Chapter 2

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Arhyvhynne softly chided her. "Albera, I know you are excited but there is much yet to relate. We still have to read the runes. And please do try to communicate mentally."

"But…," Albera trailed off. She looked around for support from the other witches but found none. She meekly resumed her sitting position and waited for Arhyvhynne to resume the reading.

Arhyvhynne issued instructions. "I am going to begin again now. Try very hard to concentrate on the staff. Block everything else out, including the grey. I know it is hard but try. After we read the runes, we will move to the other events." With that the deep breathing and trance-state began.

It took much longer than Arhyvhynne had anticipated. Albera's thoughts kept going back to the cloak of grey, her excitement being difficult to diminish. Most of the time was dedicated to deciphering the word "Peter." The first words, "The Staff Of" came very easily. But Peter, as a word or name was unknown to either of them. The remainder of the reading went more smoothly.

The remaining Council members withdrew to a wall and whispered their thoughts concerning the cloak of grey during the second attempt of the reading. Wyxotte made the first comment. She directed it to Khyrhyelle. "It would seem you have an equal." The witches reacted with some surprise. Wyxotte was very old, well over one hundred and had been on the Council for more than half her life. She did not show interest in anything very often. Over the last twenty years she became somewhat removed from the other witches. In that time she also lacked interest in her appearance. Her long, thinning white hair was unkempt. She had grown beyond plump, her weight especially accentuated by her short stature, being mostly of dwarfish blood. Her skin, pallid for one of her race, was deeply wrinkled and spotted. Several large warts dotted her face. The light inside her eyes had been extinguished. If she had her wish, she would resign from the burden of the Council and eventually die in peace. Only death, however, released one's responsibilities from the Council. Thus her apathetic attitude and thus the witches' surprise.

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