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you like to see some of my magic?" Razeel asked.

"I have to go now," Fa said, but she could not get free.

Razeel pulled Fa next to her, took Fa's hand, and turned it, pointing the ring into the mist. She wasn't touching the ring, so far as he could tell. She was too smart for that. "Gale would really like to see this. I want you to meet two of my friends."

There, just beyond Fa's bare feet, darkness began to coalesce out of the mist. Galen remembered the vague, dark shapes she had conjured at the convocation, screeching figures that had consumed themselves.

The object taking shape before Fa was neither vague nor amorphous. The darkness formed a supple, rippling surface, and it grew upward, forming a perfect cylinder. When it reached four feet tall, its growth stopped, and it began to draw inward in a line down its middle. The shimmering darkness split down the center, breaking into two cylinders.

"I have to go," Fa said, and the image from the ring shook as she fought with Razeel.

"I can call Bunny back if you want," Razeel said, and the movement stopped. "No one ever thought I was very good at magic either," Razeel continued. "But I know secrets they will never know." She moved the ring back and forth. "You see the beautiful, hungry blackness. It speaks to me. It has spoken to me since the day I received my chrysalis. It chants of vast machines towering dark in the vault of the universe. It whispers mysteries of chaos ascendant, transcendent, of a universe reborn in fire and blood. The shadow of death stretches out its hand. And upon its palm I sit. For I am the queen of shadows."

Elizar stepped into view beside the cylinders. "This is your own fault, Galen. If you had joined me, if you had shared your secret, none of this would be necessary. But you
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