((Feel free to comment! Continued from Cyan’s post ‘Mouse Trap’))
Bookworm Hienrichs, returning home, was not happy at the birds flying all over her home, and she slammed the door behind her.
“Miss Book! Come an’ see what we made!”
“I don’t think you needed to shout that, Tepic.” Cyan grinned, and then waved to Book who was coming inside and greeted her warmly.
“It’s like one of them boards at the circus…” Tepic said as he showed and explained how it worked. He paused only once to say, “Miss Bea were here earlier, ter chat to Mr Arnold, but Mrs. Pritchard wouldn’t let her in!”
Bookworm looked back at the library door, and saw Mrs. Pritchard standing there; she nodded once at Book. “I don’t want too many people to have access to Arnold,” she only said, not wanting to go into her suspicions of Beatrixe, which were still unproven.
“She said there were a wolf bloke comin’ ter get him, tonight!”
Bookworm frowned at that. Could that mean that Beatrixe really was the werewolf, and had some dim idea of what she was doing?
“I got some stuff as might help, it’s wolfsbane we put through the still.” Tepic took out a small bottle of oily liquid that seemed to have a glowing quality that throbbed. Then he paused and looked up at Book. “Err… that we ain’t got….”
Despite everything, Bookworm was forced to hide a smile.
“Best not drink it, but yer can put drops on the sofa, an’ maybe paint a circle round, and maybe soak some rope or other stuff in it–”
“Soak a piece of wood in it and put it in the fireplace?” Cyan offered, and Tepic grinned at the wonderful idea.
Cyan and Tepic quickly updated Miss Bookworm on the events of the day before she got home. After learning how the board worked and what they’d asked so far, she jumped into the questioning. “You said danger. Danger from the raven?” Arnold blinked thrice. “Danger from the wolf?” Arnold blinked once, and Bookworm leaned forward hopefully. “Do you know who the wolf is?”
Bookworm frowned as Id blinked three times and then turned to the board. It took some time for the message to be decoded from the blinks, but the message read, “Several wolves now. One coming.”
“Oh, terrific,” Bookworm groaned. “Does this mean more than one wolf has been killing?”
Once again using the board, the cat replied, ‘For the asylum murders, only this wolf was guilty.’
“Would that be one of Cortman’s men coming for you?” Cyan asked jumping back in, and the cat blinked once. Bookworm felt a little relieved, realizing now that her fears about Beatrixe were at least somewhat unfounded.
Cyan crossed his arms. “So one of Cortman’s men that is still living will be coming after him here. Will this wolfsbane brew stop him, you think?”
Blinking, the cat replied ‘I don’t know.’
“Will silver ammunition stop him?”
‘It should work on this one.’
Cyan frowned as he scratched the back of his head again, “Either he means specifically on this werewolf…or this creature since it wouldn’t really work for the raven.”
“I could wish it was worded a little more reassuringly, but I’ll take what I can get.” Bookworm smiled wryly. “Cyan, you can try that wolfsbane concoction. I don’t know that it’d hurt.”
He set about soaking a piece of firewood into Tepic’s jar, while the fox himself excused himself and left to check his vole traps. The young cub looked at Bookworm and grinned as the sun set. “Since it’s been in the still, it should be able to burn and burn for a while.”
Bookworm nodded, though she decided not to ask where they were hiding a still for now. She went to get her weapons ready and loaded with silver ammunition, and also changed into something more fitting for what she might have to do tonight.
Cyan wondered if there was anymore wood around or if he should put it around the the house. He went to the front door and noticed a man outside looking toward Book’s home, looking rather like a pirate to Cyan. He also seemed to be a bit confused as he shook his head and walked away.
The cub then went place the wolfsbane outside of the house, making sure to shut the door behind him. He started to pour the thick liquid in front of the door and then circled the house starting with the big windows.
When he finished, he knocked and got back inside, where he saw that Miss Book was done; seeing her armed made the cheetah feel more secure.
