[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai had began to eat his food. He picked and pulled it apart a little and whilst it was not most appetising on the yes it was suitable on the palate. Looking at Florence though he was quite a lot more shocked that he had been at the food.[+royalblue “My word, she can do it. She can compliment me..”] He commented with a rather wide grin as she mentioned how he was a kind-hearted man. Well, not in so many words. Not really directed towards him. It was all subjective, a bit of a stretch, but he liked the sound of it nonetheless and when he caught her eye he smiled all the more.
Winking at her playfully he continued to eat and drink, agreeing with her overall sentiment. It was true that they would have to play on heartstrings and the memories of the populace than to offer them wealth or power or anything of the like. Yet for now, he was quite focused on just Florence. Playing a more playful and toying character with her would be his best route towards getting to know her and have her perhaps return the gesture and in the end see him as more.[+royalblue “Will we take the eastern or western route through the mountains?”] He left the option open to the table, keen to hear if that was planned out or if it would be a wild dash to the Wistinian border.
Florence gave Nicolai a look. It was something along the lines of cynicism at his request that she refute him. She did not pick apart his commentary that often... okay, now that she actually thought about it, perhaps she did... Regardless, she obliged him. [+mediumseagreen "Unfortunately, I think you are right. As much as I am hoping Vincent has been a poor leader and run things into the ground, it is terribly difficult to botch it up so badly that the effects could be felt in a country as wealthy as Wistina."] Astoria was destitute before they opened up, so every selfish act the King made came down hard on the civilians. No one was happy. And that made it all the easier to bolster them to act. But in Wistina it was likely the common person could not tell a difference, unless Vincent made some very serious changes. However that was unlikely, as these were the same people that had Germaine wrapped around their fingers for years.
[+mediumseagreen "I do see one point of contingency though. There are a few things that trump prosperity. Connection is one of them, couple that with nostalgia and we may have a case."]The one thing she was counting on that would have changed was the relationship with the common man. While Germaine had not been one to reach out, there were a few under him that did. [+mediumseagreen "Based on who I think is still in that castle, there is not anyone who is still reaching out to connect with the people. Someone like you, Nicolai, who actually cared about the well being of those living their lives in your country... They are playing a cutthroat game, so kind hearted men like that have likely been pushed out. We may be able to use that longing for a relationship like they had in the past to our advantage."] It may not have been fair, but neither was praying on an eight year old boy whose father had recently departed.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat As Augustine was beginning to explain his plan for what they would do, Töka stood up and turned around, in a fluid motion removing two drinks from a passing servers tray and seating herself once more with no word to the confused server. She passed one across to Nicolai who did not bat an eyelid, taking a few mouthfuls of his cup as did she. The ale was not all that alcoholic to what they usually drank at the camp so the effects would take much more to be felt. Thankfully the price of the drinks and the journey ahead would stop Nicolai from drinking too much. Töka? It depended on her mood.
Listening intently however he nodded along and especially at the parts that pertained to him and his status. He still liked to remind people he was a Duke and General, so to have the young boy confirm he still held some clout was an ego boost. Perhaps not what Florence wanted, as she seemed to like keeping him under her thumb – or she had at the castle – but he was subtly smiling along to that part.
When he threw it open to suggestions Nicolai only shrugged.[+royalblue “Seems to me you have this planned out. Or at least you know what to do initially. It’s going to be a mission of intelligence gathering to start with. Once we know where we stand, who is with or against Vincent and Gabriel, then we can start to see where we can make gains of our own.”] A few thoughts flickered in his mind and he sighed a little.[+royalblue “Of course it’s not just those two. Theres Gerald and Ulrich. The God’s know how they have poisoned the army and people against us between them.”] Gerald held some standing with the soldiers of Wistina given his role as Head of the Guard. But then Nicolai had been the one to lead the soldiers themselves, and could perhaps call on retired men or those in the Royal Guard who were still loyal to him. It would be up to Augustine and Florence to undo Ulrich’s plans and untether his hold upon the people.
