Beryl Strifeclaw returns to New Babbage years after her encounter with Nicholas Herding, The Hag of the Rif, The Great Coffee Shortage, and the Invasion of the Clockwork Bodysnatchers. She reflects on how much has changed since her initial arrival and encounters Cyan Rayna. It is soon apparent that she has changed and is now standoffish with her friends and allies of the past. After a few fateful encounters, Cyan Rayna’s uncle (Spalding Rookswood) lies broken on the floor of the Bucket of Blood on Halloween night.
The fate of Cyan’s uncle spreads as rumors reach the ears of friends and foes alike. Bookworm is the first to confront Beryl about her changes in behavior, but not the last. After another public confrontation in Alleycats, Cyan Rayna is checked into the hospital. Beryl Strifeclaw returns the favor Cyan once granted her and read by his bedside every day, starting with the ‘Tale of Mad Alice’.
Spalding Rookswood left the hospital without being discharged and hearing voices in his mind. While now terrified of Beryl, he thanked her for waking him to new possibilities. He found new friends and allies he had never imagined and bonded with them over tea and rhyming.
Having been hurt by Beryl in the past, Beatrixe Rouse joins Spalding along with Winter the Fox. Together they make plans to grow a clockwork army at their side to defeat the ‘cruel and malicious kitties’ that have hurt them all.
Beryl Strifeclaw returns the favor Cyan once granted her and read by his bedside every day. During that time Lisa Fargazer is able to uncover the truth about Beryl’s change in behavior.
Lisa goes to Captain Heinrichs, Tepic, and others while inadvertently chasing others away. Tepic is convinced to call a secret meeting to release the Adult Liaisons from their service. Though Candance attends the meeting she quietly leaves the city, as Lisa distrustfully spurned her offer to help. Tragically, Cyan was poisoned and it appears two of his beloved friends are responsible for the deed.
Secret Urchin Meeting by Tepic Harlequin
A Little Murder Never Hurts by Cyan Rayna
Spalding Rookswood continues to gather allies in a rather unusual fashion based on fever dreams he had in the past. Beatrixe and Winter accidentally kidnap a friend of hers to join their cause and search the archives for the legend of ‘Mad Alice’.
A Little Kidnapping Never Hurts by Beatrixe Rouse
A Little Dynamite Never Hurts by Beatrixe Rouse
A Little Destruction Never Hurts by Spalding Rookswood
Actually, it did hurt a little by Junie Ginsburg
Vandals strike City Archives by O.B. Penrose in the New Babbage Free Press
Meanwhile, Tepic Harlequin believes he has uncovered the truth behind Beryl’s plot to kill Cyan and spreads the word among the urchins. His plan backfires and Beryl breaks into Kasa’s home when the urchins block her path. Lisa Fargazer cries something out that cuts the intruder deeply. Beryl flees the scene in shame.
Cyan, finally awake but weak after his resuscitation, apologies and releases Beryl from the order he had given her.
Spalding has uncovered Dr. Alice’s Mad Monster. Created before the Fall of the Empire, the monster is held together with clockwork bones, but is a reconstructed body of the doctors lost daughter. The Mad creature captures Spaldings enemies while making plans of its own. Everything comes together as the true masterminds of the last two months reveal the madness driving them.
A Little Doll Never Hurt by Spalding Rookswood
A Little Imprisonment kind of Hurts by Cyan Rayna
A Little Tea Never Hurts by Candance
A Little Rescue Never Hurts by Cyan Rayna
Two for Tea and Tea for Two by Cyan Rayna
With Spalding captured and the Alice Gang reeling, Dr. Alices monster suggests they have but one hope to defeat the powerful kitties. Destroy Time itself. Even in her madness Beatrixe worries that stopping time would threaten Christmas.
With the New Years approaching and the threat of the Alice Gang diminished, but not completely defeated, the people make their new years resolutions. Beryl smiles as she closes the book on her last days as an unwilling adventurer.
A Little Resolution Never Hurt by Beryl Strifeclaw