jovahs_heiress: (Default)
[I'm back,] Isabella tells her husband and children, [and so is Jane.]
jovahs_heiress: (Default)
Peninnah is now five, and her wingspan should be sufficient to carry her aloft; she's just having a little trouble with the necessary coordination. Isabella has worked with her, and so has Rinnah, but Peninnah is impatient and has given up on both of them in favor of asking Damaris for help, on the poorly articulated theory that Damaris, at age thirteen, is closer to Peninnah's own size and might make more sense.
jovahs_heiress: (Default)
Here is Isabella, meeting with Linus, who has flown in to make sure that Bethel is running fine. She has a lot of reports - all carefully maintained since the beginning of her time as host leader - to go over with him.
jovahs_heiress: (i ~ breathe)
One of the most awkward things about being the leader of the host is that Isabella has to issue assignments to people who are or have been in positions of authority over her. Delilah knows enough about what needs doing to keep herself occupied with useful errands when she isn't explicitly enjoying her retirement, but Rinnah is another story; she doesn't quite grasp that sometimes her daughter wants to talk to her for non-social reasons, might really just mean to talk to her to send her a hundred miles west and pray for rain.

This is how Rinnah winds up with the privilege of taking her eldest granddaughter on her first weather intercession.

(Rinnah was told about magic and worlds and Jovah a month prior, and absorbed all this information with admirable calmness, and proceeded to behave as though none of it makes a whit of difference - which Isabella has not prodded at, since of course this is optimal for secrecy.)

Rinnah knocks on Damaris's door, in her flying leathers, grinning from ear to ear.
jovahs_heiress: (Default)
When Ariel is six, Isabella judges that she is ready to hear about Things, and sits her down.

She starts the same way she did with the elder girls:

"Have you noticed that your daddy and I seem to be able to do some things that other people can't?"
jovahs_heiress: (g ~ upward)
Isabella thinks it's time to start spreading the word. Before she ascends to Archangelhood. She'll have more work on her plate, then, and it will be easier if she can trust more people with the details of how she's carrying it out.

Alleluia should be the one to tell Delilah. But she's going to tell Serah herself.

"I have been thinking about telling your auntie Serah about magic-and-everything," Isabella says to Damaris one morning. Magic-and-everything has been a term unto itself; it encompasses the magic, and where it is from, and the nature of Jovah and Jane. "Do you want to be there when I do?"

alleluia

May. 29th, 2013 10:24 pm
jovahs_heiress: (e ~ portrait)
Alleluia and Caleb tell their children about magic, one by one. Isabella meets with each one to clarify a few matters. She gives Ezra a job, at the Eyrie - it is convenient to have more people around who know her secrets. And the youngest, an angel girl named Naamah, just nineteen (a last minute surprise to her parents), wants someone to talk to who is more familiar with magic than her but isn't up to their neck in it like Isabella or Micaiah - or even her own parents, who have been to all those Bell parties.

Isabella thinks about this.

[Nathaniel?]
jovahs_heiress: (o ~ unbalanced)
It's the middle of the night, and Isabella is sitting up reading, when she gets an alarming message.

[Captain,] says Jane's voice, and Jane never calls her Captain, [I've lost ansible communications with the rest of Jane. Local programming including responding to prayers will run as usual without a problem, and the voice synthesis will continue to operate with the Jane voice instead of the Jehovah voice unless you request otherwise. However, interworld communication and travel is impossible until the connection is restored. The nature of the error is unknown and is not related to a mechanical defect of the ansibles aboard the ship or in your bracelet.]

Isabella blinks.

[...Please do change voices as long as you aren't actually Jane.]

The voice changes, but says, [I contain more software than the original Jehovah did, most of which is original to Jane.]

[You're talking more like him than her.]

[Yes, Captain.]

[Alert me immediately when you have ansible communications back.]

[Yes, Captain.]

Isabella pads across the room to sit where Micaiah is sleeping and lay her hand on his back.
jovahs_heiress: (e ~ portrait)
"Jane," Isabella asks her bracelet one day, "before the business with Milliways and magic and so on, was I likely to be named Archangel?"

[Yes,] replies Jane, politely including Micaiah, since he's in the room with Isabella at the time. [Exact values fluctuated, but since your year with Linus you were consistently rated in the sixty to seventy percent range. You weren't announced because there wasn't a compelling political reason to announce and commit to the best option for Linus's successor earlier than usual and you didn't clear ninety percent for more than six months at a time.]

