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Jan. 11 – Two Difficult Conversations

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Cyan, in the meantime, sat by the fire and opened his book–tales from Edgar Allan Poe. He made sure to avoid ‘The Raven,’ settling instead on ‘The Black Cat.’ He had read Jules Verne the last time he was here, but had thought his friend would prefer these stories.

Bookworm stood in the turret room, looking out the window, trying to settle her disturbed mood. But then, she saw something outside the window that caused her to hiss in a breath in dismay. She glanced back toward the library, saw that Cyan was well settled, and hurried to the door, going outside and closing it behind her.

The figure waved at her, smiling. “Hello!”

“It’s… Beatrixe, isn’t it?” Bookworm half-asked, half-stated.

“That’s me!” The mouse-formed woman rocked back and forth on her heels. “Did he take Mr. Arnold yet?”

“The raven?” Bookworm remembered that Beatrixe had appeared to know about the raven and its activities during the asylum assault. When she nodded, Bookworm continued firmly, “No, he hasn’t. And he won’t, if I have any say in the matter.”

Beatrixe blinked and looked at Bookworm, apparently confused. “Why not?”

“We’re not going to lose Arnold–and especially not to him.”

Beatrixe still looked confused. “Are you okay? Do you need a medicine man?”

Bookworm ignored this as a different idea came to her. Would it be possible to get a straightforward answer from her? She sqatted down a little. “Beatrixe, have you ever been… hurt at the Asylum?”

“Oh, yes!” Beatrixe exclaimed. “I was bitten, that was my first stay there!” She paused. “I think.”

“Bitten? By Rasend?”

“Oh, no, Mr. Wolf never bit me! I don’t think. Or did he…hmm…” Bookworm bit her lip as she watched Beatrixe, who looked to be concentrating on something. “Could have been!” she finally finished.

“Oh, dear,” Bookworm muttered. “I wonder if Dr. Solsen would know.”

“Better get to him before the raven does then,” Beatrixe responded, and Bookworm felt a cold grue. “His time’s coming.” Beatrixe started to wander off, but then jumped back. “Oh! I came to see someone. Did I see them?”

Bookworm wondered if she meant Arnold, and suddenly decided she didn’t want Beatrixe near him right now. “Ahh–yes. You did. So you can go back to your room in the asylum now.”

“Yes! Or building the hospital place–whichever the boss man wants.”

“Or… that. Yes.” Bookworm watched the woman skip away. It was hard to reconcile this cheerfully demented engineer with her picture of the ravening beast that had killed Yolinde, Penn, and Boeman. All she had was a suspicion, a possibility–no proof.

She finally went back inside and stood in the doorway of the library, listening as Cyan neared the end of the story he was reading. As he finished, she approached the couch and looked over the back of it. Arnold’s eyes were open, the blue one vacant and staring, the orange one blinking.

Bookworm leaned over and said softly, “Id? Id, can you hear me?”

The orange eye blinked once.

Cyan watched her, confused but intrigued, as she asked, “Is there any way we can save Arnold? Blink once for yes, and twice for no.”

The orange eye blinked one, twice, and again. Bookworm put a hand to her forehead, rubbing it. “Three times? Does… does that mean yes *and* no?”  The orange eye blinked once.

Cyan, who seemed to be following along with equanimity, said, “So it probably means you will save a part of Arnold, but not all of him can be saved.”

A part… yes…  “Is the raven dangerous for Arnold?”

Arnold blinks once.

“Will the raven ruin any chances to save you or Arnold?” Cyan whispered, at the same time Bookworm asked, “Does the raven *want* Arnold?”

Arnold blinked three times again.

Bookworm asked softly, “Does the raven want you, Id?”

Arnold blinked twice.  Bookworm frowned, and said in frustration, “Oh, I wish I knew the right questions to ask.”

“Well, you have to ask more detailed questions of what you want to know. Like Twenty Questions.”

“That’s just it,” Bookworm replied wryly. “I don’t know what I want to know–except how to save Arnold.”

“Well, we know there is a way to save part of Arnold. And we know the raven wants Arnold”

“Well, he does and he doesn’t, according to Id. It’s the doesn’t part that worries me.” She looked down again. “Id, can we save the Arnold that we know?”

The orange eye blinked three times, and Bookworm let out a sound, half-exasperated, half-amused.

Cyan then asked a question of his own. “Id, is the raven after one of your eyes?”

The orange eye blinked twice. Cyan frowned. “I swear Tepic said that the raven was poking around at their eyes.”

Bookworm looked at Cyan, then back down at Arnold, and took a leap into the dark. “Is the raven after anything physical?”

The orange eye blinked twice.

Cyan’s eyes widened with horror, “Is he after Arnold’s soul?”

The orange eye blinked once. Then both eyes closed, and his face relaxed. Bookworm and Cyan looked at each other. Cyan finally said, “I wonder if we can capture the raven, then. I mean, I know they’re smart, but maybe if it’s caged it can’t get to Arnold–for now at least.” He paused. “And doesn’t Ms. Beatrixe talk about the raven? Maybe she knows something, even if it’s in her own special way?” He paused again. “I guess questioning her would be much like questioning Id, though.”

“Very probably,” Bookworm said wryly. “I think we’d best let Arnold rest now.”

Cyan nodded. “Good night, Arnold. Good night, Ms. Book.”

“Good night, Cyan,” she replied as she led him to the front door. “Thank you for coming by–and you’re welcome to at any time.”

“Thanks, Ms. Book.” With a smile and a wave, Cyan went on his way. Bookworm, after a look around, closed the front door.

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