Fall of the Court

/ By Loxi [+Watch]

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Things were set into motion and Florence felt a little bit better, as though they might be headed into the right direction again. She just really hoped that when push came to shove, Augustus would be able to make Liam answer for his part in all this. If not, they were back to square one and she was not sure what to do from there. And with Eugene already so nervous about their silence, it wouldn't be long before he became more hard pressed for answers. Florence knew could not keep it from him forever, not without overstepping her rank. He was King after all.

Rolling her eyes at his comment, Florence sassed him back a bit. [+mediumseagreen "You went in after me. If I had done anything, I think you would have noticed."] He was pretty much recovered from the battering and bruising he came in with, so if she had left any marks they would have stood out. And had she perhaps used other means to try and persuade him, no doubt Nicolai would have been left in a different state of mind. Either way, Augustus would have known something was up.

Letting the banter fall to the wayside, she shook her head. [+mediumseagreen "All I managed to find out is that he is desperate... He was willing to give up on almost everything he came here for just to get me to listen to him and continue to look into his claims instead of giving up now and deeming him a liar... other than that. There was no new information."] He had been given the chance to come clean with anything while Augustus was there and he told them about Daniels, but he shared nothing else once it was just the two of them. That was his last chance to do so, so she would hope that he had not squandered it. Florence was not going to give him any more chances.
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 179d 14h 47m 21s
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Augustus had to agree that Liam was quite loyal to Adrian, like a little pup who followed the bigger older dog about. But was he so loyal as to be disloyal to his country? Liam was born here, raised here; had he really been so easy to turn towards the Taken? Florence seemed set on the path chosen as she gave him an order and he found it quite amusing that she had become the lead of this all, telling him what to do. He certainly didn’t complain – he was glad one of them could make that decision for now.

[+darkslateblue “I have no doubt he will be down in the infirmary with his friend, I’ll have him brought to my office. If he is just a new recruit, then he will be easier to break down than Adrian.”] He hoped that proved true. There were not a lot more options after this to pin things to Adrian and get the man on this charge levelled against him. Augustus dreaded the thought that the man would be let go freely. Even if he left Astoria immediately, he worried about just what the outcome of this treachery would have.

Thankfully he had placed well trusted men with Eugene, ones who had fought with them in seizing Astoria and were as loyal as they came. They would keep the man safe from anything that was being plotted and that was his priority of late. He pulled back from Florence a little, grabbing a nearby guard and sending him off to find Liam to be brought to his office – he wanted him watched closely and not simply told to show up. If the man escaped now they would lose this small advantage.

[+darkslateblue “Did you learn anything new from Nicolai? I won’t ask how you got it of course.”] He asked once he returned to Florence, smiling a little as he knew she was not afraid of getting physical with the man if the need arose. He still wondered how she was feeling about going through all this with a man who had had such an impact on her and her sons life. Not a surrogate husband and father as such, but it was undeniable the man left an impression on her and he was curious how her feelings toward him had morphed over the years.
  WI_ / 179d 15h 52m 53s
[+mediumseagreen "Even if Nicolai is lying about what is going on, I think we have managed to uncover something important... Liam is more loyal to Adrian than Astoria."] Regardless of the rest of the situation, that was a problem. They did not need a Captain if he ran the liability of turning away from his people. [+mediumseagreen "Still, I do think there is some merit to Nicolai's claim."] He was risking way too much, and as foolish as she knew him to be, Florence did not think he would do so without a solid reason. [+mediumseagreen "And even if there is just a sliver of a chance that this might come to hurt Eugene or Augustine, I want to look into it."]

