[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai grinned at the comment about his mother. She certainly seemed prudish when it came to matters of sex or even just simple affection outside her Astorian family. But that was a talk for adults so he said nothing of it. He just sat and listened as Augustine began to spill what was truly bothering him. He had not really considered the possibility that the problem of Adrian was dealt with by Augustine. He figured Florence would keep him away. Perhaps he had been insistent on joining them, or had come running to her aid. Whatever the meaning for his being there he clearly felt upset about having to attack the man.
Shifting a little on the bed to try and gain a comfortable position from which to talk, he simply couldn't. In the end he dropped himself down beside Augustine, leaning back against the bedding though maintaining a sizeable gap between them.[+royalblue “I won't sweeten my words Augustine; I didn't seven years ago and I don't believe a boy with your kind of upbringing and past needs to be coddled.”] He was his King after all, and if he wanted his honest advise he would get it.[+royalblue “You killed a man. Whether you regret it, celebrate it, ignore it – it happened. It is a part of you forever now and that is that.”] It was rather succinct but he lifted his hand and rubbed at the back of his neck.
It was not an easy subject to explain, though he seemed to have no qualms talking of it. Being a General he had his fair share of these talks with men under his command.[+royalblue “The key point is how you deal with it or let it affect you. I would say if your approach is to feel guilty then you should stay here in Astoria and forget about Wistina because you are not ready.”] He could be perhaps a little brash and upfront, but he wanted the boy to see he was being truthful and blunt. He would not half-heartedly give him what he wanted to hear, because that would not help him.
[+royalblue “Or, you can accept what happened for the simple fact that it was kill or be killed. You protected your family, did the right thing, and I know because I can guarantee if you had not done what you did, and he had hurt your mother, you would be feeling a lot more than irredeemable right now.”] Pulling his knees up as if to mimic the boy, he rest his arms on them, toying with his fingers one one hand with the other.[+royalblue “Unfortunately it is not a black and white thing. I can't give you the wholesome answer that will clear this all up succinctly and you can move on happily. And yes, that feeling of uncertainty will lessen with time, but it is up to you if it goes away or consumes you.”] It was so difficult to tell a child, or a young adult, that this was a journey he had to take himself to look at himself and judge himself based on the circumstances.
[+royalblue “You know, some people, like me for example, can take a life without too much thought and it's almost an instinct. We learn to justify each life we take, why we did it, and move on. We can do that because we learned how to deal with what you are going through right now.”] He sighed and looked across to the blonde boy, keeping to himself rather than try to offer a reassuring hand on the shoulder.[+royalblue “Tell me this much; would you hate me if I had done that to Adrian? Put me in your position, exact same spot, your mother or you behind me, he's coming at me wanting to kill me. Am I a bad man, am I wrong, for wanting to keep you safe?”]
He listened as Nicolai had a somewhat roundabout way of telling him that he remembered it. And somehow, in all that, none of it was quite what he wanted to hear. [+coral "You don't have to worry about that. Even if I tried to tell her she would probably just tune it out. She doesn't like talking about that sort of thing."] Not that he was at all eager to sit down and have that talk with her either. They were both very comfortable not discussing sex with one another. Hopefully it would stay that way. He just prayed that Nicolai would also keep his mouth shut. The last thing Augustine wanted to hear was someone lusting after his mother. Even just the brief thought made his skin crawl.
