Shadows - Saskia, Ursula and Aleksei

Saskia stood safely hidden in a small alcove set into the city's wall. The City of Lions, who would have thought that Ursula Anselm had found solace in Irae. It was a charming city indeed and far away from the northern village they both hailed from.
The cobblestone was still glistening from an earlier rain shower and the air was heavy with humidity. Pulling down the woolen hood of her dark robe, she steps out of the shadows to briefly glance skywards. The time was finally here and she nods satisfied. "Seit ihr bereit? (Are you ready?)?" she asks into the night while petting the enormous heads of her two dog companions. "Wir sind bereit (We are ready)," came the disembodied voices. A low growl emerges from the Irish Wolfhounds and Saskia places a gloved finger against her lips "Seit leise, ihr beiden (Hush, you two)." The dogs obediently fall silent while the female continues speaking "Macht Euch auf den Weg und bleibt in Kontakt (Be on your way and stay in contact)," she commands. Shadows slowly extend from the ground and slip from the walls to quickly surge towards the city's heart.

The smell of freshly baked bread slowly makes its way around the neatly organized house and the source had just been taken out of the oven. Dressed in a plain dress, an apron draped about her full figure and thick padded gloves to handle the hot food, Ursula stands in the kitchen lovingly glancing at her husband. "Oh my, this bread has turned out better than the last time," she laughs and wipes a damp blond lock from her chubby features. While speaking grammatically correct, her accent is thick enough for anyone to hear that she was not a local. "Would you mind setting the table, love?" she asks while removing the gloves and reaching for a knife to cut the bread.

Her husband, Aleksei, smiled as he stood and moved about the kitchen, gathering cutlery and plates and all of the other requisites for the meal his wife had prepared. "It does smell delicious," he speaks, his own accent betraying foreign ancestry — Slavic, perhaps? — as he prepares the table for serving. When he is finished, he straightens and runs a heavy hand through his wild, black hair, looking to Ursula with adoration in his eye. "If it tastes half as well as it smells, you will have successfully cooked yet another wonderful meal." Pulling a chair away from the table, he settles in. "Not that I had any doubts in your culinary ability."

The Shadow Wraiths quickly spread out in the city, eagerly sensing the close proximity of Saskia's relative. "Wir koennen Dich riechen! (We can smell you!)," they communicate to each other while surging forward. Suddenly they stop and quickly come together in front of a small cottage style house. "Wir haben sie gefunden (We have found her)." Their eager voices reach out to their mistress who smiles wickedly at this information. "Gut gemacht, meine Lieben. Geht hinein aber macht euch noch nicht bemerkbar. Ich werde gleich bei euch sein (Well done, my lovelies. Go inside but don't make yourself known. I will be with you shortly)." While Saskia orders her dogs to stay put, her Shadow Wraiths slowly seep through the door and window cracks of Ursula’s house.

Neither Ursula nor Aleksei are aware of any changes in the room and happily keep their conversation going. "You are a true charmer, Aleksei. We both know that my last attempt of bread didn't go over so well," she giggles and sets down the bread along with a roast and vegetables on the table. "Well then, dig in!" Her blue eyes twinkle as she wipes her hand on the apron before taking it off and settling down across from her husband.

Meanwhile, Saskia's spectral form has rushed to the house and was now right in front of the door. She briefly listened in on the conversation before stepping through the wooden door as if it was made out of water. "Guten Abend, Ursula (Good evening, Ursula). Oh, how rude of me…I should speak in the native tongue.” Her shadowy figure slides next to the baffled woman and places a non-corporal hand on her shoulder.

The husband simply sat, confused by the sudden presence of this spectral creature beside his wife. He didn't understand her words, but he had heard his wife's name. "Who is this?" wonders Aleksei, his tone cautious as he slowly pushes himself away from the table and slowly rises to his feet. "Who are you?" he repeats, this time to the apparition. His hands clench into fists, but he doesn't raise them, unsure whether this person…or thing… is enemy or friend. He is also unsure what he could do about it, if it turned out to be the former.

