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Exodus

Alysande's picture

The only sounds were the clop clopping of the horses’ hooves, the faint call of night birds and the occasional rumble of sleeping beasts. The woods dark on either side of her a faint glow on the Eastern horizon as she rode on. Aly’sande had managed to slip out of the Manor gate unseen walking the horse for more than a mile in the dark before she kicked him into a canter.

Though the beast was a seasoned warhorse able to cover close to 40 miles a day she would not be able to ride much further. The big black warhorse would be recognized. Everything that belonged to Thorvald would be recognized including herself.

Her husband Thorvald was not usually an early riser unless conducting a raid. She hoped that this habit would give her a couple hours before they discovered his body and that she was missing.

As fatigue replaced the adrenaline that had sustained her faded, she found her mind drifting to  memories of the past and the reasons why she found herself alone and on the run.

Barely 3 months had passed since she had arrived at Skaarihn to consummate her marriage to Thorvald Thaanos.

A marriage contract had been signed with Jarl Ansgar Thaanos to marry his eldest son  Thorvald when she was 17. The actual marriage feast with all it’s ceremony and trappings had been delayed because Jarl Thaanos and his son’s had been campaigning in Cyrodiil.

This was merely a formality since under Nord law once the contract had been signed, she was his wife. All that had been missing was the feasting and consummation which would take place as soon as they returned from the campaign.

Meanwhile, the Jarl had given the order that his new daughter in law was to remain under the protection of her father, Ragnor until their return. Ragnor had taken on this responsibility happily as it was exactly what he had bargained for.

As the campaign dragged on year after year, Aly had begun to  hope that the contract might be broken. She thought, a better match could be found for a hero of Eastmarch. But this hope was to no avail. With the news several months ago of the Jarl’s death in battle, came the summons she had been dreading.

Thorvald was returning to Eastmarch to claim his inheritance.

Word had been sent  that upon his arrival his wife was to be presented at Skaarihn for the formality of their wedding. This needed to be done quickly to secure Thorvalds claim, over both Skaarihn and Ginmuirs resources .

Aly had been filled with dread as tales of Thorvald and his exploits had been recounted by those returning from Cyrodiil for years.

Thorvald was known as “ The Destroyer “ with the reputation of being brutal and sadistic on the battlefield and off.  He had no mercy for anyone, man or woman.

Aly had implored her father to break the contract. Her pleas  falling on ears deafened by greed and a lust for power. As her mother Elabyth Syden’s only blood relation, Aly was the only legally recognized heir.

The fact of her mixed heritage could not be easily forgotten, but as Nords, neither Thorvald or her father would ever be granted the estates under Breton law. So she had been delivered to The Destroyer.  

Upon meeting her husband for the first time, she had been struck by the incongruity of Thorvalds appearance.

Like their father, both brothers were darkly handsome with sharp features and ice blue eyes that were alarming with their piercing quality.

Standing well over  7 feet tall, Thorvald towered over  most men.

His younger brother being only slightly shorter, both men were powerfully built, their massive frames honed by years of combat.

Thorvald’s younger brother and closest confidant Erik, was said to have been blessed by Kyne.

Erik had been badly wounded in battle with  injuries that would have killed lesser men. The scars that marred his handsome face were said to be a sign of Kynes love, marking him as hers.

Thorvald valued his brothers council over all others. Aly’sande had been a glittering prize presented to this ambitious family. A valuable asset. An asset that was secretly coveted. A  fact that she was not aware of.

The day of her wedding  Aly had been dressed in a lavish gown of violet silk that complimented her ivory and pink complexion making her Auburn hair glow in the dim winter light.

Making her uniquely beautiful to be presented to her husband.

Thorvald had grinned wolfishly upon seeing his bride for the first time and exclaimed his delight at her beauty.

“ Ah well Father at least picked a comely wench to be my wife. I hope that I do not break you ” he had bellowed as he grabbed her kissing and fondling her roughly with his large hands.

