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his life to making the Code more than something the mages paid lip service, but something many of them actually believed and followed. He had worked to change their focus from power and feuds to learning, beauty, and good. He did this partly through force of personality, partly through his own considerable power, partly through a vigorous weeding-out of unfit apprentices, and partly through harsh punishments. During his time in the Circle, he had turned many violators into examples.

It was time for an example, Elric knew. With three votes, Galen would be cast away.

Blaylock stood. "The very purpose of having apprentices is to discover whether they are worthy to become one of our number. An apprentice who violates the Code does not deserve to become a mage." His gaze met Elric's, and Elric knew that behind his severe expression, Blaylock regretted what he had to do. "I can vote no other way." He sat.

Kell stroked his goatee. "I would argue thus," he said, speaking slowly. "With great power comes great potential. We should cast away such potential only if we are sure it will be used for ill. I have watched Galen as he has developed, and I have found him to be skilled, disciplined, and dedicated to the Code. His spell language is unique, and now leads him down avenues it may be none have trodden before. To cast away someone with Galen's great ability, unless we are absolutely sure he is unfit, would be unwise."

Elric knew then for certain that Burell's deductions were true. The Shadows were returning, and Kell knew of it. He knew, and he was frightened. If they were to become involved in war, Kell wanted a weapon. He wanted Galen.

"If the Circle agrees," Kell said with a practiced flourish of his hand, "I will personally oversee Galen's initiation. It will be
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