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side. She had the ring on again.

"I told you not to play with that," he said.

She was wearing it on her smallest finger, which was thick enough that the ring of Galen's father fit perfectly. The stone was ragged and perfectly black, set in a heavy band of silver that held to the stone with sharp claws. Somehow, in her many explorations of his room, she always fixed on the ring, the one thing he wished never to face again. Galen didn't like to see it, didn't like to think about it.

"I won't break it," she said, tilting her hand back and forth. "What's that?" She pointed at the equations on the screen.

"Work I have to do for tomorrow," Galen said.

"Those aren't letters."

"No, they're symbols that represent different elements in the spells we cast."

"That's a spell?"

"Yes, for me it is." Maybe if she saw how complicated the spells were, she'd have more respect for the mages. "You see how this spell has two elements, and this one has the same two but one more." He explained the progression to her as she turned her head back and forth over the screen.

"What comes next?" she asked, after he had led her to the most complex equation.

"I don't know. But I think the more interesting question is, what comes first? Why is there no spell with only one term?"


"I don't know." Perhaps because it would do nothing, in which case Elric wouldn't be terribly impressed. He saved his work on the screen and turned it off. "Shouldn't you be in bed?"

She smiled. "Shouldn't you be working?"

He picked her up off the table and dropped her to the floor. "Go on. Get out of here."

She ran to the window, turned. "Gale, will you move away from here? Once you are"-she struggled with the foreign word-"initiated?"

He hadn't really thought of that. All his
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