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he did not know how he came to be here. From the expressions of some of the others-Elizar, Razeel, Carvin, Gowen, Fed, Isabelle-he knew they felt the same.

Their group stood within Elric's great circle of stones. A band of brilliant moss-green energy connected the stones. Behind each apprentice stood his teacher. Galen recognized Elric's firm grip on his chrysalis. Galen checked to see if all fifteen apprentices had made it to this moment. They were all there.

Somehow, he knew the time had come to speak the words of the Code. They spoke together.


He closed his eyes and visualized the equation, created the rune that in the language of the Taratimude represented solidarity. The fiery rune blazed in the air before him.

He sent it into the center of the circle to join the runes of the other apprentices.


Again he created the rune, sent it to the center.


The runes intertwined with one another, creating a tangled ball of energy.


The orange-red light from the runes grew intense. Galen had to squint.


The far side of the circle was lost behind a blinding ball of flame. Galen's heart raced.


The beauty of being a mage, of living by the Code, raced through him in a surge of adrenaline. He could want nothing more. Nothing more than to be worthy of them.


Though he was perhaps one of only a few to know, his study of the language of the Taratimude had told him there was no rune for good. The rune the mages used to symbolize good actually meant useful. Galen generated the rune, projected it to the center.

The light was too intense; he had to close his eyes.

Through his eyelids he saw the tangled ball of light rise overhead. Kell had taken control of it.

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