[+mediumseagreen “You are welcome.”] Florence was not entirely sure what to say to his thanks, but it was only polite to give at least that much, so she did. With it, though, was a wave of relief. He seemed to be just as shaken as her. To know she was not the only one in this condition helped abate her nerves to some extent. She was fairly certain it was that unassuming and kind nature of his that made it so easy for her to relax around him. The woman had not known him very long, but she thought it reasonable to say that there was not a mean bone in his body. And along that line of thought, she was confident he wouldn’t do anything to hurt her. That he was safe. It was a comfort she had seldom experienced in the presence of men that were not of direct relation to her.
Nodding as he suggested that they move on, Florence wore a blithe smile for the remainder of their trip about the outer grounds. When they came back around to the gate leading through the tall wall to the inner sanctum, his hand released hers. It was not as thought she did not understand it, but it was a tad disappointing having to let go. Despite this, she made no comment about it. There was no point in guilt-ing Adrian into continuing when he was so clearly nervous.
Hands no longer linking them, they still walked side by side into the courtyard. And there standing in the middle of the intricate stonework display on the ground was a very pregnant woman. She would be a new face to the brunette, but Florence knew her well. Her smile widened as the petite woman rushed over to them. Her bright blonde hair fluttered about as she hurried along. When she was a reasonable distance away, finer details about her figure could be seen. She had dark blue eyes, like the deepest depths of the ocean and could not have stood any taller than five three. Her clothes, while still finely detailed, looked as though they were more meant for comfort than fashion. This being to accommodate her current expecting condition. The last noteworthy feature on her figure was a scar. It was little more than a thin pale line towards the base of her neck where it came to meet her collarbone, but it alluded to one of her more notable individualities.
Florence bowed, an action that clearly distressed the light haired woman. Quickly, she closed the gap between them and tried to lift Florence’s head back up. The green-eyed woman did as she was prompted. As she stood back straight, she watched as the petite woman signaled with her hands, first pointing to Florence then made a circle about the crown of her head. Although she was not incredibly adept at translating the charades, that one was not incredibly difficult.
[+mediumseagreen “No, no, not anymore. I was driven out and my title is gone, you outrank me, your Majesty.”] Smiling widely, the taller woman was clearly amused. She turned to Adrian, quick to introduce the two. [+mediumseagreen “Adrian, this is my brother’s wife, Queen Abigail.”] Turning back to Abigail, she continued. [+mediumseagreen “Abigail, this is Adrian. He helped us on our return to Astoria.”]
The Astorian queen smiled at him, nodding her head appreciatively.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat At first he had wondered if she was about to cry or shout at him for asking such a thing; it was a man's prerogative to know when to kiss a woman and not to ask. He could quite imagine Gregory, Nicolai, Lizzie, and a long line of those before all three, to be stood shaking their heads collectively at the rather meek and, in another light perhaps, a very poor offering from Adrian. Yet as he debated this, and her hands finally pulled from before her face, and she could finally muster the courage to look at him, she consented.
She consented? Yes he had asked in the vain and lofty hope she would agree but this was like striking gold when mining for copper. His request had been made in a distant hope that he may suffice with a kiss of her cheek or the back of her hand. Given how she had fought the man before him and sent him packing into the woods for obeying her word that she wanted space, here he was after but a month of travel together and she said yes?
The look of shock read on his face quite obviously and she must have read this as she looked away for a moment. But he recovered well to nod at her request and lean down to a height that would suit her desire. More than elated to do as told, as Adrian often did as told, he indeed felt the heat as she leaned up to him and pressed a kiss to his lips. It was as long as perhaps she would offer to the cheek of her brother or father but the crimson eyed man was more than content as the heat of the moment very slowly began to subside. His hand had come to rest on her hip as she had leant upward to him, and as she lowered herself back down he released her quickly.
The pair of adults looked across at one another as if they had done something rather taboo and in a way it was, perhaps, to someone in the kingdom it would be at least.[+crimson “Well.. t-thank you Florence..”] His voice broke and he turned away to cough and try and regain some measure of masculinity. Asking for kisses? Saying thank you for the briefest of embraces? Losing his voice to a peck? It was all rather silly and his hand in her loosened a touch, fingers unravelling from one another so that he may hold her hand in a more simple fashion.
[+crimson “Let's finish this walk before I start getting too greedy, no?”] He asked rhetorically with a sweet smile as he tugged her hand gently to follow him, leading her on to continue their walk. He was rather keen to have this little coming together end so that he may go take several deep breaths and perhaps a pint or two or ale to steady himself. He had never felt this way and his cheeks darkened at how giddy he was. Silly man.
