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had shot up, and despite her attempt to manage the pain, Galen knew it had been terrible. Once the spike had reached the spinal cord, she had gained some relief from the pain, as she lost all movement and feeling below the spike. Now, with the spike, the paralysis was ascending. She had lost all sensation in her body from the chest down.

From his sensors, it looked as if the entry wound had already healed. The cut that had run down the right side of her forehead into her eyebrow was healing as well. But the spike was causing damage much faster than the organelles could heal it. And more important than that, the spike continued to work its way upward, the organelles seemingly powerless to stop it.

The spike had reached the sixth cervical vertebra, C6, just above the shoulders. When it reached C5, she would lose control of her hands. Worse, the spike would begin to cut off the phrenic nerves, which stimulated the movement of the diaphragm. The diaphragm's regular contraction and relaxation caused the lungs to fill and empty. When the spike reached C3, the phrenic nerves would be completely severed. The movement of the diaphragm would stop; the lungs would fail.

If he had access to medical equipment, he could keep the lungs operating, could keep Isabelle alive. Yet even then, the ultimate goal of the spike seemed clear. Once it passed Cl, it would enter the brain. And there would be no saving her from that.

The spike was a much more sophisticated weapon than he had ever imagined. He would have thought it far beyond Elizar's capability. Yet Elizar's skills had rapidly improved. He had found secrets of power.

You must find the shape of what needs to be done. And you must become that shape.

As he held the staff over her, Galen visualized the spike winding up
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