Ivy & The Rook, Chap. 2: A Terrifying Encounter

December 6, 2012

By Kip Konner

[If you haven't already, please see Chap. 1.]
Upon returning from her letter-delivery errand, Mimsy found her mistress’ home strangely vacant. Miss Ivy Hibbledy-Pibbledy was gone, as were her Cubimal collection, her other outfit, some food, and a few other items.

As a Butler (although Miss Ivy always referred to her as a maid), Mimsy was responsible for the whole home and everything in it. She had a gift, a knack, as it were: she knew where everything was. Therefore, it was no surprise that she immediately noticed that things were missing.

After cataloguing what was gone, she deduced that the home hadn’t been robbed, as she had originally feared, but that her mistress had suddenly departed on a journey of some length. It was only after she had finished her search and gone to the lounge to clean up the tea that she discovered the letter. It lay open amongst the tea things on the table beside Miss Ivy’s favorite armchair.

Any Butler worth the name would never dare to read her mistress’ personal correspondence. But there was a mystery here and this letter might prove to be a clue.

Twoday, 2nd Widdershins, Year 23

The Outside

Dear Miss Hibbledy-Pibbledy,

It is with regret that we inform you that you have been chosen for a campaign of senseless harassment that will likely culminate in your demise. Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience as we track you down across all of Ur, make your existence unbearable, and, ultimately, kill you without prejudice or recourse.

Run, little Glitch, run!

Yours sincerely,

The Rook

Mimsy was shocked at the open threat. How could anyone, even The Rook, dare to threaten her mistress? Miss Ivy was such a charming, gentle soul!

This unexpected threat engaged a little-known and less-used Butler feature: Protection. In the gentle world of Ur, it was rarely necessary for a Butler to protect her mistress but the feature had been built into them as a precaution. It suddenly took precedence over any of Mimsy’s other functions. She must protect Miss Ivy!

But Mimsy had to find her first! Miss Ivy had dashed off without leaving any other clue behind. She could be anywhere in Ur! [Defenseless, frightened, in need of her Butler!] Mimsy would have to rely on the Butler callnet. Another secret feature, it allowed her to communicate with any other Butler in Ur, singly or all at once. It was designed to let Butlers keep tabs on their employers and anticipate their return so that Butlers always appeared to be waiting at the door.

Mimsy sent a comprehensive call. “Attention all Butlers. Missing Glitch: Miss Ivy Hibbledy-Pibbledy. If seen, contact Butler Mimsy directly and do not alert Miss Hibbledy-Pibbledy. That is all.” A detailed description was transmitted automatically, residing in Mimsy’s use of her mistress’ full name.

She waited a few moments to see if there were any immediate responses but she was disappointed by silence and the usual calls of “Master en route, Jeeves.” Her announcement would do little good if Miss Ivy avoided home streets. Butlers rarely left their employers’ homes, their duties keeping them busy enough. In fact, a myth existed among the Glitchen that Butlers were unable to leave the home streets. The Butlers liked to support this myth because it let them do their jobs in the background more efficiently. Mimsy would have to brave the common streets of Ur to search for her mistress, while avoiding being seen herself.

Shutting up the house took only a few moments, as she always kept it clean and tidy anyway. She had to shut down the distillery and harvest the herbs that were ready, storing them in the workroom. She need take nothing with her and, in fact, owned nothing, being well-equipped for her own survival by virtue of her in-built systems. Mimsy locked the door, asked the Magic Rock to alert her if Miss Ivy appeared (the Magic Rocks could send messages through the callnet by passing them to local butlers), and teleported out of there.

*     *     *

When Ivy’s teleportation deposited her in Gregarious Grange, she found herself practically alone on the street. She had hoped that there would be plenty of people about to keep the Rook from singling her out. That’s why it was called Gregarious Grange after all, wasn’t it? But there was only one other Glitch in sight, far down the opposite end of the street. Ivy, suddenly even more fearful, darted into the derelict Gregarious Grange Towers. If she couldn’t blend into crowds, she shouldn’t be seen by anyone.

The lobby of the Towers was shabby and depressing. The staff had obviously relinquished their cleaning duties years before. She wandered desultorily around the lobby, looking into nooks and crannies for anything to suggest a plan of action. The notice board held nothing of interest and the basement stairs looked far too dark and forbidding for her to brave them at this point. She pressed the button for the elevator almost as a joke; she hadn’t expected it to be working. But down the elevator came, pinging upon arrival, and Ivy got in, having decided on the moment to explore the upper levels of the Towers. Perhaps she could hide in one of the disused apartments.

