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Isabella is interviewing shades. It's easier to control PR from here - if she doesn't want to send one back to the living, she doesn't have to, and anything they tell their dreaming friends is hearsay twice over with no chance for soundbites or recordkeeping - and they have nearly as much up-to-date information about their worlds, if she picks the right ones. Simultaneously, Jane is feeding her books and news articles and her personal impressions of the things that have gone on recently. (Isabella already planted ansibles in all the other subworlds with Internets for her.)
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It has been - a few days. There are long silent snuggles with Kas. There are tentative chats with Helen, which go encouragingly. There are difficult and uncomfortably revelatory conversations with her parents. There are heaps and heaps and heaps of things to catch up on, read, check, look into, so she can regroup, reappear, resume work.

She hasn't slept with Kas since coming home. She loves him, and she'll be feeling like it eventually, but not right away.

She's sort of restless after a few days of not having sex, though. Let's see. There's a couple new Jokers she hasn't tried, although one is not shaped in an Amariah-amenable way. And maybe that's a little too close to what she's waiting on, anyway.

Pattern's boyfriend isn't a Joker and is amenable to being loaned out, she has heard.

[Hey, Jane...]
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Isabella takes awhile catching up with her parents, and the queen.

She is back at the house late that night, not tired but a little ragged. Path alights on her shoulder when she reappears.

She inspects her house.

"I'm going to keep this place, since people sometimes use it as a landing pad to get daemons, and sometimes I want to be able to receive visitors from within the world," she decides, "and a castle in the afterlife won't do that, but I'm going to go build a castle in the afterlife, who wants to see it?"
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Pensive cuddling goes on a long time.

Path nudges against Kas occasionally, almost like he's testing over and over to see if it hurts, but he never flinches, so it must not.
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Amariah appears in the Belltower, throws herself into a chair, and tries to read postcards, but her eyes won't focus on them. She tries the Bellbook, and scarcely has better luck, although her eyes do catch on a certain word.



"I want to talk to Aether."

"I'll let her know!"
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Amariah stays on the dock in slow-time till she has her afterlife completely designed, and then she and Sue and Kas leave, to wait for coins from Brilliance, while Aianon tells stories to the harpies.

And then coins land in her hand with a note from Jane that they're declawed.

"Damn," she says, admiring the aurora pattern as it shifts through the kissing starfish. "Ten pointed coins. He did it."
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After Glass's party is over with, Amariah and Kas go home.

Amariah fetches down their alethiometers.

"It's about time I took care of Alethia's afterlife, whatever it may be," she says quietly. "What can the alethiometer tell you about what I'll find?"
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Amariah is starting a circle in her yard - minting and enchanting can pull heavier duty than witchcraft, and faster, too, but they won't scale unless she wants to hand out copies of her trump cards; novel spells will, since there are many witches across the globe.

And then Jane asks if she wants to be visited, by Juliet's Sherlock - Minus - and Amariah's reply is "Sure, I could take a break." Because she's been at this for a while now and was just about to wish a crick out of her back for the second time this afternoon.

She puts down her pitcher of oil and waits for him to appear.
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Amariah goes to Milliways after straightening up the office to her satisfaction, and she forces the door to a certain world in which she once cooled some server racks. The occupant of those server racks may be interested in some new hardware.

"Hellooooo," she calls into the house, "who's home?"
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Here is Milliways. It's Milliways with an empty Belltower, but it's still a neat place to hang out between making bits of incremental progress in motion spells and coaxing advice out of the alethiometer and wedging herself into clan politics.
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Amariah, shortly after coming home from her visit to Juliet's world, makes a breakthrough on movement-based magic.

There are seven goddesses, and four of them have compass directions, and the other three have intermdiate directions. Facing one or sending Path to fly in such a direction while she casts boosts a call to a goddess. (She's still not sure what the other motions do, if anything; they get erratic results. But she's sure about facing, and about Path's flight.) The southeast is unmarked, and facing or sending Path in that direction will amplify a spell that falls under no particular goddess's purview.

As soon as she has this figured out, she slots it into her elaborate draft of a one-target immortality spell.

She goes looking for Kas when she's rewritten the final verse and placed the final margin note.
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She flies home. He has to return the boat that he... borrowed... (Isabella is not clear if this was authorized of him, but as long as he's going to return it she doesn't care that much) and then he's going to return to Rockland from there.

