Lord Wolsey’s chambers were grander than Middle City and the City of the Mountain put together. The central room was round and had a long table for dining at its centre, the walls were decorated with banners in the Wolsey colours. A spiral staircase took Lind to her room at the top of the tower, while Guth and Colm had rooms below hers. There were five rooms altogether and Lind supposed Lord Wolsey had a lot of guests. Her room consisted of a table, although Colm called it a desk, and a large feather bed. Lind had only slept in a bed a handful of times, but never had she slept in a bed so soft. Lying on it was almost unbearable. There was a large wardrobe, as Colm called it, where she should put her clothes, though Lind explained that she only had the clothes she wore. The room was otherwise sparse. It had none of the decorations that the dining room had, though Colm explained it was due to Lord Wolsey’s recent death. He left her to settle into her room, taking Guth with him.
It was hot, not as hot as the throne room, but still too hot for Lind’s liking. She went to the window and perched on the stone sill. A cool breeze blew around her face as she looked at the yard far below. She liked being so high up, it was the perfect vantage point. No one could reach Azule Tower without Lind seeing them. She didn’t trust these Southerners yet, not even Colm. He was a good man, that much was certain, but he was also a man of honour, bound to the crown. A knock at her door caught her attention.
“Enter,” she said.
She thought it sounded stupid, but that was how the Southerners did things. She watched as the door opened and the two Lords from the throne room stepped into her room. She had already forgotten their names. The tall one bowed with a thin smile, the short one simply inclined his head.
“Forgive the intrusion, my dear,” said the tall one. “I am Lord Finneas Grey, the Master of Coin and this is Lord Arwell Hallworth. We welcome you to the Blue Citadel, where we hope you shall have every comfort.”
“I don’t suppose you’ll be used to such comforts in the North,” said Lord Hallworth.
“I’d hardly call it comfort… My Lords,” said Lind. “Please, sit.”
The two men each took a seat in front of the desk and turned them towards Lind. Lord Grey was giving her a very odd look, while Lord Hallworth grinned at her. The two men might have been similar ages, though Lind couldn’t tell. Lord Hallworth’s hair was red, but thinning, while Lord Grey has a full head of curled black hair. The hair at his temples had turned grey; Lind liked the look of it.
“You do not find these rooms comfortable, my dear?” said Lord Grey.
“My name is Lind Farstrider and I am not your dear,” she said. “And this room is too hot. This whole damn land is too hot.”
“Forgive me,” Lord Grey smiled. “I meant it only as a friendly gesture. Aside from the heat, how are you finding Fyrell? Have you been here long?”
“All of twenty years.”
Lind smiled at the surprised look on Lord Grey’s face, Lord Hallworth was also smiling at him.
“First time I’ve heard it called Fyrell though,” she continued. “I like the marsh lands. Nice and cool, friendly people. Quiet too. It’s the only place my man, Guth, really likes. He’s not easy to please.”
Lord Grey managed to close his mouth and adopted a slightly disappointed expression. He cocked his head to his left.
“This Guth is your husband?”
“Husband?” Lind repeated, then she laughed. “No, no, me and Guth aren’t bound. He just took it upon himself to protect me, and here we are. What of you?”
“Regrettably I have no wife,” said Lord Grey. “I am married to my work and, alas, I must forsake the pleasures of a woman’s company.”
Lind felt uncomfortable under Lord Grey’s strange gaze, until Lord Hallworth spoke.
“I too have no wife,” he nodded, feigning sadness. “Married to my work, like my good friend here. Thankfully, I discovered brothels.”
Lord Hallworth grinned as his companion glared at him. Lind laughed. She had no love of brothels, but she could not deny that Lord Hallworth had made her feel much more comfortable after Lord Grey’s staring.
“Forgive my friend,” Lord Grey said. “Arwell has not learnt the same manners as myself and others of nobility. I assure you that we are not all as rude as he.”
“Nor as handsome,” Lord Hallworth added. “Come now, Finneas, we’ve intruded on Lind’s hospitalities for too long. Your wife will be wondering where you’ve got to.”
He stood and grinned at Lind. He walked over to her as Lord Grey rose from his seat and held out his hand. She took it and gave a firm shake as she had seen other Southerners do. He waited by the door as Lord Grey approached her. The tall man rested his hand on her knee and smiled.
“If you should ever need anything, you must not hesitate to ask us,” he said.
“But please hesitate to ask me,” said Lord Hallworth. “I’m sure Finneas would love to be your dogsbody.”
Lord Grey pretended not to hear and kept staring at Lind, making her more and more uncomfortable, which wasn’t an easy thing to do. She looked to his hand on her knee and then back to him and drew her dagger.
“Actually, there is one thing I need,” she smiled, and rested the dagger on Lord Grey’s wrist. “I need you to take your hand off my leg, and if you don’t I might just cut it off. Think you can do that?”
Lord Grey swallowed and nodded, removing his hand and letting it drop to his side. Lind could hear Lord Hallworth sniggering by the door.
“It’s been a pleasure, My Lords,” she said, bowing her head.
The two Lords bowed and left, one looking somewhere between disgusted and terrified, the other barely able to contain his laughter. Lind settled back on the sill and smiled to herself. Now she thought she might like it here after all.
© Jessica Wiles, 2013