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out, were infested with bugs, and they'd thrown them out as soon as they'd boarded.

Even if the disguises had worked, though, they might not be sufficient. This ship, one of the first to leave after their confrontation, would be a logical choice for the Shadows to suspect. Galen didn't want to be trapped on Brensil 4, virtually a barren rock, waiting for a ride. He would study the layout of the planet's domed settlement in case of emergency, but he hoped they would not be forced into a fight there. Brensil 4 wasn't an ideal destination; aside from this monthly delivery, it had little other traffic. A much busier port would have been better. But the ship had been leaving when they needed to leave, and its captain asked no questions.

Galen realized he was delaying when he should be contacting Elizar. He knew that Elizar would want to help them if he was able. Perhaps it was the reminder of his failure he did not want to face.

He composed the message. Elizar, the Circle has suggested I contact you. Isabelle and I were sent to Zafran 8 on a task. We did not fare well. Burell was killed, and Isabelle and I escaped on a freighter bound for Brensil 4. We may be pursued. We will arrive in two days and require transportation back to Soom. I do not know the state of your health. If you are not well, by no means should you come. But if it will not endanger your recovery, we would be grateful for your help. He visualized the equation to send the message.

Isabelle had been watching him. "Elizar knew there was a danger facing the mages. He warned me. It was not the danger of decay, as he claimed before the Circle."

" 'A threat not only to us, but to everyone,' that's what he told me. Perhaps he saw signs of it, as Burell did."

She moved toward the desk and chair, which
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