Bookworm entered the room to find everyone waiting, looking uncomfortable–especially Lilith, whose ears were nervously flattened to her head. Book tried to smile a little, to put everyone at ease. “Of those of you here, who arrived here first?”
“I arrived after them.” Cyan said as he looked towards Beryl and the others. Beryl continued, “Kasa and I arrived with Jed. Lilith was the only person I saw who didn’t leave when we arrived.”
Bookworm turned to Lilith, nodding. “What did you first see and hear?”
Lilith looked down and played absently with the walking stick in her hands. “Well… I… I.I heard shouting to free someone. I watched from a distance. Eventually, when the militia man came out, I saw one of the moreaus walk up and light the barricade they made on fire,” she finished nervously.
Beryl asked encouragingly, “Which moreau did the lighting, or did you not see?”
“I’m not quite sure. I was trying not to be seen.”
“If I remember correctly,” said Cyan, “there was a lady in green holding a sign as I came up. She wasn’t moreau, though. And I thought I saw a bunny leaving the area too, but there were so many other people leaving, I couldn’t get a good look.”
Bookworm scribbled quickly in her notebook. “Well, thank you for your help. If you remember anything else, please come and tell me.” She smiled at the various assents and watched them leave, but put her hand out to halt Lilith. “Lilith, can you stay longer? There’s… something else we need to talk about. Why don’t you come down to my office?” The girl nodded, though her ears were flat on her head, betraying her nervousness.
Leading the way down, Book gestured toward the door to her office. Beryl, who had also held back, said quietly, “I’ll wait here for you, Lilith.”
Inside, with the door shut, she showed Lilith where to sit, and sat down behind her desk. Leaning forward, trying to avoid crumpling the papers strewn across it, she said quietly, “Lilith, you remember that Wisp was badly injured this summer, when the tower collapsed?”
The girl nodded. “I know. I visited him every day in the hospital–well, until they banned me. I was… looking forward to seeing him when he woke.”
“He has woken up, actually.”
“I know. Kasa told me… when she told me I was banned from the hospital.”
“Did she tell you why?”
“No,” replied Lilith in a small voice.
Bookworm sighed, not looking forward to this at all. “Wisp wasn’t injured just by the collapsing tower. He had quite a few claw scratches on his body.”
“When he woke up, he… he identified you as the one who gave him those.”
Lilith looked very taken aback. “That’s… impossible. The tower… that… I can’t walk without my stick here. Hurts too much half the time.”
“Well, I don’t know whether or not you had anything to do with the tower collapse,” Bookworm hastened to say. “But he definitely indicated it was you, in your wolf-form, that attacked him.”
“I… I could not…” she said to herself. “I am not that way.”
“Do you remember anything about that day?”
Lilith swallowed nervously. “Yes. I was in my home–well, what I called a home–resting. I could barely move, and sent Wisp to bring hot soup to the tower for the urchins.”
“Anything else?” Bookworm pressed a little.
“Well, I had just gotten on my new medication.”
“Yes, I… well, please do not tell anyone of my condition. We… we do not want everyone knowing.” At Bookworm’s nod, she continued, “I need a special medication, or… well, let’s just say bad things happen.”
“But it looks like something bad did happen,” Bookworm reminded her. “The question is, how?”
“I’ve been trying to figure out myself,” she continued, “in my other form. I am in full control… always been… I am… different in a lot of ways. I was… made to be…” She petered out and shrugged helplessly.
Bookworm sighed. She wanted to have Lilith stay in one of the cells, but was concerned about what might happen to the girl’s state of mind. “Lilith, until we know what happened, it really would be better if you could stay with someone who can watch over you.”
“I… I do not know many people I can stay with, considering not many know of my condition, and sleeping is easier in my other form.”
Bookworm looked through her office window, seeing Beryl curled up on the bench outside. “Does Beryl know?”
She nodded. “Yes, Beryl knows. And Dr. Viper.” Then she shuddered. “And Canergak…”
Bookworm winced in sympathy, remembering all the difficulties Lisa had because Canergak knew her secret. “Would you be willing to stay with Beryl?”
After a moment of thought, Lilith nodded. “If Beryl is all right with it, I can.”
Bookworm went to the door and opened it, beckoning Beryl to come inside. She explained some of the situation to him, and asked if he’d be willing to supervise Lilith for a while.
Beryl looked at Lilith for a moment, and then at Bookworm. She got the impression he once again had much he could say, but wasn’t going to, as he nodded his head. “I’ll watch her, Ms. Heinrichs, if that’s all right.”
“All right, Lilith, you can go with him. But please stay in touch with me. We need to understand what happened, and make sure no one else gets hurt.”
She nodded. “I will do my best to help and work with you to figure it out.”
“Thank you.” Bookworm laid a reassuring hand on the girl’s shoulder. “And also, if you remember anything else about what happened today, please let me know.” She led the two of them to the front door, now cleared of debris, though a tang of smoke still hung in the air. “I’ll see you soon, I hope.”
“You will.” With that, Lilith and Beryl headed off. Bookworm watched them go, and rubbed her face hard, sighing. It had definitely been a trying day, and she had the feeling she had only postponed potential catastrophes. ‘Not that that’s new in Babbage,’ she thought wryly as she stepped back inside.
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