Fists balling so tight that his nails dug sharply into his palms, there was little Augustine could say. Nicolai was right in many regards. He knew people who suffered, who had to work hard for everything they had, damn near sacrifice everything so that life could be better, and he knew he did not compare.
[+coral “I cannot help to whom I was born any more than you can, Nicolai! I think that is fairly obvious.”] A vague homage to the fact that he was no prince at all, not here and not in Astoria either. [+coral “And I can’t control how people treat me, my mother least of all.”] He would have thought the man understood that she was an unstoppable force of nature no matter what she did.
Most of what Nicolai said had some weight, but to insinuate that he was unrespectable was too much for him. [+coral “If I am that intolerable, why are you even here? If your opinion of me is [I that] low, then why are you trying to return me to the throne?”] If it was all for revenge, or to regain his own title, or even just win his mother’s favor, then Augustine really did not think Nicolai was anywhere as respectable as he thought. He couldn’t say that there was nothing good about the elf, Augustine knew better than anyone that he had done much for him and others, but the boy was seeing red and he had seen plenty of bad come from the man’s actions as well.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai shook his head as the boy stopped moving back, instead standing his ground as he looked up to meet his gaze.[+royalblue “Stay silent in the fucking corner?”] Now emotions were boiling over and he stepped forward toward him so they were close, chests brushing against one another.[+royalblue “Want to know your problem little boy? Want to know what no-one has told you your entire life?”] The animosity was so clear now as he decided it was best to give him the truth. Why hide it any longer? He wanted Nicolai to come out of the corner, then he would, loudly.[+royalblue “You are weak. You've always had someone to clean up after your messes. You had servants to wipe your arse, to spoon feed you, to dress you and teach you.”] They did much more but he got the point.[+royalblue “Your mother and grandfather were there to defend you from mean words, to massage your ego and make you feel special. And you had people like me there to put their lives on the line to stop others hurting you and keep you safe in your bed.”] They made an effective barrier around him, saving him from many troubles in his life that he may not have known about.[+royalblue “You went from one castle to another. One haven to the next. Never wanting for anything. You never had to fight for anything, go hungry, go wanting for clothing or shoes, a warm fire or a roof over your head. You don't know nothing about hardship and yet turn your nose up at me and look down on me. I might not be of noble birth but I'm a damn sight more respectable than you.”]
Augustine tried to remain calm, he knew this was his fault, he knew he should have thought about it a little long, a little more thoroughly, but that was awful hard to do when he was being shoved around. It made him mad, especially when it came to the last two names on Nicolai’s list. [+coral “I know!”] He planted his feet, ready just in case he was pushed again, he wanted to stand his ground, but it never came. [+coral “I get it, I understand. You really think I don’t see that I put everyone at risk?”] His mother probably the most of anyone, seeing as she was the crux of the blame for what happened here those seven years ago. [+coral “I fucked up right out of the gate. Right when it became crucial that I not make any mistakes, but it happened. I cannot take it back.”] If these things were that easy to fix they could have turned the clock back when his father was dying and figured out a better way to secure his and his mother’s position in the castle as a child. [+coral “Now are you going to help me try to control this from getting any worse or are you going to stay silent in the corner some more, waiting and watching me flounder?”] Probably not his wisest decision to deflect right now, but his irritation was getting the better of him.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Slowing down once they reached the courtyard he was a touch surprised to find Florence had not come with them. He expected the mother to want to watch and make sure whatever was the matter remained civil. In a way it was better she wasn't there.[+royalblue “Messed up? You just told them who we are! We are here for one day and you're up in the highest tower shouting out our names to the heavens!”] His displeasure was obvious.
Stepping forward he pushed the boy in his chest with a palm. It was not a punch, nor did he strike at him, but it was a good shove back a step or two.[+royalblue “If that old woman or any of those people rub two ideas together and realise there's an elf called Nicolai and a blonde boy called Augustine, it won't take them to realise just who 'Aurora' really is.”] He spoke in a deep meaningful voice but it was quiet, both because of how close they were and not wanting to shout. The point was to drive home his argument, not shout the boy into submission.