She laughed as he tried to display his imaginary chub. That was definitely something she could relate to. Unable to be as active as she once was, she had seen gained weight over the years. Somehow it had all ended up in her curves, but it was there all the same. The woman was actually somewhat surprised Augustus had not poked fun at her yet, though he was probably trying to be at least a little bit sensitive. It wasn’t as though there was much she could do to avoid it anymore. [+mediumseagreen “If you are that worried, I am sure the farmers would appreciate some help out in the fields. That is enough work to keep anyone fit.”] Her suggestion was made in jest, but it was not half bad advice if he was truly worried about it.
It was just as her complexion was returning to normal that he blindsided her again. When she had said the near future, she hadn’t meant quite so near... [+mediumseagreen “Oh, um, well…”] She sort of stuttered over words. It was not that she was completely opposed to the idea, but he was just so sweet she could hardly stand it. Bringing her free hand up, she used it to cover her embarrassed face. It was finally to the point that she felt the need to hide her self-consciousness. [+mediumseagreen “I am sorry, it is just… no one has ever asked that before.”] She spoke the truth. Of all the men she had kissed in such a manner, none had ever asked her permission.
Trying her best to regain her composure at a reasonable rate, Florence was afraid to look back over at the man. Not because she was actually scared of him to any capacity, but because it was mortifying to be seen in such a state, especially when it was caused by such a harmless question. It took a few more moments for her to get it together. And when she finally did, she lowered her hand so that she could see and be seen once again. His crimson gaze was still on her, which was to be expected. [+mediumseagreen “Well, I suppose I do not see any harm in it.”] He looked a bit surprised by her answer. Had he not expected her to oblige him? That was fair, given the way she had practically ignored him since they arrived. But still, after how awry things had gone with Nicolai, she thought it best to leave him in no doubt of her feelings.
Florence motioned for him to lean down, a signal that she wanted to be the one to do it. But even with as tall as she was, it would be a difficult task for her to reach without some sort of assistance on his end. When he accommodated her request enough to meet her part way, she moved slowly forward. Her face was already blazing hot before pressing her lips lightly to his. The woman wondered if he could feel how warm she was, or if she was merely being overly conscious of herself. Either way, the contact was brief. A sweet, chaste, kiss to his lips before allowing her feet to set flat against the ground once again.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Florence came across so confidence and coy at the same time that he was not sure if he was being too timid or too much for her. The colour of her cheeks showed he had embarrassed her, hopefully in a positive manner, and yet she was almost taunting him by saying he may have his wish. Was she thinking of it as well? At times, he hated being this naive and innocent to budding relationships like this.
[+crimson “Oh? Exercise and granted wishes?”] His hand squeezed hers as she made mention of it and connecting with her eyes against he grinned. Perhaps she knew he was not the most overly forward man and understood he was proceeding exceedingly slow for his own sake as well as hers.[+crimson “I mean, the exercise I can definitely get on board with. I can quite imagine becoming a rotund man within a few months if all I do is sit about eating as I have.”] He grasped at his stomach with his free hand as if to show some pudginess was beginning to show.
Walking along a little with her to keep their walk ongoing – lest they never finish – he ensured they were hidden by the crops and wall so that they would not be reported to Eugene and any exhibitionist action taken against him for holding hands with royalty. That was simply how his mind worked, that holding her hand was that treasonous of an act.
Yet walking with her like this, his hand warm in hers and his chest rather tight with trepidation and wonder and amazement that he was here in this realm and with her of all people, he could not escape his thoughts it seemed and he let out a half laugh as they looked over to one another once more like budding teenagers.[+crimson “I mean.. you seem to value me being honest.. so would you deny me a brief kiss even here?”] It was asked in the most timid and shy manner possible. Despite the many points stacked up to say why asking was such a bad idea – from Nicolai to Gregory to Florence herself – he would rather she shot him down and told him to wait than to allow things to progress at this slow pace without his input.
If Lizzie had been there to guide him, tell him how to think and what to do and how to act or offer womanly advice, he would be better suited to know what to do at that moment. But alas she was not and so he had to stomach this one by himself. Looking at the woman though, dressed in subtle tones and having had the ability to bathe and comb her hair, she looked all the more delightful and he would have been foolish not to ask.
