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last she released him, and he let out a breath, trying to relax his muscles.

Carvin wiped at her eyes. Her spell language was the language of her body. When she performed an elaborate conjury, she directed her power with strong, graceful movements. Galen remembered the perfect illusion she had created in the training hall on Soom with Alwyn's boots, the intricate patterns traced by her body. Now her shoulders were curled inward, her back hunched.

Alwyn embraced him. "It's good to see you well."

"And you," Galen said, wondering how he would ever get through the entire group of mages. But he could not pass without talking to Alwyn and Carvin. He set his valise down, rested the end of his staff against the floor.

"Was it Elizar?" Carvin asked.

Galen's throat was tight. He nodded.

"We have to stop him," she said.

Anger stirred inside Galen. Didn't she understand how hard it had been to put to rest? "That is up to the Circle," he said.

"You don't know all that's happened," Alwyn said. "Djadjamonkh and Regana are missing. They should have arrived here last week. And as Carvin and I traveled here from Regula 4, we were attacked by an unmarked ship of great power. We barely escaped from it. The Shadows are determined to stop us."

Galen didn't need Alwyn to tell him of the Shadows. It was their hand behind all that had happened, their hand that had brought so much pain. They sought to consume the galaxy in chaos. But he would not be consumed.

Circe inserted herself into their conversation. "Djadjamonkh and Regana may have fallen ill after destroying their places of power. Or perhaps they joined with the Shadows." Her voice now sounded almost like an outsider's, weak, lacking resonance. And beneath the shadow of her tall, pointed hat, her face showed
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