brilliant lime-green moss thrived, covering the rocky plain like a carpet. Within the mist stood Elric's circle of seven great moss-covered standing stones, and below it, a chamber carved out of rock, his place of power.
He lingered there, caught between necessity and dread. He had to act. Yet the planet and its inhabitants needed him. He did not want to desert them. And as much as they needed him, he needed them. They endowed his life and his conjuries with meaning and direction. They gave him a center, a place that nourished his spirit and called him to a purpose greater than his own interests. They enriched him.
Before Galen had come, Soom and its inhabitants had been his primary companions. Even now, they reminded him of what was truly important, of the struggles for life that went on every day, in every place; of the temptations to do ill, great and small; and of the need to do good where one was able.
Over thirty years ago, within this chamber of stone, he had connected a large portion of his chrysalis to a variety of devices he had built, creating a place that amplified and channeled his power, that made Soom as much a part of him as his heart. He did not want to cut out that heart. And yet he must.
He must support the decision of the Circle, though he had voted against it. He must leave with the rest of the techno-mages and go into hiding. Any mage tech that was left behind would simply become an attraction for opportunists who would use it for ill; entities like the EarthForce New Technologies Division were aggressively seeking more sophisticated technologies to exploit. Nothing could be left for them to study.
And an even greater danger existed. If he left his place intact, it could become a target for either the Shadows or the Vorlons, who might