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apprentices were called in. Although Elric had shared his probe's recording with the rest of the Circle, so that all knew what had happened, those involved must be questioned to see if they would give an accurate accounting.

Galen's cheeks were dark with stubble, and his robe hung heavy with moisture. He must have sat out on the mak all night. His chrysalis even seemed slightly discolored, with hints of yellow among the silver. He took his place with the others before the Circle and stood completely still, head bowed. He expected to be cast away, Elric realized. And could there be any other possible outcome?

Isabelle's robe was wrinkled, but she looked clearheaded and determined. Elric accessed his sensors. Her heartbeat and respiration were high, signs of nervousness most likely.

Elizar actually looked the best of the three of them. He was dressed in a clean outfit of blue velvet, which meant he had removed his chrysalis temporarily, in violation of custom. His left arm hung limply at his side. Elric knew he must be exhausted; the healing process put a great strain on the body. Yet he carried himself proudly.

"We would know what happened last night between the three of you," Kell said. In a precise gesture, he extended two fingers toward Isabelle. "Speak."

Isabelle bowed her head. As she began to recount what had happened, Elric found himself thinking of Tilar, who had been cast away by the Circle three years ago, on the eve of his initiation. This was rare, since most unfit apprentices were weeded out long before that point. Tilar had been a student of Regana, who was a good mage, though perhaps she had blinded herself to the flaws of her student.

Now Regana seemed a ghost of her former self, lacking in energy, will, joy. The failure of Tilar, after she
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