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the taillike section of the chrysalis, which ran down the apprentice's spine, the sensors in the mage's fingertips making contact with the chrysalis tech. This allowed the teacher to break the connection between apprentice and chrysalis if necessary. The apprentice himself could dissolve or end a spell- assuming he could conjure the correct quenching spell in time-but he did not have the instant override capability his teacher did.

"In two days' time," Elric said, "no mage will be able to shut you down. You'll have to deal with your own mistakes then."

In two days' time, Galen was to be initiated and receive the implants that would make him a techno-mage. It was what he most wanted. And yet here he was, still failing to control his conjuries, still failing Elric. He was not ready. He was not fit.

His skills were nowhere near Elric's, and he didn't know if they ever would be.

"You focus on knowledge and understanding," Elric said. "These are the highest goals to which a mage can aspire. Yet underlying all that we stand for, all that we do, is one cardinal requirement: control. You must master the tech. It must do what you direct. And you must direct what it does. Under any circumstance. Despite any distraction."

Galen nodded. He knew that Elric was constantly engaged in multiple spells, accessing data from the many probes he had planted on Soom, reinforcing spells of protection, performing various services he had promised to the inhabitants. Yet Elric never appeared distracted. Elric never slipped.

"Tell me the other weaknesses in your work," Elric said, lingering over the word weaknesses. It was one of Elric's favorite topics.


"Why?" Elric walked over to the rough wooden table in the corner, where Galen had placed a jug of water and
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