None who heard it could help jiggling his feet and dancing. The musicians wore black masks. No one knew who they were or where Xayide had found them.
Every roof and housefront was decorated with bright-colored flags and pennants, but they hung sadly limp, for there was no wind. Along the High Street and on the wall around the palace hundreds of pictures had been set up, ranging in size from small to enormous, and all showed the same face — Bastian’s.
Since the Magnolia Pavilion was still inaccessible, Xayide had prepared another site for the coronation. The throne was to be installed at the foot of the ivory steps near the palace gate where the winding High Street ended. Thousands of golden censers were smoldering, and the smoke, with its lulling yet exciting fragrance, drifted slowly up the steps and down the High Street, finding its way into every last nook and cranny. The armored giants were everywhere. Only Xayide knew how she had managed to multiply the five she had left into such an army. And as if that were not enough, fifty of them were mounted on gigantic horses, which were also made of black metal and moved in perfect unison.