[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.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Whilst Adrian understood Eugene's main goal was to have him relax and feel at ease in his presence, it was a typical case of easier said than done. The trepidation he felt being before such royalty was not the same with Florence. Having met her as an ordinary traveler he was at ease and feelings of self-doubt did not surface. Not so with the man who he saw as holding his life in the balance. King's like Eugene were oft to want the trust, loyalty and understanding of their populace. Thus why they were Populist King's by name. And Adrian was not one to so easily trust those who wanted devotion such as that.
It was difficult in the first month or two though his training and learning took up much of any free time he might have to ponder this at length. Where before he would have all evening out in the wilderness to think over any philosophical quandaries that floated about his mind, here in Astoria he was not left alone. Augustus was the one to take him as a kind of protégée. Understandable given the other man in the equation was a King and had much more important matters to attend to than the strange swordsman who had been thrust upon him. And it was quickly found by said swordsman, that he missed the more calm and kind demeanour of the King over his stricter and more critical adviser. The man never missed a chance to correct or comment upon most things the red-eyed man did. Nothing much compared however, to his face on learning that Adrian was illiterate to a very heavy margin.
Thus he was on a quite strict regiment for several months; training of a morning, sword practice up until midday, tactical discussions or further practice until evening, and reading comprehension until supper. For some time at the beginning he could be found many times stood in the main entrance or up on the walls, staring out with blank expression as if he could see the Farrastine itself or the golden hair of Elizabeth bouncing along atop her horse. No-one dared to disturb the peculiar stranger. He was a quandary to those inside. A conundrum no-one wished to solve. And for some time he preferred it that way. It left him with some sense of freedom being in side this kingdom, like he still had the option to leave, even if he was becoming more consigned to the knowledge that he would not.
Adrian carried on this way for the rest of the year and on into the next. Augustus became less threatening in his lingering glares, his training more natural and easy. Though he still felt a fraud when ordered to lead small patrols out around the island and his skills at reading were perhaps comparable to a young child by the end of his first year at the castle. Despite these shortcomings his ill feeling of being misplaced in the realm did diminish heavily as his understanding of the practices and people around him became more complete.
That is not to say the year was simple. Quite early on he and Florence had come to the mutual agreement that now was not the best time to start a relationship. Whilst he was still heavily fond of her, he had more responsibility than ever and with her acquiescing to her brothers request for help there was less and less time to meet. Not to mention his journeys out of the kingdom entirely, taking the boat to the mainland at the behest of Eugene to inspect the situation across in Vollenberg and make reports on what he found. Of course he had someone else write for him. They would meet in passing, in the hallways, offering gentle nods and warm smiles or stop to talk for a few minutes, but he believed that he spoke to Gregory more in the year than her.
As for Augustine; he could not remember the last time he had spoken with the boy. Any meeting it the hallway was formal and curt. A few seconds at most. Outside of that he was not called on to tutor him as Nicolai was, nor asked to guard him given how secure the island nation was. Having inquired with Gregory as to their lives back in Wistina, what little was divulged showed the boy placed great trust and friendship in the elf. Those four that Adrian had met were close and he had broken that. He would not begrudge the boy holding this stance for a long time yet.
Now, having had the anniversary of his arrival come and go, Adrian found himself walking into Augustus' office that quite often doubled as a meeting place for them and Eugene when discussing matters of a military nature. Dressed in a light earthen coloured tunic and wearing only a very light chain armour – with appropriate tabard of course – he was careful to close the door over behind him.[+crimson “Sir, I have the reports from Vollenberg as you requested. Freshly delivered this morning.”] He retrieved a folded parchment that had been tucked under his arm and stepped forward to hand it over.
[+darkslateblue "Just read it out loud to me Adrian, thank you.”] Augustus was grateful for the politeness and the ability to adhere to norms of rank, but often he found Adrian to be a little too rigid to the rules.
For the other man, he was only more grateful that he had requested the same of the man who had passed it to him. Now he would not be forced to show how little he had learned of the art of reading and could simply recite what he had been told.[+crimson “Very well sir.”] He unfolded the parchment as if to read it.[+crimson “Reports from Captain Liam that whilst there have been less fights or direct attacks, he feels resentment of Astoria's involvement is increasing within the walls. A final count of seventeen arrests, six civilian and three Astorian injured, and one act of arson in the last fortnight alone, Sir.”] It was anything but good news and the older, wiser gentleman who sat at his desk, sighed rather deeply.
A weary hand rose to his eyes and he brushed at a fatigue that had not been there moments before.[+darkslateblue "Any serious injuries?”]
[+crimson “None reported, Sir.”] None had been reported to him at the dock at least.
[+darkslateblue "And no update as towards whom leads these attacks?”]
Again no word was passed on.[+crimson “None, it is as before; they attack independent of a hierarchy. Nonsensical and spur of the moment really.”] To Adrian it appeared quite devoid of any normalcy. It were as if someone had thrust their hand into a beehive. They were being stung but nothing other than a sense that they should attack seemed to control the natives of that land.[+crimson “Perhaps that is best, Sir. Without leadership they are indecisive. It is easier to stop them and track them this way.”]
Experienced eyes looked up to the man before him. For all the skill he had with the sword, tactics were not his forte. But he could not begrudge a man for not knowing that which he had not been taut, the same a chef could blame someone who had never stepped into a kitchen for burning bread.[+darkslateblue "The issue as ever, Adrian, is that should they acquire a leader things will become that much worse. We're already having enough trouble with these sporadic and wild attacks, God forbid they gain some sort of structure.”] He spoke with no worry in his voice, merely a concern for those men he had already sent across. His priority lay with those Astorians and he wanted each to remain as safe as possible.
[+crimson “Forgive me Sir, but these are almost entirely disgruntled youth. They are without jobs or other distractions, thus they drink and it leads these altercations.”]
[+darkslateblue "And what can we do about that? Drunkards are oft to be drunk. We do not own Vollenberg, we cannot force ourselves on them. We are merely helping them during this transition period.”] He did not want to call it an invasion, though with so much change in such a short space of time, with so many Astorian's on the mainland living there, it could be called such.[+darkslateblue "The Baron pays us to protect, not to play Baron ourselves.”]
The standing man nodding in understanding.[+crimson “I agree Sir, but does Astoria not owe some sort of debt? After all, this Kingdom benefits greatly from the trade.”]
