Heather in Wharftown

When the pandemic started, I had started to do a project where my Heather universe would be involved in crossovers. These were mostly for fun, and to let people experience my world in a way. Generally, it was someone else’s character getting teleported in to explore about.

Up to date, I still have three of them to finish, mostly due to some illnesses and a lack of actual writing. But after recently revisiting the deviantART community, I came across a curious piece from a user that goes by CapnDeek373. We’ve ran into each other before via comment exchanges, and this was why I had ended up at his creation. A joke was laid out about Heather mucking about his setting, and that led up to this tale.

This one is unique as it involves Heather visiting another setting, which is not the usual direction I take these tales. The setting’s appropriate for her to check out, and lines up with a lot of the story beats I typically try to have her involved in (typically something horror and exploration related). CapnDeek’s pieces line up with a surreal, mysterious and eldritch vibe; that just adds to that appeal even more.

Be sure to check out his deviantART, where he does do frequent updates on his world. Do pay homage at the piece that made this crossover tale spawn into being as well, which is aptly titled shot room #1.

Without further adieu, here’s said tale. Enjoy!

Ellowwood Town Center, Cotley’s
Approximately 3PM
YTD 334, 26th day of the 4th month

“I thought Mom said you were going to go on an adventure,” Janus complained.

Heather exhaled in a huff, unhooking her thumbs in her suspenders.

“I told her I was going to meet Caroline at Cotley’s. Maybe she thinks it’s an adventure for you.”

The two foster siblings had just entered town, walking by each other’s side on a stone sidewalk. There was horseback and carriage traffic for the time of day, which made the sidewalk ideal. The weather had a tinge of heat, but had remained mostly mild for the spring.

The homes they passed had flowers that had just sprouted greenery, while those with shops or stands doing their daily business. There were very few children around, almost wholly of adults seen going about.

“So walk to town, eat, talk with your friend then go home.”

Janus did not look impressed.

“Look, Mom just thought you’d appreciate getting out of the house, without getting into trouble by yourself.”

She half-snapped around, trying to appeal to her brother. He was tutored at home, and most of the neighborhood boys didn’t get along with him. So his excursions were mostly centered to the local acreages where they lived.

He still had a disinterested look on his face, as if he could’ve spent his time elsewhere.

“And you know Caroline, she’s not rude or stuck-up. You should have a good time.”


Heather gave an exaggerated nod, bangs bobbing all over her forehead.

“Mhmm, really.”

With hands behind her back, she leaned in with a soft voice.

“Plus, Roseanne’s there. So you may get free food.”

His eyes opened wide, that thought not occurring to him. Heather snorted in amusement at his expression, realizing that this should go smoothly.

The duo had already reached the intersection of one of the main streets, Cotley’s on the corner. The two-story building was bustling with activity, a portion of the building open to the outside and sheltered by the floor above. Some greenery grew off the roof, and the windows from the indoor diner were open. There was mild chatter, the smell of coffee and soup reaching their noses. The building itself had a strange architecture, quite unlike the regular Talmeron brick style.

“Oh good, I think we missed the lunch rush.”

The exposed seating area had few patrons, and the bar counter was empty. Heather lightly whacked her brother on the shoulder to hurry, quickening her pace and grabbing the first seat on the counter.

“Well look who it is. Whatch y’all gettin’?”

A husky woman turned to face them, in her later thirties. Her face was cheerful with a quirked eyebrow. Her hair was short and skin dark, face round. She was dressed in a vivid cyan blouse, unbuttoned to show a white bustier beneath. A bell-shaped dark green skirt, almost filling up the space behind the counter; topped with a olive-green apron, utensils and other tools of her job stuffed in the pockets.

“Oh, hey Roseanne. I think I’ll take the beef sausage rounds and cheese macaroni.”

Roseanne cocked her head in amazement, quite impressed.

“Dang, you rememberin’ what you’re wantin’ before even arrivin’! Want a drink with that?”

She grabbed a pad and a pencil out of her apron pocket, scribbling down the order.

“Sweet coffee. Cold, no milk.”

Heather motioned to the seat next to her that was unoccupied.

“Also I’m expecting company, if you can make the seat available next to me.”

“Oh, alright! That’s not a problem.”

Roseanne took a cup and placed it upside down on the counter to claim the spot. She playfully made up her face, propping a fist on her waist and leaning on the counter near Janus.

“And what you’re wantin’, little mister?”

Janus took a moment to get his thoughts together, enjoying the attention given.

“Hmm, can I try the cheesy potatoes and a spicy chicken wing?”

“Pfft, you gotta be stickin’ chicken in there somewhere, huh? What to drink?”

“The blue soda berry thing?”

“…’Blue soda berry thing’. Got it.”

Roseanne had her tongue out, repeating in a playful jab.

“Okay, just stick around. I’ll get the kitchen boys to round that up for you.”

She turned to head into the kitchen, tearing off the sheet from the pad.

Heather hefted the bag she was carrying onto the counter, steepling her fingers as she waited without a word. Janus leaned forward on the counter, trying to see into the inside dining area.

Her mind had just started to wander, when she spied a figure walking off the street towards them. Heather’s face lit up as she instantly recognized her friend.


The petite teenager returned a small nod as she reached the high chair next to her, hefting a sigh of relief. She was dressed half-proper in Ellowwood fashion; navy blue buttoned blouse, black waistcoat and skirt, and a goldenrod yellow waist apron. Her eyes were an ice blue, white hair with bangs and long ponytail.

“Heather! I hope I wasn’t keeping you too long.”

She had some difficulty getting onto her seat, attempting to squash her hoopskirted attire into compliance. Caroline drooped her shoulders and crossed her legs, resting her hands on her knees.

“Not at all, we just got here a few moments ago. You doing all right?”

“I’m tutored half a day then acting as Mr. Orthwell’s assistant the other. I suppose you can call that doing all right. Personally I can’t wait till I get a furlough.”

The girl looked tired but kept a smile on her face. She leaned over to peek at Janus, waggling her fingers at him in greeting. Janus returned the wave, returning his attention back to people watching.

“It sounds like you’re quite busy, I didn’t know. Now I feel bad for asking you for favors. Here, let me pay for food for you at least.”

“Oh that’s nice of you, but you don’t have to! I am a year older than you, after all.”

Roseanne walked back with two plates in hand, putting it in front of Heather and Janus respectively. Both were of a brown earthen color; one had macaroni covered in sharp cheddar and green onion, the beef sausages caramelized and oily. The other had tiny potatoes cut and fried to a crisp, a juicy chicken wing sprinkled with dark spices.

