[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Augustus nodded as he agreed with her sentiments that Eugene may already be suspicious of what was happening. But he disagreed that anything regarding Adrian had become known.[+darkslateblue “Yes, he may be growing aware that something is going on. I have informed him about who Nicolai is, what he is accused of on the mainland, general details that he will need if the trial is to progress at any meaningful rate. But,”] he hesitated just a few seconds as this was not what she would want to hear,[+darkslateblue “at this moment in time, I see no reason why we should allow Nicolai to go free.”] And he looked quite serious about that.
Whilst Augustus wanted to get rid of the man, rid him from their realm and banish him from ever stepping foot here again at the soonest moment, he understood that without the knowledge he had that Eugene would find it sceptical to simply release a resistance leader and known murderer of Astorian soldiers.[+darkslateblue “I will fight to oppose the death sentence and try to lead him toward simply locking the elf away but I cannot even guarantee that, should the evidence lead toward it.”]
Florence nodded along as she listened. He wanted to keep this hush hush, and she did not think that was a bad thing. The less stir they could make in covering this up the better. Of course the best way to be completely thorough with it was to get rid of Nicolai, but as heartless as she was, even she had qualms with that. There was also one minor problem...
[+mediumseagreen "Eugene may already be suspicious..."] She thought back to the talk they had a few days prior where he had tried to pry information out of her. It was only because he was worried, but if he put two and two together they might not be able to completely glance over this. [+mediumseagreen "He came to me the other day wanting to know what was going on. I was vague, but I did mention that what was going on with Adrian might be more questionable than we first believed."] She had also gone on to speak of Nicolai in a positive light. Florence did not think it would tremendously difficult for her brother to come up with a plausible theory for it all, though she doubted he would be one hundred percent correct with his assumptions.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai enjoyed the rest of their talk, though he could understand with each question he posed or answer he gave that Augustine was straining to get away. He had lessons, tutoring, not to mention his sweetheart Flora, all of which were vying for his attention. Their talk had started at an odd point, progressed on to an argumentative one, and ended on a somewhat positive. It was how most of Nicolai’s talks seemed to go and he could understand truly how most people did not relish the chance to speak to him about anything but a very specific matter. When he was allowed to generalise he could be antagonistic.
He let the boy go without any qualms, though it was thoughtful of him to offer to return at another time, perhaps when he had more questions. It left the elf only wondering if there would indeed be another time. It would have been nice to have a time or day set for his trial so that he might be able to plan accordingly. If he was to be kept here or even hung, as a prisoner for his alleged crimes, then he would be able to offer all the advice he could to the young yet aspirational Augustine. He could say his goodbyes correctly. For now, he would just have to return to his bed and await whomever wished to visit next.
Augustus had been hoping for a day to relax, but upon seeing Florence he understood she was inpatient to get this progressing. He should have guessed she wanted this sorted and an answer known as soon as possible. She, rather like him in a way, liked to have things wrapped up and orderly. But even this was a little too fast for him and he directed her to follow him over to a nearby perch to sit.
[+darkslateblue “Well, I have instructed the doctor and nurse to class his death it as internal bleeding, though the doctor had already noted he was getting better, so it will be noted he fell from his bed or aggravated the wound in some other means.”] It was an easy excuse that most would accept without questioning too much, especially coming from such a medical man.[+darkslateblue “Unfortunately, that is bad news for Nicolai as I cannot have it known that the man worked for the Taken and attacked you and Augustine. Eugene needs to remain out of this all and oblivious to it all. I can’t have him distrusting anyone or being ensnared in all this.”] It was a terribly annoying but pointed fact that he wanted to keep his friend out of such messy work. It would just work against the elf and Augustus was unsure how that would affect the trial.
[+coral "I have a little bit."] Admittedly, he could probably work on that more. [+coral "I have spent a lot of time observing my uncle and he is really good at that, but I have not had much of a chance to apply it."] There was not much of a reason for him to speak in front of crowds. He had been made to practice by some of his tutors, but reciting a speech in front of a teacher would pale in comparison to actually having to do so before those who depended on him. Or that was how he sort of imagined it might be in the future.
