The great hall was filled with celebrating courtiers, the air was warm, and the wine overflowed; to Marbra, this translated as a hot place stuffed with tipsy nobles. She weaved her way through the crowd, making sure to look as nonchalant as possible. As a rule, banquets and feasts were not something she took much pleasure in; unlike Sir Qurguen, she never been one for revelling company, and preferred instead to languish in her chamber poring over a tome of her father's.
The memory managed to spring a wan smile on her face. Books, with such fanciful subjects as Eastern rebellions of the past century, or the treatises of a monk who begged that everyone be taught to read... banned books, she reminded herself. She never found out how her father obtained those books, and at any rate it wasn't as if she could ask him any more.
At last she caught sight of her brother, standing in a quieter alcove and talking to someone. As Marbra walked closer, she could see that the someone had been in fact their uncle, the Archminister. She sidled towards her brother amd curtsied at them.
"Marbra, where were you?" her brother chided, albeit without much heat. "I lost sight of you since we entered, and to search in this throng would be impossible."
Marbra bowed her head slightly, more out of habit than real acquiesence. "I had been conversing with Sir Lio about music," she said. "He has some peculiar ideas about the art."
To her surprise, the Archminister chuckled. "There, Sendat," he told her brother, "You needn't have worried. Marbra knows how to charm her way out of a conversation with that man."
"Oh, uncle," Marbra smiled, "Your faith in me is appreciated, but it was Sir Qurguen who rescued me from the dragon," here her smile took on a different note and became an almost mocking smirk. "But, I am not here to talk of jevalirs and dragons. How fares our poor friend?"
"She is getting ready to leave as we speak," the Archminister assured her. "Her plans send her to join the Order as she mourns her late husband."
"Such a pious and virtuous widow," Marbra nodded solemnly. "She must have loved him terribly."
"That she did," Sendat rejoined. "Uncle predicts that in a few years, when memories grow hazy and past losses dimmed, she will be ready to set foot on Parseil again to begin her life anew."
"The poor, young widow," Marbra opined. "So fond of her husband, too - always together like a pair of doves."
Sendat nodded, but there was a sparkle in his eyes as he said: "Are you becoming a romantic, dear sister? I'd have thought nothing could rinse your relentless pessimism away."
"Oh, trust me, Sendat, I am as cynical as always," Marbra laughed. "And who are you to speak of cynicism, anyway?"
The Archminister chuckled and placed his hands on their shoulders. "Now, you carry on arguing; you do not need me for it. I must check on our melancholic friend."
An omnivorous reader with a strangely retentive memory for trifles.