Soren Ridere had a newborn daughter. As soon as word had spread, Ancel had promptly told Nolia to investigate. And to her surprise, Lady Jaslyn had allowed her to visit. The infant was named Meya, and had an unusual appearance even for one so young, with a sprinkle of freckles and dark, unruly curls.
“I don’t know why I’ve been left with so few servants,” Lady Jaslyn whined, sitting across from Nolia. “This one acts as though she’s never held a newborn before.”
She gestured to the young girl standing nearby, who Nolia knew to be the younger sister of Bonnie. The girl looked shameful, scrunching her hands into her apron and staring at the floor, apparently unused to being scolded so bluntly.
Nolia smiled, “I’m sure she will learn in time.”
The Lady Jaslyn scoffed and lifted her nose to the air, “Alright then, I’ve tired of this game of politeness. What do you want?”
“Want?” Nolia clenched her jaw and straightened, “What do you mean?”
“I don’t and won’t believe you’ve come to wish congratulations, you and I both know that our husbands are on two sides of the same battlefield.”
Affronted, Nolia bared her teeth in an effort to smile. “I wasn’t intending to…”
“Say what it is you want to say,” Jaslyn interrupted.
Nolia was impressed at her fierceness, and gave a defeated sigh. “I’ve heard rumours,” she said. “That you have intent to leave court.”
She watched as Lady Jaslyn absorbed her words, and her tired features pulled into a questioning scowl.
“Why would I leave court?”
“It’s just that girl, Meliza…” Nolia looked away deceptively. “Has been telling everyone that you would leave after the birth of your child – so that she may remain here as your husband’s consort.”
Jaslyn raised her eyebrows, “The Tiernan girl?”
Nolia nodded, “And that she intends to keep Bonnibel Reardon as her handmaiden.”
“She wants to keep Bonnie?”
Nolia wanted to smile, the part about Bonnie seemed to have struck hard. She watched as Lady Jaslyn looked away from her and leaned back into the cushions of her chair.
“Soren has told me all about the Tiernan girl,” Jaslyn spoke to the wall. “He has a harem of little girls like her you know, even younger ones. He likes blondes.” Inside, Nolia felt uncomfortable, as if the mention of blonde hair was some kind of attack on her. Jaslyn looked back at her, “I suppose I’ll have to deal with her then, and remind her who the Rideres actually are.”
With a nod, Nolia swallowed. She supposed that while she had accomplished her intended mission, she couldn't help but feel sorry for Meliza, granted she had served her purpose well.