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speak of transcendence, as she had, but it was not possible. They were what they were: embodiments of chaos. The Circle fooled themselves into believing that from the Shadows could come good. That the mages could create good. But they carried the contagion wherever they went. Galen was proof of that.

Yet tech or no tech, he wanted to kill Elizar. He had the impulse to destruction. He dreamed of ripping Elizar's tech from him with bare hands, just as Tilar had done to Blaylock. Perhaps the tech had intensified the impulse, raised it to a constant, driving need. Galen didn't know. He had worked with the chrysalis for three years. He had trained it, and it, apparently, had trained him. And with initiation, he and the tech had been joined. They were a single being, intertwined so thoroughly that he felt incomplete without it. How could he tell which desires arose from him, and which from the tech? Or was there no difference?

"It all makes sense now, doesn't it?" Elizar said. "The way we live, the way we behave, the nature of the tech."

Galen nodded. He could find no more objections. The tech was programmed for destruction. He was programmed for destruction.

"You may hate me. I understand that. But I am the only one who can save the mages. And I can only do it with your help."

The mages should never have been made. Potentially, they were nearly as great a threat as the Shadows. Galen felt a great pity for them, with their dreams of creating awe and wonder, of doing good, of living up to a history from which one crucial fact had been withheld. They had all shared those dreams. But the dreams were based on lies.

As Galen thought over their history, of the vast knowledge they'd gained, of the great deeds they'd accomplished, of the wars in which they'd fought,
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