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The Race to Rasend

Outside Janus was looking about nervously, scanning the cloudy skies for birds, some of which were starting to head towards Bookhaven, “We have to move!”

“No arguments there mate, but where to?!” Tepic asked as he reached for his sling.

“The cat was the one with the plan.  I was a cook,” Janus replied quickly, leaving out what else he had been. “She told me that we were looking for the wolf that bit me,”  Janus said, and gestured towards the asylum.  “She kept saying we needed him, and that if I had any hope of a life after death I had to find him!”

“Righty ho, lets leg it…. errrr…. if yer can, otherwise, just follow me!” the boy said, and set off at speed down the street.  Janus followed, it looked like he was just following like a cloud in some ways but running in others, at least he was moving his arms like he was.

The ravens and whipporwills began to chase after them, swooping down at Janus who swiped at them with his ethereal claws, while Tepic whirled his stone weighted sling above his head.

They dashed past the canals, through the twists and turns and made their way to the asylum quickly.  Janus looked at the boy as they ran, “Do you have a key?!”

“Don’t need one,” he panted, “We hammers on the door an Lisa will let us in, less you can keep them birdys off while i open it?”

“Do it then,”  Janus said, as he waited till they reached the door and then prepared himself, or what was left of himself on this plane.

Tepic hammered on the door, yelling for Lisa, then turned a quizzical eye on the wolfman and asked “Hang on, they is after you, an yer a ghost, why don’t yer just walk through the door?”

Janus jumped at the idea and rammed right into the door, bouncing off pathetically.  Janus was shocked, confused by not only being a spectre but now having the wool pulled out from under him like this.

“Bother, must take practice..” the boy stated, “Alright, hang on, I almost got the door open!”

It was then that Aessesser came into sight of both of them, and it was ready to finish the meal that it had missed before, when the cat had somehow taken it moments before it arrived.  It dived towards him, as Janus set itself to fight the demonic avian.

“Got it!”  Tepic shouted jubilantly as he threw open the door which Lisa had been on her way to answer.  The two dove inside, and Tepic slammed the door in the face of the bird, once again trapping it outside. 

——–

Lisa was upstairs, tending to Dr. Solsen, when she heard a pounding at the front door.  She quickly finished rebandaging Dr. Solsen’s wound and hurried downstairs, wondering who would want to get inside so insistently.  As she neared the unbolted door, it suddenly flung open, and two forms burst inside, one of them nearly careening into her.  That form hurriedly threw the door shut, and she heard a startled, angry squawk outside.

Lisa saw now that it was Tepic who had burst inside and slammed shut the door.  But who was the other person?  Staring, she suddenly realized that the second figure was barely visible, and it was not human.  It looked, in fact, rather like Tenderpaws…  “Tepic?” she asked.  “What’s going on?”

“ello Lisa, this is Janus, he’s a ghost, we met in Mr Arnold’s mind where I lost me marbles, but don’t worry, can find some more. Anyway, he’s a friend, an is gonna help Tenderpaws, but the birdys is after ‘im, so we gotta work quick…”

Lisa looked from Tepic to Janus, and back.  “Do you think you can find Tenderpaws?” she asked a little dubiously.

“Errr….Id…I mean…err..Arnold…errr…Beryl seemed to think so!  An she seems ter her know stuff!”

“I had better,” Janus said as he looked out the window of Dr. Solsen’s office, “I don’t relish the idea of fighting ravens for the rest of my existence!”

Lisa thought a moment, and finally nodded.  “All right.  I’ll let you inside, and keep a watch out for anyone else–especially Canergak.”

Tepic and Janus nodded, following her further inside.  The militia members had finally left in an official capacity, though there were still volunteers offering to stay.  Mrs. Sawyer continued to come, too, insisting that even asylum inmates needed good, nourishing meals.  Even now, she was emerging from the kitchen, wiping her hands on a towel.  “Lisa?  What was that all that… racket…”  Her eyes seemed to start from her head as she stared at Janus.

Tepic looked between Mrs. Sawyer and Janus blinking, “Whatcha lookin at?” After doing this a few more times he looked at her concerned, “Cor, look like ya seen a ghost!  Maybe yer might think a lying down awhile!”

With that he ran upstairs, Janus following.  Lisa gave Mrs. Sawyer a shrug and a small smile, and scurried up after them.  She unlocked the door at the top of the stairs, closing it again after them, then slipped ahead and opened the barred door to the cell block.  Peeking in, she saw no sign of Canergak or any of the volunteers, so she gestured Tepic and Janus to come inside.

She went to Rasend’s cell and looked back inquiringly at Tepic.  At his nod, she flipped through the key ring until she found the one she wanted.  Arnold had given her duplicates of *all* the cell keys, though he hadn’t told anyone he’d done that, and she was very careful about using them.  It was certainly time now, though.  She unlocked the cell door, and looked inside at Tenderpaws’s prone, unresponsive form.

“Here you go,” she said.  “I’ll be outside if you need me.”

Tepic slipped inside, taking Tenderpaw’s hand in his, and looked down at the moreau. “It’s alright, mate, we gonna try an bring you back….. errrr…. hopefully as yerself, an without the bit as gets narked.”

He looked back at the semi transparent form of Janus, and waved him in urgently, “Come on, we gotta find ‘im quick!”

Puting an epithermal paw into Tepic’s, Janus looked down at the wolf that had bitten his arm back in November when he’d tried to feed him, the same night Rasend had gone into his own coma. “Now what?”

Janus’s ears perked as he heard a howl, faint and weak, that was coming from within Rasend.  He wasn’t sure of everything yet, the world had opened in ways he hadn’t had time to focus on, but he heard the wolfs cry and felt compelled to join in.

Some of the other inmates stirred at Janus’s howl, it had been months since Rasend had howled within these walls. It was as if the sounds reached out to each other, entwining like the frayed ends of a rope, combining and linking, a link that Tepic could follow…. He reached up, looped his fingers round the barely visible sound waves, and stepped forward.  Tepic made another journey into someone’s being.

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