* A tale involving the “other” side of Miss Hermit. Feel free to comment *
Bookworm Hienrichs, having received an invitation to visit Miss Hermit’s flat, strolls through the Wheatstone district and walks up the steps and knocks at the door.
“Who might be there, please?”
“Good afternoon. It’s Miss Bookworm.”
“One moment while I unlock the door.” I reply
The heavy wooden doors are unlocked and swung open wide to admit Miss Hienrichs. I stand at the vestibule and perform a small curtsy. “Please come in Miss Hienrichs.”
Bookworm Hienrichs smiles, “Good afternoon, Miss Hermit. It was so nice for you to invite me the other day.”
“I am so glad you could come to visit today.”
“I wanted to see how things are with you, Miss Hermit. Have you had any more…disturbances of late?”
“I quite owe you the update to recent activities Miss Hienrichs. Shall we go upstairs to the private rooms? Mr. Wexhome has installed AEtheric jump disks in all the apartments. Just tap the disk and select the second floor please.”
The jump is brief and contains no after effects. Miss Hienrichs looks about the richly decorated panels of the second floor and smiles, “Cozy.”
“Welcome to my dojo Miss Hienrichs. Please have a seat.”
I slide a small object to the center of the table that we are seated at. “Remember these?”
Bookworm Hienrichs nods, “Ah yes, the shrines where we kept the ghosts safely hidden from the Slenderman. They were an interesting addition to my fireplace.”
“They are the same ones. The one to the side is where my maid Tasha stays. I removed the restrictions to that shrine so that she may move freely anywhere. But this one in the center is rather special. You see it holds a common friend of ours who recently stopped over to your home to ‘visit’ you.”
Bookworm Hienrichs leans forward to inspect the shrine more closely, “Ahhh. You…found him?”
“With Mac’s help, yes. It took a bit of work to catch him.”
“Hmm. I can imagine.” Miss Heinrich leans back to listen to me.
“I perfected a method where I can be possessed and still have some degree of control. The senior monk at the Temple was most helpful with providing scrolls to help me.”
Bookworm Hienrichs pales just a little at the mention of possession, but retains her calm. “I’m glad Mac was able to help you.”
“I trained Mac on how to share my body and we worked as a team. We still need to practice certain things together but for the first attempt, it went quite well.”
I turn the shrine to the side so Miss Hienrichs sees the interior, “Notice the color? Red stands for a hostile capture. I allowed the spirit to define himself as such.”
Miss Hienrichs frowns, “Is he still…hostile?”
“After a fashion but he has switched loyalties to me and the Temple after his second defeat. I have come to believe that the Yakuza never told him who was his target.”
Bookworm Hienrichs nods, “Hmmm. Well, with your skill, I don’t think I’m entirely surprised by that.”
“I thought as much myself. I have still to question him more deeply on that. But in debt to you, I am prepared to answer your questions about this affair as best as I can. I may have to defer some answers for later and I will tell you that.”
Miss Hienrichs ponders what to ask as she knows this will be a rare chance to get some real information that might be useful later. “Are you and the monks at the temple still of the opinion that it’s unlikely anyone else will be sent from your home country to attack you?”
I nod slowly, “I would have to say yes to that. The Yakuza do not repeat failures.”
“Do you have any ideas on what the Yakuza might do next?”
I look off to the side for a moment and then return my gaze back to her. “If you mean might they still come after me…I would say they would but I do not know the method, hence why I am wearing my katana. I do not enjoy being a target.”
Bookworm Hienrichs nods, “Mariah and I…we think it’s possible they might hire some person or persons from around here. Remember how Captain Lupindo was hired to attack Zac and Nell by others from their home…area.”
This causes me to look up quickly, “You suppose a western assassin?”
“Possibly. Mariah is keeping an ear open for any such, but no guarantees that she’ll hear about it.”
I sigh quietly, “And here I was thinking among more traditional lines. You know…poison, strangulation, edged weapons on a trip spring. How modern they have become.”
With a wry smile Bookworm Hienrichs replies, “One must keep up with the times.”
“But then using someone who looks like everyone else would be wise. They would blend right in until the moment to kill occurs.”
Miss Hienrichs nods, “Well, as I said, it’s only a possibility. But one, I think, to keep in mind.”
“You know, the pigeons from home do not speak of any hope for truce or payoff. So I must remain on guard. Thank goodness for the Babbage spirits. They do not require sleep and are always watching. What else does your friend Mariah think about concerning this matter?”
“She’s not said much more than that. I told her even less than I know, as I knew you didn’t want the incident spread around and I’ll not ask you for more. The reasons behind all of this are of less concern to me than your safety, and the safety of the city.”
“I understand your desires. I do require you to see to my hand again. It appears that I cut it a bit too deep while performing the shrine chant. Nerves I think got the better of me.”
Bookworm Hienrichs peers across the table and tsks. “Yes, you certainly did slice it deeply.”
“Before we see to that, someone would like to thank you for your services.”
Bookworm Hienrichs looks about but sees no one.
“I did get his full name also. It is Nakamura Hiro. Or in the western way of speaking Hiro Nakamura. Mac has been working with him and can he speak a few words of English.”
“Good for Mac. He seems to be an earnest person.”
“Ready to see him? Hiro should be quite a bit more visible. Credit that with Mac also.”
Bookworm Hienrichs nods, “I’m ready.”
I clap my hands twice, winching from the pain as I do so. The spirit appears, bows low to both of us, and then stands motionless. Bookworm Hienrichs starts a little, then nods, and looks at the ghost a little sternly.
“Thank you. You are great lady. Thank you”
“You are welcome. I am sorry I couldn’t perform any obsequies at your graveside, but I do not know your traditions.”
