Whispers in the Dark

Chapter fifteen

"This is hopeless…"

Inspector Clawes paused in his reading to look at the one who spoke. Vole was staring into space, head placed on an open book… looking positively horrid.

"We've been over all the bloody books in the damn library, asked half a dozen history professors and we still haven't a clue as to what this damn symbol means."

Vole sighted. He tried to make a mental list with all that went wrong in the world these last couple of days: Ratigan turned out to be alive, Basil was with Ratigan, probably tortured and half starved by now, Olivia Flaversham was missing and her father was close to going mental and he had four more bodies to deal with, two of which being prematurely incinerated - which was why he was now wondering why the hell he was even here, browsing though books on the occult and symbolism. He should be in bed, taking a nice long vacation away from stress and the memory of murdering ex-superintendents.

Oh right. He'd almost forgotten that one.

Now exactly two days ago – just after returning from their little chat with Basil – Clawes had completed his tests on those pills the superintendent had given him. By some bizarre turn of events, Basil's words had indeed been more then just a figure of speech, for the pills indeed contained arsenic powder. Not enough to kill a mouse, but enough to eventually make him inapt at his job.

It was not the fact that although the chances of him actually dying from the things were, according to Dr. Dawson, 'far less then slim if one is to take in consideration all the stress you've been under', nor was it the fact that someone in the upper levels of the Yard was trying to get rid of him that made him snap – noooo. It was the fact that someone had tried to take his work away from him.

Now, don't get him wrong. Vole is not a vengeful mouse by nature. Were you to hit him straight in the face with a tomato, he wouldn't go as low as to keep a grunge against you. Sure, fighting fire with fire was not below him and he would certainly give you your just deserves for humiliating him, but most of the times, he truly wasn't the kind to seek out revenge. But one must also understand that Vole's work was his life.

Literally.

Attempt to take the work away from him and he instantly saw you as the enemy. Even more: attempt to keep him away from his work… and let's just say that things were no longer buttercups and roses between the two of you.

He must consider himself lucky nobody saw fit to cuff him after almost successfully strangled the now former superintendent. They say it's not like your boss attempts to poison you every day. And to think that only a day before he was excusing himself to the bastard!

Clawes wondered for days if he did the right thing by telling him the results of those tests he did on the pills.

It was now, two days later that tea time found both he and Clawes at the library, looking for that one symbol that nobody seamed to know anything about. Why? Because Basil said so… and because he needed a damn catalyst, that's why! He was already moody and snappish to begin with, if you'd leave him without anything to do there was no telling what he might be capable of.

… But why did that have to involve dusty old books?

"Making any progressss, inssssssspectorsssss?" A snakish voice broke the steady silence which had now fallen over both officers. Vole tensed for a moment, thinking that they were attacked by a snake, before remembering that Miranda Otto, chief librarian and reverent of the current church they were in (last library in the city they have yet to check), was a snake. And speak of the devil, there she was – black priest attire and spooky large round glasses to boost.

Vole will forever be ashamed at the thought that at a first encounter with Miranda Otto his voice made the perfect imitation of that of a five-year-old girl's… but for pity's sake, he had every reason to do so!

"Clawes, just who did you say is seeing to us again?"

"Reverent Otto. Quite charming and most loved around the priorchy, but apparently has a terribly bad eyesight." If the particularly messy library was of any indication, then he had no doubt about it.

"Oh, wonder just what gave you that idea…" Suddenly, he noticed movement behind a mountain of books to his left. Boldly, he croked his head just a little to see who it was. Probably the Reverent…

"Hello?" he called and the person stopped moving. The next moment was hard to describe for Vole barely noticed a pair of peculiarly large glasses sticking from underneath an open book before a most distinctive kind of voice spoke the following words:

"Oh, dear me! Ho posssitively sssilly of me! Getting caught in my own booksss. You must be the inssspectorsss. I am Reverent Miranda Otto, at your ssservice."

…The Reverent was a SNAKE!

"Yes and no, Reverent." Clawes replied and Vole found that the normal way in which he did so disturbed him. He knew she was harmless (or at least, that's what the Reverent promised him once Vole managed to get him down from that bookcase) but… dear God, the thing was a snake! Meaning she could eat you!

