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must wait for it to return.

But in a moment it did return, and he knew he must have misheard. Elizar could not have said what he had said. It couldn't be. All Galen had been taught, all he believed- He had spent his entire life studying the mages' history, learning their ways, striving to master the tech. The mages were a noble order, an ancient fellowship conceived in wonder, fired in discipline, proven in technomancy. They followed an admirable Code. They devoted themselves to magic, knowledge, and good.

The Shadows lived for war, chaos, and death. From behind the scenes, they provoked, they corrupted, they manipulated, they destroyed. Over their history, they had been responsible for billions of deaths. They believed in everything the mages opposed. Their technology did not empower; it enslaved.

It could not be so. Elric had told him. Elric had taught him. Elric could not have kept this from him.

Galen tightened his grip on his side. "You expect me to accept this lie?"

Elizar extended a hand. His palm faced up-a sign of honesty, as Blaylock had told him. "I've never lied to you, Galen. Everything I've said to you is true."

"The Shadows told you this? And you believe them?"

"I learned this from Kell's own files. It was part of the information he wanted me to have, the same information given to each mage elected to the Circle. It is the legacy of Wierden." He let out a heavy breath. "Throughout our history, it has fallen to the line of Wierden to meet once every three years, before each convocation, with the agents of the Shadows, just as Wierden herself did a thousand years ago. As the latest representative of her line, Kell performed that task. He would meet with a Drakh, who would hand over the implants and chrysalises we needed. The Circle does
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