brother’s problem… more children than you can keep track of.”] She spoke with jest, though she kept most of it pointed at Eugene rather than Nicolai this time around. Didn’t want him getting too grumpy.
Augustine had been fully ready to block out any metal pictures of his parents that came to mind, but it seemed he did not have to as the elf cut short. The boy began to worry again when his mother started up, but she took the chance to poke fun at her younger sibling, which actually managed a chuckle out of him. Being an only child, he saw the appeal of having other kids around, especially now that he had lived with his cousins, but he was glad to not have to deal constant commotion anymore. Though, he had to hand it to his uncle, the man had a healthy line of succession. He was not going to need to worry about having an heir to leave the throne to.
There was a bit of comment from the younger crowd. Flora, as always, had something to say about all this business of keeping Kings in line, though she kept her two cents at a PG rating. She was really just surprised to hear that Augustine’s father was that sort of man. After spending all these years with him and hearing about the late King of Wistina from him, she would have never guessed he was so flippant. And she was not the only one in that boat; Marko was caught off guard too. Although, there was still quiet a bit about the situation they did not know.
When conversation subsided once more, Florence decided to bring things back around to her original concern: language. [+mediumseagreen “So, as for what we should do to prepare everyone for our time in Wistina… I think it is best that those of us who can converse in Wistinian do so. As for those of us who are new to the language or still learning, try your best, but default back to your Astorian if necessary.”] It went without saying that anything critical to the group as a whole should be in the northern island’s tongue. [+mediumseagreen “Flora, I will start you up on the basics and you can practice along with Marko who is closer to your level. Alright?”]
The girl nodded back, knowing this was how it had to be whether she liked it or not. Things were going to be much more difficult for her here on out, though she did hope that there would be a few more occasions for her to speak than just to practice. If not, she would be doing some sneaky whispering.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Although Augustine tried to lessen the blow that Nicolai may not be quite as useful as he once were, it was a poorly hidden truth that he would have to come to accept. The people may be fond of him or hold positive memories of his past deeds, but so many years away, running off with the Queen and her son when the King has passed, would not show him in a good light. Nor would Gerald allow his image to remain intact. He would know a proud man like Nicolai would return, and so he would ensure his memory was tainted. The elven man had many theories for what would have been said and how he would go about ruining his own reputation. But thankfully the humourous smile on his lips and the light words of Florence were enough to distract him from such thoughts.
The memory of ‘The Silk Solution’ was one he had forgotten but it sparked amused laughter from the bright eyed man. Indeed it had been quite the silly escapade and he was quite to follow up after her lest Augustine look on the duo as if they were slighting his father.[+royalblue “A visionary is quite true. All good Kings are.”] A gentle opening, drawing the attention away from his mother and waiting for those vivid green eyes to come back on him.[+royalblue “A Kings task is to propose the preposterous, to have fanciful dreams and to speak such nonsense you would think him a drunkard.”]
Many a night he had spent with Germaine and Gerald, sat at the long hall table, throaty laughter rebounding about them along with their deep belching and raucous talking. They would take it in turns to suggest the impossible and the others would then poke holes in their suggestion and they would not be kind. It ended with hangovers that could last days but they would remember why such ideas were silly when the pain broke their skulls and burned the backs of their eyes.
[+royalblue “It is the duty, however, for the Kings advisors,”] his eyes looked over to Marko a moment, knowing that the friendship they shared would likely lead to such a position,[+royalblue “to tell him in a kind but stern tone that he may be best served to put his attention to something else. Build a keep. Hold a faire. Write a sonnet or bed his-“] His voice fell out as a whine and he looked across to Florence, cheeks flushing as he stopped where he had been going.[+royalblue “Well, distract him from actually enacting his wild plans. That is an advisors biggest duty.”] He quickly wrapped his little speech, not wanting to take the womans ire or the sons discomfort should he strike the wrong chord.