Then it came, Nicolai's call back with his own inquiry. There was another pause before the boy was able to answer. [+coral "...I just want to know when this feeling is going to pass..."] He brought his knees in close to his body, wrapping his arms tightly around them. [+coral "I killed Adrian. I didn't try to at first. I just cut his arm to get him away from mom, but then he got up shouting that he was going to kill both of us. Everything happened so quick I barely knew what was happening when I moved."] It was harder to say it all together like that than he expected. He took in a couple of deep breaths to try and steady himself before going on. [+coral "Mom, she keeps telling me that everything is okay and that I did the right thing, but she would say that about anything."] Not to mention at one point she and Adrian had been close. Surely that was not all she felt on the matter. [+coral "But no matter how many times she says that, it still doesn't feel true. I feel like I've done something irredeemable. Does that feeling ever go away, even a little bit?"] Right now it felt all consuming, like everything else took a back seat and that was all there was to define him. He felt dirty.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai grinned when he saw the boys face turn a good shade of red. So boys still disliked talking about their crushes eh? Good to know. But when he took a seat on the floor leaning against the bed, the older man was a little confused. Surely the bed was more comfortable? If only he had a chair. But they had taken that when he had informed them he could easily break off a leg to use as a club. He was nothing if not a helpful prisoner.
Nodding along to what he said it was all rather interesting. The typical things he expected to hear of someone growing up, but hearing him talk of his mother being more understandable was a good thing to hear. At least their divide had all but disappeared and they looked to be on the path to a more successful relationship. He moved around the end of the bed, leaning back to sit on the edge with his feet dangling off though he leaned forward to keep an eye on him; to do otherwise was rude.
The question however did have his brow raising with interest. He could understand why the boy was asking, but he wondered who it had been. Nicolai answered his question first however,[+royalblue “The first life I took? Yes. I remember it very vividly. But it is like most of your firsts in life. First time riding a horse, first time swimming in the local stream, seeing the lambs be born in the spring, your first crush and kiss and first time having sex – though if you tell your mother I told you that last one it will be the first time you experience having your head shaved and dunked into a military latrine.”] He looked down on the seated boy a little suspect but the corners of his mouth turned up slightly.
[+royalblue “In short; I do remember. But you don't need the details. Or do you? May I ask why you want to know? Or rather, what you are hoping to understand by hearing it?”]
In a way, Augustine was glad Nicolai reached out first, but at the same time the subject he went to bring up was horrifically embarrassing. Face reddening fast, he was also a little confused at how the elf would have found out anything about Flora. Well, not that confused. It was bound to be his mother. [+coral "They've been interesting..."] The young man glossed over the topic of his girlfriend for the time being.
Coming up to the bed, he was standing beside the sturdy wooden structure by the time he spoke again. He did not really want to sit directly next to Nicolai, especially if he was going to be asking embarrassing questions, so he took a seat on the floor leaned up against the bedpost. There was a good chance he would be here for a while and this was going to be more comfortable than standing.
[+coral "I have met a lot of people, most of them good natured. None more so than my uncle. I was surprised how well we got along. I expected him to be more like my mom, but besides looks there are not many similarities."] He laughed lightly at that. [+coral "I also made a few friends, ones that I am not related too."] While he considered himself friends with some of his younger cousins, it was different from things with Flora and Marko. Then again that might also have to do with the age gap. [+coral "Seeing everything here, I have come to understand my mom a lot better too. Part of that comes from talking with her though."] Honestly a lot had happened over the years, but none of it seemed all that important in that moment. [+coral "Overall, I have learned a lot of different things from a lot of different people and I am grateful for all of it."] That went for the hard bits too. And right now he was dealing with one of the hardest lessons he would need to learn. How to live with himself after killing a person. Thinking about it, it was probably a blessing in disguise that this happened when it did. There would not be time to sit back and process these emotions if they were already on the road to Wistina.
Augustine was quiet again for break, although this time it did not last. His voice dropped lower as he called for the older man's attention. [+coral "Hey, Nicolai... Do you remember the first time you took a life?"] The question may have been simple, but he was probing for details.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat As quick as he was to irritability, he was just as fast to calm down and took a little time to stretch out his legs. He was not as flexible as he was when he was younger, but he bet he could still beat Augustine in a race if the time came for such a thing. Perhaps that was the folly of being older, that he still looked at those younger than him and saw them as lesser. It was just jealousy in the end.
