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that Galen did not. Galen had dared consider removing just one tiny piece of tech to avoid the Shadows' control. But the programming of destruction infused each cell of the tech.

In the light of that truth, Gowen had determined to remove the pestilence, to rid himself of the Shadows' influence. He had followed the one, harrowing pathway open to them. And now he was free.

"I need you to take the body to the forward storage room," Blaylock repeated. "We will have the services together tomorrow." Blaylock's gaunt face was set.

"I will," Galen said. "I'm sorry."

"This is the first time he has ever disobeyed me."

Galen visualized the equation, conjured the illusion of a shroud over Gowen. "You should sit."

"They must all be told the truth. They must understand, as I do. The tech is a blessing. Its programming can be overcome. Through perfect discipline, perfect control, we can join in a transcendent union with that life. We can gain true understanding. We are blessed not because of the magnitude of power we carry, but because of the sacred intimacy with which we are connected to it. The tech taps into the basic force and fabric of the universe. It can teach us the will of the universe, make us one with the universe."

"You will tell the mages their tech comes from the Shadows?"

Blaylock turned to him, and for the first time, in the lines of Blaylock's gaunt, severe face, Galen saw regret. "Gowen commands it."

Galen nodded. The mages had long deserved to know. Yet he feared how they would react.

Blaylock dropped to his knees.

Galen crouched beside him. "Blaylock."

"I will keep vigil here. Please take him away. Do not let the others see." Blaylock raised his stiff, yellowish palms before him and conjured a fireball there. His hands trembled slightly.
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