Chapter 18

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Uriel looked at the black woman before him. He had only seen her from afar to this point and was surprised by her looks. He had never seen anyone with such deep black pigment. In contrast, her hair was so white, he at first thought she was wearing the hood from her robe. If it wasn't for her exotic beauty, Uriel would have taken the slender white robe for some specter. He caught himself staring and quickly said, "You must be the new Council member. Xenyssa, right?"

Without answering him, the white robe reached down, picked up the book and placed it on the shelf. "You must be very careful, Uriel. I know of a few who have been seduced by the power that emanates from those pages."

"I was only doing some research," he responded defensively.

"So were they. They were combating a spell or trying to become familiar with an adversary or," here she became introspective, "preparing themselves for what they might encounter at a particular level." Xenyssa quickly returned from some painful, private memory. "Though you wear grey, it was my understanding from Khyr—from Qhen Khyrhyelle that you were a relative neophyte when it came to magic. You should know that one must have attained a certain level of adept before deriving any usefulness from the books of the Dark Ones. And even then the temptation can be great." She paused and then said, "Unless you feel yourself ready and seek to immerse yourself in the dark magics and tread that Path."

The white robe said the last statement in a matter-of-fact tone, without so much as a hint of accusation, but Uriel took it as such. "I told you before, I was just researching some stuff." Xenyssa rested her black eyes on Uriel. She was deep in contemplation, as if she were weighing the scales of his innocence—or guilt. As Uriel returned her look, he noticed that the room immediately began to change. In a matter of seconds a bright aura formed around Xenyssa and then she too began to transform. Disturbed by the vision, he averted his eyes from the white robe, then slowly returned them to her.

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