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Harvest Ball

Alysande's picture

The sound of music filled the air as Aly’ waited to hand her invitation to the armed man at the gate, who gave her and it a cursory look and waved her in.

Once inside the huge walls that surrounded the beautiful and elegant grounds, she marveled at the sights and sounds of the gala.

Aly had of course been to festivals in Skyrim, but nothing quite like this and Justice’s “ house” was a palace.

Skaarihn keep could not compare with the grandeur of Justice’s… house. Skaarihn was like most Nord keeps substantial and rugged, protecting against the harsh winters and frequent disputes and skirmishes with raiders, functionality of design took precedence over style.

Nord buildings had their own beauty with their scrollwork and carvings to be sure but the white marble and manicured gardens were serene and lovely even with throngs of revelers.

Aly followed the music and found Aurelius in the pavilion near a bar that was set up with kegs, pitchers and trays of various refreshments.  

Aurelius was dressed in a colorful costume of silks and a turban, but no mask.

Aly’sande who had never attended a masked ball had carefully dressed in an elegant dress of watered violet silk and a beautifully painted mask of Dibella complete with a violet scarf to conceal her cinnamon colored hair, as well as her face.

Her arms were adorned with gold bracelets and her tattoos clearly visible.   

The mask was hot and uncomfortable, but she had been told that part of the fun was being in disguise and guessing who was whom.

“ I see that you opted for a more practical outfit Rel, one where you can drink easily.” She chuckled from behind her mask.

“ Tribune!” Aurelius exclaimed cheerfully raising a mug of ale and grinning “ Grab yourself a drink.”

Aly found herself a glass and a pitcher of Mead on the nearby bar and helped herself, sipping the drink through an opening in the mask.

Within moments Angelique and Nironar arrived arrayed in intricate costumes, Angelique dressed as a Wyress in an owl mask was her usual cheerful self and Nironar elegantly attired in a suit and an impressive Elk skull mask.

"Evening everyone." came Nironar’s voice from the depths of the skull punctuated by Angelique’s laughter as she cast a playful spell that placed flower wreaths about everyone’s heads

"Evening!" Her voice is cheerful and full of mirth beneath her mask as she sprinkled them with flowers, "Nature's blessings upon you both!"

Aurelius smirked at Nironar.  "You got flowers in yer antlers..."

Nironar shook his antlers to dislodge the flowers with a chuckle.. “ Where is the drink? “ he asked as he moved away towards the bar

Aly'sande laughs " I don't know how long I can wear this thing.. it's very warm" she said still trying to sip her mead through the small opening for her mouth “ I surely will starve if I keep this on.”

One of Lady Mercy’s retainers passed by the group as they chatted and enjoyed the spectacle of costumed people, an Orc named Daggoth Bloodsworn who eyed the group then cast a glance around, and muttering that he is “NOT on guard duty...just in case Lady Justice asks…” then in turn traveled over to the bar to find refreshment.

Daggoth Bloodsworn grabs a huge mug of whatever is in the tap and tips it back, gulping thirstily.

 

Aly watched as the Orc put down 3 mugs of ale one after the other with scarcely a breath. She was about to comment to Daggoth when Wulfran appeared at her side dressed in a rumpled suit and a mask that he had pushed back on his head, not covering his face, the string apparently tangled in his long flaxen hair. He looked down at Aly from his considerable height by the group but remained silent, obviously not pleased

Angélíque studied Wulfran with a curious tilt to the head as he walked past her to stand next to Aly at the bar  "Whooo do you suppose his costume is meant to represent?"

Aly looked up at Wulfran and decided that he had already had a drink or two prior to this.

 

Aurelius making note of Daggoth’s pronouncement said casually "I wonder where the security detail has gone off to?" he looked around trying to spot the men that Lady Mercy had hired for the evening. The men at the gate were not known to Aurelius, and were not nearly enough security for an event of this size.

 

Wiping his mouth with the back of a large hand Daggoth Bloodsworn smiled and greeted Aly as if she had just appeared  "Hey pretty lady!"

Wulfran roused himself from his silence to half glare at Aurelius and growl “ Verdammt schwein had best do their jobs, since I am not good enough to be security for this verdammt party…”

Aurelius took a swallow of his ale and eyed Wulfran, and with a wide grin and a wink

 "Wulf, you're the sort of man that's armed even when he ain't armed..."