She remembered this first kiss from her husband with disgust, the memory of stale mead lingering in her mouth even now.  She had blushed with embarrassment at the humiliation of this public manhandling.

Though much of that day was a blur, sadly not all of it, she thought.

Aly dimly recalled feeling tiny standing next to him  as the priest proclaimed the vows over them, her head barely reaching his shoulder.

After the exchange of vows, there had been feasting with mead and before long she had found herself alone in the bedchamber with Thorvald.

The nightmare of her wedding night haunted her.

Thorvald had held her down taking her roughly, delighting in her pain and fear, her face pressed into the bed choking her.

She had cried herself to sleep that night, her wedding finery torn and discarded in the corner of the room.

She had lain next to him as he snored afraid to move, tears streaming silently down her cheek, blood staining her legs and the sheets, proof that she had been a virgin.

The proof of her virginity  would be proudly displayed the next day at the morning meal complete with jests.

The next night, Aly had tried to refuse him, saying that she was unwell from the night before. It hadn’t been a lie. Her body had been bruised and sore from his rough treatment of her .

He had simply laughed, slapping her hard across the face and with a warning took her anyway.

She quickly learned that to resist would bring a beating and his forcing her.

The first time she’d had her monthly flow, he became angry with her, as if it were somehow her fault that his seed had not taken root, beating her before he went off to find his amusement elsewhere.

It was after this beating that she realized that she needed to find a way to escape from Thorvald.

During the week of her flow Thorvald stayed away, taking his appetites to some other woman.

His tirade had given her an idea though and making  use of his absence, she explored the keep, finding a library she searched the books looking for a alchemy tome.

She had heard tales that there were ways to stop his seed from taking root.

In a dusty old tome, pages fragile and yellow she found a remedy that said it would prevent pregnancy.

Once she was with child she truly would be trapped.

In the weeks that followed Aly made herself act as submissive as she could.

Speaking meekly, eyes lowered, never challenging Thorvald.

All the while she raged inside of herself.

When he came to their bedchamber at night, Aly forced herself not to resist.

Night after night she lay next to him afterwards  as he slept, sleeping herself only after he had risen for the day.

Taking care to daily administer the remedy and praying that Mara would not make her fertile.

During this time Thorvald  did not hurry to retire at night, lingering  in the great hall, drinking and fighting until late.

Afterwards  he would stumble to their room to mount her, then sleep deeply until morning.

She had tried passively avoiding his attentions by feigning sleep.

That had only angered him, so she would stay awake rather than risk his wrath.

The second time her monthly flow came he raged at her again, but this time did not beat her.

He simply cursed her, storming out of the keep and riding off to deal with Raiders who had come onto Skaarihn held land.

The Raiders had been looting and burning farms and other holdings.. Enraged, Thorvald  vowed to kill every last one of them.

During this absence she began secreting away the  things she would need to run away.

She gathered gold, jewelry, clothes.  A pair of fine daggers that Aly had brought with her.

No one thought much of them, Nord women were often armed against Raiders. Aly was no different in this having grown up near the border of the Rift, she had been trained to defend herself from Raiders and animals.

She hid the things she gathered in the bottom of her  wardrobe in her room.

Her plan was to wait for the dark of the moon when she would run away. She would head to Ginmuir and seek protection of the Breton King.

She hoped that she would be welcome. While she knew her mixed heritage would always be a cause for concern, her mother had said that as Countess of Ginmuir she would be protected by the Breton King.

Her plans had changed abruptly. The night before, Aly’sande had sat in her place next to Thorvald at the table in the great hall. As usual he had been drinking and he had been loudly lamenting his wife whom he had been giving his seed to nightly, and was not yet with child.

Thorvald had seized onto her wrist to hold her close to him “ How can this be… I have fucked this woman every night and she is not yet with child? I have three bastards in Cyrodiil, and my lawful wife has yet to become heavy with child !” He bellowed crudely, roughly groping her.