She pressed the button for the top floor, thinking she would explore from the top down. The elevator arrived, the doors opened, and Ivy stepped out. There was nothing much to see in the half-lit hallway, either of interest or of help. The light from chinks in the walls sliced across the dark space, sparking the dust in the air. She took a turn around the top floor, quietly poking into disused packing crates and trying to keep the ubiquitous dust from accumulating on her hair and dress. Finding nothing of interest, she boarded the elevator and descended a floor.

In the semi-dark of the second floor, Ivy wandered around again. She kept her eyes open for anything she might use as a weapon and any place she might hide in. But the dismantled apartments offered no assistance. Their doors were mostly boarded up. The previous tenants had left only trash and the occasional piece of broken furniture behind. The whole building was a disheartening mess.

As Ivy came out of one of the abandoned apartments, she noticed a shape standing among the shadows at the opposite end of the hallway. She couldn’t make the other person out in the darkness but he seemed to be wearing a top hat. A top hat in such a dreary place. How very strange! she thought.

“Hello, Miss Hibbledy-Pibbledy,” the shadow purred as it detached itself from the darkness of the wall and slowly approached her.

Ivy’s throat closed as she felt a rush of nameless fear. Who could this shadow be and how could it know her name?

“Welcome to the Towers.” The shadow’s voice was like honeyed lead; sweet, but dark and heavy. As it spoke, the shadow slowly moved into one of the beams of light that cut the darkness. Briefly, Ivy saw a young man with black, crossed-out eyes and skin of a dark gray, nearly black. He had violently red hair, wore a red and black top hat and a red bow tie over his black tuxedo jacket. He carried a silver-headed ebony walking stick. Clearly, he was a gentleman of some wealth and position or wished to appear so.

Ivy’s sense of propriety overcame her fear enough for her to speak. “Sir, I fear you have me at a disadvantage. Please be so kind as to identify yourself.”

This little speech seemed to shock the young man for he paused in his approach. He stood and watched her as he introduced himself.

“We are the Rook, Miss Hibbledy-Pibbledy. Didn’t you receive our letter?” Ivy, now terrified, could only stammer and nod.

“Oh good,” the Rook continued. “Then, we can dispense with lengthy explanations.” Assuming a pose of calculated nonchalance, he carried on in the face of Ivy’s apparent speech impediment. “This is just a short visit. A brief consultation, if you will. We just dropped by to show you that you can’t hide, little Glitch. The Rook will always find you.” Smiling, the man turned aside and continued his slow walk, wandering about the hallway as if more intrigued by the dust and trash than the conversation, occasionally poking or moving things aside with his walking stick. “Run where you will, we will hunt you down and eventually destroy you. Not kill, mind you. Sending you on a vacation trip to Naraka wouldn’t suit our plans at all. No, indeed. We intend to deimaginate you, down to the smallest fiber of your adorable pink slippers.”

The horror of his suggestion pushed Ivy past the sputtering stage of fear and she regained the use of her voice. “May I ask one question,” she squeeked tremulously.

The Rook paused in his perambulations to turn and look at her. “Of course,” he replied with a smile and turned, walking on.

Ivy, beginning to master her fear, straightened into her best posture as she asked: “Why?”

“May we call you Ivy, Miss Hibbledy-Pibbledy?” Her chin dropped a couple degrees of arc to indicate her reluctant assent. “Thank you. You ask us why, Ivy. Sadly, we doubt that the answer will satisfy you.” He paused again in his stroll about the hall to cast her a sidelong glance. “We want it all gone, you see. All of it. We will eventually deimaginate all of Ur and everything in it. You’re simply one of the easier bits. And, like the cat that plays with the mouse before eating it, we like the chase, Ivy. We most often manifest as predatory birds, after all. It amuses us when you little Glitchen try to escape.”

The man turned to Ivy and smiled a horrible, fang-filled leer. “So run, little Glitch, run!” And with that, he stepped out of the light, merged with the shadows, and was gone.

Ivy has survived her first encounter with the Rook but what will happen next? Will Mimsy find Ivy in time? Check Billyplus.com to find out!

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