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would expect it was the crystal. But when he opened his fingers, he would find something else.

Through the probe on John, Elric saw him lift the flower from his palm, turn it back and forth between his fingers.

"An orange blossom," John whispered to himself.

Elric hoped that he had made an ally. John was a good man living in dark times, and he would soon face some difficult decisions. Elric hoped, for the mages' sake, that he chose well.

Elric moved quickly toward Down Below, anxious to see Ing-Radi. He left the Zocalo behind, climbed down some steep access stairs, and entered the seldom-used passages that led to the restricted levels. They were poorly lit and narrower than the corridors above. He pressed the heel of his hand to his temple, trying to lessen the pain. He turned a corner, and there, a few feet down the passage, stood Morden.

He had known the meeting would come soon, but in the moment he had forgotten. It was unlike him. He lowered his hand from his head.

Morden looked much as he had at the mages' convocation, where they had first met. He was a compact man in a well-tailored suit, his dark hair styled cleanly back. His hands were folded in front of him, and he smiled with a slight inclination of his head, revealing a row of perfect white teeth. "Elric."

On a silver chain about his neck, Morden wore the same round black volcanic glass he had worn before. It was an Anfran love stone, Elric had learned, acquired on one of Morden's archaeological digs and given to his wife as a wedding present. On the back, the side worn against the chest, was engraved the name of the Anfran star god, who regulated matters of love. The stone was believed to carry the good wishes of loved ones. It was the key to Morden. Unfortunately, Elric did not yet understand
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