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from the other side of the door. "I think we shocked him," Optima said.

Galen started down the narrow beige hall. Listening to Alwyn and Elric's conversation had not helped. He felt more unsettled than before, thoughts racing, energy churning, memories bleeding through. He crossed his arms over his chest, holding tightly to control. What was he going to do? Defy the Circle, defy Elric, abandon him in his time of need? Go to the home of the Shadows, find Elizar, and kill him?

That was what he wanted to do, but to do it, he would have to forswear the Circle and the Code. He would be no different from Elizar.

He had to see Elric. He had to know the secret of which Alwyn had spoken, the secret that might convince the mages to stay and fight.

Just as Galen reached the main passage, Herazade and Blaylock rushed by. Gowen followed a few feet behind.

"Gowen," Galen called.

Gowen continued down the hall. "I can't talk."

"What is it?"

"Another meeting of the Circle."

Galen went after him, fell into step beside him. "Will they change plans because of Kell?"

"That is what they must decide."

Galen had to talk to Elric before the meeting, before the Circle made any decision. He glanced back and found others following, anxious to learn whether their plans would be altered. He didn't see Elric. But if he followed Herazade and Blaylock, they would lead him to the rest of the Circle.

He tightened his arms across his chest, desperate to hold everything inside. Searching for something to quiet his mind, he fixed on Gowen.

Since the initiation, Gowen had apparently been scouring the hair not only from his scalp, cheeks, and chin, but from his entire body, as most of Blaylock's followers did, in imitation of their leader. Without eyebrows, Gowen's round
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