If Wolf's backstory stuff felt out of place in that last chapter, it's because I primarily had very little planned for that chapter. I was getting to his backstory eventually, and it happened to work out for me to go there.
36: House of Worry
The next day Mara came down the stairs and called out Jerome's name. He walked over to the pedestal and hit the button, holding it down to let her in.
"Is it just you?" he asked.
"The others are coming," she said.
"I'll leave it open, then," he said, keeping his hand on the switch. He looked terrible, even if it had only been one day.
"So…it's true…," Mara commented, looking at him.
"What is?" he asked.
"Um…," she swallowed hard, "Well…the mantle?"
"What about it?" he asked.
"It said that someone inside this room only has one week to live," she said softly, "And looking at you, it looks like that's right…"
"What?" he questioned, "One week?"
"Yeah," she said, "But we'll get you out. Look, if we can put the text back into the book, it'll be fine."
"And how will you do that?" he asked.
"We have a riddle telling us what to do," she said, "We'll get you out. I promise."
"What if someone switched with me?" he wondered.
"It doesn't say anything about that. But we would never break the cycle then," she said.
"I mean, if it takes too long to find the answer," he said.
"Maybe," she said, "But…maybe it'll still affect you."
"They have to find it," he said, shaking his head and leaning against the pedestal.
"Jerome…did you come here because of me?" she asked.
He looked at her. His face looked hollow.
"I don't know," he admitted, "I guess part of the reason is you."
"And…you hit the switch for me?" she asked.
"Yes," he said without thinking.
"I feel so guilty," she said, shaking her head, hugging him from the side, "I'm so sorry, Jerome."
He put his other arm around her, "I'm sorry about kissing Noah."
Mr. Wolf's spirit watched from the doorway. Anger burned in his eyes as he watched this reunion. Jerome put his other arm around Noah, releasing the button and dropping the door.
"Brat," Mr. Wolf hissed, vanishing.
He might lose his leverage.
After they left Jerome with food and supplies – even though they all knew it wouldn't do him much good if a week passed – the students went out to search for Victor.
"Ok, what we do know is that he was released from the hospital," Nina said, "He probably went home."
"But he's not there," Amber said.
"Right, so he got intercepted?" Patricia offered.
"Or something happened after he got back," Alfie said, "Like Mr. Wolf."
"The basement?" Nina offered.
"Sounds like a good place to check," Patricia said.
"I don't want to go there again…," Amber complained.
"It'll be ok," Nina said.
"What's in the basement?" Mick asked.
"I thought Joy filled you in," Fabian said.
"I don't remember everything," he said, "Or she didn't tell me that."
"It's where Victor and his organization were doing their experiments for immortality," Nina said, "Victor's lab is down there. He might be there, somewhere."
"How do we get in?" Mick asked.
"Someone watch Wolf, and we'll go in," Nina said, referring to herself, Alfie and Patricia.
"Just us?" Alfie asked.
"It might be best," Nina answered, "Trust me. As few as possible."
"Ok," Patricia said, "Makes sense to me."
Fabian nodded, "Good luck."
When they returned to Anubis House, Mara and Amber went upstairs while Mick and Fabian remained downstairs. With texts they were able to keep an eye on Mr. Wolf, while the others went to the kitchen and entered through the oven door.
In the basement, not much looked changed. They looked around, being as quiet as possible. There was nothing that they could find. They looked everywhere, but there were no passages they could find, nothing out of the ordinary.
After some more time looking, Nina and the others shook their heads and headed back upstairs through the passage.
An unconscious Victor lay in a small crawlspace, obscured by a heavy shelf that had been pushed in its way. A single crack of light was able to fall onto him, but the children hadn't seen him.
"Nothing," Nina said as they all met in Fabian and Mick's bedroom.
"What do we do next, then?" Mara asked.
"What if we just find the bird?" Mick questioned, "Victor's bird?"
"Wait…," Fabian said.
"What is it?" Nina asked.
"Robert didn't know Victor. He knew Victor's father!"
"So Victor's father is the one we need?" Amber asked, "But isn't he dead?"
"Yes," Fabian said, "But…"
"What are you getting at?" Mara questioned.
"Please don't tell me we're going to his grave," Patricia said.
"Zombies?" Alfie asked, that thought immediately coming to mind.
"We might not have another choice," Fabian said, "Let's find his tomb."
"Fine," Nina said, "If we have to, we will."
They all stood up and she put her hand in front of her face, "Sibuna."
Joy slowly woke up and looked around. Her enchanted sleep had taken a while to come out of, but she was finally waking.
She looked around the dark, musty location she was in. It was as if she were in a cave, or underground, or something. She wasn't quite sure where she could be.
But as she looked behind her, she saw a large gray stone tomb. And then it hit her.
She was in a crypt.