Daggoth grunted in answer, “ Yeah so...Justice says none of us work tonight...so im' gonna go look at the view on the wall...maybe with a bow in hand. Bring me beer. From time to to me”

As he gathering up mugs and food and prepared to take his leave

"So how long's it going to take the Ambassador to live this one down, Wulf?" Aurelius asked with a good humored chuckle

Wulfran tilted his head to the side, slightly . "Vas? Live down?"

 

"Y'know, not have 'I wasn't good enough to guard your verdant-it party' get brought up regularly?" Aurelius grinned as he took a swallow from his mug, he said it with a light hearted air but was all the time watchful of the Nord’s expression

Wulfran made a Nordic noise low in his throat somewhere between grunt and a growl and stalked off to replenish his mug.

Vey soon Angelique dragged a half protesting Nironar towards the dancefloor to watch as the colorful guests swirled to the music and Aurelius found himself in conversation with a Khajiit of his acquaintance. Nodding he masked head in Aurelius’ direction Aly wandered off after Wulfran. She was concerned that he was so very upset at being asked to relax and enjoy himself.

She felt responsible for his upset having suggested that Caius and his crew could assist with security and free up Mercy’s people to enjoy themselves.

Wulfran had been quite upset and even coarse in his protestations. The result of which, Aly suspected, made Mercy even more determined to have Wulfran as well as the rest of her men stand down.

Weaving her way back to the bar she could see Wulfran’s broad back as he stood drinking another mug of ale,  swaying slightly and she could tell from his posture that he was in the mood for a fight.

She slipped up beside him, her head well below his shoulder she looked up at him and would have tried one of her best smiles, but for the mask she still wore.

" This mask will not last the evening.. It's keeping me from the mead " she said with a light air

Wulfran of Riften finished his mug and stalked the few feet to the keg to refill it.

His foul mood is evident in every aspect of his body language, as he proceeded to drink and again refill the mug.

In an “Owlish” voice came a question from her other side.. “ Are we supposed to wear them all night?” it was Angelique who had come over from the dance floor to refill her wine glass, Nironar was still watching the dancers..

" I don't really know. This is my first masqued ball ... but I think you are supposed to be guessing who is whom." Aly replied

Angélíque glanced at the angry Nord and pondered him thoughtfully, then turned back to Aly with a shrug of her shoulder

Aly'sande laughed as some of her tattoos were clearly visible in her gown

" I guess that  I am not especially disguised though, unless I were to completely cover myself."

 

Angelique laughed at this and excused herself to rejoin her man at the dance floor, no doubt she would work out a way to get him out on to it.

Aly sighed softly to herself wandering closer to the dancing couples,  to watch the crowds once more.

She had of course been to festivals back in Skyrim, but here in the “Gold Coast” where it was considerably warmer and brighter this harvest festival was more like the Springtime feasts .. but on a larger more fanciful spectacle.

The music, and dancing were different and light robes and bright colors of the participants made her feel as if she were in a fairy story.

She wished that Kor’gal had come with her, he had told her to come to the party and have fun.. Dance, drink, and enjoy herself. But it was difficult when the one she wanted with her was .. not.

She understood some of his discomfort and concern, but still she missed him. She had not thought she could feel so strongly about a man. She felt a small pang watching Angelique as she wrapped her arm through Nironars.

Despite herself and the throngs of people around her Aly began to feel herself relax.

 

From the dance floor Aly observed a brief exchange between Wulfran and Axel, before the former stalked away. She turned her attention back to the couples.

She sighed, maybe the old Nord could make Wulfran feel better.

She understood Wulf’s need to be on duty and protect everyone, but surely they were all safe here in the confines of Mercy’s grand estate.

Feeling suddenly uncomfortable  as if she were being watched, Aly glanced around but saw no one giving her any particular attention she moved back towards Aurelius who was talking to a masked lady who upon further inspection was Valoria Idicci..

"I'm making friends already." He chuckled at Aly as she moved to stand nearby

“ Are you really ?” she laughed

An elegantly dressed man sauntered over and swatted Valoria on the butt. "There's a likely wench, eh?"

Valoria made a show of sniffing loudly through the mask. "Too much foppish perfume...yup. Has to be him." she then punched him on the arm “ Hey Trouble”

Aly'sande laughed loudly as she realized who the impertent man was " Wrong "likely wench"  I think that sort of thing is frowned on "

Valoria’s brother Titus snorted at this and said to her  “Why don't you be a good girl and fetch me an ale? Maybe I'll share some stories of my adventures with you, later..."

Ignoring her twin Valoria Idicci lets her eyes wander the crowd, pausing on a ebony skinned, bare chested man dressed as a pirate. "Oooh..I see something I need to do..." and with that declaration she drifted away

“ Well, that wasn't very nice of my big sister: she never learned she was supposed to look after me, as evidenced by the fact that I am without a drink, yet she leaves... I'll have to speak with Justice about her servants..."