Miranda Otto smiled a nervous smile, trying to make it look like she was reassuring them. Truth being said, it only made Vole feel even more uneasy.

"Well, I am ssertain that you'll find what you're looking for. We have quite an esstended collection on sssymbolism, ssso there are low chancesss you won't find anssswersss to your quessstionsss."

"We sure hope so, Reverent. The last five people we've been to had nothing on the symbol we're looking for."

"Maybe it'sss just bad luck on your part. But you'll sssee: sssooner or later you'll find your book, be it from here or another library in town. It'sss not like we are the only onesss open."

Vole mumbled something incomprehensible. Clawes looked like you've just hit him with an anvil. Well, who could blame them seeing as this was the last library in the city they haven't crossed out.

Seeing the reaction her words had brought, the Reverent attempted to make light of the situation. "But… well, it'sss not like I know anything. I'm jussst a poor Reverent. You're the police and you know what to do. After all, you alwaysss catch your man." It didn't work. "Come now, inssspectorsss. I'm certain it'sss not that bad." While saying that, she slid closer to their reading material. Vole immediately scrambled awa-… erm… made room for the Reverent. Yes, he was being just polite… Forget it – he'll say it dead on: The Reverent is a snake!

"My, you two are quite the passsssionate workerssss, inssspectorsss…"

You can say that again… Thought Vole wile releasing a sigh (yet still standing weary). He too looked over their work desk. The papers scattered about were full of the oddest of symbols along with detailed notes on each of them. Some of these were scratched out, others had an exclamation mark added in front of them, and some had a question mark. The books around them weren't any different, except maybe for the scratches. At least, the book he had been using as a pillow didn't.

"Dear me… You've even looked over our human worksss! Just what sssymbol did you sssay you're looking for again?" Clawes picked up a pencil and drew the troublesome thing on the back of a random piece of paper. "Ah yesss, I can sssee your dilemma… But it lookesss like sssuch a sssimple looking thing. Are you sssure there isssn't anything in our books? You might have missssed it." Clawes shock his head softly, and for the first time Vole noticed just how tired his subordinate looked.

There were dark circles under Clawes' eyes and his usually smart kept hair was now sticking out at odd ends. He looked in the need of rest and maybe a nice warm shower to go along with the long-ignored need of a supper. Same thing could apply to Vole himself considering all the growling his stomach was doing lately.

Then, something most unexpected happened. As the Reverent attempted to draw the symbol herself, Clawes eyes focused on her writing. Vole, intrigued, looked for himself at the Reverent, but saw nothing that would give him any clue as to what had caught Claws' attention. Maybe he finally noticed her reptilian features.

The Reverent herself was completely obvious to the whole thing.

"Erm… maybe the inssspectorsss' mindsss would work better after a nice cup of tea?" The reverent asked, trying to give hope. No-one answered. "Wonderful! I'll go get tea."

As the Reverent took her leave, Clawes picked up the en again and drew the symbol again, then again, then once more. After the fifth time Clawes' face lid up like a candle and with a speed Vole did not suspect he possessed, rushed to pick up several papers that were scattered all around the floor and tried to re-arrange them in order. Vole looked at the younger mouse a bit oddly.

Clawes cried out. "Of course! Why didn't I see it before?" Huh? "It was staring right in front of us! We should have seen it!" …Comment?

"Lad? Do you need a break?"

Clawes suddenly realized he wasn't making much sense. "Sorry sir…"He then cleared his voice and handed him the papers. "But really sir, look at these, really look at these." He pointed at the papers and Vole's eyes followed.

Yes, those were the same old doodles they've been looking over for days now… He looked at Clawes, silently inviting him to explain.

"Basil had said that learning what that symbol that kept appearing at every crime scene meant might bring us closer to getting to the bottom of this, but as we came to see, this one doesn't seem to have a match –" Vole felt a very strong urge to run from Claws' sudden enthusiasm. "No, please sir. Hear me out." From his jacket pocket, he pulled out a peace of metal Vole was soon able to identify as Ratigan's lighter. "This symbol on the Professor's lighter is not similar to any of the symbols we've come across, right? But truly look at it sir. It's so clear!"

