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of rejecting them."

Gowen opened his eyes, and he looked from Circe to Galen, his round cheeks drawn up in horror and confusion.

Galen wanted to crush her, crush her. But that was what she wanted: an escape. He would not give it to her. "You will tell me the names of the mages who assisted you."

She looked up, waiting for the blue ball of energy to appear. She would not answer.

Galen obliged her. The thick, undulating wave of blue fell upon her. As it flowed down her body, though, yellow appeared along the leading edge, spread quickly to encompass the rest. His fire was interacting with a shield, penetrating the upper layers and diffusing. Gowen was protecting her.

The yellow faded, vanished, leaving just the subtle tinge of the shield. Circe let out a breathy laugh.

But Galen was no longer in that room. Inside him, something was happening. A scouring fire raced over the surface of a shield, but this fire was red, not blue. As the fire was absorbed by the shield and the red turned yellow, and the yellow faded, vanished, a woman's bold laughter rang out.

Two dark figures towered over him, the pale blue of shields protecting them, their powerful voices booming through the air. The man's hands were huge, with blood vessels that seemed swollen with rage. His face, high above, was hidden in shadow.

His father.

The woman-his mother-wore a long black silk dress, whose tight material shimmered in waves as she moved. Her hands, too, struck him with odd clarity, her thin fingers bent like spider legs.

She raised her hand with a flourish, and between his parents a brilliant pinpoint light formed, grew in intensity. Lines of electrical discharge shot out at his father, following the direction of her fingers, poking at his shield to test its strength. As

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