[+mediumseagreen “You exaggerate.”] The emerald-eyed woman called him out for his hyperbole. There must have been a hundred things that would have been better than wandering aimlessly with her, but she smiled all the same. It was a delicate expression as they started off on their way.
It was not a collection of flowers and ferns, but the farmland was not unappealing. They were not far from harvest time either, so the colorful fruit and vegetables that adorned the plants had their own charm. Florence let her eyes wander over the scene until they made it a little farther out. It seemed there was not anyone toiling out in the fields for the time being. Most of the work must have been done for the day. It made sense, with the weather getting cooler there was not a need to have to water quite so much. She was just glad it would be easier on the workers.
She did not mind the quiet; it was comfortable between them. Florence could have very well continued on that way for the entirety of their walk, however when he spoke up she did not mind that either. The first comment brought a light dusting of color to her face, but it was what came next that darkened it. [+mediumseagreen “Admittedly, that might not have been the best time for that.”] A smile formed on her lips, she may have been embarrassed, but she did not look away from him. It helped that he was showing signs of bashfulness as well. [+mediumseagreen “Though, I agree, this…”] she lifted their joined hands, [+mediumseagreen “is quite pleasant.”] The peck on the cheek had been as well, but she could not muster up the confidence to admit it as he did, at least not in such a direct way. Still, she did not want to leave him the only one baring his heart. [+mediumseagreen “Perhaps we could make a habit of this. The exercise would do me some good, and who knows… maybe sometime in the near future you may have your wish.”] Her smile turned into something a little coyer, though there was no illusion of confidence as her face was still quite colorful.
The fluttering her in chest was kind of uncomfortable. It was a different sensation, but she was not foolish enough to mistake what it was. This was most definitely a mix of fondness and attraction. It was new to her. Well, at least as an adult. Admittedly, even she had a few crushes in her adolescence; it was just that none of them ever came to be anything more than that.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Adrian looked away when she stared at him rather blankly for a moment having told her only what she was likely to have heard a dozen times from Nicolai and Gregory. It was like a pregnant woman being constantly stopped by well wishers and passers by wanting to congratulate them and inquire as how far they had progressed. Yet thankfully she did not admonish him and merely moved on with the conversation.
It was good to hear commit more firmly to the plan and offer him some form of pliancy by setting up a meeting that evening. Adrian knew none of them bar perhaps Gregory would wish for the meeting to take place, but since the pass they had not had a chance to speak openly. It would do more good than bad, hopefully.
Her next offer was meet with enthusiasm and a great deal of nodding and smiling.[+crimson “Of course. A chance to walk with you sounds better than anything right now.”] He grinned at her comment about the guards, nodding his agreement once more. They truly were an interesting group, constantly fretting that something would happen or that they would be called to action. But if the stories of Augustus and how he lost his arm were true then he would give them leeway and be thankful for their protection.
Stepping aside so that she may walk beside him, he turned not long after leaving the gate, wishing to take a walk about the perimeter of the farmlands. It would afford them the longest time together in one another's company and the few farm buildings and tall crops might give them a little privacy. Once they had left the guards at the gateway behind and had curled around one of the fields, his hand brushed against hers once or twice before his fingers curled into her and linked their hands together. He was still quite nervous of the action – fear of Eugene and the words of Nicolai resonating in his mind – but as he was on the ship he was more calm and happier for doing it.
Squeezing her soft hand in his he smiled across at her, both of their faces a shade of rose as ruby and emerald met.[+crimson “You know back on the ship, I did not want it to really end. The hand holding and all that.”] He spoke softly though the walls were too high and there were no farm hands out at this time of day – at least this side of the fields.[+crimson “And if I might be so bold, I wish I had not stopped at kissing you cheek.”] A tad bashful and honest if a little open for his usual nature.[+crimson “Then again you had just finished throwing up – I doubt you would have wanted to, right?”] He chuckled softly as they walked along in the cool breeze than ran up from the town below and the smell of the nature about them filled the air.
Blinking, Florence was a little confused at why she was getting this lecture when she had already said he was right. The woman let him continue, but to be honest some of the things he wanted had already come about. She knew there was no harm in letting her son go over it all again, however that last bit about sitting down and giving him a clear plan for the future was probably a good idea. She kept promising him they would go back but he had not seemed to believe her. Did he still feel like he was going to be stuck here forever? It might as well have been a mystery, because she had not asked him about it.
