Mr. Wright set down his coffee mug on the ground next to the asylum gates as Bookworm approached. “Afternoon, ma’am.”
“Afternoon, Mr. Wright.” She nodded abstractedly, seeing Tepic hurrying toward them. She peered more closely as he neared, seeing that he was dripping wet, and leaving a trail of damp cobbles behind him. “Tepic, what happened?”
“‘Ello, Miss Book. Err… one of them Bear gang came by the Vole.” That certainly got the attention of the two adults, and he continued with relish. “He said people were gonna die soon if their family ain’t back together. Then ‘e ran at me, sayin’ he were gonna do fer me. So I threw a lit bottle of oil at ‘im an’ jumped inter the canal!”
Exciting as that recitation was, both Bookworm and Mr. Wright had found their attention turned toward something else – a rustling coming from over the wall across the street. Suddenly, a large wolf jumped onto the top of the wall, immediately dropping down, his gaze fixed on the three of them. All three drew what they had to hand – Mr. Wright had a pistol in each hand, Bookworm her dart gun, and Tepic… a bottle.
Bookworm didn’t even bother with words this time – she simply fired one of the tranquilizer darts. Mr. Wright also fired a shot; a trail of bluish smoke trailed after his bullet. The wolf, though, had immediately ducked behind a brick pillar. Both bullet and dart struck the pillar, the bullet producing a bright white flash of flame as it hit.
Tepic threw his bottle at the pillar. It struck and burst apart, and suddenly, there was a nearly-visible miasma of perfume surrounding the pillar and drifting with the wind toward the trio. Bookworm gave Tepic a queer look, but then she heard the wolf coughing violently.
“Get ‘im quick!” yelled Tepic. Bookworm dashed over and fired another dart, this one hitting the prostrate wolf squarely. Slowly, his coughing subsided as the tranquilizer took effect.
“Blimey…” Tepic breathed. “It worked!”
Bookworm sighed sharply in relief, though she was nearly choking on the strong perfume smell. “And now we have three.”
Mr. Wright nodded. “We need to get him off the street now.” He kept one pistol aimed at the wolf’s head.
“You cover him. I’ll run in and get some asylum workers to help.” She dashed into the asylum, and was back in short order with a few burly asylum employees, ready with stretcher and straightjacket.
As she neared, Tepic was saying, “Cor, that stuff don’t half wiff. ‘Midnight Serenade,’ it said on the label. Reckon it were the full orchestra!” Bookworm couldn’t help but chuckle at that.
Mr. Wright pointed at one of the wolf’s arms. “That looks serious, like the flesh melted away,” he said. “Looks like second and third-degree burns on almost the entire length, as well as exposed bone.”
Bookworm squatted down, taking a closer look, and grimaced. “I don’t think we can put him in the straightjacket yet,” she said to the asylum workers. “Not until a doctor looks at that arm. We’ll have to keep him tranquilized.” She directed them in getting the wolf onto the stretcher, though she and Tepic remained outside, watching carefully, while Mr. Wright escorted the unconscious prisoner into the asylum. Several minutes later, he returned, telling Bookworm that the wolf was now safely in one of the third-floor cells.
Myril Igaly came by at that moment. Tepic was pleased to tell her what had just happened, with Bookworm and Mr. Wright filling in other details. “Oh, the wolf were at the Vole yesterday, too,” Tepic said at one point. “An’ he had a go at Charlie an’ Billy. Charlie got tore up a bit–”
“Badly?” Myrtil frowned.
“Not good, but yer knows Charlie. He’ll be back on ‘is feet soon. An’ that’s why I were ready today.”
“Ready for what?” The familiar voice of the asylum administrator came from the gate, as it swung open to let out his diminutive form. Out of the corner of her eye, Bookworm saw Tepic duck behind a lamppost, trying to hide from view.
“Mr. Canergak,” she said. “You now have three of Prometheus’s family in your asylum.”
“Hmmm. We will endeavor to retain our hold on them, then. Our facility is swiftly becoming an interesting zoo,” he added dryly. “How did you capture this one?”
Bookworm smiled a little. “Tepic had an interesting way to incapacitate the wolf. With a perfume bomb.”
“Sensory overload seems to do the trick,” Mr. Wright added.”
“That is… intriguing. So the reward for the capture would be his? Was he aware of the 5000 quatloo bounty I placed on each of their heads?”
Bookworm heard excited whispering behind her as she replied, “I doubt he knew, Mr. Cantergak. But he’s definitely earned it. His actions certainly made it much easier for me to tranquilize the wolf.”
“Very well. I will prepare the funds. I am sure that he will end up spending it on medical bills before long, knowing his penchant for getting himself and his associates into danger.”
“Mister Canergak.” Myrtil stepped forward, getting his attention. “You have the fox-girl named Freya in the asylum, and she knows interesting stuff. Maybe you could let Tepic in, so he could speak with her?”
Canergak turned a very stern gaze on her. “No, he is not allowed in the facility. Keep him out.” His gaze traveled to Bookworm and Mr. Wright.
“Awww, but why?”
“Myrtil…” Bookworm admonished. Myrtil frowned and lowered her head.
“Because the last time he got inside, he nearly got Beatrixe Rouse killed. That is why.”
Myrtil dug at the ground with her toe, and Bookworm quickly changed the subject. “We’ll need to keep the wolf tranquilized until a doctor looks at his arm. I wouldn’t want to put it into a straightjacket until we’re sure it won’t interfere with healing.” Behind her, she heard two sets of light feet scurrying away, and made a mental note to make sure Tepic got his reward soon.
((To be continued…))