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."
|"Yeah, I'm not that surprised," says Kas. "He calls stars 'middle-of-the-road'."|
|"Yeah, but they go up by powers of ten, if you're at stars then doubling only gets you evils," says Amariah, shaking her head. "Okay then."|
She tries to fit the whole wish onto one tenner.
She tries to fit most of it on.
Welcome to the newest subworld in the Alethia sheaf.
It is hers, in almost the way Downside is the admin's - in particular, she can slide the passage of time however she likes relative to everything else in the worldsheaf. She slows to match the current land of the dead. No point letting them suffer any longer than they've had to.
She wishes on the second tenner, and it goes: her afterlife will catch all the new dead.
And now it's time to open the door and let in all the existing ghosts.
|No, it is time for Kas to hug her.|
Now it's time to open the door.
|And in come shades.|
They will find themselves more comfortable immediately, as they pour in, thousands of them crowding into the same space and sheering in all directions as more come through. The nature of this place restores the daemon-part to anyone present who's lost it; in the cases of those who are missing physical daemons, those are back, in their original forms, intersubstantial with their people but with no one else. The nature of the door takes away the cold, the perpetual exhaustion.
There are optional features to being present in Amariah's afterlife, too, transparent on entry to anyone who'd like to use them - someone not currently co-occupying space with another shade can resume substantiality, and switch back and forth at will. A shade who's forgotten and wishes not to have forgotten can solicit from the world, and receive, a jolt of memory - not perfect recall, but enough to conjure up the general features of their life; Amariah doesn't think many of them have substantial events from the land of the dead to get in the way. Anyone who wants a visit from a living person can invite the living person when they dream; these dreams, functionally if not metaphysically like Joker dreams of Milliways, will supply an avatar to occupy, end at will of the dreamer, and be fully memorable on waking. This feature won't be fully accessible while the ghosts are still pouring in, but she will speed up time some soon enough. And anyone seeking another dead person will find that they can travel towards them unerringly at great speed, unless the individual they wish to find isn't interested in being found. Little enchantmentlike houses will pop up for those who want them and find unoccupied space to put them in; they will grow and develop features to suit their occupants with ongoing use.
The dead can also sleep, now. As long as they like. If that is what they'd prefer to do with eternity - if they don't want to take the memory jolt, visit with the living, come up with their own projects to fill their time - they have Amariah's blessing to sleep.
And this door - this door that is currently linking them to the old, blasted, pitiful land of the dead - when that's done with, when everyone has gone through, it and its like can sometimes act as a door to the living worlds, if enough living visitors cooperate to open it for a dead loved one and the harpies deem the person hoping to return to life safe.
Amariah will want to take the harpies on a little trip Downside so they can grant these departing shades torchability.
But that can wait until this vast, vast crowd of shades is done coming through and weeping with the relief of warmth and wholeness.
|Unmentioned by Ghosty, but apparent next time Amariah sees the harpies, is that they have all had baths. Calliope smells like wild roses; the rest, in contrast to their original nature, just don't smell like anything much.|
They're very pretty when they aren't covered in unspecified grime.
|That is good. Amariah approves.|
Shades and shades and shades, so many...
And finally the incoming torrent slows to a trickle,
"Is there anyone left there?" she asks Kas. "Who didn't find the door or decided not to come through for some reason?"
|"Uh - yeah," he says. "Wow. Apparently a bunch of them decided the door is some kind of test and they're - staying behind because they think the Authority wants them to."|
|"I'm so, so tempted to scoop them up whether they want it or not - but - well, I don't have any plans that hinge directly on the old land being empty. The door can stay; I'll just have the one there perpetually lead to here and they can come in whenever they change their minds. Or forget why they're staying, I guess."|
|He laughs. "Yeah, good plan."|
|"All right then. And anybody here who wants those shades' company won't have to wait all that long, because -" She brings the world up to quarter-speed relative to the standard time of the worldsheaf, leisurely but not so preposterously sluggish. And she turns to the harpies. "Let me know if this is too fast - if you're getting too many requests for exit to handle - and I can slow it down some, but I think the dream-visits and the need to get several live people to simultaneously vouch for you will probably respectively placate and slow down most of them."|
|"Sure," says Calliope, shrugging her now sleek and well-groomed wings.|
|She adds them all to the brainphone, upgrading it as she does with another viral upgrade to permit communication between worlds within a sheaf. [And let me know like so if you need anything else. Are you set for now?]|
|[Yep!] says Calliope. [I'm gonna go find somebody to tell me stories!]|
And with a general murmur of agreement, the flock disperses.
|[Wait, I need to bring you Downside to see the admin so you can make departing shades able to torch,] says Amariah.|
|"Sounded like you were done," says Calliope, circling back. The other harpies follow her lead again.|
|"Nearly so." Amariah taps her bracelet.|
|Jane can compensate for modest amounts of time dilation; the infancy of the ansible network on Peace was used almost exclusively to communicate with ships in relativistic transit. Yoink!|
|[Hey admin, I adjusted my afterlife, I'd like you to make some harpies able to render people torchable.] |
|[Thanks!] And another tap to the bracelet and they're back. "Please try to usually have one of you near these doors. Gaps of an hour or two aren't a problem, though."|
|"Okay!" says Calliope cheerfully. The other harpies leave; she stays put.|
|And that would seem to be that.|
Amariah takes Kas by the hand and departs the New Afterlife.
|"So does this mean you're God now?"|
|"Maybe. If Jane is then I probably qualify."|
|He kisses her.|
|It seems that it is time for Amariah's guests to depart.|
|Sue drops the link and goes home.|