[+mediumseagreen “Worry not, I will not leave my son to suffer in silence. I am sure it will not be easy to hear what he has to say, but doing the right thing seldom is.”] Clearly, as she did not exactly have the best track record in that department, though she thought many of those choices were not so black and white as this one. But so was life.
Thinking about it a bit more, she went on. [+mediumseagreen “I suppose I should actually commit to this..."] She did not want him thinking she was spewing idle words to sooth his worries. [+mediumseagreen "I will let the other two know that I want to speak with them. We can meet up tonight. One of the conference rooms should afford us at least a little bit of privacy.”] Florence was already not looking forward to it. [+mediumseagreen “But I would like to spend a little more time here with you first, if that is alright?”] The woman smiled earnestly at the tall fellow. [+mediumseagreen “You were eyeing the gate, would you like to go for a proper walk?”] There was definitely enough land within the inner wall to go for a stroll, but it never felt like you were really outside. Sure the sky full of clouds was overhead, but the feeling of confinement remained regardless. [+mediumseagreen "I always feel better when I can get out for a while... even I get tired of the glares from the guards."] The comment was accompanied by a hollow laugh. [+mediumseagreen "I know nothing will come of it, but it is grating all the same."]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Adrian nodded and rolled his eyes a touch at her further details about her brother being a swordsman and wanting to better protect his kingdom. That made a lot more sense though the second part did make him worry.[+crimson “Yes, just what I need, to potentially hurt a King in a show of swordsmanship.”] His sarcasm was heavy but a gentle smile followed and he left the matter there. He would seek out the man later to discuss it.
Returning to the woman in his presence however he saw how her smile faded and she lost that glow that had come from the beginning of the talk. He had said something to upset her, which had been entirely against what he had wanted. In fact, he wanted nothing more then than to step forward and embrace her, to show both his empathy and apology for the situation he had brought up.
Instead he remained a respectful distance away, hand rubbing at the back of his head as the other crossed his chest. His unease at the situation was quite evident.[+crimson “I am not the one to really offer suggestions how you can change that outlook. I am just a stranger to you all. You have so many years together and I can't help but feel..”] He dared not bring up the missing Elf's name and instead just nodded, letting out a somewhat exasperated sigh.[+crimson “Do you not feel that letting Augustine air his grievances now we are safe would be better than to let them fester?”]
From a simple glance he could see the woman was uncomfortable with the topic and the manner he was speaking to her in. But he was not one to lie or shy away from a truth that needed saying. He only ever held in his thoughts for saying another time – so why not now? [+crimson “I feel if you let him sit on these thoughts then he will stew in petty annoyances and that pain of leaving Wistina will grow into an anger, to despise you and Gregory and everything he can think of to blame.”] Again he hardly knew the boy, but perhaps because of this he could speak from a more honest point of view.[+crimson “I feel you need to get him to state why he is upset at leaving, hear him out, and put in place goals for him to look forward to rather than past slights to look back on.”]
Adrian was rather grateful she was being this open to him and he would not have breached the subject now if he did not feel she would at least listen to his words.[+crimson “You both want to go back, you both want to get revenge or return things to how they were. Then tell him such. Sit with him and work on a plan together. If he knows you are as determined as him to return, then he will understand. It is the fear you will settle too much here and become re-accustomed to life in Astoria that worries him. He is young but he has a tacticians mind. His tutors have taught him well.”] Little did the tall human know that it was a certain violet eyed elfin man who had been said tutor.
Florence chuckled lightly at his fumbling. Had Adrian been less kind natured, perhaps she would have taken offence on Augustus’ behalf, but clearly he had meant nothing by it. The woman waved her hand as if to tell him not to worry about it. She was more interested in clearing his confusion concerning her brother. [+mediumseagreen “No, my brother is not after conquest. You read him correctly there. He is more interested in strengthening the militias placed across the island. They are meant to protect the towns from bandits and the like. Though, admittedly they are not as big of a problem as they used to be.”] It was still better to be safe than sorry. [+mediumseagreen “He is also a swordsman himself. It is something he enjoys, so he gets excited to see and learn from new people.”] It was an interest she also saw in Augustine, so she was sure at some point the pair would bond over that.
She let him recover from there and go move on to other things. Her smile softened when he mentioned their moments together. Dipping her head subtly, she agreed. This was most definitely something she enjoyed as well. But it seemed everything he said after that was not quite so pleasant.
