[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.
Much like Nicolai, Florence allowed herself to relax to some degree when the trek down the hill was going without problem. However, she just about had a heart attack when she saw the horse slip. Thankfully the ordeal was short lived, but she did not release that new built tension until the boys were all safe at the bottom of canyon.
Sighing with relief, she was reminded of just how much she hated to sit on the sidelines. It was so much worse for her to watch and be unable to do anything than take an active part in the struggle. Her eyes lingered on her son for just a little while longer before she was pulled to her own, less hazardous, task by the sound of Ool’s voice. He was half shouting at the old man who seemed to still be putting up some opposition to leaving. Thankfully, the argument was short-lived. No doubt it was something the two of had already gone around and round about, which was why Jonathan was here at all. Florence made the executive decision then and there to let the goblin handle the old timer while she joined the reminder of her group in getting the ladies set up on the horses, so they could start their way down too.
Nicolai’s comment did not go unnoticed by Augustine, who looked over only to find the man smiling. Thankfully, he did not seem to actually be perturbed by the experience, and so the boy took a lighthearted in retort. [+coral “We’re still alive, aren’t we?”] He flashed the dark-haired man a smile. [+coral “Besides, isn’t it better that we start with something small like this instead of jumping in over our heads with some big grandiose gesture to the people of Wistina?”] He was not looking to fail right out of the gate.
Just as he was finishing up with his comment, the boy heard the others joining them and soon felt a hand on his head. Glancing over he was able to see that his mother had ahold of not only him, but also Marko. This took Marko more by surprise than it did Augustine. Neither of their pony tails would survive the ordeal. [+mediumseagreen “Well done, boys.”] The bulk of her smile was in her eyes, but it was clear she was happy that they had come out of this unscathed. [+mediumseagreen “Continue this way and you might prove yourselves reliable sooner than I though.”] The woman fully expected it to take a year or so before she trusted them to do much of anything on their own, but it was still good to know they were on the right track. Plus, it would not hurt to praise them along the way, so long as it was warranted.
Florence relinquished her hold on her son’s friend first, but she kept her hand on Augustine as she decided whether she wanted to continue forward with her borderline harassment or not. In the end she released him as well and her eyes found Nicolai who was watching the display. [+mediumseagreen “Are you waiting to be praised as well?”] Despite her teasing tone, she did make her way over to him with a gentle smile. [+mediumseagreen “Thank you.”] Florence needed to stretch a little higher to reach his head, but she did it all the same, only a little more softly with the elf. She was not so determined to make a mess of his hair as she had with the others.
A pair of excited dark eyes stayed on the group as praise and pets were handed out. To Cam it looked as though attention was being freely given. And so, the animal did not hesitate to come that way as she made it off the hill. Her tail wagged eagerly behind her as she set her sights on Florence. However, the big brown monstrosity did not escape the woman’s notice. Smile falling, the emerald eyed woman took a strategic step to Nicolai’s side. It put the man between her and the wolf in hopes that he might intercept the creature before it got too near her person. It was likely, as he seemed to have a soft spot for the stupid animal. But of course, things could not remain so simple.
Her thinly veiled disdain prompted comment from Augustine who was genuinely curious, but also kind of wanted a bit of revenge for the juvenile hair tussling he had received. [+coral “Mutti… are you afraid of Cam?”] One of his flaxen brows rose with his question.
Blinking, the woman had not been expecting to be directly confronted. She was not exactly happy about it either. Her brow furrowed, and annoyance stained her features. [+mediumseagreen “What a stupid notion. Just because I do not care for wolves does not mean I am afraid of them.”] Quiet indignation drenched her words, but it was laced with a hint of something else… defensiveness perhaps. [+mediumseagreen “They are useless things and I would rather not have them around me. That is all.”] Her irritated expression let up some as she sighed.