Yet when the boy walked in, seeing the elder elf sat on his bed and massaging at his calves, it would not look like a man in the peak of his physical life like Nicolai believed. Not wanting to speak first and be seen as rude, he let the boy observe his Spartan lifestyle in this room. After a few minutes of nothing, Nicolai looked across with a bemused smile.[+royalblue “Apologies, I was told you wanted to speak to me, but seems the cat has your tongue.”] He stood up lifting his arms up high, a few clicks in his back and shoulders as he eased himself to one side.
Rotating himself a little to ease his tension a little more he turned to Augustine.[+royalblue “Come on, talk to me. Tell me how the last seven years have been. Tell me about Flora. Is she cute?”] He grinned as he teased the poor boy but if it invoked a response other than silence it was worth it.
Shaking her head lightly at the mock formality he showed her in the end, she found it funny. What was even more entertaining was his tiny stumbles as he attempted to walk. The woman might have liked to stay around just to see a bit more of that, but she had already announced her departure. Giving him a more formal farewell, she left. On the way out she returned the key to the older guard who had kept it before. He seemed glad to have back in his possession. As though he might have been in trouble had he been caught without it.
Florence headed out toward the courtyard. She doubted Augustus was in yet, so she decided it best to meet him part way. That way she would be the first to see him and she would not need to think up some excuse to pull him away from Eugene who was bound to want his attention in light of recent events. It was on the way out she ran into her son. He had not gone far and the way he was standing about gave her the impression he was waiting for her. [+mediumseagreen "He's just been granted the ability to get up and out of bed. Perhaps give him just a bit longer so that he can stretch and get comfortable."] As much as she wanted for Augustine to have time and space to express himself, she also wanted him to remain courteous. Though the look on his face alone told her he was not happy about it. Shrugging, she knew he would do what he pleased and she continued on toward her destination.
Augustine had expected Nicolai to steal away more of his mother's time than he had, but when he caught sight of her she looked to be on a mission, which explained why it had been so short a visit. Not that it bothered him, that just meant he could go in next. Or it did before she advised him to sit back for a bit. It had already felt like he had been waiting an eternity since yesterday, but he knew a little while longer would not kill him. So there was a gap of about half an hour where the boy was left to his thoughts once more. After that, he figured Nicolai was fair game.
This time the guards gave him no problems and allowed him to pass without a word. He waited till he was inside the room with the door shut to properly have a look around. This was a room he had been in previously, but now it was barren. No doubt stripped of any luxuries to hold a man that was meant to be a captive.
Augustine had spent all this time knowing that he wanted to see and speak with Nicolai, but now that he was here he was not quite sure how to begin. It was not like it was an easy subject to breach in the first place. 'Hey, I just killed a guy. Someone my mother was actually pretty partial too. How would you deal with that, you know, for reference, cause right now I feel like shit.' Just was not going to cut it. So the silence persisted as he tried to gather his words.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat It was quite a quick and hurried ending to their talk as her hand was pulled from his and she diverted talk to her need to speak with Augustus. Nicolai for a moment let his face dip a little, though quickly a mask was thrown up and he nodded with a smile.[+royalblue “Of course, more pressing matters to attend to.”] He commented lightly as he managed to slip around her. Standing was a little odd for a moment, having to become used to the weight on his feet once more. His ankles felt rather brittle like a fawn. But he moved around her and past the end of the bed.
[+royalblue “Tell Augustine he can come speak to me whenever he wishes – my schedule is rather open at present.”] His joke was a little forced though he turned back to her and still the smile held.[+royalblue “And thank you again for allowing me this small freedom.”] Offering a small bow of his head to her he remained several feet away as she moved for the door so as not to offer any trepidation he may make a move to leave or anything erratic. One of the guards outside eyed him with suspicion but he remained perfectly still where he was as the door closed behind her.