The conversation continued on these lines, more relaxed after having gotten some of those more tumultuous topics out of the way. Augustine stuck around for quite some time, but eventually he did need to get back to his normal schedule. He bid Nicolai farewell and promised to visit again to try and alleviate his boredom. Perhaps he might be able to smuggle in a book or something. It wouldn't do any harm and anything was better than staring at the stone walls.
Florence meandered rather than walked toward town. There was no way for her to tell when Augustus would leave home and she did not just want to show up and rush him. It might worry his family, so the slow pace she set was her answer to the problem. She took the time to look at the scenery. Soon she would have to get used to being away from it again. A somewhat sad thought, but the woman had been preparing for it. This would not be the like the last time where there was only a small window of time to come to terms with leaving her homeland. Still, she would miss it.
Slow pace working like a charm, the green-eyed woman did not even fully make it to town before she caught sight of Augustus. He seemed surprised to see her. Whether that was because he expected her to take more recovery time, or he just did not think he would see her here, she did not know, but the expression passed quickly.
[+mediumseagreen "So, get me up to date. What all has happened since yesterday after we left?"] She had no idea who knew what.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat [+royalblue “Sounds like you are quite the tactician now young Augustine, perhaps I am not needed.”] He smiled at how the boy sounded confident in their plan. Yes it was a lot of what-ifs and things could change on getting there, but they had an idea of what needed to be done and what their limitations were. He had thought that the plan would be 'go down, get the Kingdom back'. It was good to know they had not sat around over their departed years.
[+royalblue “I should think having your mother with you will help immensely. Whilst you have changed so much over the years, she is still the tough and sturdy woman in the background people know her to be.”] It was a little funny how she was viewed as this tough and strong woman, given her years in the castle had been as a subservient wife. Only after Germaine's death had she stepped out that particular shadow and placed her presence at the forefront of political intrigue.[+royalblue “Your are right, the fight will at first be for the people. Win them over and you will have supplies and numbers. I hope you have worked on your oration skills.”]
Nodding, Augustine had put some thought into it on his own and there had been a lot of brainstorming with Florence. He had all the fresh takes while she had the experience to know if his pipe dreams stood even a chance in the real world. It could be frustration with her constantly shooting him down, but he knew it wasn’t going to get any easier when they were in the thick of things.
[+coral “First we have to get down there and see the state of things. We haven’t gotten any accurate information on what is happening in Wistina in a long time... Until we see it with our own eyes we are not setting any plans in stone.”] It would not do them any good to plan for specifics until they had them. [+coral "But ideally, we will be able to do something similar to what happened in Astoria."] That being that they rallied the people to their side and avoided a great deal of bloodshed by use of sheer numbers. Also there were many who refused to fight their own blood, so many of the enemy's swords were laid down for that alone. [+coral "The main problem with that though, is that we have to build a presence and that will take time. Not to mention most people probably won't believe us if we just announce who we are."] Unless they had someone who was already widely known to vouch for them. Nicolai fit the bill perfectly, but he was not going to get his hopes up there. [+coral "There's got to have been a number of frauds to come forward looking for a handout."] He sighed, not to fond of the idea that someone might have stolen his name.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat It was good to hear he had his autonomy in these lands, and that he kept up with his swordsmanship did please him. He had worried it might provoke more thoughts of what happened the night before but thankfully it looked like it hadn't.[+royalblue “She was right. If you plan to go back to Wistina, you'll face the best swordsmen around trained by yours truly. A bow might work one-on-one, but in groups, swordsmen can attack quicker than an archer can fire an arrow. Especially my Royal Guard.”] He still seemed a little prideful of the role he served and men he led.
Remember back that far was not something he did too often these days. Having spent so long looking at the past and lamenting he did not find it led to anything positive or useful. And from how the youthful Augustine was right now, it seemed he did not dwell on the past all too often.[+royalblue “Have you planned for going back? Or is the plan more 'lets go and see what happens'?”] He was interested to see if they had any worthy plan of attack.
Shaking his head, Augustine could not help but laugh along with the man's dramatics. [+coral "You know that's not how I meant it."] Though if he had stuck around maybe the prince would have had a better idea of how to interact with the man. At the moment he was not doing so hot in that department, which was a shame because he felt like he should be able to get along with all sorts of people if he wanted to be King of anything. He did not need to be as personable as Eugene, but to be able to mediate was important.
