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what had happened to Fa's family.

The image appeared in close-up, a scorched stone lying on the ground. As Jab moved, pushing herself forward on low, powerful legs, the view from the probe on her forehead shifted back and forth. Galen realized she was circling another smoking ruin. Only a few of the foundational stones remained around the perimeter of a glassy pit. She was looking for something, Galen sensed.

The front part of the house appeared to have been hit directly. The glassy pit encompassed that section. Ragged remnants of the back, and the attached stone barn, still stood, coated with black ash. Jab approached a section of the ruins, climbed over the low barricade with a scrabble of claws.

As she sniffed the ground with a series of harsh inhalations, Galen noticed a heavy earthenware bowl lying broken against the wall. With a start, he recognized it. The bowl belonged to Des, Farmer Jae's prizewinning swug. Of all things, it had somehow survived. Galen remembered the flourish with which Elric had revealed the bowl, solving the mystery of Des' poor health so long ago. It seemed like another lifetime.

This was Farmer Jae's barn and house. Farmer Jae was dead. Fa's family was dead.

Jab had found a black chunk of something, and she pushed at it with her nose. Perhaps it was a piece of Des, or one of Jab's children. She'd had five, with Des serving as host for the larvae. They should be nearly full-grown now.

Jab turned and marched out of the ruins.

"Are you coming, Gale?" Fa asked the ring. "Will you come soon?" She wiped at her eyes, and with a shaky breath, she seemed to make a decision. "I'll go to Farmer Jae's. You can meet me there."

His hands closed into fists. He wanted to tell her not to go, not to move. But he had no way to communicate
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