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Elizar's angular, arrogant face filling with fear.

And then the next image. Galen's hands covered in blood, clutching the broken threads of Elizar's tech.

Ing-Radi had finished her eulogy, and the mages were filing out. They would go outside the facility to watch as Kell's body was consumed in magical fire.

Elric separated from the rest of the Circle and took Galen aside. His lined face was stern. "You must withdraw your request. The task is too dangerous. It was meant for one of the Circle, but there are not enough of us to do what we must. You lack the necessary experience."

"Where would you have me go?"

"Ahead to the hiding place. You can set up things there to your liking. You can create a new home for us. I will join you shortly."

Galen could not give up his opportunity, force himself back into the endless loop. He had chosen the right course. "I cannot."

Elric studied him. "It may be difficult, but you can."

"I must go with Blaylock."

"It would be wiser if you did not."

Galen shook his head. "I must. I'm sorry. I mean no disrespect." He met Elric's gaze. "I apologize for my earlier outburst. I was angry at myself, yet I struck at you. I deeply regret what I said. It was undeserved and untrue. I know you do what is best for all of us." The words seemed inadequate. Galen wished he could say something more, but he could think only to end his apology as the Soom did. "It is a mark against my own name."

At the reminder of home, the tension in Elric's face lessened, the frown lines between his brows dwindling from three to two. "I erase the mark." Elric had spoken in the language of the Soom, and he continued in it. "These are difficult times. Alwyn should not have spoken to you as he did."

Hearing the simple, orderly language comforted
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