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you have need," Elric said, "contact me at once. I will send assistance."

Galen nodded.

"And beware of Blaylock. If you stray from the task, he will not hesitate to stop you." Elric seemed to rouse himself. "We should join the others." He laid a hand on Galen's shoulder. "Come."

The room had emptied, and they left it, catching up with the last of the mages in the passage. They were going outside through a nearby air lock. Elric and Galen joined the others, and as the air lock closed them inside, Elric conjured a containment shield around them both, holding within it heat and a breathable atmosphere.

Outside, they moved quietly across the vast field of ice, their shadows long before them. The shield echoed the sounds of their own breathing, the movement of their robes. Galen's raw skin prickled in the confining warmth. The voices of the other mages were faint, distorted.

At the base of the great mountains, upon a stone boulder, lay Kell's body. There was no sign of the wounds he had sustained. An illusion made him appear intact. Galen remembered him as he had been on Elizar's ship, his arms split open, skull hollowed out.

It was the end of an age for the mages, the end of the line of Wierden. Perhaps the beginning of the end for them all, if Elric's fears came to pass.

The mages encircled Kell's body, their skin tinged blue by their shields. Many looked older, weaker. Some, who lacked the skill of shields, wore breathers. A few joined two within a shield, particularly those with young apprentices who hadn't yet reached chrysalis stage. Galen wondered if those young ones had a future.

Galen looked to Elric. His face was impassive, composed. He would remain strong. He always did.

Wisps of blue fire caressed Kell's body, running up the length of it
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