Chapter 14

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The High Witch turned her attention from Lhynette licking her hands back to the demon. "What is it you want?" she said softly, barely able to speak.

"Not much actually, just a small favor." Magically the SoulSlayer Ahrokh appeared next to Satarsmyt. "I wish you to kill Ahrokh."

Arhyvhynne was bewildered. "Why?"

"Because if you do not," Satarsmyt answered, "he will consume the Soul of every being within these walls. After witnessing which, you will then become my bride and produce my offspring. You have one minute in which to choose."

The demon relaxed his hold over the throng in the Chamber and they cried out to Arhyvhynne for her intercession. Among the crowd Arhyvhynne saw her mother and sister both in tears, both begging to be saved from their terrible fate. Uriel was on his knees imploring her. Witches, both white and black robes, frantically pleaded for their lives.

Arhyvhynne turned to look upon Ahrokh. She expected to see the rotted flesh and skeleton partly encased in black armor. She expected to see the hideous flames that were the creature's eyes. She expected to see the matching mount. She expected to see the dark, macabre desires in the Slayer's heart. And she was not disappointed. What she did not expect to see, however, was Ahrokh's Inner Self.

For Arhyvhynne saw that this was a creature much like others. A creature shaped by its environment. True, it fed off the Souls of its victims and needed them to maintain its existence. But that was its nature. It was created for that sole purpose. Was Ahrokh different from an animal that hunted and killed to survive? That was a question Arhyvhynne could not answer. And even as the Slayer stared defiantly into her eyes, Arhyvhynne could not disguise what she felt: though you may not have the right to live and to take other's lives, I do not have the right to take yours.

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