Fall of the Court

/ By Loxi [+Watch]

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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."]
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 1y 50d 13h 51m 20s
[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.
  WI_ / 1y 51d 4h 6m 13s
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.
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 1y 51d 7h 37m 32s
[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.
  WI_ / 1y 51d 10h 54m 1s
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.
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 1y 51d 13h 2m 49s
[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.
  WI_ / 1y 52d 14h 41m 0s
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.
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 1y 53d 6h 43m 48s
[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.
  WI_ / 1y 53d 15h 57m 27s
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.
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 1y 54d 4h 12m 30s
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Adrian felt good to see that they were all getting along famously, and indeed Eugene and Augustus took to Florence so quickly it was like they had awaited this moment from the time she had left. Perhaps they would have wanted to plan a more extravagant or lavish affair with a line of guardsmen or a plethora of petal girls. But that was likely just the tall pale man's idea of a decadent affair. From Florence's description of her brother, and the sight of fields of crops than gardens, he doubted the man would have done so.

As the greetings and fond embracing amongst them all began to subside, and it looked like they were beginning to move over, Adrian put a soft hand to the young boys shoulder.[+crimson “I won't say a word Augustine. It does not concern me.”] He commented with regards to their conversation. He was not a man who went telling secrets or exposing things aloud. He held many of Lizzie's stories and already he had Florence's lies to hold from her brother. It was just a typical day.

When she approached he smile softly and stepped aside so that she might stand close to her son. Gregory was doing a damn fine job of coercing the group to head inside.[+crimson “Oh, all fine over here. Stole some pies to feed the children – something I believe Gregory has done many times before with how easy he did so.”] He received an uneasy look from Augustus as the man passed by and he made sure to keep his hands folded over his chest, away from his sword.

[+crimson “Though it is good to have you back with us.”] He steered clear of anything to do with her son and made very sure to keep his hands to himself lest fingers be taken as payment. He simply followed behind the group, seeing a soldier or two eye them but otherwise leave them be. Was he being deceived into thinking this was so sparingly defended?

From his initial walk through the gate houses and also the wall to the kitchens, he felt there was a lack of defence. Perhaps it was just his eye not being used to places like this, but he felt a touch uneasy that the King himself was so lightly protected. If he was not guarded thoroughly, it only made him worry for Florence and the others. But again he had to console himself with remaining tight lipped – he was worrying needlessly. If there was something to worry about, he would be told, hopefully.
  WI_ / 1y 54d 15h 16m 8s
Florence helped Julia off the horse before getting down herself. Her feet barely touched the ground before her brother had ahold of her. [+mediumseagreen "Oh, are you speaking to me now?"]

[+seagreen "Oh be quiet and let me be happy you are alive."] He was sure not to squeeze too tightly, even though he really wanted to.

His comment was concerning, but she waited to be released before asking about it. [+mediumseagreen "And why, pray tell, would you think I would be dead?"] Florence had a good idea of what it was. She just wanted to hear it outright.

[+darkslateblue "Rumor has it you have gone missing in Wistina."]Augustus stepped forward. [+darkslateblue "And I am hugging you whether you like it or not."] Coming the rest of the way towards her, he wrapped his left arm around her for a brief embrace. She reciprocated by patting him on the back which earned her a dirty look as he pulled back.

[+mediumseagreen "Word of mouth travels fast."] She honestly had not expected the news to beat them up here. Though, they had made a few detours, so it was not completely implausible.

Her brother's eyes filled with worry again, but to a lesser degree than before. [+seagreen "Did you really steal out of the castle and not tell anyone?"] It was difficult to believe his sister would do such a thing, but that was really all that came to mind now that he knew she was safe.

Both Florence and Augustus looked at the man in bewilderment. His optimism was beyond them. [+darkslateblue "Eugene, obviously something happened..."]

[+mediumseagreen "There were some... internal problems. But I do not want to get into it right now."] Florence was at the end of a several week journey. She desperately needed some time to relax and talking about Vincent and his schemes was just about the opposite of that. She also was not sure how much to tell about the other half of her problem. Her hope was to stay silent on the matter, but with Gregory as part of the equation she was less certain that would work. He was not the type to be loose lipped when it really mattered, however Florence was still a mite paranoid about it. Perhaps she would have to sit down and talk to him later. Though, that was liable to happen whether she wanted it to or not.

[+darkmagenta "How much longer are you going to hog them to yourself!"] The dwarf in question hollered over at them.

[+mediumseagreen “We were just headed that way so we could go inside, have some patience.”] She scolded the man, but it seemed to have no effect whatsoever. [+mediumseagreen “And I expect that you will be taking those dishes back to the kitchen where you got them.”] She could see the scowl on his face even from this distance.

They turned to go that way when Julia piped up. [+orchid “Excuse me? I am here too, you know.”] The comment wait mainly pointed at Augustus. He flinched, very aware that that was the case.