The words were not lost on Augustus. He noted how the man still referred to it as an Astoria versus the mainland debacle. It was never 'we' or 'us'. The man did not fully regard himself as part of this land despite his high rank and social status and he would need to make mention of that to Eugene in his next update on Adrian.[+darkslateblue "It is a mutual benefit to both sides Adrian. They grow in wealth as much as we do. To give them any more would be to show them that petty crime and fires can achieve results.”] This issue would lessen as summer came around and need for farm hands increased as so far the criminal activity was directed to the latter months of fall and through winter. Yet that niggling doubt that these random attacks would continue without a goal in mind played on him a little too heavily.[+darkslateblue "I want you to take fifty men over to reinforce things. Spend a few months overseeing it all.”]
Adrian had not been expecting that kind of reaction and he stood a little in awe for a moment.[+crimson “A few months, Sir?”]
[+darkslateblue "Yes.”] He stood with a huff, rubbing at his backside where it had become numb.[+darkslateblue "You seem to see some kind of good in the locals. I trust Captain Liam to do what is necessary to keep the peace, but perhaps you can find something more long lasting than locking a few of them up.”] There would be little use in arguing as Augustus was a man who had yet to change his mind once with Adrian. Perhaps the man did not argue back the correct way or was too easily cowed by his presence, but he was always in control of any conversation.[+darkslateblue "Besides, it will give you plenty of opportunity to work on your reading skills rather than asking for someone else to read the report.”]
A deep red blush came to Adrians cheeks as he looked over to the other man, ashamed that he had been found out. With an outstretched left hand, Augustus nodded for the report to be handed over to him, the parchment passed across quickly. There was no formal dismissal, the man merely began to read the thick material and the once travelling-adventurer took it as his cue to leave. He had a lot of packing to do.
Now, Eugene was not oblivious to Adrian’s tension, he was just afraid that bringing it up might make the poor fellow feel worse. He really did not want to scare him off, especially not with the rumors about him and Florence flying around. She had just returned, and Eugene really wasn’t looking to piss her off by jilting her new beau… however, the red eyed man looked so terribly uncomfortable that the king could not help trying to and put him at ease.
[+seagreen “You know, it is alright to relax. I am not sure what all you have heard about me, but I am not the type to take offense so easily that you need to worry over every word. Besides, I am the one who requested to see you.”] Well, mostly, there was a mutual interest in finding the mercenary something he could do that kept him around. [+seagreen “Now if you do not mind, I would love to see you in action.”] The emerald-eyed man smiled, another attempt to appear nonthreatening.
Eugene wasn’t sure if his plea helped or not, but the pair were able to move on from there. They went down to the barracks and he got to see more of what Adrian was about. Augustus joined them eventually, dark eyes appearing more critical than his friends, though in the end even he had nothing overtly negative to say. A praise that did not go unnoticed by the King and so he set it up so that the two would work more closely together. That meant Adrian would be stuck dealing with military matters, though whether that meant rolling up his sleeves and being a physical part of it or working more tactically was left up to him to decide. Eugene was just glad to have another helping hand around.
Eventually things fell into a rhythm: Augustine’s lessons started up, Florence was convinced to spend some of her time acting as an advisor, and Gregory went back to his shenanigans. It was almost weird how everything fell into place for each of them. Though, there were still high levels of tension between the family members, but for the time being they let it pass to the wayside, choosing instead to focus on adjusting to life in Astoria once more.
The longer he stayed in this place, the more Augustine heard about his mother. Many of these stories seemed more like tall tales than anything that could be relied upon as fact, but more than that they were overwhelmingly positive. It was different for him. Back in Wistina he had always heard whispering from the help and his father’s men, but it was generally nothing good. She was not well liked in that place. Obviously, it was not the same here. Both she and his uncle were well loved and praised for stealing the throne from what he had heard described as a selfish and stone hearted King. Though for him, it was too similar to his own situation for him to pull happiness from the story. Why did they need to kill him? It was hard for his young mind to understand and so he usually kept quite about it. But he was not the only one; it seemed among some of the guards there were those who were there for the uprising. And while they had come to respect and honor Eugene as their king, they still held a great deal of resentment toward his sister and often in the same breath they slighted Augustus as well, but nothing ever seemed to come of it other than glares and muttered words of hate.
Amongst those who taught Augustine, there was Eugene. The boy found he was a good natured and often funny sort of person, not so unlike Gregory. Though he was a mite intimidated at first. He’d initially expected his uncle to be more like his mother, but that was not the case. In fact, the two couldn’t be more dissimilar in their temperaments… and yet they still managed to get along. Though, the child would credit that more to Eugene than Florence. The man had a way with words that lent to his likability, a characteristic that gave him the ability to sway the hearts of others with relative ease. In the wrong hands Augustine thought it could be dangerous, but it seemed the King was always using to the benefit of others and his people as a whole. In fact a few short weeks after their arrival he used all that charisma to convince the entire castle guard to leave the barracks and come participate in the harvest with him. The green-eyed boy found it absolutely bizarre that the King would be out working the fields. That would have never happened in Wistina, but it still drew his interest. He watched the others as they worked, careful not to get in the way. The workers were lively, shouting about this and that and laughing at all their own nonsense. It was silly, but everyone seemed happy anyway. There was a strong sense of community here and Augustine was convinced it was centered around his uncle. He was curious as to why this was the case.
In trying to sate that curiosity, Augustine spent more and more time around Eugene. Eventually his inquisitiveness turned to a fascination. He’d never known anyone to rule a country is such a way. Though, he had really only seen his father’s methods first hand. Those were a lot less… hands on. Germaine delegated much of the work to his advisors and the likes, which was something he saw here as well, but the difference was that Astoria’s King continued to check in on them. He did not wash his hands of the situation, content to trust that everyone was doing fine at their jobs. In this way Eugene took a part in everything going on within the castle and was a very well informed man.
After spending all this time not so silently sleuthing, Augustine grew fond of his uncle. The man always made time for him and answered all his questions when he had them. But more than that, he would ask things in return. The man made a point of asking about Wistina. Whether it be how things compared in the two countries, or something more abstract like how Augustine thought things could be improved based on what he was seeing here, it gave him a chance to think back to his roots and he appreciated it deeply.
It was as one such conversation was winding down that the blond mustered up the courage to ask that question he’d been holding on to for what felt like forever now. Though, in actuality it had really only been a little over a year. [+coral “Unkel,”] he called the man as he sat cross legged on the floor. His voice was somewhat meek as he did. [+coral “...Why did King Gresham need to die? Wasn’t there another option?”]