Silent for a moment, she did her best to gather her words. [+mediumseagreen “I know you are right. I should not let the delay go on for too long, I should not have even let it go as long as it has. You all have a right to an outlet… but I am not sure I can stand to hear my son say he hates me again.”] Florence thought back to the boy’s original outburst. It was before Adrian had joined them, so he looked a little confused, almost as though he did not believe it. [+mediumseagreen “Well, he did not say it in such simple terms… He said that I did not care about him, or Wistina, or anything else. That all I wanted and cared about was Astoria… and it was clear the outburst was not spur of the moment. These are things he has thought for some time, even before we started on this journey.”] It was still a rather sore subject for her, and given what Augustine knew now, it was probably far worse than it had been before. She was not looking forward to confirming it. But it would have to be so.
Florence looked over the well built man; she wondered if it looked as though she was attempting to bolster sympathy from him. Probably, as she was often misunderstood, but truthfully that was not what she was after. Adrian’s kindhearted demeanor just put her enough at ease to speak of such things. It, compounded with this familiar setting, let her open up and be just a little bit less distant than normal. For her it was a blessing, though certainly it was a curse for him.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Adrian had left the battlements and was stood not far from the inner gatehouse staring out across the farms toward the first ring of walls. He had yet to leave the castle since arriving and the desire to just walk out was rather tempting. Yet he could not trust himself to return, knowing if he left now that he may just keep going on. He wanted to stay and ensure he spoke with the others or he would always have questions in his mind for the rest of his life. But the allure to leave was strong.
Perhaps in this spirit it was lucky that Florence approached him and spoke out. Her smile was infectious and he returned it with abundance just to look upon her. Not wanting to interrupt her at all, very much grateful just for someone to talk to, he nodded along to what she had to say until she seemed to have finished, looking away for a moment down the pathway they had all taken into the castle.
It was quite interesting to hear what she had to say and his smile continued.[+crimson “Well firstly no need to apologise. After so long away I figured it was right to let you settle in and speak with your family. Augustine already seems more than settled.”] The boy was always absent, and when found he was with Augustus' young girl. It was sweet in a way that he had made such a hardy friend so easily. He was glad the boy was not remaining in his shy ways as on the journey in.
[+crimson “You say Eugene was interested?”] He was quite surprised by that and chuckled.[+crimson “From that first night he never struck me as a militaristic man. Augustus on the other hand..”] He winced a little at the poor taste in words given the man's disability, but his cheeks darkened a little and he looked away.[+crimson “Sorry.”] He added after. In truth he was surprised though. He did not see Eugene as a man of war or military prowess but rather envisioned him as an emotional and nationalistic man. Someone who took pride in their country and the people who lived there rather than seeking new territory to conquer or defend from.
And why would the man be interested in him? He was an average swordsman, perhaps more if he washing being so bashful and humble. But Astoria was renowned for bows and their archery skills. It did not occur to Adrian that the man would want someone skilled with a sword to help him. But he would not say he wasn't a little flattered.
[+crimson “Anyway, moving on from my silly words.”] He chuckled a little nervously as he looked back to her, a little shy now but that was simply his normal manner.[+crimson “I'm not truly sure what I want right now. I only really know I rather like being in your company, and would like to spend more time with you having these moments together to just stand about and talk.”] It was a little flirtatious if it was only the truth and he turned his ruby eyes to the ground lest he try to hold her hand again. Perhaps in time he could, or in secrecy, but in the open like this he was sure she would not appreciate it. No more stolen kisses to the cheek for now.[+crimson “I am glad you and Augustine and Gregory are settling in so well. You all seem the happiest I've ever seen you since the pass.”] He did recall what Augustine had said in their moments away from the others, but he let out a soft sigh rather than speak up.[+crimson “I think it would benefit us all if we had a talk however. Just the four of us. Get any pent up frustrations or feelings out.”]
He spoke a little toward himself but also wanting the boy to have an avenue to express himself. Repression of what he had felt in the last few weeks would not do him well in the long run. Things needed to be open between them all as far as Adrian was concerned. Though as ever he was rather easy to push aside and would abide by the general consensus.
Florence had been pulled this way and that for the duration of their stay. And while she was happy to see everyone, she was definitely getting to her limit. There were few places to escape that she could not be readily found. Part of the appeal of the maze like gardens that had once been housed on these lands was that she could tuck herself away in them. Then at the very least it would take a while for her to be found. But they were gone and there was no place of refuge for her anymore. Though, she did feel a touch bad for thinking about it that way.
