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twisting and stretching and curving back on itself in some abstract pattern that no longer looked Human.

The vibration built until Galen thought space itself would be ripped apart, and all of them with it. Then the right side of the sphere bloomed open like a dark flower. And with a great crack the orifice exploded in a stream of fire.

Time and space snapped back to normality, and Galen found himself flying back through the air. As he hit the mak and tumbled backward, he saw Elizar screaming, covered in flame.



Chapter 5



Galen ran toward Elizar and Elric. To his left, Isabelle sat in darkness near the cliff, where she had been thrown, her legs splayed out in front of her. To his right, fire roared through the tents.

Within seconds of the explosion, Elric had arrived on a flying platform. He knelt over Elizar. Galen stopped behind him. The smell of charred meat passed on the air. Without turning, Elric reached back, grabbed Galen's arm, and pulled him to his knees beside Elizar. Galen was shocked to see that Elizar only looked stunned. His eyes were fixed on some point in the sky, and his mouth released short, rapid breaths.

"Have I taught you nothing?" Elric whispered.

Elric's head was bowed, and Galen followed his gaze down to Elizar's left arm, which lay before them. It was black. At first he didn't understand what he was looking at. Then he realized that the jacket sleeve had been burned away. What remained of Elizar's arm was thin, almost skeletal, with a leathery, black surface. Elizar's hand was a petrified claw. It gleamed in the firelight with an unnatural shininess.

Here was the source of the charred-meat smell.

Others swooped down around them. Ing-Radi immediately came to Elizar's side. With only a glance of her slit pupils at
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