Rare Things for a Rare Life

The Knights of J'shua Book 2

by Tiana Dokerty ©2023

Home | Part 8 | Part 10

Updated 5/22/24

Part 9

 

Chapter 41

Shadaya - 340

Caswell Castle

Shadaya absentmindedly pushed her hair behind her ear as she often had when it was still long. She made her way quickly through the crowd, seeking her grandmother. Grandmother had once been the Earl’s nanny, and he still doted on her. This irked his wife, Parynna, who made the aging servant’s life difficult, as revenge.

Slipping through a corridor near the kitchens, Shadaya found her grandmother shelling peas. With an imperious look, she announced to her so the kitchen help would hear, “My lady has need of you.” Then she drew the old woman to her feet and out of sight. “We have a chance! Lady Parynna has taken great affront to some dowager. If I can dig up something, anything sufficient to blacken the dowager’s name, we can be free of this place.”

“Shadaya, you cannot trust her. Whatever she’s promised, she’ll twist. Let one of the others ‘win’ this competition.”

“One of…how did you know that Lady Parynna gave the task to three of us?”

“It’s her way to pit you against each other. To get you to act without thinking. What has she promised?”

“A husband, money, and choice of assignment—”

“Within Caswell, no doubt. The winner won’t escape Lady Parynna’s clutches. She never lets go. Once she has you in her claws, the only release is death.”

“She also promised freedom and one thousand baden. Enough we could—”

“You mean enough to pay the assassin she’d send after us.”

“She…wouldn’t…”

“Besides she will never let me go. Shadaya, how can you still be so naïve? You’re a good girl but far too gullible. Still, perhaps there is a way out. Who is the countess’ latest prey?”

“Lady Shussel. She’s a distant relative who arrived only hours ago. No one seems to know much about her. Apparently, a Caswell married into their line a generation or two back.”

“Do as I say, and things will be alright.”

“Yes, Grandma.” Shadaya wondered what she knew.

“The first thing you need to do is…”

 

Chapter 42

Rebekah - 251

Being seated at one of the high tables was something Rebekah had not expected. She had intended to slip away before the feast began. However, Drake sought her out and escorted her to a far too prominent—and visible—location, sitting only one tier below the bride, groom, and their hosts.

To her left was one of the gossipy dowagers she’d sat with during the wedding. While on her right was the disguised James of the Wood. Rather than his usual rough leathers and visible weapons, he was adorned with a silk scarf, satin tunic, and an embroidered jacket with pearl buttons. Most interesting was the smooth hair and shaved face. He had been trying to grow a beard. She smiled at him.

What are you doing here? Blast, I don’t even know what name you’re using. My maid was driven off before she could learn even that.

“Lady Shussel,” James rose to his feet and bowed, “it was not my intention to impose on you this momentous day. The earl’s servant thought it fitting. Therefore, please accept the apologies of a mere merchant. I, Albertus Bekh, do humbly beg your pardon.” He ended with another bow.

Rebekah forced herself not to react at James of the Wood using the name Bekh. “Given that the situation was not of your making, I accept your offered apology. This time. There is a matter I wish to discuss with you later. In private. Regarding dealings that I’ve had with your father, Tommas.”

 

Chapter 43

Spy - 208

The spy ambled awkwardly down a passage used only by servants. There were many extra servants for this occasion. During the wedding ceremony, he’d posed as an ancient, bent-over dodderer who’d leaned against a wall, guarding an open doorway. It had allowed him to surveil all those present and mark some people for closer inspection.

He had not come alone. This assignment was far too important. He’d drawn in all his own people and every independent he could safely hire to act as additional eyes and ears. Paying his people extra, plus a bonus for every viable lead, would motivate them. As for the outside hires, he’d never pay them the baden he’d promised. The dead have no need for money.

His biggest problem was not finding subjects to investigate, but the sheer number of them, starting with Lady Parynna. He’d been watching her for some time. She was a woman who’d benefit from experiencing a little terror. Then again, whatever game their hostess, the Countess of Caswell, was playing, it might aid him. Perhaps she would flush out his prey.

Slipping into a dark passage leading to a storage room, he shed his servant disguise and emerged as a man of quality, a baron from the farthest edge of the Sea of Glass.

 

Chapter 44

James - 160

James of the Wood paused, trying to work out how this woman knew Tommas Bekh. “My father has arrangements with a great many people, Lady Shussel. I regret I’m not aware of your transactions.”

“That’s not a problem. This will be a new, urgent commission. I will pay handsomely, within reason, to have your sole attention for a time. You can make commitments on his behalf, can’t you?”

“Within certain limits, I am completely at your disposal. If your generosity equals what it has in the past, there is no limit as to what we can do for you.”

“That’s exactly what I wanted to hear,” Lady Shussel said.

James wished he understood what he’d just committed to. Her wry smile made him nervous. However, he had to go along while playing this ridiculous role.

I thought it a great idea to pose as Tommas Bekh’s son because Drake doesn’t know him. I didn’t think about his guests.

 

Shadaya - 133

Shadaya, the bold servant girl, huffed, wondering now why she’d done as her grandmother had bid her. She’d asked Rhini, another of the short-haired maids, to work with her. That way, they could  each get close, in turn, and one of them would always be within earshot. Rhini had agreed.

Shadaya had taken the first pass and overheard what sounded like Lady Shussel arranging for the services of a paramour. But when Shadaya informed Rhini of what she’d heard, Rhini pushed her into the cellar and locked her in.

Grandma arrived only moments later, but Shadaya stamped her foot and sputtered, “Why did you have me do that? Now, Rhini will claim the prize.”

“Good, child. This is better than I’d hoped. Brush out your skirts. Now, tell me what you heard.”

 

Home | Part 8 | Part 10