that of Kell. No matter what else he had done, Kell had meant the mages no harm. Nevertheless, Galen scanned the ship for explosives, found nothing.
The ship was drawing close to the planet, as were they.
Another message arrived from Elric. The ship is preparing to land. The Circle has agreed to allow it to do so. We are to follow and observe it for signs of danger. You may release my ship now.
Galen resisted the temptation to ask Elric how he was. He was ashamed that he had nearly failed Elric again, with another loss of control, especially after Elric had made so great a sacrifice.
I will follow, Galen wrote. He released Elric's ship, and Elric took the lead, his movements clean, assured.
Kell's ship revealed no unusual activity, so Galen examined the planet, trying to retain his focus, his fragile calm. Selic 4 was a world of ice and stone, whites and browns. It had a thin atmosphere, unbreathable by Humans. As Galen descended toward the surface, details of the towering mountains and vast ice fields seemed unnaturally vivid.
On a massive sheet of ice between two great mountain ranges sat the religious retreat, a plain grey rectangular structure. Galen knew it must be surrounded by mage ships, but they were not visible. Maskelyne was in charge of camouflaging their presence here. She must be generating an illusion to hide the ships, while allowing the facility to remain visible, so that nothing would appear changed. She had volunteered to make Selic 4 her place of power, even though they would stay only temporarily and she would soon enough have to destroy it. Establishing Selic 4 as her place would enhance her ability to create large-scale illusions.
As Galen came close he could pick out the boundaries of the illusion, which ran in a semicircle around