While he had seemed to be concerned before, the look in his eyes shifted when she came closer. It was the same emotion, just for a different reason. She suspected she knew why, but it was not wholly confirmed until he asked her outright. Florence had hoped that the damage to her throat would not show, but she was not so fortunate. The woman might just have to take a day or two to avoid her father and brother, just in case.
Given freedom with his hands, Nicolai was quick to use it. He brought them near, coming just short of caressing her. For that she was glad. She had been grabbed at entirely too much these last few days; and no matter how noble or kind his intentions, the woman was tired of having no say in it.
With her task at hand finished, Florence stood straight once again. She retained a standard distance for conversation, not like before where she was careful stay out of his reach. [+mediumseagreen “I am fine. I have withstood worse…”] A lot worse in fact. This was minor, but she could not help but continue to worry about Augustine. [+mediumseagreen “…Adrian is dead.”] She doubted he would be happy to hear that knowing the man to be one of his last lifelines back to his daughter. But if there were to be any frustrations shed over it, she very much wanted it to be before Augustine came in to vent. He did not need to feel any more guilt over his actions.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai had had quite fitful sleep, constantly waking through the night and feeling quite groggy when morning came. His meal was brought to him but as usual it was quite sparse, a few fatty pieces of meat that had been discarded from the main meal the night before. Likely too bad even for the dogs. But with no other option he ate it obediently and was again left to his thoughts.
Having sent Florence out to investigate the packages he had become quite concerned when she did not come back. For a time he thought it may be that she would return another day to discuss them, but his paranoia got the better of him and he was considering that she may be staying away as the evidence was not there, that he was guilty and she was done talking to him as she no longer trusted his word. It led to his broken slumber as he imagined all the possible ways in which this would end for him.
Hearing voices outside his room they never rose above a muffled hum, no words or distinctive voices to be made out. It stopped for a little time before the talking began a new, a third voice made out but no-one to put it to. Perhaps it was Augustus and Florence discussing their plan of attack or instructing the guardsmen of how they would go about dealing with him. It was quite troubling to think about and he tried to harden his resolve as the door opened. Thankfully it was just Florence and she did not allow anyone else to follow her in.
Looking at her he knew not everything was okay. But his fear that he was the cause of this change in feeling was short lived as he noted the light marking around her neck. It was not as bruised as her wrist had been a few days before, but it was still a mark nevertheless. Her concise report that things had been dealt with came with her moving to his left shackle to unlock it. His expression had softened considerably when her voice had fluctuated the tiniest amount on her entry.
Leaning across him to undo his other shackle his left hand rose up very gently to press at her side. It helped her from falling atop him but it was meant in a caring manner.[+royalblue “I don't expect anything of you but to tell me how you are feeling. Are you okay?”] With his other hand freed he moved it near to but did not outright touch her neck, miming the action of brushing a finger over the raised markings as his eyes rose up from his inspection to look into her eyes. There was no sexual hunger or toying, leering gaze, no desire to use this as means of taunting her with being right all along about Adrian. That time would come of course, but for now Nicolai seemed genuinely concerned by her injuries and well-being.
After asking his questions regarding Nicolai, things returned to a semblance of normal and Florence felt it was her time to Augustine some space. Standing she brought him in for one final hug and told him that she would send a maid in with a wash basin so that he could clean up. They had waited so long that the blood had dried. Now it was going to be difficult to remove, but she was certain had they tried any sooner it would have only caused him to spiral. There was something about the act of cleaning your hands that was destabilizing, especially for those who were not used to it. The boy seemed to have regained his wits though, so she thought it would be okay for her to leave and let him have at it.
True to her word, Florence caught one of the servants in the hall and made the request. She was also sure to let her know just to pass the basin off to one of the guards so that they could take it in. There was no use in traumatizing the poor girl with the image of a bloodstained prince. But after that, the green-eyed woman was sort of at her limit. The night was not yet upon them, but she was drained and knew pushing herself to stay active would only make her worse off. There was some worry that this was not over, but exhaustion won out and she fell quickly to sleep.
