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the lounge."

Galen could never have done what she had done. Could never have reached out to someone so strongly, to have created such an intimate contact. He always held back. That was why, as Elric constantly reminded him, his presentation was weak. He didn't want to connect to other people. He didn't want them to know him.

The predictions, of course, were creations of Isabelle's imagination. But Cadmus seemed to believe them.

Cadmus squeezed his way into the lounge past the Narns, who had begun thinning out after a long night. Galen reached into his pocket, dipped his finger into a packet of what felt like fine dust. As he brushed past several Narns, he planted probes on their arms, jackets, whatever surface presented itself. Isabelle, he knew, did the same.

The lounge was modest in size, with a bar at one end and small tables crowding the rest of the room. The dingy flower-patterned rug clashed with green-and-gold striped wallpaper. The lighting was dim, and the lack of windows gave the feeling of perpetual night. In their dark leathers, the Narns clustered around the bar and nearby tables. The drinking contest seemed to have ended, although the drinking had not. The Narns had begun to look a bit fatigued, though, hanging on one another, swaying unsteadily, gold-and-black spotted heads drooping. One slid off the bar and thumped to the floor.

Cadmus jumped at the sound. "Oh." He showed them to a table in the corner, and after fussing over Isabelle for a few more minutes, retreated.

"An optimistic prediction," Galen said, "wasn't it? Cadmus doesn't quite seem the heroic type."

"If he believes it, then it will become reality. And I would much rather give him something positive to believe, and play a role in the creation of a positive reality, than be
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