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what you claim, I will swear allegiance to you to my dying breath."

Elizar wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. "The allegiance must come first. You know you can trust me. I gain nothing by lying. If I have no evidence, you will forswear me soon enough. You must trust me. Else you will never know the true cause behind Burell's death."

Below the table, Galen reached for her hand. It was clenched into a fist. Don't do it, Galen wrote to her. Whatever information Elizar had found, he must be misinterpreting it. The Circle could not be guilty of what he claimed.

"Kell has been the greatest of us for many years," Galen said. "He is of the line of Wierden. He has brought us peace and encouraged learning. Even if I could believe what you say of him, I can't believe it of the whole Circle. I know Elric"-better than I knew my own father-"and he would not willingly have sent Isabelle and me into needless danger. He would not lie. He lives by the Code. I know that more than I know anything."

Elizar extended a placating hand. "Perhaps I am wrong about Elric. Perhaps he knows as little as the rest of us."

"Then come back with us and present your evidence to him."

Elizar shook his head tightly. "You must join me. This is your only alternative. Without me, you will never know the truth."

Galen suddenly had the feeling that his friend had made a horrible mistake.

He knows something, Isabelle wrote. And I will know what it is, if there is any way it can be known. But I will not swear allegiance to Elizar. I trust him less than I trust the Circle. I fear if you told him how to conjure your weapon, and I told him how to listen to the Shadows, he would have no further use for us.

"I know you've uncovered something important," Galen said. "Show us what it is.
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