Chapter 19

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It was a lovely night in Bhel'Ehzz compared with the previous one. The torrent heat of the previous week had subsided and it was comfortable if not cool. It was about as good as one could expect in the capital in the middle of summer. And it was the beginning of MidSummer, the most celebrated festival of the year.

Stajhonne, the ancient name for MidSummer, was an observance of the victory of light over dark; the longest day contrasted to the shortest night; the high point of creation and life. It was one of four major festivals that coincided with the changes of the seasons. The major festivals, such as MidSummer, lasted half of the Khaballean week (five days in length). The four minor festivals, including the recently observed Khresnhet, were only one day affairs.

Khaballe was an intensely spiritual country, with a deep reverence for the Supreme Being. Though they referred to that Being in many different ways and worshipped varying aspects of It, they understood that Being was all one in the same. They were also a people, for the most part, who held a healthy respect for nature and the order of life. Thus, the seasonal celebrations were based on the cycles of the suns and the waxing and waning of the moons and treated as religious holidays. Granted five days could be considered a lengthy time for celebration and there was an abundance of merrymaking and festivities involved, however the underlying significance of the events was not lost on the participants.

The capital was alight with huge standing torches and the streets were teeming with not only the inhabitants of Bhel'Ehzz, but from cities and villages throughout Khaballe as well. Most of the people crowded into the main road from the castle to the Royal Commons. They were not necessarily interested in viewing the royal family as they led the traditional procession to the Commons. There was still a great amount of social and political unrest over the murder of Valdhon. The spectators gathered in this area because most of the festivities would take place on the grounds of the Commons.

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