Hesitantly, Vole took the lighter in his hand and, with a critical eye, compared the symbol on it with the ones Clawes selected. A few seemed somewhat similar, but as Clawes was quick to point out mere hours ago, there were several differences.

"Are you trying to tell me we haven't been looking in the right place? That maybe we missed something?" Vole asked, stepping forward to brows through one of the books laid out in front of them.

"You can check those over and over again, sir. There is nothing there."

Almost disgusted, Vole threw the book he held in his hand over his shoulder, muttering several curses under his breath.

"But I think I have it, sir." Clawes chirped, drawing Vole's attention back upon himself. The younger mouse pulled out another peace of paper and handed it to the inspector. Vole found it to be blank. "It had occurred to me that not all you need to know lies in books. Basil once scolded me good for forgetting that. So maybe what we're looking for doesn't lie in books." Vole just nodded, not at all sure where this was going. "Sir, this isn't a symbol, but a collection of several!"

Vole was now officially lost.

"Look at it this way sir. If you look at… No. Better yet, here. Draw the symbol for me again, please." Vole did so. "Now once again and tell me what you notice, sir." … Nothing? "No problem sir. Do it again now, one shape at a time."

One shape at a time? Vole looked at his subordinate with a face that seamed to say 'you must be kidding me' but for the sake of sanity, he attempted to do as asked. First, he drew a circle, as best as he could that is, then the star inside of it and at the very end put them both inside a triangle. There: circle, star and triangle. What now?

… Wait a minute…

"Circle, star and triangle… Claws, don't these things qualify as symbols all on their own?"

"Exactly sir!" He rushed past Vole and took a pen a peace of paper from the work table. "If we were to break the symbol down, we'd see that we actually have not one – but three symbols on our hand. If every one of these would have a meaning attached to them, then maybe together they could form another meaning – the one that we are looking for. Just like how when you use certain words to form a sentence."

"Brilliant, Clawes!" Vole cried in delight. "All we need to do now is to find out the meanings behind these three simple thingies here." He concluded, tapping the paper with the back of his hand multiple times.

"Already started, sir. I've seen them a couple of times. See here." He drew a star. "This here is our first 'word'. This star is actually a pentagram. Common knowledge says that it is a pagan symbol representing some religious sect. But when I looked it up, I found that originally, this pentagram was the symbol for Venus, the Roman goddess of love, beauty and fertility (if I am to quote the book)." He picked up a very old – and a very heavy one if one would pause to notice Clawes' struggles in his attempts to actually lift the thing… - book. "But that's just one of the pentagram's many meanings. It can also mean the five elements, a human or it can refer to something called the 'Golden proportion'(1) – some sort of a mathematical formula which, to be perfectly frank, I still didn't fully comprehend as of yet."

Vole knew that he was not one of them 'smart sort' of people, but there he was not dumb ether. Yet now, he was not completely sure he was following. So much for 'clear'…"A goddess… that I managed to understand. So you mean that star thingy is a woman?" What did that have to do with spontaneously combustible murderers?

"It's Venus, sir." Clawes corrected and Vole nodded (though still wasn't sure he quite got it). The younger of the two then proceeded by adding a circle on paper. "This circle here is a bit trickier. Usually a circle would mean ether perfection, infinity or planet – usually ether the earth, the moon or even the sun. So technically…"

"This is getting even more confusing…" Vole commented, looking oddly at the paper. "So, what would it mean so far then? Un-endless goddess? No, not working. Someone who is… immortal? Or maybe, the planet that is called Venus? Is there even such a thing?"

"Well, Venus is a planet. We merely know it better as the morning star – or evening star. Depends on the time of the day."

Vole was grinning, but not a triumphal kind of grin. He should have paid more attention in elementary school… "At least that last one actually seamed to have some sense. And the triangle?"

Clawes nodded. "Our last symbol." He drew a triangle. "This one – individually – means 'fire'. And now if we read them together we get –" gracefully, he motioned for Vole to finish for him.

He's been hanging around Basil far too much… "Fire on planet called Venus?"

Clawes smiled, looking very embarrassed. "It will be quite a feat checking that out…" With that, he turned around, searching for… another peace of paper? The shorter mouse looked at his hands… and wondered where he could put that one… "I was thinking of making a list with all plausible combinations. Right now I have in mind around… thirty."

