(Continued from Research Opportunities)
After dinner and getting back home with her prize, the Book seems to call Ismene like a siren song.
Opening and riffing through it, however, is like dealing with the book from Borges' Library of Babel. Pages seem to unfold into other pages; keeping concentration and attention on a single page seems to take an effort. A test of Ammon shows that he has no capability to do so whatsoever. The limited ability Ismene has at the moment is more than her lover has.
It will take time and practice to make true use of the book.
It might even be the work of a lifetime.
However, riffling through the book, she comes across a page. The page starts off in blurred, unreadable words, and then in the center of the page, like a lens which is suddenly in focus, Ismene can read:
"And so Melantha Harmon was told of her origin and her true nature, as a daughter of the Sorceress. And so, the daughter of Hecate, having met her, was instructed by her divine parent to travel westward, to the city of Memphis, and seek the daughter of Athena in turn, and given instruction on how to do so."
The rest of the page is out of focus. But those words are unmistakable.
Izzy lets out a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding. All in all, she is satisfied with the book. It doesn't lead her on, step by step, without any difficulty. The fact that she has to put effort into figuring out how this thing worked makes what she has learned from it all the more alluring.
She thinks about the words that she's read. Memphis, hmm? Daughter of Hecate? This could get to be ... interesting. It's a good thing that she hasn't taken any time off in awhile and has plenty of vacation time available. If her vacation time gets used up on this quest for her mother, then so be it. She'll figure something out. But a glance at Ammon makes her pause. Her vacation time was supposed to be for their wedding and honeymoon. But this ... if she doesn't do this, based on what her mother said, would she be able to even GET married?
Sighing again, she turns to her lover. "Ammon, I've got to go to Memphis. Maybe further. I don't know." She bites her lip. "My ... mother... has a task for me, and I can't ignore it." Her lids draw down over her eyes and her head bows. "It may affect when we can get married. I'm sorry."
In response, Ammon draws Ismene into his embrace. He says nothing for a long time, letting his body language talk for him. He just holds her, silently, protectively.
"Maybe I should have said," Ammon says, after, "that you must not read from the book. But even if you had not, your mother would have commanded you in some other way, I am sure. Even if you haven't really met her. I don't think I can go with you, or else I would want to talk to her myself.
"I don't understand," he says, "why your mother wants you to go to Memphis. Elvis?" he adds rhetorically.
Izzy represses a shudder. "Oh, I hope not. I have no real desire to learn any more about the Patron Saint of Memphis than I already know." She does not say anything regarding his inability to travel with her, knowing that it is the truth. Instead, she stays snuggled in his arms, enjoying what she suspects will be the last feeling of security she will have for some time.
When snuggling and embrace finally turns to sleep and dream, Izzy's dreams are turgid, and confused. One of many dreams stands out. Izzy is racing through a library, the library of Alexandria, she somehow knows. A woman is running along with her, a woman flanked by dogs, big dogs. And a couple of men are ahead, leading the way, clearing out the threats ahead. A precious scroll is in Izzy's hand, a scroll with a secret that she, the woman and others need in order to, in order to ...
But it's never quite clear what the scroll is for, save that bearing it from the library, before the guardian chasing them finds them, is of the utmost importance. It could be a matter not only of life and death, but enough to hold the fate of the world ...
And with that last dream, Izzy awakes, to the early light of morning.
Over the next couple of days, Ismene gets some more practice in working on the book. That strange "out of focus except for relevant or discovered bits" appears to be the nature of the book for her for now. Ammon buys the story Ismene gives for her sudden desire to go to Memphis by herself, and the trip is easily arranged.
The book finally comes up with a version of a advertisement, or a guide page, to something called Mud Island River Park, on the Mississippi River. The implication is clear: This is where Melantha is. That page has something else new, too, telling of the "Son of Aphrodite" who led Melantha and Ismene to "the Great Tetrahedron of Glass."