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Withered Harvest

Alysande's picture

The sounds of music and laughter permeated the air as Erik moved easily through the throngs of revelers.

People crowding into the meticulously manicured gardens of Lady Mercy’s estate, opened to the citizens to celebrate the Harvest festival. Foolish Imperials.

From his great height and the anonymity of his lion’s mask he swept the crowd looking for any sign of  his prey.

Aly’sande had successfully made her way to Bangkorai, and despite efforts to intercept her She had sought asylum in Highrock.

No matter, he would bring her home and once there, he would tame her and she would take her proper place.

Bribes had been paid to  informants and had led him here tonight, the Lady Aly’sande was now part of a group calling themselves “Invicta”, and she was to be here at this party.

Unconquered indeed, he thought with a grin.

The gardens were redolent with aromas both pleasant and foul as the warm air made the party goers perspire. He breathed in deeply searching for a familiar perfume.

He grinned behind the mask.

Masks would enable him to get close to Aly’sande but would also help her stay hidden.

A lady dressed as a Wyress in a Owl mask dancing past him, accompanied by a gentleman in a deer skull mask captured his attention.

She moved with familiar grace and she had a similar build, an appealing voluptuousness, that stirred remnants of an almost forgotten hunger. She could be Aly'sande .

He followed the couple to the pavilion and watched from outside of a hedge  as they moved toward a man dressed in outlandishly colored silks and a turban.

He needed to get closer in order to determine if the woman was Aly.

There were too many people here in the pavilion to make any attempt to take her.

If it were Aly, Erikk would wait for his opportunity.

He watched from a distance as the hostess Lady Mercy took the stage in the center of the pavilion to make an announcement  of welcome and to formally open the Harvest Festival.

She was a vision in her golden gown again stirring a hunger deep within him that he quelled.

Once he had what he had come for the would return for this woman, she would be his too.

Seeing an opportunity to move closer to the couple without it seeming strange Erikk positioned himself to stand behind the lady in the owl mask.

He used the crowd pressing forward to listen to the golden woman to step into her space.

He could feel the warmth from her as he stood behind her, his considerable height made more marked by his proximity.

She was about the right height and he sniffed the air, closing his eyes to intensify the memory of Aly’sande’s fragrance.  

Erik could feel the tension from the woman's escort and he sensed rather than saw a slight movement as the man gently guided the masked lady away from Erik, to stand in front of him. Erik grunted and nodded in the appearance of an apologetic way. Moving away from the couple casually.

She was not  Aly’sande. Appealing as she was, she was not the right woman.

As the hostess finished her remarks and moved to speak to a drunken Nord who was causing a minor disturbance, Erik took the opportunity to move off into the crowd.. Still searching..

Throughout the evening, Erik continued circulating through throngs of drunken revelers as they  danced and ate, enjoying the largess of their hostess.

He observed  some even slipping off in pairs to enjoy other pleasures of the flesh.

Erik grinned at the thought of smooth skin under his hands, a smile forming on his lips as he once more caught sight of the lovely golden hostess.

This time she was walking with her arm around another woman.

Despite the distance across the reflecting pool Erik could recognize the woman with Mercy as Aly’sande.

The women were headed into the main house laughing and talking, unconcerned with their surroundings.

He watched as they climbed the stairs and entered the house.

Quickly, but without rousing much interest in his actions Erik proceeded towards the door the women had used.

The house was not being used for the entertainments and aside from a few liveried servants bearing trays, coming and going from a side entrance, no one was going into or out of the building.

A quick glance around told him that there was no one stationed at the door.

Still, Erik moved cautiously, and was rewarded for this when several minutes later, Lady Mercy reemerged, this time alone.

He waited a few more minutes and when Aly’sande did not come out, he slipped unnoticed  through the large oaken doors.

He stood inside the doorway, his senses heightened as the realization that Aly was here in this house, waiting for him to find her.  

The hallway was lit by hundreds of candles, and the elegant interior of the house was quiet, save for the sounds of the music and party goers outside.

He focused his senses and listened for sounds, he breathed in deeply scenting the air almost tasting it to to guide him. A rustle of her dress… the delicious smell of jasmine and Vanilla.

He turned and almost silently moved towards a chamber door beyond the great hall.