Caroline’s eyes lit up at the food, excitedly looking at Roseanne when she came back with the cold coffee and soft drink.

“I see your guest arrived. Who’s your friend?”

“Oh! This is Caroline Dunsworth. We have some common interests, but she’s helping me organize some notes of mine.

Caroline, this is Ms. Roseanne; Janus and I know her a little.”

“Pffbbt. Little? I’d say half the time you come in is to get treated nicely by me. But I’m glad y’all pick here over anywhere else.”

She wiped the cold glass bottle for Janus, before opening it for him and turning her attention to Caroline.

“Friends of Heather get good treatment from me. Stop by, ask for me, order somethin’ you like. You won’t regret it; here’s a menu.”

Roseanne went under the counter and handed her a menu to look over. Caroline took it politely, studying it quietly while Heather motioned to the bag.

“Oh, you got somethin’ for me? Meal barter?”

“That was the plan. I want to pay for some room time in a block.”

A smile quirked on Roseanne’s face as she started to go through the contents.

“That’s quite unlike you, rentin’ a room and all that.”

Heather recalled what she put in there. Half of it was portabella mushrooms, the other half a variety of herbs from the kitchen garden, and a square of salt beef.

“Hmm, I’d say this would be enough for at least half a day’s worth of room use. You payin’ for today, or another time?”

“Definitely another time. It’ll actually be for Caroline to use, she has some things to work on and can use the space.”

The waitress looked Caroline over, and made a note on the side someplace.

“Well, you’re a lucky lady, Ms. Caroline. You figure out what you want to sink your teeth into as yet?”

She couldn’t help but the quietly chuckle, ponytail bobbing along.

“I’ll try this butter sauce pasta with shrimp, I’ve not seen that anywhere recently. For a drink, I’ll take elderberry tea.”

“Oh, you got taste! I’ll be back in a moment.  I know you two are figurin’ out some business, I’ll let you be and not bite into your social.”

With an assuring smack of the countertop, Roseanne left them alone. Janus started to eat, leaving the two girls to themselves.

“So, did you give any thought about my plan?”

Caroline politely tapped a few fingers on the counter.

“I did, I suppose I’m open to the idea. I don’t mind the help to record everything, but do you really think letting people know what I do will help?”

“I do think it makes some interesting stories, for sure. Maybe not at this point in time, but when it’s more acceptable to talk about these sorts of things publicly.

I think at this point I’ll start collecting all your adventures, and get a big view of everything’s that happened. I know you told me quite a bit, so I’m just trying to be concise.”

Heather already had enough issues being known as a girl who was veiled. There was already even more issues with how she dress, spoke, and some of her history coming to Ellowwood. She trusted the young woman with her stories, but was still apprehensive about the entire thing.

And while not outlawed, it was heavily discouraged to openly talk about the paranormal happenings of the world. Few books spoke about these facets, and even less with reliable facts. Maybe that’s what Caroline saw an opportunity in.

Easier said than done. She knew that there was a catch, and dread what came next.

“So I’ll need you to either tell me what happened while I type, or you can write it down for me to process later. Which works better for you?”

The question itself stressed her, making her just push her food around on the plate. Even if it wasn’t going to be put in the public eye, a lot of her escapades were associated with bad memories. Most of the time, she was having the living daylights scared out of her, terrified for weeks on end. They weren’t pleasant things to recount.

“Maybe if I have free time, we can spend some time and you just jot down what I tell you. Otherwise, writing it beforehand’s the best plan.”

Heather had already pushed her hand into her apron pocket, pulling out almost four folded squares of notebook paper. They were wrinkled and yellowed, tied close with strings.

Caroline glanced at them without opening, pushing it into her own pocket to keep them out of the public eye.

The waitress returned with a plate of spaghetti, slick with butter garlic sauce and covered in small shrimp. The overpowering smell dominated the space, Roseanne delivering a small cup of elderberry tea without a word.

The white-haired girl forgot etiquette and licked her lips, pulling out her fork and spearing a shrimp.

“That works for me. I’ll let you know if I have any questions. Also thanks for the room to work.”

“No problem.”

They ate their food for a moment or two, before Caroline struck up another conversation about supposed happenings that Heather might’ve run into. There wasn’t anything specific she knew, or had interest in as of late. Anything remotely close was social topics, which had nothing paranormal or mystery related to them.

Heather lazily glanced at Janus to make sure he was alright. Roseanne was leaning on the counter with folded arms, busily telling him something interesting. Without prompt Janus took his sketchbook and opened it up for the woman, who took a pencil out of her apron and started to doodle something for him.


Caroline glanced up from her food, fork mid-way to her mouth.

“What is it?”

“You wanted to know about anything interesting; looks like you just got your wish.”

Roseanne continued to point whatever she was pointing out, talking in a soft voice as to not disturb the young women. Once whatever was doodled had been settled, she began to expressively tell him some tale, occasionally dropping a hand on the counter.

Janus turned to get the attention of his sister, and was pleasantly surprised when she and Caroline were already trying to listen in.

“Heather, listen to this!”

“Oh? What’s up?”

Roseanne shuffled towards Heather so that all of them could hear, keeping a hand on the sketchbook for reference.

“Alright, get this. I was tellin’ your brother there was a man that lost a pocketwatch a few months ago, back up in the woods headin’ north.”

She stood up the sketchbook for them to glance at, continuing on. Heather was already at a loss when reading maps, and it didn’t help that she wasn’t familiar with the specific area at all. She nodded politely as Roseanne went along, not wanting to interrupt her.

“Now, the story isn’t so much that he lost the pocketwatch, it’s how and where he lost it.”

She paused, waiting just a few seconds for it to sink in. Heather had to admit, she knew how to spin a tale.

“Back in the fall, this homeless man was looking for shelter from a nasty windstorm. There was a collapsin’ barn that he happened across, and he holed up inside.

As the storm raged on, he claimed that a door broke loose to show some sort of underworld. Everthin’ was yellow, the buildings were built differently and there was an ocean! He found one of the buildins’ that looked like a warehouse, and decided to call the place home.”

Heather’s spine tingled upon hearing the description of the world. While a yellow-tinted landscape was beyond her, the concept was something she had heard of before. Her mouth almost moved to open, but wisely held any thoughts so the story could finish.

“It worked for a bit, and it was certainly a lot warmer than what the weather was here. But two days after, somethin’ spooked him so bad that he just got up and left. He just kept blabberin’ about the end of things, leavin’ the watch, foamin’ at the mouth and his eyes wide. Then he just vanished without a trace, straight like that.”

Roseanne snapped her fingers for emphasis, causing Caroline to jump.