Even in his hesitance, Augustus would not be able to argue with that. [+mediumseagreen "I want Liam found and detained for the time being. Ideally, we should get a confession from him before we go back to Adrian."] The woman was also debating whether or not they should place some guards around the clinic, just to be sure nothing else went amiss there. But there was no telling if the Captain was the only one in Adrian's pocket. It would be useless to set a watchman if they were not positively sure he was actually going to report strange activity.
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 179d 17h 6m 34s
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Augustus was difficult to find given he had gone about the entire castle finding what members of leadership he could find to have them write a succinct report. So as not to alarm any of them, he changed what he wanted each to write though he included an opening passage for each that was identical – that way they could compare the examples more thoroughly. By the time he was done he had eight examples of writing to show to Nicolai. He kept them in his satchel, taken back off Florence, so that no-one saw him and tried to warn others. It was difficult to not trust anyone, but if Nicolai had help and now Adrian, then he did not want to be found sleuthing about. Who knew if the elf was telling the truth and it was just Daniels?

Unable to find Daniels, apparently he was on down time at the southern port, he sent a rider out to bring him back. It would take a few hours to have him come back even atop a horse so questioning him would have to wait. Whilst they waited, he went to Nicolai and after five minutes – four of them spent confirming time and time and time again about his choice – he left the man be to go meet back with Florence. Not long after a messenger told him that she was looking for him and he moved to the main hall to await her finding him, moving off with her as they met.

Giving a look about them, feeling a little fearful of being watched, he nodded to her and opened his bag to pull out the sets of papers he had.[+darkslateblue “He was unsure about Fredericks, but considering a lot of them learned penmanship from the same tutor in the castle, they are rather similar. But, he picked one immediately and swears to it that it was the style in the letters he read.”] Stuffing the ones not needed back into the bag he handed over the one chosen; Liam’s.

[+darkslateblue “Apparently, Liam is the guilty culprit, which makes sense I suppose. He is close to Adrian, was promoted by him to be his Captain in Malidek, I could see him working with him. But then this all is on the premise that Nicolai is telling the truth. It may just be luck that he picked Liam out of the group.”] He was still unsure of the elf, but he was curious if she had any more info from the man after he had left. He still felt wrong leaving her with him.
  WI_ / 179d 17h 40m 45s
Feeling that was all she could glean from the situation, she thanked the courtier and his wife. The pair had been infinitely helpful, as vague as it all was. It turned out all the signs were converging to one place, or person, rather. But she would not make the same mistake twice. Florence was not going to confront Liam until she had exhausted all possible outlets, which meant she needed another set of eyes to look over this. She also wanted to double check if any of the penmanship matched up to what Nicolai remembered. Not that she was on the edge of her seat to go taking his word for it. She was still bitter that he’d withheld information and her time staring at tedious numbers had not lessened that so far.

So, she set out to find Augustus. She was not entirely sure how long it would take to track down Daniels and find the sample reports. He would have still been on either of those tasks, or neither of them. But after some asking around. She found him and was able to pull him somewhere more private to share what she had found out. For the moment she kept her thoughts to herself. She wanted him to go into it clear minded so that he might make his own conclusions. The dark eyed man knew the military staff better than she, so he would have a larger pool of names to draw from when thinking about the man with a cut on his neck.

[+mediumseagreen "Did you manage to get those reports over for Nicolai to see?"] She wanted to know if anything fruitful came of that, especially crossed with what she had found on her end.
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 179d 18h 24m 13s
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Florence found the information she needed – with a little help from that wise, old bookkeeper. He brought across maps of Tyleth and then would disappear amongst the pages with a mumble and muttering tone as if he were speaking to someone. Perhaps being alone in this room had driven him a little mad, but he seemed quite content and handled all the paper with care.

Near to Harrop there would be a large town; Yidin. It was more a congregation of homes beside a river, but it had some form of centralised government and therefore was classed a town. Not particularly a trading hub of the region, it was more of a way-station before heading to the eastern pass through the mountains or south to the coast. A place to stock up on provisions and whatnot but also an ideal place for someone to deliver packages. Cross referencing it with the name in the book, none of entries by that name went to Yidin. Some went to places in Malidek, one to a woman in Vollenberg in particular, even a few to the southern end of Astoria. Of course pages were missing but it looked like just a charitable person. She might surmise it was all innocent and above board, save the points made in the subsequent book.