Wandering around in the open air, she happened upon Adrian, one more thing for her to feel terrible about. She had practically been ignoring him this entire time. Though it was not intentional, she was surprised he was still around. Though it was probably vain of her to assume she was the only reason he was hanging about.
Watching him for a little bit, he did not seem to notice her. And so Florence let it stay that way, just observing him from afar. He didn’t appear to be up to anything in particular, but she smiled all the same. The man looked lost, but not in a physical sense. More like he didn’t know what to do with himself. It was sort of cute. But as much fun as she was having with that, she decided to end it by approaching him.
[+mediumseagreen “Hello.”] The warm smile that graced her face faded some, but not entirely, as she continued. [+mediumseagreen “I feel I should apologize… We dragged you all the way up here and then basically threw you to the wolves… sorry.”] He was not in any real danger, but regardless it might have felt that way. She remembered adjusting to living in a castle. What it was like to leave behind a more nomadic lifestyle, but she had done it of her own accord. This and that were two entirely different things.
[+mediumseagreen “I am relieved to see you are still around though. I had thought you might depart before I had the chance to properly speak with you again.”] She was very glad that was not the case, as she wanted to spend more time with him… not to mention she actually did have things to discuss. Florence thought it best to start there.
[+mediumseagreen “I spoke with my brother and told him you were interested in a position here.”] The tall woman was not sure that was still the case after he had actually spent time in Astoria, but she operated under the assumption it was. [+mediumseagreen “He is very interested in seeing your swordsmanship. They are always looking to integrate new styles into the regiment they have in the barracks.”] Beyond that they thought Adrian might have a wider knowledge of defense as well, having fought battles all along the continent. His experience was not confined to this island like many of the officers here. [+mediumseagreen “And please, do not feel pressured to accept. I am sure there are other options, that was just the first to come up… and of course there is also the chance that you would rather move on. I would understand that as well.”] It was not her favorite of the possibilities, but it was very much on the table.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Adrian was rather left to his own devices from the meeting and onwards. The topics between the group were very familial and talking on points that a stranger to Astoria could only stare blankly ahead and nod thankfully when it was explained to them as if they were a child. Gregory would often turn and talk to him through the rest of the meeting, to point out names and how they fitted into this new landscape. The man was a godsend.
And yet for the days following, Adrian was rather abandoned. It was not in a non-caring manner or in that he had served his purpose and was free to go about his own life as he wished. He was fed – whenever he could find his way through the maze of the castle and wander into the kitchens. The staff were rather friendly and despite his constant refusals to try something new or exotic to his taste buds, they humoured his more simple nature and simpler requests.
His chambers were extravagant and lavish. Even if Eugene had been cutting back on luxuries, to a man so used to outdoor living, this was several worlds away from his own. The fact there was any give in the mattress and it was not simply a fabric mat atop a piece of wood was quite a shock that first night. He felt like he had snook inside and stolen a bed and should he be found he would be summarily tossed out on his backside.
The days were rather lacklustre for him. With no need to go hunting for that nights meal, or seek out a campsite and the requisite firewood and materials for a warm stay. It was so foreign being in a place where others brought things at a whim. Hot water, hot meals, extra blankets and changes of clothes. He was eager not to be out of his own clothing for too long and therefore as soon as it was washed for him he was back into the well worn fabric.
He had wanted to speak with the others but it proved nigh on impossible given Augustine was constantly off playing with his new friends and the adults were busy readjusting to their home and their old lives, talking with anyone who wanted a word or to welcome them back, sharing some stories of their time away, generally being amazing hosts. But it left Adrian by himself and the days were dragging so long with nothing to do but laze about the place – even being chastised by a stable boy no older than fifteen when he had gone to see his horse and brush her down. Perhaps this is what Florence and Gregory liked but he felt next to useless.
The only upside for him was to go to the castle's walls and look out over the landscape, the rivers and sea bathed in the golden glow of the waning sun and the forests about turning ambers, reds and yellows as autumn began to hit in earnest. The guards on patrol would eye him warily, as was their role, but his sword and shield remained in his room and he never offered any resistance of threat when told to move on elsewhere or asked what he was doing. He just leaned on the battlements and stared out into the world about him.
After the just of the story was out, as well as what Florence thought should be done. There was some debate about it. Augustus, like before, saw it more as an international issue. That slighting her as an ambassador of their country was inexcusable. He leaned toward confrontation, perhaps not war now that she and Augustine were safe, but he still though the incident should be brought to light. Eugene on the other hand wanted to keep allegiances intact and simply be more weary of Wistina and those connected to it for the time being. He thought with Florence and child out of picture, perhaps they would lessen their pursuit.
