it." She handed him a glass. "Every Winter Solstice, Burell and I toast, and say 'Next year, we find it.' You'll have to stand in-" Isabelle's voice broke, and she turned away. "If the Circle had only given her tech to study, she wouldn't have had to experiment on herself. She wouldn't"-she ground out the words-"be dying." She picked up her glass and turned back to him with a fixed, despairing smile on her face.
She raised her glass and, with a pointed look, told him he should do the same. He hated to see the pain on her face. Yet Isabelle would not give up the quest, he realized, feeling another moment of connection with her. Her failure to find the Well in time to help Burell would make her more determined to find it, just as Galen's failure to live up to the Code made him more determined to prove himself. Perhaps he could help her, and in their success, in recovering this lost piece of the mages' past, he could erase that expression of despair from her face.
They spoke together. "Next year, we find it."
* * *
"Have you done this before?" Isabelle asked.
"You're asking now?" Galen jammed the thing in, shaking it up and down.
"It seems the question of the moment. Well?"
"No." He pulled it out, cursed, jammed it in again. "Have you?"
"No. Maybe we should have thought this out a bit more."
"Alwyn told me it always works." He pulled the card out of the lock system. The door remained stubbornly closed.
"Nothing always works." Isabelle's back shifted against his as she spoke, and the full-body shield she had conjured around herself tingled over his skin like an electrostatic charge. She was keeping watch while he worked on the lock to the Drakh's building.
The neighborhood was dark, since they'd cut off the power supply, and that had