The boy eyed her skeptically, but eventually let it pass. He hadn’t expected her to react so strongly. And with as tired as he still was, he wasn’t exactly looking to fight her on it, so he relented. [+coral “Well alright then, if you say so.”] His disbelief was pretty plain in his voice, but he did drop it.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat It was good going for a time. Each of the trio adjusted themselves to where they could get a good connection to the cart whilst maintaining mobility enough to step back at a gradual pace. They made excellent progress toward the bottom and the trepidation he had initially felt on walking back here had left Nicolai. Of course that was short lived.
When the cart lurched backwards it was a slow build-up of pressure as gradually the weight was pushing down on them. Finally the lone standing horse was being pulled back by the vehicles weight. Stuck in the middle he had not means of seeing what was going on, only about able to thrust his shoulder up against the wooden support at the back and try to find some foot hold on the gravel like slope. His heels dug in as best he could though it just left markings behind as they were pushed down further inch by inch.
He threw out his hand as they continued to struggle and managed to grasp Augustine by the shoulder, grasping it securely, and for a moment he was ready to pull the boy toward him and down. It would throw him under the wagon with the intent that when the other horse inevitably gave way he would not be taken off the edge with both it and Nicolai. Just as he was beginning to pull the boy toward him the wood of the cart groaned as the other horse re-joined the task and the ropes became taught once more. It was safe to say Nicolai was a touch relieved when he stopped moving backwards and could relax some. The rest of the journey to the bottom was very cautious, at times being told by Duncan to ease off pushing so that the horses could actually lower the cart more as the slope leveled out towards the end.
Once they reached the end Nicolai stepped away, hands to his hips as he moved a few feet off from the others and took a few deep breaths.[+royalblue “Who’s bright idea was it to agree to this again?”] He asked to no-one though he did glance momentarily to Augustine with a raised brow as if this could all be pinned on the boy. After a few seconds he grinned, showing he was jesting and letting out a groan as his aching arms hung limp at his side.
Looking up the path he saw the others coming down, Töka and Flora bringing the others horses with them and he looked for Florence to see whether she approved of what had happened. She could sometimes hold her emotions well, hide them from the world like a professional performer, but often if it involved her son she was easy to read like a book.
The green-eyed woman watched as the boys got into formation. She was a little irritated that Töka did not step into line, opting to watch as her friend, mentor, whatever relationship they had going on, line up with the teens instead. Florence was more nervous now than ever, though perhaps it was just that she was being pessimistic, given that her son was in a needlessly dangerous situation. Why had she let him go off to negotiate on his own again? Letting out a sigh, she knew very well why she did it, it was necessary to get him the skills he needed, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t regret it just a little bit.
Everyone in place, the tall woman approached Duncan. The horses eyed her suspiciously as she did so, but kept their composure better than the night before now that they were tacked up and in work mode. [+mediumseagreen “Take this slow. If you are not absolutely certain that the horses have that next step, wait until you are.”] She took a stern tone with him. Florence did not know the first thing about this young man, other than he was good to his mother, but that did not say anything about how he acted with others. She just hoped that he would keep that same dedication here in this situation since they were looking to help him and his family.
Duncan nodded to the woman anxiously, he was listening, but he really couldn’t wait for her to leave. He understood why she was being so intense, however he was not used to it. Once she backed off and took a place near the Cliffside, he was able to calm his nerves again. She was watching on her perch, but he pushed her presence out now that there was some distance and called to the others. [+cornflowerblue “I’m going to start them moving,”] He spoke out loud and clearly, not wanting them to be surprised by anything, except perhaps his voice.
The first little bit was relatively easy as they went from flat land to the slope. The cart was not bearing a huge weight, so the horses handled it flawlessly as they remained off the steepness of the trail. This also afforded Augustine some time to get a feel for exactly how much effort he needed to put in. He had hear others talk about doing just this and how you were supposed to just supplement the horses’ strength, or else you would quickly wear out and become useless when you were actually needed. So, as soon as the whole system was on the incline he found a balance with the others. It was a moderate burden that would not over exert him. And if he was fine, the others would probably be too. He just wished they were going a little faster so it would be over with sooner.
