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him to stop. He could not see any more.

Elric pushed the shoulders forward, away from the chair. The back of Kell's robe had been cut away. Three parallel furrows transected him from shoulder to shoulder. From neck to tailbone, his spine was one wide, ragged wound, the skin peeled back to reveal the white bone of vertebrae. Down each side of the spinal cord, deep channels had been carved, and periodic clumps of tissue, muscle, and nerves scooped cleanly away where they'd become inextricably intertwined with high concentrations of tech. Tiny holes revealed channels cut deeper within. The work was so extensive, only a few traces remained of the stippled black discoloration along Kell's spine and shoulder blades.

There were easier ways to kill him. And the removed tech could be of no use. It had fused with Kell's system. It had adapted to his body, his mind. It could be commanded by no one else.

Elric pulled Kell's shoulders back, gently rested him against the chair. For a moment Kell's dark eyes pointed up at Galen, and Galen remembered how that gaze used to make him feel, as if Kell saw right into him. But those eyes saw nothing now. They were as empty as hers had been.

Kell's head shifted, his empty gaze falling away. Elric straightened his head against the back of the chair, turned the chair to its original orientation, as if that could somehow erase what they had seen.

Only a mage could do such detailed work. Tilar was only in chrysalis stage; he wouldn't have powerful enough sensors to detect all the fine threads of the tech. Razeel, Galen thought, wouldn't have the skill to cut it away so precisely. But there was one who had proven himself expert in his knowledge of the body and its vulnerabilities, who had shown the skill to use that knowledge effectively.
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