An invitation to the Alabaster Court, headquarters of the Joyous Choir, is gracefully accepted by the acolytes. The evening's entertainment starts with a play, where an underhiver has been drugged to 'play' the lead role, which culminates with his very real death at the hands of the narrator. The acolytes, naturally, are rather aghast at the man being run through with a power sword receiving a vigorous round of applause.
The narrator sees the look of shock on the acolytes' faces and comes down to mockingly confront them. He picks on Dariel in particular, as he couldn't help but mutter 'but... but... he's dead', in a rare display of compassion for someone not him. The other two acolytes at least recover their composure to maintain the pretence that they are nobles and used to such displays, politely applauding to keep their cover.
Dariel doesn't quite offend the narrator and actor, although he is a bit smug about standing his moral ground. Indeed, his smugness only increases when he is challenged to a duel, looking to Matthias who, pretending to be Dariel's bodyguard, he fully expects to stand in for him. But it's not that kind of duel. This is to be fought for honour, and Dariel will have to do it himself.
The nobles all cheer the continuation of the night's entertainment, and Dariel is led to the bloodsquare, where the narrator has already marched off to. Seconds are decided and the nature of the fight arranged, which will be only to first blood. Matthias and Xerxes, meanwhile, think the duel is an excellent distraction to let them look around the Alabaster Court undisturbed. And seeing the two of them slip away, Dariel thinks that maybe making the duel last a bit longer would be a good idea.
A bit of ducking and weaving from Dariel, whilst the narrator plays both to the crowd and with his prey, sees everyone have a wonderful time. Eventually, though, first blood is drawn, and not by Dariel. By the terms of the duel he must apologise. 'Okay, fine. Your play was acceptable.' Unlike that apology.
The narrator doesn't feel honour has quite been restored. 'And...?'
'It was good.' Still unlike the apology.
'Don't push it.' It is the king of apologies, an apology that leaves no doubt as to who won the duel, the most graceful defeat in the history of Hive Sibellus, without a doubt!