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of the attack. There, along her temple, cheek, neck, shoulder, she'd been charred black.

She braced her good hand against the tiles. A fissure split the brittle skin between thumb and index finger, and clear plasma leaked out. She pushed herself to her knees, coughed. Parts of her robe seemed stuck to her skin; other pieces had burned away. She touched a trembling finger to her chest, and the blue tinge of a shield flowed out over her skin. She shot him a slight, victorious smile, a wet blister on her lower lip. Then she faced the machines, sensing the attack had originated with them. Elric said nothing to enlighten her.

She extended her index finger, and from its tip grew a brilliant purple ball, coruscating with energy. When it was a foot across, its growth ceased. With a tap of her finger, it streaked toward the curved devices.

Elric visualized the blue cocoon of a shield surrounding him, the tech's echo a faint whisper. The shield slipped down over him as Circe's globe struck. The wall of machines flared purple, reflecting and magnifying the attacking energy. The purple rushed to concentrate itself in the spot the globe had struck, erupted to fill the room in a blinding, crackling blaze.

His shield would not last much longer. Circe's blockade of the door, he believed, would have failed when her platform did. If he could reach the door, he could escape. But his body had no strength, and he dared not conjure his own platform, for then he would surely lose his shield.

He huddled against the floor, reducing the area the shield need protect. Above him, the blue outline of Circe's figure became visible through the declining flames of purple. Now both of Circe's index fingers extended, and purple spheres formed before them. She propelled the spheres toward the
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