Chapter 12

Rob was passing time by having another bath, the following morning. He hadn't been serious about going home. If he did need help then he was in the right place. Dr.Penn and his mouth had seriously got his back up, however. Was he allowed to do that? Probably, seeing as Rob had said Jonty was his next of kin. He couldn't think of anyone else. Even so, he was still a big mouth. If that sleeping pill appeared among his night time pills, he'd take it to Penn and shove it where the sun don't shine. Rob climbed out of the tub and bent over to pick the towel up off the stool.

"Ah! Somewhere to stand my tome!"

"Stepney!" Rob stumbled over the stool and toppled over into the still full bath. "Stepney! Oh thank god." He grabbed Stepney's waist and hauled her into the tub with him.

"Rob!" Stepney shrieked with laughter. "You big horse's arse. I've missed you."

"You have no idea how much I've missed you. I'm in trouble, Stepney. This is a hospital. They think I'm insane. Hell at times I think I'm insane too." Rob buried his face in Stepney's hair.

"Because of me." She said miserably.

"No. Not ever. I've been to a place that should be impossible. This world isn't too good at impossibilities." Rob kissed Stepney's head. "I want to go back, Stepney. Dinsen still has unfinished business for us. A spy called Jean Docherty ..."

"The trashy scarecrow librarian! That's her name?"

"You know already? The safety chain and all that?" Rob said in surprise.

"I worked it out. Skinny mare. So you rumbled her too?" Stepney smiled.

"I had a ton of help from a friend. Him and his wife are the only real friends I've ever had here and now, thanks to that tit of a Doctor there's a good chance they'll replace friendship with pity. My friends thought I just writing a book. Dr. Fatmouth told them what I told him, that you were real. Whatever credibility I had with Jonty and his wife, is well and truly up the tubes."

"Why?" Stepney asked, climbing out of the bath and pulling on Rob's bathrobe.

"Why? Well I know you're real but everyone else thinks I'm a card short of a full deck, Jonty included now thanks to Rent-A-Gob up there."

"But I'm right here." Stepney watched Rob putting on a set of very ugly orange pyjamas. "You look like a pumpkin."

"NHS specials. Stepney, yes you're right here and you'll never know how happy I am about it." Rob hugged her.

"So why can't we go and see your friends? Both of us, I mean. Me and you."

"What?" Rob blinked in shock. "Go and see Jonty?"

"He knows about me anyway doesn't he? If I go and stride up to the Doctor's room I'll end up in here with you, but your friend Jonty knows all about me. So how do we get out?"

"Bloody hell. Er ... I don't know. It's a hospital. Won't your cuffs work?" Rob could hardly believe he was contemplating this.

"They just bring me to you." Stepney frowned. "What's the furthest I've ever been from you?"

"The bathroom. I was in the bedsit. Why?"

"Does that Doctor have an office?"

"Yes but he's in it."

"Oh devise a ruse." Stepney waved her hand. "I'm assuming he has a window in there?"

"No good. It's just a pane of glass. It doesn't open."

"Let me worry about that. Fifteen minutes and make sure you're standing by the window." Stepney clashed her wristbands and vanished before Rob could argue.

Stepney ran out of her room and headed for the top floor.

"Mother!" She barged in like a whirlwind then winced when she heard a high pitched wail from the adjoining room.

"Stepney." Lady Julia came out of her own room. "I thought ... what are you wearing? You're all wet!"

"In the bath with Rob. He's alive mother!" Stepney flung her arms round her mother.

"Oh thank Dinsen. The bath?"

"Mother I'm running out of time. I need your ring. I promise I'll explain later."

"My ring? My engagement ring?" Lady Julia clutched the ring with it's huge diamond.

"Please mother! I wouldn't ask if it wasn't vital." Stepney pleaded. Lady Julia nodded and handed over her most valuable possession. Lord Robin Lions' ring.

"Nurse Banks!" Rob darted into the nurses station waving his arms around. "Nurse Banks there's mice in the dining room!"

"Ew! are you sure?" Nurse Banks, and the other four on duty nurses all shuddered.

"Yes! I caught it under a glass for you. I wasn't sure what to do with it."

"It's just sitting there?" Nurse Banks said in horror.

"Is anything wrong?" Dr. Penn came out of his office and Rob would have kissed him had he not been seriously annoyed with him. "Hello Rob."

"Rob's caught a mouse in the dining room. It's under a glass. I'm not going near it." Nurse Banks and the others all shook their heads.

"I'll get it. I'll put it in a sharps bin and call Rent-A-Kill." Rob backed away and the nurses peeped round the corner to watch Dr. Penn walk down the corridor. He darted into the Doctor's office and quietly closed the door. How the hell had he pulled that off?

