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Blaylock's body remained limp, his lips slightly parted, eyes closed.

"Cast me away," Tilar said. "Tell me I'm unfit. You and your pathetic cult of holier-than-thou pompous mono-pricks! Claiming the mages are blessed by God. Do you laugh at night, that so many believe you? Or do you really believe that manure you peddle?" The knife point came out, pulling with it slender strands of gold intertwined with blood vessels, tissue, muscle. Tilar slipped bloody fingers around them, pulled. "Do you hear God, Blaylock? He wants his tech back. He's found you unfit. You ate that extra piece of cake last winter. He saw it." With a yank he ripped the threads out with slimy bits of tissue. A fresh gush of blood ran down Blaylock's hand, soaking into his jacket sleeve and the knees of Tilar's pants, and dripping down onto the floor.

Tilar shook the threads off, started carving a second channel down Blaylock's palm. "Better wake up, or you're not going to be a mage anymore."

Galen forced himself to limp faster, his body racing with fear and adrenaline, the tech echoing it back.

If Tilar wanted to inflict pain, why not use his chrysalis? Elizar had used his tech to flay Kell with clean, surgical lines. Tilar performed the same atrocity, but his method was brutal, monstrous.

Galen had dreamed of doing just the same to Elizar.

He heard footsteps ahead, around the curve in the tunnel. He would not hide; he would not slow. There was no time.

Two aliens came around the curve, wheeling a gurney toward them. The aliens were humanoid, tall and slim, with greyish skin, bulbous heads, large black eyes, and narrow mouths. They appeared unarmed.

The aliens raised their heads, regarding him curiously. G'Leel shoved him forward. "Move it, you low-rent fortune-teller."

Galen
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