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I see no need for action."

Burell shifted, and Elric sensed she was about to erupt. He sent a quick message. Say nothing. Anger will lose our cause.

Burell's response was swift. She cultivates ignorance like the rest of us cultivate knowledge. How is it, in all these meetings, you haven't killed her?

She's been in the Circle only two years, Elric responded.

Blaylock stood, his face tight. "You bring dire news, Elric. The Shadows are returning. Yet your recommendations are misdirected. We cannot put ourselves on the front lines of this war, if war there must be. We are but a few, devoted to learning and study. We have worked hard among us to create peace. We carry a sacred blessing and are charged with the task of becoming one with it. We are not meant to be soldiers. Violence and bloodshed, politics and warfare, will serve as distractions, drawing us away from the path. We cannot let our blessing become corrupted." He sat.

Ing-Radi laid her four orange hands, palms up, on top of each other and bowed her head. "I am not yet certain that the Shadows are returning. I would support a very small, very subtle investigation. To gain more information from Burell's home, Zafran 8. Nothing more. We must proceed with caution."

She was afraid. They were all afraid. They did not want to come out as enemies of the Shadows. But how long could neutrality be maintained? And how could ignorance and inaction serve them?

Kell rose. Elric hoped that he would reveal now what he knew. With his leadership, they would put aside their reluctance and accept the obvious. They could begin to form a plan of action.

He straightened his massive frame. His eyes squinted with age, yet his voice was resonant, strong. "Burell, you have done us a great service in gathering this information.
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