The process was smooth until they were about two-thirds the way down the stretch of hill. That was when they hit the inevitable kink. As Duncan moved the horses back another step, one of them hit loose rock with its hoof. The stone shifted and the leg continued down with it, forcing the animal into a venerable kneeling position. All the burden of the cart it had been holding fell to those behind it, but thankfully the other animal held fast. It was not the entire weight coming down on them.
The sudden lurch would tip them off that something was wrong and goad them into action. Augustine cursed under his breath as he pressed his body hard up against the back of the wagon and dug his heels into the ground. Marko did the same with a huff, though he was not straining so much as his friend. He was used to this sort of manual labor, though perhaps not quite to this extent, at least not regularly.
Up front, Duncan immediately moved to the horse’s side. His first priority was to get her back up and bearing the load. He allowed for a short moment’s rest before coaxing her back on all fours. From there, he was able to see that she had scrapped her leg, but it looked superficial. No doubt she would favor the other leg for a while anyway though. Despite their appearances horses were rather sensitive, even to the point of being temperamental. But for now, she got back in line like a trooper so they could continue on to the bottom of the ravine.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Although there was much to rebut he kept his retort to himself. She was happy with him, the group was – seemingly – happy with him too. If he now turned back to rehash something that did not matter anymore and upset Florence in the process then it would spiral outward outwards and upset the others when they all needed some stability and peace.
So instead he tightened his hold upon her hand, a small gesture that he understood but would not further that topic. In typical Florence fashion however she was quickly over it and teasing him about any future hand holding expectations. With her son ever vigilant and always watching Nicolai understood it would be infrequent, moments like these. Augustine would not approve and likely never would. But there would come a time when he embraced the boy’s mother and he would be confronted by their relationship and that would be the moment where Florence’s resolve to be with the elfin man was truly tested.
Again he stayed silent, drifting just a little closer as she reigned in the obedient hound at her side. She was nervous, as he felt the heat of her skin increase a minute amount. No doubt she didn’t wish to tempt fate and have the Augustine-Nicolai discussion quite so soon, and with a final command he was set loose. Smiling as his fingers slipped from hers he turned toward the trio of youths and raised his fingers his lips, a shrill whistle punctuating the air around them and immediately it ended their talk as they looked at him in an increasingly familiar annoyed manner.
[+royalblue “Yes, yes, doesn’t Augustine look pretty. Well you can save all that fawning for later. Grab your kit, grab your horses, and let’s all get going – I still have yet to decide who is on watch tonight so let’s see who can impress me most, huh?”] After a night where they had all gotten a full sleep, and in beds no less, it was a little warning that got them moving at an acceptable pace. They collected themselves and followed Florence to the designated meeting place where upon they had to wait only a little time before the wagon arrived. With Florence taking the lead, primarily because she was the only one who knew what was going on, things fell into place in good order and as she designated for her group to get into place it was Nicolai who stepped up with Augustine and Marko. Flora knew she would be pushed back regardless though Töka had a wry smile to see the old man trying to flaunt before his woman. She had been trying to work out the emerald eyed woman and what she saw in the pointy eared swordsman, but if this is what got her going then far be it for the red eyed fighter to stop them.
As he stepped into the middle of the young pairing there was a look of scepticism from both. It had been assumed one of them would take the middle at least, Marko most likely, given their youth and greater pool of energy. But the violet eyed man saw their gazes and grinned at the slight of his being.[+royalblue “Look, if I was on the side and this thing gets loose, I’m not going to be able to get down and out of the way fast enough, I’m going off the edge, and I don’t want my obituary to read [i ‘killed by runaway cart’].”] He knew he did not have the spry agility of his youth though he was perhaps selling himself short.[+royalblue “I want a noble death in a big battle or fighting a huge dragon.”] It was humorous at least to him, a childhood dream that had stuck with him from the days when mother read to him before bed. It was typical knight nonsense but every boy dreamed of dragon slaying and being the hero. As yet, Nicolai had not had his hero moment.
