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had been scorched black, and his armor ran down his body in thick rolls of sludge.

Smoke rose from around him, carrying the smell of charred flesh. The Drakh's arm fell to his side. He had been aiming his weapon at Galen. He collapsed in a smoldering heap.

Galen seized Drakh by the handful, the spells forming effortlessly in a neat column, the energy blazing through him, their bodies crumbling inward to nothingness. He remembered Blaylock's words. What we have been given, Galen, is a mystery beyond our understanding, a true blessing. It taps into the basic force and fabric of the universe, into God, as some call it. Our place is to use that blessing in the best way possible, to be the best agents of the universe that we can. A mage who forms a perfect union with his tech will undergo an enlightenment in which he learns the will of the tech, and the universe. As one, they may carry out that will.

He had learned the will of the tech, and it brought no enlightenment. The tech had nothing to do with God, or the universe. It was programmed to destroy.

Blaylock shrouded the tech in mystery to prevent them from studying it. Galen should kill him for all the lies he'd told. But then, they probably had only a few minutes left to live.

Drakh continued to storm the room. They didn't know enough to stop, to withdraw. Eventually his attention would falter, and another one would get past him, and shoot him. Until then, he would kill as many as he could.

A sphere of brilliant fire streaked down the tunnel outside. It looked like the fireball of a mage. Could the Shadows generate them too? Another fireball shot past, and then a screeching, high-pitched cry echoed down the passage.

It was so strange to hear that sound in this place. The distortion from the spell of destruction
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