“His family will pay anyone $10 if they find the pocketwatch, thought they don’t got high hopes. I highly doubt he’s still kickin’ ‘round, though. Now why they don’t go look for him, well, that’s another story.”

There was a short silence as the trio stared at Roseanne, having ridden from a mysterious world in a door, to someone who’s likely dead. Heather coughed softly to break the silence, losing the mortified expression.

“Wow, that’s very interesting. I wasn’t expecting that kind of rumor to be circulating around.”

“Right? There’s a dime a dozen of entities in the hills, but I don’t think I’ve heard of a pocketwatch lost in another realm.”

Caroline leaned forward, grasping her teacup by the rim with her fingers.

“Mhmm, but that one seems to catch people’s eye, likely ‘cause the cash bounty. Got a lot of kids going up there and lookin’ for both the door and the watch.”

“Roseanne, two people at the indoor counter!”

A voice called out to her from inside. She nudged the sketchbook back to Janus, giving everyone a little wave before excusing herself. When they were alone, the trio immediately clamored quietly.

“Heather, that’s a whole ten dollars! And that other door, world theory would give me more info!”

“And I get a recent tale from you while it’s fresh! Splendid!”

Heather rubbed her temples, in disbelief that she was being outnumbered by the people around her. Oh it was interesting, but what’d happen if there was something that made the man vanish, and it would haunt her nightmares till she was forty? That was the risk every time she poked at the unnatural world’s fabric.

Still, she couldn’t deny that pull to the paranormal that drove her from day one. That same compulsion got her into trouble, or wander forward with feint bravery.

“Ugh, fine. I’m not doing it today, though. I need to sleep on it for a few days.”

Caroline chuckled as she finished the last of her food, turning her fork upside down before leaving it in the plate.

“That’ll work. It should give you some time whenever we’d meet again. Do you want me to post you a message when I’m available?”

“Just come by the house, and we can plan a date. I don’t want to cost you postage to send letters.”

Heather gulped down the rest of her coffee, resisting the urge to drop the cup like a tankard. Janus glanced at Caroline with a thoughtful look, having just concocted an ‘idea’.

“You know, for someone who wants to report these things, you can come with us!”

Caroline shivered, mouth bumbling before she managed a response.

“I’ll take a pass this time, thank you very much. I think I’ll settle with being an ‘armchair investigator’ for the foreseeable future.”

She softly cleared her throat in rebuttal, politely resting her hands on her lap. When Heather didn’t try to convince her, she patted her skirts and got off the chair.

“Well then! I’ll be off. I’ll catch up with you soon, Heather.”

“Certainly. Take care!”

Caroline pushed her seat in, dropping a quarter on the counter next to her plate. With a smile to the siblings, she briskly walked away onto the sidewalk.

When she was out of earshot, Heather whipped around to Janus to scold him.

“Janus, you can’t ask Caroline to go with us on these things! She’s had a really bad experience and is trying to make sense of it all.”

Janus sighed and put his sketchbook away.

“I’m sorry, I thought she’d be an investigating friend that we could do stuff with. Like Noelle or maybe even Mrs. Hudson.”

“Yeah, well, some people don’t want to go look for the unusual if they had their hair turned white over it. Also Mrs. Hudson is more of a babysitter, I don’t think she’s willingly going along to help you uncover the unknown.”

Heather rummaged around for the appropriate amount of money to pay for the meal. Ever since Janus got the Aquarius Gate map, he’d been drawn to the mysteries of the world around him. This spiked when Heather was invited to a dig site in the spring, where Janus saw firsthand that there were some merits to the rumors of worlds beyond the islands they lived on.

He had tried to create a sort of “club” that’d look into these things, but most ended up with pipe dreams, and just talking to a few adults who knew about the subject. Most anything related to an adventure was either him tagging along with her, or Mrs. Hudson or Tau’mi running after him when he left the house.

She couldn’t blame him for trying to poach Caroline for the same idea, but he should’ve known better. The young woman lost her father after discovering some abomination, which had snatched Caroline and turned her hair white. She wanted to make sense of what happened, but she refused to put herself in harm’s way again.

Roseanne finally came back, nodding to their plates.

“Y’all done with those?”

“Yeah, that’ll be it. Thanks, Roseanne. We’ll be back sometime again.”

Heather slid off her chair and handed the woman sixty cents. Janus grabbed his bag and hefted it onto his shoulder.

“Alright, y’all take care!”

East Ellowwood Wilds
Approximately 2PM
YTD 334, 28th day of the 4th month

It’d been a few days since Heather and Janus got the details about the missing pocketwatch. She fully expected wading in knee-high grass, and likely not actually finding their end goal.

Janus had brought along his leather backpack, which contained some of his art supplies, water and some snacks. Heather barely took anything on her, although she made sure to carry her pocketknife. She did opt for her lantern, in which she let Janus carry for her on the backpack.

Heather thought about taking her rifle, but knew there’d be questions raised if she left the house with it. Most of the time the weapon didn’t seem to be a help when she ran into those spooks. At least the ones she ran into. That wasn’t something she was practiced in as yet anyway. The last thing she wanted to do was lose it or mess something up.

According to Janus, it wouldn’t have been too far off the beaten path. He knew where this place was, and it was adjacent to some people’s lands. So they were not completely out in the wilds to fend for themselves.

And that’s where the two of them ended up.

Unlike most Ellowwood roads, this one lacked that pressed gravel, ochre clay dry as dust with the fair weather. It had already began to rut from wagons, and untrimmed grass grew along the sides. A low brick wall ran along both side, curving and stretching out all the way to the main road.

Heather was not used to following her brother like this, but there were a few things she blundered at in life. Directions and reading a map were a few of them. Janus had drawn another rough sketch from yet another map, and was using that effortlessly find where they needed to go.

To baffle her even more, the point of their searching was to find the door that the man had stumbled upon. Janus also had seemed to figure out where this was, almost exactly.

“So…which map did you look up to get us here? Better yet, how’d you get your hands on it?”

“Oh, I had my own map.”

It was said matter of factly, in everyday business.

Heather gulped, leaning over to look at the sketch in disbelief.

“You have your own map?”

“Of course! It’s almost $100 for a good map of Ellowwood, and even more for just detailed areas inside. So I made my own map the best I could, based on what I’ve seen going around.”

Heather blinked at the price. How could one paper be worth that much money? Janus looked over his shoulder at her, raising an eyebrow.

“What do you think I do when I sometimes go out?”

“Looking for the mysterious!”

Heather spread out her arms, wiggling her fingers in emphasis. Janus sighed and tried to ignore his sister’s antics, focusing on the map and the road ahead. When he didn’t engage with her, Heather exhaled a bothersome huff and walked along for some time.