The name returned as before, and indeed littered amongst the deliveries of food and gifts sent to those in Astoria and Malidek, there was that gift of children's toys and clothing that would match to roughly when Nicolai had reported his daughter being born, and indeed that was sent to Yidin. It was as good a match as could be made without those missing pages which, in a sceptical mind, would point to someone covering their tracks.

When she had noted all that she needed from the books, and offered a courteous thanks to the bookkeeper, she went to meet the courier. He was man getting on himself, but listening to what she said and looking at the name of the sender, he was a little confused. Although he could not remember a name directly the number and frequency of packages was something of note; he had not expected a man in the guard to have such wealth to be so generous. Being that it happened several years ago he could only remember bits and pieces before calling on his wife. She rolled her eyes at him and reminded him the man had brown eyes and a mop of black hair and was always well shaven. Just shy of six foot and quite formal – even in such an informal setting. She clearly was the memory of the duo.

Whilst this was a vague description, and no name came from it, Florence had a good idea it was the same Captain she was suspecting, especially when the woman remarked that the man had a cut on his neck – a wound that he had picked up training in his early years and had never healed well. She was onto something now.
  WI_ / 179d 19h 47m 0s
Having at only one lead from all her time delving into the chicken scratch notes, Florence decided to investigate it before she chose whether to head into town or not. If this was what she needed then there was little point in wasting any more precious time. That being said, she did make sure to return the worn book back to the old keeper and thanked him for his help. He looked just about ancient, but he seemed to be doing just fine here so she would let him go about his day.

There were two main things she wanted to check. The first was a detailed map. She wanted one that had Harrop on it so that she might be able to find larger towns surrounding it and if any such places happened to correspond with what she had taken from the ledger. The woman also thought it pertinent to check cities in the general direction of the desired location. With all the planning that would have gone into this, it would not be unreasonable to assume they set up a pass off. In return for whatever goods were sent, the middle man could have readdressed the letter or took it to Harrop themselves. She decided not to consider it an impossibility for the moment.

The second thing she wanted to look into was this L. Ormskirk. The first initial being L automatically brought her mind to Captain Liam. And while she could look into him, learn his surname and any aliases he might have used around the barracks and such, she thought it might be faster to go directly to the courier and see if he remembered who was signing off on packages by that name. If he did not recall, then she would resort to those other measures. But for now her focus was on the map so she might be able to get a better idea if this was what she was looking for at all.
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 180d 4h 32m 26s
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat It was a dignified begging at the very least, that much he could use to redeem himself. He did not cry or grovel and plead for his life. It was more along the lines of a sustained request. That was how he would recall this in the future should he live that long. And as he saw the indecision on her face he only sighed and let his head drop, having nothing else to say to her or offer up. His last card had been Daniels, and with him being known of now he had no means of escaping again.

Listening to her he only nodded that he would do as she said, read the papers and see if any matched what he remembered. It was a small consolation to his request, until she surprised him by agreeing to look in on it personally, turning and leaving him in the blink of an eye.[+royalblue “Thank you..”] He called after her in a calm tone, a regretful smile on his lips, one that showed he knew he was at the bottom of this barrel. Things were a lot more difficult than he had imagined, but perhaps that was old cocky Nicolai rearing its head a little.

-

The old record keeper, a man as tall as Gregory but perhaps another twenty years older, shuffled about the rows of records and large thick tomes that made up the records room. Although current and in use books would be with their respective persons - the supplies book with the kitchen, the expense book with the castle treasurer, the mailing book with the courier – here the older and filled books were kept. It only stretched back ten years or so, started just after Florence had left as they felt a need to have a record of the goings on in the castle now that they had lost one of their hardest working bureaucrats.