Looking beyond the wagon to Florence he caught her gaze and offered a soft smile. It was hard not to on seeing her but he nodded his head for her to give the go ahead. Hopefully Duncan was good at keeping the horses calm or this could quickly get out of hand.
At the idea that she had wanted their relationship to end was news to her, though she did understand how he could come to believe that. [+mediumseagreen “It was not that I [I wanted] it to end… but that perhaps it [I should] because I was not confident that I could properly support another person…”] Florence knew they had already been over this, so she did not dredge into the details, but she still thought it was an important distinction. Thoughts based from her own self-loathing should not be compared to her hating him or their being together.
Letting that pass, she smiled, letting herself be pulled into that self-proclaimed giddiness. [+mediumseagreen “Well, that is a happy thought. I will be sure to only distract you in times of dire need then.”] She joked, knowing Augustine did not need constant vigil at this point. He did well enough to protect himself against the bandits and such. Later that might change, when they had trained assassins on their tails, but for now a round the clock baby sitter was not necessary, even if Florence would have preferred it.
Squeezing his hand as it stayed with hers, the tall woman looked over to the children who were still off in their own world. [+mediumseagreen “Give them another minute, then you can go and terrorize them.”] And by that what she really meant was stay here just a little bit longer, though it was a terribly strange way to say it. But as much as she wanted to savor this moment, despite all the embarrassment of being outmatched by him, Florence did not let it draw on for too long. When it got to the point that she was afraid her procrastination might be obvious, she turned back toward Nicolai only to hesitate another second or two as she looked up at him. It was tempting to rise up for one final kiss, but she stopped herself and instead chose to squeeze his hand one last time. [+mediumseagreen “Alright, go and get them.”] There was still some time, but she wanted to be at the meeting place before the others. It would give her time to scope it out properly and look for any possible hang-ups that she might have overlooked.
The group got on the move shortly after that, walking their horses out of town and to the cliff that would present itself as their first obstacle of the day. With a closer look, it seemed like edge of the path was relatively stable, there was no outstanding area of concern at the moment. It all came down to the wagon itself now. Florence was hoping that it wasn’t too large or that it would not be over burdened with things. As all this was going through her mind, she heard Flora point out that they were making their way over. Eyes up, the woman saw it was true. The two horses from the night before pulled a large cart, Duncan was up front guiding them and the ladies were settled in the back surrounded by their belongings. Quinn was sat on his grandmother’s lap, but the old man was walking back behind the set up. Even from a distance you could just tell he was grumbling about something to Ool who walked next to him.
When the two groups finally converged, Florence jumped straight to work. [+mediumseagreen “Alright, everybody out.”] She shooed at those who could move themselves, and urged the young man to help his mother. They wanted this thing to be as light as possible for the trip down. [+mediumseagreen “We will put those who need help down on horses and walk them down after the cart is in place.”] That would also be safer in the case they lost control of the wagon. If they lost control they did not want people in it. [+mediumseagreen “You, have you ever backed these animals up before?”] Her attention was at Duncan again who nodded, but admitted it was never anything as intense as this. That was better than nothing, but did not exactly give Florence a boost in confidence. [+mediumseagreen “That is fine, just remember to take it slow, I do not want anyone to get run over.”] That was her main worry at this point, especially those who would be playing the support role on the way down. [+mediumseagreen “Get them in place at the top of the hill and we will have everyone else jump into place as soon as we are ready to begin.”] That was her queue to Augustine, Marko, and hopefully Töka that they needed to get ready too. Coincidentally, that was the part of the equation that worried Florence the most. Normally, they would use a system of ropes to supplement the strength of the horses on the way down, but because there were no stable trees on the edge of the ravine to use as an anchor, that was not an option. That left manpower as their only choice and she just hoped whichever three lined up behind the cart to take on some of the burden were enough to get the job done safely.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai couldn’t exactly argue to the contrary that he wasn’t a decisive, eccentric, strange and foolish man. He was all that and more but he appreciated that she saw it in a somewhat positive hue. He imagined that was part of the whole relationship, is that whilst he accepted her 'issues', she accepted his. Though he really did not see hers as anything problematic.[+royalblue “I am eccentric, yes, but given how these last few years have gone I'm inclined to be a little more free in my ways.”] He knew she would want to wrap this up soon, both from the fear that Augustine may look over and see them and that she wanted to always be progressing forward – whether it was to a new town or to progress this 'rebellion', she was keen to keep up the momentum. Yet he also understood that this may be the last time they talked this way for a long time. It could be an hour, a week, a couple months, so he wanted to take all the time he could get.