The next day, she was sluggish. A combination of yesterday’s excitement and oversleeping, and somehow, she did not get the feeling today was going to be any easier. She needed to reconvene with Augustus and figure out the game plan moving forward. Beyond that there was meeting with Nicolai to inform him of what all had transpired, then unchaining him as she promised her son. And while she would have very much liked to have gotten together with Augustus first, to see what type of crowd control he had done and make sure their stories matched, he had not come in from town yet. No doubt he was taking his time with his family this morning. It was understandable, but Florence was itching to move. So off to Nicolai it was.
Funnily enough, Augustine had beat her there. Not so funnily, he was in a huff because the guards would not let him in. That was something she perhaps should have handled last night before sleeping, but it was what it was. For now, she deescalated the situation by letting the guard know that he did indeed have permission to enter, but that she was going to talk with the prisoner first. Augustine was not exactly delighted at having to wait, but he did throw an I told you so sort of an expression at the men blocking the door. After that was done and she convinced her son to hold off for just a little longer, it was time to convince the senior watchman to hand over the key. There was a little back and forth on that before she put her foot down. [+mediumseagreen “He was offered a small comfort in trade for information. He obliged us and we have finished verifying that his word was good, now we are holding up our end of the bargain.”] In true Florence fashion she lied through her teeth. [+mediumseagreen “Or would you like me to fetch Augustus and he can tell you himself. I am sure he would love to be bothered when he is trying to relax at home.”] And with that the man caved. He handed the key over. [+mediumseagreen “Thank you. Now remember, he is still not to leave this room. This leniency is a privilege that will be taken away if he does not behave himself.”] The armored man nodded, that was more his speed.
Florence entered the room. Nicolai was just how she remembered, which was good. Because if he wasn’t, somebody was going to be in some trouble. She approached him, waiting to come closer before saying anything. He looked as though he had been awaiting an answer all night. That made her feel the tiniest bit guilty, but she knew it would pass. [+mediumseagreen “The situation has been handled.”] Her voice betrayed that the outcome had not been exactly satisfactory, but she did not explain. Instead, she continued forward until she was practically leaning over him. Reaching for his restraints, she did her best to quickly unlock them so that they could return to being a reasonable distance from one another. [+mediumseagreen “I am doing this as thanks to you, do not expect anything else.”]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat The next few hours were left to everyone to deal with their own things. Florence and Augustine were not disturbed from their bonding, the guards turning away anyone who thought to come visit. Thankfully Gregory and Eugene did not know about what was going on and therefore would not think to come looking. And on a personal note for Augustus, Flora kept herself busy with her work in the town and did not come to seek out her boyfriend. It would not look well to see him covered in blood and his mother singing soft lullabies to him. Not to mention he would be embarrassed.
Nicolai was of course left in his room, unknowing of what was going on but incredibly nervous about the outcome. He knew that if Adrian could dodge their questions any longer he would turn it back on him and Nicolai would be the one to take the fall for all this. If that happened, coupled with his antics on the mainland, he would be hung before the sun reached its zenith the next day.
Yet he was particularly worried about Augustine and his mother. If Florence could not find reason to deal with Adrian, it left a member of the taken so close to her and potentially to her son depending on what the man's goal was. To stay hidden for so long pointed to a grand scheme at play but he did not know what it was, or what it entailed. And with his additional guards, Nicolai could not sneak out to deal with the threat himself.
Thankfully it was dealt with; by Augustus. He made sure the body was wrapped up in cloths and taken away before speaking to the Doctor and his nurse assistant. With the knife safely cleaned and back in his satchel, he was confident he could keep all this under wraps. He told the duo that what had happened today would be kept quiet about. If anyone inquired, the only response to be given would be that Adrian aggravated his wound and bled internally in the night, unbeknownst to anyone until it was too later.
It was not the best excuse, but it would ease Gregory and Eugene's minds to know what had happened. He would just have to find a reason for why that allowed Nicolai to remain living. Perhaps Florence could help him with that when she was done with her son. But that would wait for another day.
Florence took the chance given to evacuate the room. It would be better to get Augustine away from it all so he could process everything away from prying eyes. Upon making it to his living space, the woman gave the order for the armored men to stay outside. They did not seem happy about it since it contradicted what Augustus said, but so long as they were close by they figured there was no harm in it. Once inside, Florence sort of made a nuisance of herself. She pestered the boy with question after question about his comfort and what he wanted. Clearly, she was trying to be helpful, but all he really wanted was to sit down for a bit. Eventually, he got through to her with that. It just took a while as she was flustered.