Nodding along, his joking smile fell into one that was a little warmer and fit the tone of what he was being told. Augustine was glad to know that some fortune had come Nicolai's way. Even if he had been mad that he could not have stayed around to help him grow into adulthood that did not mean he wished ill tidings on him. But the sentimental-ness did not stop there. Augustine's face reddened as the conversation turned more toward himself.
[+coral "I missed you too... and you don't have to worry about her giving me freedom."] The boy rolled his eyes at the thought. [+coral "She did. A little too much so. I barely talked to her for over a year.”] It was more autonomy that any nine-year-old should have been given, not that he did not appreciate it at the time. But in hindsight, probably not the most well thought out idea. [+coral “My uncle was the one who pushed for me to rekindle that connection. He did not make it easy to be stubborn about it.”] He laughed at the memory.
[+coral “I kept up with my swordsmanship. Between everyone down in the barracks and Onkel Eugene, I am pretty solid. It isn’t a true Wistinian technique, but now that I have the basics down I have been trying to meld what I learned here with what I remember seeing when I was young.”] Augustine was proud of how far he had come in that department. He was no master, but his skill was nothing to sneeze at, especially given how young he was. [+coral “I did learn how to shoot, but mom would not let me focus on it. She was adamant that I stick to close combat.”] Archers had too big a hole in their defense. Sure, they had their place, but that was in conjunction with other types of fighters. He did not want to be useless on his own. [+coral “Not that I mind. I know way too many archers anyway. Between Mom, Gregory, and Flora, I want to stand out at least a little.”]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai could see that all this talk of defeat and not trying was not the more uplifting or happy of subject’s to discuss. It was an adult discussion and he could well understand if his young conversation partner wanted to keep things lighter. To the elf, he had answered the questions posed to him thoroughly and honestly. Some people, or rather Florence and her son, just seemed to dislike how he answered them so bluntly and at times emotionally. Perhaps he needed to tone that back or they would have to learn to accept it. It wasn’t like he had changed that part about himself through his life.
It seemed Augustine agreed with him, moving on the topic and causing Nicolai to laugh.[+royalblue “I am quite a sorrowful man aren’t I? Another bonus to not having me around; you miss out on my bad luck and depressing life.”] It was fair to say he was not exactly an upbeat person. But he felt he could justify it to an extent. Between losing his father and losing Wistina was perhaps his longest period of sustained indifference.
[+royalblue “I mean, after the first few months, the first year certainly, life was good for a time. Had a house. A steady and important role within a tranquil community. Had a family and my little girl of course which was the pinnacle of my joy. Really it was quite nice to have all that and I would say it was a very good point to the last several years.”] It did not make up for losing it all so swiftly, for what he suffered through after and getting to this point. Indeed if he could have stopped it all happening with hindsight he would have. But he kept that to himself rather than spoil the boys mood.
[+royalblue “I did miss you, you know.”] He looked over with a gentle smile.[+royalblue “Whilst I chose not to come back, don’t think I did so lightly. I was constantly worrying whether your mother was letting you have your freedom to be your own person. Oh, and whether you were practicing with a sword or if they had converted you to an archer. No King of Wistina will be an archer, not in my lifetime.”] He laughed a little and shook his head, lifting his hand to brush back his hair that had fallen down.[+royalblue “Please, ease this old Southern heart; tell me you know how to wield a blade!”]
Augustine did not know what happened, but sadness for Nicolai's situation filled him. The only reason he had done as well as he had was because he had family to help him do so. Before this point he thought the elf had lived his life alone, or maybe with Elizabeth. But now he found that there were others involved, ones that were close to him, but he had no idea where they were. And to the young man, that was ten time more heartbreaking than just being on your own. You couldn't miss what you never had.
Nicolai said it was selfish to come back, but the green eyed youth thought if he was worried about that he should not have left in the first place, as it was just as selfish for him to leave them. He kept that to himself though. He did not really want to keep arguing. It was tempting just to leave. It was not as though he had to sit and listen to anything he said, but Augustine was the one who asked so he felt he should. Even if the answers were not to his liking.
[+coral "I guess."] It was kind of a defeated sigh of a response. He could not say he was wrong, there were plenty of things that should probably be left alone whether you wanted them or not. Augustine was just a little too dialed in to the topic at hand.
