Bracey flew us to the Ottawa General Hospital where we tracked down Musk Muskmusk in the burn ward, eating pain from patients from beneath their beds.
I clicked Grassblade on the tile floor. “Hi there, buddy.”
Musk turned his heavy antlered head around as fast as his muscles would allow. “What now? Can’t you Councilmice just leave me alone?”
I took a step toward him. “We think you’ve been holding out on us.”
“I’ve told you everything I know!” he scuttled backwards.
Gretchen gestured to the bed. “Finish eating. Then we’ll talk.”
He eyed her with suspicion, but gave a sharp nod, then closed his eyes and turned his face toward the bottom of the bed. Opening his hands, palms up, he closed his eyes and began swallowing, drinking pain. After a minute or so, he opened his eyes and turned back to us. “All right, what’s this all about?”
“A kid named Nathan Thomas. Yonya’s been draining him of spark. Or so we’ve been told.” Gretchen had her hand on her carpenter’s nail. “We’ve just learned that he’s going to be visiting his father at a cabin the Gatineau hills. Near the big weir… The Mabinogeon, I think it’s called. Heard of it?”
Musk’s eyes shifted from mouse to mouse. “Are you thinking that Yonya is planning to come out herself and get him there?”
I forced a scowl onto my face and pointed Grassblade at him. “Right. And you better explain why you didn’t tell us!”
His eyes went wide and he started to sweat. I swear his antlers even drooped. “This is the first time I heard about it! I swear!”
I could see the gears turning in his little head. “I don’t believe you for a second! What else are you keeping from us? And don’t try lying! Beatrice won’t be happy when we tell her you’ve been holding out. You’ll be one ex-faerie real fast.” I twitched Grassblade toward his nose.
His antlers drooped farther and he gulped. “I’ve stayed right here, nobody even talks to me!”
I frowned at him some more, then lowered Grassblade and looked at Dichall. “Think he’s telling the truth?”
Dichall smirked. “Maybe…”
“All right,” I pointed Grassblade at Musk once more. “You contact us if you hear anything. And not one word of this to Yonya. Or anyone else! Got that?”
He stared at my sword while nodding his head. “Sure. Of course.”
We glared at him for a couple more seconds then walked off.
We talked to the Councilmouse in charge of the hospital, Beth Brickwall, in her office.
I got comfortable on a roll of cotton bandages. “Ms. Brickwall, we just spoke to Musk Muskmusk.”
Beth harrumphed. “I’m sure the conversation was scintillating. Anyway, he’s been keeping his antlers clean.”
“We accused him of not telling us something, but in accusing him, we told him something.”
Beth’s eyes narrowed.
“Because we want him to tell it to the other faeries. We want it to get back a particular fae. Yonya. So if he tries to leave, please don’t stop him.”
Beth stroked one of her whiskers. “But he’s supposed to stay here. That was the Council ruling. Now you want me to let him go?”
Gretchen brought her nose up, her eyes only half open. “Council business.”
Beth tapped her cheek for a moment with one digit. “Good enough.”
Back on the rooftop once again, we boarded Bracey, who’d been waiting for us, and flew back to headquarters. I was starting to like this. I could get used to having my own personal owl transport.
Once back at headquarters, we accidentally ran into Beatrice in the hallway. She looked flustered, but stopped to peer at us. “Where have you three been?”
I opened my mouth to say something, but Dichall held up his paw and turned on the charm. “We were thinking about that faerie, Musk Muskmusk, and thinking about what you said. So we took a trip to the hospital to see him.”
Beatrice cocked her head, thinking. After a moment: “Oh. Yes. Did he know anything?”
I pushed Dichall’s paw down. “No, but we gave him a good scare just to make sure. And Beth Brickwall told us that he hasn’t had any fae or faerie correspondence. He’s just quietly eating pain over there. In the burn ward.”
“All right. And Nathan?” Beatrice started walking away, jerking her head as a signal to follow.
Gretchen yawned. Loudly. Probably more loudly than necessary, but it worked. Beatrice stopped walking and looked around at us. Gretchen blinked at her and yawned again. “We need to get some sleep.” She rubbed her eyes. “We did manage to talk Nathan into talking to his parents about leaving Ottawa. He didn’t seem real hopeful, but maybe it’ll work.”
Beatrice nodded, and then shrugged. “Sure. In a day or so I want you to go back to Nathan’s and see if he’s still there… or… maybe I can get a bird to look in their hotel room window… or…” She sighed while shaking her head. “I’ll come up with a contingency plan. Later.” She wheeled around and power-walked off down the hall.
I turned to Gretchen and Dichall. “Does she ever sleep?”
Gretchen chuckled. “There’s no evidence of it.”
We all went to my room, and Emilie brought us some water and a couple of pieces of popcorn. Then she was off to care for other agents. I closed the door. “Dichall, don’t shoosh me, alright?”
His eyes sparkled at me. “Got it.”
I sighed. “Listen, I’m really concerned about this.”
“I know you are.”
I lay down and rubbed my eyes. “I’ve got a sword I’m hiding from Beatrice and we’re lying to her. We’re breaking Council rules, we’re revealed ourselves to a human adult – never mind the other humans probably think he’s crazy and would never listen to him – and we’re putting a child in danger.”
Gretchen sat down, crossing her paws behind her head. “Glad you’re coming to your senses, Eve. I’d like to add that we’re probably going to die, trying to kill a greater fae.”
“I know.” I stretched my muscles and curled up on the floor, wrapping my cloak around me. “There’s a good chance this could all go horribly wrong.”
I didn’t know how right I was.