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Jan. 11 – Raven at the Gate

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Hearing a knock at the door, Bookworm opened it and saw two urchin figures there. “Hello, Cyan, Nathaniel.”

“Hello, Ms. Book,” replied Cyan. “How are you doing?”

“I’m all right–how are you?”

“Good.” Following Bookworm’s indication, Cyan stepped inside. “I was coming to read a book to Arnold if you didn’t mind. But we saw a raven coming this way.”

Bookworm frowned. “The raven again?”

“Yeah. We followed him here. That’s why Nate is out there. We’re afraid it’ll come after Arnold.”

Bookworm looked outside again, seeing Nathaniel standing poised by the entrance, a slingshot in hand. “You can come in, Nathaniel. Nothing can get in with the doors closed.”

Nate shook his head. “I’mma watch out here.”

“All right,” Bookworm replied. “But let me know if you want some hot cocoa.” She saw him nod as she closed the door.

“Has he changed any?” Cyan asked, gesturing toward the library where Arnold still lay. Bookworm sighed and shook her head. “Not yet.”

“Well, I suppose could be worse, though. He isn’t getting better but he isn’t getting worse.”

Bookworm nodded, hoping she wasn’t showing her worry. It was unnerving to watch Arnold lying like that hour after hour, unresponsive, barely able to take any nourishment. And that wasn’t all… “I hear Dr. Solsen isn’t doing any too well, either.”

Cyan’s face fell. “That’ isn’t good.” He might have said more, but they both heard a yell from outside, followed by a mocking caw.

“It’s here again?” Bookworm peered out the windows of the turret. Slingshot poised, Nathaniel stood outside. “I did’na see where ‘e went, but I can still ‘ear ‘him,” he called through the window, before taking off around the side of the house.

“Well, he can’t come inside, even if ravens are tricky,” Cyan said, trying to reassure himself. Bookworm frowned and headed into the entryway. As she came under the glass section of the roof, she heard a caw above, and craned her neck to see the raven pecking at the glass. It began cawing again, and suddenly, threaded through that sound, Bookworm heard the echoes of a familiar laugh.

She hissed in a breath. “No…” As she hurried upstairs for a closer look, she heard Cyan call out the window, “The raven is on the rooftop windows, Nate!”

Bookworm paused at the railing, staring up at the raven. It looked at her and began its strange cawing again, hopping down along the slope of the roof. “Stay there, you little…” she muttered, clenching the railing. She reached out with senses she hadn’t used for some time, and just as the raven took wing, flying away from a stream of pebbles being shot by Nathaniel, she felt a familiar, though definitely unwelcome, presence.

Bookworm went back downstairs, looking rather pale. “That raven is rather creepy,” Cyan commented, “but I think it is really gone now.”

“For now,” Bookworm commented as Nate knocked on the door. Bookworm let him in, and saw that he was visibly shaken. “Is ‘e gone yet, Miss Book?” he asked, slamming the door shut behind him.

“I think he wanted to scare us,” Cyan averred. “But he still wants Arnold for something…”

Bookworm shook her head sharply, trying to shake off her mood. “I think that’ll be all our excitement for now. Cyan, did you want to start reading to Arnold? I’ll bring you something to eat and drink in a while.”

“Thanks, Miss Book.” Cyan smiled at her, pulled a book out of his knapsack, and went into the library. Bookworm looked at Nate. “Would you like some hot cocoa now?”

“If yer dunnah mind, I’ll be goin’ now. Thank yer jus’ th’ same though.”

“All right. Thank you for your help with that… bird.” Bookworm let him out, and quickly closed the door after him.

((To be continued…))

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