A woman wearing an elaborately pleated green silk gown swept across the dance floor and favored Callindra with a dazzling smile and a graceful curtsey. “Lady Sol’Estin, I am Miss Dinneh, may I join you?”
Callindra smiled back and gestured toward the seat across from her. “Of course, Miss Dinneh, please have a seat. Reed, won’t you pour her some refreshment?”
Reed barely missed a beat, pouring a goblet of mead and placing it before her with a flourish. “With your leave, my Lady?” He said, waiting for her nod before vanishing onto the dance floor, already taking a laughing girl by the hand.
“What brings you to my table?” Callindra asked, sampling her mead.
“I am an emissary from the Lady Ellen Eth ‘Orien.” She replied, lifting her goblet in salute. “I am here to bid you welcome to this last bastion of civilization in a world gone mad. The Lady graciously offers to shelter you beneath the wings of her benevolent protection.”
“I confess, I find you a much more congenial companion than the last messenger the Lady sent my way,” Callindra said, nibbling on a small sweet bread.
“Our sincere apologies, we were unaware that you possessed a Title.” She winced, “My Mistress wished to ascertain if you were an imposter and may have sent a rather less polite representative to see what sort of reaction would result.”
“Judging by your appearance here, I gather I passed her test?” Callindra asked, raising an eyebrow.
“She sent me here to offer an invitation to a ball she is putting on two days hence by way of apology.” Dinneh said, “I am here to bring your response back to her.”
“I gratefully accept both apology and invitation,” Callindra said, smiling to keep the look of panic off her face. “I look forward to meeting your Lady and her court.”
“Wonderful,” Dinneh said, rising gracefully and dipping another curtsey. “We shall be honored to host the Sol’Estin.”
Callindra kept her face impassive until the other woman had moved out of sight. Someone had let her secret slip, and if there was anyone from The Order in the Undercity, she would be in danger. More than that, she had told Rrayu specifically not to tell anyone and nobody other than her friends knew of her title. It was time to go and have a chat with her maid.
She climbed the stairs with determined strides and flung open the door to her chambers. “Rrayu, come here right bloody now and by the gods and demons explain to me why you revealed my Title to Ellen Eth!”
“Please, my Lady, I swear I did not say anything!” Rrayu entered the sitting room, wringing her hands in supplication. “I have not even made a report yet; I could not have betrayed your secret!”
Callindra looked at her with skepticism, “Where else would Lady ‘Orien’s agents have found out about it?”
“I don’t know my Lady, but please believe me; I didn’t breathe a word of it to anyone.”
A thought struck Callindra, and she knew her maid was telling the truth. “It was that man.” She said in a flat voice. “He must have been from The Order. I should have known by how he carried his sword.”