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well attack the homes of the mages, anticipating their eventual return.

He could leave no trace of himself upon the planet, no trace that would allow him to remain a part of it, no trace that would protect the inhabitants as he had always done. No trace that would endanger them. He must abandon his home, amputate the best part of himself.

In the past, each time he had left Soom, he had been diminished, weakened. Limited to his own body he had felt partially blind, partially paralyzed. The sensation had been unpleasant enough that in recent years he had left home only when required by his duties. Yet even in those instances, his place of power had remained connected to him, though the connection had grown tenuous with distance.

Now there would be no connection. There would be nothing with which to connect. That great piece of his chrysalis, which over the years had grown, intertwining itself with the various devices, driving threads deep into the planet itself, would be destroyed. The devices he had built, his house, the hall would also be destroyed. A part of him would be destroyed.

All that would remain were the faster-than-light relay in orbit and the probes he had planted. The mages had such relays around many planets, not just their homes, and they would keep their network active for as long as they could, to gather information about the galaxy they refused to face, and the war they refused to fight. So they might know when it was safe to come out again.

Through these, he could still observe Soom, but it would be with the attenuated, lifeless objectivity with which he could observe any world.

Elric thought of the many mages who had formed places of power, perhaps three-quarters of their number. Up until a few weeks ago, no mage had destroyed his place
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