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rose tier upon tier of stone levels, a vast dome of blue-green sky and a pale yellow sun visible at the top. The diameter of the amphitheater was smaller than usual, to fit within the constraints of the chamber, but still the illusion gave the sense of a much greater space than the one in which they actually stood.

The nonexistent sunlight shone down at an angle, illuminating the ground and the lower levels of the far side of the amphitheater. The air even felt drier, as if he had stepped onto another planet. Around the bottom level of stone glowed the seven runes representing the seven principles of the Code.

The setting reminded them all of the history of the Circle, and of the responsibility each held as a member of it. It was a responsibility Elric took very seriously, and it was a responsibility that, for the first time, demanded of him something he did not think he could do.

He visualized a flying platform that resembled in shape and color a large stone chair. It appeared, and he sat down on it, then raised the chair eight feet to give the illusion that it rested on the first tier of the amphitheater, along with the others. They were spaced out in a semicircle, Kell in the center, Ing-Radi and Elric to his left, Blaylock and Herazade to his right.

Kell pushed himself up from his seat with the support of his ivory staff. He looked tired, his shoulders more hunched than usual, the creases around his eyes deeper. The incident had upset him deeply. He began the meeting as was customary, and his vibrant voice carried a slight echo, part of Ing-Radi's illusion. "We of the Circle meet to uphold solidarity, secrecy, mystery, magic, science, knowledge, and good."

Kell had loved Elizar from his infancy, delighting in his first step, his first word, just as a father
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