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he'd first entered the underground city, except smaller. His sensors could not penetrate the skin to study the underlying structure.

He passed several more small pods, then reached a bigger one, over three feet long. The Shadow skin was stretched tight over this one. The pods were growing, he realized. This must be how the Shadows produced them. Movement caught his eye farther down the row, and he went toward it.

The pods here were plumper, the Shadow skin taut. Again he caught movement. It came from the rectangular base beneath a pod. As Galen watched, it twitched. The bright red Shadow skin, apparently needed to cover the pod, was pulling slightly away from the base, and a thin line of duller red spread down its edge, revealing the material beneath. He crouched and touched it. The material was soft, though through his own Shadow skin, the texture felt strange to him. His sensors identified oils, salt, water.

Another shiver ran through the platform, and the Shadow skin pulled farther away, the strip of underlying material widening. He followed the dull red up along the side of the platform. The material was wrinkled, as if deflated, and tiny fine hairs protruded from it. A horrible feeling came over him.

With another shiver the Shadow skin retreated farther, and now there was no mistaking what lay beneath. Though shriveled and desiccated, it was, unmistakably, an arm. And above it, a strip of forehead. The head, he realized, was bent to one side, resting against the shoulder. It was a body, covered in Shadow skin. A body out of which this pod had grown.

Galen stumbled back, breathing hard. He added another mind-focusing exercise to the two he already carried.

Realizing that the Shadow skin covered his body as well, he quickly dissolved his spell. The blackness
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