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of all," Kell said, "and I believed secrecy was best. Elizar is not the only mage whose allegiance the Shadows have tried to secure."

Kell was right, Galen thought. Elric had said Morden approached many at the convocation. If any of them turned to the Shadows, they too would be hunted down, destroyed.

"Perhaps it was arrogance," Kell said. "I believed that Elizar and I could save the mages."

"It is arrogance indeed," Blaylock said, "to doubt the allegiance of the Circle and trust in your student who consorts with Shadows."

Elric stepped forward, and Galen noticed an odd hesitance in the action. His voice, though, was at its most powerful and frightening. "You played a chess game with the lives of those who put their trust in us. You sent two fresh out of the chrysalis into danger to protect your secret. You sent them to face the Shadows when there was no need. And as we stood here and voted to send them, you withheld information so that your plan would prevail." Elric's lips formed a grim line. "That was the moment when you had to tell us. You had to stop it."

Kell bowed his head, his shoulders hunched. "You speak wisely. Yet I never-never imagined..." He straightened, and his gaze took in each of them in turn. As his dark eyes met Galen's, Galen realized that something was about to be lost, something fundamental to the mages, and something that could never be recovered. "At this most desperate time, I have made matters even worse. Two mages are dead, and two others have joined with the Shadows. I have brought tragedy upon us, and how much more will follow, I cannot say. I am no longer one of the Circle. I do not deserve to be." With that, Kell strode from the chamber.

Elric started after him, and Blaylock seized his arm. "He spoke the truth," Blaylock
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