Spalding sat in his favorite tea spot of his favorite tea shop sipping his favorite tea. He was exuberant with happiness and filled with such glee. He heard a commotion from the hospital and wouldn’t you know, his nephew had complications which made his happiness grow. His friend the broom dog joined him at their spot.
“I heard there was such a commotion at the hospital, such a pity” he said with a laugh.
Winter smirks “That is good that is good, but not so good for the kitty” She says ending her line in a rhyme with his.
After more chatter and the sipping of tea Winter nods with a smile and ponders “I wonder where our mouse friend’s hiding”
“We should just wait here with the tea she’s providing” Spalding said as they continue to sit in her tea shop waiting for the dormouse to arrive. She came in the door bright and bubbly, with a bounce to her gait and a wave to them. “There’s our friend Bea, we’re just enjoying your tea. How are you my friend?”
After pleasantries the conspirators prepared their cause, but a few details still gave them pause.
“That maze of a city hall, how can we find anything at all?” Spalding asked his resourceful friends.
“I found the archives hidden though they were, with little trouble we’ll get the kitty cur.” Bea said as she shuffled to the right and then to the left again. “Barry has mapped the way, and will lead us to where our information lay!”
Scalding grabbed his coat and finished his tea, “Then we should hurry to our prey, and scurry not delay.”
Beatrixe tilts her head, “But we cannot bring our hatter friend. The archive has defenders who do not bend. They don’t much like Dynamite. It gives them an awful fright.”
“He could remove the hat but it’s so fitting, on the head where it is sitting.” Winter noted as she considered the other part. Others that might stop them? “To deal with the cats we got brooms, but what to do if others try to bring our dooms.”
“Tell them we are late, for a very important date,” Spalding replied with a twisted giggle. But he had to admit there was one problem, “Some of the kitties friends have turned from their side, but we haven’t fully turned the tide.”
“So, the broom is what will get us in!” Beatrixe said as she stood in surprise. She turned to Winter grinning, her mechanical appendages practically spinning, “We can sweep up and no one will give us a second glance!”
“Janitors, prefect idea, then we can clean the archive out.” Spalding admitted to the brilliance of their plan.
They laughed maniacally as they made their way out of the shop. They only stopped once to consider they may need a mop. Together they made their way to city hall, and stopped beside the side entrance that made them feel small.
“Oh, and I’ve been told the Underpants are there so we have to watch out for those.” Beatrixe shared, to which Spalding thought perhaps she meant Underby. “No no. They said Underpants. I figure someone has a clockwork in there that only wears undergarments.”
‘Well we should watch for everything.” Spalding said as they readied their brooms. Together they entered into a massive room.
Perhaps a few odd looks came their way, but most ignored them that day.
“What do you think you are doing here?” an unpleasant woman asked.
“We are the new janitors!” Beatrixe replied happily.
“New janitors?” The woman looked surprised, “When were you hired?”
“Hired?” Beatrixe looked surprised as her friends swept up the dusty corridor. “I heard that to get a job you just have to decide you have the job!”
With a shake of her head and a sigh of not another one, the lady thought it wasn’t worth stopping volunteers who helped a ton. Who looks twice at a volunteer janitor pray tell? And visiting an archive was no reason to end up in a cell. They swept the floors as they became quite mired. Eventually they realized why they were tired. They soon returned with their clockwork friend, and hoped it would have information to lend.
They followed the clockwork Barry with delight and arrive at the archives in dead of night. Harumble they cried at the archive they finally did, but to a mess none expected to find in their bid. The front was clear but elsewhere old papers still littered the floor, clearly this section contained some lost lore. Outside Beatrixe grabbed a book off of the shelf, while Spalding looked on and thought to himself.
“And to think Junie came here to get away from her aunt. Oh what an absolute mess. I thought an archive would be cleaner, I confess.” He picked up a paper from the floor. It seemed to be images that had fallen over ages ago. It was covered in grime and dust, and rats had nibbled the edges. “Is this useful or is it junk, I can’t tell with all this gunk?”
“Looks like it was a massive stack that fell over.” Beatrixe picked up a plaque that stated Maceholder Cleanslate visual records of his years of service. “Cleanslate? Well they must be intended for destruction if they want a clean slate. We should help them!”
The three nodded and Winter and Barry started sweeping all the images into a pile. Spalding looked for a shelf for their coveted file. On a dust covered shelf dedicated to one Father N. Ing, were wrapped scrolls tied together with seals and string.
“Who was Father N. Ing,” Spalding wondered as he selected a scroll that looked interesting. Once unsealed the scroll quickly crumbled and then fell into dust. It seemed that getting anything from it would be a bust. He tried another but they all did the same. Perhaps the Father should have invested in some frames. “Archived dust is just so strange. Or does paper have its own form of mange?”
Beatrixe considered the thinly held together papers, “Perhaps these scrolls are another thing to purge? Maybe at the end we play a dirge.”
They gathered items into a keg that Beatrixe found, which in Babbage there is always one around. Spalding tried another scroll that seemed more new to find anything on Alice for them to view. There were few books about Clockhaven before it became the Great Fire, and regretfully they needed information from long before when the Emperor’s were called Sire.
Spalding tried to follow the works of Brother Dru Paul next, but his work was as decrepit as the rest. A Sister Wayb Ack did her best to reprise what would soon be lost, but much was still uncategorized and tossed. They left the useful pages, but the rest they’d leave while fire rages.
Hours passed as the trio worked with their clockwork friend, Spalding finally asking, “Did you find anything Bea or Barry? If not we should take books, as many as we can carry.”
Winter looked up in surprise, “We were still looking for that? I’ve just been cleaning along with the clockwork hat!”
“Was I supposed to say when I found it?” Beatrixe asked as she picked up the first book she got outside the room. “Cause I found it before we got here.”
Barry whapped itself in the ‘face’ with its own foot, as it stood on a pile of books meant for the burning keg.
“Oh well… then all this was for naught?” He looked at the room which was much cleaner than before. Finding what was broken and purging the old wasn’t a total waste of their time. “I suppose we had fun and didn’t get caught.”
“Don’t worry, we can make a quick fire. Though we should make sure the build doesn’t become a pyre.” Beatrixe said as she looked at the keg and prepared a lighter.
Spalding considering the canals would destroy them just as well, but this did seem an entertaining end to the cool evening, “Not sure why we need such a fire, but it’s still fun just don’t make it get any higher.”
“You are right Mr. Hare,” Beatrixe admitted, “But think of this barrel as Beryl burning bare?”
“Then throw more books until it is all burned, that is what the mean kitty has earned.”
And the crew all did set the flames, which they insured would be most tame. As old broken texts and links to lost past burned, there were a few things that they had still learned. Winter looked up as though she could see or scent others, and altered them that it was time to go or maybe face the Brothers. They fled into the morning light, as someone reached the archive and gave a scream of fright. Or perhaps it was a scream of rage. Maybe later the answer would lie on another page.