[+royalblue “Only a week or two ago you wanted nothing more than for our relationship to end. To now be here, to kiss you and hold your hand like this, I'm a little giddy.”] He smiled like a child who had just been told that mother came back from the market with bacon. That innocent and pure joy.[+royalblue “I will do my best to limit myself and focus on helping Augustine but my time will always be yours should you need it.”] It was hard trying to play diplomatic in something he wanted to be greedy and petty over. He wanted them to run away, play family together, just be with one another. But her son, his King, came first and foremost and whilst he tried to show his loyalty and focus would be in one place he did not want that to be at the detriment of their relationship.
Balancing a relationship and his servitude to his King was a delicate matter and he stepped to Florence's side as he thought this. One hand left hers though the other held on that little bit more, lifting behind his back a touch, hiding it from view.[+royalblue “Do we let them keep talking or should I become General Nicolai again and order them about? I rather like being able to shout at them from time to time.”] He would not be able to do so for long is two of them became his Lord and Lady and the other no-doubt became a top advisor. He had to take his fun whilst he could.
Her gaze had been fixed to their hands, so when he pulled them up to his face, her eyes followed. Finally looking at him she nodded, signaling that she understood. [+mediumseagreen “You are a strange one, Nicolai.”] A timid smile pulled at the corners of her mouth. [+mediumseagreen “I have not known a man to admit he finds me intimidating and yet continue to pursue me so doggedly. Nor take such an unconventional approach to handling my… issues.”] Florence didn’t really know what to call it. She wouldn’t go so far to say it was a phobia, but it was an anxiety of sorts. Either way, it did not really matter; he knew what she meant. [+mediumseagreen “But that is not to say strange is bad. I appreciate the effort, even if it is rather eccentric.”] If nothing else it was entertaining when he flustered himself, though she could not say the same when she was the one at a loss for words, which was happening more and more frequently. She was going to need to adapt, but then again that was sort of the point. And it needed to be more than just an act. Florence had learned to play the part of a woman unfazed by men’s advances years and years ago, it was one of many masks she used while playing the socialite game in the castle. In fact, she was quite good at keeping up appearances and getting her way in those situations. Because in that place there were rules she could follow, guidelines as to how one should act and retort to get the desired response. That all went out the window when one was trying to build a more personal and meaningful connections, and that was where she struggled the most. It always had been.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Ah, he had done it, he had broken that resolve and the cracks were beginning to show in her perfect mask. It may not have been rosy cheeks and a weakening at the knees but there would be time in the future for that. When she looked away his joy only grew along with his smile and he squeezed her hands affectionately, even as she turned down his offer of seeing him more. It had been a wild hope but it was better to offer in a joking manner and have her reject it swiftly like this than to possibly miss out on an opportunity. Whilst she looked away to the others he kept his attention and his violet gaze upon her, nodding in agreement to her olive branch of an offering.
