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men retreating around the side of the tent. "Got him." She ran after them.

Elric found himself alone. He looked out at the field of ships. From the tents, laughter and booming voices washed over him in ephemeral, ghostly waves, carried on the currents of the sea breeze. Someone conjured music, and the bass line echoed out into the night.

Outside, all was still. The air remained clear, and the sky was brilliant with stars. The conjured globes of light cast the ships' gentle shadows on the moss. To his right, his stone circle stood tall in the dark-solid, certain, his link to this place he loved.

He took a deep breath of the sea breeze. The temperature was brisk, just as he liked it. The night seemed infinitely precious, a transient bit of time out of the endless eons of eternity, on this tiny planet lost in the vastness of space. As insignificant as it might be in the course of the universe, this night would come only once, and for him it carried great value.

One had to enjoy life where one could, he thought. It was, truly, a great blessing. In his stress of discipline and control, he had failed to

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