Mousing

During her catish wanderings in the night Mirriam discovers her father has a private study she didn't know of in which he is performing numerological studies of the Koran into the deep hours of night. He's not been the same since her mother died.

Lady Cephelene chastises Ramon for dragging Mirriam along on all his incomprehensible adventures when he hasn't even taken her mousing yet. She suggests Palace of Desire Street as good mousing territory since a young girl died of rabies after being bitten by a mouse recently there. Mirriam asks Cephelene about the heiroglyphs she's trying to decipher for d'Aver but Cephelene refuses to say what they mean because they are dangerous and best left alone.

Ramon and Mirriam go mousing in said street. In the houses' cellars there are many mice and Ramon catches a few, then Mirriam has a go and is quite successful. They sit eating on the stairs and overhear two women talking about a cancelled wedding and poor Umm who hasn't stopped crying since Zanuba's death. They sneak upstairs (spying a fleeing white mouse along the way) and find the seven year old Umm crying on her bed. Ramon plays with her.

Ramon decides he's on a quest to catch the white mouse but they can't find it. Mirriam wants to go to the library to work on the hieroglyphs so heads off.

Intruigued Ramon returns later with Defanuh and they hunt mice. Two men come down into the cellar and one accuses the other, his father, of silliness to cancel the son's wedding over some mice. They lay down some mouse traps while the father says it's an omen, no wedding.

The white mouse comes out. It seems to play with the hunting cats and finally escapes down a grill into the sewers. Following, the kin are suddenly set upon by a hoard of terrified mice coming in the other direction and Ramon even gets a cut on the nose. This is no normal white mouse!

After a nights sleep they fill Sarah in on mousey events (you were scratched by a mouse?). Then they head off hunting again. The white mouse isn't around though there are still plenty of brown ones which Sarah gleeful catches. They search the sewers and the basements of other local houses.

During the search Mirriam discovers a crying child in a cellar. As she enters a howling wind begins outside and the buildings look decayed. The child plays with the cat. Meanwhile the others have lost Mirriam so start shouting out for her and find themselves dragged through to the Shadows somehow where Mirriam has ended up. Sarah decats and talks to the girl. She is Zanuba and was bitten by a rabid white mouse that told her Umm had told it to do it because she hated Zanuba. She also thinks she should go to "the gate" but is frightened of the winds. Outside the Shadows are now full of areas where there are howling, moaning hurricanes of wind blowing through the fog. No sign of a gate.

They move back out of the Shadows and go to find Umm. Ramon decats before Umm who is still in her bedroom sobbing and declares himself the jinn Invuk. He has come from Zanuba who is upset with Umm. Umm blabs that she didn't mean the white mouse (which she calls Squeek) to kill Zanuba - it said it would stop her sister, Budur's wedding which she wanted so Budur wouldn't leave. Ramon gets her to draw a picture for Zanuba showing that she's sorry.

Down in the cellar of the house Zanuba once lived in Zanuba's father suddenly appears from upstairs with a rifle. In a crazed rampage he starts shooting at mice in the cellar (the cats flee into hiding). Eventually the police arrive and arrest Abu whilst his wife Khadija wails loudly.

Mirriam suggests trying to summon Squeek by calling his name. She tries and the white mouse appears through a magically opened hole in the wall. Mirriam praises the mouse until Defanuh has got his gun out and trained. He shoots splatting Squeek across the floor. The mouse turns into a little whirl of wind then back to a mouse that escapes. Little puffs of wind are all that greet future name calling.

They go chat with Lady Cephelene. Sounds like a mischievous wind spirit jinn to her. She suggests a weak ward that might contain a small spirit. Then Ramon tries to get to the Shadows to speak with Timeh but Mirriam spots him first. They ask him about the gate. He says a new gate to Tuat, the lands of the dead, has opened up on the citadel but that he doesn't trust the whole story himself. No idea where it might go.

Back to Palace of Desire Street with sticky fly paper and some ink. They ward every entrance they can find in the cellars and leave fly paper on the floor. Maybe that will work? They then head off to find Zanuba who is still in her shadowy basement. They give her Umm's apology and offer to take her to the gate. They head out trying to negotiate both Cairo's winding streets and the hurricane areas. They soon realize that Mirriam seems to have an instinctive ability for finding the right direction. They follow her to the Citadel. Steps lead up to a new wall with a large gate at which stands the jackal masked King of the Ghuls. He welcomes them to the Gates of Tuat saying how good it is to see that Cairo has returned to looking after its dead. Apparently werecats traditionally guided the dead to the gates. He asks them some questions about Umm's behaviour (blaspheming? hanging out with unworthy people? and so forth) and they give her a glowing report. He lets her through the gate though the cats don't get much of a glimpse through. They head off pondering events

Defanuh sets about putting together a possy of local moggies to hunt out the remaining mice. About 15 or so rampage through the cellars much to the bemusement of the residents (and where did that fly paper come from?). Mission accomplished they go check on Umm who is petrified because Squeek is hiding in the wardrobe escaping the hunt. Invuk starts painting wards on every opening and side of the wardrobe. Squeek makes a run for it but the other three cats chase it back inside to be sealed in by the final ward.

Now to remove the wardrobe. Sarah and Umm go down to the cellar and call the family (Sarah runs madly in circles to act as the distraction). Mirriam then slams the door shut on the cellar while Ramon and Defanuh rush the wardrobe out into the street. The wardrobe is heavy though and Umm's father breaks out of the cellar and catches up with them. They give him a five pound deposit and say they'll bring it back! Off to ask Cephelene for suggestions. Eventually they transfer Squeek to a wooden box and return the wardrobe.

Which only leaves placing the wooden box in a metal box and dropping it in the Nile. It sinks with a satisfying splash.