It took less time than Idira expected for Unambi's presence to become not only accepted, but welcomed by VanCleef and his men. While Idira had her lessons, Unambi would join the men in the inner courtyard and teach them the fighting techniques of trolls. Not all of the moves could be used by humans, who lacked the strength and dexterity of a troll, but a few could be modified to deadly effect. Soon even the scariest of VanCleef's men nodded with respect to the troll whenever they passed him. Idira felt a surge of pride. Unambi was the best warrior in the whole house. She never felt afraid of VanCleef's men again.
VanCleef ordered the room across from Idira's to be made into an abode for Unambi. Idira soon found out a troll didn't use the same furniture people did. Instead of sleeping on a mattress in a frame, a troll slept in a sling hung from iron loops bolted to the ceiling's beams. Unambi made a drawing for the carpenters to craft him a low table with a metal brazier set in the middle, a hole cut underneath to allow the brazier's ashes to fall into a little metal tray hanging underneath. A set of four low stools completed his requirements. He said he missed the jungle so an array of leafy potted plants were brought in. They clustered around the edges of the room, filling the space with the rich scent of earth.
Armour had to be specially made to fit a troll's shoulders. It took several attempts to get it right since it had to be crafted from wood and not metal. When it was done, Unambi painted it with his tribal colours of red and blue and decorated it with the red tail feathers of the enormous Rocs that filled the skies of Westfall. Around his waist he wore a belt and a leather kilt, split into panels. At the front an extra panel covered his modesty. On his chest he painted tribal designs, beautiful intricate whorls that made him look even more fierce. The first time Idira saw him in all his regalia she felt a surge of pride. None of VanCleef's men could compare. She had the best guard of all.
Eventually VanCleef allowed Unambi to carry weapons. It was Borda—the head blacksmith who had moved Idira, Myra, and Papa from the farm to Moonbrook—who crafted a vicious pair of serrated daggers for Unambi, the weapons almost as big as swords. Unambi liked them very much. He licked the blades, tasting them and said they told him they were hungry for blood.
For the sake of the citizens of Moonbrook, Unambi never left the house. The day they escaped the tower, VanCleef had snuck him into Moonbrook by putting him in the coach and drawing the blinds. He drove the horses into the stable yard and cleared the way first before bringing him up to the third floor. At first only Lanira and one other maid were allowed upstairs. Both of them fainted the first time they saw Unambi, even though Idira promised them he wouldn't hurt them. As time went by and Unambi became a familiar sight, some of the servants grew to like his gentle, kind way with Idira, seeing him as Idira did. Others did not. They viewed him with open hostility and suspicion. VanCleef dismissed those ones.
Of the women, Arinna accepted Unambi first, frequently coming to talk with him in the evenings, perched upon one of his strange little stools, taking notes. Idira would sit with them, listening, fascinated as he explained about his tribe's belief systems and how they used magic. Everything they believed was different to what Bishop Mattias taught and much more complicated.
Lanira came around soon after, encouraged by Arinna's trust in the troll, although she remained distant and reserved, and perhaps a little afraid, though she desperately tried to hide it.
Although VanCleef had explained all to Nin, when she first saw Unambi, her hand flew to her mouth and she just stared at him, astonished. She tried to teach him manners, and how to hold a teacup, perhaps thinking him a savage who could be made acceptable through social graces. Unambi did his best to try to please her, but his hands weren't made to hold teacups or eat tiny sweet cakes. He broke the fragile porcelain teacups and ate the cakes in one bite.
Nin would shake her head, her lips pressed together in a tight, disapproving line. Idira suspected Nin thought Unambi was testing her, but Idira knew he was really trying. Not one to give up, Nin had a large wooden teacup carved for Unambi, and ordered larger sizes of cake to be made for him. This time, it worked, although he looked completely ridiculous holding a huge wooden teacup between his fat finger and thumb. He liked the cakes though.
Myra refused to acknowledge Unambi. Whenever Idira would go to her room and visit her sister as she dressed for dinner, Idira would tell her about the heroic things he had done like saving a mama tiger caught in a fur hunter's trap. She would take great care to explain how he had tended the big cat's injuries and fed her babies until she was strong enough to carry on alone. But no matter what Idira said about him, Myra would act as though she couldn't hear her, focussing her attention on getting ready for the evening, discussing details about her hairstyle or jewellery with her maid. She would never come upstairs to listen to the bedtime story anymore either. It made Idira sad but VanCleef said she just needed to give Myra time, that she would come around.
Several more months passed. By this time, Unambi had been accepted by everyone except Myra—even the horses liked him. VanCleef said he had had enough and brought Myra upstairs to face Unambi. Myra stood in her glittering finery, glaring at the poor troll, filled with hate and resentment. She refused to speak to him, even though he used all his best manners taught to him by Nin and was very nice to her, making tea and offering her some. She slapped the cup away, splattering hot tea all over him.
That night Myra started fighting with VanCleef again, screaming Benny would never have made her live with a monster. VanCleef yelled back she was lucky to have him, especially after what her father was putting him through. She said she wished Papa had killed the monster, so she wouldn't have to live with it. VanCleef bellowed back Unambi had saved Idira's life and helped thwart Papa's planned attack against Moonbrook, sparing hundreds of people's lives.
Furious, Myra shrieked she never asked for her life, outlining to VanCleef in no uncertain terms how much she hated him. Glass shattered, filling the house with the sound of sharp edges and destruction. Idira guessed her sister had broken the beautiful gilt mirror above the fireplace. VanCleef bellowed she was a spoiled brat, and he'd had enough of her nonsense. He jerked the door open and hollered until she came to her senses he wouldn't have anything more to do with her.
The door slammed and another door opened and slammed shut. And just like that, VanCleef moved out of his bedroom and Myra was alone again. Idira didn't go down even though she could hear Myra crying really hard. Idira was mad for what her sister had said about wishing Papa had killed Unambi. Sometimes Myra could be really horrible. She deserved to be alone. Her hands over her ears, Idira crossed the hall into Unambi's room. As he tended the scalds from the tea on his arms and chest she read him a story. Afterwards, he gave her a hug and said she was the best thing that ever happened to him.