“So who in Babbage would be able to restore his body?” Bookworm mused. “Or did Janus just take it so it would be on hand when he finally does find someone?”
“I believe the latter,” Beryl replied. “But there are a few possibilities that come to mind. Dr. Darien Mason. Grendel Footman.”
Bookworm nodded. “Neither of them are in Babbage very often, though.”
“There’s also Dr. Sonnerstein. And maybe Avariel Falcon. The only person I know he won’t ask is Canergak.”
“Hmm.” Bookworm leaned forward, staring into the fire. After a few minutes, on impulse, she looked back at Beryl keenly. “Do you happen to know anything about these recent disappearances?”
“I do happen to know that they were all acting strangely for months–aggressively.”
“Yes, so I’ve heard, about some of them.”
“Do a little digging, and you may find that Janus is acquiring himself a small force of wolves under him. Or he’s killing them all. I do not know for certain.”
Bookworm frowned. “Well, *that* we can’t allow. I’ll send messages to those you named–and any others I can think of–and ask them to let me know if Janus/Rasend approaches them.”
“Send Snow a message,” Beryl suggested. “He’s part wolf-moreau. He may be called upon.” He smiled lightly, almost mischievously. “Is there anything else you wanted explained? I will not likely be so candid in the future.”
“Hmm.” Bookworm thought a moment. “Tell me what you know about Canergak.”
Beryl sobered. “He confuses me even now. I do know he can leave the city whenever he wishes with a private area beneath the asylum. He also refers to the patients as specimens, except for Beatrixe, and now Bucketheed.” He had other names for them.
“Somehow, that doesn’t surprise me,” Bookworm said wryly.
“I know that he hates anything ‘spiritual,’ and that he has no soul.”
Bookworm blinked in surprise. “No soul?”
“You can ask him yourself. He’ll offer to remove your own, and think it’s a polite gesture. Or, at least, that’s the way it seems to me. He also has a mechanical heart and eyes, and part of his brain was lost. That’s all I know for sure.”
“Thank you.” Bookworm stared into the fire again, lost in thought. After a few minutes, something that had puzzled her in the graveyard came to her mind, and she looked back at Beryl. “So, tell me–how is it you knew about Daniel and Mac?”
“The same way I knew Mariah Lahfier before I met her. I met her behind your home in that shack, she was defending that monster eye with a shotgun.”
“Wha–she didn’t tell me about that!” Bookworm exclaimed, shocked.
“It didn’t happen in our Babbage,” he assured her. “I fell through a crack that was near one of the canisters. I fell through time, out of time, and beyond time and space. Returning home was not easy, or natural; Tepic had to find me. But before he did I had managed to find ‘a’ New Babbage, one without the Writer.” He went on to tell Bookworm about the chaos in this alternate city–the City Hall riots, meeting Mariah–and her gun. She listened, confused, yet fascinated, to his meeting with the alternate Bookworm in the Huxley Hospital, and, finally, finding Metier and the other ghosts in the cemetery.
“They knew their end was coming, and they helped me almost get back home. But then…” Beryl broke off for a moment. “Folks say that New Babbage survived its apocaplyse, like it always does. But there were a hundred Babbages–maybe more–out there that died that day.”
Bookworm thought that over, then shrugged. “I suppose that’s possible. But there really isn’t much we can do about that.”
“I didn’t say there was. I simply say that so you can understand truly how close it was that time.” He smiled wryly. “Also so you will be careful if Avariel ever offers you a discount portal vacation to another world. She says she’s done it and wants to offer it to adventurers.” Bookworm chuckled.
“There is another thing I’ll tell you, Bookworm.” Beryl leaned forward, hands resting on his knees. “I have been shot in the head, crushed by buildings, and hospitalized many times. Do you wonder how my body has survived that? Even if Arnold has died, this body should have died long before also.”
“I admit, I was wondering if you were living proof of the whole ‘nine lives’ idea.”
Beryl laughed. “I do hear that often, but I am sure I have only one life.” He paused. “Tell me do you have any silver here? Iron, cloves, garlic? Random things to prove what doesn’t work? I’d like to prove for you I’m not a vampire or werewolf or the sort.” He grinned engagingly.
Bookworm was startled at the turn the conversation had taken, and wondered if he was somehow drunk, or had ingested some catnip. If he had… well, she didn’t want to take advantage. “We have some garlic,” she said, smiling gently. “But you don’t need to prove anything.”
“I will hold you to that then,” He stated and then moved to all fours to the floor. “I will be off. Just watch for Rasend–silver won’t kill him.”
Nodding, she replied, “Thank you for coming,” and showed him to the door. She watched for a moment as he bounded down the street, still wondering about his somewhat strange mood. Ducking back inside, she scribbled off some notes and sent them off with Mrs. Pritchard to have them delivered by the city Messengers. And with that, it was time to at least try for more sleep, before worries and duties reared up again.