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and Gowen nodded.

Once they were inside the small room, Galen pulled the straight-backed chair from the desk and invited Gowen to sit. This delaying was pointless. He knew what he must do.

Gowen looked around. "I thought my room was neat. I wouldn't even know anyone lived here."

Galen's gray walls were bare, his bed neatly made, all his belongings secreted within the drawers of the dresser and desk, where they were methodically arranged. Everything was put away, and it remained so until he wanted to bring it out.

He sat opposite Gowen on the bed, feeling self-conscious. "I was hoping to get your opinion on a theoretical question. You know of my spell of destruction, of what it does- pinching off and crushing the material within a spherical area."

Gowen nodded.

"I've been wondering whether it might be possible to use that spell as an operating tool within the body-for example, to remove a tumor, or some infected tissue."

Gowen's eyes widened and his lips parted, as if to blurt out some response. Of course he thought the idea insane, which it was. But he withheld his response, pausing a few moments before answering. "I understood that the spell was very dangerous," he said, "commanding extremely high energies."

"It does," Galen said.

Gowen tapped his thick fingers against one another. "The answer would depend on many things, as I'm sure you know. How precisely can you control the size and location of the sphere?"

"Fairly precisely."

"Fairly isn't good enough. You'd have to make sure the sphere didn't nick anything it shouldn't nick. If sections of blood vessels were removed, the ends would need to be sealed.

"The other big question is what effects the spell would have on the surrounding tissue. I remember when you first cast the spell, in
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