Chapter 5

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Dusk would come again before the Council would meet. Outside, the falling snow painted a picturesque landscape. Inside the Towers, in the Council Chamber, the heat from the fireplace was ineffective in warming cold souls or cheering dispositions. There was no mistaking the somber mood that had blown through the Towers like an ill wind, though not all of the witches were aware of the extent of the disaster that had struck. Lhynette had not regained consciousness for some time and spoke to no one save the High Witch when she did. Qelharre locked herself in her room and fell into a fitful sleep. Arhyvhynne gleaned some information from Ullyna, the unicorn, through a mind scan. But the information acquired from an animal, even one as intelligent as a unicorn, was somewhat sketchy. Animals could not willingly supply their information, so they had to be carefully coerced. Thus, she only knew of the Slayers and nothing else. None of the other witches knew of the nocturnal tragedy.

When the meeting convened, all the Council members were in attendance. Khyrhyelle had once again become the implacable High Witch of the Moons. She had allowed herself to bathe but not to sleep, and though she looked well, she was exhausted. Qelharre, though she had garnered some rest, still had a haggard appearance. The dark elf, suffering from misplaced feelings of guilt, alternated between fits of depression and anger. And after only scant hours of sleep, Lhynette awoke and insisted she attend the Council meeting. Khyrhyelle thought it much too early for the witch to be up and about but did not wish to upset Lhynette in her condition.

The High Witch began with a prayer of thanks to the Goddess. Then she spoke to her Council. "Many things have transpired since the last rising and falling of the moons, most of them of an adverse nature. Though we gained the wizard, we lost Albera and nearly Lhynette." A gasp erupted from some of the Council members who were not aware of the happenings of the previous night. Arhyvhynne seemed to take it the worst. She formed a kind of bond when she performed a mind scan with somebody and was unable to quell the tears rolling down her cheeks. Khyrhyelle proceeded, her voice betraying no emotion. "And though she is reluctant to admit it, Qelharre still suffers from the effects of the encounter." The dark elf responded with a scowl. The High Witch continued. "Before we proceed any further, I would like a moment of silence to offer a prayer to the gods for the release of Albera's Soul and its continued progression in her next existence."

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