[+coral “I mean, it isn’t a full step by step process, we don’t want to get too set on one way of doing things. But yes, we do have an idea of how we want to go about things.”] They had been preparing for this for over seven years; it only made sense that there was a strategy. Not to mention his mother would not have let them step foot out of Astoria if he was stupid enough to just wing it. [+coral “The first stage is to survey. We need to travel around and see the state of the country for ourselves. It is also important that we figure out how the people view Vincent.”] That would also entail seeing if that opinion was ubiquitous or varied between social classes. [+coral “This sweep will also help by getting our faces out there. So long as we do not cause any trouble, people will remember us being harmless and be more likely to interact later down the line. Doubly so if they remember you, you are not useless,”] and he had not intended to imply that before. It seemed Nicolai was still sensitive about that sort of thing, but that made sense. [+coral “Just an advantage we did not foresee.”] They hadn’t planned on his presence, so if he had faded or the people had come to hate him for disappearing, then they would be no worse off than they had initially thought.
But as nice a thought as all that was; Nicolai moved on to something moderately more horrific. [+coral “That cannot be true…”] The idea that anyone could be that stupid, let alone the man who was supposed to be running the country, was ludicrous. Augustine looked back to his mother for a denial, but caught her pressing her lips together to hold back laughter. He had known that his father was not exactly the best leader, but he hadn't thought it as bad as all this.
Florence had made it a point to try her best not to talk poorly of Germaine in front of Augustine. A bit of a courtesy so that he could hold on to his happy memories a little longer, but the idea of making Wistina a island was a bit funnier than she could hide. Taking a short moment to try and compose herself, the woman went on to speak in a restrained manner, trying to not laugh outright. [+mediumseagreen “I mean, Wistina’s navy outclasses any other on Esteroak by a long shot...”] That was where the country’s real power lay. [+mediumseagreen “So it might not have been such a terribly idea, if only reality did not get in the way.”] Building such a thing would have been a nightmare, even if it was not large enough to let ships through.
The woman had to look away from Augustine at that point, lest she laugh at his bewildered expression. The bubble had finally burst. It was probably for the better that that happened before they made it to Wistina. And so she went on. [+mediumseagreen “I think my personal favorite was his notion that Wistina should switch from its trading and mining business over to textiles... He discovered how expensive silks and other fine cloths were and figured Wistina could make and export them as well.”] She shook her head with a nostalgic smile. [+mediumseagreen “Where did he think he was going to get the resources for that? Aside from the occasional sheep for wool, his country does not have anything to make cloth. Let alone anything fine enough to sell for more than change.”] It was yet another idea his advisors and friends talked him down from. [+mediumseagreen “...If nothing else, Germaine was a visionary.”] She chucked to herself. As a character trait, it was not wholly bad, but the King took it too far at least ninety percent of the time.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai did not like this mother-son tag team against him. Yes he could be a prideful man but pride did well in many situations and he would not be there with them, or in a relationship of sorts with Florence, were it not for his pride. Still, though they did not speak in flattering words of him, neither did they outright say he was useless. Nicolai simply needed to learn not to take everything to heart and so nodded at the blonde haired boy.
[+royalblue “You talk as if you have a plan in place already.”] It would be quite beneficial if they did, as Nicolai’s plan was quite simplistic; head home, remind the people who he was, point out that Augustine is their King and not Vincent, and ride the wave of national hysteria to the Castle where hopefully the soldiers would remember their own loyalty to the crown and him – as their General of course – and step aside. Fanciful and far-fetched but a nice hope to hold when the alternative was a long, bloody and drawn out civil war.
[+royalblue “I know I am the crotchety old man of the group but I like to think I have my uses. Mainly that I can poke some holes in your plan.”] He grinned as if he were proud to be the one who defeated their initial plans.[+royalblue “Back with Germaine I would have to continually show him how bad his ideas were.”] That was an understatement. The man was positively full of them.[+royalblue “You know, one of the worst ideas he continually expounded upon in meetings was to build a canal along the border and a vast array of bridges and forts along it - he wanted to make Wistina an island! I mean.. is that not impossibly mad?”] He looked across to Töka of all people though she only rolled her eyes before returning to looking around them, the bright eyed elf left to chuckle at the memory to himself.
Rolling her eyes yet again, Nicolai was quickly going to find himself isolated from the others in his group again if he kept short changing them. It was fine to be confident in his abilities, but to think he was going to be the only one of use on this trip was a grave mistake. Still, he did not seem to dwell on it, opting to move on to her son, so Florence let him.
