Inside this room are several pieces of well-worn furniture, inherited from past occupants: a bed, a long, squat dresser with a slice of mirror hung above it, and a small desk and chair. The rest of the room is decorated in what can best be described as "controlled chaos." Canvases cover most of the wall space, on which have been glued odd assortments of buttons, twine, bits of colored cloth, autumn leaves, pebbles of varying sizes, etc. Some of this "art" represents recognizable figures but most are unlike anything ever seen before. Overflowing bags stuffed with cloth scraps sit near the doorway, while more cloth, bobbins of thread, yarn, and ribbons cover the surface of the desk. Located next the bed is something that might be a nightstand (judging from the trinkets resting on it), but it too is built from a mish-mash of smaller elements, twisting around and around like a corkscrew and then widening and flattening at the top.
After the chaos of the banshee Korv some semblance of normalcy returns to the town. Zahn, Amelia, and Olivia have returned to her room and Zahn has dropped back into the hole he made earlier in the flooring. "Pity I can't get a boring rig in here. I could then just tunnel straight down," Zahnrad comments. "Looks like I need to shovel instead. Can you find one of the shovels in my crates. Otherwise … if you don't mind waiting I can figure out how to get a boring rig in here… "
Olivia ums and looks at Zahnrad doubtfully. "And how long would that take?"
"Maybe you should just live in a tree," Amy suggests to Olivia. She seems a bit more jittery than usual as she looks around the crate full of tools (and occasionally little brothers).
"Don't know. Couple days … maybe a month," Zahnrad offers a bit absently. "Can one of you find me my density rod?"
Gunther is just perching on the lip of a crate. Whenever Amelia looks his way, the Kadie just grins.
Olivia shakes her head emphatically as Amy rummages around in one of the boxes. "Oh no, I'm not dragging this out for a month! I'd like to be back in my own room earlier than that."
"Your what?" Amelia asks Zahn, afraid to take her eyes off of Gunther.
"It wasn't my fault," Gunther comments to Amelia.
"My density rod. It's for testing the density and permeability of the ground. We use it for judging how deep to sink the posts when building something," Zahnrad offers. Never mind he doesn't actually describe what it looks like.
"Gunther, can you find Zahn's rod please?" Amy asks as she finds the folding shovel.
"Why do you think every disaster is my fault?" Gunther asks Amelia as he hops backward and disappears into the box. Only a few moments pass before a 'T' shaped bar peeks out of the top of the box. "Oooo, I'm an evil density rod. Oooo! Fear me!" Gunther intones from his spot inside the box.
Olivia rolls her eyes heavenward and mutters, "I think this is gonna take a month even without the boring rig… "
"I wasn't blaming you," Amy tells Gunther as she brings the shovel to Zahn. "It's just that you keep smiling like your cheeks are full of magic acorns when I look at you. Are you trying to hide something, Gunther?"
The rod keeps bouncing around the box. "Ooo, OOO!" he goes on. There's a pause, then the younger Kadie says, "Why would I be hiding something? Just because the otters trust me doesn't mean I know anything special."
"Then why are you smiling at me like that?" Amelia demands, her tail rising up.
Zahn reaches up from the hole and takes the shovel. "Thanks Amelia," he says, then vanishes back down.
"Because I like you?" Gunther offers.
Olivia stalks over to Gunther and removes the density rod from his hands while sticking out her tongue at him. (Not that he can see the gesture, hidden as he is inside the box.) Then she brings that over to the hole, too.
Amelia grumbles, then asks, "What's this about the otters trusting you? Why did they kidnap you anyway?"
"And thank you too, Olivia!" Zahn says as he takes the rod and vanishes again. Somewhere under the flooring he starts whistling. Every now and then there there's a loud thump, followed by Zahn declaring, "Bedrock!"
"Because they like me," Gunther answers vaguely, head popping up from the box. "And realized they need my help, of course."
Looking into the hole, Amy says back, "What do they need your help with?"
"A special project," Gunther offers. Zahn, under the floor, is scurrying around and inserting the rod into the earth as far as he can manage. "Bedrock!" he calls back. When he finally gets to the point under where Olivia's bed sits, the pitch suddenly changes when he sinks the rod. "Er … Wood!" he declares. "That's not right. Shouldn't be wood down here."
