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that made everything else irrelevant. And perhaps they could do it; Elric had said their powers were great. He imagined Isabelle restored to health, walking with him hand in hand, giving him that private, knowing smile.

It was another offer for his allegiance, as Tilar had made. Turning down Tilar's offer had been easy, since Tilar had offered only knowledge, which Galen believed he could acquire himself. But this... was not something he could do himself.

Morden stood with a mild smile of curiosity on his face. "Isn't that what you want?"

The Shadows had done this to her. And now they offered to undo it. His energy grew hot with rage. "You offer to heal her, after you have Elizar..."

"Elizar said you would swear loyalty to him. That's what we wanted. But he is a fool."

"And what do you ask in return?" Galen couldn't believe the words had come from his mouth. He was negotiating with the Shadows, the same who had killed Burell.

"Just that at some point in the future, we may come to you and ask you for a favor of equal magnitude."

And what would that favor be? Fighting for the Shadows? Killing another mage? Overthrowing the Circle? They could ask him to destroy the universe, and it would still be of lesser magnitude than what they offered him.

And what did he owe the Circle? If they had knowingly sent Isabelle and him to fail and die, he would kill them anyway, one at a time, down even to Elric. The rage raced through him, urging him to act. He held tightly to it, refusing to let it free.

Morden's face grew serious, shadows pooling beneath his eyes. "Choose carefully, Galen. Many would give all they have for such an opportunity."

Galen had been able to turn down Tilar easily. It was Isabelle who had been tormented with the hope of saving Burell.
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