I quietly smile at this. “Allow me to speak silently to him my dear. That is a bit more English than Mac has given him.”
Bookworm Hienrichs smiles and nods.
I lower my eyes and allow a part of me to enter the space of here / not here and proceed to relay Miss Hienrichs words to Hiro.
“Yes. Thank you lady.”
“Well he does understand that you made the attempt and he is happy that someone did.”
Bookworm Hienrichs smiles. “Would you be able to translate a few questions for me?”
“Of course. I might have to answer for him if it is beyond his grasp of English you understand.”
Miss Hienrichs looks at the ghost, so he knows the question is for him. “How did you know about me, and where I lived?”
I also look at the spirit and then at Miss Hienrichs…”He says he felt you and was drawn to your home as a moth to a light. My dear Bookworm, you are still channeling aren’t you? Remember all that interaction with the Babbage spirits?”
She nods, a little dismayed. “Goodness, I hope my house doesn’t become Grand Central Station for ghosts.”
“Well, I don’t know about that but when you work with and are possessed by the spirits it marks a person as special. You’ll recall I have named you ‘Sister-Miko’? That wasn’t just a cute title. I recognized your talent. I would think Mr. Somerset already has done that too.”
Bookworm sighs a little, but smiles. “Ahh, the strange twists and turns one’s life can take. Can you ask him why he came to me after you killed him? Did he have any other purpose, beyond my retrieving his body?”
I look to Nakanura-san…”No. He felt you and in his desperation came to the only beacon he could detect. He wasn’t dead for very long when he came to you so I would think you were the only one he felt he could communicate to. After all the wiggyfish were gathering. Shall we say you were in the right place at the right time for him?”
Bookworm Hienrichs nods thoughtfully. “I can live with that, I think.”
“Because he knew very well I was not in the mood to do anything.” I say with a grim smile.
“Well, unless he can tell us anything about what the Yakuza might be planning next, I think it might be time for me to attend to that wound of yours.”
I look at the spirit as if called then back to Miss Hienrichs…”He feels owes you a great debt and wonders how to repay you. This worries him that he might not be able to do anything for you.”
She thinks about that for a moment. “If he can help keep you safe, that’s reward enough for me.”
“I will tell him as much. It will give him some purpose and who knows, perhaps he will be a good protector.”
The spirit bows low in Miss Heinrich’s direction…”Watashi wa kamaimasen Hienrichs-san.”
Bookworm Hienrichs nods back.
I point to the shrine and nod to him in dismissal.
“Hai Hermit-san !!” and Hiro disappears back into the shrine.
“Well my dear Miss Hienrichs, you may just have acquired a minion!”
Bookworm Hienrichs laughs. “A helper, perhaps. I’d never call anyone a minion.”
“Please follow me and you can see my other room on this floor. Just remember…things are not always as they seem with me”….I smile warmly and walk through the screen.
Miss Hienrichs watches as Miss Hermit disappears through the screen, then follows, a little trepidatiously.
I turn and bow towards Miss Hienrichs, “My western quarters.”
Bookworm Hienrichs chuckles. “Quite nice.”
I hang the sword close by and then lie on the day bed. “Now, if you would attend to this wound ‘Doctor’ Hienrichs…”
Bookworm Hienrichs spies the wash basin on the drawers. “Do you have bandages handy?”
“Right underneath is where Tasha keeps them.”
Miss Hienrichs opens a drawer and find them. Drawing a few out, she takes them and the pitcher of water over to the day bed as I unwrap the soiled linen from my left hand. Bookworm Hienrichs tsks again, drops the soiled linen on the floor, and begins washing the wound.
“I know, I know…Tasha complained bitterly about the slashed glove. Something about the cost of gloves this season being so dear.”
Bookworm chuckles. “She would.”
“This will probably sting?” Miss Hienrichs nods. “Well do it properly. I need this hand healed soon.”
She rummages in the small bag hanging at her waist, and brings out a small bottle. “I’ve taken to carrying this around with me. It certainly seems to come in handy. This will definitely sting.” Bookworm sprinkles a bit of the contents on the wound, carefully dabbing with a corner of the clean bandage.
I look at the cut, “If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not healing. Aiee…it “definitely” stings!”
Bookworm carefully wipes the excess liquid away, and beings wrapping the bandage around the wound. “There. That should help speed the healing process.”
“And this liquid whiplash is named what?”
“It’s just an antiseptic, to help keep the wound clean.”
I shake my hand gently…”I shall stick to the Temple’s ointments I believe. But many thanks in any case.” I get up from the day bed and walk about. “As you can see Miss Hienrichs I do most of my studying from here. There is quite a bit of knowledge from the Temple in this room.”
“Nice and cozy. A good study area.”
“Well, I do thank you for the visit Miss Hienrichs. I felt I should make matters right and I and Hiro both owed you some thanks.”
Bookworm Hienrichs smiles. “I do hope this situation will resolve soon, and well for you and your fellows.”
I smile happily, “I think it should. After all, what could possibly go wrong?”
Bookworm Hienrichs chuckles along with me as we both teleport back to the first floor and the warmth of the fireplace to share some tea and lady like social chatter.
In a Yakuza dojo in Nihon, the inner rooms…
The woman’s voice cuts like the edge of the katana. All know that she is not pleased with the first failure and she will be even more upset if they fail again.
“What news from Babbage?”
The minion bows even lower than most in the room thought possible, “The western agent we have hired has made contact. She wishes to know how to proceed.”
“Is she as good as she thinks she is?”
She ponders upon this, sipping from her jade cup…
“Send the green message. Write nonsense on the scroll. The color is the true signal. Use two birds. I will not tolerate failure. Ikinasai!”