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accustomed to seeing little emotion, and to showing little. It was what he preferred.

Elric embraced the other mages in greeting, of course, or in departure. But those were like friendly handshakes. This embrace was more than those, Galen thought, and it threatened to bring up emotions whose acquaintance he did not wish to make.

Elric spoke softly. "Remember the reprimand of the Circle."

Galen pulled back, startled. Why would Elric say that here, now? Elric knew that he had vowed to obey the Circle, to maintain control, to hold the spell of destruction uncast within him. Galen had thought the Circle, and Elric, had given him another chance because they believed he could succeed. Did Elric fear that he would fail?

Galen stepped away and lowered his arms to his sides. "I shall," he said.

Elric nodded. Galen turned and climbed up the ramp into the ship. Isabelle showed him a seat in the plain, dark interior, and within a minute they had begun to shoot up through the atmosphere. It felt strange, leaving Soom without Elric for the first time. As if he had forgotten that which he needed most.

Galen visualized the equation to access one of the probes to which Elric had given him the key. It was on the west side of one of the great stones that marked Elric's place of power. The probe requested the key, and he gave it. An image appeared in his mind's eye. The mak stretched toward the sea, the mist brilliant in the morning light.

And there on the open plain, a shadow shrouded in mist, stood Elric, alone.

Chapter 8

"Before I let you in," Burell said at the doorway, "I need your assurance."

"My assurance," Galen said.

"I didn't know that I'd be bringing a guest home. I could make you stay elsewhere, but that would be highly inconvenient, and
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