A knock at the door woke Cyan with a start. Blearily, he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and yawned a greeting. Dr. Sonnerstein opened the door, “Good evening, Cyan. How are you feeling?”
“Much better,” Cyan responded as he sat up, he felt exhausted but better than he had the day he woke up. “I’ve always been a fast healer.”
Sonnerstein nodded as he studied the lad, “That’s good to hear. You did have us a bit baffled as to what caused your coma.”
“Oh… well that was me I’m afraid…” Cyan knew that he would have to explain that. With little insistence from Sonnestein he continued, recalling the night at Alley Cats, “I was really upset with Beryl. She wasn’t acting herself, or Hono said maybe she was acting more herself than she ever had. I just wanted to talk to her one on one… and I remember the dreams…So I thought I could summon her there and be in control of the situation.”
There was some commotion downstairs. Several young voices were calling out for help. Dr. Sonnerstein turned to the door as one of the nurses called for him. He smiled softly to Cyan “Sorry, I’d like to hear more later if you don’t mind. Let me check what’s the matter. I’ll come back shortly if I can.”
Cyan frowned as his visitor left so quickly and while he didn’t want to be nosy, he had a cats curiosity. He caught part of the conversation, enough to know Kasa was in critical condition. There were so many voices it was hard to make the gist of who was talking.
Wrights rough growl reverberated as they came down the hall, “That damned cat…she’s really determined to destroy herself. As for our wayward chief of staff, we should get her on a fluid IV stat with some nutrition. I’d suggest a feeding tube…she didn’t get this way by accident…she’s been starving herself.”
What’s going on, Cyan strained to hear the conversations.
“I heard one thing that was strange,” Freya said as they continued down the hallway. “It was like she was trying to hypnotize Kasa into believing someone else did it, but it didn’t work. Kasa was looking up at her with Beryl’s paw crushing her throat.” Kasa said something, but it was too quiet for Cyan to hear it. He wanted to rush out of bed, but he waited patiently for his turn.
“Umm… Wright… the hospitals brooms have not been stolen as well have they…I want to have Freya maybe help me clean Kasa’s lab while she’s out and ours are missing.”
“You see this fine layer of grit all over the damned floors….” Wright said in response. “I can’t even find any at the hardware stores these days. The ones from the asylum are gone too. I figure they were stolen, or Bea is on another hair brained project. I reckon we’ll see some new steampowered street sweeper from her in a few weeks.”
“That actually sounds pretty nifty,” Nellie responded and Cyan quietly agreed. From the sound of it Nellie and others were going to visit Snow across the hall. Rayn, Freya, and Skald Sonnerstein broke off from the others to visit him. “Hey, Cyan! Good to see you awake! What the heck happened?”
“Oh, you know, messing with things I probably shouldn’t.” Cyan replied wryly. “My last talk with Beryl went poorly, so I tried to talk on my own terms.”
“You were hoping to maybe talk some sense into her?” Freya shook her head in resignation. “It seems making plans against her haven’t gone very well.”
Rayn shuffled to his corner near Cyan’s bag, shaking his fur at how dusty the floor had become. “She seems to have no qualms with me, and I have been trying to get through to her. I will continue to do so. But for making counter plans…well you have to know the person you are making plans against before enacting them. I think Cyan has learned that lesson.”
Cyan flustered slightly at his friends comments, and he changed the subject, “So what’s happened out there?”
“Kasa was forced to poison you by Beryl, and she was trying to make Kasa forget about it.” Freya lowered her head, ears drooping as her tail fell beside her. “We thought she was choking her upstairs, her lab destroyed, but Kasa says she wasn’t.”
“Beryl?” Cyan knew she had changed, had encouraged his uncle, but this was too horrible for thought, “I couldn’t imagine her doing that to me or Kasa…”
“I’m worried….I don’t trust her now. She used to be…a hero. Now she’s a nightmare”
Cyan looked to Freya with sadness in his eyes, “I don’t know what’s gotten into Beryl… I wanted to try and talk to her but things got a little too far and was talking to the wrong person. Honestly, I didn’t realize I had been out for 3 weeks, thought it was a couple of minutes…I also wasn’t expecting my awakening.”
He tried not to dwell on that moment, and sensing his discomfort Skald moved closer trying to pantomime an ostrich. They watched for a short time, until Freya asked, “Anything we can get you?”
“Where?!” The room came to life as Freya stood in panic, Rayn readied himself, and Scald leapt around searching. Cyan could hear some scuffling outside too.
He was starting to think his request may be harder than he thought. “I want to talk to her, I never really got to before.”
“Oh,” Freya sat back down, she seemed confused and wary, “ Isn’t that what got you here?”
“Well yes, but this time in person and not in dreams.” Cyan clarified, but his request seemed unpopular.
Rayn shook his head soberly, “You may wish to reconsider. She was reading to you every night, but openly stated she intended to kill you. Even I believed it was safe, but evidence suggests it would be unwise to welcome her.”
“She…she did?” Cyan no longer wanted to see her. He had to. “My talk with her is overdue.”
