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solitude. That had not changed. He was who he was. Yet he was also more. Isabelle had told him it could be so, but he had not believed her.

The rune representing him appeared on the door. He entered.

The five members of the new Circle sat at the round silver table in a semicircle, Herazade at their center. When Galen thought of how he'd felt standing before the rulers of their order for the first time, that experience seemed to have nothing in common with this one. Then, he had faced what he'd believed were the best of the mages, figures almost legendary in power and deed, determined to uphold the mages' traditions, drive them to the highest achievements, and encourage their commitment to good.

Now the Circle was diminished. While he respected those seated before him, they were not the accomplished figures whom they had replaced. At fifty-six, Herazade, youngest member of that previous Circle, was the oldest of this one. The rest were under forty. With their order's oldest and wisest weakening, dying, the mages had turned to those younger and stronger for leadership. Apparently they did not want to lose any more of their leaders for many years.

Of this new Circle, only Miostro scoured his head and wore the traditional black robe. He represented Blaylock's followers. Tzakizak's militant outlook and short temper had earned him the votes of those angry at the Circle's secrecy. Celaene had been endorsed and supported by Herazade. She voted with Herazade on most things.

The final member of the circle, elected after Blaylock's death, was Fed. Only twenty-four, still officially an initiate. It was a sign of the growing power of the younger mages, who formed an increasing percentage of their failing order. With his new position, Fed had not changed his loud clothing
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