The wind howled, violently lashing the world with rain. Rosskeen stood at the window enjoying the pandemonium of the storm. The chaos pleased him, particularly as he felt satiated by the night’s entertainment. A soft knock disturbed the moment. Annoyed, Rosskeen smoothed the fabric of his favorite dressing gown over his corpulent form, The soft feeling of the fine fabric soothed his mood. He nodded his head and the young woman resentfully climbed out of the bed and donned a shift before attending to the door.
The young who entered was wearing fresh clothes, his hair was damp and he shivering in the chill room. He tried to slip close to the sullen flames of the fireplace, but caught the attention of the home’s master.
“Feel free to warm yourself, Martense. Did you have a successful errand?”
Resentful at the unspoken chastisement, Martense swallowed his pride.
“Yes, milord. It is done.” There was a hint of fatigue in his voice. The task had been grueling, but the old woman would cause no further distress to Rosskeen.
“Excellent,” Rosskeen said, and his voice seemed to soften. “You must have exhausted yourself. Have you eaten? Bathed?”
“Not as yet. I assumed you would want news swiftly, so I only paused for dry clothes.”
The man’s deference was calculated, pleasing his employer.
Out of gratitude for your service, you will reside on my floor rather than the lower chambers. Now,” Rosskeen gestured with plump hand to the woman, “Ydris, see to our friend’s needs tonight.”
Martense, being well-bred, concealed his shock. He recognized the name as one of his employer’s daughters, now regarded the breathtaking woman who stood, barely clothed, waiting impatiently. She grunted a response and took the young man’s hand, leading him from the room.
Rosskeen watched them go, leering at the thought of what escapades would ensue. His face shifted to a smile of pleasure at the thought of his nemesis’ demise. The rest would be minor obstacles. He wondered idly if Gavin should be disposed of next. Although rivals, Rosskeen held a grudging admiration for the man. Time for that tomorrow. Reaching out to the bellpulls, he hesitated briefly on who to summon. Tugging at one of the cords, he eventually heard the sounds of the summoned chambermaids coming down the hall. They paused at the threshold, waiting to be called upon. The night continued with storms without and within the great house.