[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai had been having quite the boring few days. After Augustus’ last visit, aside from one solitary doctor’s appointment yesterday, he had been left to his own devices with two guards who were not particularly excited to talk to him. Whilst he was interesting as a stranger and because of his race, for what he had done and the people he had killed, they were not best pleased.
Multiple times he had thought to send for Florence, to have someone to talk to. Whilst he was hoping to kindle some kind of affection from her, he had learned especially from his years away and Augustine’s warning that she needed space and time were always there in his mind. Even summoning the boy or his grandfather was out of the question, lest it antagonise her and have her marching back into his room to thoroughly strike him over and again. Her threats were taken seriously, most of the time.
Yet here she was, with Augustus in tow, marching into his room and not looking too pleased – either of them. The door was shut behind by the brooding man as his equally distressed partner addressed him. He was suspicious of what had happened now when he heard what Florence had to accuse him of. Immediately his eyes opened a little more, no smug grin or calculated expression. No, now he was rather alarmed. Where had she gotten this information? Had it been from Adrian? Looking to the man behind her he saw the paper in his hand and he closed his eyes taking a shallow breath.
[+royalblue “I was here, yes.”] The admittance confused Augustus, surprised more so that it came so willingly and easily. But the elfin man was quick to add,[+royalblue “I can explain myself Florence, just.. just listen to me, okay?”] Both men could see she was distressed by this news. Furious perhaps? Nicolai was not entirely sure but she looked to border that emotion.
Without waiting for her permission to continue, he did so.[+royalblue “How does it look if I turn up here with knowledge of Adrian being in the Taken and having to rely solely that he still has his dagger? If I had told Augustus that and he found no weapon, then I am nothing but hearsay and lies. No-one believes me. But I had the knowledge about the route to Eugene’s room, about the plans for this castle.”] He ignored the other man, focused solely now on Florence, considering she was the one most upset with him and closest. Still shackled however, he had to remain sitting on his bed.
[+royalblue “I had to verify that information, I had to know for sure that it was genuine, because I knew you hated gossip and I assumed the rest of your family,”] he gestured to Augustus though he meant it in a platonic family manner,[+royalblue “would think similar to you.”] There was no malice or aggressive denunciation in his voice, not like when he had talked to Augustine and blamed her for abandoning him. No he was quite truthful and honest it seemed.[+royalblue “I confirmed the information, I left. I was not here spying or acting on behalf of the rebellion, I was here acting on my own. I did not tell either of you because what benefit does that have for me? You already suspected I was lying, that I was making this all up to frame Adrian. If I had told you, you would have put me back in the dungeon and that would be that. I had to lie, to get you to believe me..”] It was an odd way to look at it, but in some way it made sense to him. Like a parent to a child, sometimes withholding information was for the better.
Given his point of the rarity of it all, Florence shook her head. Not in disagreement, but disappointment. [+mediumseagreen "I know... I just really do not want have to do this back and forth."] They had spent so much time pressing Nicolai for answers, and yet he still had not given everything he knew. He was not even giving them everything that was not connected to Elizabeth or his daughter. It was taxing.
[+mediumseagreen "Ah yes, because bluffing did me so well before..."] Her anger was pointed in towards herself, but she knew he was right. They had to at least speak with the man before moving forward. [+mediumseagreen "Alright, let's go."] After that they were quiet the remainder of the trip to Nicolai's room.
It was the same old song and dance coming in, they entered and the guards left. Neither she nor Augustus even had to give the order this time. They were just used to it. [+mediumseagreen "Nicolai."] She called his name, but there was little life behind it. Florence was not trying half so hard to hide her irritation in front of him as she had with Adrian. [+mediumseagreen "Can you perhaps tell me why we have reports of a tall vibrant-eyed efin man stumbling about the castle some time ago?"] Her question came out as she was crossing the room to stand beside the bed. By the time she made it to her destination she was finishing up. [+mediumseagreen "Because I am very hard pressed to see any optimistic possibilities with this one."]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Augustus looked at Florence as she growled her frustration and he could quite well share in that feeling. They had gone to Adrian with their information and their evidence and instead of getting many answers, they came out with more questions. He was beginning to feel that familiar annoyance building up again. This was running around in circles and getting no-where, and it seemed Nicolai had not told them the full story.
[+darkslateblue “A tall elven man in ratty Astorian armour? Even I have to admit it has to be Nicolai, regardless of if she can pick him out from a selection. Elves are quite rare here.”] Though Astoria welcomed all, elves and dwarves and the like were rare races in most places. In the Astorian army? He couldn’t actually think of one.
