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HTHT is about a trio of magical girls defending the world from interdimensional invaders.
It has concluded.
If you like HTHT, you might like Elcenia, my fantasy series.
"Lattar fer eeyoo moss!" said a rose-grey paget in mangled recitation of Rowan's stock phrase, appearing out of nowhere and making a beeline for Susie.
"Oh! Thank you!" Susie said, taking the envelope. It was heavy; she opened it and poured three diamonds and two rubies into her hand. "Uh..." She recited the phrase she'd memorized in Eegamal, to explain to the new paget where to go and who to talk to. He zoomed away, lashing his tail happily.
The letter named the new beads; Susie activated her three in turn, looked them over, and buried her face in the tuft of fur under one's chin. It stood tolerantly while she nuzzled it, and then she turned it back into its bead form and tucked it into her staff. She felt like she was always in costume, lately - to fly, to pose for pictures, to fight. There wasn't much reason to go about in ordinary clothes. She was looking forward to wearing her bridesmaid dress at her mom's wedding, though.
Kristi jogged over when she showed up at the paget ranch that afternoon. "School starts soon," she said, after taking the offered rubies and list of names.
"I hadn't even thought about that," said Susie. "I haven't done any of my summer reading."
Kristi shrugged. "You probably don't have to worry about that. I mean, you can learn whatever you want on the Internet these days, and we don't need school to make a living. At least, you don't. You've already got an entire career and a movie in the works."
"That reminds me," Susie said. "Claude wanted to know if you wanted to be in the movie. It's supposed to be mostly about me, but it would do better if it weren't just me. Everyone knows we're a team."
"Rowan -" began Kristi, but then she changed her mind. "Maybe. I'd want to see the script."
"We don't have one yet," Susie said. "We have a screenwriter, but haven't figured out what kind of plot we should have yet."
"Isn't the plot kind of obvious? Magicians attack Earth, Diamond Starlight saves the day?" asked Kristi, gesturing vaguely.
"That's the main plot, I guess," Susie said. "Claude thinks we should have at least one sub-plot."
"Well," said Kristi. "Maybe I'll be in the movie." She paused. "Maybe Rowan will come back."
"Maybe," said Susie. She didn't say that if Rowan were going to do that, she'd have brought the beads herself.
"Invisible," said Rowan firmly to the beads half-filling her staff. "Invisibility. Transparent. Transparency."
Her arm was still there, protruding resolutely and visibly out of her shoulder.
"Damn it. Wings," she sighed, and the requested limbs flaffed forth from her back. She flew back to the town she'd been staying in - not the one close to Dahar's palace, but another one, in a neighboring territory and far enough from its reigning magician that they'd risk taking her in.
She landed, and started weaving through the cramped paths between houses, when a little girl clip-clopped her way straight into Rowan at full speed.
This wouldn't have been so remarkable, if the girl hadn't then blinked confused yellow eyes and slowly put out a hand to pat Rowan's knee, the other hand holding her hurt nose.
"Hello?" Rowan asked.
"Eep!" shrieked the girl.
"...Visible?" said Rowan, and the girl took three rapid steps backward, staring at Rowan.
"You weren't there!" the child complained.
"Huh," said Rowan, starting to smile.
Magically silenced under her own power, made invisible by her new bead Viharthi's borrowed magic, and scared stiff by her own foolishness, Rowan crept into Dahar's palace.
The place was much more lavishly furnished and decorated than the decoy that had been destroyed. Rowan didn't know how any Datékali craftsperson could accumulate the expertise needed to make those ceramics, or the tables, or the mirrors. (She didn't show up to herself in the mirrors, which made her feel more secure about her invisibility.) No one but a magician would buy them, and a magician might not so much buy them as demand them in tribute. Maybe Dahar had provided materials to promising artists or something.
She hadn't come to speculate about the economy of Datékaln, though, and avoided much lingering over the décor.
Hearing voices, Rowan climbed a staircase.
Dahar, bedecked in rings with cut-out shapes - slipped onto her horns, pierced through her ears, torcs around her neck and arms and legs and tail, bracelets and rings and one massive gray one with stars and crescents and sunbursts around her middle - was in a capacious workroom. She was talking to what was, apparently, her new paget: teal, with a bluish belly, and an ear mark to match A'at's. And a deep red collar.
The paget was running errands around the room, fetching bits of metal and glass and long wicked-looking tools. Meanwhile Dahar, her eyes glowing in coruscating red and spangled-silver and blue, worked on... something. Most of the work seemed to be magical, but she attached small objects to the arch, or carved patterns in it, when the teal paget brought them to her.
It looked like an archway, more than tall enough to let Dahar through. It could probably fit most beads under it, if they ducked. But it didn't lead anywhere. Rowan focused her eyes, and looked at the bars of magic twisting over the arch, but they were gibberish. They ended raggedly in midair, were full of gaps crosswise and along their lengths, and some of them didn't appear attached to anything. Rowan wished she could see sun and star magic; without, she had no hope of interpreting the arch.
Maybe she should have kept one of her magician prisoners.
But she didn't think she could have made one invisible, and probably couldn't have trusted anything one would say, anyway. And a magician would have been fairly likely to use the fact that they were still solid to tip off and cut a deal with Dahar, since she was being so... friendly.
Rowan tucked herself into a corner of the room, and watched Dahar add magic and boss around her paget.
She was going to figure out what the deal with the arch was for if she had to hide out in the palace for a month.