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They were disguised with full-body illusions as Drazi, covered with thick grey scales, wearing coarse tunics and pants, and purple scarves about their necks. Although Elric and his two companions would be the first mages to officially arrive on the station, nothing was as it seemed. Alwyn and Carvin had arrived a day earlier, in disguise.

Through another camera, Elric monitored an empty corridor on the station. To the left stood a door that remained stubbornly closed, a door that must open before Elric arrived. It marked the room where the Drazi Rabelna Dorna stayed.

The plan had been for Alwyn and Carvin to encounter Rabelna the previous night and leak information to her. She was a thief and spy who operated out of the station, and in recent months, she had made several trips to the Thenothk system. After each trip, her bank account grew significantly. She was the perfect vehicle through which to convey a certain piece of news to the Shadows.

Alwyn and Carvin were to contrive for her to overhear them speaking. Since, to all appearances, techno-mages had not even arrived on the station, no deception would be suspected.

Yet last night, as Alwyn and Carvin had entered a bar where Rabelna gathered information, a fight had broken out between members of two Drazi factions: one wearing purple scarves and the other wearing green.

The Drazi had arrived at the end of their five-year cycle, and as custom required, they had split themselves into two groups by drawing scarves of either purple or green from a great barrel. For the next year they would fight, and when the fighting ended, the winning side would take over for the next cycle. Their custom was mindless, pointless, the seeds planted long ago by the Shadows. In a small way, it reflected the very conflict that
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