Shiara stared at the crowd at the castle in astonishment. "What is going on here?"

Kazul gave a dragony shrug and said, "Maybe it's a party for Daystar. He is eighteen today, you know."

"I know, that's why we're here, after all," Shiara replied, keeping the exasperation out of her voice- if barely. "But they wouldn't have a party and not invite us, would they?"

"No, I don't think they would," Kazul said thoughtfully. "Mendanbar might, but Daystar is much too polite for that, and Cimorene too efficient. I suppose it must be something else, then."

At that moment, Daystar appeared, walking with a pretty girl and a rather dazed-looking knight. "Oh, hello!" he said. "Give me a minute, I'll be right there!" He pushed the knight and the girl, who looked to be a princess, off to one side, saying, "Why don't you two tell each other what you've been up to?" Then he came back and stood in front of Shiara and Kazul. "Sorry about that. It's been a bit busy areound here."

"Really?" Shiara asked. "I hadn't noticed."

Daystar blinked. "You're in a wonderful mood today."

Shiara glared at him silently.

"I think she's jealous," Kazul said, walking towrds Cimorene. "Now I'm going to find out what's going on here, since you don't seem to be in too much of a hurry to explain. Cimorene!" Kazul trundled off in the direction of Daystar's mother.

"What would you be jealous of?" Daystar asked.

"Honestly, Daystar," Shiara rolled her eyes. "You are so clueless sometimes. And thanks for the invitation to your birthday party!" She returned to glaring at him.

Daystar looked shocked. "Birthday party? Is today my birthday? It is, isn't it? Funny, it's been so busy around here, I'd completely forgotten."

"I take it back," Shiara said. "That is clueless. So what's all this for, then?" she asked, gesturing at the crowd, and the princess and knight, who were getting very cozy under the tree.

"It's a long story," Daystar said. "It started with a magician who created the ultimate wapon, which turned out to be a frying pan, and they had to find the right person and-"

"Wait a second," Shiara interrupted. "Frying pan?"

"The frying pan of doom, actually," Daystar said. "It was an accident. Anyway, to find the right person for it, we decided to hold a tournament with a bakeoff, since it's a frying pan, and there's some really good chocolate cake you should have later, if there's any left, and this evil magician showed up and tried to kidnap our kitchen help, because she's the princess who's- getting very friendly with that knight, he wants to protect her, but she's the person the frying pan's meant for, so I don't particularly think she needs it, and she hit him with the frying pan-"

"The knight?" Shiara interrupted again.

"No, the magician," Daystar said. "Would you stop interrupting? It's very rude. Then the magician turned into a giant poached egg, and we had to find another prize for the tournament, but it's all over now."

Shiara was quiet for a minute after that. "Wow. You've been busy."

"I suppose," Daystar said. "I missed you, though."

"Why?" Shiara asked.

Daystar raised his eyebrows. "And you say I'm clueless? You're my best friend. Now come have some cake before it's all gone."

"Just your best friend?" Shiara asked, following him.

"We could be more, if you wanted," Daystar offered in an offhand way. To the crowd he said, "Excuse me, I have a very important person who needs chocolate cake. Thank you."

"I think I do," Shiara said. "Wait- did you just ask me out?"

Daystar handed her a piced of cake. "I did, didn't I? Did you say yes?"

Shara took the cake with a smile. "Yup."

Cimorene watched with a smile of her own. It looked like things were finally over for good.