"I don't even want to know how you can do that…" Vole said, crashing into a nearby chair. Sighing, he took off his hat and ran a hand through his locks, placed it back and looked at the papers in his hands and Clawes began his list. He tried to make one on his own but… "Infinite fire from V… Circle of fire… Goddess who is stuck in an orb made out of fire…" And they were so damn close… "What the hell does this thing mean?"

"Dessstroy in order to protect?"

The next couple of seconds were definitely uncomfortable. Vole and Clawes did nothing but stare at Reverent who, with good reason, started to feel so uncomfortable she almost dropped the tea tray.

"W-was it sssomething I sssaid?"

Vole was the first to act. "Reverent, do repeat what you just said." The Reverent fidgeted. "Miranda Otto, tell us what made you say that!"

Were it possible for a snake to ever feel fear for a mouse, then this was the perfect picture to capture this natural impossibility. "Well… you sssee inssspector, from what I managed to hear… nah, you'll think me sssilly."

As Vole felt the desire to bang his head against something hard increase, Clawes decided to interfere. "No, Reverent, I assure you we will not. But, would you mind telling us what made you suggest such a thing? Any bit of information might help us with our investigation."

For a moment, the Reverent seamed to think if telling would truly be such a good idea. Eventually, she simply sighted and let it out. "I am not good at explaining thingsss, inssspectorsss… but I know that if I was to use sssymbolsss to leave a messssage, I would ssstick to rudimentary meaningsss. Do you not agree?" Both inspectors nodded. "Well, I couldn't help overhearing you talking about the fire sssymbol and that was when I remembered sssomething from my mythology classsses: fire usually has two meaningsss. It can ether be a sssymbol for energy and purification or one of malice and dessstruction. Given the fact that you are here because of a felony, I suspect the last."

Both inspectors were inclined to believe her on that. "On the malicioussss part, fire is often associated with demonsss, essspecially in more recent yearsss. All throughout history there have been countlesss recordsss of demonsss sssearching for a gateway to earth. To do that, a demon would sssearch for what we call a 'vessel', a living creature which can grant them entrance to our world. Fire is a common motive in these casssesss."

"Cases… Like possession?" Clawes asked.

"Not quite." The Reverent answered. "Possssessssion is only a way in which the demon can touch our world – it'sss more like tesssting the grounds, if you will. Like how you would try out a coat warn by another. You can make it fit, but it would never feel like it ever was made for you. Using the sssame principle, to be able to enter they mussst be born into thisss world, which isss why it isss sssaid that demonsss sssearch for a host strong enough to be able to create a powerful enough body for the demon in quesstion." Both inspectors looked at one another, similar expressions playing on their faces. "What? Don't tell me you never wondered why mossst possession casesss had a woman at the center."

"And…" Vole tried to put his thought into words. Quite a fit considering… All right, he'll be perfectly frank: this was sick! "How exactly does a demon chose a… 'vesel'?"

"Trial and error I think… but I heard of casssesss in which they go for a certain blood line or people which hold similar characteristics."

This time, Clawes was the one to ask. "And what would happen to the ones who are not strong enough?"

"We are talking demonsss here, my dear inssspector. There isss no other punissshment more practical for wassssting a demon'ssss time then death."

Wonderful… Vole's head hurt. "Reverent, I think I didn't fully follow but what did you mean when you said something about 'protection'? So far I see no protection-related anything in your description."

The Reverent looked taken aback. "I didn't sssay? Dear me… age mussst be to blame. But to sssum thisss up, haven't you heard of the inquisssition? Millionsss of women were killed in the dark agesss on account of witchcraft and asssociations with the devil. Prevention better then the treating or however the sssaying went."

All was silent for once agonizing moment, time in which a very disturbing scenario formed into Vole's brain. This… couldn't mean that the one wrecking havoc in London was actually a demon now was it? And even if it was, then why would they focus on the mice world?

Declining the tea, Vole excused himself from any further developments, claiming he needed to check if something came up back at Baker Street. Let Clawes deal with the loony Reverent which made no sense; he was not staying there a moment longer.

Oh, and did he ever mention that the Reverent was a snake!

