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"I know that some of the others don't approve of this type of research, but you don't need to hide."

"Burell has forbidden me to research the tech. She has been criticized for years for her research. Kell and Elizar have ridiculed her. Blaylock has condemned her. The Circle even reprimanded her. She learned too late to keep her research to herself. She's lost her influence. She's lost her health. She doesn't want the same to happen to me." Isabelle sat back on the ground, the screen on her lap, her head bowed. Galen sat beside her.

He knew that some of the mages-Blaylock and his followers included-drew a line between scientific research of the rest of the universe, and scientific research of the tech. They argued that the tech was so incredibly advanced that its workings not only seemed like magic, they were indistinguishable from magic and so were magic, and somehow transcendent.

For them, dissecting the tech was sacrilege, tantamount to doing a DNA test on the Host at a Catholic Mass to see if it had actually transformed from bread to flesh. In any case, those who had tried in the past to understand the tech had failed. Most of the mages felt that the only path to understanding was to work toward a better understanding of the rest of the universe first. As long as the Circle knew the secret of replicating the tech so that new mages could be created, they could live with the frustrating lack of knowledge.

"Have you been able to understand anything of its workings?" he asked.

She looked up at him, her face soft in shadow. "Not much. Not yet. But Burell has. I've managed to read a few of her notes. She's discovered that the tech accesses a mage's own energy in order to sustain itself, but for conjuries it uses the zero-point energy of space itself as a nearly
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