With her gone the façade dropped and he was left stewing in annoyance. Part of him understood her refusal to speak with him, on any matters really, as he was back to being a relative stranger. A past of fleeting shared experiences did not make for a friendship or at least one that involved sharing anything beyond simple facts. But a greater part of him felt like nothing had really changed between them.
She put up the idea that he had to go through this makeshift trial before he could even think to the join her and Augustine and that her brother and Augustus would be the ones to decide on his fate there. He knew Gregory would not like him to go with them and from what he had witnessed with Florence so far, she did not seem overly keen for him to join them either. He wondered how she would have reacted to him had he closed himself off to her and rejected the opportunity to open up about things. She had looked rather annoyed when he would not discuss Elizabeth or Natalya. He remembered her anger than he would not share information regarding his wound all those years ago.
For a time he found it all hypocritical of her that he was being as open to her as possible and yet she found excuses to leave and avoid talking back to him. But there was little sense in getting angry or upset about that. As he had stated to her in her room, if she did not want him in the same manner he wanted her then that would be that. And at present it seemed she was quite content to remain by herself.
Or perhaps he was being an idiot and over analysing this all like he did seven years ago?
He tried to push it aside as he returned to his bedside table, taking up the copper tablet and placing it on his tongue as the headache this gave him began to throb irritably.
Eyes down, she watched as his hand slipped between both of hers. His skin was a touch chilly against hers, probably from the poor circulation that came with them being shackled. Her gaze stayed there as he spoke. His voice was low and comforting, and his words kind. [+mediumseagreen "That might be true... unfortunately, I am not sure there are many out there who can quite relate to how I feel. At least, not fully."] Obviously he understood what it was like to be worried for the well being of your child. He'd likely felt that even more strongly than she, but there was something else that had been bothering her for a while now. Something that she could not speak aloud, so to vent would be impossible for her. The closest comfort she had was spending time with Gregory, letting him sooth her like a child. However she was an adult and could not expect to be able to do such things forever. [+mediumseagreen "Thank you for the offer, but I am afraid this will be staying with me."] She squeezed his hand lightly, an attempt to convey that she truly did appreciate it. [+mediumseagreen "Plus, now is not the time to be worry over me. You have much bigger problems on your plate. If I were you, I would not be so eager to take on more than you can handle."] Her comment was made in mostly a joking manner, as she had already asked him to listen to Augustine, but there was some seriousness too it. Besides, it was not as though she bottled everything. There were many things she did discuss with Augustine. As interested in her business as Nicolai seemed to be, her son had him beat in that category hands down.
[+mediumseagreen "Now,"] she pulled her hands away from his. [+mediumseagreen "I should probably see if Augustus has made it back to the castle yet. I need to speak with him."] Not to mention she wanted to allow Nicolai some time to himself before Augustine showed up.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat It was good that he would have a little time before Augustine was allowed to meet him. He needed to stretch and fully wake up after almost a week of being tethered to a wall or bed. It would have been nice to go for a run outside or do some light weapon practice – no doubt any chance of leaving this room or the opportunity to take a hold of a weapon would not be looked upon favourably by his hosts.
Looking at Florence as she rubbed her hands together in a nervous fashion, he shuffled himself to the edge of the bed. In a slow manner, meant to convey his intention before doing so, he lifted his hands to hers and his fingers slipped into her palms as he looked up at her.[+royalblue “Florence.. I said I will speak to him, and I will.”] His voice was low as he gazed upon her. It really was quite remarkable how often he found himself lost for words just looking at her and observing her like this.
But this time he retained his composure.[+royalblue “You are a worried mother and I can partially relate to that. Even as a father for so little time, I understand how worry for them can be.. overwhelming and consuming.”] He did not elaborate but he continued to hold her hands in his very lightly, his thumbs running over the backs of her fingers.[+royalblue “It is not as easy or simple as telling you to relax. Perhaps it is not just Augustine who needs someone to be able to vent to, to relate to.”] Equally a simple thing to suggest, but she seemed rather pent up and frustrated at things whenever he had had chance to speak with her. Yes Adrian was a large distraction, but it looked to have been going on far longer than his own return.
