Mrs. Pritchard, hearing the knock at the door, hurried into the foyer and opened it, seeing a blond-haired boy standing there. “Ahh, you must be Jimmy Branagh,” she said. “Do come in.”
“Thenks, ma’am!” replied Jimmy. He followed Mrs. Pritchard into the living room, where Bookworm was resting on a couch, swaddled in nightgown, robe, and blanket. She’d badgered Mariah and Mrs. Pritchard all day until they’d finally agreed to let her wait for Jimmy downstairs, instead of in her bed. She’d spent the afternoon alternately dozing restlessly, and staring into the fire, trying to understand what was happening, and how it could be stopped.
“Hoy, Miss Book,” Jimmy said as he approached the couch. Bookworm craned her neck to see him, and smiled wanly. “Hoy, Jimmy,” she replied. “Have a seat.” She gestured to the chair set up next to her.
He sat down, looking around at the bookshelves, the pictures, the large bay window behind them. “Noice place!”
“Thank you,” Bookworm said. “I hope you’ll excuse my attire. I’m afraid I haven’t recovered as much as I thought I had.”
“That’s awlroight, Miss. Oy’m not dressed faw th’ ball either!” Jimmy chuckled. “Sos’s Oy got a note sayin’ ya wanted ta talk ta me ’bout somethin’?”
Bookworm nodded, and levered herself up slowly, to be better able to converse with him. “I understand that…a past evil may have returned.”
“Yeh, thet’s wot they’re sayin’.”
“What can you tell me about this Moriarty?” Bookworm asked, leaning forward.
“Whoa … thet’s a long story!”
Bookworm smiled wryly. “I’m not going anywhere.”
She settled in and listened intently as Jimmy told her the basics of the story–the device called the Porta Terrarum that Loki’s grandfather, Professor Eliot, had built; his murder at the hands of Jason Moriarty, who tried to use the devise for his own evil ends; his seeming death when Professor Nishi stopped him; his return to attempt to steal a “Cloud Angel” to use as a power source, and how he was stopped again; and, of course, of last year’s events, when Moriarty’s brain was transplanted into a homonculus.
Bookworm was silent for a while, looking thoughtful. “If it is Moriarty who’s back,” she finally said, “and who’s the nameless villain in the story…” She suddenly focused on Jimmy. “Do you have any ideas about what he might be doing? What his motivations are?”
“No,” Jimmy replied, shrugging. “Mybee th’ same thing, mybee not. ‘ee doesn;t loike me much though, so’s Oy’d rather not run inta ’em.”
“Well,” Bookworm mused, “he doesn’t know me to like *or* dislike…”
“Thet’s good. Me bullets are no good against ‘im, so…”
“Really? That’s interesting,” Bookworm said, looking at him keenly.
“‘ee attacked us on th’ docks once, and Oy emptied two full cylinders from th’ Le Mat into ‘om. ‘ee didn’t even notice.” Bookworm whistled at that.
“‘ee can shoot lightning from ‘is hands,” Jimmy continued. “‘ee zapped Gadget th’ other dye.”
Bookworm blinked, looking distinctly startled at that piece of information. “Well, that certainly complicates matters.” She sighed in frustration. “I do wish I was well enough to get out there.”
“Oy wos wonderin’ if it is loightnin’, would a grounded shield of some koind protect ya?”
“Hmmm. That’s a thought…”
“Just metal wit’ an insulated handle an’ wires to the ground.”
Bookworm nodded. “And collapsible, like an umbrella frame.”
“Yeh!” Jimmy grinned. “Insulated shoes too, of course.”
“Yes,” Bookworm said thoughtfully. “Yes, something like that would be a necessity to have before talking to him.”
“Oy might troy it, but th’ test moight be th’ last thing Oy do!” Jimmy chuckled, as did Bookworm for a moment. Then she sobered. “Do you know where Moriarty is staying?”
“No, Miss. No oydea. Though ‘ee’s been seen in th’ Port an’ at City Hall.”
“Hmph. Certainly would be helpful if we knew that.”
“Dr. Kristos went to th’ olace where ‘ee wos reborn last year, an’ says it looks loike it’s been rebuilt. Oy went too, an’ it does. But no chairs aw nothin’.”
“Hmm. I wonder why. Is it needed for his plans, whatever they are?”
Jimmy shrugged again.
“I’ll need to see that when I’m up and about. It seems that may be another place to keep an eye on.” Bookworm wrote a note in her journal.
“Yeh. Miss Avariel mybee should put one of her clockworks there to guard. She’ll get a report if’n ‘ee shows up.”
“Oh, that’s a good idea! I should send her a note about that.” Bookworm scribbled in her journal again. She looked thoughtful, but a feverish flush was appearing on her cheeks. “So…set up a watch there, find out where Moriarty may be rooming–“
“Miss, you should get some rest,” Jimmy interrupted. “Ya look a moight peekid, if’n Oy may say.”
Bookworm sighed, looking frustrated. “*He* won’t be resting, I’m sure.”
“Well, thet’s true.”
Their attention was arrested by a cough from Mrs. Pritchard, who was standing at the living room entrance, giving Bookworm a *look.* “Well, thank you for your help, Jimmy,” Bookworm said, knowing that the interview was over whether she wanted it so or not. “I hope I can call on you later for more assistance, if I need it.”
“Oh sure, Miss Book. Anytoime. Ya need me ta run faw anythin’ faw ya?”
“Could you let the other urchins know that I’d be very interested in any information they can give me on Moriarty? Especially his present whereabouts?”
“Yes, Oy will.”
Bookworm smiled. “Thank you.”
“Hope ya feel better soon, Miss Book,” Jimmy said, standing up. “Noight.”
“Thank you–and good night to you.” Bookworm listened as Jimmy took his leave of Mrs. Pritchard, who shut the door behind him and immediately hurried back into the living room. “It’s the bed for you now, miss,” she said sternly.
Bookworm let Mrs. Pritchard help her to her feet and up the stairs, and slid into bed without a complaint, realizing she was more tired than she’d felt while talking to Jimmy. Mrs. Pritchard fussed over her a few minutes, tucking her in, smoothing the covers, checking the hot water bottle, but finally she left, and Bookworm closed her eyes.
Tired as she was, though, it was some time before she fell asleep, and the sleep she got was rather restless. There was a sourceless hum surrounding her, one more felt than heard, one that seeped into her bones and mind, and made them restless to get out into the city and find the answers she was craving so desperately…