'She's in shock, poor thing,' Lanira muttered as she hurried to the floor-to-ceiling windows and pulled the thick curtains closed. 'Just look at the state of her.'
She sent for hot water. Maids came and went, quiet and discreet. Behind a wooden folding screen one of the maids bathed Myra in a big ceramic tub. Beautiful smells emanated from behind the screen, complex scents Idira didn't know how to describe. All she knew was the scents of the sky, the land and the sea, she had no idea there could be so much more. A delivery arrived with a card attached to an enormous box, tied closed with a silky yellow ribbon.
Lanira read the card.
'Fools,' she sneered as she tossed it aside. 'If these merchants of Moonbrook think it'll only take a few new frocks bought in Stormwind for VanCleef to be satisfied with their donation to the Brotherhood's cause, they'll see soon enough just what will be expected of them.'
Lanira set the box on the bed, it was too big to go anywhere else. Curious, Idira got up onto the bed and pulled the ribbon away. She slid the lid off. Inside, four beautiful new gowns lay wrapped in folds of pale pink and green tissue paper.
She looked up and caught Lanira watching her. A smile tickled the corners of her minder's downturned mouth. 'You don't say much, but one thing's certain, you do love the pretty things, don't you?'
Idira nodded, her attention drawn back to the box with its sumptuous fabrics peeking out between the soft paper. She ran her fingers over the material, reverent, awed to touch something from the fairytale city of Stormwind, where the good Queen Tiffin used to live.
'Come then.' Lanira bustled around to the other side of the bed and set the box's lid against the wall. 'You can make yourself useful. Get those gowns out before they wrinkle up. Lay them out on the bed nice and neat so Ms Northshire can choose which one she wants to wear today.'
Idira did as she was told, delighted to be given such a great responsibility. Myra came out from behind the screen wrapped in a towel, her eyes smudged with dark shadows. Idira showed her sister the new dresses, but Myra just looked at them, expressionless and said nothing. She went to one of the chairs, sat down and closed her eyes.
Lanira's lips thinned, but she didn't say anything. She clapped her hands and pointed at the lavender gown, its bodice and hem embroidered with little flowers, wrought in silver thread. Myra's attendants came forward and helped her to her feet. They dressed her in total silence under Lanira's watchful, critical eye. When they were done, Lanira put fresh colour on Myra's lips and eyelids, tutting to herself over the bruise. She sent for a cold steak and gave Idira the task of holding the slab of meat against Myra's purpled cheekbone and jaw. Lanira went to the fireplace, wrapped a cloth around her hand and pulled a metal instrument from a rack in the fireplace. Idira watched, fascinated, as Lanira began the long work of curling Myra's hair.
'Well Idira, what do you think of our new home?' Lanira asked as she twirled a tress of Myra's hair free from the iron. Idira switched the steak from one hand to another, it was hard work to hold the thick slice of meat up for so long.
Idira squinted up at Lanira. 'I miss Blackie.'
Idira nodded. She bit her lip, worrying. Blackie was probably hungry by now without anyone to bring her food.
'You are a funny thing. Here you are, living in privilege and all you can think about is your farm cat.'
Idira looked down at her bare feet and scuffed them against the thick burgundy rug. Poor Blackie. She had only been able to have one day of a nice life.
'You are lucky Mr VanCleef is partial to cats,' Lanira continued as she freed another curling tress. 'I am certain he won't mind if I have your cat brought to you.'
Idira smiled, pleased. She caught Myra looking at her, hollow, bleak.
'I wish I was you,' she whispered, and began to cry again.