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said. "Let him go."

Elric turned on Blaylock, eyes narrowed, three lines of tension between his brows. "Release me."

Blaylock let go and inclined his head. "My apologies."

Elric looked after Kell, but did not follow.

Despite all Kell had done, Galen couldn't believe he had resigned from the Circle. He had led them for nearly fifty years, all of Galen's life and nearly all of Elric's. Without him, and without Elizar and Razeel, they had lost the line of Wierden.

"We must-" Herazade looked stunned. "We must decide on a course of action."

"There is only one option," Blaylock said. "We must flee."

Elric turned from the stone archway that marked the exit. "We have not yet heard all of Galen's account. It is the best information we have. Should we not hear it before deciding our future?"

The meeting resumed, but now there was an empty space in the semicircle of seats, an emptiness at the center. Staring into that emptiness, Galen returned to that day, to that place, to that spike, to the fragile body spasming beneath his. He strove for the calm with which he had begun. In the absence of that, he imagined driving the spike down Elizar's own throat.

Yet even that did not protect him from the pain. He had to separate himself from his words, from his body. He had to go elsewhere, to that place deep inside where he hid from himself.

He told them of the escape from the tavern, the explosion of the ship, Morden's offer, Isabelle's death. When he spoke of her death, it seemed as if surely the tents must collapse, the rocky cliffside crumble. Yet all continued as before, except that she was gone. And so he was supposed to continue.

They dismissed him, and he wandered from the tents into the night, watching absently as a mage ship rose off of the mak. Using
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