Jan 18, 2018 8:26 PM
distance is immaterial with cloudpine under you
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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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After about three months, she gets a lovely postcard from Quebec City.

It says:
Cloud-pine worked! So much crashing. So much fun.

♥ K&P
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Neat. Postcards don't really have affordances for return correspondence, but Isabella smiles and keeps the card in her room propped up against the wall on the back edge of her desk.

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The next one is from Las Vegas, a month later.

Pretty sure you'd hate it here.

K&P ♥♥♥
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Isabella wonders why. This postcard goes next to the previous one.

She carries on studying.
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San Francisco. Miss you! K&P

Seattle. Miss your tummy rubs! ♥ P&K

Missoula, Montana. Tiny museum full of dead things here! Fun!

Sevierville, Tennessee. Did you know there's a museum for knives? There's a museum for knives and it's awesome.

The postcards are coming closer and closer together.
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She really should have guessed this would happen if Petaal got ahold of cloud-pine and it worked.

(She did not know there was a museum for knives in Sevierville, TN.)
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A long silence (three weeks instead of the lately-usual one-ish), then a postcard from Paris.

I know something you don't knoooooooooow
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...Isabella has no idea what to do with that. (There are now enough postcards that they live all in a stack instead of propped up.)

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That is okay, because three days after that, Kas knocks on her door.

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"Hi," she says, hugging him. "I got your postcards. What do you know that I don't know?"

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"Hi!"

He hugs back. Petaal is being a horse, and does not join in the hugging.

"Alethiometers talk to themselves—did you know that?"
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"I know the answer hand is always spinning. Are they saying sensible things? Did you look at the Louvre one and count pauses on symbols and translate them?"

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"It said I'm legally dead and some French girl's brother is fucking her boyfriend and the atomic weight of cobalt is about fifty-nine and some other guy has a teenage daughter he doesn't know about and my sweetie's never going to settle," he says. "There was more stuff but I forgot a lot of it."

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Isabella opens her mouth, and then closes it.

"...Uh, I know you didn't swipe my phone with the dictionary on it, did you get your own at some point?"
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"Nope! I know it's supposed to be hard and stuff, but it just makes sense."

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"...You're claiming you're an intuitive alethiometer reader?"

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"Why, am I not allowed?"

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"They're so rare as to have serious controversy over whether they exist."

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"Well," he says, "boo."

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"How hard will it be to talk you into hanging out with me all the time reading an alethiometer if I get hold of one?"

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"Well, not all the time," he says. "But it's pretty fun."

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"Routinely, a lot, in a sufficient capacity that I can get the thing read," Isabella says. "I can do some on my own - I assume - that being the idea of the research - but - damn, I need to go work out my find-a-lost-alethiometer spell now."

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"You have a spell for that?" he laughs.

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"No! I wasn't going to develop one until I thought I'd know what to do with an alethiometer once I had it! But I can certainly invent something!" She strides back into the house and up to her room.

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Kas follows her; Petaal bounds after him as a Yorkshire terrier.

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