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your coat?"

Galen cast a glance over his shoulder as he packed the valise. Elric was acting strangely. "Yes." He had a coat, robes, pants, shirt, underclothes, and toiletries; he had his screen and a pouchful of data crystals; he had props for various minor illusions; he had the keycard Alwyn had given him that was supposed to open any door; he had the microscopic probes he'd made and additional probes made by Circe in case his didn't work well; and he had a lot of loose components, just in case. On top of that, he had loaded every program he thought might be remotely useful directly into his tech, so he could access it easily. Galen was bringing way too much. And instead of pointing out the error, as was Elric's custom, he was encouraging Galen to bring even more.

The agitating undercurrent of energy from the implants made Galen feel itchy all over. He looked around his room. Aside from the chrysalis, what remained were the remnants of old projects, primitive inventions, and various components and raw chemicals he couldn't imagine needing. The small woven grass box lay on the bottom shelf in the corner. He retrieved it, put it into the valise.

"You're taking the ring?" Elric asked.

"I inserted one of my probes into it. I thought I might be able to use it." After Elric had told him that the Circle had selected him for an important task, Galen had found himself last night staring uneasily at the ring. Made by his mother, worn by his father. It embodied a part of himself from which he hid. He was now a mage as they had been. Although he would have preferred never to see it again, perhaps it was time to stop hiding.

He had visualized various equations, sending different commands to the ring, commands that would allow him to perform the tasks his father had performed,
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