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Dec. 8 – Mad Conversations

Later that day, Lisa slipped away from the asylum for a bit. She hadn’t been to Kasa’s place for the urchins yet, and she was curious to see it. When she got there, though, she found three of the small metal things just leaving it, alarms blaring. She followed them cautiously across the frozen canals, watching as they climbed steps to one of the streets. Inching up the same stairs, she saw them standing nearby, whirring at each other, drawing things in the snow. Unfortunately, she couldn’t see *what* they were drawing. She stayed silent, hoping they’d go away, but after several minutes, one of them spotted her, and they scattered in separate directions. Useless, of course, to try to follow them now, when they were on the alert, so she went to the patch of snow where they’d been drawing–only to find that they’d stamped the snow down, erasing their marks.

Hissing with frustration, Lisa turned away and went back to Kasa’s dwelling. She rode the hoist upward, ending up in an empty round room, though she thought she heard sounds above her. She climbed up the ladder, poking her head above the level of the floor. “Hello?”

A rabbit form came into view, grumbling and holding a plank. “Where did those bloody things go? I will beat them down.”

“They were up here?” Lisa asked.

“Yes, tearing things apart–seemed to be looking for something. They they let off a noisy alarm that hurt my ears.”

“You’re all right, though?”

Kasa nodded. “Yes, they ran when I came down the stairs with this plank in my paws. Was gonna bash them in for the noise… loud noises are not easy on my ears.” She looked around in disgust. “Made a mess of the gruel when they left. I wonder what they were looking for that had them so riled up. Only ones who go close to the fire are me, Beryl, Leon, and Lilith, and the few urchins getting hot gruel.”

“Beryl?” Lisa frowned.

“Yes,” Kasa replied. “He comes here now and then–but I get a lot of urchins coming in and out every day. This is a place for them to warm up.”

Lisa sighed, sure now that Beryl had been right. “Those things are probably after Beryl. If you see him, tell him to stay away from here, please.”

Kasa looked surprised, but nodded. “OK–I better let Lil know. She can let the urchins know, and he will get the word a lot faster.”

“Thank you.” Lisa looked outside. “I’d best get back to the asylum. I’m glad you’re all right.” She smiled at the nurse. “I’ll try to visit again soon.”

“Visit any time–I’ll be here, or at the hospital. Viper gives me the late shifts these days.”

Lisa nodded, saying “Goodbye,” and headed back down. She hurried through the streets, wanting to get back to her work before she was missed.

A couple of hours later, as she carried an empty bucket toward the kitchen, she saw Beatrixe sitting at the large dining table. “Hello, Beatrixe,” she said, setting down the bucket.

“Hello.” The builder looked up at her, then returned to staring at the table.

“How are you today?” she asked. “Enjoying the weather?”

“I’m a bit upset.”

“Oh dear–why?

“I don’t remember. But it wasn’t nice.” Beatrixe sighed, but then looked up at Lisa again. “Would you like some tea?”

“Yes, thank you.” Lisa sat down, and poured herself a cup from the pitcher that sat in front of Beatrixe. “Is there anything I can do to help you cheer up?”

“Well, I was hoping to go outside tonight and start building something. But I’m starting to get the idea I’m never going to be allowed out after dark.”

Lisa wasn’t sure how to answer that without upsetting her more. “Isn’t it difficult to build in the dark?”

“Not if I make a lot of light!”

“How would you do that?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Beatrixe mused. “Maybe set a giant beacon of light on top of the observatory next door. Shouldn’t catch fire.”

“Ahh,” Lisa replied, thinking quickly. “Well, that might disturb people around the area when they’re trying to sleep. Maybe that’s why they don’t want you to do it.”

“Hmmm… maybe you’re right,” Beatrixe said slowly. She shrugged. “Oh, well, I’ll just enjoy my tea party and all my friends then.” She sipped at her tea.

Lisa smiled at her. Deciding there was no point in trying to lead up to her request, she said simply, “Bea… there’s something I’m wondering if you can do for Beryl and me.”

“Sure–what is it?”

“Did you know that Canergak has some secret rooms underneath here?”

“Of course,” Beatrixe replied proudly. “I built them.”

“You did a good job, too.” Lisa nodded. “Beryl and I are very curious about what he might have in them. We tried to go in them once, but a large metal dog chased us away.”

“Oh, you mean Clinky?”

Lisa looked startled. “I… suppose I do. It didn’t tell me its name.”

“That’s the guard dog he had me fix a time or two.” Beatrixe nodded and smiled. “What about it?”

“Well, we’d *really* like to see what Canergak is guarding. So… I thought maybe you could do something about the… about Clinky. Just to keep it out of the way for a while,” she hastily added.

“Oh, sure! I’m going to be fixing it in about three weeks anyway, for its regular checkup. So it won’t attack you or anything then.” A thoughtful look came over her face. “Not sure why it would. I mean it’s only supposed to keep ‘intruders’ out, and you’re not an ‘intruder,’ even if you are wearing a people suit.”

“Maybe that’s something you can look at while you’re repairing it,” Lisa said solemnly, though inside, she was well pleased with this news.

“Sure!” Beatrixe exclaimed cheerfully. “I guess I haven’t updated that since…oh. Guess I never did.” She giggled, and finished her tea. “Well, it’s time for me to get back to building, while there’s still daylight. I’ll finish those chain spinning blades eventually!”

Lisa nodded, smiling. “Thank you.”

Beatrixe waved as she left the room. “See you tonight!” Lisa waved back, quickly gulped down her tea, and picked up the bucket to return it to the kitchen. She hoped Martha would have a small bite of something she could have to tide her over to dinner.

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