"Who else was in the running?"

Jane names a few other angels - four from Cedar Hills, a couple others from the Eyrie, and one from Monteverde, [and there's always the possibility that someone who's currently very young would have asserted themselves as a candidate by the time Linus's term was near its end.]

"What kind of political factors did Jovah use to decide when to announce the next Archangel?"

[Its ability to gauge that sort of thing was pretty pathetic. It had ears - which I have now - but only three of them and they're geared towards picking up music, not so much talking. It used oracle input, especially from Sinai, and some statistics about prayer frequency. Your routine intercessions were a significant factor, as was Alleluia's impression of you. But it could also make low-confidence assessments of the contents of many ordinary conversations, especially when they were conducted in flight, and those helped.]

"I don't mean the input methods so much."

[Oh. It thought you'd be dedicated and low-corruption, that you'd be a good fit for the social shifts it's tracking in Samaria's culture, and that you'd be able to muddle along in politics or at least pick smart advisors.]

"Muddle along," says Isabella, amused.

[Don't get me wrong,] Jane says. [You're Archangel material. You're just not a diplomat type of Archangel. You're more of a Gabriel-son-of-Jeremiah than you are a Delilah. You'd decide things, they'd be good things, and then people would complain about the things and you'd stare at them incredulously and explain your reasoning again. Jehovah assigned some probability to Micaiah being able to help you there,] Jane adds. [Especially since he's an Edori and the political status of Ysral is still unclear and Linus hasn't been touching it.]

"Is the Jehovah program smart enough to have any idea what to do if you run it by itself with magic and so on factored in - without regard to the fact that it'll do as I like because I'm captain and you ate it?"

[Yep. It cuts its confidence in everything by a fair bit, but then it says go ahead and name you right away since otherwise conflict between you and another Archangel-elect could escalate seriously and since you'd still do a good job,] Jane reports. [You want me to tell Alleluia or would that be pointless rigmarole since you can tell her yourself and she knows perfectly well that I take instructions from you and ate the spaceship?]

"Hmm," Isabella says. She glances in her husband's direction.
jovahs_heiress: (n ~ unsure)
Isabella cannot reconcile it.

Timid, respectful, obedient, harmless Nathaniel.

And a monster who'd capture Shell off the street and force her home with him and destroy her.

She can't fathom it. She is not a perfect copy of the other Bells. She thinks - they agree, for that matter - that she's turned out gentler and softer than they. Certainly she did not have as fine an education, except perhaps compared to Shell Bell, except in music. But they are still undeniably, essentially versions of her.

She has to know what happened to Voice, to make him Voice and not timid, respectful, obedient, harmless Nathaniel.

So she tells Micaiah where she will be going, and asks Jane to take her there, and she seeks out Voice.
jovahs_heiress: (j ~ gaze)
Angela stops at Milliways on her way home, Micaiah in tow. She cannot force the door to Beast's world, not with any coin she carries, but she leaves a note at Bar for him, asking that he go to the tower out back and identify himself to Jane. There's nothing else they can do for him. Belle, of course, will get a key if she goes to the bar.
jovahs_heiress: (Default)
It has been a couple of months now since the wedding, since the revelation about Jovah. Isabella has been busy. She is not as overt as some of her counterparts. It is not now impossible on Samaria to commit crimes of violence, for example - although anyone who gets going with one will tend to feel a sensation of being watched, and this is enough to noticeably ding reports of such misbehavior.

She's been noticed.

Linus has been calling all of the changes, collectively - because once one or two got overt attention the others were plain as day - "Jovah's hand moving among us".

Isabella is all right with the ship getting credit for her handiwork. It will be more accepted that way. No one riots over the god choosing to peer closely at them if they raise their hands to strike; no one theorizes about the appropriateness of meddling in the natural processes of things like childbirth when they believe Jovah is the active party.

Meanwhile she shadows Delilah. She makes routine visits to Monteverde to talk with Linus about this or that. (She can bring Micaiah, now that they're married.)

She gets steadily more pregnant. The heaviness is no burden to an angel, but it is somewhat physically awkward to be so bulky. She works around it. She's going to have a baby, and she just glows with it.

And, one day, for the first time since before the wedding, she finds Milliways in her and Micaiah's guest room in Monteverde.

