Chapter 22

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"Give it to me," Satarsmyt repeated in a thick voice.

The Rune tormented the black robe. She could feel its hunger for her and her masochistic desire to give herself to it. "No!" she hissed. "It is mine!"

The demon settled his flaming eyes on the witch. "I did not save your life merely for you to relinquish it to the Rune. I am not done with you yet. I have further need of you." Satarsmyt imposed his will on her. And against the stone. "Now, give me the Rune."

The force of the demon's will diminished the power of the Rune. But a part of the black robe still refused to surrender it. She was in tears, the malady of possession visible in her eyes, torn between want and loathing, knowing that she would lose herself to the Rune yet unable to part with it.

Satarsmyt rose from his seat and approached the black robe. He held out a clawed hand and commanded her to release the Rune. Which she did, with a cry of anguish and only after an intense inner struggle. The demon's eyes flamed brighter and he became wrapped in an aura of ruby light. His already ghastly appearance transformed into a more frightening, unearthly look. Then, as the moments dwindled past, both demon and witch returned to a state of normalcy.

Oblivious to her surroundings until now, the black robe noticed others in the large, dimly lit Throne Room. Some were of this world, some were not; some she recognized, others were unknown to her.

The goat-man followed her gaze. "These," Satarsmyt indicated the beings the witch surveyed, "assisted me in making your endeavor successful."

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