[+darkslateblue “Really, Julia?”] He asked, but knew very well she meant it. Even without seeing her incredibly unamused expression. The man sighed and fell back to walk next to her. [+darkslateblue “You know I would never willfully ignore you, my sweet.”]

[+orchid “Oh, so you think you can make up for it by acting all nice now?”] She looked at him skeptically.

[+darkslateblue “I very much hope I can.”] He smiled tenderly, an expression very seldom used outside of interactions with his wife. Despite his roughness with everything else, he was wrapped around Julia’s finger.

[+orchid “Yeah, yeah.”] She played him off some, not really all that irritated at the situation. She just liked to toy with him.

Joining the others, Florence greeted the slew of children, introducing herself quickly to them. Gregory took the lead in giving her their names. Out of the six she did not recognize, three of them were her brother's, one was Augustus' girl, and the last couple were children of servants that came to play from time to time. The woman smiled happily at all of them before taking up the space next to Augustine and Adrian so that they could continued on toward the palace.

[+mediumseagreen "Sorry I took so long. Hopefully everything went smoothly."]
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 1y 55d 5h 43m 38s
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat It seemed the man missing his arm, and he hated having to call him that as did not know his name, was particularly upset to see Adrian stood there. Having given his respectful bow he felt a little conscious that no-one else was and stood meekly to one side. Thankfully Gregory made the introductions and his head lifted a moment to confirm names to faces. His mind cried out to ask 'how did you lose the arm' on looking at Augustus, though he bit down hard on his tongue and looked away to Augustine.

It was a little comforting to have someone in the same boat as him and a quick turn of his head for the boy to come and join him as his grandfather sought the names and parentage of the children, had the boy moving over subtly to stand nearby. It was like picking sides, with the three travellers stood close together and the two authoritarian men staring at them critically. Gregory may have waved this off but the other two became rather reserved in the presence of the two men; Augustine disliked having new eyes on himself given his past, and Adrian did not wish to make a critical mistake before Eugene. Florence had made him out as a positive and open fellow but it was still best to remain quiet.

And that made it all the better when not too long after came Florence and another woman atop her horse. A hand was placed to Augustine's shoulder to keep him close by to him, more for his own sake of not being abandoned by those who rushed off to the woman than for any other means. Leaning down beside him, the tall man smiled softly.[+crimson “I think it best we let them all catch up. After today, things will settle to a more normal routine.”] He nodded with his words.

[+darkorange “I know. But it still feels odd.”] He said as the pairing watched the passionate greetings and embracing holds that were rather forced upon Florence the moment she was off that horse.[+darkorange “I guess travelling here, it felt like an adventure and a journey. But since the pass, I've not wanted to be at this moment.”] A look of concern tinged his crimson eyes as his pale hand grasped the boys shoulder.[+crimson “Why do you dread meeting your family?”] He inquired.

The boy let out a soft sigh, looking at his mother who smile was quite infectious to all those about them.[+darkorange “I just don't feel like they are my family.”] A light laugh, not one to denigrate the boys feelings, escaped Adrian.[+crimson “Of course they are. Eugene is your Uncle and some of these children are your brethren. And you are named after Augustus, so he is important to you too.”]

The boy shook his head, little hands balling up a little.[+darkorange “No, they're just strangers. Nicolai and Gerald and those in Wistina are my family. And now, I'm just stuck here with strangers who will pity me because my dad..”] He paused for a moment, taking a deep breath and looking at the ground as the word itself seemed to have changed to him.[+darkorange “Since he died, people just pity me. Everyone except for Gregory and Nicolai. They just treated me like normal, like they knew what it felt like to lose a father and knew how to treat me to help. But mother.. she just wants to wrap me up and keep me from everything.”] He sighed as his voice became quieter and more silent. Eventually he looked up to Adrian and shook his head.[+darkorange “I don't want to talk about this sorry. If mother sees me upset..”]

Adrian nodded and let his hand fall from the boys shoulder. He did not say anything more on the matter and stood back upright, looking to the others as Florence's son put up a neutral face and watched with him, quietly and contemplative.
  WI_ / 1y 55d 14h 13m 22s
Augustus was not thrilled that there was a stranger amongst them, and an armed one at that. But for the most part he trusted Gregory's judgement. Though, his dark eyes did not leave Adrian until after they were introduced. Something the bard popped up to do not long after everyone grouped up and had a crisp crusted piece of pie in hand.

[+darkmagenta "Eugene, Augustus, it looks like you already met Augustine, so I will spare you that, but this is Adrian. He helped us on the journey up, wouldn't have made it without him.] He motioned to the man before turning toward him and reversing the introduction. [+darkmagenta "Adrian, this is my son Eugene and his friend Augustus."] His hand followed his announcement. [+darkmagenta "Now,"] he clasped his hands together like he was about to get down to more serious business. [+darkmagenta "Whose kids are whose?"]