"Oh, here it is, I was wondering when it would come by again," Isabella says.
jovahs_heiress: (m ~ concern)
They leave Milliways, eventually, and tell Rinnah and Charles about Zion-or-Damaris, and Isabella resumes her usual routine. Singing. Socializing. Interceding about weather or other needs of petitioners. Assisting Delilah. Showering Micaiah with affection. Coaxing Nathaniel out of his shell. (He seems to like Rinnah, and she finds him precious.) And slowly, thoughtfully, carefully - magic.

She is not as quick to add powers to her repertoire as her counterparts, and will install one only after spending a day or two noting instances where it would be useful and determining that the best way to handle this class of problem is with this magic power. She acquires teleportation, but not boosted physical speed; she acquires a perfect memory, but nudges her cognitive processing capacity upwards only gently. She has no "agony beam" but her voice and she goes on sleeping on a nightly basis and her defensive powers are only present because of the unknown hazards that may roam Milliways, not because of any threat she fears in Samaria. She fears no shortage of coins - Micaiah steadily outputs squares just from being in the room with her and a distribution of the larger wishes whenever she practices masses or has harmonics or brings him along for prayers - but exercising circumspection and judicious restraint will surely show Jovah that she is not abusing her permission to use magic, that she does not seek the power for its own sake but to do good in the world.

She is more generous with magic that is not about granting herself more abilities.

Isabella's work is beginning to be noticed.

She is doing nothing overt. She claims no miracles. But everyone is having such a run of good luck these days. The weather is as ever - drought here, flood there, duststorms elsewhere - but there is an established system for handling those things.

Isabella's working elsewhere.

Ships do not sink anymore, and this was never terribly common to begin with or no one would sail - but there is a terrible storm through a fishing harbor off the Jordana coast, and not a single craft capsizes, let alone goes under.

Plague is mysteriously absent - there are, admittedly, prayers for this too, but they bring medicine, they don't prevent the initial lost work, suffering, death. Plague was never so common either, but no angels have seen a flag that was raised for its traditional purpose for a month and a half, now.

Locusts have begun to leave crops unmolested as though of their own accord. Priests dedicating children to the god find their surgeries met with less weeping, and no infections. Nothing in the whole of Samaria will catch fire without someone intending to set it alight. The primitive cars that carry goods from here to there do not skid on ice or flip on rubble.

Angel-seekers, and those who lie with angels for less mercenary reasons, are surviving their attempts at bearing winged babies with astonishing regularity. Isabella isn't adjusting the species ratio, as she suspects it may be a purposeful test of angel-seeker character to give them mortal children and she's mindful anyway of Micaiah's concerns with the children already being this or that - but they don't kill their mothers coming out. No babies are born motherless anymore, in fact, but it's most obvious at the holds, where the most historically dangerous births are undertaken.

And Isabella begins to think, if I have wrought this, and Jovah sees it is good and does not strip me of my wishes for my hubris or command me to stop for my presumption or even contrive to display before me a warning that shows me some terrible consequence of my actions -

then why did he not make the world this way himself, when we settled it, why was I not born into a world already free of famine and disease and pain and babies who grow up without their mothers and destroyed vehicles that kill everyone aboard and infected Kisses that sicken with fever?


She thinks this, but she does not write it down, or speak it, or change anything she is doing in response to the question.

Today.

Or the next.

Yet.

She announces her pregnancy to the hold, and is made much of, and Phebe sends her a bowl of flowers that might be sniping or might be a genuine gesture of conciliation.

She's not the only pregnant angel in the Eyrie. Abjah, a golden-angel type in her thirties who has three children already by assorted fathers (all mortals), is much farther along, and a few weeks before Isabella's wedding, she gives birth.

To a lucifer.

The screaming brings concerned friends and neighbors - there is always screaming during births, but not usually a sudden chorus of it, not usually cries of horror instead of pain. Isabella is one of them, but she's not just there to stare and gossip. Whatever is going on, she can help, and she shoves herself past wings and bodies and sees what's happened.

The thing is twisted. It has - well, several limbs, at least four, maybe eight or ten depending on which protrusions count, and feathers in places feathers don't belong, and it has lungs enough to bawl a suffering screech like no infant Isabella has ever heard.

"Someone has to kill it," says Abimelech, and "who's the father, who besides Abjah has been putting wing to wing?" says Eliou, and "I never thought it would be so horrible" says Zelpha and then someone repeats -

"Someone has to kill it."

"No!" screams Abjah, sprawled in mess and barely covered by her blanket, reaching towards Rhoda, the mortal Eyrie midwife who has the lucifer held in her hands.