He had brought her several books to begin with, most from the time she had requested or there abouts. But he had tutted and wandered off to return almost an hour later with another book. It was wrapped in a similar binding as the others but incomplete. According to him, several pages were torn out but it had occurred after the book came to him. It annoyed and disgruntled him, leaving him to mumbled under his breath as he shuffled away leaving the book to her.

Once she came to read it and investigate the missing pages, it was the book that showed the comings and goings with the couriers for the time period not long after Florence had returned. There was an increase in food being brought in, namely pies for a certain dwarf. Otherwise it mostly showed the usual things to be expected; cloth brought in, old and broken furniture out, several new crates and barrels for the kitchens and the like.

But Florence, being quite clever in her own right but also looking for patterns, saw that now and again certain items were sent south as 'gifts' all by the same person noted as 'L.Ormskirk'. Sets of cutlery, dresses and other garments, leather work and more. It was periodic, sporadic at times and dense in others, though two pages were removed leaving only part of a whole picture. Cross-checking this with the next book, for the third year of them being back in Astoria, the gifts became a little more specific; a set of vials and pottery, thick furs and blankets and children's toys and clothing. That would spark an interest from the woman, especially when after a few more pages all these gifts and presents simply stopped. The usual items continued but nothing more from this person being sent south.

Not once did it mention Harrop, the town Nicolai had said he and Elizabeth had settled in. But then it was not inconceivable that it was too costly to deliver to such a small village. Perhaps a nearby town where someone could go and retrieve them? And though it did not mention a letter specifically, it would make sense that one was sent with each item. It was up to Florence to decide if she had found something.
  WI_ / 180d 5h 4m 52s
Watching Nicolai devolve into pleading was not easy. In his ranting he had some decent points, but to go through all those ledgers would be time consuming. Not to mention if any letters were sent out while in Malidek they would have no access to the information. It was not as though she could just ride over to Vollenberg and demand to be shown statistics. She held no power there, plus it was much too dangerous to be in that city right now.

Still, he begged and she could not bring herself to completely shut him down. This really might be his last hope. The only question was if she was willing to hear him out again and make the effort. Bringing her hand up to her face, she bit at her thumbnail as she tried to think. If this was all a ploy, surely it would waste tremendous amounts of time.

Her eyes stayed low as she continued to process all the information she had. This might just be one of the only ways to find whoever it was that was sending those letters and catch the writer, if they were not one and the same. But the thought of time constraints continued to weigh heavily on her until the very end. Florence's gaze stayed on the ground when she finally broke her silence. [+mediumseagreen "Augustus should be returning soon with some more documents for you to look over. You are to compare them to what you remember of the letters you read."] Voice stern, it looked as though she might not entertain his request, but in time her eyes came up to his. [+mediumseagreen "I am personally going to check the castle's record books for outgoing mail... I will also see to looking over to the one kept in the city... Nicolai, this is the last time I will try for you here. So if you have a god you are partial too, I suggest you start praying."] It was not the most uplifting way of telling him she would oblige him this last time, but she was not exactly in the most inspiring of moods.

After that she left, Florence was straight off to the record room. She did not take the time tell Augustus what she was doing, or even send someone else to do it. When he returned to Nicolai, he would hear it from him. For now she would focus on sifting through the pages and pages of documents detailing what had been sent out by those within the castle. The woman kept a separate page to write down information about anything that was directed out of the country. Alongside those, she jotted down the who and where's of anything that stood out as odd to her. Once she narrowed it down with that, she would look for patterns and those who might be connected to Adrian in some way or another.
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 180d 6h 28m 42s
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat [+royalblue “Florence, you have to believe me.”] Now he pulled against the shackles but only slightly, the strain at his wrists enough to subdue him before he harmed himself, even with the padding.[+royalblue “I have no-one here stopping Adrian from turning Augustus on me and convincing him to kill me, I need you with me Florence.”] It seemed an odd route to take but he looked quite pleading.

