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them into needless danger, could never present them with a gift that carried the seeds of destruction. The tech echoed his anger.

Galen put the thoughts from his mind, pushed forward with his exercise. 264.

Circe's lips stretched into a smile. "It is unusual for a student of one of the Circle not to have ambitions to the Circle himself."

It was well known that Circe desired such a position. But it was odd that she would ask if he wanted the same. Whether he did or not, he was far too young to be considered. "I have no such ambitions."

"Really. Of course I forget that Elric was not your true teacher. He merely took you in after your father died. Your line has never earned a place in the Circle. So I can understand why you might not feel fit for such a duty."

Galen refused to think of his parents. He had turned his back on those memories long ago. "Certainly I am not fit for it."

"Your humility is refreshing."

"It is not humility. It is the truth."

Circe bowed her head, and the shadow of her hat fell over her face. "Of course."

He took that as his opportunity to leave. "Excuse me," he said, and continued down the narrow corridor.

He reached the dining hall and passed inside, the great room at the center of the hiding place providing only slight relief from the oppressive closeness. At this early hour, the gray hall was unoccupied. The dark wooden tables and chairs stood in long, silent ranks. In this one place, some care had been taken to relieve the austerity of the rest of the compound. The runes of the Code glowed from the walls, interspersed with arcane diagrams and technologically based artworks, and on the far wall shimmered a hologram of Wierden, founder of the Circle and the Code, and master of control. She stood with arms extended, her
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