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shimmering static reached the shield and, with only a slight hesitation, passed through it.

Galen grabbed Isabelle's hand. The shield vanished. With single-minded focus, he visualized the equation to conjure a flying platform beneath them. He seized her about the waist. He formed an equation of motion, then another, then another. The platform swerved around the static shape, snaked out the doorway, and shot up the stairs. They slammed into the front door and fell to the floor.

Isabelle grabbed the door handle and pulled it open, knocking Galen in the head. He dissolved the platform, stumbled to his feet. They raced out into the darkness.

They fled down the long alley to the lights and activity of the main street, ran several more blocks, dodging pedestrians, before finally slowing, walking. Galen looked back. The streets were busy as those in port sought out late-night entertainment.

Energy surged through him, refusing to be calmed. Danger seemed close, imminent. He couldn't believe they had gotten away.

That was a Shadow, wasn't it? Isabelle wrote. Somewhere along the way they had taken each other's hands, and Galen didn't want to release her.

I don't know, he replied. I never saw anything like it.

Did they let us go? Why would they let us go?

I don't know.

Too shaken up to do more conjuring, they decided to take the tube home. Isabelle said she wanted some time to calm down before facing Burell, and Galen hoped the nervous energy within him would begin to dissipate. With all the spells he had cast, his energy showed no sign of declining. He hadn't even grown breathless. Yet his mind felt exhausted.

They went down into the tube station, ran their credit chits through the reader. A train must have just left, because the station was empty. They
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