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brittle, forced.

Galen had wanted to keep Elric safe, had offered to abandon his task if Elric abandoned his own. If only they both had. If only they'd fled to the hiding place. Everything would not have changed. Elric had warned him. Someday, perhaps, you will not think of me so kindly. I hope, if that day comes, you will try to understand why I have done what I have done.

But Galen did not understand.

"I must speak with Elric privately," he said.

"Thank you for destroying the warehouse," G'Leel said. "I know you had more to think about than the good of the Narns. But maybe now the Centauri won't attack my people."

He hadn't done it for her, though, or for good. He had done it because he'd wanted to destroy, and the warehouse had been there.

Across the plateau, Alwyn climbed to his feet, dismissing some comment of Blaylock's with a sharp wave of his hand and yelling a retort in Blaylock's face. To Galen's surprise, G'Leel went toward them.

Then Elric stood before him. As much as Galen wanted to distance himself from Elric, to think of Elric as some horrible lying stranger, standing before him was the same man he had known all these years, his figure severe in the high-collared black robe that she had made for him. His thin lips were pressed together, grim. The three frown lines between his brows, though deeper than before, still indicated grave disappointment. Blaylock would have told him all Galen had done.

And yet somehow the expression was different, as if Elric were disappointed not with Galen, but with himself. Galen knew he would blame himself for the deaths of Carvin, Ing-Radi, and the others, even if he could have done nothing to prevent them. He had always taught Galen to take responsibility for his mistakes and failures, and on the rare
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