The food arrived and Nicolai let it all be passed about the table before he continued on.[+royalblue “This won’t be like Astoria.”] He mainly addressed Florence there though his eyes looked about the foursome.[+royalblue “We have some positives and some negatives compared to what happened there. We have the boost that Augustine is indeed the rightful heir. He is Germaine’s son and that will have some weight with those who liked Germaine.”] Sadly it would not be many, but perhaps some of the older advisors and noblemen were still alive and they would back Augustine.[+royalblue “But the issue is that after seven years of pushing their propaganda, if they have run a successful country and the people prosper, we will run the risk of being captured and taken to the Capital by those who don’t want us to succeed. They will think about what they have gained and place that above any truth or rightful claim to the throne.”] Why support a boy taking his throne back if it would be detrimental to your own life, wealth or ranking in society.
He poked at the vegetable mess before him before lifting his gaze up and again landed on the only other adult present.[+royalblue “Care to interject and tell me I’m wrong Florence? It is one of your most endearing qualities.”] It was both sarcasm and truth but was accompanied by a shy smile, not wanting to provoke her right now. She did have a habit of pointing at his obvious flaws or the inaccuracies of his statements. She seemed to thrive on it at times. But he wanted her calm, especially as they needed to talk once alone.
There was a rift forming between the group already. Cockiness was never good, least of all when it divide you from those who could likely be your comrades. Pride in what you do and how well you do it had its place, but when it went to far it could blind a person to their weaknesses or lead someone to underestimating a foe. That is what worried Florence the most with this young woman. However, there was a bit of hope. Nicolai pulled her in and it seemed as though he was able to wind her down just the tiniest bit. That meant she could listen to reason. Or she liked to think he would use reason here, perhaps he had just threatened her. That was always a possibility.
The spotlight was eventually taken off of the new addition and it came back to Augustine. He sort of expected it with the way Nicolai and Töka had been looking at him a bit ago, but he was not mad about it. In fact, that was something he was hoping to discuss. [+coral "Before anything else we have to make it down there. I don't imagine they are expecting us yet, if at all."] If Adrian had been keeping in touch with them they may get suspicious when his corrisponces stop. [+coral "If we can I want to make it over the border without making any waves. We need to keep below their radar for as long as possible while we find out what kind of condition Wistina is in. With any luck, people will be unsatisfied."] He hated to say that, as he wanted his people to be happy, but the more discontent they were the easier it would be to rally them. [+coral "If it turns out that Vincent has neglected them, we should be able to sway them to our side without too much issue and we can begin to make ourselves known. If not, we we may have to rely solely on the fact that I am the rightful heir to the throne and hope that that, and the story of Vincent's betrayal, is enough to turn the people away from him. If it comes to that, then you will be invaluable."] He was of course referring to Nicolai. [+coral "You were a prominent and well seen figure in Wistina. People will trust you. If you say I am who I claim to be, there's a good chance they will listen... That's a huge leg up on its own."] If he remembered correctly, people liked Nicolai too, so that was even better. [+coral "That's the foundation of what we need to be looking for in the beginning. I am open for suggestions for improvements too. Different perspectives will only work to strengthen our plan."] Based off his mother's judgement they were looking to garner the people's approval, but if it turned out there was a better way, he wanted to her it.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai was rubbing his cheek, the same that Florence had punched, when he heard said woman say he was insufferable when ill. Who was ever a happy and joyful person when injured? And if she was stating that in reference to how he had been before they split, then that was just unfair. He could not change the past, but despite the new illness he had, he did not complain or make mention of it. He simply got on with it. Narrowing his eyes at the two women who joked at his expense he shook his head and left them to order their food.
He disliked being the punching bag of their joke but given the entire day had been filled with gentle ribbing of each other on the ride here, he decided he would just smile lightly, take it on the chin – or the cheek in this matter – and leave it well alone. Remaining quiet as they awaited the food to be brought, he listened to Florence introduce them all to Töka.
