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he was to have her back. He needed her.

She nodded, and her strong fingers threaded decisively through each other. "There's a ship leaving for the Brensil system in an hour."



* * *



"Sending them was a mistake. We might as well admit that to begin with." Herazade seemed finally to have grasped the gravity of the situation, Elric thought. After watching the latest recording sent by Galen, she even seemed willing to acknowledge at last that the Shadows had returned.

The evidence allowed no further room for doubt. The messages Isabelle had ingeniously intercepted and decoded came from a being whose orders the Drakh followed without question, a being who could make itself invisible, a being who could penetrate their shields and illusions. It had penetrated the illusions of Burell, and so she had been killed.

No techno-mage had been killed in their lifetimes. Even Ing-Radi, almost two hundred years old, could remember nothing like it. Burell's death had stunned them. You will join with us. All of you. Or you will die, the Shadow had said. Burell's death proved it could fulfill that threat.

She had sacrificed herself to save Galen and Isabelle. Elric had sent her to that death, and he would have to live with it. If he had not sent her, perhaps Galen and Isabelle would be dead. Or perhaps they would have escaped, and Burell would still live. He would never know.

Galen's last message, with the new recording attached, troubled Elric with what it did not say.

Burell is dead. We have her body. We will arrive in the Brensil system in two days. Perhaps someone could meet us.

Galen blamed himself, of course. That was how Elric had raised him. They were two of a kind. Yet when Galen was very upset, he succumbed to an odd quietness, a disconnection quite
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