The Raven had done something, she was sure of it. She had expected to be in the part of the train where people crowded onto benches or sat in the aisles. That was cheap part, the part where most people like her rode.
Instead, she and the Raven and six people wearing what looked like really not enough clothing were seated on a U-shaped bench in a cozy car of the train with enough room for all of them – and maybe two more – and she was trying not to look as if she felt as horribly out of her depth as she did.
“So.” One of the attendants – a woman, maybe a few years older than Raizel, whose incomplete clothing was of finer stuff than some of the others – cleared her throat. “What is it that you do, mistress?”
“I’m a clockmaker’s apprentice.” Raizel said it flat. “I work for my father and my grandfather in the family business.”
“You – you’re an apprentice? And you’re – sorry, Mistress.” The woman bowed her head.
“What’s your name?”
“Raizel. I’m Raizel, I’m not-”
The Diamond Raven cut her off with a polite clearing of his throat. “For now, perhaps they can call you ma’am, Raizel-ma’am?”
“That – yeah. That is, um. That’s acceptable. Raven, what have you gotten me into?”
“I think the question is what have we gotten these fine people into. And the only way we’re going to find that out is to ask them.”
“Excuse me?” Cailing raised her eyebrows and looked, Raizel thought, offended by it. “She’s in charge. She owns us. She’s the one that knows what she’s gotten us into.”
“Yes. But Mistress Raizel, Raizel-ma’am here is from a remote mountain city, which, while forward in many things, does not have slaves – as doesn’t my home city. And thus we are going to bow to your authority when it comes to the matter of suddenly owning people.”
Next to Cailing, a man in a rough version of the incomplete clothing snorted. “The new Mistress has a point, Cailing. You have to admit that.”
“She’s supposed to tell us what to do.” Cailing was clearly offended.
“Well, and she’s telling you to tell her what you can do and what you want to do, isn’t she? So do what you’re told.” He bowed from a sitting position to Raizel. “I’m called Weckel, Mistress. And I tended the lady’s gardens and her properties. I imagine you don’t have gardens and properties, but I can help carry your things or I can help you find someone good to sell us to. I did a lot of the buying, you see.”
“Weckel!” Cailing stared at the man. “You want to tell her how to sell us? Why would you want to be sold?”
“Because, fluff for brains, I want to be useful. Nobody wants to be owned by someone who doesn’t need them, you over-decorative piece of-”
“Hey!” Raizel cut in. “None of that.”
Weckel and Cailing both looked guilty; it was Cailing that answered. “None of what, Mistress?”
“No insulting each other. I don’t want to hear it. All right. So Weckel kept the grounds. What about the rest of you?”
She went around the circle. It turned out that the woman who had owned them had kept Cailing as an attendant to her currently-dead husband, two of the others for cooking, and the other two for cleaning.
Too many people in her family would be far too pleased if she came back with people whose only job it was to clean or cook. But then again, they would need to be housed, properly clothed, and fed.
“And what do you want to do?”
They stared at her blankly. Raizel began to understand what their former employer had been telling her.
The Raven looked around them. “This is going to be.. interesting,” he muttered.
“What about you?” Cailing complained “You’re wearing her collar.”
“Technically,” he coughed, before Raizel could say anything at all, “it’s her lasso. She trapped me. And the kitten. She’s getting us out of the way.”
Raziel cleared her throat. That had been what she was doing, yes, but that had been –
-well, a couple days ago, she supposed. “I’m going to the capitol to pay my family’s taxes. I have a couple errands to run along the way. If there is a place you would like to settle, or a sort of person you would like to work for, you have a few days to think about it. It’s not a short train ride, after all.”
They were silent.