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One of the monoplanes had buzzed upstream earlier, low and full throttle. They had a long time to ponder the meaning of its transit whilst waiting for the next plane.

The big biplane sailed upriver at a much more leisurely pace. It couldn�t really travel any other way. Again the crew waved to the occupants of the small paddle boat as they passed.

�Do you think the other two are coming?� Marra asked.

�No.� Dack looked downstream. There was just the hint of smoke blowing into the gorge. �It will be dark soon.�

Marra piloted the boat through the rest of the minefield. When they were certain they had cleared it, Morn took a lighter from his pile of gifts and set fire to the map. He flapped it so the ashes were dispersed.

The smoke was thicker now. The sun disappeared behind hills and it was dark enough to move. Morn and Dack had oars at each side of the boat and Marra another at the rear. They let the current drive them, intervening with the oars if necessary.

They emerged from the gorge into a valley lit by fires. Ahead on the eastern bank the forest burned uncontrolled whilst figures rushed around the fires on the western bank. The corrals of logs had been smashed by some impact and fragments of wood were being caught by the current and drawn downstream.

The boat navigated into the stream of flotsam. No-one on shore was paying the river the slightest attention, so they rested at their posts and viewed the devastation as it passed them by.