She reacted as was expected, an indifference on her face as she glanced to each as their name was read out. Offering each the briefest of nods she drank back the ale in hand and shrugged her shoulder.[+firebrick “I suppose if Nico says you are up for this then I’ll listen to him. But just try not getting in my way okay kids?”] Violet eyes turned on her at that and she looked over at him with a frown.[+firebrick “What?”]
Leaning close in to her, it was rather loud around them and so his voice did not carry all that well as he spoke to her,[+royalblue “Töka, I told you to show respect when it is given to you. Don’t make me regret bringing you along with me. Perhaps you would like to stay with Hyda and Peron and play fake soldiers?”] The threat was made and her gaze turned down to her cup.[+royalblue “I know you don’t like new people, but trust me that these are good folks. See the blonde boy? He killed Adrian you know.”] That perked her interest, looking up to Augustine and eyeing him with curiosity now that she knew of his exploits. It put the boy in a new light if he took down their one time enemy. But Nicolai’s hand coming up to her cheek brought her interest back, as he pushed back her long, loose hair and turned her head so she looked at him directly.[+royalblue “You’re a tough bitch, I think they know that now, so tone it back and understand that I can be right sometimes, okay? I’m an old fuck and I’ve done this all before many times.”] He patted her cheek and she nodded with a grin. To some, being a tough bitch was an insult. Töka was one who revelled in her tough-girl persona.
She did not have a bad soul, rather she was someone who had a lot of anger and rage inside that needed to be directed and at times she needed to be put in her place. If the others had not been there he would have been much sterner in his vocabulary to get his point across. But like those around the table, she needed training. She was still so young to him and now instead of this one child he had to care for, he had another three and a rather surly woman. Turning back to the table with a sigh, realising he had lost out on his drink to his young partner, he nodded to said blonde haired, green eyed boy.[+royalblue “Augustine, now that we are all here, give me the opening move for Wistina. I want to know your first steps.”] He was keen to hear how he planned on getting his kingdom back
[+coral "If it is a matter of age then we should be fine."] The boy's emerald gaze went to his mother. [+coral "Mutti, you used to drink when you were younger than us, right?"] Augustine in no way expected this to get them anywhere, he just felt like throwing his mom under the bus. And he did so with a sweet smile on his face.
Eyes narrowing at the glaring call out, she wondered just who was telling him those stories. [+mediumseagreen "I do not know what you are talking about... but if I did, I was wrong to do so and you are going to be held to a higher standard."] It was all but a confession, but it was not to be continued before Ms. Töka was sitting down with that.
Guess that meant this was who they were waiting for. Florence had had a feeling, Murphy's law and all, but maybe it would not be so bad. She had spent a lot of time with rough sorts when she was younger, so this was actually pretty nostalgic for her. The aggression might be a bit of an issue, but the swearing and lack of decorum was nothing new to her. The real problem was Augustine. He definitely would not be used to this. With a glance over that way, he did look a little taken aback. Florence's eyes swept over the others as well. She wanted to know how all of them were taking it before she intervened on their behalf. Flora did not seem to mind either way. Probably because she was used to dealing with Julia who was pretty rough around the edges herself, but Marko, he looked right at home. It seemed her son was really the only one who was going to have to get used to it. And considering that he needed to be able to get along and handle all sorts of people, this might actually make good practice. Perhaps this was not so bad at all...
While in the midst of trying to keep an open mind, the firecracker of a woman popped off about the age range of their party. Nicolai came back chidingly at her, but in the worst way possible. She had not considered that this might be the sort of personality that easily dragged out this newer side of him. Perfect. Inhaling and exhaling in a long drawn out manner, Florence tried not to think about that for now.
