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again and again, trapped in a rapid, swelling reverberation that could easily become overwhelming. It was a state he preferred to avoid.

This time, as he associated with the ship, it had been his concern for Elric that had echoed between him and the chrysalis-thoughts of Elric weakening, of Elric dying, quickly escalating into panic. He had done a mind-focusing exercise to calm himself, and gradually the panic had lessened. He had maintained control of himself, and the tech. Yet still his fear persisted, holding him pinned to the present and the pounding of his heart.

Elric had been the one certainty in his life, the wall of strength beside him. Out there on the mak, he had thought Elric was burning to death. He'd thought Elric would die. And though Elric had survived, the fire had left its mark. He had aged before Galen's eyes, the frown lines between his eyebrows deepening, his chest curving inward, his body growing weak. Elric's standing stones had crumbled to dust, just as Elizar had foretold. Perhaps Elric himself had not yet crumbled, but the process had begun.

How rapid his deterioration might be, how many years might be cut from his life, they would learn only with time. But after Kell's resignation, the mages could not afford to lose Elric. And Galen could not stand to lose him.

In his mind's eye, Galen checked again on Elric's ship, seeing through his ship's sensors. They gave him the full view of the area surrounding his ship, as if its walls were transparent. A steady distance behind and to starboard, the sleek black triangle of Elric's ship cut through the billowing red turmoil of hyperspace. Its side radiated the three frequencies high in the ultraviolet in which mages hid signs. Correctly combined, the three signals revealed the rune Elric had
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