"Be careful, Zahn! You don't want to fall through something that's rotted," Amy says. Glancing back to Gunther she says, "If you're afraid to tell me what it is, that's okay. I won't tease you about it."
Olivia goes to the edge of the hole Zahn has made and tries to peer in as far as she can. "Wood? What kind of condition is it in, can you tell?" she calls. "I always thought wood rotted when buried… unless it's the roots of a living tree or something."
"You're not special enough to know about it," Gunther comments, then just grins. "I mean, all you do is snog my brother… "
"Mm-hmm," is all Amelia replies to Gunther, her attention focused down the hole. "I guess I can just ask Emmett later."
"Don't know, it's buried," Zahnrad offers. He scoots around a bit and flicks open the folding shovel. The Kadie then starts digging in the spot he hit wood. "Let me see what's down here."
"Go ahead. Not like you can get it out of him without doing something he has been wanting from you for a long time, you know," Gunther counters.
"Anything I can do to help?" Olivia offers next.
"Think we should tie a rope around him for safety?" Amy asks Olivia.
"I need a bucket," Zahn offers, "Tied to a rope. We need to haul this dirt out."
"Got those things in your crates, or should I go looking around the Weaver's for them?" Olivia asks.
"Should be both in the crates," Zahnrad offers. And true that is, for Gunther's wearing a bucket on his head now.
"And where do we dump the dirt?" Amelia asks. "I hope we don't have to take it all the way to Ducky's compost heap."
"Figure something out! Empty a crate and fill it with dirt if you want to," Zahnrad calls back.
"Nah, we can bring it around to my aunt's vegetable garden, she could probably use it," Olivia says, while walking over to take the bucket off the younger Kadie's head.
"Okay Gunther, tie a rope to that bucket," Amelia says, and asks down the hole, "How many bucket-loads are you expecting it will take?"
Gunther holds out a rope to Olivia.
"Shouldn't be many, really. It doesn't seem to be that deep," Zahnrad calls back. "And … only about two foot by two foot in size."
After taking both the rope and bucket from Gunther, Olivia ties one end of the rope to the handle of the bucket herself. Then she takes the entire contraption back to the hole.
"Toss it down," Zahnrad says, "Just be sure not to kick it… " Gunther just groans.
"Kadie feet or Lapi feet?" Amy asks, helping to lower the bucket.
"You're lucky I don't toss it at your face for that joke!" the Skeek grumbles, then drops the bucket and rope into the hole.
"The Lapi don't want me!" Zahnrad shouts. There's a cough, then he adds, "Never mind." Zahn gets a hold of the bucket and heads off to fill it. It doesn't take long before he's tugging on the rope, saying, "Pull away."
Amelia hauls on the rope, and asks Olivia, "Where's the garden?"
Olivia helps Amelia pull the bucket to the surface and says, "I'll take it, it'll be quicker for me to go there and back."
"Huh. That can't be right," Zahnrad is heard to say.
"Okay," Amy says, "And if you see Emmett lurking around and after all that noise he's sure to be ask him what he needed Gunther for."
"What?" Amy calls down the hole.
Olivia grins at this and says, "I'll be right back," before disappearing off in the direction of Augusta's garden plot.
"Well … " Zahnrad says, "I'm not sure Olivia will like this… "
"Does Olivia ever like anything you discover?" Amy asks.
"Sure she does! Well, she likes the rat Gunther found," Zahnrad is heard to say as Olivia darts off towards the garden.
Augusta Weaver's private vegetable patch is actually quite large, which is probably why Olivia mentioned that the dirt they removed from the hole could be used here. There are rows and rows of plants in the garden, all in various stages of growth. Among them are carrots, peas, lettuces, rhubarb, squash and tomatoes. Little clay "bells" suspended above the plants on lengths of twine keep the bunnies away with their clanking noises.
Olivia lugs the first bucket full of dirt into her aunt's garden and heads over to the little compost heap Augusta has set up at one edge. "Maybe this will make up for the disturbance earlier," she mutters to herself as she walks.