[+mediumseagreen "Not right this second. I sent him away so I could talk to you first."] She wanted to lay out some of the basics before Augustine came in here and unloaded everything on him. That being said, she knew he would appreciate not feeling useless by simply repeating everything his mother had said. His concern was a founded one. Augustine was a great deal different from how he had been last Nicolai saw him. In some regards he was still the same. At the very least he was still somewhat reserved with personal matters around strangers, but much of his timidness had shed away over the years of having more contact with people and children his own age.
Bringing her hands up in front of herself, she wrung them. [+mediumseagreen "You are right... I suppose I should leave you to handle how you think best."] It was a relationship between the two of them after all. She did not need to insert herself into it. [+mediumseagreen "I just cannot help but think he wants someone to relate too. And given your histories,"] that being that they both lost their fathers at a young age and came from Wistina, [+mediumseagreen "you fit the bill. Not to mention he confided in you back then as well... All I ask is that even if things cannot be the same, you still allow him that."] Florence was not sure why she was explaining all that, not after he had already agreed to try. After all these years she was still little more to an overly worried mother.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat She had read through his thin cover and seen his excuse for offering his.. 'services'. It was not difficult given how he had approached the matter but to see her face light up, even if in a more embarrassed manner than flattered, he was glad to see it. He still had a task in overcoming the stigma of his leaving and the life he had led in those intervening years. Perhaps using light humour and a positive attitude would help. Though he was careful to keep some of his old ways about him lest he turned into a clone of how Adrian had started out.
He had wanted to continue their gentle natured talk though she clearly had other matters on her mind. Hearing her out he let his smile fade away and sat upright on talk of Augustine being allowed in to speak to him.[+royalblue "He is outside?"] He was curious what the boy could want to speak to him about that warranted this kind of reaction from his mother. As he remembered the boy he was quite shy and reserved but seemed to have built a strong relationship with her. Why now need the elf again?
Almost forgetting himself he nodded at her.[+royalblue "I will do my best for you both but..] He hesitated only a moment and his hand ran up to glide around his scaring in a manner that seemed to put him at ease.[+royalblue "It has been so long that he has grown in stature and personality. Even from our brief talk he seems a new man. I will try to be my old self, though I will be dealing with a new Augustine."]
His antics had the desired effect. Florence found herself holding back laughter. It was not her most successful attempt, as that subtle smile grew and few airy sighs that could undoubtedly be considered chuckles escaped her. She mirrored the playfulness he had sent her way [+mediumseagreen "Yes, you would like that wouldn't you? After all, to be forever in my debt is to be forever bonded to me. I for one do not think it wise to give you any more reason to follow after me."] He was close enough to a lost puppy as it was. She would send him away, but he kept turning back up with a sorrowful look in those colorful eyes. It would be difficult to part ways again, though perhaps she would not have to.
[+mediumseagreen "However, I do have a counteroffer for you... I will speak to my brother if you promise me to listen to Augustine. He is having a hard time. I have talked with him all I can, but I know I cannot be his only outlet. He wants you, so please, when he comes in here..."] which likely would not be long. [+mediumseagreen "treat him as you once did, as a mentor and friend."] It was not that she expected anything less from Nicolai, but it had been so long since they had any sort of relationship that she was not sure if he would try and take a different approach now that Augustine was older.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai was a little grateful to see the most subtle and smallest of smiles on her face. It eased his concerns if he could see her show some humour at his predicament and he returned the minimal smile to her.[+royalblue “Augustus and Eugene eh? Well.. I may be delayed in joining you and Augustine heading south.”] From what he understood the latter was quite stringent in the protection of his people. Regardless of why they had died, he would narrow in on that fact alone.
