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out into the passage, found it was no longer a dead end. He stumbled out through the tent flap, and Isabelle followed.

"I'm going this way," Galen said, starting right.

"I'm going that way," Isabelle said, starting left.

"Meet you at the Becoming," Galen said, jogging backward.

Isabelle gave a little spin and waved back at him.

He watched until she turned out of sight, his chrysalis echoing the pounding of his heart. He felt as if he had just come to life.



* * *



Ten minutes later, he thought he must be getting close to the outside. He recognized a few of the meeting rooms, though they were now all empty. The apprentices had the Becoming to attend; the mages had the Being.

He ran around a corner and thought he had turned that corner before, possibly several times. The passage beyond was darker than the others, lit only by the rune for science glowing on the far tent wall. Something moved in front of that light, blocking it out, and Galen stopped short. The head and shoulders of a man were barely visible in dark silhouette. "Can I help you?" Galen asked.

"Can I help you?" the man replied, walking closer. He wasn't a mage, for his voice was untrained, yet it carried a smooth, threatening power. As the man approached, the light from behind Galen illuminated more of him. He was a compact man, with dark hair, wearing a dark, tailored suit. A silver chain at his neck caught the light. His right hand was in his pocket, his left arm bent at the elbow, hand extended.

"Are you looking for something?" Galen asked.

"Are you looking for something?" the man replied.

Galen expelled a breath. He didn't have time for this. "What do you want?"

The man smiled, revealing a row of perfect white teeth. "That's just what I was going to ask you."



*
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