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Rook had no Human adviser or ambassador. He opened the letter quickly and skimmed over the obsequious prose, which he well recognized. "And who are you to the Rook?"

"I am his special envoy." The man bowed again and smiled. "Mr. Morden."

Elric found the date at the bottom of the letter-just two days past-accessed his place of power and directed it to search the record of the probe in the Rook's office for that day, looking for Morden's figure. The record was quickly found, and Elric saw Morden in a meeting with the Rook. Clearly the Rook was trying to expand his power by including a Human in his group of corrupt supporters.

And now the Rook was currying favor with the mages, no doubt in preparation to ask something of them. His last request, five years earlier, had been to lay a curse of impotence on an enemy. Elric had declined in memorable fashion. He hadn't expected the Rook to regain his nerve for several more years.

A pect jumped into the air, and a Grimli spun right into him, feathers flying. One of the young apprentices burst out crying.

"Get your people to the tents, Mr. Morden," Elric said, wading in to clean up the mess.

After the pects had at last been secured, and the Grimlis banished to the far side of the tents, Alwyn approached. He wore a multicolored robe with a long black cape over it. His silvery hair had begun to recede since Elric had last seen him, and the lines beneath his eyes had deepened.

"Nice work on the dragon's claws," Elric said.

"You think so? I was inspired by a female of my recent acquaintance. Beautiful creature, but oh, the talons." Alwyn leaned close. "Anyone do anything foolish yet?"

"They've shown admirable restraint."

"Give them another hour. Give them a few drinks-except Blaylock, of course. He's someone
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