Both seated on the bed, she sang softly as she continued to run her hand over his flaxen hair. Her alto voice did not project very far into the room, but it was enough for the two of them. They stayed like that until Augustine was ready to talk. Florence was more than happy to listen to what he had to say and answer back with her own experiences, at least the ones she was willing to share. That stipulation made it a little difficult, but she did her best to support him and show that she understood. Honestly, it was a process that helped the both of them feel better.
After a long chunk of time, things were beginning to wind down. However there were a few more things Augustine wanted to ask of his mother. The first was something he had been curious about ever since he listened in on her conversation with Eugene. [+coral "Mutti."] His voice was quiet, almost meek and like he was going to ask something childish. [+coral "Does this mean we will be releasing Nicolai?"] As therapeutic as this whole thing was, a teenage boy could only communicate so much with his mother. He really wanted someone else to talk to. And given the parallels between himself and Nicolai, he thought that might be the best option.
Blinking over at the boy, she could scarcely believe that was where his mind was right now. She sighed. [+mediumseagreen "I cannot say for sure; he still committed crimes against Astoria back on the mainland... Though I suppose this should at least earn him the right to be free of his shackles."] At this point the risk of him being a direct danger to anyone here was minimal. [+mediumseagreen "Anything beyond that will be up for your uncle and Augustus to decide."] They were the ones in control of that mess.
[+coral "And will I be allowed to visit him again?']
Florence let out another, more frustrated sigh. [+mediumseagreen "If you really think that is going to make you feel better... then I guess."] She hated to give in to this, given there was a chance Nicolai would be imprisoned for what he did, but it was hard for her to deny Augustine anything at the moment.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat And thus the deed was done. In several quick and fast thrusts of a dagger, deep into his unprotected and bare side – as Adrian only had pants on at the time – he staggered forward with a gargled gasp and growl before collapsing onto his knees. With a slap of the tile beneath his body collapsed forward and the pale skinned man would not rise of his own accord again. His eyes fluttered shut as his blood began to pool out around his figure and his spasms and breathing ended.
As Florence saw to Augustine, the world around them seemed to go from crashing waves of sound to silence. It was the doctor who reacted first, skirting about the trio and the body on the floor. He knew there would be no saving the man after seeing how many times Augustine had had to stab at him. Instead he rushed to the door, grasping the wooden frame,[+darkgoldenrod “Guards! Guards! Come quickly!”] His voice echoed out into the courtyard and from inside they would hear rushing footsteps.
Though Augustus had sent them only a little distance away, they had been moving slowly closer on hearing the shouting voices and screams of the nurse. The doctors cry for help had them closing in in seconds and rushing forward, swords drawn as Augustus reached his feet.[+darkslateblue “It's okay, it's okay..”] He placed a gentle hand to Florence's back and though she flinched, and he retracted it, he began to coo at her softly.[+darkslateblue “Come on, take Augustine and get out of here. I'll handle this now.”] He had much to say to try and soothe both of them, but for right now they needed free of the iron smell in the air and the sight of the body on the floor.
Gentle hands began to try and guide them out and with a very decisive stare Augustus gave an order for two guardsmen to fall in behind her and her son. They would not be left to feel alone or unprotected when they needed such a reassurance more than ever. Only once they passed the threshold of the door, Augustus closing it behind them, did he turn back into the room with a heavy but angry sigh.
[+darkslateblue “Doctor fetch two porters. I want the body out of here and the room thoroughly cleaned before midnight tonight. The dagger is to be cleaned and returned to me immediately.”] He had to plan on how to cover this up but he had a logical excuse already.[+darkslateblue “And I want you and your nurse in your office when you are done – we need to talk.”]
