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around him. "I was wondering the same about you."

Fed laughed. "When it comes to women, I dedicate myself to knowing all that can be known." He took a drink. "So have you come to any conclusions tonight?"

"A few."

Fed put a hand to his forehead and closed his eyes. "Purple. Seventy-two. Only on odd Wednesdays when I'm wearing the underwear with the red hearts."

"Uncanny, as usual." Galen hesitated. He should return to his room, do what he needed to do. For once, he wished he had someone to confide in. He wished, more than anything, that he could talk to Elric. But he could not tell Elric, or anyone, what he was considering.

"I was sorry to hear about Soom."

Galen nodded.

"You want to sit down and have a drink?"

"No, thank you." Still, Galen hesitated.

"You shouldn't blame yourself," Fed said, and Galen wondered how much Herazade had told her former apprentice. "Bad things happen all the time, and you can't be responsible for all of them."

"You'd be surprised," Galen said, then regretted his words.

With the whisper of his black robe, Gowen came down the hall, his hands clasped before him. He kept himself scoured of all hair, which emphasized the roundness of his face. His cheeks were drawn up in dismay.

"Hey, Gowen," Fed said.

Gowen stopped before them with an uncertain glance at Galen. Since Galen's return from the rim, Gowen had become wary and distant around him. Gowen didn't understand his falling out with Elric, and Galen couldn't explain it.

Gowen bowed. "The blessing of Wierden upon you."

Galen returned the bow without repeating the words.

"I thought you guys were holding a vigil tonight," Fed said.

Gowen gazed back down the hall. "Blaylock's hands-were causing him distress. He relinquished the vigil to Miostro's care,
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