Having expected their chat to come to its close, Eugene was taken back by the rather forward question. There was a moment’s silence before he spoke. [+seagreen “That is a difficult question to answer…”] Why anyone needed to die was hard enough for an adult to comprehend, explaining it to a child was near impossible. But he would try. [+seagreen “There are some people who just cannot be reasoned with. No matter what you say or do, they will continue on the path that benefits them most, even at the expense of others. In this way, King Gresham chose to look away from his people and let them suffer while he lived in a world of extravagance.”] In his youth, Eugene had learned this lesson a little too late, trying to avoid violence up till the bitter end. If it hadn’t been for Florence and Augustus who had prepared for a battle, things might not have turned out the way they did.
Augustine looked up at the man, that didn’t really answer his question. But as he went to interject, Eugene gave him a look that told him he was not done and so he was quiet once more.
[+seagreen “So long as Gresham was alive, he would be a beacon of hope to those who shared a like-mindedness with him. With that hope there would be a chance that things would return to the way they were. Even if it was slim, we could never allow that to happen. The people of Astoria deserve to do more than just survive. So as a promise to them, we took his life.”] There was a solemn look on his face. [+seagreen “So yes, there were other options, but what we did was not wanton. Like all the choices we made there was a reason for it… though I suppose that doesn’t mean you have to agree with it.”] His downtrodden-ness lifted to an earnest smile.
He was going to need some time to process all of that, but there was at least one more thing he wanted to know. [+coral “Was it worth it?”]
Their matching green eyes met, and Eugene nodded without hesitation. [+seagreen “Though, I am not the one you should be asking that, really. Florence is the one with blood on her hands.”]
Augustine had the feeling that was the case. Now that he was here, he was finding more and more of that story his mother told that day on their travels was true, so why would this be any different. [+coral “I doubt there are any regrets then.”] As heartless as she was, she probably didn’t think twice before doing it either.
Laughing heartily, the older man agreed. [+seagreen “You are probably right.”] Stubborn as a mule, he didn’t think Florence was losing any sleep over it. [+seagreen “Once she sets her mind to do something, it is very difficult to sway her… but everything she does is for the sake of her family, so I suppose we can forgive her every once in a while.”]
Looking skeptically at the man, [+coral “Not for Astoria?”] He’d always assumed that was where were loyalties lied, but it seemed he might be casting his net a bit wide.
With a slow shake of his head, Eugene refuted the ideal. [+seagreen “I think that is enough hard questions for the day. Besides, it is probably your mother best answer that one. I do not want to put words in her mouth.”]
They stood in unison, and while Augustine really was not satisfied with that answer, he was met with little more than a ruffling of his hair as his uncle left the room. He would have to be content with everything else he’d learned for now.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Come the next morning Adrian was feeling worse for wear and pensive over many things going on in his life. Before he had headed on to bed he had informed a servant to request a meeting with the King whenever he wished and on waking again the same servant waited patiently for him to inform the travelling swordsman that he would be meeting the King that morning, after breakfast.
It was not the news he wished to hear. Having come from a disastrous meeting the night before and a very strenuous journey to reach this Kingdom, he was hoping for a few days respite before having to meet Florence's brother. Clearly whatever God's he had upset were finding it quite humorous and would be laughing as they looked down on him.
Finding something more substantial than his usual attire was his first issue. To meet the King in his heavily repaired clothes and looking like a street beggar would put him in a poor light from the offset. Finding several sets of plain and unassuming, if well made and clean, clothing in his wardrobe he made a request of a passing older servant to offer their opinion of his choice and if it would offend in any way. Knowing his luck he would pick a colour that would imply offence to a local deity or be wearing the female version of a traditional item of clothing. Thankfully the servant gave him a passing grade and he left for his meeting.
Finding the man in question already waiting for him he made a deep and low bow, holding the position until spoken to and even at that he stood up and bowed his head in recognition of the mans role. He seemed as easy and welcoming as his sister, but given that he did not know her all to well he did not wish to make assumptions here.
[+crimson "Yes m'lord, I have seen many lands around the Farrastine, though your lands are certainly beautiful and a challenge to any I have seen before."] Yes it was a complete and utter attempt at flattery, to rave and heap accolades on the man and ply him with sweet words.
His comment about Astoria itself almost elicited a rather direct and truthful response from Adrian. He had his own thoughts about the island opening up to the rest of the continent and on what he had seen back in Vollenberg. But the man before him was not looking on him as a new adviser. He wanted the red-eyed man for his skills with the sword and so he only offered a soft nod of his head.[+crimson "Whatever I have to offer is yours m'lord. Your hospitality has been most generous and I feel a need to repay you in kind. Is there anything specific you had in mind? Do you wish me to sit with your scholars and give them all the knowledge I have acquired?"] He was very formal, very particular with his words and spoke in a slow if more upper class tone of voice. If the King was particularly focused on him he would see the nerves as clear as ever.
The more Adrian spoke the clearer it became that he had thought that they would be able to wrap this all up with a neat little bow. It was too complex a matter for that by far, which was a shame. Florence would have liked to see him get his way. But it would seem this was something they would be discussing for quite some time. The woman knew she didn't need his permission to go back, but she would feel much better about it if she had it. At the very least she did not want a repeat of the last time she left where everyone was pissed at her, a proper goodbye would be appreciated.
[+mediumseagreen "I think he would appreciate that."] She spoke to his meeting with her brother. Florence stayed clear of his comment about Augustine. Agreeing with him may only make his mood worse, and she didn't like seeing Adrian so downtrodden. It was best to be avoided for the time being and she was sure her son would come around eventually... at least she hoped he would.
And then there were two.
The pair went back in forth for a while. No compromise was made, but both sides managed to stay amicable for the evening. They broke off when each felt as though they had said everything they needed to for the time being. Sleep did not come easily for anyone that night.
The next morning Eugene was excited to be approached by Adrian.; he greeted the red-eyed man with a smile. He had heard the rumors going around about him and his sister, so he very much wanted to get to know the man a little better. From afar he seemed of good disposition, so he didn't worry about it too much.
[+seagreen "Florence mentioned you being the traveling type."] She also mentioned never seeing him in action, but Eugene was not exceptionally worried about that. He was a firm believer that you could learn something from anybody regardless of skill level, especially those taught differently than yourself. [+seagreen "I bet you have seen all sorts of wonderful things along the way. Astoria is no exception, I am sure."] There was a hint of humor to his words, as he knew he was being heavy handed with the comment. [+seagreen "But as wonderful as this country is, I am always looking for ways to improve it. We opened the bordered for that exact reason, and it has helped a lot, but there is always room for improvement."]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Learning so much more about Florence from Gregory was pushing him closer to the man's point of view. He could quite understand that having seen her come close to death, though he had yet to be told just how it had occurred, that the dwarf would find himself wanting nothing to do with any more danger or fighting or wars for thrones. He had given his children a good life and now wanted little more than to sit back and relax.