The two men went back and forth with input from the others for a while. Being on opposite ends of the argument they were able to pull one another to a more balanced and central view. And they managed it in a civil manner. The two worked well together. Coincidentally that central view ended up being along the lines of what Florence had suggested. Wait it out and take it on as a personal matter later. Astoria did not need to be thrown into turmoil over this.
They were able to return to more pleasant conversation after that. [+mediumseagreen "So, where is Abigail? I still have not seen her."] Florence was referring to her brother's wife and the somewhat new Queen of Astoria.
[+seagreen "She has not been feeling well the past few days, so she is getting some rest."]
Before Florence could inquire to her health, Augustus chimed in. [+darkslateblue "Of course she doesn't feel well, that woman is about to pop."]
[+darkmagenta "So there is another baby on the way is there?"] Gregory took keen interest in that.
Eugene nodded to confirm, but it was Florence who spoke next. [+mediumseagreen "Gods below, you've only been married six years. What is this your fourth? Give that girl a break."] Those her voice was chiding, she still smiled. Abigail was just about the sweetest person she had ever met, with the patients of a saint, so there was no doubt in her mind she made an excellent mother. But there was a limit to everything.
Bashful at the sudden attention on his love life, Eugene shrugged. That was at the center of their talks for a while, but they moved on eventually. It went on well into the night.
A couple of days passed and they finally started to fall into a routine of sorts. And given that time, Augustine did open up some, though he was still hesitant. Augustus sort of scared him. He was a very similar presence to his mother. Unfortunately, because there was no relation there it made him even more nervous. But despite his reservations, he found himself frequently in the man's presence. It was Flora. He could not get her to leave him alone and unfortunately she was always wanting to bother her dad.
[+plum "Hey, Augustine."] She called for the boy's attention. [+plum "Wanna hear something funny?"]
[+coral "I guess..."] He was not particularly interested, but there was nothing better to do. His mother said it would be a while before he started getting back to his scheduled schooling.
[+plum "Hey, Vati, how did you lose your arm?"] Augustine looked at her dumbfounded. How could she even think of asking something so rude, especially when her dad was so scary?!
The man who had been trying to finish up some paperwork at the other side of the room let out a long airy sigh and set down his pen. He brought his full attention up to the children. [+darkslateblue “I tried to catch an arrow.”] There was a half smile that went along with his mildly sardonic response.
The girl fell into a fit of giggles. [+plum “Isn’t that silly?”] But when she looked over to Augustine he just looked stupefied.
[+coral “Why would you try and do that?”] His astonishment bled into his voice.
This time Augustus laughed. He didn’t know how many times Flora had asked what happened, but she had never once thought to follow through. This boy did it on the first go. [+darkslateblue “Because it was aimed at your mom, kid.”] The fiery haired girl stopped her chuckling. She had always figured her dad was just making a joke because he didn’t want to talk about it. But it turned out there might actually be a real life story to this.
With both sets of eyes on him, he supposed he had to tell at least some of the story. [+darkslateblue “Well, it was one of the final battles of the revolution, and the other side was getting desperate. They knew they needed to take out one of the faces of the rebellion. And since Florence was the one calling to see heads roll, they picked her. There was a lot going on, and they managed to get an archer on our side without us noticing… Anyway, long story short, I saw the arrow coming and she didn’t, so I reached out to try and stop it. Unfortunately, it ran through my hand and still hit her, but it would have been much worse had I not intervened.”] He knew that made him sound like he was trying to take more credit than he was due, so he went on. [+darkslateblue “The tip was drenched in poison. I took the brunt of it and ended up losing my arm. But we both survived, so I'd say it was worth it.”] Even with all that, Augustus still thought he was better off than Florence. What remained of the toxin made it into her lungs. She was never quite the same, but he didn’t feel the need to ruin the story with that. Not right now.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Adrian was quite grateful for the chance to make light conversation as the main story was quickly pushed to a later time, not in the presence of the children. Augustine knew it all and so it was not needed for him to relive it in one evening. Yet the others, Adrian included, knew only pieces here and there and not the same parts altogether.
Sat at the table, seated away from the others as if he were just an observer – and indeed he was – he felt a touch uneasy at this situation. It was not his fight, none of this was. He was a guide who helped them reach the port safely and yet when called upon at the pass, it had been Nicolai who had struck out and cleared a path for their freedom. It was peculiar how the incident at the pass, the encirclement and the demand for both Florence and Augustine, was condensed in such a fashion that it showed little of what really happened. Nicolai was relegated to the role of a wary and hesitant ally who at the first opportunity to leave had done so.
