It was mid-day in Clockhaven, the snow had freshly fallen overnight and Arnold was lounging in the Gangplank on a sofa, trying to enjoy the crackling fire he had started. The only other person in the entire establishment was Gilhooly, who had been there first and was in the back of the pizzeria. After the urchin finished eating the young rat emerged with some vole cheese stuck to his whiskers.
“‘ello mister A, yer lookin’ all right.” Arnold hadn’t seen Gil since they’d tried to bury Metier’s hat and he asked him how he was. “Been layin’ low I ‘ave… too many monsters an’ all about… I got me a job tho… a currier I am.”
“For the mayor, or the city, I guess,” Arnold ventured.
“Er… the bruvvers run it I fink,” Gil admitted as he sat in the nearest chair. “Well, Ruddy’s in charge like but Bruvver Lapis is the… the ‘ead bloke.” Gil then asked him about where he had gone and Arnold told him that Maddox and Tepic had rescued him.
“Good on them, Tepic’s a clever lad ‘e is, rather wish I was that clever…”
They made small talk about Maddox punching Emerson, Sonnerstein apparently adopting Lo and another urchin, Loki’s grandmother, Metier, the Dark Aether, and when Gil asked if he liked the professor Arnold told him that he didn’t like like him and would never be found K I S S I N G ing the professor, to which Gil laughed.
“Poor Loki… rather thought ‘e was orphan… only I guess I ain’t either,” Gil confessed.
“You’re not?” Arnold asked slightly surprised.
“Naw… me pa was croaked in alley, mugged on ‘is way ‘ome it seems… me ma ‘adda kick one o’ us kids out, she couldna care fer all ‘erself… I was oldest so it was me. Me uncle lived ‘ere so I stowed a ship ‘ere… only me uncle canna care fer a lad neither…brilliant inventor tho he’s a bit…off…”
Arnold nodded and the hat on his head slipped again, thanks to the new attachment. He sighed and took it off before he continued, “I wasn’t an orphan then either…just kicked out…I do hope your future turns out well…mine’s been….well its better now. But it’s been hard.”
Gil nodded slowly and then sat back in the chair, “ye ‘ver met ‘im? mister Nightshade?”
“I’ve only seen him,” Arnold as he stretched his back. “Wields a spear on occassion or something like it.”
“‘e’s a staff wiv… some device or some such on. ‘e’s a… er… alkie-mist. “‘e croaked mister Underby once…”
“Alchemist…” Arnold mused as Gil confirmed his statement. “I don’t know much about that. I just have my research into homunculus’s.”
Gil scratched at his head, small bits of grime falling onto Blackberrys furniture, “wot’s that?”
It had been a few months since he’d read it, but Arnold gave a simplistic answer, “It’s something created meant to house a spirit, in a way.”
“A spirit ‘ouse?”
“Apparently last year there was one that caused a lot of trouble,” Arnold said, refering to the beast that Gadget had apparently trapped.
“wot one was that?”
“Some kind of Beast. Another is…well I’m not sure if I should share that piece of information,” Arnold said, trying to remain vague about what he’d learned from and with Professor Lionheart back in the spring.
“There’s been lots o’ beasts…” Gil commented, looking very unsure.
“The Beast was the one Gadget captured. Another was imprisoned by the church at one point and killed,” Arnold figured that would clarify what he was talking about without revealing Pip’s nature to the young urchin, or the circumstances that might have-
“Blimey, ye mean Pip?!” Gil shouted.
Arnold stared at Gil, shocked. How was he able to figure that out so quickly, “Yes.”
Gil frowned and sank into his seat looking sheepish suddenly, “er… only…” Gil squirmed for a few seconds in his chair and then shouted at Arnold, “I dinna know ‘e’d do it!”
Arnold twitched and had been at the ready to move when Gil screamed. He had to remove his claws from Mr. Harvey’s chair before he asked, “Do what?”
“…croak ‘im… or anyone…” Gil muttered weakly as he once again sank into his chair, wishing he could disappear.
“Your uncle, Pip, or the church?” Arnold asked as he sat forward.
The rat urchin didn’t say anything for a long time, and then he whispered in a voice so low that even with his feline ears he barely heard him over the crackling from the fireplace, “Underby…”