Callindra followed the boy up the stairs, looking at the carved banisters, wood inlaid walls, and rich furnishings. When they reached the top, she paused and looked over the railing to the floor below. The view took her breath away, the gentle light from the lamps made the polished wood glow and silk banners diffused the light in beautiful colors.
A gentle clearing of the throat made her turn from the view. The young woman standing next to the door was wearing a perfectly starched and pressed uniform and appeared far more comfortable than the boy who had brought them here.
“My name is Rrayu, and I am here to serve you, My Lady.” The emphasis was obvious, and Callindra gave her a closer look. She stood primly with her hands folded before her and kept her eyes down.
“I don’t really need a servant,” Callindra said, feeling awkward.
“Oh please My Lady, do not send me away,” Rrayu said, her voice quivering just slightly with fear. “If I have displeased you in some way I beg that you allow me to make amends.”
Callindra blinked, “I just met you, how could you have done anything wrong?”
Rrayu opened the door and gestured inside to a grandly appointed sitting room. “If you will allow me to show you the suite?” With an inward sigh, Callindra entered.
“The gentlemen may avail themselves of the chambers there,” Rrayu said, indicating a set of doors to one side of the room. “I will show you to your wing My Lady, it’s just through here.”
Giving her companions a somewhat annoyed look and getting even more so when they grinned at her discomfort, Callindra allowed herself to be herded into a luxurious bedchamber. The bed was big enough for the entire group to fit in if they slept close and was hung with silks that made it look like an exotic forest of flowering trees. The carpet on the floor was so thick her feet left a trail of impressions in it and the walls were hung with embroidered tapestries.
“We must get you out of those filthy clothes My Lady,” Rrayu said, tugging on one of the buckles of Callindra’s leather greaves. “The bath has been drawn, would you like rose scent or lavender?”
Almost before she knew what was happening, Rrayu had divested her of her boots and armor, tisking over not being able to remove Shadowsliver’s chain and fussing about the state of her clothes, skin, and hair. The constant banter of her voice was distracting, a steady stream of polite requests and delicate comments that were all phrased in such a manner that refusing them would seem very rude. Rrayu ushered her into a tiled room with a steaming tub set into the floor.
“Lavender I think would suit you better.” Rrayu was saying as she unnecessarily helped Callindra out of her clothes. “This breastband really needs to be thrown away I’m afraid, are you certain this sword can’t be removed, it’s really too dangerous.”
Callindra sat on a stool and Rrayu poured hot water over her, sluicing the dried salt and dirt from her body before lathering a thick cloth with soap that smelled like flowers and scrubbing her gently. After another rinse, she slid into the tub and lay back with a sigh of comfort.
“I will see what can be done about this mess My Lady,” Rrayu said and began massaging oil into her hair. “Your hair looks like it was cut with your sword, who did this to you?”
“I was mistaken Rrayu.” Callindra murmured, “I don’t know how I got along without you until now.”
“Yes My Lady, and if you are going to continue with this idea of being a Lady then you will need much more help,” Rrayu said, her voice low. “The Lady Ellen Eth will have heard of your unorthodox display of power and will have certain expectations.”
Callindra blinked and focused. “What?”
“She rules the Undercity with absolute authority. News of your arrival will have reached her by now and I would expect her to be sending you an invitation soon, and you must be prepared if you wish to continue portraying yourself as a Lady.”
“This wasn’t my idea.” Callindra said defensively, “I told those idiots to keep a low profile but they never listen.”
“It would be better, now that your sorcerer has shown himself in such a flamboyant manner, for you to be seen as powerful as well.” She said, “Ellen Eth does not respect brute force, your swordplay may be impressive, but she can kill someone with a flick of her little finger.”
“Any idiot can kill someone.” Callindra said, “It takes skill and power to keep people alive.”
Rrayu’s fingers stilled on her scalp for a moment, “Well said My Lady.” She said, sounding like she meant the title for the first time.