Chapter 16

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It took the healer a minute to get there and she had to fight her way through the guests that had gathered around Valdhon and his daughter. The healer worked on the old man for several minutes to no avail. Rhenycyn had just arrived when the healer pushed herself up and somberly regarded Dhonlaa. The healer shook her head and said, "He is gone." While Dhonlaa let out a sob, the healer turned to the Prince, accusation in her eyes and said, "The wine."

"What?" Rhenycyn asked not comprehending.

"His tongue is black," the healer explained. "The wine was poisoned."

Rhenycyn simply stood in shock. Dhonlaa burst into tears and knelt next to her father, hugging him tightly. Paranoia seized many of the guests and they began to force fingers down their throats, thinking that they too had been poisoned. Amidst the frenzy that ensued, Vhyqyrd had Setryv seal off the premises, allowing no one to leave until everyone was accounted for.

After some semblance of order was restored, Vhyqyrd reported Mharkhel's and Setryv's findings to Rhenycyn. "There is only one person missing, Your Highness," Vhyqyrd said.

"Who is it?" the Prince asked, afraid to hear the answer.

Vhyqyrd motioned for Mharkhel to answer the Prince. "It is one of our stewards," the dark knight replied, "the one who was serving wine to Valdhon's group. He is the same one I saw leaving and gave chase to." Both Mharkhel and Setryv thought it wise to tell the Prince and Vhyqyrd in private it was the same man they encountered at the Inn of the Falling Leaf.

Dhonlaa looked up from her father, tears running freely down her face. Her voice was calculated. "You had him assassinated. You came here on his birthday and had him murdered!"

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