Perhaps it is best to start with a description of Leah Telman. As an ambitious sixteen-year-old, Leah courted Lord Skasca of House Thadre; she failed in her campaign and found herself his mistress. Bitter about his marriage to a wealthy merchant woman (the Lady Cora of House Thadre), Leah drowned her sorrows in swordplay and petty intrigue. Since her spark was what drew him to her in the first place, Lord Skasca tolerated Leah's time on the practice field, and even instructed his man at arms to teach her how to use the sword and other weapons correctly. Eventually, though, Leah appeared to tire of gossip, and she displayed an altruistic interest in the peasants. Much to the startled dismay of her consort the Lord Skasca, Leah began to visit with the peasants, talking to them at length in their homes.
Leah became a subject of rumor. At the local inn, Lord Skasca's man at arms, Kirk Tornface, talked of Leah's skill with the blade. At the market and in the home, the peasants began whispering of Leah's kindness. Word of these rumors caused Lord Skasca to become mildly puzzled and concerned, but the affairs of state took precedent over his unusual mistress, and he found himself with little time to devote to her. Meanwhile, Leah proceeded as if talking to peasants and practicing at swords were perfectly normal pursuits for a woman of leisure...
On House Thadre
A clan of ambitious merchants, the Thadres climbed their way up the ladder of the nobility during several generations of prosperity. Now, complacency and inexperience have reduced House Thadre to a squirrel-hole of petty administrators and grasping merchant-kings. They cling to their status as a sub-minor house as if it is a lifeline. Sharply aware of the strained relations between houses, House Thadre has taken on a tinge of desperation in recent years, and the political squabbling between the Thadres and the other minor houses under the watch of the de la Conraths has become nasty. House Thadre feels compelled to jockey for a favorable position in the eyes of the de la Conraths and their ruthless, money-hungry teeth are beginning to gnaw at the chain of political power.