“So how far now?”

“We’re almost there. The barn is actually much further ahead, but it was demolished after the incident with the guy. Someone took the door and has it in their backyard with some scraps, they wanted to wood to build something. We should be able to look at it without a problem.”

That was an unusual amount of information for Janus to possess. It was too well-contrived, from knowing the door survived, to assuring her they could check it out. Heather furrowed her eyebrows in disapproval.

“Did you…ask Mrs. Hudson about this?”

Janus didn’t even bother to look up.

“Yeah, so?”


When Heather didn’t answer, Janus almost whirled around to face her.

“Seriously, what’s your deal with her? You really don’t want her getting involved in our stuff.”

“Look, I don’t trust her completely. There’s just something that I can’t put a finger on. I’m sure she’s not a bad lady, Ms. Elizabeth obviously trusts her to watch you. But I’ve seen her sneak around and take things. She’s overly friendly and probably runs her mouth, which just makes things worse for us.”

Heather was terse. Mrs. Hudson may be the dopey, giggling lady that thought underskirts warded off evil spirits, but there was something eerily familiar with her. She wasn’t sure what it was, but it was enough to not accept her wholeheartedly.

“But she knows stuff about the neighborhood. She’s old and smart with living here for a bit. And yes, she’s friendly and talks to people, but she knows things because of that! It doesn’t hurt me to ask her stuff now and then, she’ll answer it if she can.”

“I know. She’s a family friend, and fusses over you so much she might as well be your grandmother.”

Janus had dropped the map, even coming to a stop.

“She’s hiding something important, Janus. Maybe it’ll be a silly rumor, like Roseanne having a thousand dollars worth of yarn; but her and Mr. Hudson have a secret that they don’t want people to know.

It’s not that I don’t like her, she’s nice and I think she’s a good neighbor. I just get the feeling sometimes that you shouldn’t tell her all the secrets, y’know?”

He was definitely irritated, perhaps even frustrated. He side glanced her, his face highlighting the silent struggle in this head. He wanted to say something, but nothing came.

“Just think about it, okay? I didn’t meant to make you upset. Keep it in mind.”

Heather reached out and rested a hand on his shoulder. He blinked and nodded just a little, taking a moment to calm down. She started to walk again, but when he didn’t move she looked at him for an answer.

“I think we’re actually here.”

He pointed to a small yard next to a grove of trees, walled completely with brick up to hip height. The grass was bushy and had sprouted seeds, while a few shrubs dotted the wall. Two large piles of wood were along the back wall, and a door could be seen propped up against a stack of lumber.

She didn’t even bother to look to see if someone was around. Heather grabbed her skirts and swung a leg over the wall, easily vaulting it and stepping over. She didn’t bother to drop them, finding the grass getting in the way of her movement. By the time Janus had made it over, she was already at the strange sight. Her feet froze in place, heels sinking just a little into the moist earth.

The door had six panels, and had been weathered to a gray-white color. It stood the regular height of a door at seven feet, complete with a stained frame of a mahogany color. The door handle was dark bronze and round, machined with great precision.

“Is that it?” Heather asked in a low voice.

“It matches what Mrs. Hudson told me, I think so.”

Heather yanked her foot from nearly getting stuck in the soil, approaching to touch it. She let go of her skirts and grabbed the door by the frame, shaking it a bit to check its stability. It stayed put, rattling but refusing to move. She also poked her head around the other side, just to make sure it wasn’t connected to anything.

“If this is the door, we’ll either have to find out how to get it to open, or we’ll find out it’s just a tall tale.”

“If the homeless man was able to get in without anything special, we should too, right? Unless he did something and didn’t say.”

“There’s only one way to find out.”

Heather carefully reached for the doorknob. As soon as her fingers came into contact, there was an electric shock as her fingers burned in brief pain. The shock caused her to let out a muffled squeal, every muscle in her body spazzing out for a few seconds.


She tried to pull her hand away, but it seemed to be stuck to the surface, involuntarily gripping the doorknob as it twisted around from her attempt to escape. The door unlocked, swinging open as her hand finally fell free.

 Janus made it to her side as Heather coddled her hand, still involuntarily shivering from the jolt. She grimaced as she glared at the door, but the expression melted to fear when her eyes fell upon a yellow vista.

The door opening showed from above, revealing a seaside town on a series of hills. They appeared to be mostly industrial, with a large cave going into the underground. Scaffolding and stairs led to the waterside. The sky was partially cloudy, with the waves bobbing without event.

“Why is everything yellow?” Janus managed to ask.

“That’s a good question, let’s find out.”

As they stepped in, Heather immediately felt her skin crawl. Maybe it was the salty air, or the way everything looked forgotten. She was still very new to this world door affair, so perhaps it was her being cautious.

The door they had exited seemed to open out of the side of a small shack, near the edge of a cliff. Ellowwood’s vista could be seen back through the door, but they couldn’t spend too much time. She didn’t know how long these doors stayed open, but she didn’t want to push her luck.

The abandoned structures looked well-made, despite their run down appearance. Heather couldn’t hear or see anything from up here, the town went all the way down to the waterside. There was a gulley that led down to the topmost buildings, which looked to be like a storage shed and a freight elevator of some sort. An expanse of sea went around the landmass, stretching out as far as she could see. The sight of an ocean still made her quiver, both from how rare it was in her world and her past experiences in relation to it.

shot room #1 by CapnDeek373

“Stay close, okay?”

Janus didn’t answer, but there was no protest either. Heather started down the gulley, with him close behind.

Despite the nature of the path, a steep drop off was to the left. Carefully picking their way down, there was a bit of stumbling and sliding of gravel. Heather was cautiously and made sure to dig her heels in each step, a bit frightened of how perilous the path was.

Janus was worse off, scattering gravel and bumping into her a few times. She quietly scolded him once, but had to grab him by the elbow the second time.

“Seriously? I’m in skirts and heeled shoes, and doing better than you!” she hissed.

The jab was more of a tease than with ill intent. Janus frowned, not resisting her grip.

“I don’t know why, my shoes are just sliding everywhere.”

The brunette cast an idle eye, and sure enough her brother was right. It wasn’t that he was stepping carelessly; something was not allowing him to fully put his foot down. It was if he was walking on ice, or even a waxed floor.

“Well I’m keeping a hold on you; I don’t want you toppling off the edge and getting hurt.”

Janus had no qualms with this. Skirts in one hand and her brother’s elbow in the other, the two made progress towards the patio of the storage shed.

