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where he is?"

"I'm not certain. But I'm not willing to take that chance."

"You could be playing right into his hands."

"That is why any action must be taken in secret."

Alwyn hesitated. "Have you heard anything from Blaylock or Galen?"

"No." Alwyn was wondering whether they had already been killed. But the lack of communication meant nothing. Blaylock would send a message only if an urgent threat to all the mages had been discovered. And Galen was prohibited from sending any communication. Elric refused to consider the possibility.

Alwyn tilted his head. "By sending anyone after Galen, you would be violating the directives of the Circle. Most unlike you, Elric."

"And this offends your sensibilities?"

"Delights them, actually."

"That is why I've come to you. I told you I would not lose him."

"But aren't Carvin and I needed here? With Ing-Radi failing and... others not in the best of health..."

Alwyn meant him, of course. "I need Carvin. I cannot do without her. But you could meet her at the gathering place, then go off with her wherever you choose. I guarantee that the Circle will not interfere."

A slight smile lifted Alwyn's lips. "But if I'm to meet her at the gathering place, you would have to tell me where that is, violating another directive of the Circle."

"So I would," Elric said.

Alwyn looked upward, shaking his head. "How I've waited for this day." As he met Elric's gaze, his face grew serious. "I don't want anything to happen to Galen. You know I love the boy. But I hate to leave Carvin. I realize you need her-for Londo... But I'd feel better if I could bring her with me."

Elric knew the seven words to say to make his old friend agree, and he hated himself for saying them. "Going to the rim will be dangerous."

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