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back rather than forward, as was the case with many of the species on the planet. Galen had spent so long here that his own legs sometimes struck him as odd.

Fa ran across the mak toward them. She waved-a gesture she had learned from him and used with tireless enthusiasm. "Gale! Gale!"

"Would you like me to check on the preparations?" he asked Elric.

"Don't you think we should see what your friend has to say?"

Galen sighed.

Fa became hesitant as she approached them. She was always nervous around Elric.

"Good day, Fa," Elric said in the language of the Soom. Both Elric and Galen knew the language well; Galen had lived there eleven years, Elric over thirty.

Fa straightened-she was proud of how much she'd grown, the top of her head now above Galen's waist-and gave a quick nod of her head, a sign of respect. "Good day, Honored El," she said. Her eyes shifted back and forth between Galen and Elric, and then her self-consciousness seemed to evaporate and the news burst forth. "There's a big fight in town. Farmer Jae and Farmer Nee may kill each other. You must come. They told me to bring you as fast as I could."

The town of Lok was about one-quarter mile away. From their position, the mak extended another hundred yards or so inland, then gradually changed into rising grass upland. Elric could easily perform an exotic propulsion incantation and conjure a flying platform, but there was no big rush to reach the dispute; Farmer Jae and Farmer Nee fought regularly, and the most violent thing they had ever done was toss clods of excrement into each other's fields. And Galen knew Elric wouldn't conjure a platform. Elric didn't like to display his powers before the people of Lok. He had designed his house and the training hall to look as much like their structures
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