“I could have gutted her by accident.” Reed said darkly, “Just walking in like that. Don’t these people know that there’s a war on outside? A year ago she’d have been bleeding out on the floor.”
“Somehow I think she was a lot more than she appeared to be,” Callindra said, narrowing her eyes. “She definitely checked us all out and I’m certain she will be telling her mistress what she observed.”
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Rrayu giving her a considering glance. The woman who was to be her lady’s maid turned deliberately back to the closet and withdrew a brilliant red garment. It had wide trouser legs that gave the illusion of skirts but still had the mobility of trousers. The top was also flowing red silk that overlapped to tie and then be covered by a matching sash. Small vines picked out in an impossibly emerald green twined about the hems with tiny white and gold flowers peeking through. Brightstar flowers.
“I think this will be an admirable compromise, My Lady.” She said, laying it out on the bed. “Now you go so that our Lady may dress in private.” Reed rolled his eyes but left without dissent.
“You’ve been keeping this in reserve haven’t you?” Callindra accused, sliding out of the robe and allowing Rrayu to assist her in dressing. She couldn’t help but admire the feeling of the silk as it slid over her skin.
“Of course, although I was fairly certain I would have convinced you eventually, you must make an appearance in the dining room below.” She surveyed the effect the outfit had and gave a reluctant nod. “This will have to do.”
Callindra looked at herself in the mirror and barely recognized herself. The shoulder-length ragged ends of her hair were now sculpted into a quite stylish and intentional looking cut. The clothing fit her beautifully, managing to make her whipcord thinness look dangerously feminine like a hunting cat. She smiled, and turned to Rrayu, giving the other woman a hug.
“You’re a miracle worker! This looks amazing!” She stepped back and performed a few lunges and cuts, Shadowsliver’s twin tips whistling through the air. “And I can still move in it. Do you really think this is going to make a difference?”
“My Lady is too kind.” Rrayu said, “The transformation from your travel-worn self to this version should be sufficient to convince most that you have some claim to a title.”
“A title? But I do actually have a title.” Callindra said, lowering her sword and looking at her maid. “I am the Sol’Estin, Master of the North Wind.”
She hadn’t ever spoken those words aloud, gods and demons she’d barely even thought them, but as they left her mouth she realized that they were true. Glarian was dead, and with his death, the mantle of Sol’Estin was now hers and hers alone. Even inside a building underground and far from the raging power of the Great Winds, a gust of air rattled the shutters briefly and a tiny zephyr tugged at Shadowsliver’s chain.
Rrayu was looking at her with a shocked expression on her face and jumped when the wind blew. “Oh!” She looked around, as though fearing something might step from a corner of the room and whisk her away to gods all knew where.
“My Master had many enemies however, so I think it might not be the most productive thing to spread around.” She paused and looked at Rrayu. “Are you alright? You look like someone just walked over your grave.”
“I just didn’t know you were a …” She trailed off, staring at her feet and swallowing hard. “That’s a Mage’s Title.”
“It’s much more than just a Mage’s title, but that is part of what it means.” Callindra said, “Is that a problem?”
“Not with me,” Rrayu said, still looking down. “However, it may complicate things with Ellen Eth.”