[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat As she became more sure and brash with her statements, Adrian's face became more neutral and his eyes narrowed. She was playing an interesting game and looking at the man, would see a suspicious glare in his eye as he noted the papers waved before him and the smile playing on her lips. He looked as if her attitude had no effect on him to Augustus, but of course he was not the best at reading people – quite obviously given Adrian was under his command for so long.
He was still quite wounded, his side giving him little flexibility, but he pushed himself up a little more in the bed and listened as she told him how Liam had spilled so many secrets out. Internally he was raging, but his demeanour remained the same on the outside.[+maroon “All circumstantial. You have Nicolai telling you I did all this, pointing the finger at me whilst he runs about the castle freely without either of you knowing.”] His ploy clearly was to point the finger right back at the elf.
[+maroon “Now he points to packages sent south and you assume because Liam said it was me who told him to do it, that I was in talks with Elizabeth? How do you not know Nicolai and Liam are working together? Maybe he was sending Nicolai plans of the castle, telling him how to get in here so he could get to you and Augustine?”] He was not going to go down easily to only a few light questions like that, no, Florence would have to work to get him.
Adrian sure was not wasting time on pleasantries. Very unlike him, or at least how he had been when they were not accusing him of being in line with the enemy. It did not bother Florence in the least though, this way they could get straight to the point. Once again she took up the front position, coming in closer to the bedridden man, but not so much that he could have a hold of her without some effort.
[+mediumseagreen "Yes, yes we did. And then Nicolai confirmed it as well when we confronted him."] She nodded subtly along with her words. [+mediumseagreen "But given the gravity of what he had to say, I did decide to do a little more looking into things. He may be childish, as you said, but there is usually a motive behind his madness. And I am afraid my pretty face just was not enough to cut it this time."] A smile played on her lips as the sarcasm of her comment passed over them. But even with the almost mocking tone in her voice, her eyes stayed sharp on him. [+mediumseagreen "I did some digging in the record room, looking into the outgoing mail and wouldn't you know it, the pages I was looking for were missing... But worry not, I found them. Or rather, your man Captain Liam gave them to me."] Taking out the folded pages, she waved them too and fro, bringing attention to them. And with that it was time to get to the point, Florence had dragged this out enough. [+mediumseagreen "Word to the wise, Adrian. If you are going to rule by fear, you should really be absolutely certain you are the scariest thing that your people are going to run into... Liam had a whole slew of interesting thing to say. it would seem that you were indeed in contact with Elizabeth. Care to tell me about that?"]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Augustus read the papers quickly, scanning through them and finding the same information that had delighted Florence. Matching this to the other deliveries she had found out about would make their lives much easier with confronting Adrian and he sighed lightly as he sat back into his seat. As much as he wanted to just rest a moment, he agreed that they needed to conclude this tonight. Adrian had to be confronted and there would be a final decision made based on what was said.
Whilst following her, the dagger and papers tucked into his satchel on the chance they were needed, he wondered if Adrian would still try to lie his way out of this pretty conclusive evidence. Between the knife, the deliveries, Liam and Nicolai's testimonies, they had quite the case for prosecution. Then again they had thought so when they went down the first time and been rebuffed rather easily.
He was not happy however, when Augustine confronted them outside the infirmary and demanded to be allowed to join them. He wanted no-one else there but the two of them, not wishing to chance any injury or words being said that may linger – especially Augustine. Being so young he could absorb the hatred that was likely to be spoken in that room and take it to heart. Augustus would have reproached Florence for accepting him to enter, but being her son, he decided she would know best. However he made sure to pull the boy closer for a moment, pressing the satchel to his chest.
[+darkslateblue “You will remain behind me. I don't want you to react or say anything to Adrian. You won't ask him questions, won't respond to him, won't antagonise him or anything else. I want this to go smoothly, please Augustine.”] He placed his hand to the boys shoulder, giving him a nod and a fixed stare to drive home his point. Leaving the satchel in his hands, giving him something to do than just stand there with them, he nodded to Florence and they entered.
