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he understood he would never be allowed to leave with the knowledge the Anla'shok had imparted, and the prospect of a memory wipe was terribly unappealing. He was going to have to ride this out. The job was too important to let one individual put him off.

The empty dorm was Vance's clue that the rest of the acolytes were in lessons. He took the opportunity to take a walk alone. Doubtless the Anla'shok were watching, as their surveillance systems within the academy were unparalleled, but the opportunity to walk around alone didn't arise much, and Vance needed the solitude.

As he walked the grounds of the academy, he realised just how much he took the beauty of the place for granted. It contrasted starkly with the dark knowledge held there and the grim responsibility borne by those who trained within its walls.

Eventually he came to the small building that housed the Night Walker contingent: two-dozen Minbari Warrior Caste specially seconded to the Anla'shok academy and bound to pledge their lives to its defence. Vance arrived as they began their changing of the guard ceremony. Each carried a ventar, holding the two-handed blades in front as they marched in their ritualistic formation. He stood spellbound as they circled one another, bowing on occasion, touching blades at others. All the while the banner of the Night Walkers was paraded between them.

As he leant against a towering minaret watching the scene, Vance felt humbled once more. He watched a ceremony outdating his own civilisations traditions by hundreds or possibly thousands of years, and yet they still held their customs in the highest regards. He felt self-conscious, as though he viewed something forbidden to his eyes, but he could not drag his gaze away. Slipping into the nearby shadows, he watched
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