There was a collective eye roll.

---

After a much longer conversation than she would have liked, Florence was free of the tavern owner. Danni was being called back by a patron that wanted something or other and the younger woman thanked her lucky stars. Nothing besides the sound of money calling could distract the proprietress. Though, she did coerce Florence in agreeing to come back later. But that was just as well, as she was sure someone would drag her down her at some point. Her guess was Augustus.

With Danni out of her hair, the one time Queen was able to greet the others that had gathered. She did so in a polite and reserved manner. Unlike these past several weeks, she was surrounded by people with expectations of her and how she should act. Florence planned to meet, if not exceed, them. However unlike in Wistina, there was more of a gentleness to the front she put up. These were a people she felt connected to, maybe not quite so much as her brother did, but there was a bond and sense of camaraderie. That was not the case in the south. Perhaps it could have been had she ever been allowed to leave the castle grounds. But she was not, and instead she was surrounded by noblemen. Noblemen who were selfish and incompetent, traits she could hardly tolerate, and even less so in those who held power.

Florence answered questions, though most of her replies were somewhat lacking. She did not know how long she would be staying in Astoria and she couldn't well tell people why she had come. Just by listening in she discovered that news of Germaine's death had spread all the way here, so she used that. It was better than saying she was driven out of the castle by the corruption within, or to tell them that it was in part her own fault for the choices she had made. No, it would have to stay as it was.

[+orchid "Florence?"]

Florence's shoulders dropped. Here they went again, but when she turned about she saw someone she actually knew. A wider smile appeared on her face. [+mediumseagreen "Julia, it has been too long."]

With a somewhat stern expression the coppery haired woman deadpanned back, [+orchid "you are damn right it has. I cannot believe it has taken you ten years to visit."]

[+mediumseagreen "Well..."] She was cut off before finishing the excuse. Which was probably good, as she did not have anything valid to say.

[+orchid "Have you even made it up to the castle yet?"]

Florence shook her head. A hard expression flashed onto the spitfire of a woman's face. [+orchid "What in the hell are you people doing, let the woman go see her family!"] She began to shoo off the crowd, loudly chastising them. Florence held back laughter until they were gone and it was only her and Julia.

[+mediumseagreen "So what are you doing out?"] Julia usually worked during the daylight hours so it was rare to see her out. At least that was how it used to be.

[+orchid "I am making a delivery, but it is going to have to wait."] There was a look of determination on her face. Florence would come to find out that expression was her resolve to keep people away from them as they went the rest of the way to the castle. On this leg of the journey, the pair chose to walk. The horse kept in tow until they made it to the first gatehouse. They rode the rest of the way.

When Florence finally made it to the castle, it almost looked like the others had just arrive. They were still in the courtyard, which begged her to wonder if they had made it inside at all. But the demolished pies betrayed them. Clearly Gregory's tomfoolery was already afoot. The woman sighed, but there was no time to linger on it as quite the group was gathered around the dwarf.

Augustine was the first to notice someone else had entered the courtyard, but rather than shout it out, he tugged at Gregory. All these people had his shy tendencies kicking back in, so when more than a set of gray eyes came done on him, he sort of panicked. The boy opted to point instead of speak.

Augustus and Eugene hopped up instantly and continued the scurry that Gregory had previously interrupted.
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 1y 55d 15h 9m 34s
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Seeing that he was being laughed at Adrian's face flushed terribly dark and he quickly put the coins back into his pouch. He knew they were only jesting at his expense but it was still terribly embarrassing to have made such a faux pas. There was much to learn about being in a castle and in the home of royalty. They did things differently and he looked to Gregory with a little shame, hoping what he had done would not be held against him.

Yet they were soon away from discussing him and on to Florence and her deceased husband. It was not a topic he wished to partake in, as being the man now vying for her attention it did not shed a warm light on him. He shuffled about the kitchen, reaching for a piece of ham to try a piece but having his hand batted away by Samantha as if she were swatting away a fly. He hissed and moved back over to Gregory.

Thankfully he was rather excellent with his oral skills and in a moment he had the woman wrapped about his finger, offering up excuses of why multiple pies were required. It was humorous to see him use the children to his advantage, though he did use them in a way that would benefit them too. Adrian simply remained silent and like a pack mule he was used to carry the knife and an additional pie tin. Whilst he had been hopeful of a savoury pie, or just some cuts of meat, the sweet smell that rose from the pasty and filling was quite overwhelming and he subdued himself to be thankful.

