Chapter 14

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The members of the Council of the Witches of the Moons gathered at the sixth level of the dungeons. The sixth level had only one purpose. It was the location of the labyrinth known as the Rites of Trial. As one entered the sixth level, there was a small, circular antechamber. The room had magical symbols not drawn, but carved into the very floor and walls. The antechamber led into three adjacent tunnels, the end ones being the starting point for each candidate. From the middle tunnel would emerge the new High Witch of the Moons.

Wyxotte's breathing was labored, the descent to the sixth level exhausting her. Lhynette was speaking to Arhyvhynne in hushed tones, trying to build, or more likely, instill confidence in the young witch. Dhynelle and Qelharre also shared a quiet conversion. Whether it concerned the Rites or a more personal matter could not be determined. Eyrmysse stood by herself, lost in the labyrinth of her own thoughts and desires.

Wyxotte, though her hair was stringy with sweat and she had not yet regained her breath, called the two sisters to face her and imparted instructions. After Wyxotte cast the spell which would activate the dormant Rites of Trial, the two candidates would enter their respective tunnels. There would be a total of six Trials, each designed to probe their strengths and weaknesses, their character and beliefs, their knowledge and wisdom. Whether the events which transpired during the Trials were real or a mirror of reality was unknown. What was known was that it was real enough for some witches to have died undertaking the Trials. Wyxotte concluded by wishing the Goddess' protection for the witches, surprising even herself with her genuine concern for Eyrmysse as well as Arhyvhynne.

Eyrmysse took her place in front of the tunnel on the left. Symbols of power unique to her Path were stitched into the special black robe she wore. Identical devices were painted on her face in black and purple. While she still retained her usual look of arrogance, there was also a trace of concern, a slight crack in the mask of confidence. Eyrmysse feared little in life and her sister was not one of them. What troubled the black robe was the nagging worry of the difficulty of the Trials which awaited her.

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