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7.

Lilah and Annelise and Rob were standing in a public square, but it was not to be confused with Endweith Village on semi-ancient Olvar. Tall glassy buildings rose about the vast plaza, spectacular fountains shot up, fell back and shot up again, blue under the blue sky in the light of a very golden sun, there was an ocean on the left side of their view complete with unclad adults and madcap children, crowds of the bourgeoisie moved about, food carts hovered wheel-less here and there. It smelled wonderful, in several different ways. The three, dark-clad and puzzled, stood out, at least to themselves.

“Llanduvar,” said Rob.

“The trace came exactly here,” said Annelise, “then went away again from here.”

“She didn’t move about at all?” asked Lilah.

“I can’t tell you anything about that from this,” Annelise replied. “All I can tell you is she arrived exactly where you’re standing,” and Annelise moved three steps forward and one to the right, “and she left from exactly here.”

“How long? How long was there between when she arrived and when she left?”

Annelise squinted into the crystal. “I can’t say exactly,” she said. Then she said, “Huh. Yeah. Not long.” She looked at Lilah. “Not more than a minute or two. That’s the best I can tell you.”

“That’s actually great to know,” said Lilah. “Well, where did she go? Are we ready?”

“I am,” said Rob. They took hands again and were off. The sunlight was gone in an instant, replaced by the opposite. The wonderful scents of Llanduvar were replaced only slightly more slowly by their opposites.

They were in an alley, in no city Rob or Annelise had ever been before. The alley was dark but they could hear and smell things, or people perhaps, moving or sleeping nearby. Ten meters away, the alley opened into a street, and the street was thronged with people, and perhaps a few who were not exactly people, shambling from somewhere to somewhere in the benighted city.

They looked at Lilah, but they couldn’t see her expression. She said nothing. Finally, Annelise said, “The trace comes here but it doesn’t leave here.”

Lilah still didn’t say anything. Rob waited and said, “So what you’re telling us is that Lucy came to this alley but then walked somewhere else?”

“Let’s try that door,” said Annelise. “Lilah? Okay?”

“Yeah,” said Lilah. She strode the five paces to the only door they could make out, a sturdy metal thing which opened with a little Lilah Bay shoulder work. Inside, there was a big store room about ten percent full of crates and things covered by tarps or blankets. They looked around, and then Lilah led them to the left, and in the far wall they found another steel door. This one was magically locked, but Lilah tossed her six word pass spell and they were in. Up a short hall, left, in another door, and they were in a room with a table and a bottle and two glasses. Lilah looked at Annelise.

“She left from here,” said Annelise. “How did you—?” She looked at Lilah with a mix of awe and exasperation. Lilah gave back her flattest expression. “Fine, never mind. Shall we—?”

“Well, I sure don’t want to stay here,” said Lilah.

So they took hands one more time and disappeared, and reappeared zero seconds later, with a pop that was the crystal breaking into three uneven pieces, in a hallway near a door.

Outside the door was a lovely plaque with three names on it. The names were their names.

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