[+maroon “Ah, the inquisition returns. Did you speak to Samantha? Confirm that Nicolai was indeed sleuthing around this place? Because I don't much like being accused of things like what you say.”] Adrian was rather cocky to be sure, but then he would be as he did not know about Liam. As he assumed, they would have found Nicolai lied and that would be the end of that, and whilst not wanting to provoke them, he wanted them to know how foolish they had been. However on seeing Augustine, his brow furrowed in wonder at why he was there.
Florence shrugged. [+mediumseagreen “I hope so… it is more of the same.”] Holding out the crumpled pages to him, she let him look them over. [+mediumseagreen “What is really important is the fact that they were trying to hide it.”] She still was not looking forward to confronting Adrian though, especially with how it went the first time. But it needed to be done and soon.
[+mediumseagreen “We should get down there before anyone starts asking questions as to why Captain Liam was arrested.”] Word was bound to be buzzing as soon as he had been detained, but now that he was being taken to holding, people were going to get even more curious.
Walking down the hall, Augustine was a little irritated. After eavesdropping on his mother and uncle, he had not been able to get any more information. The young man had made several attempts to listen into what she and Augustus were talking about, but the pair was careful to be discrete. They seldom said a word outside of his office, and nothing more than murmuring could be heard from within. It was not ideal for him, though based just off the information he had gained so far he had his theories. He knew Nicolai would be able to confirm or deny those notions, but recently his guard had been strengthened for some reason or another. Augustine was not getting in without being noticed and he did not have the status to be ordering the guards around like the others.
It was in the midst of these aggravating thoughts that he started to hear rumor that Captain Liam had been summoned. Augustine did not know much about the man, other than the fact that he was Adrian’s right hand man. And that was all he needed to know that they were making a move.
It was likely too late to catch what was happening with Liam, but if things went well there, their next destination would be the clinic, so that was the direction he headed. Beating them by a good margin, Augustine waited. It got to the point where he thought he might have guessed wrong before he caught sight of his mother rounding the corner. She looked surprised to see him, and not in a good way.
[+mediumseagreen “Augustine, I want you to move along.”]
That was just about what he expected, so he was ready with his argument. [+coral “I deserve to know what is going on… It is about [I them], right?”] It was the only thing he could think of that would get his mother this wound up, especially coming from the mouth of Nicolai.
Sighing, Florence nodded. [+mediumseagreen “Yes, but for the time being it is an issue of Astorian security. There is no need for you to endanger yourself over it.”] She wanted him as far away from Adrian as possible right now. It was a shame he had not chosen to go to town today.
Augustine was not really buying that. [+coral “Isn’t is a lot more dangerous for you than for me?”] She was the one they really wanted revenge on after all. Well, he did not imagine they were all too fond of him either, but she was the root cause of it all. [+coral “I am aware, I cannot be of any help actually make him admit it, but I want to be another body in the room. Sometimes that is all it takes to act as a deterrent.”] There was no telling if Adrian would get violent in an attempt to escape, but three against one was better than two. Not to mention he already knew the situation to some extent. It might help to avoid some of the needless drama if it were him instead of a guard.
Staying silent for a moment, Florence thought it over. In some ways he was right. It would be better to have another person just in case. She just did not want it to be him. However, that was a sentiment she knew she needed to get over when they returned to Wistina. That caused her stance to falter and she inevitably caved. [+mediumseagreen “Fine… but you are not to intervene unless absolutely necessary.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Augustus was not too sure what the papers would show, but judging on Florence's reaction he could easily surmise that they were most helpful to their cause. He nodded at her request that he be kept 'under surveillance', just a fancier way of saying he would be spending some time in the dungeon and with a heavy guard contingent until they could figure out just what they wanted to do with him. However she stopped him from getting up to put that to action by speaking again.
Liam almost shook at just her voice as she asked him if there were more. Whilst she may have wanted a more definitive answer, all he did was shake his head at her and remain silently staring down. Adrian had not chosen wisely to pick this man to help it would seem, and feeling a touch of pity for him Augustus stood up.
