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carried in a chair," Fa said.

He needed a messenger. He had once, for practice, created an illusion of Mirm, trying to combine the feel of the book's hand-tinted engravings with realistic swuglike movements. He had never been happy with the illusion, but it would have to do.

On the screen in his mind's eye, he visualized a second equation, one to create the image of Mirm. His tech eagerly echoed the spell, and the massive swug stood before him, chest high, skin brightly mottled with shades of pink, purple, and blue, a friendly tilt to his head, just as in the book. Galen added another equation, creating a small flying platform on top of Mirm's snout. He laid the book upon it, so it appeared as if Mirm carried the book balanced there. Galen conjured an equation of motion, and Mirm approached Fa's window. The swug's ample fatty deposits jiggled as he trotted on thin legs.

Holding the spells in his mind, Galen withdrew behind a short wall of stacked stones that marked the boundary of the property. He created a new equation of motion, sending Mirm scrabbling up through Fa's window, then knelt among the grasses, out of sight. He closed his eyes, focusing on the image from the probe.

The image had been waving all over the room as Fa played. Suddenly it froze in place. "Mirm! Is it really you?"

Galen had created a voice for Mirm, which quavered like the deep bleats that swugs usually made. He conjured the voice, composed the words Mirm would say as if he were writing a message. The illusion spoke. "Hello, Fa," Mirm said. "I brought your book." With a flick of his nose Mirm flipped the book toward Fa. She caught it.

"I left it at Gale's house," she said, running her hands over the book, amazed. "I didn't think I should go there." She looked up eagerly. "Is he with
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