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Tepic, in the meantime, was still trying to figure out from Id’s answers what they needed to overcome the raven. “No? All right… something that can be made of silver? No…hmmm… then silver is the wrong thing?” He nodded as the orange eye blinked once. “Well, that’s cleared that up! So… what else could do a birdy in, that ain’t silver and ain’t iron? How ‘bout arrows made of rowan wood?”
There was a long pause before Id blinked three times. “Hmmm… rowan is good fer keeping bad spirits away,” Tepic said as Bookworm watched quietly. “Now, the birdy must be some sort of magic creature, I guess?” There were three blinks. “So, not magic?”
A knock at the door drew Book’s attention away. She went to get the door and found Cyan had returned, yet another new book in his hands to read to his friend.
“Hi, Miss Book,” Cyan greeted her, and Bookworm responded in kind, while she vaguely heard Tepic in the library behind her.
“Well, there’s magic, an’ religion, an’ science… were that “no” ter me?”
Cyan’s ears perked a moment at hearing the conversation inside, and then turned to Bookworm. “Arnold ‘speaking’ again?”
Bookworm nodded. “It isn’t easy to interpret, though.”
“Well, I’m sure it never will be until he can speak.” Cyan stood there a moment, scratching behind his head. “Should we go in?”
Bookworm led him inside, shutting the door behind her quickly.
“Silver, iron an’ rowan I’d use fer magic…” Tepic turned to his friend, happy and ready to explain the situation, but Cyan let him know that he had been there the day before.
“All right,” Tepic said, and then turned back to his task. Id had said what they needed could be found in New Babbage. “Can we use science against the birdy?”
Arnold blinked once at Tepic, who let out a cry of jubilation. “Ah! So… we got to work out a science way of knocking off the bird!”
The concepts, the ideas, the events of the past few days that had been swirling around Bookworm’s mind–ravens, spirits, magic, science–suddenly clicked into a coherent picture, and she moved forward excitedly. “Id, would a Reality Enforcer affect the raven?”
Id blinked once, and Bookworm looked up at Tepic, her eyes alight.
Tepics had lit up just as brightly, but he had turned towards his young friend and pulled him close, whispering, “Cyan… yer remeber the secret we had during the Moriarty thing? The one all us urchins had, fer making stuff? The Under 13 Club!”
“Ohhhh… well yeah, ” Cyan said as he answered back with another whisper to remind his friend, “I am one of the founders.”
“We got to get the urchins together again, make some stuff to do in the birdy…” He started to talk louder again, so Bookworm could hear as well. “And should be able ter find one of them reality thingys; there are plenty round the walls of the old town.”
“Let me see if I can get my hands on one. I am part of the Militia, after all.”
“Yes. But I’m just not sure how well they’d work on him,” Cyan interrupted. “He’d have to be really close to one. I forgot I had seen him around Clockhaven when the snake was killed.”
Now that they had a plan, though, Tepic was not to be deterred. “We’ll need nets, and a big cage. Then once he’s caught, we put the thingy on the cage!”
“What we need is bait for the trap–something that the bird wants to go to…” Cyan trailed off, not wanting to suggest Arnold or any other ill person to be used like that.
“Ha, the only thing it’s interested in now is Mr Arnold! An’ them birds is canny,” Tepic responded. “Better we track it, an ambush it someplace…”
Bookworm looked down again. “Id, would something–or someone–other than Arnold attract the raven?” There was one blink. She bit her lip, then asked, “Would Dr. Maddox attract it?”
Id hesitated a long, long moment, but then blinked once.
“That’s… odd,” Tepic said.
Bookworm smiled grimly, “Not so odd.” Tepic looked at Miss Heinrichs, head on one side. Bookworm answered the unspoken question of the two urchins. “Metier is in that raven. And Metier had the blood feud with Mrs. Maddox’s family. If he finds out she’s here in New Babbage…”
“Oh… I thought that were settled an’ done,” Tepic said innocently.
Cyan scratched under his chin. “Blood feuds are never settled and done I think… but she’s in New Babbage?”
“She left just a little before you came. She went to see her father, Dr. Solsen, in the asylum.” Cyan crossed his arms and looked at her; she couldn’t tell if he was confused or not. “I don’t know that Metier would, or even could, harm her, but I’d bet he’d want to see her.”
Cyan’s expression suddenly brightened, as if a lamp had come on over his head. “Maybe we can rig a trap in the bell tower of the asylum!”
“Perhaps,” Bookworm said while Id blinked once and Tepic cheered. “That’s a good idea, Cyan!”
The cheetah cub smiled, pleased with the idea. “It’d be a perfect place to disguise a cage and hide the reality distortion device, and we know the raven is willing to go into the Asylum.”
Bookworm looked down again, and said a little sternly, “Id, if we’re going to involve Dr. Maddox, shouldn’t I tell her the truth?”
Another long moment of hesitation, but finally, reluctantly, Id blinked one. Bookworm nodded. “I do understand, Id, but she deserves to know.”
Tepic quickly turned back to Arnold. “Once we do in the birdy, will Mr Arnold come back?” The two immediate blinks made Tepic deflate slightly. “Oh…”
“That will just stop the Raven,” Cyan explained.
“Once we stop the birdy, can we help Mr Arnold come back?” Id responded with three blinks. “Hmm… well, one thing at a time, I guess!” Bookworm nodded agreement with that.
Cyan also stepped back to Arnold’s prone form. There had been one question that he had wanted to ask yesterday. “Is there a way to split you and Arnold apart without harming either of you?”
He blinked twice, and Tepic nodded triumphantly. “Ha! Thought so, they’s the same person! He just don’t know it.”
“Yes but…” Cyan paused as he considered what he was trying to ask. “Would it only harm one of you, Id?” Arnold blinked once, and Cyan asked a very difficult question. “Would it only harm you?” Cyan sighed as his friend’s eye blinked twice. “Well then splitting the two would not be a wise thing then, unless we want Id and not Arnold.”
Arnold shut his eyes fully at that point, and Bookwork knew they weren’t going to get anything else out of him tonight. “We should let him rest now.”
“I’m off to find some of the stuff we need. Don’t you worry, Mr Arnold!” Tepic said stoutly.
“I’ll see what I can do about getting a Reality Enforcer,” Bookworm added.
“Too many questions, and didn’t get to read to him this time… oh well,” Cyan sighed. All three headed to the front door, and Bookworm let the two urchins out, bidding them good night. She closed the door and leaned back against it for a moment, lost in thought. She finally pushed herself upright and strode to the staircase, calling for Mrs. Pritchard. When the woman appeared at the top, Bookworm said, “I’m going to the asylum for a little while. Can you watch Arnold while I’m gone?”
“Of course, miss,” Mrs. Pritchard replied. “I’ll just get my knitting.”
Bookworm nodded, snatched up a cloak, and hurried outside, heading east toward a darkening sky.
((To be continued…))