Chapter 16

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A good many of the nobles were already present. Though Rhenycyn toyed with the idea of arriving stylishly late, he opted for a less conspicuous entrance. A hush fell over the gathering as the Prince and his entourage were announced and entered. Rumors had it that the Prince would attend in lieu of his father, but most thought it unjustified speculation. Why would Rhenycyn play up to Valdhon?

Rhenycyn looked over the crowd, making note of some reactions. He settled his hazel eyes on Valdhon, flipped his blonde hair back, walked up to his host and offered his hand. "Hello Valdhon. Congratulations on your eightieth birthday. May you have many more—which you should be assured of by the looks of you."

The Prince spoke an obvious untruth. Valdhon looked terrible. He was hunched over and needed support of a cane. His limbs were gnarled and age spots covered his hands and his face. The dark brown tunic he wore only made his skin look more pale. But his blue eyes danced with mischief. The senior member of the King's Ministry disregarded the Prince's offered hand and snorted, saying, "You wish I were dead."

"I must admit there were times when that may have crossed my mind," Rhenycyn responded laughingly and withdrew his hand.

"There were rumors you would come. I thought they were foolish. However it appears that you are the fool. Unless you have come to ask for my daughter in marriage, I have no desire for you to be here." The remarks drew loud murmurs from the guests.

Rhenycyn fought back a retort and looked at Valdhon's daughter who was standing next to her father. Dhonlaa was of medium height and slim, had curly light brown hair, hazel eyes and wore a low cut red dress that clung to every curve. Dhonlaa was an attractive lady who knew how to accentuate her every feature. She looks great, Rhenycyn thought. She would have made a beautiful princess and queen. For Thenycyn.

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