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to be. Elizar fit that role. Something in the tilt of his head made his silvery chrysalis look like an ancient helm. With his long maroon velvet coat and gold-patterned vest beneath, he looked regal. He had even grown a dark goatee to mirror Kell's, his shaped into the rune for magic.

Today, though, Elizar seemed distracted. He was looking around at the other mages, his right hand curled inward, his thumb running in circles around his fingertips. Razeel's eyes were aimed down, as if her focus were inward. Elric would never have let Galen get away with something like that. He demanded full attention at all times. Yet Kell simply kept talking, as if he didn't notice.

Elizar glanced over and saw Galen. He excused himself from Kell and started across the gallery, stopping to exchange greetings with other mages as he passed by. Something was different in Elizar's manner. As before, his long stride was assured, his angular face tilted upward. Yet anxiety clung to him. It was something in the way he leaned in for an embrace, in the intensity he put into each greeting, as if he feared losing the goodwill and affection of the mages. As Elizar's thumb returned again and again to circle his fingertips, Galen realized that Elizar's attention wasn't on the other mages at all.

Elizar extended his arms. "Galen, good friend. It's been too long." Elizar embraced him. "Sorry I fell out of touch." Keeping one arm over Galen's shoulders, Elizar steered them away from the shield.

"I didn't mean to interrupt your conversation with Kell," Galen said.

"It's of no consequence."

Galen was shocked that Elizar would speak this way of Kell, and apparently he showed it, for Elizar quickly added, "He was merely offering encouragement. Razeel needs it much more than I."

That was more
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