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lips compressed into a thin straight line, and he was silent for a time. At last he spoke. "Her loss is a great tragedy. These are dark times. I am sorry, Galen, for all you have endured. I would have spared you. If I could."

Galen lowered his head. He didn't want to hear. It comforted him more to be angry at Elric than to know the truth.

Elric took a step closer. "Carvin is on Brensil 4. She has come to bring you and Isabelle home. But she cannot find you. I have searched for you since receiving your last message- almost three days now. You hid yourself well. It is time, now, to come out. Elizar and Razeel have gone."

Elric took another step forward, crouched down before Galen. "It is time to send Isabelle to the other side."

Galen met his gaze.

"And I have much to tell you."

Galen waited.

"And you have much to tell us. We must know what happened with Elizar and Razeel and the Shadows. Only you can tell us. Only then can we decide what is to be done."

Galen understood Elric's words, in a distant, intellectual sense. Elizar and Razeel's treachery must be exposed. The hand of the Shadows must be revealed. Wasn't that what he had sworn to do? Yet he could not find the will within himself to move. His eyes drifted to the hands folded in his lap. They were limp, as hers had been.

"I need you back."

The voice did not even sound like Elric's. It was soft, weak. Galen looked at him. Elric's lips hung open, uncertain, and the lines of disapproval between his eyebrows had vanished, leaving a horrible vulnerability. Suddenly Galen found the will to move. He had to erase that expression from Elric's face. That, above all.

He stood.

"Thank you," Elric said, and his voice, and the stone circle, faded into silent blackness.

Isabelle's hand was back
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