Thursday, July 19, 2018

Flash Fiction #312: Serena's Baby Buffy/3

The odd women who had been stealing babies were getting away, but they'd only gotten one child this time, and that baby was not what they expected.

Serena, though, had a slight problem.  The women of the village were upset, and they were not listening to her as she tried to get away from them.

"You can't follow them, my dear.  Look, look --"

"So much magic --

"Oh, that poor baby --

"It could have been any of us --"


They looked at Serena in shock and dismay, but at least she had their attention now.

"I must go after them before they get away," she said and began to strip away all her excess clothing.  "The rest of you will still need to take care, but I don't think they'll be back --"

"But, child -- the magic -- You can't --"

"I can."  She pulled off the shawl from across her shoulders and let her wings flutter out.  The others backed up in shock.  "I have magic, too.  And the baby they took is really my familiar.  I need to get to them before they realize the mistake and I lose my link to Buffy.  Take care."

Serena hurried out of the building and into the darkness of pre-dawn.  She had no trouble following where they women went, at least as long as they didn't go to some other realm.  She hadn't counted on the women slowing her up, and now, in a haze of panic, she took to the sky and flew straight toward the odd stairs. The women were already nearly to the top and one still held Buffy.

The breeze off the ocean was against her, and she feared that if she gave herself away, they would figure out about Buffy and do something to the cat.  The best she could do was to fly higher into the still dark sky, keep a tight hold of the magical link to Buffy, and follow as close as she could.

As she had hoped, the women used so much magic of their own that they didn't yet feel the bit of disguise on Buffy.  Once they started examining her, though --

A surge of magic warned her that something was about to change.  She swept down closer and even dared use her magic to grab a tighter hold of Buffy.

"What was that?" one of the women demanded.  "What --"

But the world changed as the woman spoke and the fog and sea disappeared.  In their place came a swirl of colors and stars.  The beauty of the area took her so much by surprise that she had only started to be scared when they dropped out again.

They were over the ocean, but an island sat below them, a vast castle perched on the rocky rise out of the twisted trees. It had a forlorn look, an empty and lonely place.

Serena thought she might feel sorry for the three women, though she still worried about what they had been doing.  She could see them heading in the doors that swung open and snapped shut behind them.

They had Buffy trapped somewhere inside!  She would be in danger because those women would figure it out soon --

Serena flew frantically back and forth over the building before she realized that many of the gaping windows seemed to be open.  She swept downward and felt no magic, so she landed on the edge of a second story windowsill and then leapt inside.

The room hadn't been used in a while, so she had gotten lucky.  Or maybe it was more than luck because she really couldn't hear anything nearby at all, except for the startled scrabbling of mice running for cover.  That feeling of desolation and loneliness swept through the area. 

She hurried out into the hall, the place full of dust and cobwebs, but she could see a light glowing at the bottom of the stairs, and as she started down the steps, Serena could hear voices, too.

"I tell you, it's a cat!  She wasn't a cat when I picked her up."

"Don't be silly, Jana.  No one would dress a cat in -- oh."

"What a lovely cat she is, too," another said.  Well, Buffy didn't seem to be in too much danger.  "But she does present a problem.  I can feel the magic on her now and --"

"And I am here," Serena said from the steps.  One of the women held Buffy, and the other two petted her.  She could hear Buffy purr.  Some help!  Baby cribs sat everywhere, rocking and with bottles ready for feeding, magically sitting in the air.  "What do you people think you've been doing?"

The three women turned and stared at me.  They looked -- well, embarrassed more than anything --like children caught cheating in a game of hide and seek.  Despite all the magic and power, she'd seen, there was nothing dangerous here.

"We -- we wanted -- the palace needs -- so alone --"

The three talked over each other.  I lifted my hand, and they fell silent.  "You can't steal children.  Someone far more angry than me would have come after you.  We must take the children back."
"We thought they would grow up to like it here," Jana said. "We could give them a good life."
"Maybe we can work something else out."

Within three months everything had changed.  The babies were home.  Six families had moved to the castle, though they came and went to the mainland as often as they liked.  Serena had visited often.  Everyone seemed happy because the Jana, Mara, and Misi were quite nice -- and rich.  The families who went to help at the Island Castle would grow rich and famous.

The ladies were especially happy when Serena and Buffy brought them a basket full of gifts.

Jana opened the top. "Oh!  Fluffies!"

"There are stray kittens everywhere in the villages.  You can have as many as you like," Serena said, though she thought that might not be entirely wise...

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