I need a drink…

He was just passing Regent's Park (he blamed exhaustion for the unnecessary detour, for he was definitely not worried for Basil, not one bit) when – well, surprise, surprise! – a familiar mouse and basset hound came into view. Dr. Dawson, leg in cast and Toby by his side was seated at the base of a now leafless tree, eyes gazing towards the park. The good doctor was deep in thought and the dog was… miserable to say the least.

A couple of hours ago, Dawson took advantage of Mrs. Judson's absence (door bell, blessed be whoever had called) to sneak out of bed and retreat by the back door. All the waiting around had been nothing sort of maddening and the doctor wished for nothing more then to get out, maybe clear his head a little.

Chance seamed to be particularly cheeky for just as he found himself outside, he ran into none-other then Mr. Holms' basset hound Toby. Surprisingly enough, Toby didn't jump him like he often tended to. Instead, he looked positively miserable for a reason Dawson could easily determine.

It still surprised him when Toby started following him a moment later.

"You miss Sherry too, don't you boy?" The dog let out a pathetic sounding whimper, but Dawson was not one to judge. He knew how much it hurt – far too well in fact. Basil may be an impossible mouse to get along. She may also be arrogant, self-centered and rude and by no means a pleasant company, but she also had a remarkable ability to grow on you, to make you enjoy every living moment (except maybe the smoke baths and chemical reactions) and even when she laughed at his inexperience she had yet to do it in malice, but in nothing more then innocent amusement. And what an absolutely charming laugh she had… when she actually laughed, that was. Chuckling and grinning usually lead to uncomfortable situations.

The doctor sighted. It had been less then a year when they first met that one gloomy night back in June, yet he had come to care for that reckless child more then he ever cared about anyone outside of his own family. He would say child because that was what she was: a child – an outstandingly brilliant and independent one, true – but in his eyes, she was a child nonetheless.

"Dawson, do cease your fussing over me. I can assure you I am most certainly NOT a child!"

Dawson smiled as Toby whimpered again. Fondly, he patted the dog on the nose, hoping to shoo some of the hurting away, though if you were to ask him, he could not tell if it was the dog's or his own. If for Toby Basil was a loving little master, for him she was like a daughter in all but blood, and damn her annoyingly self-sacrificing self – he was worried sick about her!

Damn this damn leg… If it weren't for this inconvenience, he'd throw the crunches in a heartbeat and drag the foolish child home by force if needed be. And wow be on those who dared to cross his path! But alas… that could not happen now.

Toby was now looking at him with curiously pleading eyes, as if he was asking him to say that everything will be all-right.

"Don't worry, old boy. We'll get her back, you'll see." He told the dog, though at the same time, it sounded like he was trying to reassure himself.

"Of course we'll get her back!" Vole's sharp voice cried, making Dawson jump. "It was clear that he never expected such an intervention.

"Inspector Vole?" He wasn't sure what else he could say, especially with the inspector glaring at him in such a fashion. "Did… you find anything?"

"Apart from the fact that I have recently discovered that dust should never be part of any food category known to mouse AND that we have a mouse which should be in bed running about –" Dawson blushed "– yes, I daresay we have."

The doctor's eyes suddenly sparkled with hope. "You have? Oh please inspector, do tell me. I am going quite mad here!"

"I fully know the feeling." Vole muttered. "Well, we have a lead on our symbol. Apparently, we're talking about three symbols instead of one…."

And with that, he ended up telling the good doctor everything. Toby also proved to be surprisingly attentive to the conversation. Of course, being a dog, Toby didn't understand much of the mice's conversation, but whatever they were talking about seamed rather important.

At the end of it all, Dawson was left speechless.

"This all sounds so… incredible!" Very well: almost speechless. "Demons, witchcraft, goddesses – all we need now are dragons and we just might have a full fantasy novel on our hands."

Vole was trying really hard not to roll his eyes.

"Forgive me Doctor, but I do believe I had my fill of literature for the following couple of weeks. So if we could keep the references to this particular subject to a minimum…" He made a gesture which Dawson presumed meant 'let's move over'.

"Yes of course, but… oh dear, I am so confused Inspector. Try as I might this whole affair baffles me. If only Basil was here…"

Vole heard the unspoken lines. Dawson simply couldn't bring himself to care enough. He would never voice it out loud, but he knew the Doctor was just too worried for his friend to do anything else.

