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at it with his black coat until it was barely visible.

"Galen!"

He must accomplish one more task, stop his mistake from causing any further harm. Then it would be over, at last.

"Galen!"

"Just a-" His voice was hoarse, barely audible. He cleared his throat. "A moment."

Gowen stopped knocking.

Galen grabbed on to the chair with red, raw hands, worked his way to standing. Dark spots danced before his eyes. He steadied himself, took a few calming breaths. Although he'd had the presence of mind not to scour his head, any moderately close inspection would reveal what he had done.

He found he had received a message-the Circle, calling for his report. He was late. Gowen had come after him.

He thought of opening the door, of dismissing Blaylock's former student with a few quick words. But he couldn't face Gowen, couldn't face anyone yet. He called out. "I must finish an observation. Tell the Circle I will be with them shortly."

For a moment there was no reply. Then Gowen said, "I'll tell them," and Galen heard him walk away.

He had to collect himself. He had to convince the Circle of his plan.

And he had to tell Elric that the home he loved, the home that had once been a part of him, had been destroyed.



* * *



"I have sent Gowen to fetch him," Blaylock said.

Elric nodded, anxious that Galen had not reported to the Circle at the scheduled time. It was unlike him. Perhaps, in their meeting this morning, Elric had pushed him too far.

"Let us move on to the consideration of elections," Blaylock said. "Elric, you wanted to speak in favor."

"Yes." He straightened, trying to ignore the incessant throbbing that echoed through him. Its source was the cavity of darkness in his skull, an emptiness where once had resided the connection
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