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a mind-focusing exercise, then another, then another, recoiling from that place, that time, withdrawing from those feelings, contracting into the dark, secret center of himself.

Gradually he realized that he had accessed her files and was applying his new insight to the translation of her spells. His mind worked mechanically, dispassionately. Hours passed. The room turned dark.

Many of her hand movements, he found, could be grouped into separate, recurring subpatterns, clarifying the structure of the spells. The translations became easier, more straightforward.

The main problem he still faced was the fact that many of her spells took place over extended periods of time, arising from a series of motions. His spells were cast in an instant, through a single equation. He was not sure how the time factor translated into his language.

If it was irrelevant, as it seemed might be true from some of her simpler spells, then his equation should be the equivalent of all her hand movements performed at once. If an index finger of the left hand made a particular motion, then, and a few seconds later the index finger of the right hand mirrored that motion, would those two terms cancel each other out? He thought, perhaps, they would.

As he worked with the spell for Shadow communication, he found more and more terms canceling each other out, the translation growing simpler and simpler. He thought he must have made a mistake, for at the end he was suddenly left with only a single term in his spell. And oddly, the spell was identical to one of the one-term equations he'd discovered as they'd traveled to the rim.

He had derived that new one-term equation from a progression involving several different types of spells, which made its effect difficult to guess. The progression
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