It was not a light he wished for the elven man to be seen in. To be reduced to little more than a follower to Gregory and Florence and less of a help than a hindrance from the moment Adrian and Lizzie had come into the picture. He wanted to speak up and have his say to push more of the praise and adoration on the man for defending them as he had, for getting them to the pass to begin with, to state aloud the true reason he had left that night.
But where would the point be but to stir the pot and to antagonise Florence and perhaps Gregory? He would be defending someone who was not here, who had little to gain from his defence. All Adrian would be doing would be to cast doubt on her and to put more shame on her than she already likely felt. So as he did with most of his life, he kept quiet, his eyes remained on the table before him, he allowed them all to ask their own individual questions and to question the other two as they seemed fit. He was not needed at that moment in time and despite hearing the full story from the beginning even he had questions about just what had occurred in the castle before leaving. One day he would sit the trio down and he could have his own conference with them, but for now, Eugene and Augustus would have their moment with her.
Adrian was not wrong about the looks, most of the sparse sprinkling of guards looked over to the group. Generally it was just to flash a smile or bow as the king passed, but every once in a while there was a darker look. Whether it be a glare or a simple scowl, the occasion face was not so happy to see Florence. Though for the immediate time, nothing came of it.
The rest of the day went to more casual conversation and spreading the news that the king’s sister had returned for an extended stay and she brought her son. There were some questions at what had prompted her to return, but they were generally pushed off for the time being. It was not until that evening; after the children were put off to bed that the adults sat down to have an actual talk about what was going on.
Seated in a conference room of sorts, it was everyone from before minus Julia who had to finish the errand she was previously on. Florence thought it was only fitting that she start things up, since she and Gregory were really the only ones who knew the whole story. Adrian had missed most of what was going on, so this would be information for him as well.
[+mediumseagreen “Germaine died…”] As blunt as it was, Florence saw no better place to start than at the beginning. And while things might have been set in motion long before then, that was when things really got moving. From then on she told the story. How her influence was limited to the confines of the castle and her allies were numbered, and how in the end she could not keep control of the situation. [+mediumseagreen “It was not until we were fleeing that I discovered that the enemy had enlisted the help of an assassin’s guild. Some years ago I put one of their members on death row, apparently they thought this was the perfect chance to get revenge.”] It was true, just lacking a few details. As ashamed as she was to have Gregory and Adrian know, it would have been worse to have Eugene and Augustus in on it as well.
From there she talked about their escape, how the general from earlier in her story helped them. Florence kept up with most the specifics from there on out, including how one of their own betrayed them and how they had come to meet Adrian and his companion. It was not until they reached the pass that she began to spare her audience on the particulars again. Sure, she mentioned the attack, but not what was learned there. And while she mentioned how Nicolai had decided that he couldn’t continue on with them, she did not mention why. There was little point to exposing her insensitivity to more people. She felt shame enough for the whole thing.
[+mediumseagreen “After riding over on Gregory’s friend’s fishing boat, things remained uneventful until we arrived here. But I think you know the story from there.”] She looked over to Gregory after that, silently asking if he had anything to add.
He shook his head. [+darkmagenta “That sums it all up. It looks like we will be back in Astoria for quite some time… I would prefer never to go back, but it seems that Augustine was pressed into making some lofty promises to his father on his deathbed.”]
[+mediumseagreen “The bastard… I should have never brought Augustine to see him…”] Florence still regretted it heavily. [+mediumseagreen “At this point he still wants to go back and take back the throne that is rightfully his.”] And while she wished it was his own will that drove him to do so, the woman was not wholly apposed to the choice. [+mediumseagreen “As for myself, I want to rip apart that worthless excuse for a court. I want to see them get everything that is coming to them for their underhandedness and greed.”] There was fire behind her words. [+mediumseagreen “However, it will have to wait. Augustine is too young for this sort of undertaking. Ideally, we would wait till he was of legal age to take the crown without a regent, but that is a long way off… Fifteen would be the earliest I would consider letting him cross back over the boarder, but he would need to be ready beyond a doubt.”] There was much for him to learn, how to fight, how to rally a people, how to rule a country fairly and honestly. It was a lot to cram into seven years, but she was confident he had a better chance gathering all that knowledge here than anywhere else in the world.
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