[+royalblue “They realise who she is, they think she's back to take the throne. You heard her - she's a witch in their eyes. And if they tell someone else then word spreads again. Before you know it Vincent knows we're here and he send's the Taken after us and we're dead before we ever begin."] It was not an exaggeration to believe that was how tight a line they walked right now. Until they could establish themselves it was about remaining hidden and secret.
[+royalblue "You - dead,”] another shove,[+royalblue “me - dead,”] again,[+royalblue “Töka, and Marko, and Flora, and your mother! Dead!”] Each name brought another push, the last the heaviest of them all and he kept the distance between them close, not letting up on the younger man.
Things moved quickly from there, Nicolai was basically corralling everyone out with him, which was strange considering with precious little time now was when they should be talking to Ool to figure out how they were going to do this. However, instead he was practically dragging her son from the room. It made her nervous. She wanted to follow, but the goblin was also vying for her attention. Like her, he wanted to get the game plan fully set and he did not seem to happy that the elf was walking off when he was supposed to be there. But he also was not willing to wait on him; Florence’s presence was enough. With this being a very now or never situation, she was forced to stay put, only her eyes able to follow until Nicolai and Augustine were out of sight. She just hoped that the man was smart enough to know if she found out he did anything too drastic she would never forgive him.
Once out of sight of the others, the blond wiggled free of the one time general’s grasp. [+coral “I can walk on my own.”] For the moment he just wanted his own autonomy, a part of him that had not changed since he was a boy. But he would continue to stick close to Nicolai as he barked orders at the others and they listened. Augustine was not exactly excited for this talk, the man had been in a shit mood since last night and he didn’t know why, but he also knew he had messed up and now he had to listen to whatever lesson was in store. Thankfully this earful he was going to get would be away from the others. He was already embarrassed enough by his misstep.
When they stopped some ways passed the inn, Augustine went ahead and started up with his side of things. [+coral “Look, I know I messed up… I am sorry. The original plan was to stick to the truth as much as possible with this sort of thing. And after hearing all that stuff I wasn’t sure what to do so I defaulted back to that.”] Augustus always told him he needed to be more flexible and ready to think on his feet. He guessed this was exactly the sort of thing he was trying to help him avoid, but it was hard when he did not want to be outed as a liar and lose any trust that he had come to gain. Not that that mattered right this second.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Any glowering looks from Marko meant nothing to Nicolai, who's eyes bored into the back of the blonde boys head. He folded his arms across his chest as he sat back in his seat, boot back on the bench between the two boys. It was thankfully positive that the others finished their food and Ool spoke of leaving that day. It was annoying, giving Florence and Nicolai no time to discuss arrangements for moving these people, but it was convenient for his own purposes.
[+royalblue “Thank you for breakfast, it was very kind of you.”] His manners were impeccable when he wanted them to be, and the elder woman only waved him off with rosy cheeks and blithering on about how it was her pleasure and job as a grandmother and so forth. She was truly the caricature of an elderly woman and quite the opposite of Helga.
A thought went to that womans well being before he leaned forward in his seat and put his licked clean platter on the table.[+royalblue “Come on boy, time to pack up your things.”] As he stood he placed a firm hand on his shoulder, grasping the maroon tunic and tugging at it for him to follow. Whilst he did not keep his grip, dragging the youth from the home as he would have liked, he did hold on long enough for him to get the idea and as he left the building he heard the trio offering their thanks to the host, Flora's just a brutalised repetition of the other twos Wistinian.
Once outside Nicolai kept a slow pace, namely to allow them to catch up to him.[+royalblue “Marko, you pack everything up in the tavern. Töka, I want you to get the horses ready – take Flora with you.”] This was said in Astorian, quiet enough for any wandering villagers to not hear but loud enough the trio would know what was expected of them.[+royalblue “Augustine, come with me. We need to have a [i 'talk'] before we get going today.”] He didn't bother to tell Florence what to do as it was quite pointless – the woman never listened to him anyway, so it seemed.