[+darkslateblue “I'll have the guards remove him and keep him safe for now.”] He walked around the table, opening the door and nodding for the men outside to return.[+darkslateblue “Now, Liam, we may have more questions for you and of course if you think of anything else to help us, then perhaps we can be more lenient in whatever punishment you receive. We would rather keep this all quiet and simple but that relies on you helping us. Understood?”]
The sheepish man looked up to Augustus and nodded vigorously.[+cadetblue “Yes Sir.. I'm sorry I just..”] A shake of the head from the dark eyed Augustus had him quickly returning to silence.
[+darkslateblue “I don't want to hear your apologies, at least not yet. Just think over what you've done and if you have any further useful information, you will tell the guards to come fetch me.”] He stepped back and around his desk once more, letting out a deep breath as he did. This was beginning to come to a climax and he was very grateful for this progression in their search. He looked over to the head guardsman, meeting his gaze.[+darkslateblue “Keep four men with him at all times. I want his hands and feet restrained but do not shackle him to the wall. We will afford him that leniency for his compliance.”] The man nodded, a quick salute and then grasped Liam by his shoulder, hustling him from the room.
Augustus let the door shut before he collapsed down into his chair, letting out a groan as the tension eased from him.[+darkslateblue “I hope whatever is on that paper can finally bring this all to a close.”] He said addressing Florence.
This was just about all they needed. With this confession it would be two against one, but what's more than that he had some addition physical evidence. Florence had assumed that these pages had been done away with long ago to cover the trail, but here they were. Taking them up when he offered them, she looked over them. It was more of the same, but what was more damning was the fact that he was trying to get rid of them. She smiled, [+mediumseagreen "I am glad you were able to see things my way. This is a huge help."]
Understanding the implications that crossing Adrian might have, and wanting to keep her word that Liam would have a chance at life after this, the tall woman looked back to Augustus who was still in his seat. [+mediumseagreen "He needs to be kept under surveillance. I do not want him having a chance to slip away."] She covered up the concern with this excuse for the time being. Though, it was a real possibility that he might just try to run. [+mediumseagreen "But before we move on and have our words with Adrian..."] Florence looked back to the defeated man beside her. [+mediumseagreen "As far as you know, was anyone else involved with this?"] The last thing they needed was to get jumped on their way to apprehend him. Well, that was the second to last thing. The actual worst case scenario would be if Adrian had already found a way to flee. How he would manage that in his wounded state was beyond her, but with their luck, who knew.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Captain Liam took a sharp inhale as she tapped at his scar and he felt he was truly under the pressure of these two intimidating figures. He was trying to figure out just what was going on when Florence gave him a rather succinct report of why she had been looking for the mark. He remained frozen for a little longer, hand slowly dropping back to his lap as he stared at the table once more quite intensely. What did he know? He knew a lot. But it was equal parts terrifying that if he told on Adrian he would meet a similar fate to if he said nothing now.
Putting his belief in the duo to protect him from any retaliation from Adrian, he took a few calming breaths and nodded slowly.[+cadetblue “I sent letters to Adrian's friend.. I put them with gifts so that they looked more normal.. he would tell me what to write because he couldn't, and I would go to the courier and send them with money he gave me..”] He swallowed hard and shook his head as his chin hit his chest and he had to stop himself from having a small panic attack. He knew this day would come eventually.[+cadetblue “When.. when you came to question him this morning.. he told me to go to the records room and get rid of the papers..”]
His hand reached up and he fumbled at his clothing for a moment. Augustus was wary and shifted a little, ready to spring across the desk if need be. But eventually the man's trembling hands pulled out two scruffy and torn pieces of paper which he placed onto the table.[+cadetblue “I was.. going to go burn them when the guards came..”] He said quietly and remaining staring down, unsure what else they wanted.
