landscape. Faint moonlight reflected off the ice. As they stepped out, Galen heard the whisper of mage ships in the blackness overhead. He accessed his sensors, scanned the infrared for a hint of them. The ships were well shielded; only the slightest traces of their exhausts appeared as faint red fans against the night sky. A formation of fifty or so shot overhead. Elric and Ing-Radi would be leading them. Where they were going, Galen did not know. All was secrecy now.
Another group of ghostly red fans headed off to the south, this one smaller, perhaps thirty ships. Led by Herazade, they would go ahead to secure the hiding place. The red faded, vanished.
Finally, as he and Blaylock rounded the comer of the facility, he saw the main body of mage ships rising up from the ice field like a great flock of birds. With only a whisper they disappeared into the sky.
Blaylock climbed into his ship. Follow me, his message read. Remain close.
Galen headed toward his own ship. The mages had been driven from their homes, and now were driven from this place. They were pursued, in decline. Elric believed they would not survive.
The cold wind burned into his skin. On the vast landscape he was alone, the mountains towering dark above him. The universe was a cold, empty place, empty with loss, empty of all the things that had once been there, and were no more. For a moment Galen thought it did not matter if he went to the rim, or if he returned within, or if he walked across the icy plain until his oxygen ran out. With the debate between fighting and fleeing, he had forgotten that simple truth. There was no justice in the universe, no order, no God. Killing Elizar would not bring Isabelle back. When she had died, the universe had not cared; the universe had continued. And now,