As they reached the tavern he walked beyond it. He knew of a courtyard to an abandoned home not far away having found it the night prior. It would serve as a place to talk without being stumbled upon by the villagers. He did not stop to see if they followed what he told them to do – he trusted that they would be simply grateful to be informed than have to figure it out.
Augustine was still in the process of glowering at his mother when he was hit from behind. Pain searingly ate at both where he had been hit and where he had hit the table. He already got the idea that he messed up from his mother cutting in; he didn’t need Nicolai coming at him too. But alas, he had to deal with it as he gave the starved thin excuse that his foot had slipped. The blond kept his eyes forward, not wanting to draw any more attention to what was happening over on this side of the house, but Marko flipped around to glare at the elf. It was clear he did not care for this shit at all. Flora was the one to pull his attention back, speaking quietly to him so that no one other than the two would hear.
Seeing everything that was happening, Florence kept the attention on her, making sure to ask questions as the townsfolk went along with their own introductions. The only one who didn’t seem all that compelled by her was Ool; he was looking over to Nicolai with a bit of a smirk and a raised brow. This had nearly confirmed what he had been thinking. After all, how many dark haired, purple eyed elves were there running around on this continent, let along ones that went by the name of Nicolai. Sure, he’d never met the man before and the description didn’t quite match, but he was pretty much sure this was the guy. Made him wonder about the others as well, though the real curiosity was on the boy. For the time being, the goblin kept his mouth shut. He didn’t have any real use for that information, at least not for anything other than sating his own curiosity.
As time went on, more and more people finished up eating. Some threw their scraps to Cam in the corner, others managed to eat everything they took up on their plate, but needless to say there were leftovers. Margery’s barrage of food was relentless, so it looked like pancakes were going to be lunch or dinner as well, which was probably good. It was one less thing to worry over when they set out. Speaking of which, when everyone was done, Ool finally piped up. [+sienna “So these fine folks agreed to help us travel over to Dover...”] The eyes of the villagers all went to him. [+sienna “I’d like to get moving sooner rather than later, so I hope you are mostly packed like I asked.”] He had been looking out for help for quite a while, so he didn’t blame them for the looks of disbelief. [+sienna “There is still a little bit of time, since we still need to go over exactly what needs to happen, so I would hop to it if you need to.”] The tiny man took a kinder tone in general when speaking with these people, it was refreshing not hearing him constantly insult whomever he was talking at.
For the most part, the reaction was excitement. Duncan was a little flustered on top of that. He was quick to tell his mom just to relax while he ran off to their house to get things together. She tried to shout him a list of things likely forgotten as he made it out the door, but the young man was gone before she finished. There was also some grumbling from Jonathan, but he didn’t speak up too loud. He didn’t have to in order to get the general idea that he didn’t want to leave. Florence hoped he would not prove to be too stubborn about it. The woman wanted to get this out of the way so that they could be rid of these people and start over, preferably where they could be a tad more discrete.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai was enjoying the hot cakes. They were classic Wistinian design too, made by separating the egg yolks and whites and beating the latter to form little snowy mountain tops. It was how he remembered his mother made them as a very young boy. It had been a calm and fun time. It didn't last much longer. Much like the atmosphere within the room as Augustine was asked who they all were. Immediately the hairs on the back on Nicolai's neck rose and his apprehension began ramping up.
Surely the boy was smart enough to know to change his name? It would not-.. oh, well, no. He had told them without hesitation his name and immediately there was a hesitation to his consuming of the food to stare at the back of the boys head rather intently. It was only through the words and therefore interruption of Margery, the elderly cook, that the boy was stopped and nerves could settle. He listened to the couple bicker and then listened to her tale.
So he was a man under a witches spell and Florence was being touted as an abductor and thief of the realms royal bloodline. How interesting it would be for them to learn the boy wasn't even [i part of] the bloodline to begin with. The woman went on to speak of the elf as if he were some saintly being, someone who fought for the common man and woman and devoted his life to helping them. Yet it seemed her husband had the better idea of him. Just some lovestruck puppy chasing after a pretty face. Again, if only they knew how things truly were, it would be rather humorous, especially as the old woman was sure he was in a spell. He wished she were right.