[+mediumseagreen "There it is."] Leaning forward a tad, Florence tapped at the scar on his collarbone with each of the three word she spoke. [+mediumseagreen "My friend the courier did not remember any particulars, takes down a lot of names after all, but he did recall that the gentleman making those particular send outs had a rather nasty wound from an injury in the barracks. One that would not have healed very prettily."] Returning her posture to its usual straightness, she was back to looking down on him. [+mediumseagreen "Looks like we have a match... Now, Liam, I would suggest you tell us exactly what you were doing and why. Keep in mind, I have a very good idea of what your answer should be, so this is going to be easier for both of us if you just give it up. Who knows, there might even be a chance you lived to see tomorrow if you choose to cooperate."] She was smiling, but it did not quite reach her eyes. [+mediumseagreen "If not, let's just say your chances are slim to none."]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Whilst Liam understood Augustus and his motivations Florence was quite a mystery and therefore more terrifying. He had heard stories of how intimidating she was. And she was the Kings sister so it was ramped up to a new level. As she circled behind him, stating that she knew everything, his blinking increased and hands began to rub together in that nervous manner. In a fight nerves disappeared as one fought on instinct and adrenaline. Sat here, in the castle and in relative comfort, his nerves were free to fire and quickly.
Mention of the courier and the short hand that the sender used to sign for the deliveries only heightened his sense of trepidation as she came around to stand beside him. He stared at the table quite intently now, not wanting to look up as she paused beside him and stared. Her question brought a reaction, his hands reaching up to tuck the collar of his uniform a little higher, head hunching down a little.
[+darkslateblue “That was not a question, it was an order Captain Liam. And you will obey it lest I have the guards return.”] Augustus’ voice was low, rather menacing and cold like Florence may remember from two decades before. He understood she was going straight for the neck - excuse the pun. Rather than dance about they would know immediately. So he pressed home the question.[+darkslateblue "Now Liam.."]
Liam looked up to Augustus and his hand grasped his collar cuff tightly, almost protectively, shaking momentarily before he pulled it down slowly. He was unsure why he was being asked, but the way in which they were telling him to lower it made him frightful of just what they thought would be there. As it was pulled down, off the neck and revealing a pasty white collarbone beneath, there indeed was a jagged and distinctive scar across the side of his neck.
There they had it. Liam was the weak link. It was about time they caught a break with this. But she would not count her chickens before they hatch. There was always a chance there was something else going on, that or he was just the type to get nervous when confronted, guilty or not.
It was the twang of unearned pride to his voice that brought her to the conversation. [+mediumseagreen "Oh, I promise we know everything we need to."] She stood from her chair and slowly came around the table, sort of circling around to the man. [+mediumseagreen "I looked into the mail logs. There were several instances of goods being sent towards south and out of the country. An oddity, especially to be done by someone outside the royal family. It was just a shame that short hand was used to detail the name of the sender..."] Unlike with him, her voice did not falter. [+mediumseagreen "Rather curious about it, I had a chat with the courier. Despite not remembering the full name, or the exact face, he did remember some other defining features."] She was standing next to him, looking down with her piercing green eyes. [+mediumseagreen "If you would not mind, I would like to see your neck underneath that high collar, Captain."] Her tone, coupled with her expression, told him that she was not asking. He was going to do as she said or he was going to be hauled off and take Nicolai's previous spot in the dungeon.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat [+darkslateblue “Well then you need to ask him for a newer confession of his thought, or I have heard and misunderstood incorrectly. And no need to think of marriage,”] he placed his hand on her arm as they neared his door to turn her to him,[+darkslateblue “I and everyone here just wants you happy, no matter what that means.”] He had a soft and warm smile at that but was also a little easier when she pushed their conversation back to the present moment and the task at hand. He could always rely on her to keep the focus.
Shaking his head as he fetched out his key and unlocked the door, he disagreed with the second option.[+darkslateblue “If we are working to the theory that he is with Adrian and helping him, then after our talk with him he would have instructed Liam to begin covering up after them, thinking up excuses for everything they’ve done and reasons for why they did it.”] He opened the door and left it open for her, moving around the table but this time taking an extra chair with him. It would be them opposite Liam.[+darkslateblue “The sooner we press him, the easier it will be to see the holes in his story before he can remember it all. And, the easier it will be to hopefully put this to bed once and for all.”]
