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to see if anything was needed.

What Galen remembered most from previous convocations were the unscheduled sessions that ran late into the night. As tankards were repeatedly filled and emptied, and the air grew thick with spent energies, mages who seemed so stern and disciplined by day laughed at their errors, argued over technique, and told the most outrageous stories of their exploits. Most of these sessions were supposed to be private, of course, so mages would create shields or illusions of walls to keep others away. Though it was only early evening, some of these sessions had already begun. Galen talked his way into as many of them as he could to check on the participants, fetching local brew or fried chitwings when asked.

But Galen now found himself becoming quite turned around by the conjured walls and altered structure of the tents. He reached a dead end in one direction, went back in the other, only to find that, too, was now a dead end.

A single conjured globe of light illuminated the truncated passage. He reached into his pockets for his sensor-pad to get a better idea of what he was facing. It was gone. He'd left it with Isabelle.

"Hello," he called to the newly formed tent wall. It gave off a faint hum. "I'm here to see if you want anything. You've sealed me in. I need to get through." He brought his fingers to the tent fabric. The surface was hard, slippery. A shield. "Hello?"

They didn't want to be disturbed. They may have even blocked out all sound, so they wouldn't hear him no matter how loudly he yelled. He decided to search the passage more carefully. Some of the walls must be real tent flaps, and those that were could be opened up or squeezed under. Working his way down the passage, he found what appeared to be a flap. He unfastened it.

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