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about a threat to the mages, or to those they protected. "If that is so," he said, "then we would make our case to the Circle."

"The Circle would deny."

"Then we would make our case to the mages themselves."

"They wouldn't believe us."

"What evidence do you have?"

Elizar glanced toward Kell. "We must discuss this later. But I tell you Kell is neither willing nor able to deal with what is coming. New leadership will be required."

There were many with greater experience and wisdom than Elizar; it seemed presumptuous of him to think he was the only solution. His time to be elected to the Circle was many years off. Yet why was Elizar the only one to suspect this threat? Galen didn't know what to say. "It will be many years before Kell leaves the Circle."

"He is old. You don't know, Galen. He's not what he once was. The Circle has always included one of the line of Wierden. If not Kell, that would mean Razeel or I, and..." He shrugged, dismissing Razeel.

"But the youngest ever to be elected to the Circle was Elric, when he was fifty." And a new member could not be elected until a current member died or resigned, with resignation usually taking place very close to death.

"Kell waited too long to take apprentices. He should have done so many years ago. And he should have taken only one. But he believed himself infallible. I cannot help the fact that I'm young. And I cannot use that fact as an excuse to stand by and do nothing. Drastic action must be taken. I happen to be the only one in a position to take that action. I hope that, when the time comes, you will support me."

"What kind of action?"

"The secrets"-he wiped a hand across his mouth-"must be uncovered. Power must be restored to us. The survival of the mages will depend on it." His mouth
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