Chapter 31

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"Ever since Rhenycyn first learned of this wizard he has sought to protect him. Against my counsel, against his father's better judgment, against the Ministry, against the representatives of Khaballe and against those without the castle walls that call for his head. He has ever endeavored to keep this wizard from being brought before us. Though there has been nothing but misfortune since his mysterious appearance in our land. Though he be capable of performing powerful magics not seen for hundreds of years. Though the High Witch Qhen Khyrhyelle had been murdered. Though the vile SoulSlayers ravaged the northland. Though the Rune of Destruction had been stolen from the Towers of the Moons. Though his obvious similarity to the Destroyer in the Sacred Scrolls of the Moons & Stars cannot be disavowed. I now ask if any of you can disregard this." Athar's voice thundered, "Arise you fiend, you vestige of Thaum! Arise and make yourself known!" Uriel had no chance to comply or oppose the directive as two guards pulled him to his feet. Athar suddenly tore the robe and tunic from Uriel's body, revealing the golden brand of the pentagram. At the same time, the liquid crystal at the top of his staff blazed forth. When the brightness subsided, the crystal had hardened into the form of a pentagram.

Chaos swept through the hall. Cries of surprise, gasps of horror and curses could be heard. Many hastily made signs of warding as they physically shrank from Uriel. Even the guards had involuntarily backed away. Arhyvhynne dropped her head, unable to cope with neither the scene nor Uriel's look of confusion and betrayal. Rhenycyn was in disbelief, though he thought that this was somehow just another ploy by Athar. Uriel could not bear the weight of the accusatory stares. And he could not understand why any of this was happening. He had been sent to save Khaballe. But he could no longer harbor any doubt: he was no savior, he was the Destroyer. He had travelled a long, twisted road since he arrived here, clouds ever pursuing him, only for night to descend upon him, only to be subjected to this cruel fate. He will bear sorrow and pain, hate and distrust. Uriel bowed his head as would a repentant sinner.

Athar quieted the assembly as he outstretched his arms and brought them down slowly. When they came to a stop at his sides, the hall had been stilled. "What have you to say now, Rhenycyn?"

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