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unmoving outside the chamber where the Circle met, waiting until they called for him. His mind was as blank as the white tent that surrounded him.

At last he was summoned, and he entered the great stone amphitheater to face those mages he had considered the best of them: Herazade, Blaylock, Kell, Ing-Radi, Elric. Yet his awe was tempered now by a shadow of doubt. Elizar had made many accusations against Kell and the Circle. Galen knew in his heart that they must be false, yet something within him clung stubbornly to those accusations. All technomages knew the best deceptions were those intertwined with truth. Would Elizar have created the entire story from falsehoods?

Kell gazed down on him from above, his intense, dark eyes studying Galen. Galen remembered Kell's wisdom in the challenge imposed on him, remembered Kell's generosity in allowing him to become a mage, even after his transgression. During his leadership, Kell had turned the mages from a group who spoke the words of the Code into a group who actually believed and followed them. Galen could not believe Kell would hide his knowledge of the Shadows while he sent Galen and Isabelle to search for them. Galen could not believe that he would lead the mages astray.

Kell used his carved ivory staff to push himself to his feet. He seemed fatigued, yet still he carried his large frame with the bearing of a great leader. The short white fur cape over his robe added to his stature.

"We are sorry, Galen," Kell said, "for the trials you have suffered in the performance of our task. We did not know the full danger of the situation, else we would not have sent you into it." He paused, running an index finger over his goatee, and Galen got the strange impression that Kell was afraid.

Then Kell continued, and the
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