[+coral “Of course I have.”] The blond looked confused at the comment. [+coral “I’ve been taking supplemental classes this whole time.”] He had continued with most the languages he had been learning back home. There’d just been a change of focus. It was imperative that his Astorian improve when they first made it to his mother's homeland. After that, it was back to the regularly scheduled program. The only thing was that that was in a classroom setting and that was miles different than normal conversation. It did not flow the same way and the topics were often stilted. However, that was not all the practice he got.
[+coral “Mom, Gregory, and I had conversations from time to time as well.”] They were not consistent or planned out, but sometimes when keeping each other company they would switch over. They all knew how important it was, even if Gregory was a pill about it. That was why Augustine thought it so strange that his mother spoke with an accent when she didn’t normally. Oh well.
Amused at how Nicolai deferred responsibility back to him, Augustine smiled. He knew there was a lot that could go wrong, but he was excited to finally be able to meet and interact with the people he was meant to lead. [+coral “I mean, until recently, we weren’t planning on you being here, so it won’t be too terrible if your influence has faded. Though, I hope it hasn’t.”] Not only would their task ahead be easier, but also it would mean that the common folk of Wistina still looked back to those years his father ruled in a positive light. [+coral “Besides, we do not plan to outright admit who we are immediately.”] They wouldn’t go so far as to conceal their names or anything, but they also were not going to come out swinging and announcing what they were trying to do. [+coral "It is going to be vital that we build up a rapport with people before we make any serious moves."] That trust was crucial if they wanted support.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat [+royalblue “Yes, lets mock the only Wistinian here who speaks the language well enough to talk to the people we want to win over.”] Although he mirrored her teasing tone, eyebrows raising at her as if to challenge her to say something else derogatory, he was a little hurt to find himself being mocked. A prideful man still sat at his core and any slight, especially at his homelands expense, was felt.
Still it was forgotten very quickly and he showed no signs of being affected by it, letting his facial expression melt into a warm smile for her until she looked away. His attention then moved across to Augustine.[+royalblue “I hope you kept up with your lessons. If we ride into the first village and you speak like a foreign Prince, well.. you can imagine the reaction.”] He worried more that the boy had spoken Astorian longer than he had Wistinian and therefore would defer to the former than the latter. If the simple folk heard a foreigners voice asking for them to support his bid for the crown then even with a nationalist man like Nicolai beside him he would find very few listening.
[+royalblue “I can do only so much. After so long away they will not think of me as they once did. No doubt whatever goodwill I built with them will not be what it was, so we must rely on you being at your charming best to win them over. Hopefully the royalists within the communities will still be alive and kicking for your sake.”] If Vincent had taken to the role of leader with an iron fist, Nicolai could imagine great swathes of civilians being exiled or otherwise disposed of that would leave them with no allies at all. And if the Taken were backing him, it pushed such a possibility higher in chance.
[+mediumseagreen “That is an understatement.”] Florence rolled her eyes. [+mediumseagreen “I was there some ten years and was still treated like a stranger by many.”] Never in the presence of her husband, or anyone who would run their mouth to him, but the woman had dealt with her fair share of dirty looks and quiet whispers. All from men and woman alike that held a strange notion that she had stolen her position from some worthy Wistinian woman who was not given the chance. [+mediumseagreen “Until we build a presence of trust that you can stand on, neither of you two should go anywhere without one of us.”] She reinforced what Nicolai said; making it clear that there would be no room for argument. Beyond that, she did not see much of a reason for Flora or Marko to part from the rest of the group. At least not in a village or town setting where it mattered.
As for his comment on her speech, the woman clicked her tongue. [+mediumseagreen “You just worry about yourself, my accent will be back to what it was with a few days’ practice.”] While how she held her palate had fallen back to her natural Astorian, it wasn’t [I that] bad. And given she had tamed her accent down to nothing before, it would not be half as hard to do it a second time. She was confident that she would be speaking Wistinian like a native again in no time.
Augustine though, that might prove more difficult. Everything he knew from before would be undoubtedly fine; it was the newer vocabulary that worried Florence. While learning more advanced Wistinian he had also been learning Astorian. The two mixed and mingled along the way. It was not going to be an easy mess to untangle. And unfortunately, the lexicon of an eight year old was not going to cut it for swaying the hearts of his people. [+mediumseagreen “Augustine, you and Nicolai should work on pronunciation. Just to be sure everything is in the right place… I could help, but I am afraid my inflection does not quiet meet his standard.”] She took a teasing tone in the end there; her bright green eyes flashing over toward the elf.