Settling back into his meal as the bickering fell into that familial sound of two old folks at odds ends with one another, Nicolai was content that they had avoided a large error on the boys part. That was until he decided to start talking again. As he worked down the table it was obvious he did not think to offer different alibis to any of them. Out popped Nicolai's name and he brought up his foot from where it was placed beside the boy on the bench.
As he was about to speak his mothers name aloud, the final key to linking it all together, Nicolai drove his boot hard into the boys back and particularly digging in the heel at his side. It struck the boy with enough force to knock him against the table as Florence interjected with a false name.
The boy turned around on Nicolai in a flash, brow furrowed deeply as his hand reached down and rubbed gently at where the boot had struck. Nicolai stared at him with a tense glare for a few seconds.[+royalblue “Sorry.”] He said as he cut down into the remainder of his cakes that oozed with the sticky syrup.[+royalblue “Foot slipped.”] He concluded before pushing the rest of the food into his mouth, many of the eyes at the table now on 'Aurora' as Margery then went on to tell the names of everyone about them, giving a little tidbit here and there, not least to her husband who she declared had been such for nearly five decades now. They truly were getting on in age.
Nicolai by this point was doing his best to remained seated behind Augustine, not grab him by the scruff of his shirt and drag him outside for a good hiding. Instead he lowered his plate to the ground, small morsels of his cake left untouched for Cam to rush across and devour should she wish. His eyes ran about the room, looking to see if anyone was staring at him, perhaps putting the obvious clues together between names and those about them.
The grumpy looking old gentleman was the first to finish, much because he and the little one at his side were the first to eat. But that freed up his mouth to speak. [+dimgray “So do you strangers have names?”] Unlike his wife, Jonathan was more your typical Wistinian, he wasn’t so comfortable with having all these people in his home when he didn’t know a damn thing about them. Ool had mentioned something about there being a chance that they would help get them out of there, but that meant little to him. He didn’t even want to leave.
Augustine happened to be between bites and had been pushed to be the main communicator, so he just kept on with it. [+coral “Yes, sorry for the lateness with introductions.”] Before they had planned to be in and out of this place, so it did not make much sense sharing their names, but if they were going to be spending days together, that changed things. Going off the assumption that nothing had changed in their plan, he went forward with the truth. [+coral “My name is Augustine, this here-“] He was going to run through everyone, but he was interrupted.
Margery cut in excitedly, [+purple “Augustine? That’s just like our little stolen prince.”] She turned toward the man at her side. [+purple “Isn’t that a funny coincidence, Jonathan?”] Although that might have been a pointed question coming from most peoples’ mouths, from her there was a genuine excitement.
[+dimgray “No, not really, seems to be a lot of young men going by that name these days.”] Tired eyes looked over the boy. [+dimgray “Plenty of imposters trying to get what they can out of people.”] It didn’t look as though he expected much different out of the travelers before him, not now that he heard that.
[+purple “Oh, don’t listen to him young man. You can’t help your name.”]
They needed to find trusting people, but this woman was maybe on the verge of too much so. However, there was something else that stood out to Augustine. [+coral “Stolen? What do you mean by that?”] He was expecting rumors about what had happened at the castle, this was a good chance to see what they were.
[+purple “Oh you don’t know?”] That was a surprise to her. She thought everyone knew what happened, but that did not stop her from going right on to explain. [+purple “Seven years ago, after King Germaine passed away, gods rest his soul, that witch he married took everything from us. She used magic to seduce our King and when he died she did the same to our general. King Vincent, before he was King, caught wind of her tricks and tried to stop her from seizing power, but she escaped and took our Prince with her, leaving the throne bare and the true royal bloodline lost.”]
This must have been along the lines of what was spread after they left. Augustine did not think everyone would be so gullible to believe there was magic in play, but they would be liable to place the blame on Florence. It was good information to have, even if it was exaggerated. [+coral “That’s terrible.”]
