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required that she squeeze past Galen. Galen tried to move out of her way, but the room was so narrow his hip grazed her stomach. The touch was electric.

Isabelle pulled out the chair and sat, seemingly unaffected. "Why would he lie to the Circle?"

Galen sat on the lower bunk. Their knees touched. "He told me Kell was not willing or able to fight this threat."

"He said that?"

Galen nodded. "If that is true, if Kell and the Circle cannot fight the Shadows, then none of us can."

"The Circle," Isabelle said, "is not the answer to all things." Her chest hitched with a quick breath, and she looked away.

She was thinking of Burell, he knew. Every few minutes it would come back to her, the realization that Burell was dead. He would see it in a slackness to her face, an emptiness in her eyes. Then the loss would turn to anger, her jaw clenching and a muscle in her neck gaining prominence. Gradually, as they spoke, the anger would fade, and she would become more like her old self.

He was amazed at how well he could tell what she was thinking. He'd never felt such an awareness of another's feelings, not even Elric's.

Even with that knowledge, though, he didn't know what to say to make her feel better. Burell was in a stasis crate in the hold. If he had read Elric's message when it had first arrived, if they had left immediately, Burell would still be alive.

A reply arrived from Elizar. It grieves me to hear of Burell's passing. Please convey my condolences to Isabelle. Of course I will come to Brensil, my good friend. I am well enough. I will be there as quickly as speed allows, which will be much sooner than you. Perhaps then you can tell me something of what you encountered.

Galen composed a quick message to Elric, letting him know. "Elizar will come,
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