A slightly damp arm drapes itself across Olivia's back, and whiskers tickle her opposite ear as Emmett slinks up next to her. "Oy, Liv! Digging up another screaming ghastly, or 'ave you finally surrendered to destiny and started digging an indoor pool for me in 'ticipation of yer ratty boyfriend's losing you to me anyway in a game o' cards?"
Olivia starts violently when Emmett sneaks up on her, but once she realizes who it is, she relaxes. "Watch where you're putting those paws, Emmett unless you want me to smear dirt in your face?" she asks conversationally, indicating what's in the bucket she's carrying.
"It matches me color already, if'n yer into that," the Akwavi says, waggling his eyebrows. "We'z got a mud-wrassling pit going up in The Boathouse if yer interested in competing… "
Olivia merely snorts a laugh and says, "Don't you wish! Anyway, what're you doing here? Don't you find watching other people work rather boring?"
"I kin watch other people work all day long wi'out breaking a sweat," Emmett boasts. "And I'm a might bit curious about what you're up to in your room that involves hauling out dirt and ghosts, eh? Oh, and don't mind that intimitititation that Djivan uses you as a bet marker. I ain't the type to be casting asparagus at a another man's reputootation… "
Olivia just shakes her head. "Even if Djivan does that, as you claim, whoever came to take their 'prize' would find themselves limping all the way home… Djivan included," the Skeek continues, after a moment's thought. "Anyway, that ghost of a Korv is gone now Master Qing forced her back into the puzzle box she came in and took her away."
"Awww, why'd you let the worm-guy have it?" Emmett whines. "A ghost in the box! But what's with the dirt, Lurverly Liv?"
Olivia simply grins as the pair approach the compost heap. Pausing for a minute to dump the dirt on top of everything else there, Olivia then says, "Hey, if you want to take your chances against a College mage and take the box away from him, be my guest! Just don't be surprised if shrubs start growing from your ears or something. As to the digging, well, not much to tell there. Not yet, anyway. We haven't really found anything and I hope we don't!"
"Digging?" Emmett asks, little button ears perking up as slinks around in front of Olivia now. "For clams? Treasure? Bodies? Err… Candy?"
"No, no, no… and no," Olivia replies. "And what d'you want to know for, anyhow?"
"It's me bidness to know everythin' 'bout everyone, luv!" Emmett says. "How else will folks know what sorts of gifties to woo them wit, oh plump pearl of perfect pear-like proportions?"
Olivia takes hold of the bucket again and steps around Emmett, so that she can head back to her room. "In other words, you're just being nosy," she counters, although she doesn't look too terribly annoyed by all the questions.
"I'll trade ya then!" Emmett offers, bounding behind the Skeek and trying to nip her tail. "Anything you want to know, if'n you'll tell me what's goin' down in your boudoir."
Olivia flicks her tail away from the otter and appears to consider this. "Well, if you're offering a trade, then I might be persuaded to tell you something… " She looks askance at Emmett and asks, "Would you be willing to tell me why your clan carried Gunther off the other day, and what they want with him?"
"Oy, is that all?" Emmett says, coming back up to two legs and wiping his paws off on his vest. "That's nuttin! We gave him his first task as an Otter Scout inna-shee-it: to lure down the lady-what-draws-fun-things from island in the sky. Wit like a love letter or something, probably. You gots to woo them high and mighty ladies properly to get them to visits yah. Why, I could have had that fine Lady Natasha over to my barge I reckon, if'n it didn't turn out she was really pining for the big man. But now I figger he owes me a favor!"
A shadow passes over the pair as they walk. It's not abnormal for shadows to come and go … except this one comes back, circles, then vanishes behind them. There's a soft rustle as something, or someone, lands. "Haven't vou hear' it be bad luck t' talk about a gypsy seer behin' 'er back?" comes the sultry and purring voice Olivia has grown to know so well … Liliana.
Olivia blinks and glances at Emmett again, one eyebrow quirked. "Gunther is supposed to lure a lady from Rephidim into Stonebarrow?" she asks. "Who is it… and what kind of, er, 'fun things' does she draw?" At Lili's abrupt arrival, the Skeek starts again. "Well, if this isn't my day for visitors… hello, Lili! What brings you here?"
"Lili!" Emmett squeals and tries to pounce on the bat. "When're you gonna innerduce me to those stripey-tailed bandit gals of yours?"
