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years. We need not send beginners where experts are required. I can go to Zafran 8 in disguise. No one need discover I'm a mage. I know the evidence. I can find out what we need, quickly and quietly. We will risk no discovery."

Ing-Radi bowed her head, and in the slash of her mouth, Elric read pity. "If there is a Shadow presence there, they may well be able to penetrate your disguise. Then they will discover a member of the Circle investigating them, deceiving them. That we dare not risk."

"I agree with the proposal to send Galen and Isabelle," Herazade said, making a majority.

They've got both of our babies now, Burell wrote.

"Let them be sent now," Blaylock said, "before the convocation is ended. We can say that Burell was taken ill and had to return to her place of power."

Herazade and Ing-Radi agreed.

"Very well then," Kell said. "Elric, will you explain to Galen and Isabelle their task?"

Galen would have no more time to become accustomed to the implants. He would have no more time to improve his control before facing danger. Elric nodded.

"We shall see what they find."

As the Circle went through the motions to end the meeting, Elric received a message from Blaylock. You cannot spare Galen his trial.

Elric quickly composed a response. You would send him just out of the chrysalis against the Shadows.

He is well able to defend himself.

And if he does so, you will flay him.

If he reacts with violence when none is needed, or uses the spell forbidden to him, yes. The trial is a fair one. Do you believe he will fail?

Elric took Burell's arm and helped her from the chamber. Burell leaned into him and hissed under her breath. "They are bastards, all. Bastards."

* * *

"The nights are cold there," Elric said. "Do you have
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