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his nation, his species. "To use my power for good, at my own discretion. To deny those who would use me for ill. To safeguard the knowledge of the techno-mages and to support this fellowship that has given me a place and a purpose."

Beside him stood Alwyn, whose answers never failed to entertain. "To help those who deserve it, to knock sense into those who ask for it, to punish those who demand it. To fool those who are fools, to confuse those who are confused, to right those who are righteous, and to generally be a pain in the neck to all."

The very last, Kell's answers boomed out over the mages in a vibrant voice. "To give heart, and mind, and soul, and tech to the service of our great fellowship. To pursue knowledge through a universe of mystery. To follow the Code, above all. And to see us safely into the future."

That last sentence, Elric realized, was new.

* * *

Galen sat at the cliff edge in a cocoon of mist, his palms flat on his legs. Behind him, Elric's light globes cast a faint illumination, glinting off the moisture on the moss, the bare rock of the land's end. Pale, ghostly shapes of mist drifted before his eyes.

After the apprentices had answered their questions, they had each gone alone into the night, to meditate and wait. A mage would come to each, take hold of the apprentice's chrysalis, and impose a challenge. Elric would tell him nothing of these challenges, so Galen had no idea what to expect. He had heard only that they were not tests of power, but lessons of character. Alwyn had said they often served to focus a mage on his future and his purpose. Few had ever "failed" a challenge. In fact, the only one Galen knew of was Tilar, who had then been cast away. But after his failure with Elizar, Galen didn't want to make the
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