For disobeying Lanira and not going up to her room as she had been told, Idira had to stay in her room for the rest of the day. The maid who brought in breakfast tried to cheer Idira up—she told her a delivery of toys had been scheduled to arrive that morning. In the meantime, she fetched a piece of yarn so Idira could play with Blackie.
Breakfasted, bathed, and dressed once more in her pink dress, Idira occupied herself dangling the yarn in front of Blackie. The cat soon tired and curled up to sleep. Idira petted Blackie for a while, kicking her heels against the side of the bed, feeling restless. She wasn't used to being cooped up all the time. She missed her freedom—the sun on her face, the taste of salt in the air, the crash of the waves against the shore. She wished she could go to the sea. She thought about her murloc friend, wondering if it had found her seashell necklace.
She wandered around her room, poking at the furniture, opening drawers and cupboards; all of them empty. She knelt on the window seat and watched the people in the big square going about their business. She tried to open the window to catch the air, but couldn't open the latch. Falling back onto her haunches, she turned to watch the door.
On the count of three it would open and the toys would arrive. She counted to three. The door stayed shut.
She slid off the window seat and listened at the keyhole. Nothing. She turned the doorknob and pulled the door open a crack. The corridor of the third floor lay shrouded in silence. She tapped her finger on the door handle, debating. She decided she would just look in the room across the hall, maybe there would be treasure in there.
The room lay completely empty. Sunlight streamed through the dusty, bare windows. A spider crawled along the frame.
She closed the door, deciding it wasn't fair to find an empty room. She was allowed another chance. She moved down the hall and tried the next room and then the next. All of them the same. Empty. Boring. The fourth room was more interesting, it didn't have any windows in the walls, just a square cut out in the roof, with glass over it. Still no furniture or carpets or curtains, but it did contain stacks of sealed wooden crates and boxes painted with letters and symbols she couldn't read. It was fun for awhile since the stacks were much taller than she so when she went between them, it was like a maze.
She followed the little corridors for awhile, entertained, trying to find a hiding spot. She found one tucked between the crates and the fireplace. She retraced her steps, pleased, and closed the door. Her secret hideaway. No one would find her in there.
She moved on, her confidence increasing as she opened the doors to all the rooms. Three more had the strange windows in the ceiling, with one of them containing another, smaller stack of the crates with the letters and symbols.
Of the rooms with proper windows, only three more had furniture in them, covered over with white sheets. She peeked under them, and decided she had the prettiest room of them all. No treasure, though. Having moved along the hall in one direction, she was surprised when she opened the door of her own room. She looked behind and in front of her, astonished, trying to work out how that could have happened.
She followed the hallway again, turning to the right three times. She reached her door again, realising the hallway must be a giant rectangle. She followed the corridor one more time, working out the layout. In the corridors at the front and back of the house, two doors lay on each side, with two rooms facing either the main square as hers did or over another yard, where the horses and stables were. She guessed that must be the back of the house, where the bad men had taken Benny.
In the rooms opposite hers and along the inside of the other two corridors, the windows overlooked the inner courtyard where VanCleef had ripped Myra's dress. The room with the spider was one of them. She worked out the rooms with the windows in the ceiling must be against the houses on either side, up against their walls. Besides herself, no one else occupied the floor. She shivered with delight, all that space, just to herself. And with all those windows she could almost see everywhere. The main square, the stable yard and the inner courtyard. She wasn't going to be bored ever again.
Footsteps on the staircase caught her attention. She hurried into her room and clambered up onto her bed just as her door opened and three delivery men came in. Two of them lugged a large wooden chest carved with fanciful, fantastic creatures curled around each other, their talons and wings outstretched. The third man carried a wooden horse, its hooves attached to long, curved pieces of wood. They set the things down without looking at her. One of them hefted open the lid of the chest.
Idira slid off the bed, gaping. It had been filled to the brim with every kind of toy imaginable. Games and building blocks, little wooden animals, and things she couldn't even describe. All of it crammed into a chest that looked like it had come from a fairy tale. If they had just given her the chest she would have been happy. It had to be a mistake.
'Is it all just for me?' she asked, breathless, part of her hoping she was wrong, and it really, truly was for her.
The man smiled, but it wasn't a happy smile. If Idira could have called it anything, she would have said it was a bitter smile. Uncertain, she retreated a step.
'The master has taken a shine to ye,' he answered, rough. 'Therefore the merchants of Moonbrook are happy ta donate ta the Brotherhood's cause.'
'Oh,' Idira said, disappointment flooding her. 'So these belong ta the Brotherhood?' She eyed a soft stuffed toy. A floppy-eared grey rabbit with blue eyes made of glass, a silky white ribbon tied in a bow around its neck. She longed to touch it, but if it belonged to the Brotherhood . . . the men must have made a mistake and put the chest in the wrong room, maybe it was supposed to go in the room with the other crates and her toys would come later.
The man looked back at the other two who shook their heads, a warning look in their eyes. He scoffed and looked at the toys, his lips twisting with distaste.
'Ye're a quick one, ain't ye? I can see why the master likes ye.' He looked at the toys, his lips twisting with distaste. 'Aye, all this 'belongs' ta the Brotherhood, jus' like everything else in this house. Fer those who find favour with the master, there ain't no shortage o' luxury. Fer the rest o' us . . . well, that's another story.' He leaned over, and put his face close to hers. She could smell the stink of spirits on his breath. He jerked his head towards the chest. 'These things were fetched from Stormwind for ye, at a king's ransom, so mind ye enjoy 'em, and take good care o' em for plenty o' others won't be eating mor'n gruel for the next year ta pay fer it all.'
He lifted a dirty finger and pointed at her as he backed away, menacing her. The door slammed shut behind him. Idira didn't understand half of what he said, but she knew better than to ask VanCleef, for some reason she knew something bad would happen to that man if she did. She would ask Lanira, maybe, if she was being nice. Whatever the smelly man said, it seemed the toys were there to stay.
Unable to resist any longer, she knelt down and pulled out the bunny. It was so soft, she wondered if its fur was real. She kissed its pink nose and hugged it tight. Setting it to one side, she proceeded to go through the chest's contents. It took a long time. There were many things she didn't recognise or know how to use. She separated the toys into two piles, the pile with things she didn't know what to do with grew much faster than the pile with the things she did.
She played with the blocks for awhile, building little corrals for the small wooden animals. As she repacked some of the toys back into the chest, she discovered a pair of wooden handles recessed into its lower portion. She pulled on it and a drawer slid open. With a cry of delight she found books, filled with pictures of fairy tales. She couldn't read anything, but the drawings were so vivid and filled with life she could almost figure out the stories from them. Princesses and princes, fire-breathing creatures with wings, and castles that perched atop high mountains. She spent most of the rest of the morning looking at her books. A lunch tray arrived. She ate, barely even noticing the beautifully arranged meal.
At the very bottom of the pile of books, she found books without words, just pictures outlined in black and white along with a flat box filled with colouring pencils. She pulled them out, staring at her sudden bounty. Unable to stop herself, she did a little dance of joy.
Picking up her bunny, she climbed up onto the bed and leafed through the book, looking for the first picture she would colour. A blood curdling scream made her jump, sending her pencils flying everywhere. Blackie bolted under the bed, her tail almost as fat as her body.
Idira looked at her door, a creep of dread stealing her happiness. Something bad was about to happen. She could feel it in her bones, like when Papa would come home drunk and hit Myra for nothing. Idira went to the door and opened it. Another scream filled her ears. A woman sobbed, pleading, crying, begging for mercy. Her cries came from the room across the hall, the one with the spider in it.