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remains, hoping at last for the confirmation he needed. The tech echoed his anxiety.

Apparently Elric followed Alwyn into a room where they could speak privately, for Alwyn continued. "We barely had a chance to talk after the Circle made its decision at the convocation. I know we disagree about-almost everything. But I respect you, and I believe I know you. And I believe you must agree that the right thing for us to do is stay and fight the Shadows."

"I will save you the effort of convincing me, though I know you would enjoy the debate. I voted to stay and fight. The others disagreed."

"There's hope for you yet." Alwyn sounded surprised. "Must be my influence. All the better, then. You must convince just one of them to change votes. Then the Circle will be deadlocked, and they'll be forced to consider other alternatives."

"I cannot. But even if I could, I would not."

"We have a responsibility. You to Soom, and I to Regula 4 and its people. I know you don't want to leave your place undefended."

"Yet I have done so, for duty."

"Duty. Do you have a duty to be a fool, if the Circle orders foolishness?" The black folds of Alwyn's cape billowed. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I know you've not made this decision lightly. But we have a responsibility that extends beyond our places of power, all of us to all the rest out there. We have power they do not. If we fail to use it for good, then what justification can we possibly claim for having it?"

"I made this argument to the Circle before. It did not sway them."

"How can they be such colossal hypocrites?" Alwyn's voice rose, and Galen could imagine his jaw growing tight, as it did when he became impassioned. "We have access to the tech, and to the power it carries. We keep it to ourselves, claiming we don't want
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