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the spell, the sphere had begun to fade and collapse. The energy readings had begun to drop back to a more normal range, as if the membrane and what was contained within it were simply vanishing.

Yet energy didn't simply disappear. It went elsewhere. As he thought about it, the fading was the last logical step in the sphere's process of sealing itself off. It had not only sealed itself off from the light and energy in the hall, but from the space and time in the hall. The sphere had pinched itself off into a separate universe.

Although he couldn't be sure, that would explain the fading, the return to normality. But why had the sphere begun to shrink at the end? The gravitational waves recorded by the sensor-pad indicated major instabilities. The universe created seemed inherently unstable, in a state of collapse.

The second term of the equation must be the one to stabilize the sphere, to make conditions within it consistent with those without, and to allow the passage of energy, space, and time in and out of the sphere. In the absence of that second term, the sphere tried to seal itself off from everything, and in so doing, destroyed itself.

The image returned to him-the sphere reddening and darkening around Elizar. How could he have cast that spell against his friend? If he hadn't altered the spell, would Elizar have been sealed into his own universe, a collapsing universe that would have crushed him to nothingness?

He could not be sure. He still hadn't seen the final result of the spell. Perhaps the membrane holding the unstable universe would fail, its energies flying out like a miniature big bang. The contents of the two universes would mix, and if the physical constants, the physical laws governing them differed, it could trigger a huge chain reaction
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