With a sigh, Freya offered to speak to the doctors. The cub had forgotten the staff would have final decision on visitors. He grit his teeth gently as he waited for the negative responses.
Wright snorted while Sonnerstein sounded reluctant, “He’s sure of that…?” There was a brief pause as Cyan held his breath. “I’ll permit it with supervision, as long As Dr. Wright is in agreement.” He turned slowly to his colleague.
If its up to him, then it’ll never happen. Cyan was already planning how to sneak outside when Wright shocked him, “Under supervision…I suppose…”
With great reluctance Freya and others left to find Beryl somewhere in the city. He suspected they would not have to go far.
Cyan took a deep breath and turned to his bag. Rayn was still sitting on it. “Hey Skald…. could you get me a knife, scalpel, or something. I need a sharp blade. And I will need my bag too.”
Rayn looked up quietly, concern in his eyes. Skald eventually went to his father and wrote the request.
Dr. Sonnerstein replied with fatherly concern, “Cyan, please don’t do anything foolish. We already have two extra issues on our hands now.”
“I want the scalpel and it’s not to hurt anyone…” He assured them as Rayn delivered his bag. Sonnerstein decided to trust him and provided him with the surgical implement as Beryl arrived.
“Hello, Doctors.” Beryl greeted them with a dreamy like amusement. “Is this a trap, or did Cyan really want to see me? My guide was too scared to come in with me.”
“He does, Cat.” Wright had all the warmth of Canegak in his greeting. Or rather none. He led her to patient’s room. “Try not to hurt anyone else…”
“I was not trying the first few times, either.” Beryl looked down at Cyan with the cold distance he remembered. Dr. Wright crossed his arms and watched intently. He puffed on his cigar and blew the smoke into the patient room.
Cyan ignored them and reached out to his friend, “Thank you.”
Beryl looked at him bemused, “For what?”
“For coming?” Cyan ventured but her eyes darted to the scalpel. He had more to say but he had put this off for too long. He drove the scalpel into the bag and cut it open. When he opened it fully there was nothing inside. Beryl had returned his books some time ago.
“The bag was the link to the dream wasn’t it?” Beryl hazarded a guess. “You were inside the whole time, and obscured its nature to prevent anyone from knowing. Even others with senses.” Scald, Rayn everyone seemed rather surprised. But then they would have had to reach inside to notice. “I reached in to grab a few books, but I was too distracted. It all felt like her anyways.”
“She took it over, but yeah,” Cyan handed Beryl the scalpel.
There was a sharp intake of breath from Wright and the room as the familiar took it calmly. Nellie was shouting behind him at the lad, “Did ya come back a bit cuckoo or sumfin?! And us…we let Beryl in there with Cyan after she done tried to have killed..now she’s in there with a scapel an we jus all gonna stand here?!”
Cyan watched her carefully, but the familiar simply returned it to the doctor. The room let out a sigh of relief. Nellie scratched her head, having expected more bloodshed. “Keeping a magic artifact in Babbage, putting your mind in it to call me inside, nothing else could get in without the bag without you summoning it, and from the outside you cannot tell that it isn’t normal even if you are supernatural yourself. You really went out of your way to protect yourself, only to have it backfire. Am I on the mark?”
“Yes basically.” Beryl narrowed her eyes at him. It took him a minute to remember the last time he said that to her. He switched gears, “And the books she gave you must have been something she wanted you to read too. Again, I’m sorry for everything that happened before and all the orders I gave you.”
Beryl raised a paw halfway through his talk, “You’ve apologized before, apologies don’t actually help me.”
“Clearly they don’t.” Cyan admitted. “That’s also why I am releasing you of any thing I made you promise.”
Beryl looked down at Cyan blankly, and then turned to Rayn, and Doctor Wright. “Would everyone who is not an urchin leave the room?” The Doctor snorted, keeping his arms crossed defiantly, but at Cyan’s insistence he shrugged. He would be able to hear either way. Rayn looked back at the two and then ducked outside as well as the door shut.
The familiar went to the bedside and dug her claws in the fabric as she thrust her face at his own. Through grit teeth she told him, “Say it right.”
“My orders to you are null and undone. You no longer have to follow them or me.” Beryl stretched out her paw and he took hers back, she spoke quickly, “Thus is our agreement written, and thus our treaty was made, words as solid as worlds, placed where they can never fade, but now we agree the purpose ended, and the price has been paid.
Beryl seemed to seize slightly as her claws tore into the sheets and bedding beneath her claws, and he had to let go of her paw before she crushed it. Cyan could not tell what was happening, but after a moment Beryl reached up to her throat in disbelief. Her eyes looked close to filling with joy, but she controlled herself. With a deep purr she leaned down to whisper in his ear, “Thank you.”
Cyan patted his friends paw again. It was a start, at least. “Thank you for reading to me, and proving it meant something to you…even if you can’t find a way to say it with how things are now.”
“Yes. I do know how to ruin a moment, don’t I?” She looked towards the closed door where Wright was calling for Sonnerstein. One of the urchins had just collapsed suddenly. “Like ending on the note one of you decided now of all times to do something really stupid.”