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Everything was ready. Cyan, Nathaniel, and Beatrixe had completed and tested the trap, and the urchins of the Under 13 club were primed for their part. All they needed to do was to lure in the star of this escapade–the raven.
Bookworm Hienrichs was stationed by the staircase, ready to block the small entrance that was all that was left after Cyan had boarded up the staircase. Lisa (with several of her cat friends in hiding) had volunteered to stay with Dr. Solsen, in case the raven somehow got down into the asylum proper.
The trap itself was using Dr. Maddox as bait behind a series of nets that the urchins would drop from holes that had been left on the makeshift ceiling. They were also prepared with slings, and anything else they could get their hands on, to drive the raven where they wanted it.
The trap was obvious, but Maddox was adamant that the bird would head right for her. She did not say why she was so sure, beyond a cryptic statement that she and Miss Foxhouse had just gotten the bird’s attention.
The members of the Under 13 club that had arrived had not all been briefed. One of them asked Loki what this place was, and he had to shrug as he played with the weapon he’d brought with him. “I dunno; bit of a mystery this place.”
Jimmy laughed, adding, “Thet’s quoite a blade, Loki.” While they were speaking, the raven flew through the windows, and then chaos spread as hundreds of ravens followed behind it. Aessesser had had to come, had to answer the call, but it had no intention of leaving its summoner alive.
The urchins shouted as they started to combat and shoot at the ravens now swarming them. Slingshots were fired; Cyan quickly slammed the upper window shut, and then ran down to try his Dapper Zapper; Loki swung his makeshift sword around shouting, “GET AWAY;” Bookworm swatted at them, all the while trying to reach out and find Aessesser.
Dr. Maddox gritted her teeth and then, as the raven closed on her, she threw the reality enforcer she’d gotten from Book at it.
The raven hadn’t been expecting that, or, even if it had, it couldn’t move in time as the reality enforcer crashed into it, landing on the floor next to it, and its prey escaped the trap. The urchins above dropped the nets.
The raven struggled against the net, cawing unhappily. The urchins cheered themselves and each other, and marveled at the size of it. Bookworm and Maddox watched in silence, waiting to see what the Reality Enforcer would do. But though there did seem to be some effect, it didn’t look to be enough, and Aessesser began struggling out of the net draped over it. The other birds seemed to just vanish to everyone else, some of the urchins looking to the rafters for where they had gone to hide, but Book was sure that Aessesser had somehow taken them into itself to fight the enforcer.
Maddox looked at Bookworm. “Someone has to put it on the bird,” she said soberly. “It will escape otherwise.”
Bookworm nodded. “I’ll do it.” She had no desire to let the children get too close to Aessesser, or Metier. If either of them attempted something psychically, she and Dr. Maddox had the best chances to fight it off. She ducked under the edge of the net, but while doing so, she felt it lifting elsewhere, too, and glanced aside to see that Maddox was entering, too. Motioning Maddox to stay back, she carefully picked up the Reality Enforcer.
She paused a moment, breathing to calm herself, staring down at the furious eye of Aessesser. Then, holding her breath, she did something she knew was potentially dangerous, but also necessary–she let down her shields and reached out with her mental senses, reaching for Aessesser and Metier.
This time, Aessesser was plain to be felt, his fury and panic beating against her. ‘You know what this will do to you, don’t you?’ she asked him with grim pleasure.
‘Do you know what it will do to any souls I’m still digesting?’ Aessesser replied, staring death at her.
Bookworm paled some, wavering for a few seconds in her purpose. But she knew Aessesser had a vested interest in lying to her, to try to save his life, and if he was left alive, he’d only steal more souls. ‘I’ll take that chance,’ she told him, steel and determination clear in her tone.
Calmly, ignoring his frantic thrashing, she knelt down and strapped the Reality Enforcer to his body. A scream began echoing in her mind, a scream that went on and on and on, blinding her to everything else. She barely felt Dr. Maddox take her by the arm and help her to stumble to the net and crawl beneath the edge.
The urchins outside watched in amazement as the raven convulsed more and more, seeming to fold in on itself. Bookworm, looking back at the trap, called out to them sharply, “Get back!” She wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but she rather thought it might be safer to put some distance between them and Aessesser. Even Jimmy recognized the danger, telling a few of those gathered by the nets, “Ya moight wanna back up some.”
The bird folded into itself until there was nothing left, and the reality enforcer dropped to the ground where Aessesser had been moments before. The cries, the presence, of Aessesser in Bookworm’s mind was gone.
“’e’s gone.” Jimmy said, while another asked, “Did it kill him?” Stormy looked like he was going to be sick and he wasn’t the only one.
Loki looked about a few times blinking, “Are we all dead?”
“Umm…no. But I think the Raven is,” Cyan replied, but Maddox added, “I don’t think this is over…not yet.”
Tepic looked horrified as he looked around inside the cage and then turned back to everyone. “’e were supposed ter give Hoyt back!”
Before anyone could reply to the urchins distress, a laugh filled the room, softly at first, and then maniacally. The urchins and everyone else looked for a source for that voice, but there was no form to be seen, no manifestation to focus upon. But Henri’s presence was there all the same…
((To be continued…))