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,
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
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
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.