Chapter 22

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Still sprawled on the ground, the black robe assessed the damage. The left pillar had been destroyed, evidenced by the large fragments of black marble that lay strewn across the adytum. The floor was littered with smaller shards of black and white marble while the wall bore charcoal scorched steaks indicating where the lightning had struck. Then she raised her eyes to the image of Satarsmyt. Although the specter of the demon had returned to its normal size, it was glowing now, the face betraying some cruel satisfaction it had derived from the experience.

The witch arose on shaky legs, still holding the partially melted lead crescent moon in her hand. She turned her attention to the barrier and instantly knew how the Rune could be retrieved. The question was if she could survive the process. A touch on her mind caused her to regard the spectral image of the demon. The ugly horned head appeared to nod affirmation and was accompanied by a telepathic "Yes." She scowled. Easy for you to say, she quipped mentally.

The black robe readied herself and, using the end of the moon that still had a point, swung at the barrier. The lead crescent entered the barrier as it had before, the lightning instantly assaulting it. The witch tried to use the pointed end of the moon to pull the Rune of Destruction toward the vulnerable spot. But the moon wasn't large enough. She moved her hand closer, until it was almost against the barrier, careful not to come into contact with the perilous energy. That allowed her to hook the pointed end of the moon over the far side of the Rune.

The moon was getting hot and she swiftly debated pulling it out of the barrier. But the results of her aborted effort were fresh in her mind, leading her to decide that this must be her final attempt. Though the heat from the moon was becoming exceedingly uncomfortable, the black robe cautiously used the moon to drag the Rune towards the spot. By the time she maneuvered the Rune to where she wanted, the pain from the heat was unbearable. There was only one thing she could do.

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