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while withholding this secret. But I had already instructed you for two years. I had come to... believe that you would be an exceptional mage."

Elric took a breath, straightened. "As my first act within the Circle, I argued that the source of the tech should be revealed. They refused. They believed the arrangement had worked successfully for a thousand years, and it might work for a thousand more. I submitted the proposal repeatedly, but was always defeated. In time I grew used to the secret. None of us ever thought the Shadows would return in our lifetimes.

"Now that the Shadows have returned, our time must be at an end. If the wisdom or folly of our existence is ever judged, it will be judged by the way we die. We must hold to the Circle and the Code, those elements that have allowed us to resist the purpose of the Shadows. We must not allow chaos to divide us."

Elric hesitated, as if expecting Galen to respond. An awkward silence fell between them. Galen willed himself to reveal nothing.

"I know it is difficult," Elric said. "I know that you would like to strike against the Shadows, and against Elizar and Razeel if they still live, but you must come with us to the hiding place. We must remain united."

So that was their concern. They wanted him with them. They wanted their weapon.

Again Elric hesitated. "We are not the dream of beauty and magic we have pretended to be. But still. We have accomplished much of value." Elric's voice had lost its resonance. He cleared his throat. "Please speak, Galen."

It felt as if the blockage in Elric's throat had suddenly transferred itself to Galen's. His anger caught there, and he found at last he must speak. "You told me that you would never lie to me," he said, and then the words were rushing out of him in a torrent.
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