Bookworm stirred out of sleep as a knock at her door finally registered. She raised her head groggily and said, “Yes?”
The door opened, and Mrs. Pritchard poked her head in, looking apologetic. “Beryl is at the door. Do you want to speak to him?”
She thought it over a moment. “Yes,” she finally said. “Please tell him I’ll be down in a moment.” Mrs. Pritchard nodded and withdrew.
Turning up the lamp on her bedside table, Bookworm grabbed a brush and attempted to bring order back to her sleep-disarrayed hair. Over the past few days, report after report of missing persons had streamed into the militia headquarters. She’d been kept on the go, going out to interview concerned relations and friends, scouring the city for signs of the people–or signs of what had happened to them. She wasn’t alone, either; but so far, nothing had been found to explain what was happening. She’d finally been sent home to get a good meal and a decent night’s sleep. The meal, she’d had–was sleep destined to elude her?
She went downstairs and found Beryl in the library, looking at a bookstand. At her step, he turned. “Hello, Bookworm.” He gestured to the stand. “Uncle Tingly’s?”
“In case we ever need it again.” At his raised eyebrow, she said, “Well, I *hope* we won’t. Still, one never knows…”
“If you say so, Miss Bookworm,” he said with a fleeting grin. But then he turned sober. “You made me promise I’d come to you if there was a problem.”
“Problem?” Bookworm’s mind still wasn’t fully awake, and his words didn’t immediately bring anything to mind.
“We lost Rasen–or Janus–almost the next day. He never went to see Sonnerstein.”
“Oh, for–why didn’t you come to me sooner?!” Bookworm rubbed her forehead in agitation.
“He wasn’t doing anything wrong that we could tell,” Beryl said a bit defensively. “And then there were the fish… and then the buildings crumbling. I was a little preoccupied. But with people going missing, and that grave being opened in the paupers’ graveyard, I figured I should at least mention that he was gone.”
Bookworm was beginning to pace, trying to stir her sluggish blood and brain. Suddenly, something clicked in her mind, and she looked up. “Wait. Wasn’t Janus buried in that graveyard?”
“He was,” Beryl replied. “Hoyt, Marcus Flint, and many of the others were buried there as well.”
“I wonder if I can found out exactly where he was buried,” mused Bookworm. “The records for that graveyard aren’t the best…”
“I know only where Hoyt was buried.” Tepic had been the one who knew it had seemed in the end.
“And it wasn’t Hoyt, right?” Bookworm asked wryly.
“No.” Beryl paused, then said, “Snow claims he saw something.”
“I heard from one of the urchins that he had, but that tale had passed several lads’ and lasses’ tongues by then.”
Bookworm sighed. “I really wish I could be more attuned to the urchin grapevine.”
Beryl tried not to smile at her wistful comment. “Considering that things have gone so badly, I think I owe you that explanation for how we got where we are now.”
“Yes, I think so,” Bookworm said wryly, and gestured to the cough. “Have a seat.”
They settled down comfortably before the fireplace. “Where would you like me to start?” Beryl asked.
“A good question.” Bookworm thought that over a moment. “Start with Janus, I think. What do you know about him that I don’t?”
“Janus was little better than Cortman or the rest of his men,” Beryl started, “until October, when Rasend mauled him, and Cortman brought him to a Doctor Miller. After that incident, his personality changed in a very unexpected way. He had been a rather aggressive, sullen man. After the attack, he was almost jovial.”
Bookworm blinked. “Not the sort of change one expects in that situation.”
“No, it wasn’t.” Beryl stared into the fire. “Kenna reacted the opposite way–she became more aggressive, and threatened Junie and Emerson with a sword. The others I’ve noticed were similar.”
“Others?” Bookworm’s eyebrows shot up.
“Yes, other werewolves. Rasend injured at least two others before Janus, but we didn’t see them again after a while. Canergak took them away to ‘treat’ them. I think that’s why Cortman took Janus to that other doctor fellow.”
“I see,” replied Bookworm, frowning.
“Even with his personality change, he didn’t have control of his wolf self, which is why you had to end him. But when you did that, the ravens came for him, and I–well, Id–had to save him.” He looked back at Bookworm. “Maddox may have told you she saw a ghost in here with Tepic one day?”
“A ghost? No.”
Beryl chuckled. “That’s Maddox for you–she wouldn’t. But that was Janus, working with Tepic to get inside the asylum.”
“Why would he do that?”
Beryl thought for a moment, sometimes it was hard to remember while he was awake, “At the time, Id had told him the only way he could live again was to help Rasend.”
Bookworm nodded. “So he went into the asylum to help Rasend, and finally got his chance by taking Rasend over so he could be released. And now, Janus is looking for a return to life, I’m guessing?”
“I think so. But the rest, I’m not sure about.”
((To be continued…))