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perhaps now the mages had given him another. Though they had been asked to give up their lives, none had betrayed their plan; none had broken away to save himself. They had upheld solidarity, and in their unity they had, in their own small way, defeated the forces of chaos.

For the way the mages had performed, Elric felt proud. They had shown great courage and conviction, and though none here knew it, their deeds had proven that they were much more than their creators had ever intended them to be. A thousand years ago, Wierden had helped them dream a dream of what they might be, and they had fulfilled that dream.

Perhaps it was not their destiny to fight the Shadows. But they could at least remain true to themselves, to who they were as techno-mages.

And so it fell to him, Herazade, and perhaps Blaylock, to see the survivors safely into hiding. He would watch over them, for as long as he could, as they wrote the closing chapter in the history of their order. Perhaps it still could contain good, and beauty, and wonder, though it would be their last.

They had lost much over the last months, and he had lost much. The emptiness of that loss still pushed him toward despair. Yet it would not overwhelm him, so long as he had the one thing that meant most to him.

And that was his final dream: that he would land at the gathering place, and emerge from his ship, and he would see Galen, and Galen would be all right.



Chapter 17



The cold wind whipped through Galen's coat and raked over his hands, still raw after four days. He stood on the high plateau of the gathering place, watching the mage ships drop out of the grey sky. Elric and Ing-Radi's group was finally arriving, only hours before all the mages were scheduled to leave for the hiding place.

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