Just as they were a house’s length away from the structure, she could feel Janus tugging on her skirt. He had various ways of getting her attention, but he only did that when he was trying to be discreet.



Heather followed his eyes up to the roof.

There was a round sort of…thing on the roof. She didn’t know if it was a creature or a being; but it looked to be a ball-shaped with pink skin, with what could’ve been legs or arms but no hands or feet. It was fast asleep, about the size of a medium dog.

“What is that?”

“I’m not sure…I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that, though.”

Heather quickly glanced at their surroundings for any clue, warning, or the like. On the side of the building was a clear warning:


“Hm, maybe that’s a Sleeper. I mean, it’s sleeping,” Heather whispered.

“There’s a cat next to it; we should be fine.”

True enough, there was a black cat curled up on the roof nearby. It looked indifferent to the thing next to it, head towards the sea.

“I don’t think it works that way. Your cat’s friendly and she still doesn’t like to be around certain people. Cat doesn’t mean instant friend.”

Despite this, the two climbed the steps up to the door with some success. The crashing of the sea and wind made more noise than their footsteps, which worked in their favor.

Heather tried the door, finding it locked. She didn’t know what she was expecting, but somehow she thought that if the man had gotten in, the door would’ve been open. Looks like they were doing this the hard way.

There were some windows open, which she’d barely get by to get inside. But Janus on the other hand…

“Okay, plan B. Up to some climbing?”

“If you mean go through the window, yes. I suppose so.”

Janus was disgruntled from their descent, hands on his hips. Heather softly threw her hands up in exasperation, before rubbing his back in consolation. He started to shed his backpack to fit.

“Okay, I’ll help you in.”

He could easily reach into the middle window, pushing himself in. Heather helped to hold his torso as he pulled his legs up before going in.

She could see him through the window as he dusted himself off, going to the door. There was some rattling as the door shifted, but it didn’t open. Janus was grunting in effort, but still nothing happened.

“The door’s stuck, it looks like it’s the lock. I can’t open it.”

Heather sighed and stuck her head into the window to look. That didn’t help either, sucking it up that she’d have to do the inevitable. Making sure Janus got his bag, she gripped the windowsill.

She started to wriggle in through the window, feet flailing and unable to push her forward. Janus tried to grab her arm, letting her use him for support to climb in.

“Here, let me help.”

Heather managed to wedge one leg in, doing her best to shift her weight and step onto the floor.

“Trust me, there isn’t too much that you can do-”

Her other foot caught on the window sill, instantly pivoting her to the ground. She pushed Janus out of accidental reflex, immediately faceplanting on the ground.


How she didn’t bruise her face was a miracle. The wind was knocked out of her for a second, legs flailing before coming to rest. She could hear a few of her belongings rattling out of her apron pockets, petticoats everywhere.

If something was here, it certainly knew they were here now.

This wasn’t worth $10 at all.

Heather managed to vocalize a defeated whimper.

“I’m fine…”

Disgruntled was an understatement. Her pride was hurt more than herself, who was a disheveled mess of hair and skirts. She accepted Janus trying to help her up, blowing her wayward hair out of her face.

At least her brother cared.

She was more focused on her possessions, which fortunately didn’t go too far. Specifically her compass, keys and even a small coin pouch. Once everything had been accounted for, Heather stood on her feet and brushed her clothes straight the best she could.

Inside of the room had been left to time. There were a few rotten spots on the floor, where something had been left and deteriorated through the planks. The room was brighter than expected, the yellow glow giving a fair amount of light inside of the room. A junk pile lay in the corner, with useless machinery and furniture.

Heather immediately went over to the entry door, finding the mechanism rusted beyond use. It had seized up, and her yanking on the handle did not open. She tried even harder, a loud grunt daring to alert their presence even more.

“Not too hard! You’ll wake the Sleeper.”

She was more frustrated than anything, stepping back from the door with lightly bruised hands. Heather brushed as much dust off as she could, then wiped her palms on her apron.

Her attention was drawn to the hallway that led into the building, which they had not set foot yet. This was darker than the room that they stood in, and would require some caution going forward.

“Can you start on a map? We should get a layout of the place as we go.”

“Hm, now would be a good time to do that.”

Janus started to pull out a sketchbook, taking a pencil and drawing out the interior. It was his idea upon her embarking on her exploration adventures, leaving her with some information for further use upon return. While his art wasn’t the greatest, it was better than no record at all.

“Alright, let me get the lantern lit in the meantime.”

Heather reached for Janus’ backpack, taking the lantern that had been attached to the side. She fumbled for matches and lit the wick, a soft puff of kerosene smoke wafting upwards before producing a flame.

As the lantern was ready for use, Heather noticed that Janus had flipped a page and started doodling again. Something got his interest or he had messed up the first time around. She idly stood a minute for him to finish, holding the lantern up when he approached.


Janus nodded. Heather turned to face the hallway and stepped within.

It was wide at first, the only two rooms being an abandoned office and another storeroom. Both had been cleaned out, and the floors were caked with dust.

The hallway then had a flight of stairs, going into another section of warehouse. There were only two windows here, the light from outside only providing ambience instead of usable light. There was something like a cooler in one corner of the room, and another flight of stairs going to a small office. There were stacks of abandoned boxes meant to be shipped ages ago, nailed shut and not having moved from those days.

Heather was about to bound onto the ground floor when something made her freeze. There was this mat of fuzz that had crept out of the cooler, spreading across the middle of the floor and covering the boxes. It initially had a sickly green color, with white and yellow fuzz patched in several areas. A sour and spoiled smell filled the air, and matched the odor she had smelled earlier.

It hadn’t covered the ground where the stairs ended, but it’d have to be crossed over.

“Great…what is this stuff?”

It resembled mold from when bread was left out too long, although the odor reminded her if something died in the forest. She was half-expecting some sort of living ooze to attack them, given the circumstances.

Heather had heard the stories of motionless blobs coming to life, gobbling up their victims in sheets of slime and digesting them on the spot. She’d never seen the creature herself, so she wasn’t sure what this had in store.

“We should probably not touch that,” Heather suggested.

Janus had traded his sketchbook out for a notebook, scribbling notes to the best of his ability.

“I think you’re right. I know Mrs. Hudson talked about this one day, but this doesn’t seem like the one that chases you. It just sitting there.”


Heather carefully stepped onto the warehouse floor, looking for a way around. The mat hadn’t gone up to the walls, and she could probably make her way across boxes to the other side.

“Yeah, she said they ripple and shift about. These types of mats can eat you, but you have to sit there for minutes before it crawls up and can hurt you. Otherwise, just be careful.”

