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which held his staff and breather, and picked up the valise. Meanwhile, with his left, he reached into his robe pocket, where he had a packet of probes, and dipped his index finger into the dust-sized grains.

"But-" Carvin said.

As Galen straightened, he saw on her face what she was about to say, and he didn't want to hear it. He spoke over her.

"What about Elizar?" she said.

"I must find my room," Galen said. "It was a long journey, and I must rest."

"Yes, of course," Alwyn said, putting an arm across Galen's shoulders.

Galen brushed his index finger against Alwyn's cape, depositing several probes there.

"Get some rest," Alwyn said.

Galen put his head down and worked his way through the crowd. Others called to him-Muirne, Beel, Elektra, Tzakizak. They had shown him only minor interest in the past, but now they sought to find out what he'd seen on Elizar's ship. But it was more than that, Galen thought, as he nodded and moved on. They had left him alone after his return to the convocation, its final night a shock to them all. But they would leave him alone no longer. Somehow, now, they felt the need to speak to him, to extract from him the details of his ordeal, to include him in their deliberations. Though he tried not to meet their faces, some flashed past him, with smiles of forced cheer, or grim expressions of sympathy. Hands touched his back, his arms. He thought he heard the word, whispered, "Condolences." He pushed ahead, as if he did not hear, did not feel. He could not stop again.

He should not have put the probes on Alwyn. It was improper for one mage to secretly use his powers on another. And Alwyn would eventually discover the probes. But hopefully not until after Alwyn and Elric spoke.

The decision that he had made a month ago,
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