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a test of personality, and a lesson. For his first act as a mage, we will then set him a trial, a task that will put him in harm's way and test his reaction.

"His attack on Elizar was a serious error in judgment. We must know if he will make such an error again. If he uses the weapon forbidden to him or reacts with inappropriate violence, then he will be flayed."

Elric shivered, and was startled at his loss of control. To be flayed meant that the techno-mage implants would be removed. But once inserted, the implants quickly intertwined and connected with the mage's own body, so that they could not be removed without also removing fair portions of the body's natural systems, particularly the brain and spinal cord. If done soon after implantation, the mage would become a brain-damaged husk at best. A month or two later, death was certain.

Perhaps, Elric thought, it would be better to have Galen cast away. In time he could find a new life, new pursuits. He would not have to bear the burden of his discovery, nor the trial of the Circle. But Elric knew that to be cast away would destroy Galen. The lore of the mages was already a part of him; to be cut off from it would be almost as bad as flaying.

"He must not know of the trial," Ing-Radi said. "Else he will modify his actions."

"The trial must be faced as soon as he has recovered from initiation," Herazade said, "so that the danger is not prolonged."

"Yes," Kell said. "And he will be reprimanded, in the strongest terms."

Kell, Ing-Radi, and Herazade agreed on the plan. As they debated the wording of the reprimand, Elric felt a strange combination of relief and fear. Galen would not be cast away. He would be initiated, into a world of Shadows, trials, and destruction. He would carry his burden of power. And
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