Chapter 15

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The cave tunnel wound its way for a length and Eyrmysse followed it. She looked back and found the entrance to the cave gone and a wry smile crossed her face. She continued on until the tunnel opened up into a small cavern. The black robe knew that it was here that the Rites of Trial would culminate and she entered it with mixed feelings of anxiousness and apprehension.

A steady breeze blew in the cavern, but not from any particular direction and its source was unknown. The floor was blanketed with a foot of swirling crimson smoke which cast a red glow throughout the cavern. Situated in the middle of the cavern was a white, grey and black veined marble altar. The sole object on the altar was an intricately carved golden dagger. The cavern afforded two other entrances (or exits), one from which Arhyvhynne had just emerged and the other between the outermost two. The center aperture led out to the sixth level of the dungeons where the Council awaited the appearance of the new High Witch. The opening to the antechamber seemed veiled and the view distorted, resembling heat haze.

"Eyrmysse!" the white robe cried out and ran to meet her sister. Arhyvhynne embraced her warmly and for a brief moment received an almost imperceptible hug back from her. Then the older sister disentangled herself and stepped back, the facade back in place.

"You have made it to the last Trial," Eyrmysse said, feigning surprise.

"Oh my sister it has been horrible. Horrible! I never thought I would make it this far."

"Neither did I," the black robe said under her breath.

The sisters proceeded to attempt to explain their Trials to each other but were unable to do so, save for in the most general terms. Everything seemed suddenly vague to them, as if their memories were bound by some magical spell (which they were). Though their memories were intact, it was extremely difficult to vocalize them.

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