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as a superstition or a story told to children. Little to nothing was known of their noble history, of Wierden bringing order to the early mages; of Gali-Gali defeating the menace of the Zrad and serving at the right hand of the Empress Nare for one hundred years of peace; of Maju's sealing of the Lau hyperspatial rift that threatened billions of lives, at the price of his own.

Techno-mages had been advisers to great leaders, and sometimes great leaders themselves. They had stood at the center of important events. They had been generals, inventors, masterminds, heroes. In those days, convocations were times when nonmages would honor mages, thanking them for service. Whole planets would celebrate and honor them.

Now they met alone, their praises unsung.

Galen had been glad to find someone who shared his concern at the last convocation, and he and Elizar had become friends as they entered chrysalis stage. Since then, they had sent messages to each other regularly, sharing a desire for the mages to take a greater part in galactic events and regain the prominence and respect they once had. If they could not hope to regain the lost scientific knowledge of the Taratimude, at least they could hope for that.

Elizar seemed to have a vision for the future of the mages, a vision that Galen hoped he would be able to bring to pass. Over the last year, though, Elizar's messages had become more and more infrequent. Galen hadn't heard from him at all for the past four months. Elizar was busy, Galen knew; he looked forward to talking with his friend during the convocation.

Fa stuck her head under his arm. "What are you doing?"

"I told you. I'm working."

She climbed with damp feet up onto his lap, and then onto the table, squatting there. He moved the lamp to the other
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