[+purple “It is! But King Vincent stepped in and he has been making the best out of this tragedy for us.”] She smiled, across to Augustine who wore a look of concern. [+purple “I just wish she would have left us with just Duke Nicolai even if she ran away with her son… He was a good man; I remember when he first made rounds through Perth. He was always eager to help. I bet he would have even found a way to convince those other nobles that our town was worth saving and got them to build a new bridge. I know he personally helped with the construction over near Lapace when their bridge was lost to the flooding.”]
Augustine was getting the feeling that Margery was a bit like Flora in the respect that she liked to talk. It was probably good that the girl was doomed to silence for the moment. Though, the older woman did not seem to need the prompting to go on, but her husband cut her off. [+dimgray “I say good riddance. We don’t need no men who are willing to throw their country to the wayside for a pretty face. It’s pathetic. We need men with backbones here.”]
[+purple “But he couldn’t help it, she trapped him in her spell.”]
[+dimgray “I seriously doubt that.”]
The two descended into some bickering whether or not Nicolai had been bewitched by Florence that seemed like it was never going to end before Ool coughed and got their attention. They seemed to settle down after that, though neither had surrendered to the other. [+purple “I am sorry dear, we interrupted you. Go ahead and continue please.”]
[+coral “Oh, yeah, it’s no problem.”] He debated what he should do here, now that he knew how they felt about the group. But in the end the boy decided to follow the original plan, keeping it honest. [+coral “This here is Marko, and this is Flora.”] His hand followed along with the introductions. [+coral “Over there is Nicolai and Töka and lastly we have my mother-“]
After hearing everything, and just how much of this had been thrown on her and Nicolai, she was somewhat regretting their plan. She just hoped that Augustine would get the same idea, even sent a couple of looks his way to try and get her point across, however as soon as she heard him say the elf’s name it was over. There was no subtle way of doing this, so she just went ahead and jumped in when it was her turn. [+mediumseagreen “Aurora. My name is Aurora.”] There was a pleasant and eager smile on her face, as though she had been excited to have her turn to speak. It hid her true intention well enough to fool those who did not know what she was up to, however she could practically feel Augustine glaring at her. They were not supposed to lie. It would only make them look untrustworthy later. But for now it was a risk she was willing to take. [+mediumseagreen “It is a pleasure to meet you.”]
After that, the rest were introduced. Margery and Jonathan, the old couple, their grandson Quinn, Duncan and his mother Samantha, and Ool, the goblin they had already met. Cam was left out of the line up, but she was present. She sat in the corner of the room, patiently awaiting leftovers.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai came too late to be afforded a place at the main table, Töka taking the last seat at the main table as he stepped inside. As he looked for his own place he was forced aside so that the door could be opened and the young boy from the day before carried in an older woman. Unable to help himself, Nicolai looked on those around and only one who looked like he could swing a sword in any meaningful manner. Wonderful. It was worse than he expected.
Deciding on not starting an argument just now he took a moment to lean into the main table and using a fork pushed quite a few of the fluffy hot cakes onto a separate platter, knocking against Marko with his maille but as ever the boy was silent and just sat there without reaction until the elf pulled away. He shifted down a seat, this time between Marko and Florence, lifting a little jar and pouring a good helping of sticky honey atop his meal before taking up the meal and turning away. She had perhaps set up for them to all sit together but maybe she expected the three youths to be much smaller, all sat on a bench as they were.
This left Nicolai out on his own, pulling a chair from the wall and settling down behind Augustine, a boot resting on the bench beside the boy as he began cutting into the warm and soft morsels with the side of his fork, dipping it back into the syrup and eating in silence. Even if he was in a cheerful mood, he was hungry and these were simply divine in taste. So he was content to just eat by himself.
Augustine was the first to enter and return the old woman’s greeting. [+coral “Good morning. Thank you very much for your hospitality, ma’am. We’ll do just that.”] He’d learned his lesson after meeting Helga to show the elderly the respect they deserved, even if this woman seemed of a more docile temperament than the woman Nicolai had taken them to all those years ago.