At least with Augustus he had whatever had gone on with Adrian as a form of leverage. A means of saying 'look, I helped you, I got you to look at Adrian, remember that when you try to lock me up for life'. Would it work? Maybe. He seemed reasonable enough to at least bring that up in his defence. But then Eugene could just overrule him and decide to be judge, jury and executioner. A lot could happen there.
[+royalblue “It's good to know I won't have to wait long.”] He looked up at her and with a slightly wry smile said,[+royalblue “Perhaps you could put in a good word for me with your brother, you know? I'd be forever in your debt..”] Having been laying on the bed, not sitting up even when unshackled, he now turned onto his side, one leg lifted and bent at the knee as he propped his head up with his hand. It was quite blatantly a flattering offer to himself. That she would ever need his favour was laughable. But if it made her laugh then he would have succeeded.
[+mediumseagreen "I am too."] In many ways it was her fault. She did not need to push Adrian the way she had. And while it had done the task of getting him to give up the ghost, the outcome was much more dismal than she had hoped. All coming from her miscalculation that he would not be able to get out of that bed. She underestimated him, but given that, this was probably the best the situation could have turned out in light of that.
Nodding as if to say he was welcome, she could not keep her lips from curling up at his question. She was sure he knew the answer to that. It was an obvious distraction, but she appreciated it. [+mediumseagreen "Yes, you will be confined to this room until they call on you to hear what you have to say for yourself."] His vibrant violet eyes met hers as she answered, there was a light of hope behind the emerald green. [+mediumseagreen "That falls to Augustus and my brother."] Given that Eugene had the bad habit of being too lenient, and Augustus who usually evened him out had a great deal to be grateful to the elf for, she though he might just walk out of here a free enough man to see negotiations for Malidek. However, there was one wild card. Florence was unsure how Eugene would react to news of Adrian's death. As of right now, it appeared to be Nicolai's fault. That was the one thing it seemed her brother could not tolerate: the endangerment of his people. And it had been some time since he began to see Adrian as part of Astoria. It was certainly a hurdle that would be difficult to get over without telling him exactly what happened. She would need to speak with Augustus to see how he wanted to deal with it.
[+mediumseagreen "I do not imagine it will take too long now that Augustus is not distracted with this mess with Adrian."] She would not go so far as to give him an estimated time frame, but Florence was sure it would be in the next few days at the very latest.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai let his hand slide off her and remained laying in the middle of the bed as she pulled away. Understanding that she would be apprehensive of his touches, even if she had not been grabbed by Adrian, he did not want to come across as aggressive or forcing her to stay close to him. It was a little difficult not to pull her down to him and just envelop her and hold her close to him. But this wasn't Natalya, she would not appreciate it.
Giving him the all okay, he nodded a little, bringing his hands together now so that he might ease the discomfort in his shoulders but also to massage the wrists that still ached a little from his initial time left hanging. Hearing that Adrian was dead, coupled with his thought toward his daughter, he understood why she was so quiet when she said so. It was true that the man held his biggest hope of finding her but if he had attacked her he had no qualms with him being killed. He did not know it was Augustine who had done so, and thus he looked on her with a knowing look in his eyes.
[+royalblue “I'm sorry it came down to this..”] In a way he felt guilty that all this transpired due to his returning and informing them of who Adrian really was. Whilst it protected them from anything further or on a grander scale, the wounds to her neck and wrist still felt like his responsibility. In truth he was a little lost for words at that moment. He did not want to go into detail about what happened but to go in any other direction would be to trivialise it.
Instead he decided to focus on her, on him, to try and draw their attention elsewhere.[+royalblue “Thank you for releasing my arms Florence.”] He looked down at his hands, stretching the fingers as if to test their versatility.[+royalblue “I imagine I will remain here to await trial for the happenings in Malidek, right?”] He looked back up in hopes of meeting those illuminating emerald eyes. He could not escape what he had done, but it had been pushed to the background for the time being. He had a few approaches in mind for how to deal with what would come, but it was not the time to begin building his defence.
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