Laughter had drifted toward the head table “ Perhaps she knows how to stop your seed M’Lord” called a lady sitting below the salt.

Aly tossed a glare at the woman, cheeks flaming bright red and then turned to fearfully eye Thorvald.

But he had been drunk and laughing with his men, seemingly not to having heard the woman.

Regaining her outward calm she smiled sweetly and poured Thorvald more mead … but her heart had pounded in her ears as panic flooded her.

“ Hush husband… it will happen when Mara wills it. “ She had murmured in a meek and inviting tone.

Thorvald had grinned drunkenly he turned to grasp her chin to pull her into a possessive kiss  “I will fuck you tonight and Mara will grant me my son..“ he said in a menacing tone, pulling back to look into her face his pale eyes locking with hers.

He then turned  to one of his men, and changed the subject to the raiders on Skaarihn lands.

A fresh feeling of fear washed over her. The threat had been clear in his face.

Disguising her terror she picked at the food on her plate trying to appear as normal. She would excuse herself as soon as she could, Thorvald would not notice since  she always went to their bedchamber before him.

She would slip away before he came up to bed.

Beside her Thorvald raged at the audacity of those who would steal from him, swearing to hunt them down and kill them. He drank more mead and became louder and angrier, pounding his huge fists on the table in punctuation.

Judging that she had spent enough time at table to not raise any suspicion she rose to her feet and turned to Thorvald. “ M’lord, I’m retiring for the night ..” she said as she always did.

Thorvald waved  her away with his hand as he always did, and continued to talk to the man to his right.

Aly forced herself to walk out of the great hall with an unhurried pace though her mind was racing.

She had hoped to wait until the dark of the moon but something in his face had told her that time had run out.

Upon entering her rooms she went to the wardrobe and began gathering the items she had hidden. She had just retrieved a dagger from its hiding place when she heard Thorvalds heavy footfalls outside of the chamber door.

He had come up much earlier than he usually did.

In a panic she hurried away from the wardrobe and stood near the bed, as the door opened slowly.

She held her breath and slipped the weapon she held under the pillows as she watched the door .

Thorvald was standing just on the other side speaking to someone.  His voice a deep rumble “We will make a plan to deal with those bastards on the morrow …” she could hear him say before he stepped into the room.

She smoothed her skirt trying to appear as if she were preparing for bed and waiting for him to arrive.

“Ah you are early to bed tonight husband… I have not made myself ready for you … “ she stammered nervously

Thorvald grunted his face dark and dangerous as he crossed the room to her in two steps

“ No I don’t suppose you are ..“ ready“

He snarled yanking at her dress, the fabric tearing under his forceful grip.

“ You will give me my son, you are of no use to me without one “ twisting her arm behind her  and painfully forcing her toward the bed.

The next hours were  a haze of pain and despair.

Until her hand found the cool comfort of steel and hot sticky blood as it spurted violently over her. She found herself straddling him, covered in blood, dagger in hand.

Thorvald, a gaping wound in his throat, his unnerving blue eyes staring in shock at the ceiling.

Shaking with shock she peeled off what remained of her shift and poured water into the wash basin. She rubbed vigorously at the blood that covered her hands and face.

Once clean, Aly dressed quickly and gathered up the pouches she had hidden in the wardrobe and slipped into the sleeping night.

Quietly as she could she hurried down the stairs and  across the yard to the stable, where she saddled a horse.

She had hid in the dark for an  what felt like an eternity, waiting for the sentry at the gate to go for a piss.  As soon as he was gone she led the horse out of the gate into the dark night with it’s secrets and terrors.

The sun finally asserted itself over the horizon,  it’s beams warming her and breaking into her dark thoughts. She could see that she had crossed into the Rift and was approaching what looked like a ramshackle an Inn in the early morning haze.

She took a deep breath and decided, she was a fugitive but she needed rest and a fresh mount.

She needed to take the risk.

She rode up to the Inn, hoping she would find help here and not be turned over to Thorvald’s men….

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