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lingered on him. "We devote our lives to learning and understanding. What greater wisdom can we gain than this? If we can learn the will of the universe, we can bring greater understanding to all. We can break the cycle of war and chaos that has recurred so many times."

"What if war and chaos are the will of the universe?"

"Then the universe would not have embodied itself in matter subject to constant, physical laws."

"Then science can help us understand."

"Certainly."

"Then why was Burell reprimanded and ostracized for her work? Why was she forced to cripple herself in the pursuit of knowledge?"

Blay lock paused before answering, his expression unreadable. "I did not know that, though I suspected it." His gaunt face tightened. "You are not privy to all that Burell has done. Know that she committed unforgivable atrocities in her pursuit of answers. The tech is alive, though in a form we do not understand. To dissect it is no less a crime than flaying a mage."

Galen wondered how Blaylock could be so certain the tech was alive, if he had never studied it. Of course, the Circle must know something of it, in order to replicate it. "Scientific study can be done without dissection. Why is that, too, discouraged?"

Over the speakers, a voice announced in Interlac that they were arriving at the Thenothk system. Galen's heart jumped, his excitement echoed by the tech, and he suddenly realized that he had no interest in continuing the conversation. Let Blaylock believe they were connected to some great universal order-it no longer mattered. Though Galen hadn't known it, for the past eleven days, beneath the traveling and the studies, beneath the unrest and the scouring, he had been thinking of only one thing: of arriving at this place, of finding Elizar, and
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