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two mugs. Other than a long wooden bench along one wall, this was the only furniture in the stone hall.

Galen followed, the chrysalis clinging to the top of his head and his spine, pulling at his skin as he walked. "I concentrate on the spells rather than on the effects they have on others. My focus is inward, not outward."

"You must control people's perceptions," Elric said, pouring two mugs of water and handing one to Galen. "The greatest of us-Wierden, Gali-Gali, Kell-have so perfectly controlled the perceptions of others that in many cases those others never knew technomancy had been employed. They never even knew a mage had walked among them."

Galen noticed a tiny black bug floating on the surface of his water, its legs gesticulating.

"A public act of technomancy is a competition of wits between the mage and all onlookers. The mage must connect with those onlookers, observe and evaluate their reactions, misdirect and manipulate them."

"I've been studying the techniques," Galen said. "But I still don't understand why people's perceptions can be so easily manipulated." He glanced back down into his mug. He realized the tiny black object floating there wasn't really a bug, as he'd thought, but just a piece of dirt whose shape suggested a bug.

"Most intelligent beings aren't comfortable living in a state of uncertainty. Their brains automatically revise what they see, filling in details that were never there. They make events fit into patterns they understand."

Galen reached into the mug to pick out the piece of dirt and realized he'd been right the first time; it was a bug. He could clearly see the legs moving. He pinched at it and was startled to feel a flutter. Tiny wings opened and the bug flew away.

It landed on Elric's open palm. Elric closed
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