[+royalblue “I will be sure to keep some on hand, because we will find time - somewhere. Augustine and Flora understand I am not here to conquer you and move along.”] It sounded better in his head. Perhaps next time he would not refer to it as ‘conquering her’.[+royalblue “They know I care about you, and that we both want this to have a chance."] He hoped that meant they would be understanding should he tell the young duo to allow them some time to simply sit and be with one another.[+royalblue "And I hope you understand that too my beautiful Florence.”] Lifting her hands he placed a kiss to the backs of her fingers, one to each hand, a token gesture as he did not want to force another kiss too soon.[+royalblue “I talk as if it is all I want, but in reality it is just talk and a good way of breaking down any fears you may have. Make it humorous, less serious.”] To poke fun at such a serious topic was a good way to help them bond that bit more, especially as she flushed at any mention of more than a kiss here and there.[+royalblue “And it helps me to feel more confident around you. You don’t realise how intimidating you can be.”] It was a trait he admired greatly about her and he smiled as their hands fell back down.
Shaking her head, she could scarcely believe that he looked back on that moment so fondly simply because it was their reunion, though she did not actually believe him to be the masochist she was implying either. Florence simply did not understand this man in front of her at times. Much like now, how he was still so gung-ho to try and rattle her. And what was most unfortunate about that was the fact that it was beginning to work. In the end, it was the wink that did her in. Her face began to warm and the more self-conscious she became, the harder it was to find any openings to prod back at him. [+mediumseagreen “I think I have seen you sufficiently, thank you.”] The woman quickly looked away as she tried to backpedal away from where this conversation was headed. It was only going to end with her a flustered mess in front of everyone, which she wanted to avoid at all cost. Even still, she did not want to fully reject Nicolai. Believe it or not, she was trying to keep her promise to make an effort when it came to their relationship. [+mediumseagreen “However, I would not deny you my time for a drink and some sweets.”] That bit actually sounded quite nice… well, mostly. [+mediumseagreen "It might be good to actually have some time to ourselves."] As she spoke her eyes glanced over to the trio of kids still distracted by their own conversation. When or where that would be possible, she had no idea, but it was a pleasant thought nonetheless.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai was in a playful mood and it seemed so was Florence, or that was how he interpreted her words that she jabbed back at him with. He had to accept that yet, he had very light eyes and elven features did not lend themselves to a more rough and rugged appearance. To those who preferred a more lithe and slender partner they were ideal in that way. But for Florence it seemed she preferred a man’s man, a big and hulking figure and one with a beard it would seem. That was never going to happen and thankfully it seemed she had come to terms with that.
Smiling as she continued before he could say a world in response he raised an eyebrow to hear her compare herself to a forty year old. Here he was thinking women hated to be reminded of their age. But it was in keeping with Florence to do the opposite of other women, and worked well to her advantage as she had matured very well. It was a little obvious when he looked over her and drank in the voluptuous woman before him. Though she had lost weight in the last seven years she still retained the curves he adored and her bodice and trousers worked well to accentuate them. Perhaps his gaze lingered a little too long as she was talking again and he looked up at her with a blank expression, eyes a little wider than before.
Wait, what did he look back on fondly about? Why was she looking at him? Oh, he had not been listening. Through some very quick backtracking he nodded his head slowly at her before shake it side to side and ending with a nod.[+royalblue “Yeah-no. Maybe..”] He held her hands lightly though enough that she couldn’t push him away for being an idiot.[+royalblue “You mean the slap? Yeah?”] He tried to confirm and decided to just go with that.[+royalblue “Well it was the first time I’d seen you in seven years and I was just delighted, so I like to think of it as the rekindling of an old and wonderful relationship.”] He smiled as if he had managed to manoeuvre out of some made up hole he had dug for himself.
[+royalblue “Who knows, maybe you have awakened a more rough and rugged nature within me. We will have to investigate further, perhaps with a jug of wine and some dessert?”] He had to turn this back on her if he was to not to lose again – she had found ways to finagle her way free of his crudeness in the past and he was overly keen to win just this once.[+royalblue “It would be a good excuse for you to see this more muscular Nicolai, really show you how good I am on the ‘battlefield.’”] The inflection was obvious as he winked teasingly.
The expression that crossed Nicolai’s face reminded the woman that he was still under a certain impression. And because of this she needed to be more careful with her words. However, his listlessness came and went quickly as he jumped right back into the conversation, now with a renewed interest in giving her a hard time. But this time Florence was determined to keep her footing.
