Mera's hand stilled, not because of the words, but rather because of the inflection. The driver was using House Servant to House Ladye of Equal House. "The Head of House wishes to speak to you."
"Who is your Head of House?" Mera demanded. She leaned forward, trying to see the driver's face; but the angle was wrong. She had never before been kidnapped, but this seemed rather unusual. Was it a test conceived by House T'o'lz? Or a true kidnapping? She realized the driver had not answered, and asked again, sharply inserting House Command inflection. "Who is your Lord?"
There was a slight hesitation before he answered in House Servant Submission. "I may not say Ladye." The tempo of his speech increased. "But all will be explained to you when you meet. Please to rest easy. You will not be harmed."
Mera sat stiffly back on the seat, her hands clutched so tightly together in her lap they were white. She tried to concentrate, to form some sort of plan, but her mind refused to focus. Instead it rain in a circle of endless questions. As the carriage continued to cover the kilometers, putting more and more distance between Mera and Roaninsh one thought came to dominate the others: what would her T'o'lz brothers do when she did not arrive at the space port? Would they assume something had happened to her? Or would they think she had run away from her responsibilities?
She bit her lip. The contract with the Terran Trenton was an important one. Ixzander and K'ihn could not miss the shuttle. It would be left for T'o'lz Inik to learn she had been abducted and to try to discover where she was taken. The Head of the Seventh House had many connections across Byshen, but it still would take him time to discover what had happened to her. Time he could not afford to take from his duties.
Mera straightened her back as anger began to replace fear. This kidnapper and his House had interfered in her House duties and she would know the reason for it.
The silent ride continued for several more ˇratÝmi. Mera's eyelids began to droop. She shook herself to remain awake; but began to slump again almost immediately. She had not slept well the night before for nerves and the monotonous scenery of dry rock, red dust, and low hills had nothing to hold her interest. Though she could not be entirely certain of her direction, she thought they had gone norur of Roaninsh, into the Nisril District. It was an area she was not familiar with, being mainly a mining district. She thought the Houses of Fe'nix, Ini, L'ars, and L'yn-d-sy held most of the holdings, but she could not imagine any of those Houses arranging or sanctioning a kidnapping.
Mera jolted awake as the hestvagn came to a stop. The dull thunk of its doors unlocking penetrated her sleep fogged senses, and she reached for the handle automatically, blinking heavily. A strong gust of hot, dry air slapped her in the face as she exited the vehicle, bringing her to complete wakefulness. She brushed the gritty sand from her face, but before she could take in much more than an impression of twisted strandrisafura trees and prickly scrub against a reddish sky, the driver was gently, but firmly, leading her up the stone path toward a small lodge.
She hesitated on the threshold, her eyes adjusting to yet another change of light.
"Welcome Teir Epor Mera.