Originally she was hoping to fully switch over to Wistina's native language, but with Flora no more than a novice, that would be difficult. She was much too social to be excluded; it would likely hurt morale. They needed a compromise for the rest of them though. That was something she would need to think further on before making a decision.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai was glad to get them on the road though after Flora had her say, getting each of them to speak about something or other save for Töka, it was the turn of the older Astorian woman to speak up. At first he was sceptical of just what she was up to as he heard his more native tongue and he raised his hand, looking forward to where she was. It was quite a pang of emotion for him to hear it, even if it had the thick accent of an Astorian saying it, and he found he had not been speaking or hearing it in so long that it felt a distant memory.
Thankfully everyone was focused upon the dark haired woman and her querying of the two young members of their group who had never truly left their island nation. Hearing that Marko understood it to an extent was good, though no-one in Wistina would speak to him slow and in simple mannerisms, so in essence he knew little to nothing of the language. And Flora was worse.
[+royalblue “We cannot allow them to wander about on their own then.”] He spoke up and inserted himself into their conversation.[+royalblue “Wistinians are frightfully untrustworthy people. Anyone they don’t know is treated with suspicion. And though yourself,”] he looked to Florence as he spoke,[+royalblue “and Augustine speak the language, your accents have become much stronger from being in Astoria. As such even you two will have trouble getting some of the more stubborn villagers to listen to you.”] If they had to win over the populace, it would be rather key to get the boy back into the dialect and colloquialisms of his people. Get him in touch with his birthplace.
[+royalblue “You two will have to stick around myself, Florence or Augustine when we are there.”] He turned in his saddle to look at the dark skinned boy and his friend.[+royalblue “If anyone asks you anything you may have to play as a mute and let one of us speak on your behalf.”] That was a novel idea – Flora playing a mute. It would have made him smile had she not been looking right over at him. Though with her looking at him he did feel a touch self-conscious that he was taking attention from some larger matter at hand.
[+royalblue “Of course if I’m putting in my two silver when I shouldn’t be, tell me to be quiet dear.”] He looked up to Florence then, hoping he hadn’t thrown in his opinion on a situation that did not require it. She hadn’t exactly asked him what he thought, but he felt the conversation needed such an input.
Then again, had he not spent the last few days trying to convince her that he would listen to what she had to say? It was a learning process at least.
It took a great deal of self-restraint to stop herself from asking if he knew any good men, but no matter how flippantly she spoke Florence thought that was a bit too far. And so, she stayed quiet as he finished his teasing off strong. Her hand came up to bat him away when he gingerly kissed her cheek. [+mediumseagreen “Never, you are persistent to a T, to expect anything else would be naïve.”] In fact, she might go as far as to think something was wrong with him if he suddenly gave in after all this time. But who knew, maybe he would eventually get tired and settle elsewhere as he had with Elizabeth. Only time would tell.
Overall, he got off easy for all his teasing. At least, Florence felt so until she caught sight of an indignant Töka coming his way. The older woman took the first opportunity to avoid that completely under the guise of returning to the others and making them sit down to eat something before they set out. It was an easy task, as most teenagers did not need to be told twice that it was time for a meal, so two birds with one stone.
Bellies filled up and horses loaded down, it was time to get on the way. Just as Augustine had wanted it was an early start. Earlier than they normally got out, anyway. The morning ride was quiet, save for Flora’s occasional comment or conversation with whomever her whims called for. Florence had something to bring up as well, but gave it an hour or so before jumping in. [+mediumseagreen “So, now that we are officially this far…”] There was the briefest moment’s pause before she switched over from her native language over to Wistianian. [+mediumseagreen “A raise of hands, who here actually speaks any Wistinian?”]
The obvious candidates were good sports about her little game, Augustine and Nicolai putting their hands in the air. Töka in the back, whether she did not want to play along or simply did not understand kept her hands at the reigns. That was more or less along the lines of what Florence expected. The real wildcards were Marko and Flora. There was a halfhearted reaction from the young man, partially raising his hand, but the dark eyed girl looked around obviously trying to figure out what was going on. That was what she was worried about. She knew that Marko had spent some time with one of the castle language tutors, although the woman was not sure how much progress they made and she had never seen Flora step foot in any of those classes.