[+mediumseagreen “I did say that, yes.”] She made a point of slowly looking him up and down. [+mediumseagreen “It is just that you looked rather… feminine before. Not to say that you were not attractive, as I did take notice of you, but I do like my men to look the part.”] Probably not the most admirable admittance for a widow to make, but it was understandably difficult being but twenty years old and married to a man already in his forties. There was bound to be some discontent and wandering eyes, though the only time she ever acted on it was when there was a need to bring Augustine into the picture. Perhaps if Nicolai had been blond and human, she might have sought him out at the time, though it was unlikely given his loyalty to Germaine and how hostile their relationship was back then. [+mediumseagreen “You have always been tall and had a jawline that looks like you could cut stone with it, but now that you have put on some muscle you actually look like a man who is worth his salt on the battle field. Rather important for a general, in my opinion.”] Florence kept her tone light despite being rather serious about what she found appealing in him. [+mediumseagreen “The only thing missing is some facial hair, but I suppose I cannot fault you for that.”] Her idea that men should have beards probably had something to do with her father being a Dwarf, but it obviously was not a deal breaker.
Florence was doing her very best not to pay too much attention to anything she said. She knew the moment she stopped and thought about it, it was over for her. The embarrassment would win and she could not have that. Nicolai had gotten away with far too much today and she wanted to try and turn the tables, so she just had to press on and not linger. [+mediumseagreen “I am nearly forty, I had better have learned by now.”] Forty was still some years off for her, but her point remained. [+mediumseagreen “Good is not the word I would use, cathartic maybe, but only because you had been such an insufferable twat that I did not know what else to do with you.”] In hindsight she knew why he did what he did, but at the time she thought he was absolutely intolerable. [+mediumseagreen “Though perhaps you are speaking more for yourself. You seem to look back on it a little too fondly, do you not?”] She raised an inquisitive brow his way.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat For a moment Nicolai worried perhaps it was a bad idea to tell Florence about the swelling. In his mind it was innocent, it was of his own doing and Augustine was perfectly safe and had learned a valued lesson about himself. But of course from her viewpoint he had had her son smack him hard enough to leave a mark. What sort of person provokes another to hit them unless they want a fight? Thankfully the ruse dropped the moment she spoke and he breathed a shallow sigh of relief.
He didn't like to hear about Logan – for obvious reasons – and there was a moment his face showed this disinterest. But trying to be good for her he soon brought a light smile back to his face.[+royalblue “Oh be kind to the boy. He's barely hit puberty."] He was what, fifteen now? So young to the elf.[+royalblue "Besides, I was a thin and lithe young man and now look at me."] He had certainly bulked out.[+royalblue "You even said you like me better this way and I'm an old man now. Give him time dear.”] Explicitly she had said she liked the new him which was perhaps more so the personality than the appearance. The hair and scar was a unique touch but he found it served the purpose of showcasing his past battles. Who knew if it deterred anyone from attacking him over the years. Shuffling in a little closer then, so that he might hold both her hands in his, that familiar devilish smile returned.[+royalblue “In truth, I think he was holding back. I'll have to teach him to follow through. though you certainly don't have that problem. You know how to treat a man.”] He spoke in a hush now, just to her, a look of playful mischief in his shining violet eyes as he did his utmost to put her on the back foot, shy and embarrassed.[+royalblue “Admit it; in the dungeon, hitting me, it felt good, no?”]
Blinking at the man, she honest to god had not expected that answer. Florence did not know what she expected, but it was not that her son had punched him. Nicolai went on to explain it was part of a lesson, but she was still confused how he had gotten Augustine to do it. Maybe it was as simple as asking the boy to hit him, but given this was Nicolai she was dealing with; she very much doubted it. It was mildly irritating to know that he was probably harassing her son, but given Augustine came out of it unscathed, and that he had not complained about whatever had transpired, she thought she might as well let it pass. The boy would probably get mad at her for making a big deal of it anyway. He did not like it when she mothered too intensely.
