Subtle flavors of almond and saffron lingered mingling on Mallos' tongue from his dessert of sops in sweet warmed milk. His bowl sat empty before him, but Grammie Janika still slurped at her spoon beside him as she dipped up the last of hers. He pulled a pricker from his belt and worried at the little shred of mutton that remained tenaciously stuck behind one tooth. Though he knew well that the best and brightest, the cream of Shanrian society, gathered in a great festival celebration, this evening's supper had been much the same as the one Mallos had had on arrival at the Danse family's town manse, good to be sure, but no real festival fair. It hadn't really struck him until recently that the dwarfs would be so much a people apart when all about the city reeled under the influx of revelers from far and wide. Here, while the company was merry and the hall filled with the warm, intimate glow of candle and lamp light against the night, there were no signs of the gala celebration whose bunting and garlands decked the streets and buildings everywhere they had passed the other day in the greater part of the surrounding city.
At last he dislodged the stubborn remnant of his supper and raised his mug to swish it finally free with a mouthful of the house's rich, dark ale. He caught Master Ranchrid's eye and hoisted it again towards him in salute,
"Another fabulous repast, Master Ranchrid! I cannot tender enough to you my thanks at the warmth of your boundless hospitality!"
"Think nothing of it, good Mallos. Ye have been fair enough company these past few days, for the most part, and a single extra mouth to feed at my board is hardly to be noticed. Grammie there seems to like ye well and well enough. Ye're more than welcome."
Mallos smiled at Ranchrid's good spirits as a breathless dwarfish messenger with thick hair and beard of a deep ashen gold arrived and was conducted up the length of the hall to the high table by the household doorwards. The messenger wore a crimson tabbard with a device of three gold coins in a triangle stitched across the chest, the same as he had seen the other day on the cloak pin of Angkor, the Lord Mayor of the community. The messenger bowed his respects to Ranchrid and his wife.
"From Angkorabad Hazerot, Lord Mayor of the dwarfs of the fair city of Fallond, greetings and felicitations to Master Ranchrid and Mistress Dorwinia of the house Danse."
"Greetings, Chalkor, greetings, etc." Ranchrid sounded bored already. He had never liked pompous functionaries, and he and Chalkor went back many years. "Is there a point to ye're intruding on our dinner?"
"Indeed, Master Ranchrid. I have here an invitation to a grand reception to be held within the week at the Lord Mayor's residence, the Merchants' Guild Hall. It seems that His Majesty, King Owain, would make a friendly gesture to our community through a cousin of his whilst he is busy playing with his nobles at the palace during this festival time. He seems to have finally decided to throw us dogs a bone, by the hand of the no doubt fair Dame Runningmeade.