"Natasha asked me t' look into ze disturbance. And vell, kin' say I be surprised t' find vou at de center of it," the Eeee coos. She even flashes the Skeek a grin, then a wink. Though that gets interrupted by Emmett's pounce and the Eeee finds herself on her butt and with an otter in her lap. She pokes a claw on Emmett's nose, commenting, "Y'know the rules. Me girls are off limits until I personally inspect those wishin' t' visit them."
"Oy, is that all?" Emmett asks, wagging his tail. Then he turns to Olivia and says, "Some gel named Kia, writes in Skeek. So, like, prolly a Skeek or a Lapi or such. Gunther may need some help sounding all sweet and stuff, so maybe you could give him a hand, eh?"
Olivia watches the rare occurrence of Liliana getting knocked onto her rear by an otter with great amusement. "Please tell Natasha that Master Qing was able to take care of the spirit disturbance," she tells the Eeee. "The ghost-Korv is back in her puzzle box and isn't about to bother anyone else."
"But, they's still digging in Liv's room," Emmett stage-whispers to Lili. "Could be puttin' in a hot tub!"
"Vou soun' like vou don' fear me. I mean, dere is dis leetle Skeek who von' let me examine 'er yet," Liliana notes and looks pointedly at Olivia. "An as fer a ghost, vou say? I'll let 'er know. She may vant to talk to de snake about dat."
Olivia nods to Liliana. "If she does, Mage Qing even has the puzzle box in his possession. My aunt let him take it as partial payment for getting the ghost to shut up." After hearing Emmett's information, she looks thoughtful. "Heh, a love letter to another Skeek, huh? If Gunther wants my help I'll give it, but he might be too embarrassed to accept!"
"Righ," Liliana says and nods towards Olivia. "I'll let 'er know."
"Fear? A willowy winsome snugglesome drink of womanhood such as yerself?" Emmett asks, looking shocked.
Liliana grins to Emmett, making sure he sees her fangs. "I be de one who does de drinkin' vou know," the Eeee warns. "An vat dis about diggin' in vour room? Did de rat talk ya int' buildin' a passion pit?"
"Anyway, I suppose it's time I held up my end of the bargain," Olivia says to the otter. "The reason we're digging underneath the floor in my bedroom is because Zahnrad thinks there might be underground tunnels running nearby. He found some old plans of the town that seem to indicate it and he wanted to check it out. And with the trolls acting all funny lately, it seemed like a good idea to see if there are any tunnels and if so, if the trolls are using them."
"Tunnels!" Emmett barks, and then covers his muzzle with his paws. "Oh… that is… okay, thank you Liv!" the otter says, suddenly a bit subdued.
Olivia gives Emmett a piercing look. "Is something wrong?" she asks, the other eyebrow raising now.
"Gots a problem' wit' exploring tunnels?" Liliana purrs in Emmett's ear, then tugs on it with her teeth. "An here I vas gonna offer vou t' explore one… Pity."
"Oh, it's just that tunnels are Amy's terr'tory, like," Emmett says, then puffs out his chest. "Not that I ain't a world-class spelunker meself, you know! And, oh! My cat face is sorta fading, but could you do me a stripy tail this time?"
Olivia mmms and doesn't look quite convinced by this explanation, but she lets it slide for now.
"Come back t' me wagon an ve'll see vhat ve kin do together," Liliana offers … as her hands disappear under the otter for whatever reason… She winks towards Olivia and noses towards the Weavers as if suggesting she might be able to escape the otter while she has him distracted.
"Oooo!" Emmett croons, having forgotten the mouse. "Do you… like fish?" he whispers to the Eeee.
Liliana's eyes narrow playfully as she purrs to him, "Why don't you like the fish an I just … like dem through vou?" She then licks the otter's neck.
Olivia takes the hint and says quickly, "Well, you two have fun! Just take it somewhere private if you want to, er, enjoy one another's company. Otherwise my aunt will come and chase you off with a pitchfork!" That said, she waves to the Eeee and takes off back to her room, bucket in hand.
As Olivia approaches her room, she can hear Zahnrad say, "I don't know about this, Amelia. I 'm not sure Olivia will want to know there's an old ironwood hatch under her floor. Particularly given it's directly under where her bed is… "