Heather had to shake her head, both in amazement and disbelief. Her bookworm brother not only knew about what this was, but how to tell if it was dangerous. And she was the older one out of the two.

Still, she wasn’t going to take chances. The thought of the green goop climbing her ankles did not sit well with her.

Her eyes finally landed on a narrow strip of floor along the wall, that the two of them could cross. She waved her brother over and carefully started to walk a straight line to the other side.

Janus easily climbed onto some crates, his small size allowing him to hop from each over the entire mess. Deep down inside she wanted to do the same, but was afraid that the old wood would collapse under her weight.

She opted for her hunt and peck footsteps instead, occasionally stepping on a crate if it felt sturdy enough. Her skirts were hiked with both hands, looking very much like a prissy lady navigating a muddy street.

Near the end a box had given way, her foot going straight into the nasty mess of organism. Her shoe mushed into an inch of goop, the sound of wet and solid causing her to cringe.

Ew, ew ew ew.

The smell was worse having stepped in it. It took some effort to pull her feet along, still worried that the organism would come to life and eat her. She almost stumbled onto her face on the last step, scrambling for balance as she scampered away and turned to keep an eye on it.

“You okay?”

Janus was at the base of the other set of stairs, standing on the first step to stay out of the way. Heather didn’t answer, attempting to shake her foot of the smelly substance. She angrily strode over to see what caused this abomination.

To her disgust, she didn’t need to get closer to figure it out. From the open door there was a huge mound of the stuff, along with empty tin cans. The shadows gave the mold a more threatening appearance than it should have. The cooler itself was unusual in design, and looked very different than the iceboxes that were common in Talmeron.

Whether it was staring at it or them being closer to the cooler, Janus lurched over as spit left his mouth. Heather sighed in exasperation and turned her brother away from the sight. True enough, her stomach did churn a bit, but it didn’t make her want to lose her lunch too badly.

“Here, try not to think about it…”

They went up the stairs, the smell not diminishing much. At least Janus was keeping himself together, however.

A small balcony offered them some room to stand outside of said office. There was glass windows to overlook the happenings of the room below, and a window that viewed outside. The room had furnishings and other objects inside, but it was hard to tell due to how much grime and dust were on the panes.

This door was also locked, causing Heather to jerk her hand back in frustration. She crossed her arms, looking around their surroundings for an idea.

“Do you see any way in?”

Janus walked along the balcony, having no success with looking in the windows.

“Unless you break a window? No.”

The thought did cross her mind, but she felt a vandal doing that. Heather also wasn’t sure how she was going to go break a window, much less discreetly.

Her mind was traveling along the track of using an object to break glass, when she saw a pile of tools near the corner.

“You stay here.”

She carefully put the lantern down next to the office, outing the flame. Before Janus could say anything, Heather dashed down the stairs and looked over the tool pile.

Not only was there another lantern, but there was a small wooden tool tote. Awls, a hammer and some chisels laid inside. A large crowbar was propped up against the box it was sitting on, along with a shovel and some rope.

Using the hammer would break a pane in pretty well. But a crowbar…that should pull the door open.

It was much heavier to her liking, almost ten pounds and daring to slip out of her hands. The wrought iron and turned brown with age, but was smooth to the touch.

She bounded up the stairs, a little off-balance from the weight of the tool. Janus stared at her incredulously as Heather reached the top, feet apart as she gripped the crowbar with both hands.

“Do you even know how to use that?”

His voice was skeptical, eyebrow raised.

“What makes you…think…I can’t?”

Her question was broken up with sounds of effort. Heather shoved the crowbar into the door jamb, managing to get the edge wedged between the door.

Janus shrugged, as if resigning to the fact that his sister would be on the floor again. This just fueled Heather’s determination as she yanked on the tool.

The wood creaked and moaned, but did not give. She planted her foot on the door jamb and pulled ever harder, half-expecting that Janus would be proven right. Heather heaved a large grunt of effort as the frame splintered, the door squeaking open.

Miraculously she managed to keep her balance, resisting the urge to let the crowbar clatter to the ground. Janus’ jaw hung open in amazement, peeking into the room.

Heather glanced down at him with a snarky smile, some hair draping down her shoulders.

“See? I’m not completely useless.”

Janus managed a snort of amusement.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you use a crowbar before.”

“I’ll surprise you yet. Put the lantern up on your bag, we’re able to see here at least-”

Their banter was halted by slow, deliberate footsteps on roof. Both of them froze, crouching ever so slightly.

The footfalls were heavy and deliberate. Janus wanted to say something but she put her hand over his mouth, almost on tiptoe to run at a moment’s notice.

It went back and forth for a moment, before the roof became silent once more. Heather waited a little extra before exhaling in relief, carefully propping the crowbar by the entryway.

“Let’s try to keep the noise down? I don’t want to know what a Sleeper will do.”

“If that was a Sleeper.”

The two turned their attention to the newly opened office. It was decrepit, dusty, and laced with cobwebs. The desk was covered with various objects, and the floor was littered with wax puddles and crumpled paper.

While having some unusual bits, this wasn’t out of the ordinary to Heather. Her brother on the other hand, didn’t feel the same way towards the room.

“I don’t like this…”

He stayed at the door frame, peeking around the wall inside.

“Hm, why not?”

Heather strode into the room, hands on her waist and skirts sweeping along in a dull rustle. She could see why it’d be unsettling, but it didn’t give the feeling that’d make her faint from fear.

“Look at the desk.”

The desk’s wood was warped and twisted, dried and bleached with the varnish gone. There were drops of crimson wax on top of the hutch, as if a number of candles had burnt to the bottom. Some of this was used to attach several sheets of paper to both desk and wall.

Now that she was looking along the wall, it became clear why the door was stuck in the first place. The windows and door had started to warp into the same way. Knots on the wood had formed to bulge, like warts or even eyes. She could now see why he thought the room seemed ominous; the way the wood had shaped itself was unnatural. It looked like a gnarled wax facsimile of a wooden desk, and it hadn’t been carved that way.

Heather saw a half-covered pile of wax near the foot of the desk. She used her foot to push the scraps of paper away, revealing a large mound of wax. It was over a foot high, with symbols carved into the base in multiple circles.

“Here, what do you make of this?”

Heather stooped over, waving her brother to focus on what she found. Janus carefully ventured into the room, resting on one knee to look at the markings.

“Hmm, I want to say a ward maybe, but I can’t tell.”

Heather straightened and glanced back at the desk.

“It looks like the same writing that’s on some of these other papers. Maybe it’s an archaic language tied with a ritual.”