When she did not take the report he left his hand drop to his side and nodded.[+darkslateblue “Come on, we have to check with Nicolai. We bluff him, say someone saw him and was sure of it. And we have the report.”] It was not concrete but they were in the same position with Adrian.[+darkslateblue “At least this way we can know Adrian is just more clever in his cover ups than we thought, and we can go back at him even harder next time.”] It was best they got Nicolai’s side of things at least.
Confirming this, and with someone so wholly disconnected with the situation, was concerning. At least for Nicolai. Florence was not happy about this oversight. She did not want to make such a novice mistake again... they needed to figure out what in the hell was going on. And quickly now that Adrian was aware of their suspicions.
[+mediumseagreen “Were there any other details at all?”] The woman knew of at least one other elf that could have had a hand in this... and colorful eyes did not do a lot to narrow it down. [+mediumseagreen “What about height, hair color, skin tone? Would she be able to pick him out if she saw him again?”] It was difficult to let this go with such a vague account, but she very much doubted Samantha would have missed something so obvious as the gender of the perpetrator.
Letting out a growl of frustration, she was not entirely sure what to do. Well, that was not true. She was sure she needed to go back to Nicolai, but no doubt he was going to berate her for being swayed so quickly and not trusting him. After all, they’d spoken with Adrian for what had to amount to less than five minutes before backing down. But then again, he did not need to know that.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Adrian was annoyed that his questions were pushed to the side, and this interrogation of him was over before he had been given a fair chance to ask his own questions of her. Instead he had to watch the duo leave, rather quickly, Augustus quiet throughout aside from one moment. It was both worrying that they assumed he could be a Taken agent and concerning that he was not trusted.
Once outside, Augustus nodded at her demand. He had the same ones himself.[+darkslateblue “Meet me in the Entrance Hall in an hour, I'll have all the answers then.”] He paused momentarily to place a hand to her forearm, squeezing lightly to show he was both apologetic for not knowing right away, but also to try and soothe her that he was still here to help and solve this issue. Not lingering too long he left her be to look for the report and then speak to Samantha. Fingers crossed she was working today.
An hour later, as he had planned, Augustus returned to the Entrance Hall to find Florence waiting. He did not look all too pleased and that would be her first answer to the information she wanted. Walking over to her he carried some paper in his hand and wasted no time as they found a nook to talk in.[+darkslateblue “Here is there report.”] He offered it to her.[+darkslateblue “It's true, he did write it in there about a mysterious elf being seen around the castle, but it was a mere footnote. Easily missed.”] He did not want to look bad for ignoring this at the time.
Sighing a little, he brushed his hand through his messy hair.[+darkslateblue “I spoke to the cook, Samantha, and she corroborates this. Said she couldn't really remember his face, but she mentioned he had colourful eyes and left immediately when she asked him if he needed help. Apparently his armour looked scuffed, not quite right, to quote her.”] It was true if someone were to use armour scavenged from a fight that it would not be perfect, and Nicolai did have colourful eyes.
He did not even need to say anything at that point, she basically already knew what his point was going to be. Why trust Nicolai? It was a valid point, especially in light of her revelation. [+mediumseagreen "We are not answer questions currently."] Her tone was flat as not to let any of her frustrations seep through. [+mediumseagreen "Regardless of the source, some security concerns have been brought to our attention. We are going to see that we find the breach of information... For now we have what we need. Goodbye."] It was a serious cop out and Florence knew it. She hated to leave it that way, but it was better that outright admitting the wrong before they got to the bottom of this.
Turning on her heel, the tall woman went straight for the door. Judging by the footsteps behind her, Augustus was on her tail. She kept stoic until they were out of the room and out of earshot of Adrian to react in any capacity.
Bringing her hand up to pinch the bridge of her nose, Florence let out a long frustrated breath. The first visible sign of doubt she allowed since they had gone to the infirmary. [+mediumseagreen "Augustus!"] His name was a quiet bark. [+mediumseagreen "Find that report, confirm its existence and follow up with Samantha, now!"] She was not happy to have such a gaping hole right in the middle of this investigation. It fell on both of them as they were working together, but she also thought such a report, if it existed, was one that he should have recalled at a time like this. [+mediumseagreen "I want to know if this is true or now before I decide whether or not I am going to gut Nicolai."] No doubt a dramatization, but she was not happy to be mislead by him. Even if it was done so unintentionally, though at this point she did not know why she was giving him the benefit of the doubt.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Although he did not recall the conversation with her, or that he had grabbed her so hard as to mark her, he looked a little defensive. He was unsure of himself, and looked ashamed of having hurt her. Perhaps it had all been an accident and he looked at her a touch apologetic. That was until she made her mistake.