[+mediumseagreen "Please do not."] She had no real fear that this woman was actually going to hurt Nicolai, at least not so severely as to stab him, Florence was just finding a way to interject herself into the conversation so that they would not continue on like this forever. [+mediumseagreen "He becomes even more insufferable when he is ailing, so I would very much appreciate it if we avoided that at all costs."] It looked like that almost got a laugh out of the tattooed woman, her smirk widened the tiniest bit but she managed to contained herself at her brother's expense. [+mediumseagreen "Now, would one of you on the end be so kind as to grab the waitress' attention again. I want to see what the nights options for food are."] She wanted to get her son and his friends fed and put to bed sooner rather than later. Tomorrow was going to be a longer day and she wanted them to be ready for it.
Marko jumped to it at the woman's request. He looked about for the chipper woman who had helped them before and when he caught sight of her, he waved her down. Even if he had been the type to yell, he doubted he would have been heard over the happy commotion that filled the room.
[+orange "You folks need refills?"] She looked to Nicolai and Töka who were the only one's to have touched their drinks so far. When it did not look to be the case she moved on. [+orange "Or are you interested in something to fill your stomachs? We've got a trout soup on tonight that goes real nice with that ale, or there is hearty vegetable pie if you would like a slice of that. Both are warm and tasty; you won't be disappointed with either."] She was clearly a saleswoman.
When they put in their order, Florence took up the opportunity to finish up the introduction. [+mediumseagreen "Well Töka, I am Florence. This,"] Her hand motioned over toward her son and followed through with everyone thereafter, [+mediumseagreen "Is Augustine, then we have Flora, and there on the end is Marko."] Short and sweet, she did not feel any need to draw it out any more than that, especially since the woman did not look all too interested in the first place.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai grinned at the disappointed looks on the faces of the others as ‘mother-hen’ Florence opted to give them cider. He was curious to see if she would have given in to their hopes of joining his drinking habit but to see her turn them down so quickly was funny.[+royalblue “Ah hush the lot of you, you’re not old enough. You two don’t even have beards yet you want to drink?”] He gestured to Marko and Augustine though he was smooth chinned himself and it was most hypocritical. Then again all elves were beardless. He did wonder if it would suit him, but each mental image was a resounding no.
Taking a hold of his drink as he turned back to the table Nicolai sighed heavily, head dropping a little as he heard the shouted threat. Without having to look up or around he knew she was here and he sat motionless with his drink waiting for his accomplice to make her way over to them. She was not one to mince her words or her actions and in swift order she hunkered down beside him and began to complain of a thief. It was a little ironic to the elf but he said nothing of it.
Instead Nicolai smiled to the others and nodded his head to the side.[+royalblue “This lovely lady here, with the face of an angel but the tongue of a sailor, is Töka.”] The woman at his side was quite pretty in her own way. She had long flowing black hair down one side of her head, the other half shaved close much like Nicolai’s. Her eyes, whilst a more subtle rose come crimson than that of Adrian, were far more direct and intense beneath what looked to be a permanent furrowed brow. Under each eye, framing them and cutting across pale cheeks were two matching tattoos that gave the look of her crying tears of blood. It was a most distinct and beautiful addition. Her figure was clad in red cloth with leather bodice and shoulder pads, forearms similarly covered by bracers. She was the epitome of a strong and self-assured woman and she looked about the table at anyone who would meet her gaze.
[+firebrick “Three kids and an old woman. This is your idea of a fighting force Nico?”] Her assessment of the others met with a wry grin from Nicolai who went to answer but paused and took a hearty drink of his ale before handing it over to her.
[+royalblue “What this is, Töka, is the best we have. It’s more than adequate to get us to Wistina and then some. Now quit your bitching and drink up you whining sow.”] With her taking the cup from him he lay his arm around her shoulders, bringing her in for a sidelong hug, a quick one at that as she shot a glare at him, and he turned back to look to the others.[+royalblue “Don’t worry, she’s actually very charming. Just she’s never happy before her first drink and always thinking she’s tougher than she is.”] He was chuckling again before a hand struck the side of his face, a very audible slap resonating in the space between them all and he blinked repeatedly from the hit.