It was time to move on. The boy wanted to get things back to a lighter note before they parted ways. Who knew if this would be the last time he saw the man, and he would rather be left with at least some pleasant memories. [+coral "So, did anything actually good happen to you the whole time you were away?"] At this point it all just sounded like one manic depressive episode after another. Augustine wasn't sure if Nicolai just had the worst luck imaginable, or if it was more of a self fulfilling prophecy sort of deal. Either way, that was probably not the best way to word it, especially if he was looking to salvage this conversation.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai knew he was delving into subjects that he had not prepared for, and when he did not prepare he tended to rant and dip into subjects that did not need to be and that led to him looking like an idiot – something he despised looking like. His hand rose to his head as Augustine responded to his multitude of different points and he rubbed at his forehead in a vigorous manner. He definitely needed some of that aniseed smelling tonic the doctor had. That or to return to his camp on the mainland and drink his hand-made elixir. His illness was rather annoying at that moment.
When the boy questioned if he had a family he was for a moment confused. Had he not explained this to him? It was a game of who knew what at this time. Between his mother and Augustus, Nicolai was struggling to know who knew which part of the story.[+royalblue “I do.. or I did. I don’t know where either of them are now. I haven’t known for near three years, thus why I am not so good at these father-like talks.”] He did not really want to get into how depressing that had left him, as it was hard enough already to keep his mind positive without thinking of them.
[+royalblue “Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you want Augustine. It doesn’t matter whether I wanted to come here or not, because some things you just can’t have. I left you all alone so that you could continue your lives happily. You have Flora and look to have grown into quite the respectable young man,”] flattery got him no-where but sometimes the occasional kind word was needed,[+royalblue “and your mother seems quite content to remain by herself, at her happiest with just her family about her, no need for outside influence. No doubt Gregory is delighted to be home, with all his children and children’s children.”] He turned aside to look across to the young blond man he was beginning to see had grown far more than he thought.[+royalblue “It would have been selfish of me to force my way in and demand a place in your lives. And seeing what you’ve all built here, I feel I made the correct choice to be considerate of that and staying away.”]
For Nicolai's first defense, Augustine could have thrown that same response back in his face. Neither side tried to effectively communicate with the other. Evil went both ways, as he put it. Though given the boy was living on one side of it, it was mighty difficult to see how the actions of each side might be equal to the other. That might have also have be in part because he had not been an active part of that altercation. Most of the things the blond worked on were past conflicts where he could see the outcome and ascertain what was done well and what could be improved on. This was still an open case and all he knew of it was the broad strokes. Not that it mattered, because Nicolai was eager to move on to other things.
[+coral "I really don't think issues of mortality are strictly conversation for children."] The average adult went their whole life without killing another soul. He saw little reason why he was childish for having an inner battle with that. [+coral "And yes, we have talked about some of those things. Flora and I talk about a lot of things. It is important."] They had started as friends so long drawn out conversation had been a part of their repertoire long before they came to be anything more. And he had learned from seeing those around him that holding worries and other things in led to nothing but aggression. So there were a few of those things that came up, albeit not all of them.
He was not quite sure where Nicolai got the notion he was ever talking about his courting of his mother, so that was a little out of left field. He glazed over it for another point. [+coral "Sure, not everything is black and white, but there are times when focusing too much on the gray stunts everything else."] Augustine definitely was not going to waste all his time thinking about whether or not Wistina was better off as it was or with him taking the helm. Sowing seeds of doubt there was not going to help anyone, least of all himself. A lot of this thought process came from having to overlook the gray area of his mother's actions. That had worked out pretty well for him, so he was applying it to other things as well.
His last couple of lines did make it through to Augustine, at least a little bit. He recognized that once again his wordage had been off. [+coral "Look, I will apologize for calling your reasons excuses... I should not have trivialized it that way, but you never did really say whether or not you wanted to come here... It's just that I think that if you really want something you should try and get it."] He shrugged, but then something else sunk in. [+coral "Wait... you have a family?"] That was news to him. The last time they talked he got the impression he was still into his mom. Had he misread the situation? It was definitely possible.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat [+royalblue "It is not my fault that everyone assumed I was Ulrich. You thought half-orc and jumped to conclusions. No-one once tried to send out a messenger to ask us what we wanted or what we were doing. And whilst I won't bore you with my defence that I have prepared for your Uncle and Augustus, I'm rather tired of being painted as the bad guy in all this. Evil goes both ways depending on what side you are on."] He sighed as the annoyance of this matter got to him. Florence saw him as guilty, as did Augustus. No doubt Eugene would and Augustine seemed inclined to listen to all three. So where was the need for a trial? It would be a kangaroo court at best.
