first scanned quickly through the text. It was short, only thirty-eight pages in length, but seemed to contain a wealth of information: images of Drakh, anatomical scans, descriptions of their language, their culture, their beliefs.
"Let me do it!" Isabelle cried. "I've got you."
Isabelle had her arm around Burell's shoulders. The yellow armchair was flashing between opacity and transparency, and Burell's full-body illusion was flickering on and off, her figure alternating in a crazy strobe between red silk dress and black robe, elaborate coif and bare head, youthful healthy face and... something else-a face that was off, that was not right...
Galen stood, unsure how to help. Isabelle was trying to replace Burell's conjured chair with one of her own.
"Wait." Burell's face-healthy, distorted, healthy, distorted, a Jekyll and Hyde caught between its two identities-closed its eyes, concentrating. "I can get"-healthy-"it"-distorted- "back."
The yellow armchair faded toward transparency. The flickering slowed, black robe bare head lasting longer and longer with each cycle, red dress coiffed hair flashing ever more briefly, the cycle running down like the last spurts of a windup toy, or the final contractions of an exhausted heart. Finally the armchair dissolved, and Burell dropped an inch or so into the transparent chair created by Isabelle.
"No!" Burell cried.
Isabelle seized her in a fierce embrace. A sound came from Burell then, a sound Galen never wanted to hear again. A high, hollow cry, it was the sound of someone who had lost part of her body, part of herself; a person who was now partly dead and yet still partly alive.
Galen stood with his hands at his sides. He had known Burell was weakening, worsening, but he had never dreamed she would lose