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the Shadows with two mages who could reveal much about their order and their ways.

As much as Kell's actions angered Elric, a future without Kell frightened him much more. Without their leader, Elric didn't know if the mages could remain intact. Kell had held them all together. Now they faced the threat of the Shadows without that unifying force, and with a weakened Circle. If the authority of the Circle and the Code was lost, they would fall to chaos.

Elric tried to focus on the Circle's debate, but Galen's face haunted him. Since Galen had arrived that afternoon with Isabelle's body, he had seemed stunned, his huge eyes unblinking, as if struggling to absorb something that could not be absorbed.

He had shown great skill in fighting Elizar and the Shadows, and most important, he had maintained control. He had not succumbed to the impulse for destruction he had surely felt. He had borne his burden well. Any wounds he had suffered seemed to have healed, though the back of his shirt was peppered with small holes and dark splotches of dried blood. Yet his mind was far from healed. He had retreated to some distant hiding place, as he had when his parents were killed, but that distance was threatening to collapse. As Galen had spoken before the Circle, Elric had seen him struggling to remain detached. The raw vulnerability on his face was almost too much to bear.

Galen had taken years to recover from his parents' deaths-if he had ever truly recovered. Elric didn't know how long this wound would take to heal. Galen had come to love her; that Elric had known from the moment he'd seen Galen in the last electron incantation.

Now, with the Shadows, there would be more trauma, and likely more death. Elric feared how Galen would cope.

"We must elect a new member to
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