Still standing between his mother and her attacker, Augustine was taking the brunt of his glare. There was a rage behind his eyes the likes of which he had never seen before. At least not so close or directed at him. Beyond that, it was surprising that the well built man could move at all, let alone drag himself from the bed and charge the two of them. The blond took another step back. Pressed that much tighter to Florence, he remembered just what all was at stake here. With no other thought in his head, Augustine moved forward and readied himself for the assault. Light on his feet he was able to sidestep Adrian's attempt to bulldoze through. The motion also put him within range of attack. One swift move and the dagger was plunged into his side between the ribs. That was not the end of it, however. Like he had been taught all those years ago, the young man repeated the motion in quick succession. Blade tearing through flesh with no resistance, it was much easier than he ever imagined. Just as soon as he felt Adrian's body lurching forward for what he assumed to be an attack, the boy retreated back to relative safety.
The lurch had been less of an attack and more falling to his knees. Between the tremendous pain of his collar, arm, and now side, he was blinded. A searing white danced before his eyes before he passed out. For the time being he was still breathing, but that would not last.
Everything having happened so quickly, Florence barely had time to recover let alone process it all. But once the fog of her mind cleared, she came forward. Hands snatching up her son, she pulled him away from Adrian's crumpled form. Looking down, both the blade and his hands were coated in blood. Emerald eyes flew back over to the bleeding man as if to confirm he would not bother them again before she started to fawn over her child. [+mediumseagreen "Augustine, are you hurt?"] He did not immediately answer, but instead looked up to her wide eyed. [+mediumseagreen "Oh, my love."] Hands still gripping him, she pulled him in close. [+mediumseagreen "It is okay. You did well. You did well."] She continued to mutter calming words to him as she gently brushed at his hair.
Full realization of what he had done began to sink in as his mother made attempt to comfort him. Before then it was just shock. Fingers losing their grip, the clattering of the knife hitting the floor sounded. His hands came up to wrap around his mother's figure and he pulled himself in closer, face pressed tight to the crook of her neck his breath lost its rhythm as he tried to force back the tears that welled in his eyes.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Grabbing at Florence by her hair to draw her in and cease her scratching at his other hand, Adrian's hand slipped down to grab a hold of her neck. The pressure could not be brought to bear tightly on her windpipe or to cause too much injury but did obstruct her breathing as he gritted his teeth.[+maroon “This is for Logan you damn whore!”] He growled at her, trying to do as much damage as possible before Augustus got back up or the boy came back with guards.
He had assumed Augustine would do such, still seeing the boy as more of a nuisance than anything else. And what an effective nuisance he was as he darted in, slashing at his hand grabbing his mother about her neck, cutting deep into the arm and forcing him to pull back in pain and frustration. Recoiling into his bed he clutched his arm to his chest, blood spilling through his fingers as he eyed the smaller figure standing before his mother, retreating away.
Kicking aside the bedding he swung his feet from the bed.[+maroon “Give me that knife you little bastard runt! I'll gut you first then kill that bitch – now give it here!”] With blood trickling down his arm he charged forward, murderous intent on his face. Augustus was pulling himself upright, having taking the edge of a bed frame to his side that winded him. The doctor was running from his office at the sound of raised voices, his nurse crying out in shock and fear and surprise, a shrill scream from her as Adrian charged toward Augustine.
He fell right into playing the part that she hoped he would. And his words were close enough to a confession for her, not that they really needed one at this point. It was just satisfying. Or it would have been had he not had a farther reach than she anticipated. Taking hold of her not quite healed arm, he pulled her in. It reminded her of the last time, though this time there was more ferocity in his eyes. He meant to inflict harm.
Florence would have found his kick impressive, if it had not come at such detriment to Augustus. With him thrown by the wayside, she was putting all her focus in trying to escape. It worked just as well as it did some days ago. That being not at all. Adrian pulled her in closer until he was able to get a hold of her hair. With her head attached, there was little fighting back from his strength. And from there it was only a quick tug and a swipe till he had her neck. Sputtering as her lungs tried and failed to pull in air, both of her hands went to the one at her neck, clawing in attempts to pull it away.
The scene playing out in front of him was a mess. Augustine had not seen anything like it, not since he was a boy. His mind was buzzing back and forth trying to figure out what he should do. Wasn't this exactly why he had joined them for? Yet here he was debating whether or not he should run to grab the guards. That pushed him towards the answer, opening the satchel he found the knife within. Hesitating no more, he stepped forward and unsheathed the blade. Just as Nicolai had taught him, he came in quick, getting in a clean stab to the arm asphyxiating his mother. If it weren't for the fact that Adrian was full of useful information, he would have gone straight for the vitals, but he was worth more to them alive.
