Chapter 17

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Eighteen hours had passed and the nerves of the remaining four witches were frayed. They all sat on the cold stone floor of the sixth level antechamber waiting for the emergence of the new High Witch. Surprisingly, Wyxotte had held up the best. With the help of an occasional nap, she had remained calm throughout the wait. The dwarf had tried to explain on several occasions that the Trials took a great deal of time but her words fell on deaf ears. Lhynette was beyond depression, convinced she had sent an unwilling Arhyvhynne to her death. Qelharre succumbed to the increasing anticipation and took refuge in one of her melancholy moods. Rejected by the dark elf in her attempts to soothe her, Dhynelle bordered on becoming a prophetess of gloom and doom.

"What would happen if neither is found acceptable?" Dhynelle asked no one in particular.

"That has never happened, at least not that I am aware of." Wyxotte turned to Lhynette and tried to coax her from her lethargy. "Do you ever remember reading that such a thing happened?"

"Huh? No, no I do not." The white robe thought for a moment then added, "But this could very possibly be the first time."

The statement alarmed Dhynelle. "Why would you say that?"

"I am beginning to believe that I was meant to be the white robe candidate. I forced Arhyvhynne to accept what should have been my burden. Now I must bear the guilt of what I have done to Arhyvhynne along with the possibility of still having to face the Trials."

Dhynelle let her head drop back against the wall and let out a sigh. She, like the others, looked worse for wear. Her grey streaks had recently become more pronounced and her bright hazel eyes were tinged with the red that accompanies long hours. A thought suddenly occurred to her and she looked apprehensively towards Qelharre. "If Lhynette is right…" she said, her voice trailing off.

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