[+royalblue “He knows I’m here; I’m the one accusing him of being in the Taken, he will try to do away with me because I am the one who can link him to them. Augustus is only giving me this opportunity to show my side of the story because you trust me, you told him you believe me and you should!”] He looked about him as if he would find something to fathom from no-where to convince her he was telling the truth in this matter.[+royalblue “I told you there would be a knife in his room. I could only know that if I had read letters from him to Elizabeth. I could not have placed it in his desk could I? It was in a locked drawer that even Augustus did not have a key to, that he had to break open. And Adrian said he was here, in his report, he says he was here when the cook saw me. So how could I sneak into his room without him knowing? I don’t even know where it is.”] He was trying to point out the lines for her, trying to do the job of detective even from this bed he was tied to.

He leaned his head back as he saw he was not getting anywhere, closing his eyes over and letting out a pained groan. He was becoming restless in this room and losing his focus as well as his physical ability being tied down for so long. It was not exactly like he could go for a walk to clear his mind or read a book to ease his distress. All he could run over was the letters, the report that showed it wasn’t Adrians handwriting.[+royalblue “Someone wrote those letters for him. Letters that then had to be sent out of the castle and south to Elizabeth. And to do that, they would need to use a courier. He would have to trust the letter writer so they would be close to him and could not just leave multiples times a year with no excuse. You need to find how he sent those letters. If you find where he sent them from, you might be able to find out who was sending them for him.”] The more he focused in on this the more he believed he was onto something and he looked at her, trying to grab her attention but in her current state of mind it was not easy.

[+royalblue “He can’t have sent them without paying for the service either. The Taken are few and far between, I doubt they would have a free courier just for Adrian and Elizabeth to keep in contact. Either the castle courier or someone in the nearby town was used to ferry the message out of Astoria and it would require payment – something that would be documented.”] Perhaps he had stumbled on something, perhaps he was ranting like a desperate man trying to find any excuse to avoid the hangman’s noose.

[+royalblue “A lawful trading nation like Astoria has become must be filled with official paperwork, licenses, contracts and documentation out the backside. All to keep the officials happy. To keep everything above board. So likewise, there would be a ledger showing letters being sent, how much they cost to send, when they were sent, who paid for it and where they were sent.”] His hand moved forward though it rippled back as the chain snapped tight and he looked to the arm, annoyed that he could not take Florence’s hand in a hopefully reassuring manner.[+royalblue “What harm can it do to check? I have nothing more to lose but my life, can you give me one moment to check?”]

His mind flashed back to his daughter, or rather the faded and sporadic memories of her, and that was his motivation to argue against her. Several years before and he would have just given up, but the hope of finding her and seeing her was why he had come here, why he still fought.[+royalblue “Listen; don’t let me go with you and Augustine to Wistina, don’t give me a second chance with you, forget every single thing I have asked of you before now because I'm getting desperate here – just give me this last hope. Check. Please Florence.”] His voice quietened as he pushed back those family thoughts and he tried to get across his insistence that she do this one little piece of sleuthing for him. He had hidden his truth before but that was when cards were more in his favour. Now he was betting against the dealer and betting big.
  WI_ / 180d 7h 16m 35s
He was right that he did not deny it, though at the same time she really did not think he was in any position to do so. What was the good of only telling the truth when there was no other option. Then he made his plea that everything he had was here, that there was no possible reason for him to lie... but that was just it. If all he wanted was here within the walls of this castle, it made sense to try and lie and get rid of Adrian. That would open up the place he felt he lost all those years ago. Florence was not sure what to think.

[+mediumseagreen "You may not have thought them important, but the fact of the matter is that they are. When we are missing information we are susceptible to lies and excuses. This time around we went in thinking we had everything we needed and Adrian was easily able to sidestep us. What's worse is now that he knows that we suspect him. If he truly is guilty, he has time to craft a plan. And knowing that he may very likely have an accomplice means that we have to be all the more careful."] This endangered them, all of them, and far more that she thought that the purple eyed man was seeing.

