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order, but remembering Elric's caution to be wary. Another ball in the air.

Tilar waved his glass in circles. "Oh, I've been traveling a lot. Went to Centauri Prime for a bit but couldn't stand living with those self-important fools. I made some money in investments, using all the knowledge I'd gotten as an apprentice. Then I lost it all. I guess you could call me a con man these days. Nothing as exciting as being a techno-mage, I'm sure."

There had been an odd jump in his heart rate as he spoke the last sentence, but Galen thought it most likely arose from dissatisfaction with his own circumstance.

He's telling the truth, Isabelle wrote. But then he knows we could detect a lie.

"Would you care for a drink?" Tilar waved toward the waitress.

"No," Galen said. He followed the Narns to their various rooms, watched them go in. They're all in bed-probably for a few hours, at least, he wrote to Isabelle. And he hadn't let any of the balls drop. If he had been working with his chrysalis, he would have been breathless and dripping with sweat from the effort of casting so many spells. Now, the physical effort was minimal.

Yet the mental effort remained, and without the physical exhaustion to slow him down, he realized he was putting a greater stress on his mind, on his ability to remain focused and in control. He must not overestimate his abilities and risk a slip.

The waitress came over, and Tilar ordered another. When Isabelle declined as well, Tilar looked with curiosity at their empty table.

"We came as a favor to Burell," Isabelle explained. "She has a long-standing relationship with the manager, Cadmus Wilcox. He was nervous about some of the wilder elements"-she nodded toward the bar-"so we came to offer protection."

"They like to drink." Tilar straightened
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