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the news spreading. He had always been a conduit of gossip. Secrecy seemed to be a part of the Code with which he was unacquainted. "Which way is our room?"

Fed nodded down the hall in the same direction as the crowd. "No way around them." Fed tilted his head. "Have you noticed, Galen? I can never get more than a sentence out of you."

"I haven't much to say."

"But I've never known someone more full of things to say." Fed's eyes were narrowed in humor, though they remained fixed on him, revealing a more serious intent. Perhaps Fed wanted more gossip to spread. Or perhaps Fed simply wanted to be his friend, to encourage him to unburden himself. Fed had always behaved as if they were good friends, though Galen felt they barely knew each other. He certainly didn't understand Fed. He didn't know how someone could become a mage with minimal discipline, no sense of mage history, and little respect for the Code. In any case, Galen had no desire to speak, about anything, to anyone.

"If I feel the urge to talk, I'll make sure to let you know."

He left Fed behind and walked toward the mages gathered in the passage. Perhaps fifty or a hundred of them blocked the way, crowding outside the closed door to Room 288, where the Circle now studied Kell's remains.

Galen composed a message to Elric. I have destroyed Elizar's ship. Do you have need of me?

Gowen stood in the center of a large group who seemed to be bombarding him with questions. They would want to know what he'd seen aboard Elizar's ship. Gowen's round cheeks were drawn up in dismay, his hands clenched together in white-knuckle prayer. He caught sight of Galen, fixed on him as if seeing a specter. Circe and Maskelyne, standing beside Gowen, stopped their questioning, and they too looked toward Galen. They
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