“I’m as ready as I can be, I think,” Bookworm replied.
“Well, that’s good… I suppose it’s just a waiting game now?”
Bookworm nodded, and went to the turret window for a look outside. As the hours passed the dark skies above Wheatstone took on a reddish tinge as a blood red half moon managed to peek through the clouds. It was not a full moon, but on a night like this, she could believe anything could come out.
She continued to sit there while Cyan read a book, always glancing up to look at the clock nervously. It was getting close to midnight when Bookworm spoke next. “I wonder if it would be better to try to meet it outside.” She thought it might be a good idea to have the house as a fallback position. And while she knew Mrs. Pritchard and Mrs. Sawyer were courageous, she’d rather not put them into too much danger, let alone Arnold. She spared a moment to wish Mariah was at home, but she’d gone to Armada for a visit with some friends.
Cyan agreed with her, and Bookworm went check the back of the house. She then took up a position at the southeastern corner of the house, where she could see most of the approaches. It wasn’t long before she frowned as she saw a strange man nearing them. Cyan recognized him as the pirate dressed fellow from earlier.
Bookworm didn’t recognize the man; she hadn’t even seen anyone in New Babbage wearing distinctive attire such as he wore. “Sir, you should leave,” she said. “There is potential danger here.”
“Danger?” The man asked, looking dazed and lost. Bookworm nodded, not wanting to go into details with a stranger. “Danger….” The man looked up at the blood moon and cringed. “Danger–”
He ran off, and Bookworm frowned as he disappeared out of sight, feeling distinctly uneasy at the man’s behavior. She looked back at Cyan. “You don’t suppose–“
A piercing howl filled the dark red skies above Wheatstone, interrupting her thought. Bookworm hissed and drew her rifle and she gestured for Cyan to get back into the house. Cyan went back to the door where he poured the most wolfsbane, but he stayed there instead of retreating.
Book, not hearing the door open, was about to yell at him to go inside. But her shout died in her throat as a dark form emerged from the shadows of the Old Babbage Arsenal, situated across the small lane from her home. The wolf caught sight of Cyan and bounded through the snow toward him. She raised her rifle and yelled, “Stop!”
Cyan pressed his tiny frame against the door, terror seizing him like it had when he had first encountered Joffrey Teeds. The wolf leapt forward, claws ready to tear him apart.
Bookworm fired, grazing the wolf with the silver ammunition, inches from Cyan. It yipped, and not just from the wound; it now caught the stench of wolfsbane around the cub. It inched away, in pain.
Bookworm yelled “Stop!” again, hoping against hope that something of humanity was still left, something that could be reasoned with. But it fled from her and around the corner of the house, heading for the back windows. Bookworm chased after it as fast as she could, gesturing for Cyan to get back into the house. This time, he obeyed.
Bookworm hurried around the shed on the western side of the house, where she kept her photographic equipment and developed her pictures. Hearing a noise of glass breaking, she dashed forward and found the wolf on a windowsill, about to crash through the rest of the glass. She realized immediately that was one of the windows leading into the library–and Arnold. She fired again, quickly, and the wolf fell backward into the snow. It quickly picked itself back up and ran behind the house, whining in pain.
Bookworm carefully walked around the corner to the back of the house. Her quarry was definitely wounded, blood leaving a small trail on the snow for her to follow. She cautiously followed the track, past the back door, and toward the northeastern corner, listening carefully.
A small growl was all the warning she got as the wolf lunged from around the corner, claws outstretched. She leapt back and fired desperately, at point-blank range, knowing she would only get one shot.
Bookworm stood panting as the wolf collapsed an inch from her, its warm blood now steaming the snow beneath it. She swallowed and knelt down, rifle still at the ready, and slowly reached out to try to find a pulse. Nothing.
She noticed that Mrs. Pritchard and Cyan were now at the door, looking at her expectantly. “I think it–he–is dead,” Book said finally.
((To be continued…))