[+firebrick “Shut the fuck up Nico or I swear to God I’m gonna stab you!”] Although there was fury on her face when she said that, and her voice conveyed her anger, after taking a long drink from the cup in her hands she looked over at him and grinned, lips curling devilishly in a true Nicolai fashion.
Drunken festivities in full swing, Florence wondered if they were actually celebrating something or if this little pass by of a town was just so bored this is what they did every night. They would only be here for the night, so it was of little consequence either way. But it did seem pretty packed. There seemed to be little unoccupied space, however, Nicolai... took care of that. She was shaking her head, more at the man so passed out he did not even flinch as he hit the floor, than the elf.
Ushering the youth to take a seat they were greeted by a woman who got straight to the point. [+mediumseagreen "The rest of us will have cider, thank you."] Nodding as she did not bother to write such a simple order down, the woman fluttered off to get what they asked for.
There was a mild air of disappointment in the children, but Florence chose to ignore it. She did not want to deal with a gaggle of drunken teenagers. Not tonight, it was likely she would have to let them get it out of their systems at some point, but what basically amounted to their first night out was not going to be it.
Judging by the fact that Nicolai was still looking around the establishment, his cohort was not in sight. Florence saw little use in looking around, as she had no idea who she was looking for. Only that it was a woman, but that did not narrow things down a whole lot. About a third of the faces in here belonged to ladies. Speaking of, just as quickly as she went the tavern maid returned with drinks for the five of them. In the middle of giving her their thanks a voice boomed outside.
[+firebrick "You wanna fucking die, asshole?"] It was a woman's voice, crass and obviously angry. It carried through the clatter of the tavern and the people inside seemed to go quiet. They naturally wanted to know what the commotion was about. But there were no words to follow. Instead it was a muffled thud against the wall. A few seconds later a rather shady looking man scampered passed the open window and a woman entered. Just by the look of her you could tell she was the owner of the voice everyone had heard.
Eyes falling back to their glasses in front of them, the patrons of the tavern quickly tried to go back to whatever conversation they were having before. An obvious attempt not to draw attention to themselves. They did not want any trouble.
The woman scanned over the crowd. Something shifted in her red eyes when she caught sight of what she was looking for. Crossing the establishment with purpose, she did not stop until she made it to the table with Nicolai and the others. Stealing a chair from a nearby table, she pulled it to the end of their booth and began grumbling. [+firebrick "That fuck was a hundred years too early to try and pickpocket me. He's lucky I didn't take his hand."] That probably would have stopped him from ever trying again, not that she much cared about that. So long as it did not effect her, it was not her problem. That unlucky sot just happened to pick the wrong target.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat It was good to be back in the saddle and on the road. Whilst his few weeks in Astoria had been quite swift and eventful, the days before Florence and the others arrived were in stark contrast tranquil and peaceful. It was good for Nicolai to relax and eat and regain strength lost whilst being tethered to a wall and then a bed. In truth, he could do with a longer break to just sleep. But it was just his luck that they were so eager to get back to Wistina and start this fight back. He was not delusional; he knew it would take quite some time.
Still, the ride was peaceful and the others joined his talks willingly. Flora seemed to have much more of her mother in her than Augustus, given how much she talked. It perhaps would become annoying somewhere along the road, but she had energy in abundance and a few days on the road would soon sap her of that.
Looking back when she called out he nodded to agree with Florence. It was a quaint little town, perhaps akin to Vollenberg over seven years prior. This collection of homes however did not have an outer barrier, the buildings merely clumped together at the top of a small mound with a tavern right at its centre. It had been the focal point for the residents about to make their homes around and as they neared it there was a delightful buzz of joyful voices and chorus singing.[+royalblue “No doubt she’ll be in there.”] It was quite the party mood as he led them over to a stable for their horses and dropped a few coins in a boys hand. It looked rather shady to be perfectly honest but Nicolai spoke quietly to him for a few minutes before patting his shoulder.