Flipping back to Astorian, she directed her attention to her son’s friends. [+mediumseagreen “So, how much of Wistina’s language do you two know?”]
In a twist of fate, Marko was the first one to speak. [+darkblue “I can usually sort things out if they are spoken slowly and clearly enough…”] He wasn’t perfect by any means, but the boy could pick up keywords in most cases.
Florence nodded. That was perfect, so long as he was immersed in the language she had no doubt he would pick it up eventually. However, judging by the other child’s silence and the way she averted her eyes, she did not have such promising news. Having a member of their team fighting a language barrier was not good, but doubly so when that young woman stood a chance of being Wistina’s future Queen… [+mediumseagreen “Flora?”]
Still persistent in not looking at the woman, Flora’s eyes kept to the side, but she did answer. [+plum “…I wanted to learn, but if I sat in on too many of the boys’ classes my dad would have got suspicious. And there is only so much Augustine can do to help...”] Despite his propensity for learning, the blond was not the best teacher.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Though her humoured tone was noted, when her hand pressed atop his he really did think this was a much more forward and brazen Florence than he had ever seen. She was admonishing him but the masked smile and playful emerald eyes that swept his way were good indicators she was taking this in her stride. When she pinched at his hand, it did not move nor did he seem to react. This was a seasoned fighter who had spent considerable time as a captive fighter. A little light pinching was not going to hurt or deter him. Yet he took the hint graciously rather than press on and nodded as he retracted his hand from around her.
[+royalblue “Well a good man knows when to press and when not to.”] Insinuating he was said good man was quite laughable, given how he had broken into her bedroom one night and several years earlier had become moody and angry at the smallest slight he felt she had passed his way. But, for all intent and purposes, the elven man stood before her was a good deal better than that version.[+royalblue “But,”] he leaned in a little closer at her side,[+royalblue “don’t think this counts as me giving in, [i mon amour].”] He whispered this with a gentle smile, striking quickly to kiss her cheek before pulling back and stepping back several steps, grinning all the while now as he backed off and turned toward his horse leaving her to her thoughts.
He did receive an annoyed look from Töka and he rolled his eyes at her as he approached.[+royalblue “What now Töka? Did someone look at you wrong?”] He asked bitingly but she stared at him with arms folded across her chest.
[+firebrick “You shouldn’t get too distracted. Just because you dodged an arrow with your illness, does not mean a happy ending, not if you are considering we still have to somehow take back an entire kingdom with three kids, an old woman and a crippled old elf.”] Thankfully their horses were a little ways from the others and her volume kept low between just the duo.
Nicolai looked at her amused for a moment.[+royalblue “Ah, and I suppose you are the only competent fighter amongst us?”] He had seen how she did not include herself in the total of their forces.
She nodded in a matter-of-fact manner.[+firebrick “I am the only one who’s fought more than one fight, and isn’t old enough to have grandchildren.”] It was a particularly sharp jab she made considering the circumstances surrounding Natalya. But he would let that slide for now, despite her clearly aiming for a solid blow in the face of his lighter tone.
[+royalblue “You keep thinking you’re all that Little One, see how far it gets you.”] The mocking nickname always brought fury to the womans face and he ignored her as he settled his pack onto his horse. Today would be a good day to get some distance towards Wistina and sate Augustines desire to get a move on after the slowness of the pass.[+royalblue “For that, you can take rearguard today and middle watch tonight.”] He knew the awkwardness of a middle watch, having to sleep, get up and then sleep again. It was not a good pattern and she huffed rather than say anything further. Good. At least one woman on this trip listened to him it seemed.
His disbelief was humorous, but understandable. [+mediumseagreen “Oh come now, I am not a child… even I should be able to endure a kiss every now than then. And as you recall, I did say a [I little] more frequently.”] Florence brought her hand up to make a small pinching motion to help as a visual aid. It wasn’t as though she was promising him a goodnight kiss before bed every night. A little more than nothing was still close to nothing, after all.
