After the bath and half a candlemark of fussing with a pair of scissors, carefully snipping at her hair, Rrayu had shown Callindra a wide variety of different dresses, but she turned them all down. “I don’t want skirts. How do you expect me to move in these things?”
“But a Lady does not wear trousers.” Rrayu insisted, nervously twisting the dark blue silk in her hands. “If you’re seen wearing trousers it would be most unseemly.”
Callindra crossed her arms, standing in her smallclothes it was surprisingly difficult to face down someone who was fully clothed. “I hardly think a sword would be seen as ‘seemly’ for a lady either and it’s not like I can put Shadowsliver down. Nor would I if I could.” She shook her right wrist for emphasis and his chain jingled merrily.
“Of course that is an impediment to your overall appearance; however a Lady is not excluded from carrying accessories.” Rrayu said, “I can work with accessories.”
“If you can work with a four-foot-long double edge sword chained to my wrist then you can find something that doesn’t have skirts for me to wear.” Callindra leaned against the bedpost with the air of someone willing to wait for a long time.
Rrayu sighed and turned to the closet. As she did, the door opened and a washed and dressed Reed walked in carrying a bottle of wine and a tray with assorted bread and cheeses. Callindra grinned at him and stepped forward to take the bottle. She took a swig from it and turned to see the maid’s shocked face.
“A man must NOT see you in this state of undress!” She said, clearly horrified.
“It’s just Reed,” Callindra said with a shrug. “We’ve been traveling and fighting together for months; he’s seen me naked and patched up wounds that would have killed me. Besides, it’s not like I’m worried about my body. Taken are killing every living thing they can find where the hell are your priorities?”
“I don’t know about the outside, but I know how nobility works. I know how rumors spread. I know what people will think already about a single woman traveling with a group of men.” She gave Callindra a pleading look. “If you want to maintain your credibility you must not continue to behave this way.”
Callindra took another swallow of wine from the bottle. “Nobody is in here but us. Are you going to spread these rumors?”
“My Lady! Of course not!” Rrayu clutched the dress she was holding hard enough for her knuckles to turn white. “But the walls have ears and eyes, servants come and go to clean linens and sweep floors. If your desire is for Lady Ellen Eth to take you seriously, you must maintain some air of decency.”
With a sigh, Callindra slid a thick robe over her shoulders, almost slicing the sleeve off when she threaded Shadowsliver through it. She was just tying the belt around the waist when a liveried messenger strode into the room after only two sharp raps on the door. She stopped and gave a greeting that was half-bow and half salute, fist to heart, completely ignoring the knives that appeared in Reed’s hands.
“Lady Callindra?” She asked; a skeptical tone in her voice that suggested the ‘lady’ was extremely unlikely.
Rrayu stepped forward with a sharp rebuke. “Even another woman should not so enter a Lady’s bedchamber without proper introduction or inquiry.”
“There wasn’t a servant outside the door or in the antechamber, and My Liege Ellen Eth wished me to deliver this message posthaste.” She sounded mildly annoyed, perhaps at not having a scandalous or tawdry scene to report on.
“Reed, this woman is clearly not a threat,” Callindra said briskly. “Rrayu if you would retrieve the missive, please? Does your liege require an immediate response?”
The woman gave Reed a subtle but clearly calculated sizing up when he made the blades vanish up his sleeves with a deft motion. She paid nearly no attention to Rrayu, but was not hiding she was also giving Callindra a thorough once over; her eyes lingering slightly on her bracelets, chain, and sword.
“Send a runner with your response.” She said, turning abruptly and striding through the antechamber and out the door.