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Circle."

"You could lead a group of us against the Shadows. Let the others flee."

"I will not break from the Circle. Without the authority of the Circle and the Code, we would fracture not into two factions, but into many. We would quickly descend into chaos, and the Shadows would have won. We must remain united."

Elric was right, of course. Solidarity, above all. It was the same answer he himself had given to Alwyn earlier. Yet Elric's assertion brought him no peace. Elric had paid too great a price. And Galen raced with the restless urge for revenge.

"How much are you willing to sacrifice to that end?"

"I have already given nearly everything I have."

"What about Galen?" Alwyn said. "He's trying like hell to remain loyal to you and your exalted Circle, and it's killing him."

Galen rocked back and forth, uncomfortable with the mention of his name.

"He has spoken to you?" Elric said.

"Of course not. He's barely speaking at all. I was shocked to see that he's in no better shape than he was a month ago. The poor boy's been sleepwalking through life like some kind of zombie since Isabelle was killed. Another bright idea of the Circle-sending two inexperienced initiates into danger."

"To answer your question, no, I will not give up Galen. I have given him over to the Circle once, and I will not do so again. He is the one thing I am not willing to sacrifice. He is another reason I must go to the hiding place."

"But he needs to fight. He needs justice for Isabelle."

Galen closed his eyes, though it did not matter. His fingers dug into the mattress.

"No. He is in shock. I believe he has had thoughts of suicide, as well as thoughts of mass destruction. He needs stability, not war. That is his path to recovery."

"Stability, in a confined place
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