[+mediumseagreen "I really want to believe you, Nicolai, but after talking to Adrian things less black and white than ever."] The pale man had seemed just as genuine as the man sat before her. [+mediumseagreen "One of you has to be lying, and at this point I am not sure who it is."] The admittance was probably a lot more honest than she should be in this situation, but it just sort of came out.
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 180d 7h 50m 58s
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat The means in which he was thrown aside shamed Nicolai. He was stared down at and although he knew she was not doing so from a place of hatred, merely anger at being deceived or duped, he knew he had let her down. She had fought his corner and though she fought with Augustus over some trivial matter, to which he only caught ‘won’t kill him just yet’, he knew that this had dented his relationship with her. Augustus left and the duo were back to being alone again.

But what was done was done. He looked up as she waved about the report before him with annoyance, telling him he was wrong.[+royalblue “I told you only what I believed then. I thought they had come directly from Adrian, but now I know they were only dictated by him, not written. It is only a small detail in the greater scheme of things.”] He turned his head away as the paper whipped about in front of him.[+royalblue “I understand what I did is not helpful, but then why would I come back here if I did not believe everything I said?”]

It looked like he had no other motive, no reason to come back but to warn the others. But as with Adrian, perhaps initial appearances were deceptive. He did not look up at her now, knowing what would be staring down at him. Though he did not seem to be sullen or depressed as he might have become those seven years prior. He was apologetic but as Augustine had put it – he had to be a man about his mistakes and own them.[+royalblue “I should have told you and I apologise Florence. I assumed that neither of you would listen to me if you knew I had slipped my way into the castle before. Yet I did not lie, I told you only truth and did not try to deny it was me in that report.”] He had indeed took responsibility immediately, but with such evidence it was hardly a noble thing.

He took a few deep breaths, but a little like Florence he found his chest a little hollow and it brought no respite.

[+royalblue “I omitted things that I did not think relevant, like Elizabeth and Natalya and Daniels because it does not affect what is happening here and no. I promised I would not lie and I have not lied Florence.”] He looked up slowly, finding that calming presence as he met her eyes.[+royalblue “Everything I have left is here, in this castle, I have no reason to deceive you. My only option to return to Wistina, my chance to reaffirm my loyalty to Augustine, the hope I might find my daughter safe and alive. And you. I would not jeopardise all that by lying.”]

He thought of comparing his omission of the truth to how she had failed to tell Augustus about Augustine’s conception, not to mention her own father. It was not lying in a sense. More, it was merely hiding the truth so that you did not hurt those you cared about. But to say that now would be as foolish as pointing the blame elsewhere and he did not look to do that.
  WI_ / 180d 9h 6m 30s
[+mediumseagreen "Augustus, confirm, now."] She trusted that he would do so in a discrete manner and make sure that Nicolai recieved no more outside help from here on. There would be no lifeline to cut him loose if things went downhill.

Silence.

Looking back to Augustus, his face said he did not want to leave her here alone. She wasn't sure exactly what he was worried about, but she shook her head and waved him off. When that still did not work she made her way over to him to reassure him that she would be fine. He ended up admitting he was more worried about Nicolai than her at the moment. Huffing a bit, she retorted with something along the lines of a promise not to kill him just yet. The whole thing was hush hush, low enough that the chained elf would only be able to make out the occasional word.

In the end she got through to him and Augustus agreed to do as she asked. With that she added an addition task. She wanted written reports from all the officers that worked alongside Adrian. If he had a scribe, it was likely to be someone he was close with. Captain Liam came to mind when she thought of how he had been told to keep his mouth shut in regards to Nicolai. If he really did tell Adrian that the elf was here, he disobeyed a direct order from Augustus to do it.

