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the mortification, they would be unable to follow the Code.

"With the Circle and the Code," Elizar said, "we focus on nondestructive uses of our power. We have subverted the programming of the Shadows, using the abilities they gave us toward ends they did not intend and could not foresee. We have combined the various powers they gave us, creating ever more complex spells, obscuring our true nature, even to ourselves. Instead of power, we focus on magic, knowledge, beauty, good. Some of us have even learned to heal, which was never the Shadows' intent. We have become much more than the Shadows ever imagined. We've transcended their designs.

"Yet in doing that, we've lost touch with our most basic powers. Somehow you rediscovered that potential. It's something about your spell language, about the way you think."

Galen had found the spell of destruction at the base of their spells, a simple one-term equation, a basic postulate, as he had called it. It formed the fundament upon which their powers were built, the basic truth of what they were. Take away the flourishes and misdirection, the staffs and cloaks and circles of stones, and all that remained was vast, destructive power.

The ability to listen to the Shadow communications also lay in a one-term spell, a basic postulate. Of course the Shadows would give their servants a simple method for communicating with them.

The tragic, horrific enormity of it struck him. The Circle took children and trained them and taught them and implanted into them the seeds of anarchy. They transformed apprentices into agents of the Shadows, and called them techno-mages. And as the programming of destruction spread through the initiates' bodies, the Circle demanded obedience to a Code that opposed their basic natures. Elizar dared
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