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turned away, started between the spheres toward Blaylock. He was burning, incandescent, both seized with energy and surging with it. Around him, the fledgling universes began imploding with deafening claps, shaking the wavering tunnel. Some contained within them sections of the rocky ceiling, or the floor, and as they vanished they left smooth, scooped formations.

As the Drakh came into view, he visualized equation after equation in a simple column, imploding one or two or three at a time as his attention fell upon them. Energy sang along the meridians of the tech. The conjury was effortless, the spells not some complex, halting, deliberate labor, but somehow natural, flowing with simple ease from intent to action. As he stepped in and out of the scoop-shaped depressions where once his enemies had stood, he realized he felt no pain in his stiff leg.

Encased within a darkening sphere, a Drakh reached for him, arms stretching and snaking in a hypnotic dance. As the sphere snapped into rapid collapse, the Drakh's body crumpled like a piece of paper. In another sphere, a Drakh's face twisted in and in on itself, like a grey, white, and red pin-wheel, before contracting into nothingness. In another, as the shrinking universe clouded over, three Drakh collapsed into a single pulpy mass as if crushed by an invisible fist. His fist.

Then he had run out of Drakh. The thunderclaps ceased, space and time settled into their familiar shapes. Galen stood before the room where Blaylock was kept. Except for G'Leel approaching with Anna, the tunnel was empty. Perhaps they were afraid to send more. Perhaps they were satisfied that he'd gone where they wanted him to go. The stone walls seemed strangely solid, inflexible. G'Leel stopped a few feet away. Her golden face carried an expression
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