[+royalblue “The horses will be safe here for the night.”] He said to the others as he walked back to them, pointing out the stalls for them to take the beasts into whilst the boy he paid rushed off to do his job. With the others collected the belongings they would need that night he led them toward the tavern and pushed open the door. The sound was overbearing, the songs loud and the banter deafening. But it was not angry. Just drunken happiness.
Nodding for them to follow him he found them all booth to sit at. Or rather they could, but there was a drunken man lying across it. Grabbing the man by his foot he pulled him off in a quick motion, his body hitting the floor with a thud and sliding along the ground for a few more feet before his foot was released. Walking back over Nicolai waved the others to sit down as he stole a seat from another table. Just as he sat, a woman with an apron over her front stepped over, smiling as she placed a hand to both Nicolai's and Marko's shoulders, squeezing just that little bit.[+coral “Hey all, what are we drinking tonight?”] She asked with a beaming smile as Nicolai looked about, hoping to catch eyes with Töka. He glanced to Florence and shrugged.[+royalblue "I'll take an ale. You?"]
Things were going pleasantly enough. Flora was a great help to be able to keep up talks like this. Florence had no idea how long she would be able to keep it up. Her best guess would say a couple of days at most before she ran out of things to say. But then again, she had known Augustine some seven years now and was still finding plenty of material, so perhaps the red head would surprise her yet.
As thankful as she was to have the dull chatter in the background to keep time moving, Florence was doubly glad that Nicolai kept things appropriate when he did chose to speak. Of course she did not really expect for him to be too tactless in front of the children, but if he pushed it she was going to push him right off that horse.
[+plum "That's it, right?"] Far off in the distance, Flora caught sight of buildings popping up on the horizon. From this distance they almost looked like ants. She had sharp eyes.
Squinting, Florence made out the bumps as well. [+mediumseagreen "I do believe you are right."] They had not initially planned to stop here so she did not bother to memorize the name of the quaint little town, but that was most certainly the town Nicolai spoke of. The closer they came to it, the more of the place came into view. It seemed quiet. But size wise it was almost an in between of the first two places they had stopped. [+mediumseagreen "Where are we to meet with your associate?"] Surely he had a general idea of where this Töka would be. And if she had to guess it would be at an inn, seeing as this was to be the place they stayed for the night. Might as well enjoy the luxury of a bed before they headed south where the towns would be fewer and farther between.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Florence's response made him chuckle and yet her chastising of the kids, Flora and Augustine mostly, was something he was quite proud of her doing. The old Florence would have let them moan and move on with her life as they were just children. Now that Augustine was older it was good that she was not going to treat him like his younger self. It would make their journey down all that more easier if he wasn't haven't to play the bad guy constantly getting them to fall in line and not act out.
The conversation was light and made their trip to the next town tolerable. Upon reaching it, and the stables, he stood beside Marko sniggering at how Augustine tried to cover for his uncle but did such a poor job it seemed only the fact she wanted to get on with the day stopped Florence putting the boy over her knee. The bags were stowed on the respective horses and Nicolai thought to offer riding with Florence. It would have been quite tongue-in-cheek and ridiculous but making people feel embarrassed was his agenda for the day. Managing to hold back on that he helped get the horses saddles and ready before nodding for them to follow after him.
[+royalblue “The next village over is where we will meet Töka. We can rest there for the night and you can tell me your amazing plan to win back Wistina.”] He addressed them all until the end where he looked to the young Melbourne child. He climbed onto his own horse, leaving the others to mount at their own leisure. Whilst he would have usually offered to help a lady onto her horse, Florence was quite independent and it seemed her namesake Flora was too, so he was glad to see Augustine did not offer. Then again they could be wrong.
Lesson one of women; you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.
