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of the Circle, or any powerful mage, would draw the suspicions of any who might be watching.

"She will need assistance, of course," Ing-Radi said.

"I offer Elizar," Kell said. "Since he lives nearby, a friendly visit will not seem out of place."

Kell's body functions showed no particular fluctuation, but Elric was suddenly afraid, in a way he hadn't been in years. Kell wanted to control the evidence that reached the Circle. Elric had told Blaylock, I trust Kell. That is all. Was he wrong to do so? Was the vision of the universe on which he had based his life flawed?

Blaylock stood. "Elizar is injured and needs time to recover." His tone left no room for disagreement. "We are overlooking the obvious candidate. Galen. He was to be set a task after initiation, a task that would place him in danger and test his reaction. This seems the perfect opportunity." His unyielding face turned to Elric. Blaylock had wanted Galen to be cast away. Now that Galen was a mage, Blaylock would have him be the first casualty of the war. "He can visit as a friend of Isabelle's as easily as Elizar. We can even let it be known that Burell is ill, and that Galen has come to help with her care."

Ing-Radi nodded. "I agree. If the second mage is a peer of Isabelle's, it will draw less suspicion. And if Galen is to be a danger to the mages, we should know it now. Before he is fully come into his powers."

Elric could see that Herazade was about to throw her hat in with the others. She thought the mission unnecessary; it made no difference to her who went. It made no difference to her if Galen was the first to face the Shadows. It made no difference to her if Galen was lost.

"Wait." Elric stepped forward. "This may be the most important issue that has faced the mages in a thousand
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