[+maroon “Contact with Elizabeth?”] He seized on that immediately.[+maroon “Of course not. Until a year or two ago I couldn't even write all that well. How could I write her? I also don't know where she is – where do I send the letters?”] Clearly he had the same thought as Florence had the moment she asked him, but he looked beyond her to Augustus.[+maroon “Sir, what is go on? Why are you trusting Nicolai of all people? He's just as likely upset that Florence denied him. He's just being a stropy child, same as he was seven years ago!”]
She practically wanted to strangle Liam. It was not unfathomable that he would feed Adrian information, not with him being under his direct control up until very recently. [+mediumseagreen "The other day, you woke and when I told you Nicolai was the one behind the mask you basically had a conniption saying he was dead! So much so you grabbed a hold of me and left me with this."] Lifting her arm, Florence displayed the yellow-green remnants of the bruise on her arm. [+mediumseagreen "It took the nurse forcing you down to get you off of me."] There was still a bitterness about it in her voice.
Not wanting to directly answer him when he put it that way, as she would also be forced to explain what all had happened for her to come to believe Nicolai, Florence had one more question. But this time she would be direct. [+mediumseagreen "Adrian, tell me. Have you had any contact with Elizabeth over these last seven years?"] The question barely made it out of her mouth before she remembered a crucial detail... one she was kicking herself for not remembering til right then. Nicolai mentioned letters... but until somewhat recently, Adrian had been essentially illiterate. Fuck.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat It was good and interesting to see her perturbed by his response about Nicolai. News travelled fast in a small castle and small Kingdom but she seemed to think he was not in the loop. There was no reaction with regards to Samantha, apart from a slight pursing of the lips.
The mentioning that he thought Nicolai dead brought confusion to his face. He was bewildered why she would think that he believed it.[+maroon “What are you on about? Why would I think he was dead?”] His voice matched his facial expression as he looked between the duo.[+maroon “The other day? I've been unconscious for several days, Captain Liam told me who Ulrich really was.”] He had a valid excuse for how he knew then, as the man was lingering about.
[+maroon “Look, whats going on? Why was that knife in my desk? Why are you acting like I'm with the Taken? Is this all because of Nicolai? How can you believe a word that comes out of his mouth after he abandoned us?”] It was his turn to go on the questioning front he believed.
Florence had expected him to continue the dance around for a little bit longer, but Adrian got straight to admitting that he knew Nicolai was around and that Ulrich was not the one behind the mask. What more, she did not expect him to have something so concrete as a witness and past report to back him up. The woman very much doubted he had Samantha in his pocket. If her account said that she had seen an elf running about the castle, it was likely true and would be easy to confirm with Nicolai in their custody. And while she desperately wanted to look back at Augustus to validate this was little more than a lie, she knew now was not the time to display doubt by looking back to him. Her emerald eyes continued to look forward to Adrian despite being unable to see any sign of untruth in him. Damn it! Was something so simple going to completely break them?
[+mediumseagreen "Since you seem to remember the other day more clearly than you led me to believe, tell me this. Why was it that you believed Nicolai to be dead?"] He had been so certain. Even in that delusional state, he was so sure. It struck fear into him, enough so that he lost himself and hurt her in the process. Of course, this was downplaying the immense amount of pain he was no doubt experiencing, but the confrontation had been so extreme for her that it was difficult to see that.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Now the true location of the knife was made known and Adrian eyed her with interest that she was playing this game with him.[+maroon “Lets drop the ruse, I know Nicolai is here and I know he was the one pretending to be Ulrich.”] It was not exactly news as it was somewhat the talk of the castle. The guards placed over Nicolai could easily leak the information and then there was no containing it. Though perhaps not everyone knew who he was, just that he was an elf.
[+maroon “Why that knife, a knife of the Taken as you say, was in my desk I do not know.”] He seemed to be reacting in a truthful manner, though he looked a little upset that he was being accused of something. A clever ploy or honest reaction was difficult to know.[+maroon “But, you should really speak to Samantha, in the kitchens?"] When Florence looked at him with interest, he continued, surmising they hadn't spoken to her yet.
[+maroon "Well, she told me a few months ago - when I came to make my report to Augustus - that she had seen an elfin man walking about the castle in some Astorian armour, looked lost. When she went to ask him if she could help he walked off. I added it to my report, maybe you did not read it?”] He looked beyond Florence to Augustus, who looked a little lost. He did not recall it but that did not mean it was not true and he looked at Florence with this unsure look.
Narrowing her eyes, it seemed that he remembered a tad more of that dream of his than she wished he would. That or he had been playing coy the whole time in order to see how she reacted. If it was a test to see if she would lie, she failed spectacularly. But was anyone expecting any differently from her at this point? She was not exactly the most honest woman out there.