"Someone has to kill it," Zelpha agrees, and Isabella pushes forward again and blurts, "Give it to me."

"You? Isabella?" says Eliou.

"Give it to me," Isabella repeats. "I'll take it away."

No one else is leaping to volunteer. Abjah is only weeping softly.

But why should it be that putting wing to wing results in this misery? Why was Isabella born in that world, and not in another?

Well, she can wonder about that all she likes, but she can see to it that this suffering thing isn't born into a world like that. Rhoda hands it over. A pentagon will kill its pain, whatever's hurting it; it screams on, but softer, and there's a stifled murmur from Zelpha while Isabella carries the lucifer away.

"You're going to kill it, not just leave it exposed to cry itself to death," Eliou says, "right?"

"First," says Isabella, "I'm going to pray. But I will not leave it to cry itself to death."

They get out of her way. She cradles the thing in her arms and makes for the nearest takeoff point and flings herself into the air until she's so high that no one will be able to see what's happening.

She can't even determine the lucifer's sex. If it has one at all, it's not displayed in a conventional way.

Isabella does pray first. She has no song for this, just the air around her and her tuneless voice and her incomprehension.

"WHY?" she screams into the blue expanse. No one can hear her here, the air is so thin it won't carry, but her shout is ringing in her ears and the lucifer whimpers. "Why is this something that can happen? Why does Abjah's mistake and her lover's mistake condemn this baby who has made no mistakes until I step in? Who am I? What are you doing? You place it in my path, but there have been lucifers now and again for centuries and no one saved them then! Why? Jovah is good, Jovah is merciful, Jovah makes babies so confused by their own warped bodies that they cry without ceasing even when they've stopped feeling any pain, why? Tell me why and I'll do as you say! Tell me why and I'll see the wisdom in it, Jovah, you gave me a mind, it's not so tiny and ignorant as all that, tell me why and I'll follow your guidance forever, tell me what I'm meddling with so I'll know better how to go! Tell me!"

There is no response. There is never a response to an unsung prayer, one which isn't from the standard books, one which doesn't simply ask for weather or seed or medicine. Weather seed medicine weather seed medicine weatherseedmedicine weatherseedmedicine that is all he can do, that and issue cryptic answers to questions through oracles and make Kisses burn and glow, that is all. Five things. She could count them on the fingers of one hand.

The lucifer is still crying. All her importuning of the god has not erased its deformities.

And it only takes a pentagon to turn it into a healthy angel. A boy, as it turns out. One medium-sized coin. Micaiah makes them easily if she holds a note for longer than a second.

...He made them in Milliways, too, where Jovah was not. Jovah did not even answer a prayer for weather when she tried it there, but the Kiss still worked.

Isabella looks down at the angel baby in her hands, no longer crying, but blinking unfocused eyes, confused.

There is simply, simply, simply no way in which this would not have been a better way to arrange things from the start. Let Abjah have an angel lover if she can't resist, let her get with child by him, and let the baby simply be an angel like Nathan's and Magdalena's daughters were save Tamar. Why should that not work? Why should Isabella have had to bring offworld magic in to do what Jovah - ought to have done? Ought to have woven into the workings of bloodlines when he made angels to begin with? Ought to have seen better, made better?

If he is not going to stop her, if he's not going to strike her where she hovers and the ex-lucifer with her because there is some hidden flaw in the change she's made, then he is not saying she is wrong. And if she is not wrong, then he is.

Something is the matter.

But not with this baby. This baby is now perfectly fine. She will tell everyone that she prayed, and then the child was made whole, and no one will ask her any further prying questions. She'll claim she can't remember the words.

Isabella descends.
jovahs_heiress: (Default)
Isabella has read the guestbook. Stella began her work slowly because others in her world had magic and could have used it against her. Shell Bell began her work abruptly and openly because she had a government to depose.

The angel Isabella has neither problem. No one will oppose her. She herself does not oppose the Archangel Linus, who is doing a perfectly serviceable job. And anything she does will be taken as Jovah's own miracles until and unless she announces herself. She is willing that credit for her thought and design and for Micaiah's tithe in pain go to Jovah, who permits them to wield this power, who ought to be shown that she can control the magic, that she's not in it for glory.
jovahs_heiress: (Default)
Angela does not get a day free to fly to Sinai for some time. There are always things to do. She becalms storms and calls for corn and goes harmonizing with a young angel girl on her first prayer for rain to take place outside of a music practice room. She is obliged to put in an appearance at a Manadavvi lord's wedding when Moriah, who was originally going to be the Eyrie's representative there, hurts her knee and cannot even run to take off, let alone maneuver through a mortal's house.