He led the way from the stables and it would only take them an hour or two on the horses to get to their final destination of the evening. He knew these lands and did not feel any threat would come from it given his rebellion had cleared it of highwaymen and brigands. He joined in now and again with the idle talk of the excitable Flora and even heard a few remarks from the silent Marko. That boy was a mystery. Where he could he tried to spark topics with Florence about varying things from favourite meal the Astorian cooks made to whether oak, maple or yew was best for a bow. The subject was started with her but the others could jump in where they wished.
He seemed a little too pleased with himself and Florence mentally promised herself not to be quite so accommodating the future. At least when it came to his quips of this nature. Though that helped her very little now when he came at her with a strangely seductive insinuation. Trying to get through it as quickly as possible, she jabbed back. [+mediumseagreen "Surely there is nothing I could teach a rascal like you."] Her voice was low, but not icy as if she was actually angry. She was just trying not to be overhead by the others approaching.
She was saved by the children. For once, Florence was glad to hear their complaints. [+mediumseagreen "If you cannot handle this much we might as well turn around and get back on that boat right now."] As much as she would hate to have to go through that ride again, she knew that this was probably the easiest task they would have in the days to come. If they could not get over it, there was little point to go to Wistina.
That shut them up rather quickly, though really it was just Augustine and Flora. Marko was used to hauling lumber, so a couple of bags was nothing for him. Florence was somewhat regretting not sending her son down to the mill for a week to let him have a taste of what actual work was like. Apparently a day or two in the fields had not done it for him.
Once there was quiet, she took her own satchel from Augustine who happened to grab it. He lucked out this time, though she was aware that good fortune would look like she was spoiling him further.
Actually on the road, things improved little by little. The kids seemed to get used to the burden of the extra weight and then this just became a walk like they were used to. While they had never done this sort of traveling, all that walking around town to cause mischief seemed to finally serve a purpose. It readied them for at least this leg of the journey. Flora started up a conversation with the others and every once in a while she would call for Florence or Nicolai to chime in as well. It was sweet of her, but the dark haired woman was happy enough just listening to them goof around. For the time being they were safe to do so, so she let them.
Come a few hours they hit the next town. It was by no means big, but there was more to it than the first place. That being that there was actually a stable that held more than the horses necessary for life here. Therefore this was where they would be getting their animals. Upon speaking with the stable master, Florence confirmed that he had received letter from her brother with payment for the horses. The middle aged man brought out five fine looking animals. It was one more than she expected.
Looking to Augustine she eyed him suspiciously. [+mediumseagreen "You would not happened to have told your uncle that you were planning to sneak Flora along, would you have?"] There was a very heavy insinuation that what she really meant was 'why did you tell him and not me?' The blond shrugged in response, clearly not wanting to get Eugene or himself in trouble. It was a taste of her own medicine, so she really could not complain. At least they would not have to waste funds on securing another horse.
With that business through, and it still being a mite early to stop and eat again, they saddled and loaded the horses up to continue on their way.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Glad that he was not immediately cuffed around the back of his head by Florence for his tap on the backside of Augustine, he was further surprised and happy to find his compliment seemed to his its mark. Had something happened since he had been shipped away? Perhaps he had just picked the right compliment to make and keeping it simple worked? Her return of his remark, with a soft smile and warm cheeks, was the cherry on top.
Nicolai looked at her with a soft smile and nodded lightly.[+royalblue “Sleeping rough, hunting, training every day – I agree, a training regiment can do wonderful things.”] He was aware his form had bulked out a touch, not as light and nimble as he used to be but he could bring power to his sword thrusts like never before. Whilst the others were collecting up the bags and complaining to one another about the unfairness of it, Nicolai moved a step closer to Florence, catching her gaze with his own, violet on green.[+royalblue “Perhaps later we can sit and talk, swap notes. We could learn a lot from one another.”] There was emphasis in the right places for him to end with a nod and knowing smile.