Bowing his head to the head chef, he quickly followed the small man back out, her warning echoing down the hall as he jogged to catch up.[+crimson “You are a charming thief Gregory – no doubt you've stolen one or two of their hearts as well.”] He had admiration for the man and his tenacious ways and would have to take some of this mans acts and plays as his own. Perhaps it would give him more with Florence, at least show her a lighter side to himself though he was already quite open and light hearted.

Regardless of the woman's desires and what he wanted he followed the dwarf out back to where the children had been. Adrian was a little concerned not to see Augustine or the girl who had taken him off to play, but Gregory was calm and content, happy to be offering slivers of pie to greedy little hands as they sat in the grass. He himself had taken one small slice and stood off to the side a little, not wanting to disturb the dwarven man who seemed in his element.

When two men had come rushing down into the courtyard and skittered to a stop, he had felt a pang of fear that perhaps they were about to be acted upon. Perhaps they had taken too much liberty. Yet once again, Adrian was to look foolish as Gregory looked across and nonchalantly called on his son to come have a slice of pie. How long had this man been away? He could understand wanting to eat first but to greet his son like that in such a dismissive manner, as if he had never been gone in the first place, the tall pale man was rather lost for words. Yet that was Gregory. He did as he pleased and people loved him for it.

As if only coming to his own senses however, and letting their conversation run on until further pie offers were made, Adrian lowered to a knee, bowing his head as the cool emerald eyes of Eugene had swept across toward him. Perhaps he should have left his sword behind or at least not on his hip. The man with one arm and eyes as dark as coals had looked at him with annoyance, though perhaps it had just been this entire scene all together that had disgruntled him. The red eyed man remained silent, just staying bowed and respectful as he felt was proper. Where was Florence to keep him calm when he needed it most?
  WI_ / 1y 56d 15h 34m 51s
The ladies giggled at Adrian. [+hotpink “Where did you find this one, Gregory? He’s a sweet one.”] Samantha waved his hand off. [+hotpink “You can keep your coin.”] She winked, a happy look on her face.

[+darkmagenta “It was Florence who picked him up, not me.”] That was only part true, but it worked to spread the news that he was not the only one who had made the trip back from Wistina.

[+hotpink “Lady Florence has returned too? Well, that is a surprise… though I suppose it shouldn’t be. Poor girl, she just lost her husband did she not?”] Rumors of it were circulating about a month or so ago, but it was hard to tell what was the truth by the time it traveled this far north. The woman had hoped it was nothing more than hearsay, but the look on Gregory’s face confirmed it.

The dwarf nodded, concreting it further. [+darkmagenta “That she did. And a lot happened after that, politics and what have you, but I won’t bore you beautiful ladies with that story.”] He waved his hand as if it would clear up the gloominess that clung to the air. [+darkmagenta “Now about those pies?”]

Lifting a brow she looked back to him, [+hotpink “pies? I do not see why two men have need for more than one.”]

[+darkmagenta “Did I not mentioned we brought my grandson as well? He certainly will need a taste, and he is playing with a whole slew of children out there who I am sure are in need of some spoiling.”] He wore the grin of an old man who was looking to ruin dinner for a lot of children.

[+hotpink “Fine, but if Abigail asks, I am telling her exactly who is to blame.”]

Gregory shrugged; he was not too worried about it. He knew he would be easily forgiven. [+darkmagenta “You are a doll, Samantha.”] He held his hands out as the woman walked back to a collect a few of the large tinned pastries. She passed two of them off to Gregory and a third to his friend along with a serving knife. [+darkmagenta “Thank you!”] He gave his thanks emphatically, then like a mouse, he was quick to scamper away with his spoils.

Standing in the doorway behind them, hands on her hips, the chef called after them. [+hotpink “Next time you had better bring this mainlander grandson of yours, I want to see him!”]

[+darkmagenta “Of course!”] He smiled back as he rushed off back toward the courtyard.

---

For once Augustine needed no prompting from Flora to start off running. He followed after the King and his friend, slowly losing ground on the long legged men as they went. But despite falling behind, he never lost visual of them. And soon enough they were all back at the courtyard. That was where the chase came to the end, because as soon as Eugene laid eyes on Gregory sitting in the grass and dishing out slices of pie to his children he stopped. [+seagreen “Vati?”]

[+darkmagenta “Ah, there you are Eugene. I was wondering when you would show up. Here.”] He offered a piece of apple pie out to the man. [+darkmagenta “You too Augustine!”]

[+darkslateblue “Don’t you think you should have sent word that you would be returning?”] Augustus was critical.

Gregory shook his head. [+darkmagenta “I don’t see why I should need to tell you when I am coming home.”] He was, of course, joking, but it did not seem like the dark eyed man appreciated it. [+darkmagenta “Truth be told, we did not have time. It is a long story. Not very suitable for the ears of children, so it you will have to come later. Now eat while we wait for Florence, unless you want to get caught up by Danni too?”]
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 1y 57d 5h 13m 32s
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