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"In any event, we must leave this place immediately. We have decided upon a new site at which we can prepare for our exodus. The majority of you will proceed there at once, where you will finish the arrangements. As part of our heightened security measures, you will not be told where this new gathering place is. In addition, from this point forward, no communications will be sent off-planet by any but the Circle. We cannot allow our gathering place again to be discovered by the Shadows.

"Three groups will not proceed to this new gathering place. They will split off to perform critical tasks. Herazade will lead the first group directly to the hiding place, to prepare it and secure its safety. Elric and Ing-Radi will lead the second group in an attempt to misdirect, to convince the Shadows that we are actually gathering in another location. The third group will acquire intelligence about the Shadows' activities, since we have lost access to our probes on the rim. We must know all that can be known about their plans for us. To minimize the danger of discovery, only two will be sent, to get as close as they can to the Shadows' ancient home, to learn what they know of us, and to discover their strategy. Circe will accompany me on this task."

Something stirred inside Galen, and he found himself stepping forward. "I must go with you."

Elric turned on him, the three frown lines of grave disappointment between his brows. "Silence! It has been decided."

Energy surged through him. This was the escape he had sought from the endless loop of his racing thoughts, the escape he had believed did not exist. They had to let him go.

He forced himself to speak in a measured voice. "I mean no disrespect to the Circle. But I am the only one who has faced the Shadows and
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