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know how to respond. "Would you like to go into the tents? The sound will be muted there."

"No."

Galen wondered if she really could hear the tech, as Fed had said. If it did speak, what wonders would it say, what secrets would it share? Such communication would be a sign of the true fusion between mage and tech, to which Blaylock aspired, but none had yet achieved. More likely Razeel just heard herself, the echo of her own thoughts.

Elric had told Galen to check on the mages in the tent after setting up the fire circle, to see if they needed anything. The chefs and servers had been sent away for the night, all outsiders banned until the initiation in the morning was complete.

"I must go," he said. "Excuse me."

She gave no response, her face lost in windblown hair. Galen turned back to the fire circle. Fed had arrived-now that the work was done-and he stood with Carvin and Gowen.

The last thing Galen wanted was for Fed to recount what had happened in the hall. Galen waved to them. "I have to go inside."

Carvin nodded.

Galen headed into the maze of tents. On the periphery, great tables of food and drink were laid out, meant to suffice until the chefs and workers returned the next day at highsun. The food looked plentiful and well prepared, and with such variety as Galen had only seen at previous convocations. Galen's mouth watered as he counted the hours until tomorrow, when he could break his fast.

He headed deeper into the tents. The mages had adapted the tents to their needs, labeling different areas with runes and other signs. There were seminars on a variety of scientific topics, workshops on engineering techniques, roundtables on sleight of hand and other more traditional magicks, and lectures on arcane skills. Galen stopped in each tent chamber
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