Chapter 16

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After leaving the Commons, the party turned right down an avenue where most of the upper nobility resided. The homes opposite the Commons were all magnificent, each distinct in its own way and Valdhon's was the most lavish. Not that he was the type, however. He preferred things to be simple, straightforward and logical. But as he got on in years, his daughter Dhonlaa began to manage most of the household. After the death of Thenycyn and the subsequent refusal of Rhenycyn to claim her as his betrothed, Dhonlaa took to making Valdhon's home as palatial as was possible. If Dhonlaa could not be a princess or a queen at least she would live like one.

As they approached Valdhon's estate, the Prince felt his apprehension grow. Both Mharkhel and Setryv sensed it and heightened their awareness. They craned their necks looking for anything unusual. One of the stewards caught Mharkhel's eye and the knight pointed him out to Setryv saying, "That one. He is not known to me."

Setryv studied the steward Mharkhel referred to. He was carrying the case of Regi Argenti and was strongly built but did not have any distinguishing features, though the dark eyes were cold and distant. "I do not recognize him either. Yet in some way he looks familiar."

"Yes, I know exactly what you mean." Mharkhel added, "Make sure that one does not get too close to the Prince." Setryv nodded gravely. He was all business when he had to be.

The party entered the courtyard and assembled at the entrance to the Minister's home. Rhenycyn looked the party over. The Prince had chosen to wear his formal royal blue, hoping to strike an air of acquiescence with his personality and authority with his clothing. He wanted neither Valdhon nor any of the other affluent guests to forget he would one day be king and that this was simply a gesture of good will. His knights wore their formal dark blue and gold and both were armed. Even the stewards wore the matching royal blue of the Prince. Satisfied, Rhenycyn took a deep breath and motioned for his squire to lead the way and announce his arrival.

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