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shield that would protect them from any stray energies. The two worked their way toward the shield to get a better view. They came up behind the long wooden bench, which had been pulled up to the shield and was filled with spectators.

In the training area, Alwyn was preparing to work with his Centauri apprentice, Carvin. Alwyn glanced his way and smiled at Galen. Galen raised a hand in response. After Elric, Alwyn was the mage to whom Galen felt closest. Alwyn visited often, and had helped Galen learn the runic language of the Taratimude. They shared an interest in that ancient race. Alwyn's teaching techniques were unconventional, as Galen had experienced a bit himself, and he'd heard much more from Carvin. Alwyn would hide from her, or play the same trick on her over and over, until she figured it out. She was expected to play tricks on him as well. Galen couldn't imagine doing that with Elric.

During Alwyn's visits, Galen would study with Carvin. She was a dedicated student, in part because she was the only Centauri currently working toward mage-hood. The previous one, Tilar, had failed initiation at the last convocation and been cast away, his chrysalis taken from him and destroyed.

Carvin shared Galen's commitment to master the ways of technomancy, yet somehow she was able to combine discipline with a great joy for life. To Galen she had always seemed strangely fearless-passionate, outgoing, open.

Carvin held up her hands, requesting silence from the gallery. She was a strong showman, and her multicolored Centauri silks drew the eyes, an asset for misdirection. She began by asking Alwyn to remove his boots. Alwyn's eyes crinkled in pleasure at the unexpected request. He bent to remove the cracked, discolored things. "I can't vouch for the smell."

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