The others fell in line to do the same. Marko’s hello was spoken well enough, albeit still with his accent, but Flora struggled. The girl got it out but it was pretty obvious that she wouldn’t know much more than that. However seeing as they were known to be travelers and were so close to the border, it was to be expected and caused no alarm to their hosts.
After they were seated, there was another knock at the door. Unlike Ool, whoever it was waited for an answer, which came swiftly from the man at the table. Shortly thereafter the door opened to reveal the young man they had seen the night before and he was carrying a woman on his back. There was a resemblance between them that would lead one to believe she was his mother. However that was mainly in the face. Unlike him, she was a slight thing and he carried her with ease, though that might have also come from practice. Which he seemed to have as the young man was quickly able to get her situated in one of the chairs where she could reach everything she needed. He nodded to the strangers in greeting before taking one of the few remaining seats himself.
The old woman was in and out a few more times before everything was where she thought it needed to be. When it was she took the final spot, next to the man who was likely her husband and began to serve herself, but not without striking up a conversation. [+purple “It’s so nice to have company.”] She smiled sincerely, as she truly did miss the hustle and bustle of having most her family nearby, not that any of these folks would know that. [+purple “I hope you will excuse the crowdedness. I wanted to set up at the inn for you, since there would be more room, but Ool insisted we stay here. Got to follow the doctor’s orders.”] He didn’t want her making the trip too many times to get everything she needed from here to there, which made sense, even if she felt bad inconveniencing these young people.
Ool rolled his eyes at having to take the blame for something so stupid, but kept all quips to that. Instead he reassured her that this was more than enough and needed to be conscious oh how hard she pushed herself. She waved off his advice as she started her breakfast with the others.
The pancakes were light and fluffy and absolutely delicious. And given that this was the first non provision or stew meal half the group had had in what felt like forever, it tasted that much better. There was more than enough to feed everyone here until they were full, so Marko and Augustine had to make a conscious effort not to over stuff themselves. Neither wanted to live with that regret
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai disliked being misled, offered bed and board and then surprised with a bill that far outweighed the true cost of a few silver. The goblin could look at him with all the condemnation he liked, and speak of him in whatever disparaging words came to mind. It was a nasty little trick and had he been in the negotiations he would have said as much.[+royalblue “My people live when we aren't burdened by those who cannot fight; whether through age or ailment doesn't matter. But what I have to say equally does not matter. Seldom does a sellsword's word mean much.”]
He was trying to sell himself off as just a mercenary, a hired sword travelling with this group to protect them. In a way it wasn't a lie, it was just omitting little truths, such as his payment was seeing Augustine on the throne. At that moment in time is was poor payment but that was neither here nor there. Though the remark about the food and cripples was noteworthy.[+royalblue “A good thing to remember little goblin friend, is that you stand at a very good height for a sword. Learn not to take offence in words but rather take note of actions – namely that if it were not for me that wolf would likely be sporting an arrow shaped hole in her throat.”] It was a pity the animal stayed at his side, but he understood the creature would be highly protective of the little man. Five minutes of play was nothing in comparison to what he must have done for her.
Letting the second smart ass comment pass he moved to the side, letting the others come out and follow after the goblin towards their breakfast. Nicolai slowed at the back, tapping Töka on her arm to garner her attention.[+royalblue “So what do you think?”] He asked softly whilst they trailed behind the others.
[+firebrick “Of the goblin? Smart little prick. Used this place to get what he wanted. Why? Thinking of doing him in? I doubt they have much coin, and that wolf-”] She seemed quite animated when the prospect of murder came up and Nicolai sighed, rolling his eyes as he backhanded her arm.
[+royalblue “You aren't killing the little shit. And I was asking about this plan of taking a bunch of old and infirm people to the next town over. You saw they only have two horses right?”] She glared over at him for a moment, wanting to strike back on instinct alone, but she shrugged.[+royalblue “They have more than two people that need moving – otherwise they would have left a long time ago. The horses are for a cart, meaning we're going to be moving slow and stick out like a sore thumb.”]
