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longer see Kell and Isabelle. It was as if they no longer existed.

Elric must stop the spell, Galen thought desperately. Only he could stop it while it was still in the making. He could erase it. But Galen wondered if Elric was even still there, behind him, or whether he had become twisted into something beyond recognition.

Then the dark boundary of the sphere began to contract, and the grayness within it to fade. As the sphere began to shrink, time snapped back to its normal pace. The sphere was collapsing in on itself, vanishing, and as his body drew back to its normal shape, he suddenly felt as if he could breathe.

As he sucked in a breath, Galen was pulled up short. For a moment he felt completely disoriented. Part of his mind, part of his body, seemed out of reach, as if he'd had a stroke. An iron grip held him apart. The equation in his mind was wiped away. The power associated with it drained out of him.

The sensation was different from dissociating. He wasn't separated from the chrysalis; it was still a part of him, yet that part of him was paralyzed. Galen had felt the sensation a number of times before, and it always made him sick.

Elric had shut down the tech.

A thunderclap shook the hall as the energy that formed the sphere dissipated as quickly as it had come.

Galen's sense of balance failed, and he fell to the floor, gasping. Elric moved with him, maintaining the override on the chrysalis. "Don't fight it," Elric said.

Galen couldn't make his body work. His heart sped ahead. He gagged on saliva.

Behind the shield, the mages stood in silent ranks, their faces caught in immediate, transparent reaction. They stared at him as if he was a stranger, as if he had, for the first time, revealed himself, as if they now saw the basic truth of
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