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Its location had been described to him several times, yet he had never been able to find it. Vir had tried to pay someone to show him the way, yet no one dared approach, even for a fee. Ing-Radi and the others had done an excellent job of instilling fear in the inhabitants of Down Below. If there was one thing at which mages excelled, it was that.

Fed followed Vir, remaining out of sight, manipulating his course. They had covered Down Below with probes, so they could observe his progress easily. Through illusions, passageways appeared or disappeared, obstructions blocked one path while lights revealed another to be safe.

Movement drew Elric's attention back to the silent grey room in which he sat, a dozen other mages with him, each observing different areas of the station.

Ing-Radi stood over him. The globes of magical light that floated above, illuminating the room, revealed that her orange skin had grown even more pale, the blue veins becoming more prominent, cutting across her face in an elaborate pattern. The slit of her mouth was dry and white. She leaned slightly to one side, as if her balance was off, and her four arms hung limply at her sides. Each day she grew worse. Elric knew she continued only through sheer force of will.

"I have intercepted a communication on Gold Channel you should see," she said. Her voice, at least, retained its rich, calming tone. With a slight motion of her hand, two frozen images appeared in the air between them. On Elric's left, a woman sat behind a desk in a richly appointed office. Behind her on the wall hung the seal of EarthGov. Across the front of her desk lay two matching metal sculptures, abstract twisted patterns. She appeared in her mid-thirties, with a self-assured expression. She wore a tan cashmere jacket with
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