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" Elric said to him.

Galen visualized the equation that terminated the connection between himself and the chrysalis. The chrysalis echoed the command, then went silent. Elric removed it.

After two days of wearing it, Galen's body felt incomplete without it, as if a limb or an organ had been removed. Galen squinted his eyes open to watch Elric and the other teachers carry the chrysalises out of the circle. The green band of energy connecting the stones opened a portal for them, closed it behind them.

And now it was time to be purified by the Code that they had chosen. Again they spoke the words.

"Solidarity."

An umbrella of fire shot out from the ball overhead to envelop them. It rushed down over Galen's body like living lava, searing him. Galen gasped. Several screamed out. Galen found it had burned away his clothes, his boots. No trace of them remained. He steeled himself.

"Secrecy."

A second umbrella of flame fell upon them. The heat crawled down over him, consuming the hair from his head, his body. He panted.

"Mystery."

The outer layer of his skin was scoured away. Someone released a ragged cry.

"Magic."

Fire raked through his remaining skin, scalded it.

"Science."

Several cried out at once. Galen's raw flesh quivered.

"Knowledge."

There were no cries now, or perhaps Galen could no longer hear them. He focused on staying upright, on forcing his burning lips to form the final word.

"Good."

The last of the fire fell upon them.

A portal opened again in the ring of green fire. The apprentices moved toward it, falling into a line. Once through the portal, Galen found himself on a path lined on both sides by mages. The path led to a tent standing separate from the others, a tent he hadn't seen before. That was where his
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