Cathall was good to his word – he had married Mina off to Edgard, and with a handsome wedding gift, as well. But the search for a lady-in-waiting went on. Jeanie supposed it had to do with the war. Cathall had fortified the estate, reinstating the old guardhouse and barracks with guards well beyond those who already lived upon the grounds.
As often as he traveled, Theldry felt better with guards posted at all the gates, as the estate had originally intended for. There was still room for more guards to be brought in, should the war come close, Cathall assured her, but he thought they were safe with the double guard he’d hired for now.
He’d taken to lavishing her with gifts of late. The finest of silk, satin, and cloth of gold gowns, trimmed with delicate lace and embroidery, in tasteful hues of green and blue that would bring her eyes out. Scents for her bath made of petal oils, special teas and honeys.
And gems – diamond earbobs that caught the sunlight as they danced below her ears, a new sapphire ring, and a gold and amethyst necklace.
Theldry felt guilty, for the one thing she knew Cathall wanted was a baby. And they tried every day that he was home, yet she still was not with child. Jeanie thought that it was due to Theldry being too young yet to conceive, and that she shouldn’t fret so.
Theldry also suspected that many of these gifts were the result of Roarden North merchants selling their wares cheaply so that they might leave Corstarorden altogether for the East, or even Pavilion City, and that these merchants were in some way beholden unto Cathall.
“Relax, little duckling, enjoy it,” clucked Jeanie as she brushed off a new blue velvet dress trimmed with lace. Theldry did not comment, for all of these gowns were without doubt, the highest of fashion and beautiful, but who was to see them? She held no court here at Mendellion. Only the villagers would see her in the Market and they wouldn’t know if she was dressed gaudily or in the best of fashion and class.
But Cathall surprised her when he commissioned – and sat for – a portrait of the two of them. She wore an amethyst gown with her new amethyst necklace and diamond earbobs, which pleased him.
Theldry finally confronted Cathall about the lavishness of these sudden gifts. He told her that he would normally have taken her on at least one trip by sea by now, and taken her shopping in Roarden North. But political tensions were high and for safety’s sake, he could not take her anywhere. He knew she was tired of sitting about the estate, so he was trying to bring a little liveliness to the estate. What a dear man he was for that, she thought.
But by political tensions, Theldry knew what was actually meant was “war”. War was going on all around them – the Ormons and the Ambsellons had attacked Clemongard by land and by sea just north of Storden, and who knew if King Irving would be attacked. Even the Eastern Alliance was at war now. It was all the villagers spoke of, though Theldry chose not to tell Cathall that she knew of this.
The Coastal Countries were always called to help defend Ambsellon and Ormon, and Corstarorden was the first country to be called, Theldry knew. Cathall was trying to shield her from what he thought would frighten her, but the truth was, she wanted to know more.
The villagers spoke of nothing else, for they were easily frightened and knew nothing of the outside land beyond the small village of Mendellion. Theldry tired of calming them, for they all had the option of staying at the estate should they wish if soldiers ever came to the tiny village of Mendellion, which was unlikely. Jeanie told her to be patient with them, but if Theldry had told them once, she had told them a dozen times.
She was more concerned for her husband, who rode the roads, which were unsafe now that mercenaries were looming about, and Free Riders….