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you passed that point."

"But my way is the only way to save us. We must learn the Shadows' secrets. You said so yourself."

"Perhaps, if that is the price, we are not worth saving."

"We are not worth one life?" Elizar spread his arms. "This is your own plan. I am your pawn. And now you reject it? You reject me?"

"I love you. But I fear that my plan has failed. I fear that you have become a pawn of the Shadows. I fear that they will never tell you enough. I fear that, even if they did, you would use that knowledge for your own good, and the good of the Shadows, rather than that of the mages. It is what you are doing right now. And I fear that, even if you took your knowledge back to the mages, they would never accept it, or you."

Elizar nodded to himself. "Of course they will. When they need my knowledge, they will take me back."

"You can never again be one of their number. You can never have a place in the Circle."

"When they are forced to fight the Shadows, they will be grateful for my help."

Kell's lined face tightened. "You fool yourself, perhaps, better than you fool me."

"When they are dying, they will have no choice. They will take me as their leader."

For a few moments, Kell's intense, dark eyes studied Elizar. Then at last he spoke. "They needn't fight."

"Of course they..." Elizar looked sharply at Kell, wiping a hand over his mouth. "Will they hide, then? Will they bury their heads in the sand and pray for mercy? I should have known it." He crouched again before Kell. "Where will they hide, then? Where are they now? Preparing? Tell me all."

Kell's expression seemed pained. "I tell you nothing, except that your quest has become pointless. They will leave, and you will never find them. They will never accept you or your knowledge.
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