It only increased Adrian's nervousness at sitting there with the duo. He had foolishly thought they could talk this all out and had imposed his life lessons on the family believing that talking out issues was always the right route. Head bowing in defeat he saw that this was a much more diverse family than he had thought and felt he'd grown to know over the past weeks.
[+crimson “I'm sorry to both of you. I have not exactly made things better; if anything they are worse than before.”] A light sigh left his lips and he ran his hands up over his face, rubbing at his eyes as if fatigued by this all before they fell back down onto the table.[+crimson “Now, a little too late, I see it's a family matter.”] Pushing up from the table he felt a click in his back where his muscles popped. He had been quite tense during the discussion and his body felt rather stiff now.
Looking to the duo, unable to look at either for too long lest he be seen to favour one over the other, he nodded softly.[+crimson “I will try and set up a meeting with Eugene tomorrow to see about this swordsmanship he thinks I have.”] A wry smile turned his lips but it was a poor attempt to change the mood of the room.[+crimson “Given I am not in the boy's favour, I will leave Augustine alone and to his family. I hope he comes around to seeing both your points of view and finding a consolation that suits all.”]
With his final part spoken and not wishing to start the disagreement anew between father and daughter now, Adrian offered them a short bow of his head and a goodnight before turning and leaving them in the conference room, door shut quietly behind him. Between the stress of living in this castle, the new lifestyle, the fact he had angered Augustine needlessly and now had a meeting with the King to look forward to, it was rather taxing on the simple man. Born into this he may have faired better, but coming in as a stranger he felt as if great weights were being placed atop his shoulders and he was beginning to succumb to it.
Making slow progress back to his room, looking for places he knew first and working from there, he hoped he could make an impression on Eugene enough to earn some employment and distract him for a time from this political drama.
Florence was not much a fan of what she was hearing from Adrian. Were all the men in her life spineless? She contemplated the possibility as he continued on. Even when he switched tunes, she wasn't exactly enthralled. This sort of centralism was dangerous. It led to a complacency that allowed dangerous people to do as they wished in the world. The woman knew he was just trying to be kind and see different viewpoints, and in this situation that was probably ideal, but the illogical idea that it stemmed from indifference nagged at her.
[+darkmagenta "Look Adrian, I've watched my children fight once already. They may not have been pushed from this place, but they fought tooth and nail to take it back from the selfish and negligentful. It almost killed Florence. She will never be the same and I know for a fact that she will push herself too far."] Her body could not keep up with the level of tenacity that drove her. [+darkmagenta "She cannot fight; she fell ill from the short battle we faced on the way back up here. And I won't be there to stop her from overdoing it."] Gregory was not under the illusion that he would be able to make the trip given five plus years. He was old and his vision was failing as it was. The dwarf would be more hindrance than help.
[+mediumseagreen "I am not that fragile-"]
[+darkmagenta "Whether you want to admit it or not, you are. And it has gotten worse these past years. You need to be more aware of your limits, Florence."] His worn voice was more morose than anything else. [+darkmagenta "You have done enough, allow yourself to rest."]
Florence shook her head. [+mediumseagreen "I cannot do that."] At one point she had wanted nothing more than to retire to her childhood home and just be away from everything, but after setting all of this into motion she knew that was no longer possible. [+mediumseagreen "I will not let Augustine fight on his own."] Who else should support him than his own mother, especially when she had the experience guide him.
[+mediumseagreen "I just hope that he can come to see that despite everything that has happened."] She knew the boy had been through a lot and lost a lot of friends and family on the way, but he had a lot of misguided notions in his head. The sort that could only be untangled with time and effort on both his part and those around him.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Adrian felt a touch better for Florence’s words and had sat back into his seat, only for his eyes to go directly to Gregory and a quiet groan escaped his lips. He had forgotten that the older man had not known of the kiss. Granted he was still kicking himself from having asked for the kiss without knowing Augustine had been watching. Now he had Florence’s son and father looking on him as some opportunistic letch that was out to get what he wanted from the woman.
Florence helped him by taking the attention on herself and leaving the red-eyed man like some nervous teenager being scolded by the father of the girl he liked. He could feel his face heat up as the older man’s voice turned more jovial and the anger he had expected at first had faded away to good humour. It would good that at least the man wasn’t furious at him but at the same time the conversation returned to a focal point; the elf. And they couldn’t look to the man’s departure without pointing to Adrian’s arrival as a direct cause.
[+crimson “Gregory.. I don’t wish to step in on such a family affair but given I caused this mess I feel I should speak up now than stay quiet.”] It was true that he felt the desire to not be a quiet man. He could not hide and let Florence be the one to take the brunt of what was his mistake.[+crimson “He is not angry at either of you but me. I’m some stranger who came in, forced his friend to leave so I could have his mother, and now wants him to stay here than go back to Wistina.”] He let out a small sight but it was little more than his discomfort being expressed.
[+crimson “I still agree with Gregory. I personally don’t like the idea of anyone going back there. Not with that group of Taken just looking for a reason to grab you and no doubt Augustine. They may not want him, but this Vincent fellow would surely want to hold onto Wistina by any means.”] He could see objections rising from Florence but he looked directly at her, shaking his head for her not to speak and she gave him such courtesy – though not without some of the sass that he admired so well.
[+crimson “However, I agree with Florence and Augustine too.”] And so came the similar look from Gregory this time and he sighed as he lowered his head closer to the table.[+crimson “Look, neither of them should or could allow that land to be taken from them. If they left for any other reason than that they were forced to, I would be steadfast with you Gregory. But place yourself in their shoes. If you were ousted from Astoria with Eugene and Florence when they were young, would you have let them lose their lands? Or would you fight to take them back?”] He wanted to win the dwarf over. If Adrian could have the older man understand and see from his perspective, then he would be effective in helping with Augustine. The boy liked his grandfather very much. It would help Florence win her son’s trust back if the older man was with her in the effort to train and educate Augustine toward regaining his land, rather than fighting to keep the boy here and only further pushing him away.
Nicolai had rubbed off a lot more on Augustine than she had originally thought. The boy was practically mirroring everything the elf had said that night. Unfortunately, they were all matters that he did not fully understand. She knew there was no way her son was thinking critically about any of it, because there was no way he could possible grasp the significance of half of what he was saying. Not to mention he hadn't been there for most of what he was talking about... And the only things she could think to say back at him, were comments she made to Nicolai that night. Her argument had not changed and she did not feel the need to repeat it all here again. Florence stayed silent.
