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stiff, golden wings spread wide, as if in the middle of conjuring some incredible magic.

A familiar burned smell lingered in the air. As Galen crossed to the kitchen on the far side, he found new scorch marks on the walls, large fans of blackness forming a rough line between the rune for solidarity and the portrait of Wierden. The tech stirred inside him, its energy carrying the hint of chill, like a mild fever. Galen looked away and crossed his arms over his chest, uneasy. Fights between the mages were becoming a daily occurrence.

2,059. 4,108.

When they'd first entered the hiding place, they'd behaved as if they were holding an extended convocation, organizing group activities and lectures, trying to sustain the feeling of fellowship that got most of them through those thirty-five days every three years. Yet after the first few months, they were no longer able to fool themselves. They were trapped in this self-made prison, unable to establish their own places of power, to pursue their own desires. Group activities declined, resentments grew, fights shattered their fragile peace.

At the same time, the older mages who had destroyed their places were weakening, dying. During their first year in hiding, the mages had seen at least one each week to the other side. Now it was one every two or three weeks. A sense of doom and desperation had settled over them. With the moderating influence of those more experienced steadily waning, their behavior became more erratic, more undisciplined.

After nearly two years in hiding, the close quarters would probably have driven even non-mages into conflict. But for them, the situation was much more difficult. Mages did not get along well with other mages, and for good reason: They were agents of chaos and destruction. They
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