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the key so she can leave this place. She claims other mages are in league with her.

Galen sent a response. I'm coming. He turned down the corridor leading to the observation room, saw two silhouettes at the end, obscured in the black smoke that billowed from the room.

Elric.

Elric.

One of the figures turned toward him, and he received a message. It was from Blaylock, though, not Elric. Fetch Gowen at once. Do not delay.

Galen's mind felt frozen. Gowen was needed. Galen should know what that meant, but his mind would not make the connection. A terrible sense of urgency filled him.

He conjured a platform, and with an equation of motion sent himself racing back down the hall toward Gowen's room. As he approached, he visualized equation after equation in his mind's eye, conjuring a cluster of intense balls of energy within the metal of Gowen's door. The gray surface churned with frantic bubbling, vaporized in a great rush of steam. In a crouch he sped through the hole.

Gowen lay asleep in bed. Galen yanked him up, and when Gowen did not awaken, Galen rolled him onto the platform. On the dresser lay the crystal that Gowen used in healing. Galen grabbed it and took off with him.

As they skimmed back down the hallway, Galen shook him. "Wake up! Wake up!" Galen conjured a fireball in his hand, waved it over Gowen's face.

Gowen's eyes snapped open. "Galen! What is it?"

Galen quenched the fireball in his fist and found he could not speak. He could not say the words. He held out the crystal to Gowen.

Gowen took it and pushed himself up, somehow retaining a measure of dignity in his short white sleeping gown. Galen stood beside him. Ahead was the corridor to the observation room. Black smoke spread through the intersection.

Gowen glanced at him, and
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