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last had a chance to talk, Galen had been certain he was going to be cast away. Now that he was not, Galen thought he should make sure the rift between them was healed. He would like to have his friend back, and if there truly was some threat to the mages, perhaps Elizar would confide in him. Perhaps Galen could help.

First, though, he had to repair his relationship with Fa. The corner of a book bound in tak hide stuck out of the large pocket on the front of her orange jumper. "Shall we read your book?" he asked.

She tugged it out, handed it to him. The book was Mirm, the Extremely Mottled Swug, her favorite. He knew it by heart. He opened the worn, hand-tooled cover and propped the book on the windowsill between them. He flipped past the title page, with its hand-tinted engraving of Mirm, to the beginning of the story. "Mirm was the largest and most mottled swug in all the land. His skin was as colorful as-"

"Gale!" Fa tugged at his sleeve. She was pointing into the mist.

Gliding toward them on a flying platform came Isabelle. She sat cross-legged, holding a basket. The platform was larger than usual-about four feet by five feet-and had the appearance of a flying tapestry, black with gold designs woven into it. The edges rippled in the wind. Galen couldn't tell if it was real or illusion. He laid the book on the windowsill. The fact that she had already accessed her tech amazed him.

She stopped outside his window, floating there. "Good day," she said to Fa. "My name is Isabelle."

Galen translated Isabelle's words for Fa. Fa seemed mesmerized by the tapestry, so Galen replied for her. "This is Fa."

Isabelle nodded. She looked beautiful without hair. Her scoured head emphasized her striking grey eyes, her protruding ears, which he found charming. She
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