Chapter 16

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Two of the Royal Guard, Mharkhel and Setryv, as well as Vhyqyrd, the Captain of the Guard, escorted Rhenycyn to Valdhon's celebration. Vhyqyrd was a light elf whose pointed features were greatly exaggerated. Heavy amounts of grey mixed with his red hair. He was tall, always impeccably dressed and though he was getting on in years, took immense pride in his still superb condition. The elf was a man of complete dedication to Khaballe and was void of any trace of humor, having no tolerance for anyone who would not obey and execute orders. He always had with him a small, personal notebook in which he detailed everything that concerned his knights from general comments to minor and major infractions. Vhyqyrd was also not fond of the personal relationship Mharkhel and Setryv shared with the Prince. Both knights had been dressed down for bringing the matter of Neghez before the Prince before Vhyqyrd was notified.

Among the Prince's other attendants were his squire and several stewards. The Prince's party had left the castle and crossed the Twisted Horn using the middle of three bridges. The evening suns glimmered on the water and reflections of the Royal Commons shimmered on its ripples. They continued through the Commons, surrounded by the spring beauty which accompanied their every step. Here, the brightly colored flowers and subtle shades of the woods complimented each other in an orchestra of visual delight. But these sights were not enough to ease their minds. The tension had steadily risen since they had left for the celebration. Everything had to be perfect. There could be no mistakes. Rhenycyn had even struggled for days concerning the gift he would offer the senior member of the King's Ministry.

The Prince had decided upon a rare and expensive gift for Valdhon, though it was more likely a peace offering. The gift was a case of Regi Argenti, an exquisite wine of select grapes from an exclusive region, fermented with the silver-tinged leaves of the argentree. The wine was renowned not only for its flavor but for its unique visual appeal as well. The spirit was purple-blue in color with thin silver veins running through it. The wine was very dry and distinctive, though it was not heavy, left no aftertaste and had a pleasing bouquet. A single bottle could cost more than twenty gold pennhutz. Very few individuals, save the royal family or guests thereof, ever had the fortune to sample the exotic liquor.

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