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Circle to be made public. He scanned it quickly, read her brief, passionless description of the destruction of Soom, and approved it for circulation.

His head felt light and hot, and his muscles quivered with weakness. More than anything, he wanted to go after Galen. But Galen was lost to him. Soom was lost. The mages soon would be; they had begun their long twilight.

When they had first come to this place, Elric had felt hope, in the mages' solidarity in the face of the Shadows, in John Sheridan's potential to fight them, in Galen's return from the rim. It had been a false hope. The Shadows destroyed anything of worth outside, while within, the mages decayed and Galen spiraled toward self-destruction.

The tumor of despair had at last completed its job, Elric realized. He now saw the truth. All was hopeless.

Chapter 5

Galen circulated through the narrow gray corridors of the hiding place. Though it was late, he could not sleep.

One mind-focusing exercise had been insufficient to keep his thoughts to a safe path, so he maintained two simultaneously, wrapping them tight about him, withdrawing down the tunnel their walls created.

With each step his pants whispered against the raw skin of his legs; his boots cut into his shins; his prickly sweater, pressed down by the weight of his coat, ground into his shoulders. Normally, a few circuits around the hiding place would be sufficient to settle his thoughts for the night. The regularity of his footsteps, the rhythm of his mind-focusing exercises, the discipline of pain usually calmed him. But tonight he had lost count of his trips through the corridors.

Several rounds had been necessary to rid him of his frustration at the Circle, more to block out his anger at Elizar and Razeel, more to bury his
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