"Doctor, will all do respect, but knock it off!" Dawson turned to look at him, an incredulous look in his eyes. "You're not helping anyone by moping about. Keep in mind that Basuu is one of the most annoying –" a frown from the doctor "– and bright mice I have ever had the fortune or misfortune to work with. That mouse has more lives then a cat. She is fine!" And no, he wasn't trying to convince himself of the fact… only dawson. Yes. It was not like Inspector Vole of Scotland Yard is worried about Basil of Baker Street. No sir! "Now, the sooner we crack this thing the sooner we can get that meddlesome nerve-wrecker out of Ratigan's clutches. For all we know, Ratigan might actually thank us when that happens. So, that being said you can now ether keep on worrying or come with me."

None too nicely, he took hold of one of Dawson's hands and half-dragged him along back towards Baker Street. To say that the Doctor was slightly taken aback by this would have been… a mild understatement.

"I now find myself in the need of a clear mind, and all things considered you have one of the clearest heads in the city as of this point. Now Doctor, do help me see reason, for I fear time is no longer on our side."

"Huh? But, what would you have me do? I'm a doctor, not a detective."

"Yet you've been shearing rooms with Basuu for a few months now. Certainly you picked up something from her. Now think. With what we have now, what can we determine?"

There was a long pause, time in which Dawson appeared to really be trying to come up with something. At some point he seamed to be muttering something which sounded a lot like 'You know my methods. Apply them!' but maybe Vole just needed that break more badly then he first thought.

Vole had to admit… at least to himself… that there were few things he wouldn't give so that Basil would just blow their minds away with some miraculous deduction.

Just how does that mouse do it? Think Vole! Think like the prat!

As painful as it was, Vole tried to organize his data the Basil way (this case was far too messed up for conventional thinking anyway). Now, if he was Basil, he would deduce that although probable, the prospect of having a demon out there was absolutely ludicrous. But at the same time, this case sided far too close towards the supernatural far too many times already. Ignoring these warning bells now was simply foolish on anybody's part. But what he could be certain of right now was that someone out there was searching for one special girl for some reason and whoever had the misfortune of not being 'the one' died.

Yes, that would do… but he had the feeling that this was not all there was to it.

"Inspector, this is getting us no-where." Dawson said at long last. "It just doesn't make sense. If we're really heading towards the supernatural – which I hope we're not – then I see no reason why the only ones which seem to die unexplainable deaths are the murderers and not the targeted girls."

"The girls were never the ones that died in bizarre ways, but the killers." Vole muttered to himself. Then it hit him.

Inquisition, witchcraft, prevention! This wasn't the work of demon, but of someone who is trying to eradicate all possible hosts! Stupid! Why didn't he see this sooner? Clawes may already be working along the same line of thought by now. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

He never noticed the mouse who ran past him crying out an "Excuse me, Inspector! In a hurry here!" a vaguely familiar lizard struggling to keep up.

It didn't matter if this demon existed or not at the moment, right now he understood this killer's motives. In a terribly twisted way, this person was trying to protect them all, no matter the cost. And no matter that this demon may or may not – probably the 'not' – exist.

But something was still missing.

Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a couple of children playing hop-scotch. Asking one of them to borrow him a peace of chalk, he attempted to draw the symbol again. "It's a collection of several..." First which he drew was the circle… Never-ending… then the pentagram… host… followed by the fire… demon…There was an order here.

"I say, Inspector, didn't that mouse that just passed look remarkab-"

"Not now Dr. Dawson, I am thinking."

One must note again that Vole was never a clever mouse, but he was a persistent one. He was going to get to the bottom of this one way or another. He was going to prove that he was not a Chief Inspector for nothing.

"All girls were around their early twenty's, had green eyes and were holding some affiliations with bakeries. None of their killers had any valid reason to kill them. All their killers died incinerated afterwards. We can deduce… that we have just one main murderer who can somehow control these follows and use them as puppets to do their dirty work. How? I'll let Clawes figure that out. Probably something close to hypnotism from what I can still remember…" Now several years ago his cousin came over to speak about his new hobby- hypnotism. Vole didn't remember much from his rambling, only that the book says that men are more receptive to mind control them the members of the fairer sex. Less complicated brains or something of the sort. All he could clearly remember was him punching the boy when he attempted to make him believe he was a chicken. "Now, when the control over them is broken, something in their brain triggers all that friction-nonsense Basil told us about… As a result – boom! Only questions remaining are who did it and did he have a compelling reason for doing this?"

