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not. The Circle must not be broken.

Blaylock's voice regained its harsh certainty. "The mages will return home to gather their belongings and destroy the artifacts of their presence."

Ing-Radi's eyes were cast downward. She was thinking, no doubt, of her place of power. "Let none of the tech or our knowledge be left behind, so that it might be used for ill."

"We can leave tomorrow," Blaylock said, "as is normal, so that nothing will be suspected. We must then gather as quickly as possible in a secret place, where we can prepare for our migration in safety."

If Kell had stayed, Elric felt they would have come to a different conclusion. But Elric had failed to find the plan or the argument to convince them.

Their plans made, the Circle ended its meeting.

Elric brought his platform to the ground, dissolved it so that his boots sank once again into the soft, familiar mak. While the others huddled in conversation, Elric left the chamber. He accessed his place of power, pulled images from a number of probes. On the far side of the planet it was day. The wild tak had submerged themselves in the Lang River to escape the heat. The krit skittered over sun-baked rock. Across the continent, the desert city of Drel came to life as sunset approached, its colorfully dressed inhabitants filling the narrow streets and bazaars.

On this side of the planet it was night. The coastal city of Tain had grown quiet except for the neighborhood around the port, where sailors caroused and fought late into the night. The town of Lok had settled into a sense of stillness and expectation. Jab slept peacefully on Des' vast stomach. Some of the townspeople sat outside, waiting for the light show that had been promised at midnight, commemorating the final night of the convocation. The
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