Introducing the not-so-Golden Ronan.
When she felt better, Dela ate a few cunningly made sweets from a dish that was always full, and decided she would take a walk. But when she called for a servant to fetch her walking shoes, she was met by a man in house uniform wearing a dueling sword.
"Princess-liege," he said, "you cannot go out."
Dela blinked at him. "Why ever not?"
He was one of Ril's grandchildren, a large, honest man, who had bred down in his choice of wife. They had lost their first son in fleet service, but had another boy-child at home and a daughter studying court-craft at the capital. He was a good man, content to raise chickens and children with equal enthusiasm on his small country estate and to serve Chandad's cousin, Ronan, as a house guard.
But there is very little that’s Golden about him, when you think about it, thought Dela. She couldn’t see how she would distinguish him from a Silver Demish nobleborn or even a Blue Demish one. "You really have to stay inside," he told her, "out of sight, until Lord Ronan says otherwise."
Lord Ronan acted as her regent during her husband's extended absence. He was two ranks beneath her — a mere Seniorlord nobleborn like Ril. Despite this, he presumed to address her in peerage unless there were guests present. She would not have minded even that, if Ronan had felt real respect for her. He only looked after her on behalf of his highborn cousin, the Highlord Chandad, who had taken her as bride to gain Dee Manor. All Chandad cared about was that her Royalblood rank entitled him to challenge his betters for things that he was not entitled to have, and to move in higher circles than he was entitled to, by blood. It had taken her ten years, but she had accepted, at last, that Chandad was not worthy of her love. The soul he dragged through life was mere dross. Not gold.
None of the men of Dee had Golden sensibilities. They admired her, but not as she desired. She was a trophy. A status symbol. They paid lip service to Okal Lumens, the path of light, but only as it featured in their day to day existence. They did not feel the need for goodness or for beauty. Not in the way Dela did. On the days when she pined for court, only Lady Ril's faith made life bearable.