Chapter 12

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Although nothing had been said, most of the witches knew Eyrmysse would represent the black robes. But rumor had spread of Lhynette's declination and Arhyvhynne's refusal of the candidacy. Lhynette was probably considered the better choice of the two. She was older and had more experience. She had attained a reasonably high level of mastery in her craft and would have the respect of the Council. She was willing to experiment, but that was under Khyrhyelle. Khyrhyelle had encouraged personal growth, exploration, experimentation, and calculated risk. Without Khyrhyelle's presence, Lhynette would most likely turn conservative, as she had shown in the matter concerning Uriel. Arhyvhynne on the other hand, was liked by everyone in spite of her being introverted and shy. It was generally accepted that one day she would become High Witch. She was much like her mother, who everyone regarded highly. But most felt she needed more time to evolve and progress, to add to and refine her skills.

The force of the wind increased, seemingly with the anticipation of the witches over who the white robe candidate would be. Lhynette looked to Arhyvhynne with pleading eyes. But Arhyvhynne ignored her, eyes fixed on her mother lying on the pyre on the islet. Thus it was for long minutes. Finally, Lhynette dropped her head and began the walk to the bridge. There was a collective exhalation from the witches as they realized who the white robe candidate would be. Tears ran down Arhyvhynne's face as Lhynette knelt down before Wyxotte. The old witch gave Lhynette her blessing and she stood. Lhynette turned and looked to Arhyvhynne again only to receive the same result. Lhynette made her trek across the bridge and it caused Arhyvhynne to cry openly. She squeezed Uriel's hand and the pressure she exerted was painful, but Uriel bore it wordlessly. Lhynette took her place on the right side of the pyre, pulled down her hood, raised her head up and accepted her fate.

The witches resumed their chanting and the wind raged, the branches of trees dancing wildly, the leaves adding their own song to the witches dirge. The light from the twin moons steadily waxed until it became brilliant. Then all was silence. Not a sound was uttered, not even the wind dared to breath. All waited for Wyxotte to begin the culmination of the Rite.

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