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left. Alwyn coughed in surprise at that; she'd gotten him. The onlookers clapped, including Galen and Fed. Carvin gave a playful bow.

Alwyn released her. "Am I expected to walk in that muck- I mean mak-with no shoes on?"

Carvin took his hand and turned him around. There, lined up neatly against the wall, were his boots. At some point she had switched the real ones for illusions, and Galen hadn't known the difference. Alwyn's eyes crinkled up as he nodded in appreciation. "I raised a genius."

Galen caught sight of Elric down the gallery. He was wearing a robe Galen had never seen before. It had the high collar Elric favored, but on the chest, silver and copper cords glittered in an elaborate pattern against the black fabric. Such ornamentation was quite unlike Elric; Galen wondered where he had gotten the robe and why he wore it.

Elric was in conversation with Circe, and Galen couldn't catch his eye. It was unnecessary anyway. Elric would know he was here; Elric almost always knew where he was. Galen realized they would simply have to wait their turn for training. He would rather have gotten it over quickly. Nothing to do but wait.

The shield dissolved. Herazade appeared beside them, wearing a deep blue sari. She greeted Galen and put a hand on Fed's back, pushing him around the bench and into the training area. "Let's see what you can do."

Fed flashed a panicked expression over his shoulder. Alwyn and Carvin approached.

"We missed you last night," Alwyn said, embracing Galen. Though it was just a friendly greeting, the close contact made Galen uncomfortable. He and Elric did not embrace. The shield came back up. Alwyn released him.

"It's good to see you," Galen said. "Congratulations, Carvin. That was perfect. Seamless."

"Don't say that," Alwyn
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