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about him that he himself did not know. The sensation was extremely uncomfortable.

"You have behaved recklessly," Kell continued. "You have used your chrysalis without supervision. You have attacked another mage without provocation. You have conjured a spell that you were ordered not to use. You have injured a mage. You have violated the Code.

"The damage you caused might have been much, much worse. The endpoint of the spell you conjured remains unknown, but its destructive power is potentially vast. You might have destroyed all of us, all of everything, with your one impulsive attack.

"You are forbidden from using your spell of destruction. You are forbidden from telling anyone outside the Circle how this spell was done.

"If we find any further evidence of this behavior, we will act without debate or delay. You will be flayed." Kell paused, allowing the words their importance.

"Do you understand?"

He wasn't going to be cast away. He couldn't believe it. They were giving him another chance. Another chance to be a mage.

Elric was giving him a stern look.

"Yes," Galen said, "I understand."

"For your behavior, we, the Circle, reprimand you. You have fallen in our eyes. You are diminished. We are disappointed by your blatant violation of the Code and angered by your recklessness. Do not again earn our wrath."

Galen felt as if his life had been handed back to him. He marveled at the Circle's generosity, and vowed to be worthy of it. "I won't," Galen said. "No matter what happens, I will never fail you again."

* * *

Galen felt as if he were floating, disembodied, in the night mist. He was exhausted, light-headed from two days of fasting. But he was here, at the Becoming, the moment he had been working toward all his life.

They sat
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