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“So,” says Uri, “do they work?”

Neko traces a little star in a pile of spilled Sweet ‘N’ Lo. “That’s not a very interesting question, really,” she says. “I study spells from a number of hermetic and religious traditions–and alchemy, which is some of both–not with the intention of casting them, so much as determining the processes of thought that shaped the human condition. Occultism led to alchemy, and alchemy, in some twisted way, led to the scientific method. It’s fascinating, because science’s greatest triumph is the refutation of the magical worldview–”

“Right, but,” says Uri, “do they work?”