Tunnel vision taking hold, Florence was not really able to see much of what was happening around them. For what felt like an eternity there was only the red of Adrian's eyes, but then it was joined by the splash of crimson along his arm. Then a scream and his grip lessened. There was not even time to think before she felt a hand on her, moving her away from Adrian. It was Augustine, taking up a defensive stance as he moved both of them away.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Augustus found her approach over Logan to be most.. interesting. The point of him risking his life to visit her in her room was quite funny to him, given Nicolai had done the same thing only a few days earlier. He would have to ask her later why she had reacted the way she had with Nicolai as opposed to Logan, a man she had had a child with. But for now he remained stoic and focused off to one side.
Her prodding did have it's intended affect on Adrian however. Adrian had been an understudy of sorts with the Taken when they had each had the branding mark made. Deemed not integral to their cause at the time he was not given one, rather he had to wait several years to gain the dagger they had found and thus why he knew about Logan and what he stood for. To hear his long standing friend had fallen for a 'pretty face', and that he had blindly gone after her for no other reason that his feelings.
Hearing her talk disparagingly of the dead man did little to calm him and he looked away to take a few easy and calming breaths and to retain his focus. She was doing well to go at him as hard as she was and getting the responses she was, she could be forgiven for going with that last statement to drive home that attack. But it was a bit much for Adrian to accept as he turned back on her with furrowed brow and snatched out at her, seizing her by her injured wrist tightly, holding onto her.
[+maroon “Shut your god damn whore mouth! You don't deserve to even say his name, let along disparage that man!”] His barked at her in fury as Augustus quickly darted forward. Despite his injury the red-eyed man managed to shift a leg, catching the man and kicking him backwards. The grasp of Florence was becoming tighter and trying to draw her closer for his other hand to grab at her hair. There were no weapons to hand for either party to attack one another, aside from the dagger in the satchel with Augustine.
[+mediumseagreen “You seem awful touchy about that even though you claim to have never met him.”] Truthfully she was slightly worried about Augustine, but it was not as though the two of them had never talked about his father before. She just hoped he would realize the tone she about to take was built for the situation and not a reflection of how she actually felt and it thought.
[+mediumseagreen “I expect you have already heard a great deal about him from Ulrich and the others, but I am sure my account will be more accurate..."] No doubt if he really had not met him, the others would have held him on a pedestal. But either way, Adrian was not likely to be happy with what she had to say. [+mediumseagreen "Logan was pitiable. He lived a life he hated as an assassin and when he finally thought he had found something more, it turned out to be nothing more than a charade. Though, to be fair, he should have seen that coming a lot sooner. I am afraid his weakness for a pretty face was what prevented that. In fact, that is what really did him in. That and his tenacity. Had he knew when to give up, he might still be alive, but he would not listen to me when I said it was over. He wanted a real family so bad that he was willing to risk his life by visiting the room of the nation's Queen."] She shook her head. It really was stupid, he must have known how dangerous that was. And as naive as he was, she knew Logan was not an idiot. [+mediumseagreen "He had no one to blame but himself."] Florence spoke as if she actually believed that she had no part in the man's demise.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat His attempt to push the attention away, to draw in a third party who would perhaps speak more with his heart than his mind, came to a shuddering halt as Florence took a small movement closer to grab his attention once more. Turning his gaze back, for she had stepped in front and blocked his sight to the boy, he looked up at her with interest at her new approach.
Logan, eh? That would be her big finale piece? To attack a dead man and someone no-one else knew but her. How interesting. Yet despite thinking this, his face had hardened and his mood soured enough for her to notice. She saw it and brought her question to bear.[+maroon “I do not know him, nor does anyone else in this room but you. But sure, tell us of Augustines father, the man you slept with to get pregnant and then killed because he had served his purpose. I'm sure he would love to know more of a father he will never know.”]
