Chapter 24

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The events of the fourth day of the MidSummer celebration were not scheduled to begin until midday. This was largely to give the carousers of the previous evening an opportunity to recover. But it was unnecessary this year. For early in the morning, news arrived which had a sobering effect on everyone.

Three of the King's cousins (on his wife's side) and their families reached the capital as the suns began their ascent. They had travelled from Eh-Thern-Ah, a small village south of Sagghez'ah and west of the road that led to Mhykord'ah. They brought with them firsthand accounts of SoulSlayer sightings in that region. Scheduled to arrive before MidSummer, they had arrived five days late due to their encounters with the horrifying entities. They recounted how two of their party had been taken and how the Slayers were victimizing the inhabitants of the countryside east of the Thaum Weald. The cousins had heard reports that the Slayers even ventured into Sagghez'ah itself.

The rumors of SoulSlayers that the knights had attempted to quell and isolate now ran rampant. Talk shifted away from the trevhette, other pastimes and affairs of the previous evening. Witches and wizards became focal points of conversations, being the supposed experts in the field of SoulSlayers. They were expected to supply answers regarding everything from the origin of the Slayers to the best ways of eliminating them and everything in between. Some questioned the validity of the reports while others openly dismissed the cousins' stories as being imaginative excuses for their late arrival. But all, whether they admitted it or not, were disturbed and frightened by the possibilities.

A large crowd was present for the final event, but the buzzing in the stands still revolved around the Slayers. The demeanor of the participants in the last event of the trevhette was more serious than normal. The jousters saw this as an occasion to demonstrate their ability to handle the threat of the SoulSlayers. Vhalkhette, though she could not even mount her black and grey Sud by herself, insisted on participating. Mharkhel, badly troubled by his episode with Ellycyn and the skeletons hanging in his closet, now had the added burden of the skeletal SoulSlayers as well. Setryv, whose first and foremost desire was to avenge Ellycyn, also shouldered the burden of the Slayers, as did all the Knights of the Flaming Sword.

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