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still incomplete, I believe I may have found all the progressions that exist. With a single one-term spell at the base of each, that would make seven basic postulates, or basic powers."

Speaking of his progress was pointless. If he learned to conjure mist or wind, what good was it? Any improvement in his skills could bring no benefit to a galaxy outside his reach. Any research he did must be kept from the other mages, who lived in ignorance of the tech's true origin.

He tried to think of anything he might have forgotten. The more complete his statement, the less discussion would be required. "I shall keep looking, of course," he added. "But there is really nothing new to report."

Elric sat in silence. Though his expression had not changed, Galen got the impression that something was different about him today. His eyes remained fixed on Galen.

Galen did not know what Elric sought, and whatever it was, he did not want to give it. He didn't want any change to threaten the walls he had carefully constructed around himself. He only wanted the meeting to be routine, and brief, and to end, allowing him to continue with his life, such as it was.

If Elric followed his usual pattern, he would simply make a few comments, then dismiss Galen. Although Elric evaluated his progress, Elric no longer drove him to excel, not since they'd come here. Elric no longer seemed to have the energy for it, or the conviction. No wonder-Galen had proven himself unworthy.

At last Elric spoke. "We could have the same brief, impersonal conversation we do every month, as you propose." Elric's deep voice resonated through the empty room. With his skillfully modulated intonation, it was the one part of him that still carried its old power. "I could review the reports you have sent me, point
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