Sighing, she tried her best not to think about it and go along with the humor Nicolai seemed to see in the situation. [+mediumseagreen “If he cannot hit at least as hard as me by now, then I am afraid he is a lost cause.”] Truly, she worried for him if an old woman’s punch outmatched his. [+mediumseagreen “The boys in our family are late bloomers though, so he might still have a chance.”] Florence did think he was taking after her side of the family when it came to his physique. [+mediumseagreen “Eugene was just about as scrawny as Augustine growing up. He was nearly eighteen before he filled out.”] That was still a ways off for the boy, but she was sure it would pass in a flash for her. However there was still the chance that he was taking after his father. [+mediumseagreen “Logan was not nearly so thin either. He was sort of built like you actually, though I cannot say much for how he developed.”] It was not exactly something the two of them ever talked about when they were together.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Seeing her flummoxed by the sudden kiss was amusement enough for Nicolai as she jested back at him. His hand took a hold of hers for his reply, thumb stroking along the backs of her fingers in a slow patterned movement. The excitement of the kiss was a touch strange. Here he was, almost giddy that he had put aside his concern on being caught by Augustine and kissed the woman he was meant to be in a relationship with. He had to remind himself that it was a most natural thing to do and yet it did not lessen his smile.
[+royalblue “I should have come to you last night and slept by your side, like we did in the pass. But that kiss will have to make amends for the time being.”] It was evident he was not talking of sex or the like – though he was not necessarily pushing that off the table. Rather he wanted to be beside her warmth and holding her hand again. To wake up to such a pretty face next to him again. Unfortunately that pretty face now turned on him.
As she moved his head to better look at him he sighed a little at first. He had hoped to get to that evening at least before having to explain why the bruise was there. But even as she looked on him like a displeased mother, he only smiled a fools smile at her.[+royalblue “I made Augustine punch me.”] He replied in complete truth, not fazed at all to give her what she sought.[+royalblue “I was teaching him a lesson and that involved him having to hit me.”] He rather liked how she held him delicately, her fingers soft and warm as he watched her inspect the swelling.[+royalblue “Not to worry, I rate it a six to your ten.”] He added jovially, though he was maybe skirting that fine line with Florence between humour and annoying her.
Augustine split off to go see his friends, but Nicolai was making his way toward her. Watching him as he came closer, Florence expected him to say something, anything really, but instead he swooped in next to her and stole her lips. With this being so completely unexpected it took her a moment to really process what was happening, but as soon as she did, she surrendered and reciprocated the kiss. There was something charming about how casual it was. Typically, they were hidden as if they were trying to get away with some wrongdoing when they kissed, but this was different and in a most refreshing way. However, that did not do much to stop the embarrassment that came with such a blatant display of affection when he finally did pull away and she saw him still staring at her. There was a pause. She was lost for words as she stared back to the man before her. Whether it was due to him personally, or just his actions she was unsure, but what she did know was this was the second time today he had left her speechless and she was not happy about it. Not necessarily the kiss, as that had been all together pleasant, but her own inability to retaliate in a timely manner. Whether it was a witty comment, or something sweet in return, Florence was not used to being thrown off kilter so effortlessly.
That being said, the pause persisted up until the point where she had to look away from those lovely lilac eyes and she began to feel herself again. [+mediumseagreen “Getting rather bold, are we?”] It was not a pointed question, more of an observation of how he had heeded little mind to those around them. Even if they were turned away, it would not take much for eyes to turn toward them.
It was not until after she got her words out that she glanced back up at him. However, this time her vibrant eyes laid on something other than his. Her expression changed to something more serious. [+mediumseagreen “What happened to your face? It is swollen.”] Her hand came up to gently tilt his head so that it was easier to see. She was extremely careful to keep her touch soft and not directly on the affected area. The discoloration had yet to settle in, so it was difficult to read the story behind the affliction.
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