When a wizard named Mendalus develops a spell that summons an obedient woman named Catherine--exactly like any other summoning spell--it creates chaos in the wizard-metropolis of Meltheria, as many interested parties struggle to understand the nature (and legality) of the Catherine spell, while vast fortunes hang in the balance.
The Nomin gypsies have a fiddling competition every year, known as the Danse de Velose. Beaters hit out the rhythm on taut drums and the competitors start to play, slowly at first. Youngsters can compete, but are soon pulled away by worried mothers, before the competition becomes too dangerous. After two hours the haunting tune has become dazzlingly fast. You can resign at any time, but the moment you make a mistake you receive an arrow through the neck. Strings may snap, but the players must play on. The whole affair never lasts much longer than three hours, and the last fiddler playing is crowned king of the gypsies.