Finally some solid ground to work on! For what seamed like a first time in the course of this investigation something made sense. Twisted as it was yes but it still did!

Thank the Lord… For a moment there he was thinking that he was going mad…

Vole couldn't resist jumping like a schoolboy in obvious glee. "By Jove, Dr. Dawson, we have it now!" there was no response from the Doctor. "Dr. Dawson?" Vole frowned and looked around for the mouse that… wasn't there anymore? And nether was the.

"Merde!" Good by sanity, welcome reality. I knew I should have become a firemouse!

Even the damn hound was missing! What the hell did those two… oh, now doesn't that dog tail just round the corner look familiar?

"Dr. Dawson, mind telling me why you've just left me speaking to myself like a dupe?" Vole was irritated, that was plain to see, but the Doctor didn't seem to notice (or care). His eyes were fixed on something just across the street, something rather… not there.

"Inspector… That mouse there… Doesn't it look like Basil?"

He… couldn't say. All Vole could see was a empty street and a dark alley way. But even there he could see

"Now, Dr. Dawson, that can't be. You as well as I know that Basuu is with Ratigan. There is no way that… Never mind Doctor. Here, let's all set back towards Baker Street. It looks like we all are in the need of a nice cup of tea."

And so they left, becoming unnoticed to them that Toby refused to move from his spot.

Several minutes later, Vole believed he could finally relax for a couple of minutes.

"Of course I'm mad! They're out there!"

Or not.

Vole paused, hand still raised in his attempt to knock on the door of lower 221B Baker Street, for the uncommonly sharp and overall angry tone of one Mrs. Judson was heard from beyond the door of the flat. He would have though that nothing could surprise him any more – especially after certain recent events – but it seems that he was proven wrong.

"Mrs. Judson, I understand your concern, really I do, but do pause and think for a moment!" Was that Mr. Myerricroft? "If just going out at this time is considered a risk not worth taking, marching up to the enemy's doorstep would be pure suicide! You can't –"

"No, my mind is made up, sir. Maybe you are willing to let her to her own devices, but I know my girl better then you or anyone out there would! She is reckless and holds no regard of her own health while on a case and she needs someone there to remind her when she's abused herself enough. And from what I heard, she had been coughing and limping. Coughing and limping! She never coughs nor does she ever limp. I am most positive that fiend Ratigan must have dome something to her and I'll be damned if I'll just stand around while she's in need of help. And what of Dr. Dawson? That man's not in his bedroom and hasn't left a note. No bout he's out there looking for my girl all by himself." Luckily enough, Vole though, he's not. " Now stand aside, Myerricroft Basil!"

"No! I am perfectly aware that she may be self-destructive and has a high disregard of her own self at times. You have been telling me that, over and over – if I may add – for days! But at the same time she is a bright, resourceful young lady which can very well take care of herself. You on the other hand, my dear, are no longer young. If you jump in the line of fire so foolishly –"

"'Foolishly'? I know I am not overly intelligent, but after all these years spent in her company I believe I have learned a thing or two about detective work. Not to mention that the way I am feeling right now no robber of murderer would dare mess with me!"

Vole's eyebrows shot up, now almost completely hidden underneath his hat.

"Foolish woman! Are you even listening to reason at this time! You don't know how much this burning flame within you will matter while facing one of those tugs, you don't know if these fears of yours are even rational or not and you don't even know where she is."

"I will search the whole city if needed be, Myerricroft Basil – as you should be doing at this time! All that matters is seeing that girl back home safe and sound so I can kill her myself. Now move aside!"

"NO! I could never live with myself if anything were to happen to you while out there and even if I could then my sister shall undoubtedly kill me if I so much as let you walk out this door!"

"Well you shall best start living with the guilt if that's the case, for I am not leaving my girl in the company of that… that fiend for a moment longer! I am going! And you just try and stop me, Myerricroft Basil, or I shall put that revolver Sherry gave me to good use, so help me God!"

