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had stood, a smoking pit yawned, its sides coated with a black, glassy substance. The fused surface carried the signature of a high-intensity plasma blast at close range. A Shadow ship.

Galen's heart quickened. As Fa turned the ring, the gray mist revealed only a few ragged remnants of walls among the shining black scorch marks. The town of Lok had been destroyed.

He caught a hint of movement in the mist, but that was all he could see before she aimed the ring back at herself.

"My family-they went to Farmer Jae's house. I stayed behind to practice my magic. I don't know if I can find Farmer Jae's house now. I don't know if I can find it."

Galen accessed the menu of probes on Soom. Elric had planted many. More than half no longer functioned, including most of those in the cities. Of those that still did, he selected the one closest to Tain, on a rocky promontory far outside the coastal city. A dusty haze enveloped the lowland. As he increased magnification, he saw in the dim light only scattered dunes and irregular lumps of rubble. Not a building stood, not a survivor moved. The spaceport was distinguishable only by a few puddles of slag. On the far side of the seawall, the water was covered with a layer of dust. The charred remains of the seagoing ships burned as they sank.

He selected one probe after another, flashing from one scene of desolation to the next. All the other cities were the same: wastelands in which all had been reduced to chaos.

It would kill Elric.

Most of the smaller towns had been spared, but not Lok. He searched for a probe still functional in the town, to get a better view of what had happened. The one on Farmer Nee's Jab was still active. Nee lived next door to Jae, so Galen might be able to get a view of Farmer Jae's house, discover
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