Erik was able to move with a fluid motion that belied his huge stature. Quietly turning the door handle, he slowly opened the door a crack.

The room was a bedchamber, across which Aly’sande sat at a dressing table, intent on brushing tangles from her long Auburn hair.

The heavy silver handled brush gliding through her hair as she happily hummed a song that had been playing.

The smooth skin of her neck and shoulders exposed and the mask set aside, he could see her lovely face reflected back in the mirror. The Dragons and symbols of the Hjalmar clan traveling along her exposed skin.

He had found her and he would compel her to come with him.

Closing the door behind him, he crossed the room.

Her hair falling in waves around her shoulders, Aly had begun to repin her hair back into a semblance of a bun when she stopped, sitting as if frozen.

Her breath shallow, and her hands shaking she turned in her seat.

Locking eyes with Aly, she sat motionless, transfixed as Erik traversed the floor cautiously  reaching out his hand to take hold of her arm.

He murmured sounds low in his throat as he closed the space between them

“ Be a good girl and come quietly “ He hissed as his fingers made contact with her arm.

 

The sound of his voice broke the spell that he been between them, leaping to her feet Aly flung the brush at his face, grazing him.

In that same instance as she leapt to her feet, backing away and into a stand that held a large vase.

Finding the neck of the vase she turned quickly swinging wildly to hit Erik in the face.

The shattering pottery cutting into his flesh forced him to step back from her and making a path for her to try to run past him.

“ God’s damn you Aly… “ He snarled blocking her path to the door with a speed that was inhuman

Erik enraged that she should get the better of him even for a moment was on her in flash, grabbing her first by the hair, then his enormous hand wrapping around her throat, he turned her and slammed her back against the door

Trapped, she screamed,  at first just a feral noise, that then began to form words

“ No no no no .. help!”

 

“ Shut up bitch !’ He snarled into her face his hand squeezing her throat, he tried to lock eyes with her but she squirmed and kicked her smaller hands fumbling with something around her neck.

“ help… Oh Goddess,,, No what ‘re... “

Erik tore the object from her hand, the chain burning into his flesh as he threw it across the room.

 

She choked her voice becoming hoarse from the screaming she grasped his wrist with her hand and swung her fists helplessly.

At the sounds of approaching footsteps Erik realized that there was no way to carry her from the house unseen and make his escape.

“This.. is..not… over “ He hissed, Infuriated he slammed her hard against the door and when she became limp, almost lifeless he tossed her aside on the floor to make his escape.

 

Cursing her under his breath Erik slipped from the room and up the stairs towards the balcony.. With any luck he could jump down from there and become lost in the crowd.

From the balcony Erik observed that the majority of people were running towards either the door of the house or the main gate, as he flung a leg over the railing and leaped down into the hedges at the side of the house and crept along the wall into the safety of the shadows.

He was loathe to use and methods for escape that might lead to anyone knowing his secret.

Wiping the blood from his face and tucking his burned hand inside his jacket he emerged from the shadows, moving against the flow of people who in their confusion surged towards the commotion.

It was easy to slip out of the gate in the confusion.

The quandary with Aly and Skaarihn had already jeopardised his position with the Clan, he had had to kill Ragnor who had discovered his secret and withdrawn his support.

But if it was widely known it would further affect his standing, anonymity was key to the protection and the political aspirations of the Clan. He had been a disappointment so far in that he had not been able to secure Skaarihn and bring the Lady Aly’sande to heel.  In addition to her Nord connections the Clan were interested in making inroads into Highrock.

Erik cared little about her Breton holdings, he had long wanted to be the Thane and Aly had saved him the trouble of killing Thorvald.

His father, the old fool had been easy, no one had questioned his battlefield death.

The baying of hounds echoed through the hills as Erik made his way as quickly as he could  staying off the roads and moving through the shadows. Damn them he thought they had picked up his trail faster than he had hoped.

Throughout the night they trailed him, until eventually Erik was able to make his way to a point near Varens Wall bordering the Colovian Estates.

There he boarded a ketch which took him across to Malabal Tor, from there he would be able to lose his pursuers in the deep woods  make his way North back into Skyrim.

Once there he would have to come up with a new plan to take Aly and he needed a plan to pacify the Clan.

The Clan  would not be happy with him, they had kept their end of the bargain and thus far he had failed to meet his obligation.

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