had once been foolish enough to design a tribute to her, at its center her image: stiff golden wings that hung in folds from her arms, long tapered fingers, dark skin around her eyes that had always struck him as sad.
A faint whispering reached him. In a few seconds, he identified it. The words of the Code, in the language of the Taratimude, repeated again and again. A traditional mind-focusing exercise. What could the Code mean to her, source of the Shadows' pestilence? Galen traced the sound to the pillar. After a thousand years at the center of the Eye, this was her self-image.
"Wierden. How could you serve the Shadows? How could you coordinate their attacks? How could you enslave their prisoners?"
"I am sorry," the pillar said, in words that he somehow understood.
"Your apology is meaningless. Tell me how to destroy the Eye."
"There is no way to destroy it."
"If I destroy myself."
"There is no way to destroy yourself."
"Then tell me how to make it follow my commands. How do I control it?"
"You do not control it," Wierden said. "It controls you."
"Have you even tried? Have you even fought them? Or were you in league with them all along?"
"Your anger is the Shadows'. I have felt it for a thousand years. Only now, as I die, do they give me a moment's peace. Yet what peace can I have, after all I have done?"
"And what have you done?"
"I was the first of my people to accept the Shadow implants. The first of many. We did not know their nature. We did not know they were programmed for chaos and destruction. Some took them hoping to improve our lives and planet. Others took them for power or personal gain. Whatever our motives, the result was chaos. In our great war-frenzy, we fell upon one another until our planet was destroyed and all