Chapter 29

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The banquet started with a toast delivered by King Nherycyn. It was a very tense moment as they poured the Regi Argenti for the first time since the death of Valdhon. Dhonlaa was particularly disturbed over it and Prince Rhenycyn took sadistic pleasure in the fact that she was. Though there were nervous comments and half-joking calls for water as a substitute, the toast was made and the wine consumed without any adverse effects.

The entertainment during their sumptuous meal was provided by tumblers, jesters and jugglers. After dinner they were regaled by a company of madrigal singers and minstrels who were renown all over Khaballe. Though they called the southwestern forest of Mhaktyelle Deep their home, they led the life of the zhynghyrr, constantly travelling and performing, living out of their horse-drawn wagons. The group was comprised of six madrigals and six minstrels. The madrigals were each three men and three women while the minstrels were all men. They obliged their guests by playing a variety of accompanied, unaccompanied and instrumental pieces from all the regions of Khaballe. And while all were accomplished musicians and singers, the achingly mellifluent voice of Khaselle, one of the women and heavy with child, caused the listeners to bring handkerchiefs to their eyes on several occasions.

After several encores, the performers were finally allowed to take their leave. The remainder of the evening saw the guests reverting back to the political scheming that began before dinner and taking part in high stakes matches of dhorsoghi. The board game was similar in some respects to backgammon but with more of the planning and strategy of chess. As with backgammon, lady luck frequently alternated her preference from one contestant to the other, causing the wagers to increase exponentially.

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