Hilary Castamir rode head down, her gray cloak wrapped tightly about her. the cowl of her cloak concealing her face. She did not turn to look her last on Arilinn.
She had failed....
She would never, now, be known as Hilary of Arilinn, or grow old in the service of the most ancient and prestigious of the Towers of the Seven Domains; revered, almost worshipped. Keeper of Arilinn. Never, now. She had failed.
It would be Callista, then, who would take Leonie's place when the old sorceress finally laid down her burden. I do not envy her, Hilary thought. And yet, paradoxically, Hilary knew that she did envy Callista.
Callista Lanart. Thirteen years old, now. Red hair and gray eyes like all the Altons--like Hilary herself, for Hilary too had Comyn blood. Why should Callista succeed where she had failed?
Leonie had tried to soften the blow.
"My dearest child, you are neither the first nor the last to find a Keeper's work beyond your strength. We all know what you have endured, but it is enough. We can ask no more of you." Then she had spoken the formal words which released Hilary from the vows she had sworn at eleven years old. And half of Hilary was shaking with craven relief.