Isabella continues her work on motion magic. Metis has been paying less attention to her even when she's around; Isabella's learned enough that the marginal value of working with a teacher is diminishing and the apprenticeship will probably be brought to a formal end soon enough. Then she'll have to find somewhere else to go, probably her dad's house or the clan enclave. The former will be easier to secretly practice her new branch of magic in. The latter will be easier to have sex with Kas in without unwanted interference. Maybe she should just find her own place, somehow. She's not sure how to find opportunities for it. Metis stumbled across her house by sheer accident. But she's got a few months to think it over. (And an alethiometer, for that matter. It can probably find a house that she can just move into, with Kas reading it.)
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Isabella slowly ramps up her working speed, and now it includes researching motion-spells (and an embarrassing amount of falling over, but she's working on that, she managed dagger lessons and she can manage this) and writing letters - conventional mail-oriented letters, she is not sending Path on courier errands again anytime soon - to witches who know about nasty magic. (For all her insistence, Metis isn't a specialist, she just believes in a well-rounded education.)

Isabella's grandmother sends her the clan library's Book of Tattoo Spells. A witch from Brazil sends her a curse that matches the parameters she wrote asking about.

"Hey, Kas," says Isabella, climbing up to the attic after fetching the mail and brandishing the latter. "Guess what Niada Ivakesi sent me."
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On the ninth day after his capture and rescue, the first day when Path is willing to step away from Isabella for even a moment, Isabella says to Kas:

"What can the alethiometer tell you about making humans as immortal as witches are?"
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Path has not been out of direct physical contact with Isabella for the past four days.

Usually he's on her shoulder, feet against skin - her silks don't cover her shoulders and she hasn't been leaving the house much anyway, so silks are often not bothered with at all.

As of right now he's sitting on her foot, while she sits in a chair and picks her way slowly through some of the question trees she made.

"Psst," he says to Petaal.
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With an alethiometer and a reader at her disposal, Isabella is never still. She barely sleeps, catching brief naps only when Path falls into a doze and she's pulled after him. The rest of her time is spent placating Metis with enough apprenticey tasks that she doesn't get kicked out, working on plans to take over the world, and working off the resultant uncontrollable excitement with Kas (in the nude, and Petaal dividing her time between Path and the non-daemons).

Metis goes on a long trip, and apprenticey tasks are no longer called for. Isabella blesses a cranberry bog in exchange for a large stack of cheap notebooks, and she writes trees of questions in them - if this is true, she needs to know that, in which case this could also be relevant. She passes them to Kas as fast as he'll take them; Path supervises and clarifies what Isabella meant where needed.

The alethiometer can make suggestions about spells. It doesn't communicate in words, and Kas doesn't know enough about ritual magic to interpret it very specifically, but it can point Isabella in the right direction. When she fails six times in a row to figure out what it means about a certain powerful defensive blessing that it thinks she'll want soon, though, she needs something that was better optimized for her use. The alethiometer describes the location of a witch from a non-Olympic but friendly clan based in Texas, an expert in such defenses. Isabella is busy: she sends Path to go talk to her about the spell, and stays in Metis's house herself, catching up on sleep now that Path is too far away to be stubbornly shaken awake, contemplating the unification of the clans as a preceding step to the attempt on human society, and eating mostly what the cornucopia can make for her.

After Path has been gone for just shy of a day, Isabella, collapsed sleeping on top of Kas, jolts awake with a strangled scream.
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It's about forty-five minutes before Isabella has a first draft of the spell.

She starts sugaring it onto her floor. (She kept one tiny cornucopia; better to own a single magic device than to have to keep a whole stock of herbs. She can learn to work around its reluctance to produce poisons, or just carry the common toxics with her.) Path goes up to the attic to ask if Kas and Petaal want to watch her cast.
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A few days later, Kas and Petaal disappear.

Isabella decides that they're probably going to Nunavut. She doesn't worry about them.

(She thinks about them, sometimes. That feeling clinging to the back of her neck doesn't go away.)
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Isabella studies her new alethiometer dictionary between magical assignments from Metis. She even found a book of sample questions and answers - the English originals of the questions and the professional readers' deciphering of the answers are given, and she can try her hand at composing symbolized versions of each. She uses the exercises sparingly. There aren't that many of them, and she doesn't want to contaminate her knowledge of the subject while she's still learning, not until she has an actual alethiometer in her hands and can try asking it questions to which she already knows the answers to calibrate.
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So this is a strip club, apparently.

It looks an awful lot like a tacky bar with ads of assorted people in heavy makeup all over its surface. Also, Isabella is getting the impression that witches must not be common patrons, even taking into account their absolute rarity - she'd be an uncommon sight at a pawn shop too but no one would be liable to look at her like so.

Oh well.
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