Aly'sande rolled her eyes behind her mask and sauntered over to the bar

"This no working thing includes common folk too...feed yourself youngster." snorted Axel who had re appeared to refill his tray with more food and Ale to take back to his quarters..

"Good evening, Axel. Evidently Justice hired some extra muscle to get Wulfran's nose out of joint but she failed to hire any servers…”Titus commented

Aly'sande poured herself another measure of mead " My hands work just fine and were you more pleasant in general I would serve you... but since you are a spoiled boy... "

Aurelius grins over to Aly'sande at her quip

Axel Jotunnsson nodded to the others looking his way and tucked  assorted drinks about himself, balancing a tray of more food. "I'm off...helpin' a lad  t'drink his bruised ego away, ya." He chuckles under his breath and makes his way out...the crowd parting for him as if moved by an invisible force.

Titus looked as if he were surprised at being rebuffed though in reality it was a common event given his general attitude of privilege, inclining him masked head towards Aly he said in a slightly superior tone  "Ah! You must be the Duchess or Marquisessa! It has been a while..."

Aly'sande raises her glass in a mock toast to Titus  “Countess " she corrected him

“ ah yes! Countess! I can never keep up with the ranks of the provincials... “ sniffed Titus

"Are these things so... Lively?" a lady nearby said as she drifted towards the dance floor

To which Aly laughed slightly

" Back home there would have been at least two fist fights already.. this seems .. tame."

Titus filled a mug of ale came  back to the group.

“Well, Wulfran is well on his way to getting blindly drunk, so I imagine a fight isn't out of the question; I just wonder who it will be with..."

" Hard to say.. perhaps I shall go and allow him to take some of his Ire out on me as I introduced Lady Justice to some of the security force ." Aly said

Titus raised his glass and shouted after her “ Ah you fancy going a round or two with the big man, do you?"

Aly'sande turned would have  given Titus a withering glare, except for the mask " I don't think I take your meaning ... sir.. "

Aly'sande set  her glass on the side board and made her way through the crowd " I will be back.."

Titus Idicci cocked his head in pretended confusion

"Whatever do you mean, milady? I was just going by your own words..."

 

After a turn through the ground and a fairly unsuccessful conversation with a drunk and irritated Wulfran, Aly made her way back through the grounds.

She marveled at the many different people and their colorful costumes, the sights of the mysterious “fairy lights” in the trees and snippets of over heard conversations that make her smile inside the cocoon of her mask.

The music still drifted over the hedge of the pavilion where the dancing was and she could hear the start of announcements and speeches that were the specialty of the Imperial people.

She could see that Titus was still attempting to hold court  and could overhear him explaining to someone  where she had gone.. Aly suspected he had said his clever quip several times ..

“ Ah! Duchess! You're back! Did you find Wulfran? He said with a wolfish grin, now exposed as he had discarded his mask in favor of wine

Aly'sande sighed at Titus... not bothering to correct him "  He is still quite vexed and fairly drunk.. I may take him some food later. He still has not eaten.”

“What’s all this? “ Mercy floated towards them having just finished her comments and greetings, she was dressed all in gold and looked like a golden Idol of an Imperial goddess ..

Titus looked from Aly'sande to Mercy and back "Duchess Aly'sande wants to go a round or two with your erstwhile Nord, dear. Think that might cheer him up?"

Clearly ignoring the lewd tone in Titus’ remark Mercy brushed past him and smiled broadly at her friend, throwing her arms her and pulling her in for a tight hug "Alysande! You look radiant.. The purple suits you and the mask … so clever  I almost didn’t know you.!”

Mercy stepped back and gave Aly a twirl to look at the Imperial style dress she wore.. “ We are almost twins!”

Returning the hug Aly giggled from inside the mask  " Yes  what a lovely party  so different from Nodic Festivals.. Though the mask is rather hot... I may have to give it up."

Mercy smiled her pretty face painted rather than masked  "Ok, .but...dress up is fun from time to time, yes? No armor!"

“ Aye.. but next time I shall do as you have and decorate my own face.” She said as she pulled the hot mask from her head.  Her cheeks red and eyes bright from the mask and the mead .. she ran  her hand through her hair feeling disheveled.

 

" Mercy is there somewhere I can um freshen up?"

“ But of course .. you shall use my room .. come along now “  Mercy linked her  arm through  Aly‘s to show her to her room.

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