After hearing so many words right out of Nicolai's mouth instead of his own, she was not expecting him to come up with anything new, but she was wrong. One of the final points Augustine made incriminated her with Adrian. She doubted he meant it, but his wordage made what had happened on their walk out to be much worse than it actually was. Still, she said nothing, she just watched as the blond boy stormed off. Florence was angry, but she was also hurting. This was exactly what she wanted to avoid.
Looking over to Adrian, it seemed he was dumbfounded. When he did manage to speak, he confirmed it. [+mediumseagreen "It is fine Adrian. This would have only gotten worse had we avoided it any longer."] While she knew that was true, it really didn't lessen the blow any. And Gregory didn't make it any better with his questioning.
[+mediumseagreen "Vati..."] She let out a subdued groan. Did he really think now really the time for this? [+mediumseagreen "I don't know what we are right now. There is a lot going on..."] Between all the family drama and the fact that Adrian seemed to be stressed by literally everything about this place, Florence was not sure about much of anything. And last she heard, he didn't know what he wanted either. With things as they were she did not want to strong arm him into a relationship and then have him be miserable here. And it was really something they should work out between themselves before they went announcing it to anyone, least of all her family.
His gaze held a strange mix of sternness and disbelief as his gray eyes went between the pair. [+darkmagenta "Well then, I think it might be best that you refrain from necking out in the fields until you have it figured out."] That was a string of words he'd never thought be would be using with Florence, but here he was.
Her face reddened. [+mediumseagreen "We were not!"] Gregory had the wrong idea entirely. [+mediumseagreen "It was an innocent peck on the lips and nothing more. Augustine was making a much bigger deal of it than it was."] And why did it matter? She was an adult, and no longer married to boot. If she wanted to play around then that was her own business, though it would be extremely out of character to do so.
Gregory cracked a smile. Based off her embarrassment and what he knew of her, this sounded much more likely that what he was first thinking. The man held back laughter. [+darkmagenta "What does that matter? You still got caught by you kid and damn near traumatized him."] The dwarf was still grinning at her. It probably wouldn't have been so bad if she had been more affectionate with his father in the past, but with a lack of that this was probably his first time seeing her like such a situation.
[+mediumseagreen "He was not traumatized. He is just irritated that Nicolai walked out on us and taking it out on me."] By this point she knew her father was just trying to get her goat, but she was not having it.
[+darkmagenta "It sounds like he might not be the only one who is angry about that."] He lifted a brow, questioning her own feelings on the matter. Gregory had never been great friends with the elf, but he did feel bad at having encouraged him to share his feelings just to have them trounced on by the woman.
Florence scoffed. [+mediumseagreen "Of course I am upset, I put so much effort into keeping him with us and it ended up an absolute disaster. Augustine hates me more now than ever before."] She grit her teeth. [+mediumseagreen "Now I am going to have to convince him that he needs me before he decides it is time to go back."] Gods knew when that would be, he seemed to think he was ready to take on the world right this second.
[+darkmagenta "Or we could convince him just to stay put with the rest of us..."]
[+mediumseagreen "That is not an option."] Each word out of her mouth was obstinately defined. Her mind would not be changed so easily.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Adrian was glad that Augustine had sat opposite his mother. He could quite imagine the heat of the argument getting to a point of physical blows rather than verbal. Nothing would be heavy handed, but a small across the cheek from Florence did not seem out of the question when she bit back at Gregory. The dwarven man looked to the red-eyed swordsman and there was a plea within his eyes that he try to stop this. But he couldn’t do that, this was something they both needed to get through and he shook his head lightly at the older man who must have felt a little alone at that moment, ignored by them all.
[+darkorange “I didn’t want to say anything about the Taken because every time I ask something or question you, you tell me I’m too young or that it can wait until later. You coddle me and treat me like a child and yet I’m meant to be an adult and make you tell me when you won’t tell me anything? That’s stupid! And maybe I didn’t ask about that strange orc man, but neither did you ask about Meredith either, so what does that make you?”] It had been a slightly childish remark at the end, but his face scrunched up a little and his brow dropped with his anger as her words finally registered in his mind and he had to replay what she had said so that he did not speak out on something that had not been mentioned.
[+darkorange “And maybe he didn’t want to be my advisor, to be stuck babysitting me like Gregory had to. But he was my tutor and he was good at it. He taught me how to protect myself and lots about running a Kingdom and how to follow after my father and do well in the world.”] It was true that the elf had not been keen on being put in charge of the boy simply to keep him safe, though he had been very content with their lessons and training with weapons. And it showed here that Augustine enjoyed it too.[+darkorange “He was my friend too, and he only left because you chose him!”] His finger pointed accusingly at Adrian. The tall man had been non-existent in this argument and it was his turn in place of Gregory to be targeted. His gaze dropped to the table, feeling rather uneasy being the one in the limelight.
[+darkorange “Nicolai said you didn’t want him to rush things, you didn’t want him to touch you, and yet you let [i him] put his hands on you and more. I didn’t say it then but I agreed with him; I feel you used him to keep us all safe and used the fact he liked you to keep him around. You lied about who my father was to keep yourself safe so why not lie a little more?”] Like the elven man he was grasping at straws, but in his youthful mind, the elf made many solid points. Perhaps with hindsight or if he had been involved as much as the two adults then he would see that his mother was right – but when did young children, even ones with a life like Augustine, even think that way? It was all on impulse.
[+darkorange “But then again even if he had stayed it wouldn’t have mattered. You liked Adrian a lot more. You admitted yourself you liked him from the beginning. And even now, after just a few weeks, you two are kissing one another.”] The eyes of the man in question rose off the table, looking over to the young boy who had narrowed his own emerald eyes at him.[+darkorange “I saw you in the fields. So did Flora.”] Gregory looked a little surprised by this knowledge but looking to Florence he did not say anything. Instead it was the chair of Augustine scraping on the floor as he pushed it back that drew his attention.[+darkorange “I’m going to make my own plan to go back to Wistina and when I do, I don’t want either of you coming.”] His eyes looked from mother to her lover and he turned sharply to leave, door slamming shut behind him though whether in anger or from the door being so large was hard to tell.
Adrian sat a little stunned at first but quickly turned to Gregory and Florence.[+crimson “I-I’m so sorry.. I did not think in a thousand years this would be how this went.. I-I thought.. I don’t know, maybe we could get a plan out together, or talk through things. I didn’t expect, well, that.”] His voice was soft and low, a little shaky given how much had happened in such a little time. This man was not one used to arguments and disagreements. If he and Lizzie had met people who wanted an argument, they simply left the area. And they never fought amongst one another – she was far too laid back and understanding with him. His hand ran up through his hair and he let out a deep breath.
