Echoes of the bard’s final chord ceased to ring through the spacious recital hall and rang only in the minds of the audience. Rapturous applause deafened everyone until they would have no further distraction from the memory of the virtuoso performance for hours afterward, save the whining ring that revealed itself when the thundering appreciation abated. The ringing in their ears would accompany them all to bed that evening.
Roscius Forsythe took a final bow with a flourish of his heavy cape. He smilingly waved and nodded his way to the exit and began the trip to his guest chamber accompanied by a foursome of Aléman guards, accepting their personal compliments and thanks with practiced but believable grace. Forsythe and the guards shared one thing in common – Aléman; home. They were all foreigners in Westend.
Finally arriving at his guest chamber door, Forsythe fumbled a bit for the proper part of the decorative door to press, but eventually it swung open lightly, and he bid good evening to his familiar Aléman guardsmen. He turned from the door with a quick step toward the harpsichord and set down his sheaf of music atop the instrument, placing the parchments right next to a candle that was melting into its final hour. With a start, he realized that he was not alone in the dim chamber, and then immediately recognized the pale countenance of Christiana seated startlingly nearby.
“Th’ource!” Forsythe exclaimed, “Your Majesty!” With a bow, he sank quickly to one knee, balancing against the lute he still clutched in his left hand.
Both at once, the Prince of Westend and the Princess of Aléman said sullenly, “You may rise,” and then their heads snapped toward one another with sudden realization. The bard immediately recognized the humor of the situation; neither of the youths had realized that the other was royalty. Forsythe’s unique and awkward laugh had just begun to escape his lips when he realized it implied disrespect and failed utterly to hide his amusement. His face contorted into a lopsided and constipated grin. Against his will, the ridiculous laughter burst forth again, and he sank back down into a deep bow in an attempt to mix overt respect into his obvious disrespect, hoping for a happy medium, but delivering a giggly, percolating cackle.