She hated to utter the words, but the occasional cult did exist in Talmeron. Most of the time, mysterious languages held wonder and discovery to the past. But a few did bring evil or malevolence to their world. Unfortunately, what she saw didn’t help the case of a ritual.

Janus carefully took his sketchbook out again and started to doodle the wax mound. Heather plopped her hand on his head twice, turning her attention to the desk. She kept close to Janus just in case; enough that he could easily grab her, and that her skirts would bump into him to ensure he was still there.

She started to shuffle through the pages on the desk. The scrapped papers were in various conditions, some with more writing than most. The least rumpled looked to just be scrawls, one sheet even just charcoal with a circular dot. Heather pushed these aside looking for more clues, going into the drawers.

The first drawer didn’t yield anything of note, but the second one she hit pay dirt. Sure enough, there was a pocketwatch tucked in a corner. It was tarnished and dented, but it had Talmeron script for the numbers. Her fingers poked for anything else, but came up empty.

“I found the missing watch,” she murmured.


Janus turned his head to look. Heather dangled it off it’s chain for him to look at, before putting it in her apron pocket.

“I didn’t think he was making up the part about the door, but I was suspicious about the watch. I think we can write that up to him telling the truth.”

Heather opened the last drawer, pausing as a wrinkled leather book stared back at her. She graced her fingers over the surface and picked it up. It was the size of a small holy book, with a thick spine and a latched cover. It used have some sort of brooch or gem on the front, torn off in the past.

She dropped it onto the desk, instantly pulling the strap holding it closed. Janus realized that she had found something, jumping to his feet. He was quiet as Heather flicked through the pages, but was growing more confused by the second.

Each page just had more of the strange scribbling. Most of it seemed to be everyday writing, but also some of the strange symbols were dotted throughout. There were even a few line drawings of some objects.

“I can’t make any sense of this, or even read it!”

Heather’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion.

“Here, let me look.”

She didn’t stop him from looking at the pages, secretly hoping his bookworm tendencies would get them somewhere. However, she dreaded the time spent to read it. It was if having it open here, that something dreadful would happen.

“I’d need time to look at this. I can’t figure it out on the spot,” he admitted.

Just as he uttered those words, something slammed against the wall. It caused then to snap to their senses, both turning their heads into the same direction.

A massive, yellow eye stared at them through the window. It was maybe as tall as a two-story house, the pupil focusing in the middle to stare straight at them. There was more bumps against the wall as it shifted, trying to get a closer look at them.

It was then that Heather realized they were in trouble. She was weak in the knees as her brother didn’t keep his composure, yelling as he bolted for the door.

Heather didn’t blame him.


She instantly pocketed the book as the glass broke on the window, grabbing the crowbar on the way out. Balloony tentacles burst into the room, filling it up almost instantly.

More glass broke as she reached the bottom of the stairs, tentacles starting to sprout and wander through the other windows. Janus was a length ahead of her, already scrambling up the other stairs. She held her breath and tore straight through the mold mat, not caring that she was slipping around on the stairs going up.

As she approached the main entrance, she knew that they’d have to quickly tumble out of the window. Janus had waited for her before going further, Heather urging him to tumble forward through the window they entered.

Janus had a different idea, grabbing his sister’s hand with the newfound tool.

“Crowbar, use the crowbar!”

He immediately pointed where to push the tool into. It didn’t make sense to her at first, but he recognized where the door was jammed, and how to open it. With conviction she shoved the wedge of the crowbar between the bolt, throwing herself as hard as she could against it.

There was a resounding snap as rust particles floated to the floor, the door creaking open. It didn’t give from a simple push, Heather delivering an agitated foot near the latch. It shuddered and groaned loudly, revealing the outside world.

She shoved Janus out the door first, seeing the tentacles filling up all the rooms as one big mass. Several started snaking their way towards where they stood; Heather didn’t wait around to find out.

Hanging onto the crowbar as a sort of club, she watched as Janus struggled up against the hill. He didn’t look like he’d fall down, but he was half-stumbling all the time. She did her best to catch up with him, hearing the storehouse door clatter to the ground as they were halfway to the hill.

The tentacles had burst out, and were now waving around in all directions; even in the air. The cat remained indifferent, remaining perched on the roof. But something was missing…

The Sleeper. Where was-


It had jumped off the roof, yelling at them in a high-pitched squeal while it’s arms bent back and forth like noodles. An unearthly tongue waggled in the air, coinciding with the warbling of the words. It’s eyes had bulged unnaturally wide, spinning around in various directions.

The two finally made it up the hill, and found the door that led back to their world. Heather was relieved when she saw the greens and blues from the yard beyond, barreling into her brother to push them both through at the same time.

The ickiness that hung in the air vanished, fresh mild air filling her nostrils. Janus was no longer losing his footing. She felt confident and connected to her faculties, turning around to close the door.

The eye from the creature that had filled the storeroom, glared at them from the storehouse. There was a stare down as Heather did her best to square her shoulders, but as soon as she reached for the door, it started to snake and rush towards them. She yelped in fright and yanked the door shut.

As both siblings stepped away from the door, it rattled loudly as something rammed into it. The panel splintered a little, the door falling onto the ground as if something knocked it over.

Heather did her best to collect her breath, nervously laughing at Janus who returned the gesture. But they were in once piece, having discovered yet another otherworldly facet about the universe. They were safe, for now.

It was only then she realized that the odor of the storehouse was still around her, and that both she and her brother were quite smelly. Ms. Elizabeth was not going to be happy with them.

Ellowwood Easterlies, the Cleper House
YTD 334, 1st day of the 5th month

It took a good deal to get the foul smell off of her. Heather’s clothes carried it longer, but they finally returned to normal.

She was also left with the matter of the crowbar. Heather didn’t have an attachment to the tool, but she didn’t see herself as a tool owner. Still, Mr. Hudson had told her they were worth a bit of money, and his wife was quite impressed at her heroics. It sat in a corner of her closet, having been scrubbed and even prayed over by a priestess just to make sure.

At the moment she lay on her bed, clad in a blue work day dress and reading a stack of papers. Despite only the short amount of time that had passed, Caroline had made good on her promise and got to to work right away. She already had two short summaries their past tales ready to go, having an errand boy dropping it off this morning.

“Lass, someone’s here to see you!”

Aunt Maddie joked that she got more visitors to the house than anyone else. Unless Elizabeth socialized with people elsewhere or they were meeting her in the store, that might been true.

Heather whimpered in irritation as she sat up and got off the bed. She left the room towards the stairs, doing her best to look presentable.

Down at the parlor, she could see both Mrs. Hudson and Roseanne standing around. Janus was there as well, him and Mrs. Hudson laughing and exchanging pleasantries. The trio looked up when she reached the ground floor.

