A/N: After a couple years, I'm back with a chapter. yay!
Solo was ready to break into a run…any given moment, any second now…if that dreaded little witch would just let her go! She glared at the young woman leading the way by the hand.
"Then you can help me."
It was a hard request. No one trusted these nobles nowadays, not with the city folks paying their taxes and getting poorer while the rich continued to deposit money into their accounts. Many of the common folks were left with no homes. There were other options if they needed to survive, but hardly were any of the choices real honest work.
Passing the gates of the high estate of the Lord and Lady of Galinsea, Solo was surprised no guards were standing watch. Anyone can just stroll in and out of the place, the girl thought startled. Was this even legal?
A glimpse of scarlet light, which ran in between the gates, caught her eye for a second then vanished. So that was it. They had magic guarding the entrance; such security could only be bought with money. Solo scowled. Our money, she thought furiously.
"I know you're not happy with me," Iona said, misinterpreting the scowl on the thief's face. "Trust me…when you hear my…our plans…you will be at more ease of mind."
Our? Solo questioned. Were there other people as mad as this noblewoman?
As they entered the grand halls, a maid rushed forward from a hidden dark corner. The girl looked around sixteen, clean, mousy and sweet-looking, with her reddish hair tied up into a tight bun. She had her attention to the floor, so it was impossible to see the color of her eyes. A tiny nose and a full mouth. The perfect little doll. She curtsied to Iona, murmuring "My Lady Iona…", then…
"ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND!?"
Solo took a step back and was amused to see even Iona flinch a little at the voice from the small girl. The maid's hazel eyes flashed with annoyance. For a moment, Solo thought the girl was angered by her presence, which was understandable.
"Slipping out of the estate in the middle of the night! My Lord Seth came to my room, telling me that someone magical slipped out of the palace…and it was YOU! MY LADY…the danger of the city…at night!" the maid ranted as the noblewoman winced at every word.
Solo snickered. The maid looked much younger than Iona and here the girl was, berating her lady as if Iona was her daughter. This was just too rich.
"Eami," Iona finally managed to say when the maid paused to catch her breath. "This is Solo…"
"Oh I know her," Eami said briskly. "You forget, my lady, how news travel with servants." The maid turned her attention on the thief, seizing up Solo's height. "I am Eami, Lady Iona's personal maid. I will dress you up...before MY LADY gets into any more trouble."
Iona smiled, trying to sneak away. "I will be off to bed then?"
Eami scowled. "No Lady Iona, you will go see your brother. You better soothe the blow before he finds out about our guest. You know my Lord Seth; he is talented with the power of words."
The sorceress sighed forlornly. "I bet you liked it when my brother came to your room tonight!" Iona muttered.
Eami met Iona's eyes squarely, an eyebrow arched in light amusement. Not even an ounce of hesitation flickered in those hazel eyes.
"I do not and will not play to some nobleman's song," Eami said. "Especially not that of my young masters'."
Iona rolled her eyes before retreating down the halls. Servants and their nobles rarely started relationships. Things got complicated when that happened. Solo turned to leave only to be stopped by a pair of small, but strong hands.
"You will come with me, madam," Eami said.
"Yeah…right," Solo retorted, trying to wrench away. "I'm leaving. Rich people's houses give me the creeps. It's probably haunted or something."
Eami frowned. "Your grammar, though not your choice of words, is very good for someone from the lower parts of the city."
Solo snorted, an action that the maid wrinkled her nose at. "My granddaddy had me some learning 'fore he gone splatterin' himself in some street."
The maid did not further emphasize the thief's education, while leading Solo to a small room with a large tub at the corner. A long mirror, accompanied with two chairs, leaned against the other side of the room. A bed was placed under a window, which faced the palace's magical gates.
Solo took a step back once she noticed hot water in the tub.
"I ain't jumping into that cooking pot. Those are for the rich."
Eami placed her hands on her hips. "I ain't rich," the maid said, adopting the cant. "But I keep myself clean. Now go in! I'm no stranger to the unclothed body of a woman, so I will strip your clothes off if I have to."
"Well that just sounds plain nasty," Solo said, taking off her shirt. "Stripping women and the like. Some maid you are."
"I'm doing my job," Eami responded as she turned her back from the thief. "Undone things must get done, I will not let it sit around even for a second."
"Are you mad at me, brother?"
Seth stood at the balcony outside his room's window. His mismatched eyes flickered with some strange emotion. His sister, Iona, sighed wearily as she made herself comfortable in a plush armchair. She recognized that eerie silence that drew between the siblings. His emotions were closed to her and she would not try to force it open. That was how it worked.
"I'm not angry," Seth finally said. His voice was light, which made Iona suspicious. He was not angry, no…was he confused?
"You question my actions?" Iona inquired slowly.
"A little. What does that girl have to do with our plans?"
"Oh brother…" Iona propped her chin on her hand. "She will help us overthrow the monarchy…you will see…"
Seth turned back to his sister, frowning. "You're trying to control her life…"
The sorceress smiled lazily. "I am a bad noble after all."