Chapter 12

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"My sister."

Arhyvhynne, still pacing, responded. "It is a race of sorts, Uriel. There are specific things you must accomplish, specific criteria which must be met in order for one to proceed. The spells of the Rites are so intricate that they read the Souls of the candidates and construct the Trials based on each individual's strengths, weaknesses, hopes and fears." Arhyvhynne grew quiet for a moment as a look of pain passed over her features. "Mother would only say that you had to be able to cast a certain level of spell and provide answers to complex metaphysical problems. She refused to give us any details."

"Sounds scary." What a stupid thing to say. "Is it dangerous?" That wasn't much better.

"There have been witches who were never seen again after entering the tunnels and some who have died upon emerging from them. But none in recent history."

Great. Glad I asked. "What do you plan to do?"

"I cannot." Then slower, with less certainty, "I do not know. I have neither desire for the power nor the attention. Nor do I consider myself worthy of the position. I am too naive, lack authority and am the youngest of the Council?younger than most all of the initiated witches. And, as I am sure you know, I am not the epitome of confidence." Arhyvhynne sat on the bed once again, her head bowed. "I would be a poor choice for High Witch."

"That's not what your mother thought." Arhyvhynne raised her head and looked at Uriel. "She had a constant feeling that something like this was going to happen. She talked about it often. And she said she hoped it would be you after she was gone. She loved you very much and had a great deal of confidence in you. She knew you had a lot to learn, but she was certain you would be up to it." Though he didn't understand why, Uriel found himself adding his encouragement also. "Though it probably doesn't mean much to you, I think she was right, too."

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