However the point was moved on swiftly and he groaned to be lectured by a boy who did not understand the complexities of life.[+royalblue "Augustine do not think yourself to be an adult when not ten minutes ago you were fearful you were a bad man for killing someone. You talk as if everything is black and white and easily explained and life is very much a yes or no question. You discuss my courting of your mother before the pass and my actions subsequently these last seven years as if you are some wise sage who knows life's most complex questions. Have you even kissed Flora? Have you discussed what will happen if you go to Wistina? Will she sit and wait for you or will she marry off to someone else? What if you die down there, is she to stay a mourning woman for all her days?"] He was hitting some difficult points now but it was a means of showing him that life was not so easy, especially others lives.
[+royalblue "What I am getting at here is there it is not as simple as choosing to do or not to do something. I thought about bringing my family here to keep them safe. I thought of taking them to Calista to live with our own kind. I did not do either and here I am now, locked away in a castle far from either of them and not knowing if they are even alive. Whether you do or do not there are consequences for every action. What you call excuses I call reasoning. And I don't very well like the tone you take in denegrating my reasoning."] He shook his head a little with irritation at this. He still had not grasped how to keep things focused and in check. He made an excellent General but a poor speaker really, even to someone who looked up to him.
[+coral "I am pretty sure she punched you because you were pretending to Ulrich... but I get it."] She would not have been happy either way, though Florence might not have hit him if he had not mislead them to believe he was the Taken half orc. The idea that he was lurking about had her anxious for months after she found out.
Listening to Nicolai, Augustine found they had very different outlooks. [+coral "Well... there's not a place for me to be King of Wistina anymore, but I am going to go down there and make one."] He was not such a simpleton to believe that would work for any and all situations, but he did think that the man next to him could have at least given it a shot if that was what he really wanted. That last clause was the real kicker though. [+coral "I mean, it is one thing if you never wanted to come to Astoria. If that is the case just say so, but if you did, that kind of just sounds like a lot of excuses not to try."] Not only that, but Augustine could think of places for him to fit. [+coral "...Some people might have been upset about it, but I wouldn't have been."] While his mother understood the sentiment of missing one's home, she did not harbor those feelings toward Wistina and there were times when he really needed someone who felt the same way he did.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat His new question posed a big conundrum and problem because his answer was quite succinct and short.[+royalblue “No. Until things.. happened, I had no plans to return.”] Staring over at the door as if it would burst inward and he would feel the ire of a certain emerald eyed woman, her annoyance at him for being this terse to her son when she had asked him to talk with him in a gentle manner.
He knew the boy would ask why so rather than wait for him to ask he continued.[+royalblue “Ask yourself, what would there be for me here if I had come? Your mother.. well she remains her usual self, focused on her family only. Plus the stigma of our parting would not make for a acrimonious reunion. First thing she did was punch me.”] He let out a half laugh, his cheek losing the colour of its bruising by now though the hit was still a little visible.
[+royalblue “And you? You were growing up yes, but what with the King being your Uncle you had protection so no need for a guard, you had tutors far better than I so no need for guidance, and you had access to continue your studies, even though I would have made an awful teacher of anything but Wistinian history.”] It was his specialty subject.[+royalblue “And Gregory would not want me here, upsetting the balance of this place. Sticking my nose into private matters, or worse taking an interest in any other woman here; such as his sons wife.”] He had seen Abigail when he had visited the castle and she was quite the beautiful woman in her own right. Who knows where his intentions would lead with Florence rejecting him? [+royalblue “That old man never did like me.”] He smiled at the memories of all the times the dwarf would chastise him or ridicule him. He was glad he had not come to visit him whilst he was here.[+royalblue “There is no place for me here Augustine. Not without upsetting a lot of people.”]
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