He was hopeful of this being a rather simple affair, but of course nothing about any of this had been simple or easy. Now nearing on a week in length, it was leaving him quite fatigued. He would be happy once it was over with.
And with that, there was a light knock on the door, opened a moment later and two guards stepped inside, slipping either side of the doorway before Liam stepped in. Looking like a naughty schoolchild he had his head bowed a touch.[+darkslateblue “Thank you gentlemen, wait outside.”] Augustus had slipped into his more authoritative role and voice and the guards did as he asked.[+darkslateblue “Captain Liam, please, sit.”] It was an invitation but also an order and the man quickly did as told whilst the door shut behind them.
Remaining seated beside Florence, Augustus stared across the table for a little while at the other man. It was okay to let him sit in silence and think over what was going on. The mind of a troubled man would conjure up some distasteful things when given enough time to think and ponder. But after a few minutes, knowing Florence’s patience would wear out soon, Augustus sat forward a little and leaned on the table.[+darkslateblue “Tell me Liam, did you do it for the money, the thrill, the chance to get back at someone?”] He would not start light. Best to go in strong.
Liam looked up and tried his best to look confused, though a little panicked.[+cadetblue “What do you mean? What did I do Sir?”] His voice was as varied as his look.
[+darkslateblue “Well that depends entirely on what you’re going to tell me. Starting with why you told Adrian that the Wolf was in fact Nicolai. Did I not expressly tell you to keep quiet?”]
[+cadetblue “Sir.. I couldn’t let him lay there thinking he had been attacked by the wrong man. It is not right to deny someone knowledge like that. And he is my friend, I only wanted to help him.”]
[+darkslateblue “Like you helped him sending those letters to his friend in Tyleth?”]
Again that look of confusion, puzzlement, panic and now a little fear rose to the man’s features.[+cadetblue “Sir? I don’t know what you are talking about, I haven’t done anything like that for Adrian. What proof do you have?”] He seemed a touch cocky in his question as he looked from Augustus to Florence and back. He seemed to know they had none.
[+mediumseagreen "Last I heard, he considers my omission of the truth, as you like to call it, a means of manipulating him into being a protector to my son."] She very much doubted that had changed any. Though, now despite the fact he wanted to be of aid to Augustine. And there was no denying that he could be incredibly useful.
Augustus looked at her as thought she was not getting his point. But perhaps he was not getting hers. She did not want to talk about this. It was awkward. If she could avoid talk of this nature forever she would. But Florence knew it not to be his favorite either, so if he was bringing it up he meant something by it and she could not just completely brush it off. [+mediumseagreen "I do not know what I want, Augustus."] It was not as though the idea of falling in love with someone and making a life together was not appealing, but there were things that came along with that that she had a hard time with. [+mediumseagreen "My first marriage was difficult enough. I am not sure I want to do it all again."] It was unfair to compare the two and she knew it, but given that was really her only other relationship of that kind it was hard not to.
She laughed when he succumbed to theatrics. [+mediumseagreen "No need to cry, you do better with one arm. You do not try to juggle so much."] That was not even remotely true, as he friend still had the tendency to bite off more than he could chew. The experience had taught him to ask for help. So, there was a silver lining, even if she really would have preferred for him to have not been hurt in the first place. [+mediumseagreen "Worry not. This will stay between the two of us. We do not need anyone thinking we have gone soft."] The woman was glad that he ended them on a lighter note.
[+mediumseagreen "Now, should we go straight to Liam or would we do better to sit back and let him sweat for a bit?"] In this case, she thought that it would be best for Augustus to take the reigns. He had more of a presence with the men in the military men and he would be able to use it to his advantage.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Augustus watched her as she answered him and he shook his head lightly. Whilst she was beating herself up he smiled a little. It was funny to see such a usually composed and sensible woman thrown into annoyance and strife by feelings and emotions from someone else. He had never seen her like this, as she was always so focused on doing things for Astoria and helping the country. She had never seemed to be someone who put much thought into her own feelings on much other than her family too.
