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send her a blank message. Carvin hesitated, allowing Elric time to stop her. He sent nothing. No mage had ever lost a wager. While Londo's die could not be switched, because they'd had no chance to prepare a replacement, a tiny flying platform could be used to push the octagon to the desired position, or an illusion cast to change the symbols.

Whether the Shadows could stop Carvin, Elric didn't know. But he didn't believe they would. He believed the Shadows wanted her to win, no matter what Morden had told Londo.

"The possibilities are a delight to imagine," Carvin said. "I agree."

"Will you choose the circle, then, or the cross?"

"The circle."

"And I will take the cross. Since you have chosen, I will roll, yes?"

As Carvin nodded, she sucked her lips inward, for the first time betraying any nervousness.

Londo shook the die. As his loose lock of hair trembled with anticipation, a triumphant smile broke out on his face. He dreamed, no doubt, of winning a blessing from the mages at the least. Perhaps more.

He rolled the octagon across the small table. Carvin lifted her drink, following its course. When done well, the use of the flying platform to assure victory was so subtle and quick that no one but another mage-or perhaps a Shadow-could detect it. Carvin did well. The die stopped with a circle on top.

The smile fell from Londo's face. "What? No! It's not possible!" He leaned closer. "Something has gone terribly wrong."

Now Carvin was smiling. "No, it hasn't. You've simply lost, Londo. That's what happens when you gamble with a techno-mage."

Londo continued to stare down at the die. At last he straightened. "What? You are a techno-mage?" he said with poorly feigned outrage. "I would never have gambled with you if I had known." He threw up his
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