Töka shrugged again as she looked onwards.[+firebrick “Then tell your little lord that, or your girlfriend when you look over the plans. Why are you moaning to me?”] She clearly could not care any less about any of this. She was the epitome of a good mercenary. So long as she got paid, she wasn't concerned. She was just a body and a weapon in her mind.
[+royalblue “Because aside from topography I have no idea what the lay of the land is. Bandits only ever made day raids past the border last I was here. They stole a sheep or two, held up a farmer for his ale or the like. They didn't set up shop in the middle of a pathway and kill passers-by for a single silver. For all we know the lands around here are teeming with the fuckers and I need to know that you're on the same page as me. None of those kids know how to fight an insurgency like we do, to weigh up the risks and reward.”] He wanted her confirmation that she was still at his side. Whilst this was a group effort, Nicolai and Töka were the only true fighters and save Florence's fight for power over two decades ago, they were the most experienced at fighting a skirmish against an occupying force.[+royalblue “I need to know that should the time come for drastic actions, you will back me. No matter what.”] The implications of those words were serious and they met one anothers gaze as they paused not far from the house.
She was quiet for a little time, looking at him and judging him on his words. This man was a mentor for her and she looked up to him with admiration for what he had done for her. She had to repay that debt.[+firebrick “I'm with you. No matter what.”] She spoke in a flat tone and he offered his arm out to her to seal on that verbal agreement, her hand grasping his forearm and they held the embrace for a few seconds.[+firebrick “Are we okay to have breakfast?”] For once that wasn't sarcasm, but a genuine question. Nicolai nodded his head to her, sending her on first and following after a few steps, hand about the pommel of his sword as they went toward the quaint little home.
[+sienna “Well, aren’t you infinitely pleasant.”] It may or may not have been true that this was his intention from the beginning, but it was a relatively harmless request. The bandits they dealt with yesterday were the main instigators of trouble in this area. That was not Ool’s first run in with them, though he had always been able to hide or outrun them with Cam. [+sienna “I am just trying to make sure these people live… I had thought is a sentiment you might understand as someone who travels with others, but it seems not.”] Didn’t look like they were as close as he first thought either, not with how that pretty woman in the back was glaring a hole straight through the elf.
He had a lot of gall to try and get Cam back over to him after all that. Despite not having a clue what was actually going on, she read the situation well enough and stood firm next to Ool, no matter how much she wanted another round of belly rubs. [+sienna “Worry not, it’s only a couple of blocks away, but I’m not so sure I want to take your rude ass over there. If the cripples aren’t worth your time, I doubt their food is either.”] The others had nothing to do with his plot and didn’t deserve this dickwad’s disrespect.
Huffing a bit, Ool was not looking forward to dealing with these people for the next couple of days, but he had promised them breakfast and he was not going to go back on that in fear that they might change their minds about helping. All he had on his side was obligation, which was not a lot. [+sienna “Anyone who thinks they can act in a polite and civilized manner is free to follow me.”] With that he turned his back to the others who had all gathered outside the tavern. He would worry about closing up the inn later.
True to his word, the walk was short. He led them to one of the houses with a garden out front. There was smoke wisp-ing from the chimney and a welcoming smell wafting from the open window. The goblin gave a short knock before opening the door. [+sienna “Margery, I’ve brought them and they are hungry.”]
Inside the home was small, but there was enough space cleared out so that everyone would fit. There had apparently been some forethought about getting them all seated comfortably, as there was an assortment of tables placed here and there that did not match the layout of the home. From the next room over, an elderly woman emerged. She must have been in her late seventies and shuffled about in a way that made you worry that she might be blown over by the lightest of breezes and yet she was carrying out a plate stacked tall with hot cakes. It looked like she was ready to feed an army, as there was another plate piled high already set at one of the tables along with butter and jam for fixings. [+purple “Welcome.”] Her voice wasn’t quite as shaky as she looked. [+purple “Please come in. Have a seat and help yourselves.”] Most of the seats were open with the exception of two. One taken by a man seeming to be the same age as the woman and next to him was a small child already fighting with his utensils to cut the fluffy pancake served to him.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Ah, there she was, ever reliable to poke at flaws in any plan. And that was Nicolai being positive. He valued people like that a lot more than the head-nodders or those that praised and pushed congratulations onto the leader. Someone who saw flaws and spoke them aloud immediately, was someone you could rely on. At least they could be counted on to tell you when you were being foolish or acting out of line and you may well heed such advice and change for the better.
