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and as the doors closed, Galen caught a glimpse of a plain dais at the far end of the large, empty room. Elric was not inside.

"That's where they had their religious services," Gowen said.

Galen looked back down the passage for Elric. The area was filling with mages.

"I never got a chance to talk to you after you returned to the convocation," Gowen said.

Galen searched desperately for Elric, for a way out of the conversation.

"I'm sorry for your loss," Gowen said.

What did Gowen know of it? How did he know Galen had suffered a loss? Galen had been sent on a task with another mage. The other mage had died. How did Gowen know what he felt about that death? He had said nothing, to anyone. He had told no one that he loved her, not even her. Did they all speak of him as Alwyn had? Did they note his silence? Did they call him a zombie? Didn't they have enough to concern themselves with?

"I'm sure you did all you could," Gowen said.

But he had not. That was the whole point, wasn't it? He had not used his spell of destruction to stop Elizar. And when she lay-dying-he had not accepted Morden's offer to save her.

I wonder, Morden had said, whether you'll be able to live with that decision.

Galen saw Elric coming down the far end of the passage. "Excuse me," he said.

Again he tightened his arms across his chest, cold, though he still wore his coat. Inside, the memories were rising up, one by one, from where he had buried them. They slipped silently into his system, circulating through him like a fever. He could not face them again, not without losing all control.

He could not go on this way. He could not spend years in hiding like this. He could not hold it inside forever.

He had to find a way to end it.



Chapter 5



After his conversation
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