He was hoping to push at Augustines buttons and enact a response form him. After all this it would still be a sore subject surely? A boy who had lost his father only to find out he was not his child all along, but the result of an adulterous affair and his true father then killed off before he had had chance to prove himself a credible one. Logan was dead because Florence had sought to prolong her life over his and he wanted Augustine to know.
[+mediumseagreen "I do when I come home from an extended stay, seeing as I usually need to put things back in place."] She smiled, knowing he had very few escape routes at this point. That fact became all the more obvious when he tried to call it quits with her and instead talk to Augustine. He was out of luck though, the blond young man did not respond. Augustus had made it clear he was not to interfere and now he could see why. Adrian was trying to avoid the topic and divert attention from himself and back to Nicolai. Though truthfully it was hard not to speak up and tell him that if the elf had managed to sway his mother's opinion in the matter, then he had little doubt the red eyed man was guilty.
Using her hand to catch his crimson eye's, Florence beckoned Adrian's gaze back to herself. [+mediumseagreen "This conversation is between you and I, he has nothing to say to you and no help to proffer."] At this point she was teeter tottering between continuing to press on these facts or go poking at a different wound. The latter was more likely to provoke a reaction from him, so she would go with that, even if it was likely to be more explosive.
[+mediumseagreen "Did you ever get the chance to meet Logan?"] Her head cocked fractionally to the side, this was something she was genuinely curious about. [+mediumseagreen "I know you lot are a tight knit group, almost a family even. And like me, you would do anything for that family. I just cannot help but wonder if you even knew the man you are striving so hard to get vengeance for, or if perhaps you were pushed to do it by the others."] The fact that he was missing the brand meant he came later to the group, she just was not sure how much later. Logan died over sixteen years ago. That was a huge span of time for him to be inducted without having ever met the man. [+mediumseagreen "How about I tell you a bit about him, hmm?"]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat She was good. Each point he pointed towards to make a defence for himself was easily batted aside. He was not especially good at interrogation, particularly when the other person had answers for everything. It made it quite difficult to wiggle free and he could not think of a way to escape her questions. She was thoroughly in Nicolai's camp and his attempt to deviate her attention elsewhere had failed this time. She was convinced of his guilt and he watched her as she tried to pin him in place.
[+maroon “Do you check your drawers every time you go in your room? Do you know everything within your drawers at this exact moment? Because I sure don't. I assume a locked drawer is still locked and that no-one has taken my key because I am not paranoid.”] It was reasonable, but such arguments were not going to get him off the hook here.[+maroon “Perhaps he did take the key, place the knife there, and return the key. Perhaps he has been here several times without anyone knowing and has done this over many months or years.”]
Looking beyond her he eyes Augustine. The boy had grown significantly over the years but perhaps his final growth spurt was ahead of him as he did not show the height of his mother nor his true father.[+maroon “What about you? I know you don't like me and love the man who abandoned you, but do you think I am guilty of any of what she says?”] His head nodded to the boys mother and he sighed.
[+mediumseagreen "If that were the case then the paths into the castle we extracted from him would have led straight to us, not to my brother... also, as I recall, Liam was the one to tell you Nicolai was here."] Words straight out of his own mouth at their last meeting. [+mediumseagreen "It would make little sense for him to do so if they were working together. Nicolai gains nothing from your knowing of his presence here."] It was quite the contrary, it put him in a great deal of danger. [+mediumseagreen "What's more, Nicolai already gave us a list of who he was working with. We've confirmed the names on it, and Liam was not among them."] That was a bit of a fib, as they had not had the chance to speak to Daniels yet, but enough of it was true that she could say it with absolute confidence.
[+mediumseagreen "If you would like something less circumstancial, then let's look back to your desk where the dagger was found. It was locked. Augustus had to break the drawer in order to get into it. Nicolai would have had to have done the same. So because it was undamaged, when Augustus got there, he could not have planted that knife there."] She was not so naive as to think that he would not try to sidestep this as well, so she continued. [+mediumseagreen "But let's go one step further. Let us say that Nicolai was able to take and return your key without you noticing... Samantha's report of him being here was some months ago. You have been back and to your office since then. Would you not have noticed something like that appeared with your belongings? Why did you not bring something so important to our attention?"]
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