[+mediumseagreen “I think I have an idea.”] Her eyes flashed down to his arm, as the hand attached rested on her back, and back to him. They were mockingly warning; as she continued with the good-humored tone he was setting. Of course that was not enough to stop him as his hand slid a little farther to her side and he sidestepped in closer with it. His want to tease shone through more than anything else.
Bringing her own hand up, she placed it gently on his. It rested there for a moment as she seemingly went along with his playfulness. [+mediumseagreen “My, you are cheeky today.”] She smiled up at him, though it was an intentionally reserved display. Florence stayed that way for a moment, caressing his hand, before she lifted her fingers to pinch the back of it and draw his palm away from her side. [+mediumseagreen “It is cute, but I must say you have pressed your luck enough for one day. The children are watching, try again later.”] Her tone continued to match his in banter despite her actions. She did not have any real fear that he would take this any further, but she thought it best to nip his friskiness in the bud for now so that he wouldn’t get any wild ideas later. Florence was having fun taking this at her own pace, as helter-skelter as that was, and she did not want to ruin that by spoiling him too much.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat The boys concern was quite endearing to the older man, finding his concerns for his mother sweet even if she seemed annoyed that the roles had been reversed. But that was a family dynamic he would leave to the pair to settle between themselves. Instead he found her quite receptive to his little scheme with regards to more intimate times.
[+royalblue “Wait.. really?”] The incredulity showed in his voice, raising an eyebrow as he looked across at her. Truthfully to the man it was still far-fetched that she were even considering this. Yes he had said it in a hopeful but jovial manner but it was entirely his idea just to tease her as was his way. Though they had had a serious moment the night before he didn't want her to think that was what their relationship would develop into. Often he had found it a great relief to be able to relax with his partner and enjoy more relaxing times, ones for unwinding and de-stressing.
Still, he would not pass up on getting Florence to escape the shell she had placed around for so many years, even if he was beginning to realise that she was playing him at his own game. And that last point just wouldn't do.[+royalblue “I have to say, it is quite nice to see this change in you dear,”] stood at her side she would find his hand had come to rest at the small of her back,[+royalblue “you have no idea how much I love to hear you being so receptive to such an idea.”] The hand slid around to grasp her curving him and squeeze just ever so slightly, drawing them that little bit closer together. It was clear in his look and his tone he was teasing her but he was more than happy to see just how far he could press his luck before she inevitably pushed him away and told him to behave. Florence needed to learn that this was how he responded around someone he cared about very deeply. It was rather different to his usual professional demeanour but the mood remained solely playful.
Florence had assumed that if nothing else they talked, it was more what they talked about that she wanted to know. Based off his tone and current meandering, he clearly knew that, but was choosing to have a bit of fun at her expense. Thankfully, it did not go on for long before he let the cat out of the bag. It was much what she expected. After all, it wasn’t as though Augustine had been completely silent before this point. He had confronted her once already, even if the conversation never came to its close. [+mediumseagreen “That boy… He should know by now it is my job to worry about him, not the other way around.”] She sighed. It was a rather strange feeling for her as a mother, but she knew it was only because he was a caring child. She loved him dearly, even if he was a bit of a brat about how he went about things. It went to show that just because he was mature in some regards, that did not mean he was an adult just yet. There was still plenty of room to grow for Augustine.
And after that last addition to the story, it looked like there was room for Nicolai to grow as well. [+mediumseagreen “Oh is that right?”] Skepticism of comical levels reflected in her voice as she poked right back at him. [+mediumseagreen “I would say he has grown uncharacteristically brazen to bring up such a thing.”] Not that she truly believed kissing to be so shameless as she made it out to be, especially in light of how things progressed the night before. And since they both knew Nicolai was only talking about himself here, she would treat it as such. [+mediumseagreen “But I suppose such innocent boldness deserves praise from time to time.”] He would be rewarded with an answer. [+mediumseagreen “I cannot say it is something to be concerned about, but I suppose it would not be wholly unacceptable if we were to share such moments a little more frequently.”] Something about the previous night had been pivotal for her. Florence did not know whether it was because he had taken up a comforting role that was usually reserved only for those she trusted without question, or that they managed to have a serious conversation without butting heads, or if his sweet words were finally softening her, but she found that the idea of being close to him was not completely unappealing or appalling.
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