Jelena, Linvin and Anvar formed a receiving line and began to welcome their guests. Each party entering the mansion was announced and then properly greeted. Linvin had been among great people in their best attire many times before, yet he felt uncommonly nervous. He traced its source to no longer attempting to simply meet his own expectations. Linvin felt the additional burden of achieving those of his mother. His mind filled with more uncertainty with each guest they greeted and to whom he was introduced. “What if I say the wrong thing?” he thought, “What if I offend the wrong person? Come to think of it, is there a right person to offend? I cannot embarrass my family. Wait. What was that last person’s name? Was he a baron or a lord? And what is the difference anyway? Why does it seem so warm in here? Maybe the other sandals would have been more comfortable?” Anvar tugged on his nephew’s arm so that he would bend down close enough to whisper, “I may not be able to actually read your mind, but I am a rather good guesser. Remember, they are guests in your house and they are far more concerned with impressing you than judging you. If that, my boy, does not put your mind at ease, then I suggest you concentrate your attention on the beautiful young ladies assembled here, who will line up to be Mrs. Linvin Grithinshield.” As always, Anvar brought Linvin back to reality and his demeanor softened considerably. With each new guest, he became more of the charming host Jelena had envisioned. True to his mother’s word, every family of status was there. Along with gifts, usually of fine wine, they brought every available daughter of childbearing age in their house. At times, the scene was nearly comical to Linvin. He was eagerly introduced to every woman from 14 to 40. Most of the ladies were quite proper in their introductions. There were, however, those who did not use their fans to hide their bosom when they curtsied, as was the custom in society. Though the act always drew Linvin’s attention, his mother would wait until the guest had moved along before whispering, “Not that one!” Once the greetings were done, the threesome mingled through the room as their guests indulged in drink and folly. The roll of guests was staggering. There were nobles, members of the Royal Family, army officials, legislators, vendors of every race and region, and even the mayor of Fraylic.
Linvin was charming, but his mother kept him close. It was not the time or place for conversations on any serious matters. She whispered to him, “Remember, this is an opportunity to introduce and celebrate you. It is not the time or place to discuss politics and business. This is our gala and we must control its direction. Everyone here wants something from you. Do not be cornered into serious conversations, even with the daughters. They are often subtle agents sent to sway you to their family’s point of view. Keep the conversations light and take no drastic positions.” “No matter what anyone says or does, do not let anyone see you flustered or lose your temper. Imagine you are wearing armor of dragon-scales and nothing anyone says or does can pierce that armor. Understand?” Linvin nodded and showed his artificial smile. As they worked the room, Linvin was astonished by his mother’s command of the event. She seemed far removed from the woman so distressed earlier. He realized that this had become her element. She thrived on the energy and excelled. Before long, his mother was comfortable enough with Linvin’s manner that she left him to socialize by himself. She entertained in another part of the room while Anvar had done his famous vanishing act so common at official gatherings. Linvin drew quite a crowd. The elite members of society were desperate to know Linvin’s opinion and how it would affect their business, government, army, or family status. They pried him with direct questions, which he easily brushed aside. His standard response was that he had just arrived in town and had not had the time to consider such matters.