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what they should be, and are not. We also show the universe what it should be, and is not. Many prefer to destroy those who are superior, rather than face the knowledge that they are inferior."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Galen said, but at the same time he wondered if it could be true. Elric had thought him unable to perform the task set by the Circle. Had the Circle sent him in the hope that he would be killed? Had they made him a mage only to use him as cannon fodder? He couldn't believe it.

"We praise your discovery instead of condemning it. And we would aid you in your work, opening repositories of knowledge to you that you can barely imagine."

Elric had told Galen that the Shadows found others to do their bidding, that they worked behind the scenes, creating disputes and inciting war. "You seek to divide the technomages," Galen said, "as you seek to divide the galaxy, to pit us against each other in war and chaos. But we will not be divided. The Code unites us."

"You are already divided," the sphere said.

A sense of dread filled Galen, and he felt a driving need to act, to strike back at this threat. He held it tightly, scanned the figure in the mouth of the tunnel. Energy characteristic of a techno-mage emanated from it, but some of the normal traits were missing. Then he realized that this was not a full mage; the figure was wearing a chrysalis. Had one of the new chrysalis-stage apprentices joined with the Shadows? Was that the division he meant? Or was it something deeper?

"Isabelle," the sphere said, "you struggle to find answers that were already found long ago. You seek samples of the great tech for study. You look for an ancient place of power, the Well of Forever. We know where this place is. We can take you there. Today. Tomorrow.
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