Time has passed.
Jane's network has kept all the Bells' worlds - and every other world with a Janepoint stuck in due to its being attached to Downside - in temporal sync, but when Jane spluttered for just a moment, that was shot to hell.
Peace lost three seconds, because it was where Aegis torched; after that process was complete, Jane was there again. And as soon as a door between Peace and Milliways appeared, she could sync to her ansible hub in the Belltower and, from there, to everywhere else.
Atlantis and Sunshine each stand at about a minute apiece: Shell Bell's aura and Juliet's local copy of Jarvis both enabled them to get to Milliways immediately, pausing their homeworlds as standard for occasions when someone walks into the bar. Shell Bell's the one who connected Peace.
Everyone else was running on luck.
Luckiest is Rainbow, which lost only five hours.
Next is Alethia; in spite of Sherlock's mishap, it's fared reasonably well, spending only six weeks isolated.
Syntropy's just a little worse - seven weeks.
Origin waited two months.
Eos waited three.
Everyone else is out a decade at least. Samaria's ten years, almost ten and a half.
Aurum is out eleven.
Rêverie has been separated for sixteen years.
All the Bells - and Elspeth, who was stuck in Downside for a day and a half on her end and whose mother was very upset - are collected in the Belltower, as are two Bell-attached Sherlocks who happened to be along for the ride. They all memorize this list of numbers. Aegis replaces her earpiece. And then they all go home to notify their loved ones and staff that there's a party cooking in the Belltower.
(Shell Bell, who has no particular cause on her own account to be distressed, sends her Sherlock to invite Tony in while she refits the Belltower to suit a party of a peal of Bells and their larger-than-last-encountered families and circles of friends.)
|[Are you ready to meet the Wellspring Matilda now?] Cam tries, after Jellybean could plausibly have gotten to the point of wanting another break from Upstairs Proceedings.|
|[Sure, okay,] he giggles.|
|Cam wanders in the direction of the Matildas, both of whom are floating (one transitively, one intransitively).|
|Jellybean teleports down to meet him there.|
"Hi, Tilly, hi, Matilda," he says brightly.
|"Love the skirt," Matilda deadpans.|
|He beams. "Thanks!"|
|"Can I be floated again?" Cam asks. "Grace says that before I was called away for urgent peal business we weren't trying long enough to know if it was going to work or not."|
|Matilda floats him again.|
|"It's no trouble," she says amicably.|
|"Apart from having your thing instead of wizards and presumably Powers, what's Wellspring like?" Cam inquires. "Also, is there a word for people with Wellspring magic?"|
|"There isn't any other kind of magic in Wellspring, so we usually just go with 'magic users' or 'mages'. It's not unusual for an Earth; the magic system is the only obvious distinguishing feature."|
|"Lots of Earths-plus-stuff," muses Cam. "I wonder why Earth isn't the odd one out with everybody else living on Samarias or something. Even Rêverie is sort of Earthlike."|
|"It seems to be pretty much a template thing," says Matilda. "The template of humans is that they live on an Earth."|
|Cam scratches his head. "Yeah, but the Earths are also eerily similar in history. Except for oddities like the occasional Gotham, it turns out that all our plus-stuffs doesn't do much. Wizards didn't prevent World War I, vampires didn't eat anyone key to to the Geneva Convention, mints and ingots did not affect the Industrial Revolution. Daemons and witches and bears did some stuff, but you can still name major cities and books and historical figures, and Amariah will recognize the names, even if on her world John Calvin was a Pope and Protestantism started later with somebody else."|
|"That also seems like a bigger-scale version of the reason why, oh, me and Tilly were recommended the same first set of books by different librarians in different towns, right down to the ordering."|
|"I guess. But then we all veer off course. Like, Shell Bell and Aegis are both from future Earths, according to Jane's investigation of astronomy in Atlantis they're not even too far off in year, but really different future Earths. The attractors for their Earths just sort of stopped working the same way. Atlantis flooded. Should we all expect to flood in a way that only a mutant from Peace could ordinarily stop? I wouldn't expect to look at the history of Samaria, which does include an Earth, and see Panem as a thing there, though."|
|"It's interesting," says Matilda.|
|"It is! And we have a while to figure it out."|