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than they, and you are ready to stand on your own and face them. Only in that way can you heal yourself, which is the first step toward healing others."

"You can't die. You can't die too." He hunched over Elric's hand. "We are cursed with violence. We are drowning in it. Now I will lose you to it."

"It is my time," Elric said. "I will await you on the other side. Do not follow me too soon. And do not kill in my name."

Galen rocked back and forth, his body shaking. "Please don't go. Please don't." Elric had been the one certainty in his life. Elric had brought him order. He felt as if he would disintegrate, as if he would dissolve into madness. He whispered, "I don't think I can go on without you."

When Galen looked down, Elric's eyes were closed, his chest and arms partly covered by lime-green moss. In delicate fingers it grew over him, following the contours of his body, his face. It smoothed the creases in his brow; it washed him in a balm of cool green.

Galen held tightly to Elric's hand. The green reached up Elric's forearm, his wrist, pushed beneath Galen's skin with soft bristles. Elric's hand became a clump of moss in his grasp.

Galen dropped the hand and threw himself onto Elric, grabbing at the moss-covered body. He would not lose Elric.

Beneath him, the curves of Elric's body shifted, flattened. Elric was being absorbed into the planet, drawn down inside it. Galen ripped at the dense green covering, finding only more moss, and dirt, and rock. The ground subsided beneath him, Elric slipping away, vanishing into the mak.

Galen clawed furiously at the ground, dug his fingers deep into the thick, moist vegetation. A sob escaped him.

And then from the cold moss, a faint tingling at his fingertips, like the smallest electric shock. The sensation
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