"Sit", Saskia simply states and she nods towards the dark corners of the house. The Shadow Wraiths slowly emerge from the walls and floors to engulf Aleksei, attempting to forcibly push him back into the seat. The woman's body gradually gains consistency and the pressure on Ursula's shoulder increases as Saskia's finger dig into her flesh. "I do not know who this is," Ursula stammers and whimpers at the pain. Her eyes are fixed on her husband, afraid to look at the woman beside her.

Saskia pulls down her hood and runs her other hand through her opulent brown locks. "Saskia is my name, Saskia Anselm…does that ring a bell?" She turns Ursula in her chair and stares down into the frightened face.” It should, as we share the same last name, ja?"

For his part, the husband could only frown as he is pushed back into his chair by the shadow-figures which were, apparently, summoned by the woman. Saskia Anselm, hmm? Aleksei recognized her surname only, his blue eyes wandering to his wife, seeking her own desperately. He was powerless to do anything about the woman, her puppets, or anything. All he could do was watch. His frown deepens.

Ursula's features drastically change at the mentioning of Saskia's name. No, she had never met her in person but how could she have? Viktoria was not supposed to exist! Tales have been told throughout her childhood but she never believed in its content. "Ich kann es nicht glauben (I can't believe it)," she replies now in her native tongue. "Oh child, do believe it," Saskia's lips turn upwards in an attempt to smile. "You knew the time would come, didn't you listen to your ancestors words? You younglings just don't _listen_ anymore!" The woman whirls around and steps across to Aleksei's side, never losing eye contact with Ursula. "Does he know?," she asks while digging her sharp fingernails into his shoulder and leaning down close enough to whisper in his ear. "The Anselm family has a few secrets, you know?"

No, he didn't. As Saskia's fingernails burrow into his shoulder, Aleksei flinches. And then he looks to her with a scowl on his face. "I could careless about the family and their dirty secrets. Ursula is my wife, and I love her deeply. Nothing you tell me will change that." Blinking, he looks back to his wife, and he forces a smile. Their situation, clearly, was not favourable. "Nothing," he repeats.

Saskia breaks eye contact with Ursula and meets Aleksei's eyes and grins at his scowl. "Lovely, such an adoring husband you are." Standing up straight, she whirls her finger and the Shadow Wraiths proceed to enclose their tendrils about his wrists; making any movement impossible. "You may watch," she simply states as she returns to Ursula's side. Painfully slowly, Saskia removes her gloves and smiles down at her relative. "Now, be very still," she whispers. Her hand reaches for Ursula's heaving chest, changing into its shadow form. Her eyes glide to Aleksei "Any last words?" she asks.

"Gods, Ursula!" exclaimed Aleksei, his face twisting with horror. "Please, lady, do not kill my wife! I am begging you! I will give you anything. Anything!" Struggling against the shadow wraiths and their restraints – or trying, anyway — the husband growls. Powerless. "If you kill her, I will take revenge! This I swear!" Now he begins to sob. "Do not kill my wife!" Looking to Ursula, he tries to find her eyes again, likely for the last time.

"I have heard these threats so many times, they do not faze me good man. I take it those where your last words, so be it." Without any hesitation, Saskia rams her shadowy hand into Ursula's chest. Ursula frantically looks at her husband and mouths "I love y…" but then her eyes roll back and she screams in agony as the nephandi crushes her still beating heart. The struggle doesn't last long and Ursula's lifeless body slumps off the chair. Straightening her back and flipping a trailing lock over her shoulder, she takes a seat on the once occupied chair. "I am aware that you are a witness but I do not kill without a reason. I will leave your life now, if you have the urge to seek me out…be my guest." She breaks off a piece of bread and slowly pushes it between her full lips before assuming her shadow form. "I bid you a good night, Aleksei." With that she glides out of the door, her Shadow Wraiths following her…leaving the room just a bit brighter.

As the shadows and the murderous woman exit his home, Aleksei is left heartbroken in his chair, his face buried in his hands. He cries, and he cries loudly, before crawling to his wife's dead body. His hand pressed to the side of her face. "My love… I'm sorry…" he manages, brushing along her cheek and placing a kiss to her forehead. Then he
closes her eyes, tears dripping on to her eyelids from his own, blue orbs. A broken man, hovering over his murdered wife, jaw clenched and tears streaming. He looks over his shoulder to the door of his home, and in his native tongue he utters a curse on Saskia Anselm.

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