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Mollari," Vir said. "After a while, nothing bothers you."

Elric dissolved his image in a flash of fire and spoke now with his own voice. "What does your master want from me?"

Vir jumped at the sound of Elric beside him. Yet he quickly recovered. There was more to this fool than his foolishness. "My employer requests an audience."

"I'm sorry," Elric said, his tone modulated to convey he was not sorry at all. "Neither I nor my brothers do private audiences. We have nothing more to say to anyone on this side of the galactic rim." If their purpose in gathering here had been unclear to any, it would remain so no longer.

Vir smiled and rubbed his thumb against index and middle fingers. "Aha. But he's willing to pay." Londo's mind-set had contaminated his servant.

"Money is also irrelevant. Where we are going, it will do us no good."

"Let me put this another way. If I go back without a yes, the personal consequences will be profoundly unfortunate."

"And if you try to force us to walk where we do not choose to walk, the consequences will even be more unfortunate." Elric turned away and started down the corridor.

"Excuse me. Could I at least get a name," Vir said.

Elric stopped and faced him. "Elric." He paused for effect. "There is an old saying. Do not try the patience of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger. Do not come again, Vir Cotto." He walked away, satisfied with the encounter. Vir would deliver their message, and Londo would refuse to accept the rebuff. His ambitions would not be so easily denied.

As Fed and Beel manipulated Vir back through Down Below, Elric retreated to his private room, little more than a utility closet with a sleeping pallet. His duties were not ended, yet the throbbing in his head was growing stronger, and he
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