"Stepney." He ran to the window and she appeared three seconds later, on the other side of the glass. "You are fantastic!" Rob squealed. "Hurry up girl. There's only so long a scrabble bag can impersonate a mouse." He watched as Stepney began scratching round the edge of the glass with something. Did she have a glass cutter? How?

"It looked easier than this Rob's vision box." Stepney scored along the top of the window pane. "It's not working fast enough. Rob! Don't touch the glass!" She mouthed. "The glass! Do not touch it!" Rob nodded and gave her the thumbs up. Stepney pinched her mother's ring with the belt of Rob's bathrobe, then she tilted it until the sun glistened off it. She then glanced up at the sun in the sky and pulled it's rays toward the diamond. The strain made her head reel. "Please don't damage the ring. Please don't damage the ring." She muttered while her nose poured with blood. The hot sun rays hit the window and Stepney concentrated more. The pane buckled slightly but it was all Stepney needed. The diamond sliced through the softened glass like a knife through butter. "Rob! Out!" Rob glanced at the glowing edges of glass and took a headlong dive. "Are you hurt? Me too. Hang on." Stepney put her arms round Rob and touched her wristcuffs.

"I'm ... I'm still awake." Rob gasped as he saw Fenton, McLintock, Eamon and Cripps running toward along the landing. "Stepney! Over here! She's blacked out."

"Cripps, run for the Physician. Eamon, help Rob into Stepney's room, please. He's been burned. McLintock, help me with Stepney. Onto the bed."

"The ring." Stepney slurred. "The ring, Fenton."

"Ring?" Fenton looked at the belt in Stepney's hand. The diamond was black and dull. "It's fine Stepney. The physician's on his way, he'll bring Clerics too for Rob." He pocketed the ring just as his mother entered the room.

"I just have a few burns. Cripps can help me dress them. She needs the Doctor and the Clerics." Rob winced as the skin on his arm split open.

"Tell us what happened, Rob." Lady Julia said. "Are you well enough to go to your own room with Eamon and McLintock's help?" Rob nodded. "Fenton? Stepney will be fine with the Healers. Cripps will tend to your burns, as you wish."


Between them, Rob, Fenton, the two bodyguards and Lady Julia spent three hours piecing the fragments together.

"Stepney was right. We must find this Docherty woman." Lady Julia's fine features were etched in worry. "For now, I must attend the meeting of the Heads of House. Keep me informed of Stepney's health." She left the room and tried to hide her anguish.

"Eamon, McLintock would you speed up the search for that blasted woman and Hersh Rigmam. I'll join you as soon as I can. I'll wait until Stepney is awake."

"If they're on the island, we'll find them." McLintock vowed and the two men left together.

"Was the ring badly damaged, Fenton?" Rob asked. "I saw it when you put it in your pocket."

"Sadly, yes. It was my mother's engagement ring so I greatly appreciate you referring to it as a crystal." Fenton handed the ruined ring to Rob "Keep it safe and tell Stepney about it when she's stronger. I'll leave my mother with the impression that it was misplaced in a good cause."

"I'll keep hold of it, don't worry. Er ... Fenton? Would it be out of order for me to go to the Temple? Just in the main bit, just for a think. It could make Stepney feel a bit better too if she knows I'm trying rather than loitering about playing cards and being a nuisance. Maybe I can't go with me being human."

"The Temple is open to everyone in Lawlim. Do you know the way? Oh. Yes of course you do. Stepney said you'd drawn it." Fenton nodded discretely for Cripps to follow Rob.

Once again, Rob felt that is drawings were utterly inadequate compared to the real thing. Rob had drawn all these elegant columns and detailed all the ornate stonework but it could never have been as perfect as this. He'd also drawn the interior with its splendid vaulted ceiling decorated with maps of the heavens.

"Dinsen the Wise. It's me, Rob Lancaster. Look I'll be straight with you, I've never set foot in a Temple in my life so I'm sorry if I'm doing this all wrong. What are we supposed to do? Why did you send Stepney for me? It's because we're in the dark that we seem to be making a proper hash of Lawlim between us. Everyone's fighting, no one trusts anyone, I ended up in the plastic palace, Fenton's family were put in danger. Even poor Lady Julia lost a treasure. No one should lose something as important as their late husband's token of his love. Stepney sacrificed that to get me back here for you, even though neither of us knows why. Can't you help her? She's laying her health on the line and she'll carry on doing it. She loves you." Rob looked around the beautiful Temple. "And I love her. I left my own world for her, such that it was. I'll only go back one more time, out of respect for the only friends I ever had since my Nan died. After that, my home is here and I want to save it with Stepney. Save it for Stepney. Yes. Well I don't know if you're listening but I hope you are. Er ... thanks. Amen." Rob made his way toward The Den to be with Stepney.

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