[+darkslateblue “Two things; firstly have you considered how he views your ‘lie’ as merely an omission of the truth for the betterment of others? Perhaps he understands why you did what you did and doesn’t see it as a lie, much like I don’t. You did what was needed to survive and give Germaine what he always desired in a son and heir. Nicolai did not tell us about coming to the castle because it would change our view of him. Not the same by any means but similar in nature.”] Augustus did not like her to suffer too much, not if he wasn’t the one causing the anguish, because then he could stop and it would end. This was not of his doing though.
[+darkslateblue “Secondly; he told me of his intentions for you, for Augustine, his future. Perhaps you just need to think more simplified. Rather than thinking about what he would do if you reject him, simply think what you want and go with that. Be a bit more selfish for once. You focus too much on the past and what could have happened and the future and what will happen. If I did that, I’d still be crying about my arm.”] He grinned, still progressing them to his office but happy to have a conversation not about espionage, death and disorder. Whilst he was more a tactical man and militaristic in nature, Julia and Eugene had rubbed off on him over the years and he was a tad more sensitive now; not by much mind you.[+darkslateblue "And don't you dare tell anyone about this talk, especially Julia. Last thing I need is her teasing and mockery."] He rolled his eyes theatrically.
[+mediumseagreen "It already has once."] Augustus knew the story in full now, so there was little reason to avoid it. [+mediumseagreen "I cannot comprehend how he could value loyalty and the truth so much and then turn around and continue his obsession with me. I have already been outed as a liar."] Florence was the first to admit that she had secrets. There probably was not a person in this world that knew everything about her. That was not to say that most of the information was not out there, but it certainly was not invested in a single person. If Eugene, Gregory, and Augustus ever sat down and talked it out, then perhaps they would have the entire save one detail. [+mediumseagreen "And as old as I am, I am not likely to change my ways."] She sort of shrugged. It was not a fact she was looking to change.
Her expression fell and she let out a sound of displeasure when he brought up the feelings involved. [+mediumseagreen "I rejected him once already. He announced that he will continue on trying, though that is if he lives long enough to do so... Ugh, if he is right about Adrian that means I am going to have to deal with that."] She had half forgot about it. [+mediumseagreen "And with how persistent he seems to have become, I doubt he will sit on his hands like he did before."] The woman never thought she would look back on that and consider it to be the good old days, but here she was.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat His hand rose up in his defence when she jokingly knocked him back. He had sensed nothing new in Nicolai, but over the last few days he had missed several things and thus did not trust himself to notice even the obvious. But thankfully she had not had to do anything to get any more information from him, not that he had any to give.
The fact he had offered everything he wanted to just have her believe him was interesting however. Nodding for her to follow him toward his room, trusting the guard to find and apprehend Captain Liam, he sighed.[+darkslateblue “Seems he is a man who values trust above all else. Can’t really blame him though, eh? After losing Wistina, then Elizabeth and his daughter, all to liars and deceivers, I can understand wanting people of some renown around you. From what I see he puts all his trust into you; which is liable to backfire if he isn’t careful.”]That was not meant as a warning, more an observation that Nicolai should not offer all his trust to one individual. He had done it with Elizabeth and Augustus was sure that was a deep regret.
It was something he had considered over the days prior, but he had Julia and Eugene and Florence and all their families. Nicolai seemed quite desperate for Florence to be that one for him though he hoped the man retained that steely backbone he admired.[+darkslateblue “I am annoyed he did not tell us about coming to the castle, but I understand his motives. I’m still interested to see how this plays out if he is right about Adrian.”] Looking across to her he let out a small huff of a laugh.[+darkslateblue “At least I don’t have to worry about his feelings or my feelings for him. I do not envy you there Florence.”] He could imagine it was quite tumultuous regarding that decision.
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