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Bookworm was in militia headquarters when she heard a tap at the door. She opened it, and found Wisp there, who looked around before smiling up at her nervously, fiddling with something in his cloak. “Wisp! Hello,” she said and gestured. “Come in, please.”
The boy entered quietly and drew something out of his cloak, holding it to her on his flat palm. It was a small key, its bow shaped like a cat. In the cat’s head were two eyes, colored the same as Beryl’s eyes. Bookworm took it in her hand a moment, holding it to the light and turning it back and forth. Wisp pointed to a drawing in his book, showing that he’d found it near Cabbage Babbage.
“Hmm. That’s two things near there, one definitely connect to Beryl, and the other… well, I don’t know for sure, but this can’t be a coincidence.”
Wisp nodded slowly, and shivered. He flipped the notebook page over to another drawing, of something else he’d seen in that area–a man’s body, chained to a block. Bookworm stared at the picture, her eyes widening. “Is this still there? Can you show me?” He shrugged, and gestured for her to follow him.
It didn’t take long for them to reach the area just past the Babbage Cabbage–the same area she’d investigated a few days ago when Wisp brought her Beryl’s hat. Wisp pointed out across the water, and Bookworm stared into the gloom. There was no sign of a body now, though, and Wisp soundlessly sighed, his ears drooping. He pointed at the key in his hand, and down at the ground, indicating where he’d found it.
Bookworm spent several minutes looking around again, but could find nothing else out of the ordinary. She finally sighed in frustration. “This is just so strange…”
Wisp nodded, and suddenly his ears perked up. He flipped through the notebook to another page, then pointed first at the key, then at a picture of Dr. Maddox, evidently indicating that he thought she might know something about the key.
“That’s a good thought, Wisp. I’ll ask her as soon as I can.” She saw that he was still holding the key out to her, so she smiled and took it. “I’ll keep it safe. Thank you for bringing it to me.”
The boy nodded, and then paged through the notebook until he found a picture of Tepic. Pointing to it, he shrugged his shoulders and raised his eyebrows inquiringly.
“No, I’ve not seen him for a while,” Bookworm replied. “He’s been busy working–at least, I hope he has.”
Wisp nodded worriedly and pointed to his eyes, indicating that he meant to keep looking around. He thought a moment, then pointed to himself, then to Bookworm, held up two fingers, and finally waved his hand as if tracing the sun’s movement. “All right–I’ll see you then, at least,” Bookworm replied, but Wisp shook his head, and made more gestures that she tried to follow. “Are you–are you worried about yourself? That something might keep you from coming to me?”
Wisp shivered and nodded, looking down and fidgeting nervously. She laid a hand on his shoulder. “Can you tell me anything about it?”
He blinked, and slowly, he pointed to Beryl’s picture, then made a motion of something being scooped into a bag, then ran his finger across his neck, and finally pointed outward. Bookworm frowned. “You… you’re afraid of what might happen to you if you tell?”
Wisp shook his head, and she sighed, stymied by this round of charades. “Well, you know where to find me, anyway,” she said. “Come to my house if you get hungry–I’ll make sure Mrs. Sawyer knows to give you something.” She patted him on the shoulder. “You’re doing a good job so far. I appreciate your help.”
He smiled at that and swayed his tail. Bookworm gave him a farewell wave and went back up the stairs, the key still in her hand. She stared at it all the way back to headquarters.
((To be continued…))