[+mediumseagreen "Perhaps..."] She looked him over, almost sorry for him that he was in as much pain as he was. Although at this point she was siding with Nicolai, it was still hard to turn off the emotional attachment she had had to him. For the past seven years or so they had been friends and almost more. Even if they were never officially an item, there was a fondness there that she could not deny. [+mediumseagreen "Though I would love to know how that elf managed to gain access to your personal office and desk. When even Augustus had to break the lock to get in."] Standing straight, she looked down on him, still hoping to find any sort of flaw in his facade.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Adrian found it peculiar how she looked to her male companion as if for validation when she informed him that it was a dagger of the Taken, noting the symbol within the handle. It was most odd that she would ask him if he had seen the dagger if it was one of the Taken’s.[+darkslateblue “Yes, from speaking with the Wolf, it seems that is indeed a dagger of their group.”] Augustus quickly confirmed, standing formally behind her as if to be a representative of Astoria.
Her next question brought Adrians brow up with interest, perhaps interest that she had lied about where it was found or perhaps due to him knowing where it had come from and wondering if she did. If it was indeed his dagger, he would know where it was kept.[+maroon “In Astoria you say? Why would a dagger of the Taken be here? Hm.. I would find it strange for a half-orc to be here in Astoria and not be seen. They are distinctive creatures after all.”] His face had become more neutral as he offered his suggestion.[+maroon “Perhaps he sent someone else in his place, someone who would blend in more and be less suspicious.”] It would make sense to send someone who would not be seen, or at least not seen as a threat.[+maroon “Perhaps.. an elf?”] He tried to shrug but winced from the movement, forgetting for a second about the wound.
She nodded as he called for confirmation that it was found in the camp, you know, like a liar. Then she had to wait. He wore a look of contemplation, like he was searching through his memories... or trying to find a lie that would fit. And when he came forth with his answer it was about what she expected. It technically covered his ass, but just barely. No matter how improbably it was given time and location, there was always a chance that the masked man managed to sneak it here. Especially since the one everyone was looking out for was a half orc, not an elf.
Again she nodded as if to agree with him. [+mediumseagreen "So this is likely a symbol of the Taken."] She turned to Augustus, as if trying to confirm if his train of thought was the same as hers. And while she did feel just the smallest twinge of guilt for lying to the injured man, she knew it was easier to ask for forgiveness than to deal with the aftermath of having a traitor in your midst. [+mediumseagreen "Then that is ever so strange... because we did not actually find this on the mainland, but here in Astoria. Do you think that Ulrich may have come across the water and sowed some of his seeds of disorder here?"] Her tone stayed inquisitive, not wanting to go in too accusatory. She wanted to leave Adrian room to try and wriggle his way out in hopes that he may do their jobs for them and condemn himself.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Augustus was grateful for her taking the lead and handed off the satchel without complaint. Although he would have been fine once the talking began, he was always quick nervous before hand in situations like this. She gave him the confidence to do it in the past, but then again it was more military focused back then. Now, it was all trickery and word play and he felt quite lost. When they entered the infirmary, he remained behind her and in sight of Adrian, but not close enough that he would intrude.
Adrian for his part was a little surprised by the visit of the two high ranking officials of Astoria at the same time. Separately he might have understood they were checking in, but from the moment she approached, satchel at her side, he knew something was amiss. They wanted to discuss something and he nodded that he understood, he was more than open to talking with them both.
When the weapon was removed he momentarily eyed it with suspicion, though it was only right that he question just what she had brought. Listening to what she said he nodded and waited for her to un-wrap the weapon. His head lifted slowly toward it, as if to take it and inspect, but eyes moving across to Augustus he saw the man shake his head, and looking back to Florence he saw she stared at him closely. His hand dropped back to his side and he admired it from afar, face showing some recognition but not much.[+maroon “From the camp you say?”] He repeated her remark and then hummed, as if deep in thought.
After a little time of searching his memories, he offered a slight wince as he was unsure of whether to answer. Inevitably, he decided to.[+maroon “From a certain angle, just seeing the handle and pommel, I faintly recall seeing it before.”] He seemed in two worlds, sure that he had seen it whilst at the same time unable to recall just where.[+maroon “I think.. maybe I saw it with the Wolf? I mean, I think he had a knife like that. Looks like something he would use.. quite crude..”] The comment was tacked on the end and he looked up to catch Florence’s gaze.
From how she looked at him she would see he looked quite sure of himself, but coupled with the look of familiarity earlier, perhaps she would come to a conclusion of her own.
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