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with Fa, and perhaps a burn, but the involuntary movement that had jerked her hand free had saved her. The ring had been designed to attack its wearer, no others.

The rest of the image showed only mist.

He broke the connection, finding himself hunched forward, arms crossed over his chest, hands clenched. His body was shaking, racing with the relentless, merciless energy. He wiped at his eyes. He was furious at Razeel and Elizar, furious at this damned hiding place that allowed him to see but not to act. But above all, furious at himself. He'd had to prove to Fa the greatness of the techno-mages, had to show her his spells. He had promised to come at her call. And he had failed her.

He couldn't save anyone. He could only kill.

The blazing, brilliant energy raged through him. Galen wanted to reach out through the ring, to seize Elizar and Razeel and crush them to nothingness. Or, if he could not reach them, then to crush everything that was within his reach.

He turned his thoughts away from that, and in his mind's eye forced another equation to form. The tech eagerly echoed it. A ball of brilliant blue fire formed above him, shot downward. It seized him at the neck and rushed over chest, arms, legs like living lava, searing him, consuming the hair from his body.

Again. The blue fire fell upon him with ragged claws. They raked down his skin, scouring the outer layer away.




He fell out of his chair, light-headed, gasping. His raw skin was overloaded with sensation, with pain. He was disgusted at himself, at the way he continued when everyone around him died. Why stop at these weak punishments? Why not just kill himself? Why not bring the fire down until it ate through his body, until he suffered what Fa had suffered?

He brought
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