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small circle. "Then my weapons should have been successful. Projectiles of that size and energy should have been able to break through."

Galen's heart jumped to a more rapid beat. They were both agitated. Galen felt he should say something to calm them, but he didn't know what to say. A sickening sense of dread came over him, a feeling from the past.

Isabelle glanced at Galen. "My weave is very tight. Perhaps that's the difference. With most shields a tiny projectile can slip through."

"That's it," Galen said. "I was watching on my sensor-pad"-he took it from his pocket-"and the energies were woven so tightly together the spikes couldn't find a way through. It wasn't the power of the shield that stopped you. It was the integrity. Your strategy would have worked well on most shields, but with Isabelle's, the best attack would be one with all the energy concentrated at a single point. If that energy is greater than the energy of the shield, it will have to fail."

Elizar straightened, his hands falling to his sides. "You haven't found a secret for a more powerful shield, then."

"No," Isabelle said. "I wish I had."

Elizar's voice was soft. "I wish you had too."

Galen released a breath, relieved that the argument seemed to be over. "We should go to the fire circle."

Elizar's gaze fell on the sensor-pad in Galen's hand. "You took some readings when Galen was training, didn't you?" he said to Isabelle.

"A few," she said. "I haven't had time to look at them yet."

She was lying, Galen knew. Why? There was no way the readings could be used to derive the spell that had generated them. The spell hadn't even fully formed. Yet the readings must be so alarming that Isabelle felt they should not be shared.

But would the lie work? Although Elizar wasn't supposed
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