He did not wait too close for long, shuffling away as he saw the trio were already shuffling back down the docks with their belongings and he chuckled as they neared the two adults of the party. Nicolai began to finish off his sandwich in hand, the bread having soaked in that golden yolk and the bacon adding a salty crunch – it was lovely. As Flora neared him however he reached across, taking the bag from her hands and swinging it up onto his shoulder. Ever the gentleman or just looking to get them moving faster than a fat man's waddle? It was up for them all to decide.
Nicolai seemed to have all sorts of family crawling out of the woodwork. Though she must have appeared confused at the fact, because he quickly explained that he did not mean a blood relative but someone who he had come to fight alongside at some point. That made vastly more sense.
While Augustine did not appreciate that particular motivation to start him moving, he did little more than send a glare Nicolai's way before headed back to the boat to grab the rest of their supplies with the others. He knew they would not be picking up the horses prepared for them till the next town over, so he was not really looking forward to hauling all the gear. They had packed with this in mind, but he still was not excited about it.
All it took was for the children to be out of earshot for the elf to start with his banter. She had thought he had a little more self control than that, but perhaps all that time in the middle of no where had destroyed his inhibitions. Though, his comment did get to her the tiniest but. Her face warmed, but it was nothing compared to her son's just a short while ago. The woman tried to play it off with a bit of sarcasm. [+mediumseagreen "Amazing what you can do when you are allowed to keep a training regiment."] She was of course referencing her time in Wistina when her only two things required of her were to look pretty and be a wife. Though given the lifestyle they led, that second one did not entail a whole lot. At least not outside of the bedroom. [+mediumseagreen "That being said, I am not the only one."] She nodded back to him with the comment. . Nicola had gained some bulk to him while they were separated. She had noticed it before, but had little reason to bring it up. He looked good. Florence, however, was not going to give him the satisfaction of hearing that come from her mouth.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Flora’s complaint was met with a thumb’s up over the shoulder from Nicolai, not arguing about the matter and not particularly concerned. He had brought Gregory and Florence up north with him and they had not gotten along with him well either. He was well versed in people not being happy with him in fact, but he put it down to the girls’ upbringing. Whilst she was not as spoiled as Eugene’s children, having a job and living outside the castle, she would not be all that accustomed to sleeping outside and having to cook for herself. He might be wrong, as every assumption he made was thrown back in his face by Florence, but he would wait and see her prove him wrong.
With the three of them in tow he walked down to the docks, the ones he had been dropped at himself, and nodded a greeting to an old man sat off to one side with a fishing pole in hand. He was grouchy and muttered some curse under his breath but that was just how he was. He hated everyone. Perhaps it was a foreshadowing of who Nicolai would become. Seemed peaceful in his mind.
Spying Florence he was pleasantly surprised. From just her outfit alone he was especially pleased, given his desire for her the figure hugging pants were much better than the dress. Still, she was breath taking most times in any attire and he took a bite of his sandwich as she addressed the others. When she looked at him, questioning where his belongings were, he shook his head. Covering his mouth rather than spit food at anyone he spoke,[+royalblue “My belongings are with my helmet a few villages over with my sister, she’s keeping it safe. We’ll sleep there tonight.”] He commented and removed his hand, finishing the mouthful.
He was looking behind her, down the dock at their belongings, when he caught the look of wonder on both her and Augustines faces. It took a moment for him to realise and he grinned.[+royalblue “Oh, sorry, she’s not really my sister. More like a battle brother, but a woman. She’s been with me since I came North. It’s this whole long story I’ll tell you about sometime.”] He nodded to the three younger members then gestured to the dock.[+royalblue “Go on you three, go get it all. You’re young, you can carry stuff.”] He lifted his boot to kick at Augustines backside lightly so that they would move along, and with that one on the way he took his friend and girlfriend with him.
Once they were off moving down the dock he turned to Florence, smiling at her in that wicked way he had back in his room once she had removed his shackles.[+royalblue “I really like the pants. You’ve been working out lately, no?”] He winked at her in a teasing manner, still holding his sandwich in one hand.
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