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would know that he had been with Elric, that he had seen Kell's body.

Elric's response arrived. No. I am occupied with the Circle. You did well in getting us here. You should rest.

A few feet away, Alwyn followed the gaze of the others to Galen. His tight jaw relinquished a smile. Alwyn looked the same as he had last month, at the convocation. He wore his favorite loud, multicolored robe, a long black cape over it. His receding silvery hair, the bags beneath his eyes, his generous girth-all suggested a softness that Alwyn often displayed, yet one that could vanish instantly when his anger was aroused. Galen didn't see any new weakness in Alwyn, though he too must have destroyed his place of power.

Carvin seemed to sense that something had changed. She raised her face, wet with tears. "Galen!" she cried. She ran to him, seizing him with a rustle of her Centauri silks, and enveloped him in her sobs.

Galen's body went rigid. As always, close contact made him uncomfortable. He did not like to be touched. And he did not want to be the dumping ground for her pain. Let her keep it to herself. He did not want to feel it. He refused to feel it.

Her whisper ran down the side of his face. "It is one death after another."

The words ripped the memory from him, the image of Carvin's face wet with tears, watching as magical fire consumed Isabelle's lifeless body. She had cried for Isabelle, cried when Galen could not.

Alwyn came to stand beside her, and he rubbed her back in a circular motion. Carvin had never withheld her emotions. During Alwyn's visits to Soom, Galen and Carvin had often studied together. To Galen, she had always seemed strangely fearless-passionate, outgoing, open. She did not hide from life, but lived it. It was an existence foreign to him.

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