Gregory let the silence go on a little before he spoke at last.[+darkmagenta “So.. is he right? You two are together now?”]
Gregory was determined. Determined to see that none of them go back, but Florence was not having it. They needed Esteroak, cutting themselves off on this island again was the last thing she wanted. It was too dangerous. The dwarf knew her sentiments when it came to that, but his stubbornness kept him firmly in place. As she was about to speak out, Augustine beat her to it. His first point being the one she wanted to make. Gregory did not need to go back. In fact, she was not going to let him. He was getting too old. It really would be a suicide mission for him. But the longer her son went on the less commonality their minds seemed to have.
Watching him intensely, her eyes grew harder. She waited for him to finish and gave a few moments even beyond that. [+mediumseagreen “Are you quite finished?”]
Her tone was cold, and while it was not wholly unfamiliar to the boy’s ears, this was the first time it was directly pointed at him. She was terrifying, but he did not back down. Augustine’s focused green eyes met hers, matching their intensity.
[+mediumseagreen “If you recall, I have been saying since the beginning that my drive to go back is dependent on your will to do so.”] Sure, she wanted to go back and get her revenge, but she would stand little to no chance without Augustine. Florence was not one to fight losing battles if she did not absolutely have to, and she was not going to force her boy to return if he didn’t want to. But now that they seemed to be on the same side, he was still trying to alienate her.
[+coral “That might be the case with going back to Wistina, but for everything else you have excluded me. You never said a thing about my father or that you knew the Taken when we were leaving the castle. Had you told us how dangerous they were, and why they were coming after us, we might have actually been able to prepare. At least Nicolai could have known what to expect.”] His words were pointed. The blond boy was still incredibly bitter about it all. [+coral “You think you can do as you please so long as it all works out in the end... This is not just your life and I am not your plaything. I want a say in things too!”] Voice growing in volume, it did not quite reach the point of shouting, but Augustine was getting more heated with every sentence. [+coral “Especially when it comes to who is members of our circle. Nicolai should be here, what you did to him was wrong. He helped us through so much, all of us, but you sent him away all on your own!”]
She had tried to ready herself for this throughout the day, but it seemed all that preparation hadn’t helped a lick. Her heart hurt, but there was also anger in her belly. Florence’s eyes narrowed. [+mediumseagreen “You want to be treated as an adult? Fine.”] As an actually adult, she knew this was not the right choice to make; but it seemed her son was nearly as stubborn as her, so she doubted she make her point in any other way. [+mediumseagreen “Tell me, Augustine, what would you have done had I told you about your true lineage? Would you have been able to look at your father the same way? Could you have lived with that lie, or would you have seen us all expelled?”] It was a lot of questions for his young mind, all of which thrown out simply to make him actually think about what he was asking for. [+mediumseagreen “And about the Taken, save Gregory, you were all there when we first encountered them. Ulrich called to me in front of all of you, and yet none of you asked a single question. Neither you nor Nicolai brought it up. That led me to believe that neither of you cared to know more... A bit of advice, if you want knowledge, you should sturdy your own backbone and seek it out. Do not always expect others to tell you everything unprompted.”]
[+darkmagenta “Florence, you are going too far…”]
[+mediumseagreen “No, I do not think I am; let me finish.”] The woman didn’t take her eyes from Augustine while she retorted back at Gregory. [+mediumseagreen “And on the topic of Nicolai, I do think you are quite deceived if you think that he cared about you out of more than obligation to the King. He made it quite clear when I asked him to be your advisor that he had no interest in doing so. He did not want to be, as he put it, a ‘play friend’ to you. From the tone of his words he saw the position as nothing more than babysitting.”] At the time of the conversation, she was confused at what the elf wanted, and even now that he had plainly told her, she still didn’t completely get it. His actions and words were so contradictory that she wasn’t sure which to take as truth. [+mediumseagreen “I am grateful for what he did for us, but please do not be fooled. Nicolai had his own motives for joining us and as soon as he thought them out of reach, he left.”] Florence was shifting the blame some, but even now she didn’t know what more she could have done aside from throwing herself at him. But she doubted that would have worked either. He said it himself; he didn’t want her entering another loveless union, not after all that time he watched her with Germaine.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat It was not just Augustine who was surprised by the way the conversation ran. Adrian had expected he would be the once to break their silence and offer a token gesture for all parties to bring them together. He did not fathom the possibility that it would be Florence and Augustine to side against Gregory, though he felt the man would not support anything that put someone in danger.
Hearing all of them speak his head turned this way and that and bright crimson eyes looked to the speaker in earnest. Everyone had valid points and as Florence finished he was beginning to see how the cards were falling and where people stood on this critical matter. Adrian was not a fool; he knew his view on this matter was regarded with little weight behind it. He did not know them. He was not as embroiled in this scandal, this betrayal, this familial affair as they were. Not for the first time and not for the last would he wish Nicolai and Lizzie were here. A man more involved in this than he and a woman who could act as a better mediator than he.
[+darkmagenta “You're making leaps and bounds there Florence. No-one can know what will happen with Wistina or whether it will spread to the rest of the mainland. And neither should we care!”] It was perhaps a harsh way to attack her point but the bard knew this had to be a frank and open discussion.[+darkmagenta “Set aside the fate of Esteroak. If we go back in so many years they will have the kingdom deep in their clutches. We would be walking into certain death!”]
[+darkorange “It isn't a we! You don't have to go back Gregory!”] The young boys voice rose above all and eyes turned on him quickly.[+darkorange “It is my country, my people, I am the one who [i has] to go back. You like Astoria so much then you can stay here. I'll do it myself.”] Emotions were flowing now and Augustine stared across at the older man with frustration that had bubbled over.
Gregory was a little shocked that the boy would say such a thing, that he would let his grandson go on his own, and he frowned.[+darkmagenta “But Augustine.. you're my family, I cannot-”]
[+darkorange “This is about what I want. And what I want is to not look back when I'm old and wish I had done something more!”] His anger had overcome him at that moment, not used to biting back on his tongue as the adults at the table, it was difficult to control himself but it silenced Gregory.[+darkorange “A few months ago I had my father, I had Wistina, and all I had to worry about was Nicolai's lessons and not having mother catch us eating pies again.”] There was an understanding sadness in Gregory's eye's but it was held back remarkably well and Adrian looked back to the young boy.
