Don't Mess With Vretla.
Ronan came in through the study doors, trailed by a three-man guard.
"I am Seniorlord Ronan, of Dee," he announced, "and master of this house by the grace of our Princess-Liege." He did not even look at Dela. She could not decide if she was relieved, or put out.
Vretla’s response was blunt. "Amel is liege here now, by right of my win on the challenge floor. You are only a nobleborn. Not in my challenge class. I do not have to take you on." She tipped her head toward Dela. "And skirts don't fight.”
Ronan bristled. “I am the man of this house.”
“Huh,” said Vretla, unimpressed. But after a moment of silence she conceded with a shrug. “So you’ve have been running things here? Fair enough. I respect your desire to defend what was yours. So --" She whipped out her sword. "Challenge at will, and let's have done."
Ronan looked astonished by so sudden a plan to resolve the dispute. But to Dela's horror, he nonetheless reached slowly for his sword.
Is he making the same mistake Chandad did? thought Dela. Or throwing away his life in blind despair! Dela felt a pang of old guilt for failing to produce the daughter Ronan could have married to satisfy his hunger to be highborn in a future life if not his current one. But Ronan was normally too level-headed, for a man, to be foolhardy. Is he going to die because he’s too embarrassed to turn her down, now she’s condescended to kill him? Dela couldn’t help wondering. It seemed absurd!
"Wait!" Amel moved between Ronan and Vretla.
Vretla reacted fast, swinging sideways. "Good way to get yourself killed!" She lectured Amel at sword point.
He quailed, but his voice remained controlled. "Can’t we come to terms without drawing blood?" He appealed to both of them.
Vretla took a step back and sheathed her sword, contemptuous of the armed men grouped around Ronan. "You're in charge."
Somehow, Dela knew Amel was no more in charge than she was. But at least he’d tried to do something!