There was too much tension in that room, the chief inspector concluded as he took his ear off the surface of the door. Gathering his wits, Vole forced himself to gently knock before entering the premises.

"I hope I am not interrupting something of importance?" The little gray mouse could hardly stop himself from smirking upon laying eyes on the startled faces that greeted him. But all things aside, he was could hardly blame them. If he was lucky, they would think he was still in a very snappy mood, if he was very lucky, then they would think him prepared to commit murder and dispose of the first to cross his path.

"Ah, Chief Inspector! Back at long last from your leave, I see. Hope it was educational. And oh no, no interruption whatsoever. In fact, Mrs. Judson and I were having a little… disagreement. Nothing of any importance."

Were the case had been any different, Vole would have downright laughed at the way Basil's landlady was shooting death glares at the eldest brother of the Basil family – and vice-versa. Mon dieuThey're acting like an old married couple!

"Well then!" the inspector cried out, rubbing his hands in apparent anticipation "Clawes and I found something terribly interesting while eating dust. My friends, I think we are now close to solving this mystery!"

Myerricroft quite promptly interrupted his glaring competition with the landlady to clear his voice, yet before he even had the chance to open his mouth to offer a response, a very distinctive – very child-like voice – interrupted with a "Tag! You're it, Livy!"

"What in the –" Vole started, but just then the kitchen door swung right open, revealing a sight Vole believed he'd never witness (at least not so completely unexpected, mind you!). A small, grey bat had entered the room, laughing and giggling like a mindless fool – followed by an equally laughing and giggling… Olivia Flaversham!

Sacrebleu! How in the world did Basil manage that miracle? Ratigan – if Vole was to listen to witnesses, news reports, official police reports and what the Queen herself had to say about him – was the mastermind behind things like the Big Ben Caper and Tower Bridge Job! He drowned widows and orphans and almost killed the queen now several months ago! For the love of… he almost killed Basil! How in the world –

"Coming through!" one of the children (Vole wasn't sure which) cried, right before they both took a very sudden curb right behind him, nearly throwing him off of balance.

"You two children get back here!" Cried Mr. Flaversham as he entered the living room. "The grown-ups are very busy right now and I don't need another – Oh, good day to you, Inspector Vole. Feeling better today?"

He didn't know. He long since learned that affiliation with anything Basil-related was bound to throw him into a world of absolute chaos, but this was seriously getting ridiculous.

"Somebody should best start explaining… for I feel like I am going mad again!"

And they did…

Several minutes later, Vole was found kicking the kitchen door off its hinges. Inside said kitchen, a half-blind mole was enjoying a warm cup of tea. If the mole took any notice to Vole, he wasn't showing it.

The time for pleasantries was officially over.

"Just who the hell are you?" Vole cried, one hand pointing an accusatory finger at the intruder. "And what the bliming hell is all that nonsense I was told about Basil making a bargain with Ratigan… again?"


(1) The geometric proportions of the regular pentagram are those of the Golden Section. The Golden Proportion is one beloved of artists since Renaissance times and also to be found in post-Hellenic art and in the geomantic planning of Templar sites, being those proportions of a rectangle considered most pleasing to the eye. Here, the ratio of the lengths of the two sides is equal to the ratio of the longer side to the sum of the two sides. Or :

a/b = b/a+b = a+b/a+2b = a+2b/2a+3b = 2a+3b/3a+5b ...etc.

If a square is added to the long side of a golden rectangle, a larger golden rectangle is formed. Continuing this progression forms the basis for a nautilus spiral. The ratio of the distance between two points of a pentagram to its total width is in the golden proportion, as is the ratio of the height above the horizontal bar to that below, as is the ratio of a central part of a line to the outer part.

… for further information, look it up!


STOP THE PRESSES! Yes, WitD is finally returning to what I hope to be a steady and regular set of updates. If in two weeks time chapter sixteen is not up, I was ether brutally murdered in my sleep or just... unavailable. Also, sincere appologies for not having the main characters in this one, but I missed writing Vole so much... and if I will have to rewrite this chapter one more time I just know I'll turn gray before my time. Also, if you happen to have a favorite part, do tell. I find myself unable to think of a good scene for the illustration so... help?

Reviews are - as always - welcomed and greatly appreciated!