Coming back to Nicolai, Florence waved about the report she had showed him and jumped straight back into their conversation. [+mediumseagreen "Yes, this is most definitely his hand. So it is either that or the letters you read were purposely written to mislead you into suspecting him. "] That of course did not account for how whoever wrote those correspondences knew a slew of Astorian secrets, such as direct lines to the King's chambers, but it was not like she knew that none of her enemies had been on the island. Even all those years ago, shortly after Germaine's death, they got a hold of an Astorian sidewinder to get their point across. A snake native to her native country and no where else.
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 180d 9h 45m 10s
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Like a child scolded y their parent, his head dipped forward and he avoided looking at either of them as the chastising continued on a little longer. The threat that she could no longer trust him hurt the most, and if elves had been capable of it, like a sad pup his ears would have sunk down with him. In a way he felt validated by what he did, much like how he felt he was right to fight with the rebellion for the greater good of Malidek citizens.

But even Nicolai knew this was the angriest he had made Florence. She had trusted him somewhat, not calling for guards when he had entered her room and listening to him about his daughter. He felt bad for keeping it secret but not the act itself. When she brought out the paper he looked up at her for a moment, before bright violet eyes dipped down to look at the scratchy handwriting of a report. It had form, but the writing all of its own was completely peculiar to him. If it had not had Adrian’s name at the bottom, acting as a signature of sorts, he would not have thought to go there with a wild guess.

[+royalblue “That isn’t Adrian’s handwriting.. or at it least the writing on the letters I found."] He knew Augustus would have told her everything they discussed.[+royalblue "Someone else must have written them for him instead. Perhaps he has someone working for him.”] He spoke softly and in a gentle voice. There was no sense in being angry or frustrated with her as he had been guilty of what she said; lying. So he instead played the part of a humbled man seeking penance. Her question about coming clean with any more information he might have withheld, was double edged. If he did, she would hate him that much more for hiding it. If he said he did not, and kept it from her, then she would have him hanging in an oubliette by the end of the day if she ever found out.

Taking small and shallow breaths he looked away from her again, staring down his chest and at the bedding.[+royalblue “Lieutenant Daniels is my man. He was the one to release me several nights ago. I paid his gambling debts in the Vollenberg military camp and ever since he’s worked for me, helping me to secure supplies of food, grain and the like, to feed my soldiers and their families during the winter. I never had him do anything that would put Astorian lives in danger, only to help my people from starving.”] In a flat tone he told her this, rather ashamed to speak on what the man had done for him though in truth it was more an act of charity, helping keep rebels families alive.
  WI_ / 180d 11h 41m 27s
Florence had half a mind not to listen to him at all, especially after his admittance that he had indeed been slinking about the castle. She was furious, and it showed in her eyes, but the rest of her stayed still until he was done speaking. [+mediumseagreen “And you seemed to think that was appropriate? Leaving out critical information when I was trying so hard to trust you. Trying so hard to see things from your point of view.”] He had claimed to have come back a man of his word, he hadn’t even made it a week before she caught him lying to her. What was wrong with him?

[+mediumseagreen “Well I can assure you, no matter how terrible you thought it would sound to admit it of your own accord, it sounds tenfold worse now.”] There was probably something to be said that he was admitting it at all, but in the moment, Florence was not seeing that. She tried to take a deep breath, but given her physical restrictions there, it was not nearly as mind clearing as she would have hoped. As much as she still wanted to believe him, and truthful as he looked, she was having a terrible time of it. He was losing the edge he’d gained with her.

Turning from him, she looked back to Augustus. With a nod of her head she called him over and had him pass along Adrian’s report to her. Her eyes ran over it. The handwriting was distinct with its near childlike appearance. He had improved leaps and bounds, but penmanship was not Adrian’s strong point. Coming back to Nicolai, she held the paper out for him to see. [+mediumseagreen “Familiar?”] She was doubting it at this point. [+mediumseagreen “And while you are thinking about that, anything else you would like to come clean with before I find it out elsewhere?”] It may have mainly been a passive aggressive jab, but it was also a chance for him not to repeat the same mistake.
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 180d 12h 11m 53s
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