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of destruction. Once it had thoroughly infiltrated him, he had become something divided, something of two parts, a techno-mage. Without it, he was no longer complete, no longer whole. Losing a piece of tech-as had Elric, Blaylock, and many others-became a crippling injury.

Gowen might believe the tech a sacred path to enlightenment, but these golden ropes bound the mages to darkness. He wanted to burn them out of his body, to be free.

As the tech's restless energy swelled, the gold flared to a dazzling, jaundiced yellow, and a hard shiver ran through him.

Galen focused on his exercises, slowed his breathing, the pounding of his heart. Bit by bit, the brilliant yellow dulled, dimmed. The normal pulsing resumed.

The Shadows took life and twisted it to their own use, just as they had done with Anna. Whatever that life had been before, whatever it had thought or wanted or believed, was lost. Just as whatever he had been was lost. He could not be free of the tech, so long as he lived.

Could he free himself, though, of just one tiny piece?

He studied the spherical contours of the transceiver. It looked the same as the other transceivers in the tech, revealing no special purpose or capability. Data appeared beside the image: size of the transceiver, distance to it. He could use the position of the organelle and the data from it to target the swollen cluster. How accurate he would be, he didn't know.

Galen rocked back and forth, his hand pressed flat against the scarf.

Perhaps it was time, now, to join her.

She'd told him he needed to transcend himself in three ways: He must open himself to others, open himself to himself, and open himself to God. He'd done the first two in his own limited, unsuccessful way. The third he'd not even known how to attempt.
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