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had been left on a wheeled cart.

The sight of it sent a restless surge of energy through Galen.

Isabelle laid her hands on the crate. Galen realized that their time alone was ending, that they must resume care and caution. He swore again to himself to maintain strict control, to conjure nothing by instinct.

The air lock doors opened, and they pushed Burell's stasis crate out onto the passenger promenade. The ship's freight would be unloaded one floor below. The promenade was a vast area, a shiny green malachite floor highlighting the former richness of the mines. The settlement's domed ceiling stretched high overhead, its darkness dotted with stars. When the mines had been open, the promenade had probably been crowded with new arrivals, those eager for work, those searching for opportunity, or those seeking easy money. But now, with the mines closed, the settlement had turned into a backwater's backwater, little more than a jumpgate, a planet, and a handful of nearly abandoned domed settlements. The only inhabitants who remained were those who couldn't afford to leave.

Galen had found Zafran 8's dirt and congestion unpleasant, but somehow this was worse. The vast emptiness of the dome seemed to reflect the coldness of the universe.

He searched for the energy characteristic of a mage, found it in a figure approaching them from across the promenade. Galen recognized the long stride and maroon velvet coat of Elizar. Surprisingly, he detected the energy of another mage, at a greater distance. Could Elric have somehow managed to arrive so quickly?

They pushed the stasis crate toward Elizar. He looked well, his angular face tilted upward. Since the initiation, he'd grown back his dark goatee scoured into the shape of the rune for magic. His scalp he kept bare.
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