Simone's flat >> The Great Library

Ambrosia probably wonders why Simone lives where she does. In the poor section of the city, where life is cheap. After so many years as Helios's agent, Simone could live in a place with more luxury. Instead, she crouches to speak to one of the homeless men, giving him coins, but also telling him where she had seen a grocer throwing out perfectly good food. A few streets later, she storms into the middle of a fight between a whore and her customer, shouting angrily, belittling his manhood eloquently. The man slinks away. A child runs up to her with a book in his hands, offering it to Simone. She gravely haggles with the girl, then pays what Ambrosia knows to be extravagantly more to be what the cheap paperback is worth. Simone is known in this neighbourhood. They know she isn't poor. They know she reads. But they can also tell she is one of them. She speaks their language. She doesn't try to save them.

Simone Isandwana's flat is rather spartan. Her habits of a childhood on the street have taught her to keep everything important to her on her person. Money. A pouch of summoning powder. Juggling balls. A crocheted scarf that unwinds into a light rope, strong enough to hold her slight weight. A dagger, for when stealth or diplomacy fails. Two locks of hair, one red and one black, braided together, and worn close to her heart.

All that is left in her residence is a single room with a bed and a sink. The bathroom is shared with three other flats on the same floor, two of them prostitutes, one with a child. The third flat is a dead-eyed dust addict who sometimes screams at his invisible demons. Simone shares food with all of them, especially the young mother. She wonders if her own mother looked so young, and realizes that she must have. Simone may even be older now than her mother was when she died. She doesn't know, and has no way of knowing (except to ask Helios, and she won't - not for that!), but she knows she would rather live in the slums than anywhere else. These are her people - even the crazed addict - and she understands them. She has moved up in the world, but not beyond her roots.

She rolls up her sleeping mat to make enough room for Ambrosia, and sprinkles

"Helios."