Scratching, and a bit of a caterwaul, reached Bookworm’s ears as she hurried to open the door, having received word from Evie that Beryl was approaching. She opened the door, and the noise cut off. “Hello, Beryl,” she said, letting him in, her voice still reflecting the stress from yesterday.
“Hello.” Beryl looked up at her as they went into the library and took their accustomed seats. “Are you all right?
Bookworm sighed. “I’ve been better.”
“I did say there was chaos in our future, didn’t I?” Bookworm nodded ruefully, and Beryl continued, “I have more unwelcome news.”
“The note you received?”
“Oh, yes, though I think that’s the least of our concerns.”
Bookworm rubbed her face. “Wonderful. Well, go ahead. I may as well know it all.”
“As usual, our friend P.J. thought it was being polite to write me a letter. In it he said he would be coming to take a piece of Babbage away from us and that he would destroy any heroes or heroines that got in his way.” He tilted his head. “Did you get one yet?” When she shook her head, he added, “Probably a matter of time.”
“‘A piece of Babbage,’” mused Bookworm. “What on earth can that mean?”
Beryl shrugged. “Maybe he wants to abscond with a building, or pieces of it.”
“Or something from the wall?” Considering the Wall was one of the oldest structures in the city, Bookworm thought that might be a legitimate target.
“Who knows?” With that, Beryl seemed to dismiss PJ, though his tone was still uneasy. “I find the Bear and his brother a bigger threat. Well, a more immediate threat.”
Bookworm nodded. “I wish there was some way to convince them to let Lilith alone.”
“I do not think that they are reasonable people. Despite Prometheus seeming to be willing to talk, he has destroyed several buildings.”
“Places he just *thought* Lilith might be hiding in.” Bookworm frowned angrily.
“Yes… which means he doesn’t mind playing tic-tac-toe with buildings.”
Bookworm looked around the room, at the shelves that had been refilled for less than two years. “I think I’d best empty my library again…”
“That would be wise.” Beryl nodded. “Your home is now a target. In fact, you should probably get your staff to leave town.”
“We’ll discuss that… but I don’t they’ll be willing to do so.”
“Tell them a bear is after them and that it’s a godless killing machine?” suggested Beryl. Bookworm cracked a bit of a smile. “We’ll see what Mariah thinks,” she said.
“There’s more news. There’s a fox, too. Imagine Tepic, but older. I confirmed that one last night.”
“At least now I know what to look for. Thank you.” Bookworm paused. “So. Dare I ask what other doom is hanging over us?”
“Lisa is in for just as rough a month. But that’s not really hard to imagine by now, is it?”
She shook her head. “I do wish I hadn’t taken Lilith to the asylum. I don’t like making it a target for Prometheus.”
“It was a target anyway, but you’re right. The Brewery needs to be worried, too. She had a home there for a long time.”
“What other places do you think he might target?”
Beryl sighed. “Your home. The Theater. The opium den. The orphanage Darwin’s Home for the Lost. The Wall.”
“I’m not sure what even *he* could do with the Wall. But I’ll make sure those other places are watched. Discretely, of course.”
“I doubt he would attack the wall. I think he’ll be searching the wall and hurting things there.” He didn’t say more, but Bookworm could tell that had started something in his thoughts, and she watched as he leaped down from the fireplace mantel. “I have to go.”
Bookworm nodded, and let him out the front door. “Be careful.”