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the glory of the techno-mages."

"Life doesn't always give us the time we need."

Something was bothering his friend. "I suppose not."

Elizar stepped closer, lowering his voice. His dark blue eyes fastened on Galen. "I have a great weight upon me, Galen. You may not understand. I'm expected to assume Kell's place and lead us forward. But forward into what? We've become obsessed with technique, with flourishes and phantasms, rather than with impact." His fist hit his palm. "We entertain, we enlighten, but what power do we truly possess? The mages of old, the Taratimude, they had power. And they used it wisely, decisively. They knew how to make the tech, and how to use it. We've lost so much. And of what little we have retained, I believe key pieces are kept from us by the Circle. I think, perhaps, the Circle is custodian of secrets far beyond what most would suspect."

Galen was shocked by his friend's accusation. Elizar might have complained in the past that the Circle was overly conservative, but he had always respected their wisdom and leadership. "What kind of secrets?" he asked.

"I'm not sure. Secrets of power, almost certainly. Of abilities we don't know we have. But the most serious..." Elizar glanced behind him, leaned over Galen. "Imagine a threat coming, Galen. A threat not only to us, but to everyone. A threat that could end our order forever. And the knowledge of it kept from us."

"By the Circle? Why would they do that?"

"I think they are afraid. Things have grown quiet, things have grown safe. They have grown complacent. I think they are frozen to inaction by what they know. They're not prepared to do what has to be done." Laughter burst from the mages; apparently Fed was clowning again.

Galen couldn't believe Elric would ever withhold information
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