Then again she was rather light, rather easy on the boy. He understood she would want her son to be positive and forward thinking like he was trying to be, but he thought she may be a bit more harsh with her choice of words. If only she spoke with him like that when she disagreed, maybe they would have gotten along much better in the past. That and she was quite to the point with what she thought here. Where was this Florence seven years prior?
[+royalblue “Wonderful. We will draw up a contract and then load the cripples onto the horses. However, first, I'm going to go eat.”] Oh the sarcasm, it was so rich and plentiful as he addressed the room and used his boot to knock open the door behind him, turning and stepping out into the morning sun though he knew Töka would follow soon. If she wasn't fighting she was counting her coin. And if not that, drinking and eating – in that order of course. She wouldn't pass up on a hot breakfast if it was being offered.
Looking over to Ool as he left the others to their own whims, Nicolai stepped only a few steps closer.[+royalblue “So you convinced the boy to use us as caravan guards to your people. I'm sure you planned that from the beginning, back at the road, to which I have to commend you little goblin.”] Yes, that was intentional.[+royalblue “Next village isn't far but now you have some expendable folk to throw at the bandits. And for what? A run-down tavern for the night and a breakfast come morning. Very clever indeed.”] He eyed the wolf at his side for a moment, raising his hand a little to rub forefinger and thumb together, almost enticing her to move back over to him. She was well trained though.[+royalblue “Speaking of which, and given you like to be blunt, I'm hungry. Where is this breakfast being served?”]
Eyes shifting over to Nicolai, Florence expected him to have a thing or two to say, but he did not. The man remained silent, much to her surprise. That being said, he was not the best at concealing his emotions. He was not happy about the decision. She was not altogether thrilled either, however she was willing to meet him for discussion. [+mediumseagreen “Are you sure? We have just barely arrived in Wistina. Most of us have yet to become comfortable with the land or the people. It may be unwise for us to try and help others when it is not yet clear how we will fair on our own.”] She tried her best not to completely shoot down his idea, especially seeing as the decision had already been made since Nicolai decided to let this be Augustine’s first solo moment in a leading position. Probably not his favorite choice now…
The blond nodded. [+coral “I understand that there are risks, but I want to set myself apart from Vincent, or whoever is running this country now.”] There was a chance that it might be the Taken with how they had been pulling so many of the other strings, even if it was unlikely. [+coral “In a situation where he has abandoned these people because he sees no value in them, I do not want to do the same. I do not want to reach the same level selfishness and compassionless-ness as that man.”]
If nothing else, he had the drive, but Florence remained deadly serious. [+mediumseagreen “If we do this, you will be taking their lives into your own hands. They will be our focus, are you willing to let the lives of these villagers take precedence over your own?”] The implication here being that she, Nicolai, and Töka would do the same and Augustine would need to fend not only for himself but those he promised to protect along the way.
With his mother pressing so hard, Augustine was nervous. He knew it would be his responsibility, but he had not thought it quite so far through. However, even now that he was facing it, the boy still came to the same conclusion. [+coral “Yes.”] His poker face was not nearly as good as Florence’s, but he tried to hide his anxiety when he spoke.
Emerald eyes hard on the boy, the woman kept the intensity for a while longer before nodding and letting it fall. [+mediumseagreen “Alright, then we shall try.”] She could not help the warm smile that pulled lightly at the corners of her mouth. Even in all that pressure, her son’s resolve to remain kind persisted. She was proud of that fact, even if she still did not necessarily believe they should be doing this.
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