[+crimson “Augustine, don't worry, things will improve now you are here.”] His voice was soft, trying to de-escalate the situation but it only seemed to add fuel to the fire.
[+darkorange “I don't care about here, I just don't care any more. Everyone keeps making decisions for me and saying what I should think and feel but it's my life and I am tired of being told what to think and feel.”] He stared across to Adrian now, perhaps feeling unable to look at the others.[+darkorange “You all want me to think what you want and expect me to ignore what has gone on. I just have to ignore that my father isn't dead, that Wistina can wait, and accept and understand that you come in and force my friend to leave because my mother wants you more than him.”]
He hit on so many points that hit every one of them about the table now and seemed to stun them all into silence.[+darkorange “You all want me to deal with that and then atop it all I have to sit here and listen to you all tell me what I should and shouldn't be doing. And not one of you has ever asked me what I wanted. Not once.”] His voice was quieter now, and his eyes twinkled for a moment but the boy fought back on any tears, turning his gaze down to his lap.
Adrian just was left speechless, truly speechless. He had nothing to input. He had nothing to counter with. It just seemed the boy had burst after weeks and months, perhaps years of keeping all this inside. He sat back into his seat and remained silent, hand running up to rub the back of his neck nervously.
Augustine wasn’t really surprised when he saw his mother. She usually checked in on him pretty regularly now that she didn’t have anything else to do. He thought she must have been bored. Though, he was a little caught off guard when she actually approached him. For once Flora was quiet as the well-postured woman told the boy that they were going to be meeting after dinner. He wanted to ask why, but the blond already felt that he knew what it would be about. She was finally going to tell him that they would not be returning to Wistina. He was nervous, but he agreed to come to the gathering anyway. Declining would do nothing but delay the inevitable.
His mother was swiftly off after that. She mentioned something about finding Gregory to let him know as well. Just as soon as she was out of sight, the boy began plotting. He was thinking of ways that he could go back on his own. Augustine very much doubted he could do much on his own until he got older, but there was still a chance he might be able to sneak out when he felt strong enough to fend for himself. He already had a pretty good idea of how to survive out in the wilds. With all that journeying they just finished, he had a ton of first hand experience, even if he had just been observing most of the time.
With this basic line of thought, the day passed quickly for him. A little too quickly, as he still didn't know what he was going to say when he was actually face to face with his mother. Should he fight or let it be? If he planned to run away later it probably did not matter all that much. But still, he wanted to avoid an outburst like the last time... Augustine knew he would gain more ground if he remained calm and acted in a mature manner.
Dinner came and went, and before he knew it they were seated around the end of a long table. Adrian was the last to arrive, and because of this he saw fit to start them off. The child suppressed a scoff when he mentioned that his mother wanted to return. Augustine liked Adrian, but he thought he believed his mother a little too readily, especially after learning about her tendency to conceal and twist the truth.
No sooner than Adrian offered to pass the torch, it was taken. Just not by who Augustine expected. It was Gregory who spoke out. [+darkmagenta "I am, and have always been, in favor of staying put right here in Astoria now that we have safely made it."] Flabbergasted at what he was hearing, Augustine stayed silent to listen. He had thought that Gregory would be his greatest ally in this conversation, but it appeared he might be fighting on his own.
[+darkmagenta "Involving ourselves any further in this mess will only invite more danger. And given what came to light on the travel up,"] He looked to Florence. [+darkmagenta "There is very little to tie us to the situation anyway... had I known this sooner I would have been more insistent that we leave before things got as bad as they did."] While the old man understood her secrecy, he still wished his daughter would have told him what was really going on.
His focus turned to Augustine, a touch of sadness in his gray eyes. [+darkmagenta "I know that you want to go back, Augustine, that you think of Wistina as your home. But I think if you gave it a chance, you could come to see Astoria in that way instead. You have far more ties to this place. There is a real opportunity to make meaningful bonds with this land and its people if you are willing to take it."]
Augustine did not have much of an argument against the points the dwarf was making. The only people he really felt close to back home were his father, who was dead no matter how you looked at it, and Nicolai. And there was no way to tell for certain that the elf even returned to Wistina. He had mentioned wanting to see things in Calista, which was very close to where they parted ways. Perhaps he would decide to stay there never to be found, not that Augustine really had any hopes of seeing the man again anyway. But regardless of all that, he didn't know what to say to Gregory. This was not the battle he prepared to fight, so he stuttered.
[+mediumseagreen "Why can't he have both?"] Florence did not particularly enjoy watching Gregory try to browbeat the boy into agreeing with him. [+mediumseagreen "I do not see why he needs to forsake his connections and experiences in Wistina in order to build up new ones here."] In fact, she thought the variance in experience would making him a stronger person and better leader.
[+darkmagenta "Is revenge really worth endangering your child over, Florence?"] He took a stern tone. [+darkmagenta "I know how difficult it is for you to let go when you have been wronged, but please, please, do not needlessly drag Augustine this. Think about what is best for him."]
[+mediumseagreen "That is what I am doing. I do not want him to live a life full of regrets. So if this is still what he wants to do..."] And she was almost certain it was, [+mediumseagreen "We will go back to Wistina."] The woman spoke decidedly; there was little room to change her mind.
The script was very much flipped from what he thought it was going to be. It was difficult for Augustine to gather his thoughts. [+coral "I do, I do want to go back. Those people are evil and I do not want to leave the people of Wistina in their hands."]
Florence looked back at the bard in a very matter of fact way. [+mediumseagreen "He is right. Leaving Vincent in charge of an entire country, especially if he is a puppet to the Taken, is dangerous. And to more than just Wistina's citizens. No doubt the trouble will bleed out and corrupt all of Esteroak. It will be our problem one day. We should cut the infection off at its source as soon as we can."]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Adrian was immensely grateful when Florence took over the lead of the conversation and he believed even Abigail was. It seemed she had come to see her sister-in-law and he happily stepped aside to allow them to converse at length on whatever they wished. If it kept him from being interrogated or making a complete arse of himself then he was happy.
Watching them however was quite interesting. Seeing how Florence knew the nuances of speaking with a woman who could not talk back but used her hands and nods or shakes of her head, it was fascinating. He wondered if she and her husband had come up with the hand movements together and it had slowly bled over to those around them to help her feel more integrated. Yet Adrian did feel some pity for her that she would not speak again. He could not imagine the transition of losing ones voice so suddenly and having to adapt.
