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It’s one day before Lux Splenor when everyone returns back to Veet City. In the Guild house of the engineers the gild mistress Aventia Mulfenina wants to see Cut. Cut has been on Delphi for about two years and so he doesn’t need to perform the same responsibilities this year as he has before. This year Aventia wants Cut to represent the guild in count Udoro’s annual Lux Splendor party. There have been disagreements between the muster and the Justinians and there is tension in the air. Aventia wants Cut to enjoy the celebration and thinks he ill be more useful there than maintaining power grids or the like. She explains the politics of Courai to Cut and tells him that dean Mozak is a radical but nevertheless he is in charge. The guild mistress sn’t interested in fighting, she is interested in profit. Cut will represent the engineers at the pasty and they discuss strategy and what Cut should attempt to achieve in the party. Cut sees the dossier of the local Justinian ruling family, count Udoro et all. He finds out that Udoo’s wife has not been back to Virigo major since her marriage and that she is on bad terms with her Mountbatten family.

Stacy has left the monastery to be Meori’s apprentice. Gotmund arranged it for them. She is very happy and exited to be in the outside word, because this is like an adventure! Meori prepares for the religious holidays and participates in the Church rituals and other functions.

Cousin Richard is ill! Very grievously ill and it is all Duckworth can manage to keep the phlegm from soiling his master’s person.

Baron Horatio receives Aran and Aran tells him about what happened in the monastery. The baron is returning to Castelbridge the following day and has already made all the arrangements for it. Cout Udoro is taking care of all the arrangements, security included so Aran can take a break and enjoy the holidays in Veet City. Horatio tells Aran about the strained situation in Courai. He also mentions that he is honour bound to ay back his debt to baron Eustace, who saved his life during the war.

Veronica goes to see her father who is busy with the party arrangements and they discuss the coming celebration and Veronica’s lack of husband and children. Udoro reminds Veronica of Carolandra’s evil behavior and thoughtless ways and Veronica fumes.

Stacy and Meori get to know their new home a little better and Meori makes an effort to get to know Stacy as well. Stacy is exited that she will be living in a real castle!!

Meanwhile in th city itself Cut goes shopping for a suit and then finds a gilder who can tell him about etiquette. When he is sufficiently educated he finds himself an apprentice who can make himself useful in the celebration. He manages to find on e and his name is Kel Otther.

Veronica goes to see her mother and is surprised to find that her brother Voltaire has come from Byzantium Secundus to spend the holidays on Delphi. Voltaire is a bit disappointed that Veronica did not stay in the monastery for good as he had hoped she would. Voltaire tells Veronica that he wants to paint Carolandra’s portrait. Veronica erroneously thinks that Voltaire is curious about the young Guard and that he respects Carolandra, when in fact he just wamts to paint her naked. Veronica offers to introduce them to each other which will be a bad choice later on.

After Voltaire leaves to rest after his journey, Veronica goes to speak with her mother, who gives her a letter that was sent to her in the castle. It is unsealed, so anyone could have read it. It is from sir Brendon the Phoenix Knight. Mother is happy about the letter and they discuss it together. She is disappointed that Veronica did not do anything with the knight but reminds her that a hawkwood and Phoenix Knight is a very good match.

Veronica goes to see meori and shows her the letter. She asks Meori what she thinks and Meori suggests that she could go to Byzantium Secundus and visit the knight. Meori encourages veronica to continue and tells her that Veronica’s mother probably wants her to marry a Hawkwood.

The next morning all the celebrations for Lux Splendor begin in earnest. Meori performs a cleansing ritual in the church. There are no electric lights there, everything is lit by candles. The bisop gives a sermon, which is very loooong and boooring. Meori alse speaks and her sermon is much better liked than the bishop’s. In fact it wakes up people who are falling asleep.

After the church ceremonies are over everyone moves back to the castle and the formalities of the celebration begin with the exchange of gifts. After everyone has presented Udoro with gifts they move to the dining room and there the representative of the emperor shows everyone a hologram speech that the emperor gives to his followers. Udoro is displeased that the muster dean is not present. After the emperors speech is done there is an opportunity for mingling, which people engage in soon enough.

Veronica goes to talk to Cut who behaves like he doesn’t know her. They have a polite discussion and then Veronica moves on to toher guests to be a good host. Cut and Meori also have a polite discussion and then Cut hints that if Meori wants to have a more private discussion they can go to the balcony when the fireworks display begins.

Aran is sitting alone until Eustace comes to see him. Eustace is the baron of Rymattyla. They go to the balcony to talk in private. They discuss lord Horatio and his and Eustace’s brotherhood. They talk about marriage and Aran’s wife which is awkward. Eustace tells Aran that he has been followed by harrow underlings.

Meanwhile Veronica introduces Voltaire to Carolandra. Half an hour passes and the Voltaire stumbles out of his “ateljee” with a black eye. Another young man quickly follows after him. Cut notices this and sends his apprentice to find Meori. Cut then sneaks after them and witnesses the young man grabbing Voltaire by the collar and shoving him against the wall and threatening to kill him if he does something like that again. Meori arrives on the scene and asks what is happening, but she quickly makes the connection. Cut leaves but goes to the balcony and sees Aran. Cut tells Aran about the incident. Meori sees Carolandra exit one of the rooms rubbing her fist and then asks about it from Voltaire who insults her.

Veronica arrives and she and Voltaire argue loudly. Meori suggests they move to the balcony, which is more private, and there the argument only gets worse. Voltaire leaves and then they discuss what should be done.

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