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His chin sank on his chest and he began to snore. Everyone else had left the hall by then. Last gong had sounded some time ago, prompting the departure of the musicians and the last few dancers. From time to time a worker appeared in the kitchen doorway to see if they were still there, but otherwise they were alone. Aven thought it strange that the count's aide had not come to attend him, but since she wasn't familiar with Byrn's habits she didn't know if that was unusual. She also thought it strange that Brel had not bid her retire when he did. Maybe he was reluctant to interrupt his liege lord. In fact, she was delighted to find herself alone with the count. It made her scheme less complicated and more likely to succeed.

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