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a nod of respect.

"Look!" Fa cried. Galen had lost track of her. She stood in the doorway of the barn, pointing upward. "Wonders fall from the sky!"

Galen worked his way off the swug and threaded through the crowd, burst outside. The mist had cleared-the work of Elric, of course. The sun was low, and against the clear backdrop of pale blue, he saw what appeared to be a long red streamer coursing and twirling downward. Above that, a winged horse glided down in a lazy spiral. The mages were beginning to arrive.

Elric laid a hand on his shoulder. "We will meet them." He had only one frown line between his eyebrows, and his thin lips were raised in a slight smile.

Galen had looked toward this convocation with a mixture of excitement and dread. It brought the chance to renew old friendships, the chance to learn from the wisest and most skilled. It also brought his initiation, when he would become a techno-mage, as he had hoped since he could remember.

But in truth he did not believe he was ready. He did not yet deserve to become one of their number. He had not produced anything truly original for Elric.

"You have set me a task for tomorrow," Galen said. Fa grabbed hold of his hand and tugged him in the direction of the landing ships.

A second line appeared between Elric's eyebrows. "You need time to prepare."

Galen knew he should greet the mages with Elric. Elric had impressed on him that he, too, was a host of this convocation. But he needed time. "I don't want to disappoint you."

"You will not disappoint me." The intonation was somewhere between a reassurance and a threat. "Go " Elric said.

Galen bent toward Fa. "Stop. I'm not going with you. I have work. Go with Elric."

She released him reluctantly, and he ran toward home.

Angels, dragons,
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