“If it isn’t Miss Curious herself. You look in good spirits,” Mrs. Hudson greeted her.

The old lady was nose height for Heather, with short silver hair and a slim pair of glasses. She had a thin frame, but the shapely skirts and outlandish apron gave the appearance otherwise. Her lavender blouse was neatly buttoned, a sleeveless denim dress serving as her main wear. Her tan apron carried some wrinkles, a pair of giant buttoned pockets bulging with knick knacks.

“I’m doing a lot better than a few days ago, that’s saying something. What brings you here?”

“I was supposed to stop by later, but Miss Roseanne here stopped by my house looking for you! So I thought I’d just walk over.”


Roseanne was nervous, but she pulled out ten dollars from her apron and briskly handed it over.

“The family came by and paid their lost and found fee. I didn’t know when you were droppin’ in again, so I thought I’d stop by. ‘Specially since that’s a lot of money for y’all.”

Heather accepted it with a smile, looking over the ten paper bills with fascination.

“Oh, thank you! I really appreciate it.”

Janus instantly perked up upon the sight of the money.

“We actually got paid for this sort of thing?”

“It’d seem to be the case, dear. It’s your money fair and square, but I’d say give Janus something for the trouble. He did go with you, after all.”

“Mhmm, that’d be something to keep in mind,” Roseanne added. She raised a finger in emphasis.

“I’ll figure something out, don’t worry.”

Heather tucked the money away, but Roseanne pensively was still looking at her.

“But there was something more you needed, wasn’t there?”

The woman sighed and let her hands drop on the front of her skirts, eyes soft.

“Look, I felt bad with the whole thing that happened. I kind of know what y’all get into, and they do have some dangerous sides. But to think that you and your lil’ brother nearly got gobbled up by some tentacle monster thing, don’t sit right with me. I felt responsible.”

The chunky woman visibly shuddered at the mention of the creature, heaving a sigh of remorse. Heather touched her arm, while Mrs. Hudson clucked her tongue.

“Roseanne, it’s alright. You didn’t know-”

She wasn’t having it, shaking her head so much that her hair wasn’t keeping up.

“No, I thought it was some drunk fool that just lost a watch somewhere, and maybe he just saw some random door and imagined the whole spiel. I didn’t know it was actually real! At most I figured y’all would find the door, maybe the watch if you were lucky. I just thought it was somethin’ young ‘uns were takin’ part in, I didn’t know it had this…depth to it.”

Interesting. Heather knew naive people with some of the paranormal things that happened in the world, but she wondered if there was something more to Roseanne that what was letting on. It wasn’t the first time she ran into an interloper, but they were getting better at blending in nowadays.

“There’s nasty things in the world, miss. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s true and what’s a delusion. If you’ve been around as long as I have, it comes with the season of life.”

Mrs. Hudson ruffled Janus’ hair.

“But I can vouch for the two, they’ve run into a number of things that may be thought of as ‘make believe’. Maybe it’s their luck, or they just happen to put their nose in the right place. I’ve not really gotten wrapped up in their escapades, but I have heard about them!”

She leaned in as if telling a secret, albeit a poorly guarded one. Roseanne’s eyes widened, locking onto Heather.

“Really? Well funny you mention that, I was actually wantin’ to ask you another thing. Just like Mrs. Hudson here, if, you know…you didn’t mind me gettin’ involved in a thing or two with y’all.”

Heather raised an eyebrow.

“Thing or two?”

“You know, this whole look into mysteries or rumors business. It sounds excitin’, minus the getting attacked part. It beats keepin’ to yourself at times.”

Roseanne’s voice was earnest, laced with excitement while her hands motioned an intangible object in front of her. She dropped her hands, gripping them together as she waited the verdict.

Mrs. Hudson had no input on the matter, while Janus stared at Roseanne with a hand at his chin. Heather quickly re-gathered her thoughts together, not expecting the waitress to actually want to team up with them.

“Well…I’m not opposed to the idea. Half of the time, we do just sit around have to listen to stories or read things, as much as I dislike that sometimes. Are you sure?”

“Sure, I wanna get involved!”

Her voice heightened in determination. Janus came to the end of his conclusion.

“I mean, I don’t mind. I don’t know how she could help yet, but she’s pretty friendly with us. And we often have adults not believing some of the things we discover. Wouldn’t that help?”

Heather blew a huff of air.

“She gives you free food when you visit Cotley’s. But he’s right, an older adult on hand is good thing. I guess we can see where it goes.”

“No offense, Mrs. Hudson. I still like you tagging around.”

Janus tried to dissuade any fears, lightly bumping into Mrs. Hudson’s arm.

“D’oh, that’s quite all right dear. I know you’re not axing me out of the whole affair, although you probably try to keep me out of harm’s way.”

Mrs. Hudson rubbed his shoulder in assurance. The old lady’s eyes gleamed with her own idea, a smile forming on her face.

“But using my wise old brain, I’d say your job gives you a good spot to snoop on things. Just like you gave the two that info with the door, maybe.”

“Oooh, very interestin’. If I hear more stuff, I’ll let you know. And I’ll do my bests to make sure you know what you’re headin’ into. But I’m lookin’ forward to actually getting mixed up in somethin’.”

A warm fuzzy feeling formed in Heather’s chest, nodding and smiling confidently at Roseanne.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure something will come along soon. The question is what, though…”

Wharftown, Aquannaqua Heights
Unspecified date and time

The eyed creature had retreated back towards the lower levels. The fool who summoned it failed to realize it’d still come, regardless of who asked. Even if it was two meddling kids kicking the summoning candle.

The cat stared off into the horizon, the Sleeper snoozing against a chimney. The booth building hadn’t appeared again; maybe they learned their lesson. The girl was foolish and impulsive, but could sense the things in the world. The boy was an accomplice and knew too much for his own good.

It must’ve been a mistake at first, but now it was certain. Wherever the trespasser with the pocketwatch and the two youngsters came from, the world was unusual with secrets. Maybe not as open as the eldritch in the waters below, but something more was in their world. And from what the cat could tell, it was that specific reason why those two came here.

They took the book. Nobody ever took the book. Nor the papers. One had to be of a certain mindset to take those things. And because of Ms. Stuff Her Pockets With Papers, those two had more information about Aquannaqua than any of the previous visitors.

This was troublesome. They could cause problems if they came again, especially with others. Measures had to be taken.

The cat yawned and loafed into a more comfortable position. That bridge would be crossed when it was time. Until then, Wharftown would be waiting.

For now, it was time to sleep.

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