But she seemed happy enough, and clearly Eugene still loved her given she was to bear yet another child for him. Her smile continued on as she held her swelling stomach and nodded to them both before leaving.[+crimson “She does seem very well. And so happy. Eugene is a lucky man.”] He was not trying to come across that he was jealous in any way, but more that he was happy for her brother. Yet Adrian winced a little at his increasingly poor choice of words. He would have to learn to speak like these royals if he was to be about them for a prolonged period of time. Still, Florence seemed fine and advised of their meeting time that night.
[+crimson “Of course – until Eugene calls for me I'm rather free on time lately.”] He smiled softly but that was the state of his life. It was fine, as the man seemed quite accommodating, but if things became busier then he knew he would be pushed down the order.[+crimson “Now, if you will excuse me – I am rather hungry, so, which way is the kitchen?”] He asked rhetorically and turned to the entrance hall, wandering off down a hallway in the wrong direction but in a confident manner that he approached many things.
By the time dinner had been taken – and he only knew this because the servants would disappear to feed the royal family – Adrian could quite happily have returned to his chambers and either watched the sun set from his window or gone straight to sleep in the soft quilts and blankets of his bed. Yet he had been the one to request the meeting with the others and therefore he had to attend. And he was the last to arrive, thanking a servant as he stepped in and closed the door behind him.[+crimson “I got lost, apologies.”] He said as he approached the table and a few smirks were shared between the adults.[+crimson “Hey, this place is huge. I can't be expected to learn every corridor in a few days. I bet you would have gotten lost in Malidek without me.”] He took their sniggering in stride as he moved over.
Taking a seat he was glad they had decided to stay near one end of the table rather than spread out. It was not a meeting for shouting at one another and the closeness would help immensely.[+crimson “Now, I'm sure Florence gave you some inkling of why I wanted us to meet here. But in essence, I wanted it for you three to be able to talk about what has gone on getting here from Wistina.”] He had taken a seat a little from the three so that he would not intrude on the conversation too much, but he looked to each as he continued.[+crimson “It is to air any grievances you have in a calm manner where you will all be heard. And, to set out a loose time line for returning to Wistina to take it back, as both Augustine and Florence have shown a desire for such.”] He knew Gregory would not like that part but it was needed. The mother and son were in different parts of their lives and reacting to Astoria in different ways, but their desire to return to Wistina had to be pressed as a unifying point.[+crimson “Does anyone wish to begin or shall I?”] Whilst he did not necessarily want to talk, he would push points he felt needed answers. He wanted everything to be dealt with this night.
Abigail was clearly embarrassed at his polite compliments, but she did not shy away from him because of it. She smiled sweetly at him, unaware of the fibs he was telling. The small woman would have liked to say that she was glad he was finding this place to his liking, but without her husband it was a touch difficult to communicate. The pair of them had a sign language all their own, and while those who stuck around long enough picked up a bit of it, she thought it best to just keep smiling and nodding to display her happiness.
Florence cut in not long after that. She mainly asked simple questions that could be answered with nods and the like. The tall woman also told a bit about herself and how she was, as it seemed that is what Abigail came out here for. They had been here several days and yet the two had not seen one another. Florence had thought of visiting, but if the Queen was not feeling well, she did not want to be a bother. Though, from the look of her now she was just fine. There was definitely a chance that Eugene had been exaggerating when he spoke of her being ill.
This went on for a while before Florence put an end to it. She shooed Abigail away so that she might go and get some more rest. There would not be much time for that when baby finally came. It was best to enjoy the peace now, though she was sure they were both well aware of that. It was not until the green gazed woman promised to come visit her in her room that Abigail’s reluctance faded away and she waddled back toward the castle.
Waving the petite woman off, Florence turned back to Adrian. [+mediumseagreen “I am glad to see she is doing well.”] The smile remained on her face. [+mediumseagreen “I was a little worried that she might not get used to her position, but if she could stand my teasing, she must be doing fine.”] It was a desolate day for her when she had not been able to be at her brother’s wedding, but knowing how sweet the bride was made it a little easier.
[+mediumseagreen “Well, I suppose I should be off as well. I do believe I need to find Gregory and Augustine… I will let them know to meet us in the eastern conference room after dinner. Does that work for you?”] She very much doubted he had anything else planned, but Florence felt the need to ask anyway.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Ever grateful she did not take this time to tease him, Adrian enjoyed the remainder of their walk about the grounds, careful to walk them away from the other gatehouse in the outer wall than to be seen by the guards there. Her warm figure beside him made any small breeze feel insignificant and he could quite imagine them doing this on a very regular basis as she had suggested.
As they made their way back up to the castle however, he was thinking over just what he could say to Eugene. Yes, it was rather odd to be thinking of the brother of the woman he was currently walking hand in hand with. But he wanted to make good impressions that would shine brightly on him staying. Whilst the man had opened his home and his services to Adrian, and it seemed he had a role in helping to train swordsmen for the man's army, he was particularly keen to show he had more uses to the man and could help him in more ways than simply training his men. It would take time to build up the trust but he had gained his sister and his fathers approval in little time so it was hopeful he could do the same here.
The idea of sparring with a King did worry him a little too, as he was much more a sword and board man. If he wanted to fence or a straight battle with swords, he did not trust in his skills all that much. When you became accustomed to using a shield in defence, it was difficult to fight in any other way.
Yet as soon as they had turned back they were now upon the inner gates and with a final gentle squeeze of her hand he released her. He offered a soft smile in apologies for breaking it so abruptly but she looked to understand his meaning for doing so. And it seemed he was right to do so as they approached a woman that Florence seemed delighted to see. She was quite beautiful, with golden hair and deep blue eyes. She was like a mirror opposite to Florence with her darker tresses and eyes, but, objectively of course, he still could see she was rather beautiful. It was only as they approached that he made note of the protruding stomach and his breath caught as he recognised who she was.
Despite the introductions, indeed during them he had made a very pronounced bow to her, Adrian knew fully that this would be the wife of Eugene. What he had not expected was her lack of speaking, her hand waving and the light scar he had seen quite evident of such. He would have to ask Florence later what had happened.[+crimson “It is a pleasure to meet you Queen Abigail, the King was rather correct in explaining your beauty.”] It was a rather used line, but what else could he say to a queen? Best to stick to the tried and true flattery than attempt witty remarks – Adrian was above all not witty or intelligent. He was a people person.
Not wishing for an awkward silence to hang over the trio, he continued as she offered a warm smile at his comment.[+crimson “Thank you very much for your hospitality, it has been wonderful staying with you and your family – I had thought I would feel left out but Florence and everyone else has made me feel very accommodated.”] Of course that was not how he felt really, but it was all about making a good impression with the Queen than to offer her something to gossip back to her husband. If he was polite and kind, then he was doing fine.
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