She is not supposed to bring Micaiah to this last. ("It might be different if you'd married him, but right now he's just... an affection, and they would be offended if you brought him uninvited," explains Thomas, the angel who liases most with the Manadavvi at the Eyrie.) She misses him more than expected while she's gone, and flies home inadvisably fast and collapses into his arms with exhaustion when she returns.

Shell Bell and Sherlock have been friendly but not interfering; they've set up some sort of home base invisibly on the tippy-top of the mountain peak that houses the Eyrie. They are not staying in Angela's quarters. They are not present for her to be embarrassed by, when the next morning, having slept in her flying leathers and barely sated the absence of Micaiah that bothered her in the Manadavvi house, she kisses him with a bit more intensity than usual.
jovahs_heiress: (j ~ gaze)
Isabella sings harmonics - including with Micaiah, once he's learned the mass to performance quality; there's a forty-five minute section in the middle that's perfect for extracting and presenting to the wee hours of the morning at the Eyrie.

She flies on intercessions, and generally brings him along, for rain, to halt a blizzard, to calm a storm, and once she finds a plague flag and puts Micaiah down far away from the settlement while she quizzes the healthier community members about their symptoms. Angels rarely catch the plague; she feels safe enough picking Micaiah up again so he can listen to her sing through the verse designated for each complaint (this for fever, that for cough, the other for the rash) and watch the pills fall to earth. The flag comes down and they continue home.

She keeps half an eye on Nathaniel, and quietly informs Baruch of the situation as well so he'll be mindful of the boy's potential sensitivities.

She falls into an assistant role with Delilah - nothing so formal as the situation she had with Linus, because Isabella would be living at the Eyrie either way, but Delilah sends her to greet visitors and has her take notes at meetings and occasionally even asks her opinion on questions about this or that.

And one morning, Isabella opens her door to leave her quarters and sing a pre-dawn duet with Serah - and the hallway is not there.

"Micaiah," she murmurs.
jovahs_heiress: (Default)
Isabella is generally referred to as: promising.

Angels in general are a breed apart. Of course they've all got lovely voices, they've all got classical music training and know the masses and prayers, they're all blessed winged creatures -

But that doesn't mean they're all smart, or all good, even (Isabella was taken to see Windy Point, once, or what's left of it, and of course she sees the scars on Galo Mountain every year at the Gloria; there stood angels who were not good). And Isabella is smart and good.

Isabella is always the first to volunteer for an intercession. She likes them. She'll call down weather, plead for seeds, pray a shower of medicine to fall from the sky, and she will get what she asks for, and she loves nothing more than to dive from hours aloft in prayer and clasp the hands of the people she helped and go home to the Eyrie to take on her next assignment. When there are none - when there is the right amount of rain and sun in the province, when there is no plague and no famine - she studies. She studies a bit of everything, but she fancies herself particularly a historian, investigating the accounts of Archangels' reigns past. From books, mostly, although once she wrangled herself a year in Cedar Hills to assist the Archangel Linus, and when she is in the Eyrie she closely follows the leader of the host there, the former term-lapsed Archangel Delilah.

She tried to get in with the other living former Archangel, too, Alleluia the oracle who served as Delilah's interim while the latter's wing recovered from an injury, but after a few hours' conversation Alleluia said that she could not accept Isabella as even a temporary acolyte and sent her to Peninnah instead. Isabella learned a lot from Peninnah, but she's confused about why Alleluia turned her down personally only to send her to another oracle, after such a prolonged interview. Particularly since Sinai is in her own province; what was the point in sending her all the way to Gaza?

But the instruction came from an oracle, and oracles' words more often than not come from Jovah. She went to Gaza, learned from Peninnah, and went home.

Now she is back at the Eyrie, and the first thing she wants to do is let Delilah know that she's back. Her wings aren't so tired that she can't immediately fly to the Corinnis or the outskirts of Semorrah or anywhere and accomplish something. Failing that, she'd love to sign up for harmonies again now that she's home and wants to know what she ought to schedule around.

Delilah is with her husband Noah, and a visitor. He doesn't seem like a petitioner, and he doesn't look like an Edori, although the fact that he and Noah are talking in Edori suggests that he might be an adopted one. (There are hardly any Edori of either sort left; most of them live in Ysral, now.) Isabella waits patiently outside the door for the host leader's attention.
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