Bookworm was working at her desk when she heard one of the small bells installed strategically around the house begin ringing. Looking up quickly, she saw Daniel come into her view. “What’s coming?” she asked.
“Miss Beatrixe from the asylum is running this way,” he replied. “Two others seem to be chasing her.”
Bookworm nodded, dropping her pen on the desk as she stood up hastily and dashed downstairs. As a pounding tattoo started on the front door, she threw it open. Beatrixe Rouse stumbled inside, yelping, “Help!” She ducked behind Bookworm and hid behind her skirts.
“What’s wrong?” Bookworm asked her.
“I was being chased by weird bunny boys!” the architect replied. Even as she finished that, the “weird bunny boys” stumbled up to the house. “Terribly sorry,” panted one. “She thought we were chasing her.”
“If you weren’t, what were you doing?” Bookworm kept her voice pleasant while she looked the two over. She remembered now that she’d heard of a few cabbits that had moved to the city recently–these must be two of them. They were moreaus, and had elements of both felines and rabbits about them.
The two moved more into the entryway, trying to escape the cold snow. “We were just asking for information about a bank,” the first one said.
Beatrixe nodded. “And they started chasing me suddenly when I was tried to leave,” she interjected.
The speaker continued, “A bank in a place known as ‘The Stillwood,’ near a town called Ichor Falls.” The cabbit’s voice had an innocent tone to it, and his words were carefully pronounced to the full. Bookworm guessed that both language and culture were new to them. “I apparently have a bank account there.”
“I see,” Bookworm replied, though her own tone was rather dubious. “I’m afraid I’ve not heard of it before.” She glanced behind her. “I rather doubt Miss Beatrixe has, either.”
The speaker signed, looking down in disappointment. “Yes, many don’t seem to know much about it.”
“I figured you might have heard of the woods,” Beatrixe said innocently. “Books come from the woods.”
Bookworm couldn’t help but chuckle at that. “There are quite a few steps between woods and books,” she told her, before turning her attention back to the cabbit. “You might want to try the library.” She paused. “I would suggest City Hall, too, but right now isn’t the time.” She sighed, shaking her head.
“Why would that be?” The cabbit tilted his head at her inquiringly. “It looked like a strange, if somewhat dangerous, building when I passed it, but I didn’t think there would be anything wrong with city hall…”
“Well, considering it was heavily damaged recently…” she replied wryly. A sudden look of realization came over the cabbit’s face. “Oh, I thought it was just some strange human architecture to have a building only half built,” he replied.
“Oh, speaking of buildings, Book!” Beatrixe broke in. “Someone, big, tall, kind of giant looking came asking about ways to enter your home unseen. Asked me not to mention it at the end.” She nodded, and then looked a little sheepish. “So I guess I shouldn’t have mentioned it.”
Bookworm stared down at her. “When was this?” she exclaimed.
“Oh, about two days ago. Or a week.” Beatrixe paused. “Actually, what is today?”
The cabbit cast a concerned gaze at Beatrixe. “Are you sure it is wise to break your promise of not mentioning your conversation? Won’t it hurt the giant’s feelings?”
“Maybe,” Beatrixe said, and then stomped her foot. “Oh, I keep doing that.”
“Can you tell me more about what this giant looked like?” Bookworm urgently asked.
Beatrixe shrugged. “I don’t know. He seemed to want to surprise you with something. But I definitely did not mention your secret entrance or where to find it. Because I didn’t remember where it was.”
Bookworm rubbed her forehead. “Oh, wonderful,” she muttered. Was she never to be left in peace? She finally looked up at the two cabbits. “I’m sorry I can’t be of more help to you, but I think your best chance is to look in the library for information on Ichor Falls.”
The other cabbit, who had been silent, now nodded and asked, “Where can we find this library? I’d not heard of it before.”
“It’s the R. F. Burton Public Library, in the southeast corner of the Canals district,” Bookworm replied rather abstractedly, her mind still turning on Beatrixe’s information.
“That does sound like a good bet,” the first cabbit replied. “I did notice a library-looking building, but an urchin appeared to be guarding the door with a broom.”
“Was it a witch urchin?” Beatrixe asked. Bookworm overrode that question with, “Where was that?”
“It was near the entrance to the city, near the trains. I had spoken to the urchin earlier, yet he seemed rather confused. I didn’t want to upset him, especially with the broom he was weilding.”
“Hmmm.” Bookworm wasn’t sure offhand what the cabbit was speaking of, but then, she didn’t know if his definition of a library matched hers. “That wasn’t the Burton library–that’s pretty much due east of here, on the Vernian Sea shore.” She shrugged. “Well, I wish you luck in your search.”
The cabbit replied, “Yes, thank you for your information. I’m very grateful.” He smiled and turned to the door, but then paused, looking back at her. “Also, are there any banks in the city? It may be of assistance if there are. I haven’t found any yet though.”
“Banks have a tendency not to last long here,” she replied, smiling wryly, remembering one that had been blown up not long after she first arrived in the city. “We usually make other arrangements.”
“Is it because everyone has floating orbs that give free quatloos?” he asked curiously.
As Bookworm stared at him in confusion, Beatrixe piped up, “Oh, I get mine from a dwarf. And other people. Much easier.”
Bookworm finally repeated, “Floating… orbs?”
The cabbit started to reply, but visibly changed his mind, and tack. “Oh, nothing, just… something I’ve been thinking about. Forget that I said anything.” He quickly exited, towing his companion along. “We’ll see you another time, woman of books–and thank you!”
Bookworm watched them scurry off up the street. “That was odd,” she finally muttered to herself, stepped back inside, and was immediately caught up in a hug by Beatrixe. “Thanks!” she chirped.
Bookworm smiled as she gently disengaged herself. “Would you like me to go with you back to the asylum?” she asked.
“For what? I have other things to do first.” Beatrixe headed for the door, having apparently already forgotten why she’d come to Bookworm’s house.
Bookworm smiled at her. “All right. A good evening to you, then.” She closed the door on the sight of Beatrixe skipping away, her smile already fading. Turning back, she saw Daniel materializing beside her. “You heard?” she asked.
The ghost nodded. “We’ll keep an eye out–though how reliable can she be?”
“That someone asked her about this house? Yes, I’m quite sure that happened.” Bookworm sighed. “We’re not out of the woods yet.”
Emerson sips on some ichorbrau as he reads the post
Only in New Babbage can things take a turn for the wacky…. but still be potentially deadly-serious in their implications. :D