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chose me."

"The Circle's deliberations are its own affair." Again Galen saw the clenched teeth, the anger. It was not directed at him, though, but at the Circle.

They arrived at Burell's ship. Galen set down his staff and valise. He saw a hint of orange flash in the distance, moving toward them. Elric faced him, and the anger was gone. His eyes were wide, his lips pressed into a thin, straight line.

"Remember that the wisest mage takes without anyone knowing anything was taken. Prepare for every possibility. Manipulate the perceptions of others. Maintain control of the situation at all times. Be cautious. And be wary."

Galen nodded, uncertain how to react to Elric's concern. "I will." Elric did not want him to go, Galen realized. Elric did not think he could succeed.

Then Fa was calling out to him. "Gale! Gale!"

Elric turned away, going to meet Isabelle, who had come out of the ship.

Fa arrived before him, breathless. "I thought you would be gone."

"Not yet," Galen said. "I will only be gone for a short time, anyway. I will come back soon."

"When is soon?"

Galen gazed after Elric. "Soon is after today and before long."

"But when?"

"Expect me," Galen said, looking down at her, "when you see me."

She frowned briefly. "What's that behind your ear?" Fa pointed, and Galen crouched so she could reach him.

She brought her hand to the side of his face and opened her palm to reveal a woven grass star. "Odd place to keep a star," she said, and handed it to him. He hadn't even seen her reach into her pocket this time.

"Thank you," he said. He had nothing for her. And he realized, now, that he should. She did not trust that he would return. She would worry each night, watch each day. She would feel better if she had something of his, something
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