Boundaries

Previously: Kynareth's Touch

Ahlam returned to the Temple of Kynareth, where she spent the rest of her evening concocting a healing potion for Hrongar. It was a simple recipe with mountain flowers commonly found all over Skyrim. She wondered why the court mage, with his esteemed background, struggled with something so basic.

He probably just doesn't care.

There were two kinds of mages: the kind who were gifted and focused on applying their skills, and the kind who preferred to spend most of their time pondering theory and lore. It would appear Farengar was the latter.

High Priestess Danica Pure-Spring was surprised to see her at the temple so late. "You're not going home?" she asked, carrying a basket of soiled rags.

Ahlam shook her head. "I don't want to go back there. Besides, I've been invited to breakfast at Dragonsreach. The Jarl's brother is expecting this healing potion."

Danica raised a single eyebrow. "And your presence was required at breakfast for that?"

"I think the court is using me to distract my husband," Ahlam grumbled. "He dines there every day and I don't think they enjoy his company. Apparently, he talks nonstop."

Danica chuckled. "What exactly does he talk about?"

"Nothing," Ahlam sighed wearily, rubbing her temples. "He goes on and on about the food, attempting to play the gourmet. And the way he treats the servants...." She trailed off, shuddering. "I can't believe I'm married to that man."

"Well, thanks to that man, you did get to visit Dragonsreach."

"I suppose," Ahlam yawned. "Lord Hrongar believes as you do, that the Jarl will make my husband a Thane. He says if that's to be the case, I should always attend court with him." She shuddered. "Danica, I don't think I can do it."

The high priestess smiled benevolently. "It will take some getting used to," she replied. "But in the end, I assure you it will all be worth it." She paused, tilting her head to the side. "Have you ever considered wearing orange?"

***


Apparently, the high priestess had procured another dress. It was in the same style as the green, except it was orange. Ahlam had questions, but didn't bother pressing them. She was grateful for another new dress; new clothes felt like armor when mingling with nobles.

The next morning, after a cold bath, she returned to Dragonsreach, noting how different things felt when she slept in town and didn't have to make the long trek in and out of Whiterun. She had more energy and was in and overall better mood.

She arrived at the castle before the other guests to deliver the healing potion. She didn't know what to expect when she arrived, but she was surprised when Fianna the servant led her straight to Hrongar's room once more.

The lord was already up, dressed in his armor. His skin appeared to be damp, and he smelled of pine soap.

"Is this it?" Hrongar asked, his voice deep and intimidating as he stiffly nodded towards the bottle in her hand.

"Yes, my--"

He took it from her quickly, downing the draught in one gulp. He then paused, smacking his lips as he ruminated on the taste.

"You sweetened it," he blinked, surprised. "But not with honey. It's something else, something...lighter."

"Nectar, my lord," Ahlam told him helpfully. "I figured since the potion is made with mountain flowers anyway, it would make sense to sweeten it with nectar." She smiled warmly. "I've found it makes people less resistant to taking their medicine."

The warrior seemed surprised. "I see why you are so highly recommended. If my brother didn't favor Farengar so heavily, I'd ask he kick him out."

There was a pause then, a silence Ahlam didn't quite understand. Hrongar was looking directly at her, a little more softly now, but not saying anything. It was awkward, and felt somewhat intimate.



She suddenly noticed the room had been cleaned, and recently. With a subtle glances around herself, she noticed how the bed was made was the floor was freshly swept. And there was incense burning on his desk, fulling the room with a lightly fragrant smoke.

She tried not to panic, telling herself not to read too much into it. Surely he doesn't expect us to stay and eat here???

"My lord," she asked gently. "Shall we return to the great hall?"

He blinked again, as if waking from some deep thought. "Of course," he nodded, stiff once again. He went to open for the door for her. "Lead the way."

The kitchens were serving juicy, succulent ham at breakfast, with freshly baked bread, and warmed butter. There were boiled eggs and chopped fresh tomatoes in salt, pepper, and oil, and even fresh sweet rolls. As usual, there was Honningbrew mead.

Breakfast passed much like the dinner before; Ahlam sat next to her wildly unpopular husband, eating delicious food while he talked her ear off.  Before long, Ahlam was excusing herself, citing urgent temple business. But before she could leave, Fianna hurried to intercept.

"Lord Hrongar asks that you return for midday meal," she said. "He wants a follow-up with you, in case the potion is insufficient."

"Of course," Ahlam nodded absent, eager to return to the temple.

"We begin serving just after noon," the servant told her. "If you arrive early, you are welcome to enjoy the library."

"I will be here," Ahlam assured, before scurrying from the castle and practically flying down the steps.

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