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grief over Fa, and Soom.

Once those were gone, the issue had become very simple. He must make a decision.

Elizar was a skilled mage. If Fa had remembered all that Galen had shown her, Elizar would be able to translate the spell of destruction. It would take him, at most, a few days. Then he would want to show Galen what he had learned. Galen could either spend the rest of his life here, in safety, watching as Elizar killed, or he could engineer his departure from this place.

He could think of only one way to accomplish it, one he dared not face. Not yet. So he continued to walk.

Ahead, Emond and Chiatto exchanged quiet, forceful words.

They were a few years older than Galen. In his general avoidance of everyone, he hadn't seen them in months. The two mages had been good friends when they'd entered the hiding place. Now they faced each other in the narrow corridor, Emond's thick brows knitted in anger, Chiatto's Centauri crest trembling, his left hand poised to cast a spell, like a snake about to strike.

Within Galen, the tech quickened.

"I told you to stay away from me," Emond said.

Chiatto gave a harsh laugh. "What makes you think you can tell me anything?"

Emond's head snapped around, his anger coming to bear on Galen. After a moment, the anger faded with recognition. "Galen."

Galen took a deep breath, released it. He told himself they meant him no harm. He nodded, continued his exercises.

Chiatto regarded him with wariness.

Emond moved out of the way, and Galen passed them without stopping. He would not interfere in their fight. He could not risk losing control. They waited only a few seconds before resuming their argument.

"I'm going to go wherever I want," Chiatto said.

Galen blocked their voices from his mind. He must be calm,
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