IN THE CASTLE I was woken up oddly. Something wasn’t right as I stirred in my crib. I opened my eyes and wet my diaper some more as I spied a threat.
“Ah, did the little baby wake up?” Rosemerta asked.
“Why, do you want to sleep in my crib?” I asked nervously.
“No thank you Princess,” she replied as she stepped towards me with a silver dagger in her hand.
I debated what to do since I wouldn’t be able to get out of the crib on my own. Caireen would come if I cried, but there was enough of a teenage boy still in me that the idea of crying before this monster felt wrong. “What are you going to do?” I asked instead as I tried to buy some time.
“Well, before King Camulus wanted you kidnapped and unharmed. After what you did to me last time though, he’s willing to let me harm you a little… even said I was welcome to take a bit of your essence as a souvenir…”
My eyes blazed as I stared at her, “Come and get me then!” I told her while I initiated my shield spell.
“Sounds like a plan,” she said as she stepped forward with the dagger trying to stab me over the top rail of the crib.
Suddenly there was an explosion of light, a boom, and Rosemerta was explosively flung across the room. I knew Caireen must have done something with the crib to ward off Rosemerta specifically. Unfortunately for the crib though, it seemed to have been a one-time spell that destroyed it, leaving me standing on a small bit of rubble. I drew in essence and began a binding spell Caireen had taught me in the last few days. I was pleased to see golden tendrils wrap around her stunned body.
“No!” She screamed. She began to try to shape into a bat again, but the tendrils just locked around that smaller form. I toddled over to a small table that a vase with flowers sat on, emptied it out, and walked towards the writhing bat. I carefully used a nearby toy block to help push it into the vase just as Caireen and twenty guards entered.
It was almost comical as they stood there looking around in shock. Caireen being the goddess that she was figured out what had likely happened before anyone else and she came over to me. “Baby, are you okay?!?”
“I’m fine! Your ward against Rosemerta worked like a charm!” I told her with a smile. “The only thing I had to do was that binding spell you taught me. She was silly and tried changing into a bat, so I put her in this vase.”
I had put on my best ‘look mommy at what I did’ face on. She picked me up and squished me with a tight hug for a moment. I watched her look into the vase and she said, “Bring that creature down to the throne room for judgement in one hour. Do not let anyone come near it.” As if to make a special point she created an additional cage that wrapped tightly around the vase. I could sense that if anyone other than her tried to open it bad things would happen.
“At once, Your Majesty,” one of the guards said and took six others with him as he left.
“The rest of you please guard outside and see that we discover how the creature made it back into the castle. That feat should have been impossible!”
There was a chorus of groveling as they left and Caireen looked at me.
“Well Princess, you did very very well there!”
“Thank you,” I told her.
“I guess we have work to do now though, so let’s get you fed, changed, and ready for the trial.”
Caireen took the time to nurse me, fed me some mashed fruit, and then changed what was by that time a very wet and messy diaper. She dressed me in a formal dress that matched the one she was wearing in color, but clearly said I was a baby with the high waist style. With the petticoats pushing the skirts way out I felt ridiculous, but also knew I had to be ridiculously cute! The tiara on my head, plus the matching dresses, told anyone who looked that I was her heir and daughter.
She carried me to the outer door of the throne room and said, “Count to sixty and then follow me.”
I wasn’t alone though; ten guards formed a formation around me to completely protect me. As I counted in my head, I couldn’t help but think about how close I had once again been to me being kidnapped. More than anything though I couldn’t believe that King Camulus would be stupid enough to send the same failed vampire to come and attack me. Surely, he had to know that Caireen would set up wards specifically for her?
Something about this smelled worse than my diaper had a while ago. I began looking around and stiffened as I noticed there was something very wrong with the armor the guards were wearing. Her guards were all armored in an expensive Mithril chain mail that had been gifted to her army long ago. These guys all had simple steel chain mail except for one.
I decided it was better to play along for the moment, so other than taking the time to charge my shield I just said, “Open the door for me please.”
The one soldier that I recognized as being legit followed the order and held the door open. “Right this way Your Highness.”
“Thank you. By the way Sir, I really like how shiny your chain mail is compared to everyone else’s.”
I watched his eyes narrow as he took in what I had seen. “Run Princess!” He screamed as he drew his sword.
For a moment I debated about standing and fighting, but he pushed me through the door and stayed on the other side to buy me time. Not wanting to waste his life, I ran as fast as I could down the hallway to the throne room.
Caireen watched me come down the hallway running and had a smile that quickly turned to fear. I heard the sound of the armored figure bearing down on me and decided this was as good of a spot to fight as any. I turned, planted my feet, and surged three ley lines into a bolt of energy straight at the man. Happily, he dropped, but seven other soldiers followed him down the hallway. I quickly used a spell I’d learned to make fire and sent a stream of it racing down the hallway towards the seven. With that I turned to run to Caireen’s arms.
“Mommy!” I found myself screeching and mentally beat myself over the head. ‘Seriously? Did you need to officially make her another mother?’ I then said, ‘You nurse from her breasts, she’s a mommy.’
Three last stragglers tried following me the final steps but were cut down by soldiers that were loyal to Caireen.
“What the Hell happened?!?!” Caireen screeched angrily.
“I think it was a trap to get us down here,” I told her.
“Rosemerta was just a ploy?”
I nodded, “Where is she?”
“In here Your Highness,” another soldier said and pulled the sheet off of the cage. The vase was tipped over to where we could see in it…
It was empty.
THE REST OF the ‘day’ I spent in Caireen’s Castle saw a massive search being made for Rosemerta. I was certain she’d somehow escaped after some of the fake guards released her. How they had released her from the bindings Caireen and I had done I wasn’t certain, but we knew she was out there and still very dangerous. Just before I had been put to bed that night Caireen received news that one of the villages on the outskirts of our kingdom had been attacked. It was going to be a full-on war was my last thought as she soothed me to sleep.
In the ‘real’ world I was woken by Camille trying to change my diaper without waking me up. “Oh, I’m sorry Sofia, I didn’t mean to wake you…” She said.
I sighed, “Believe me, I’m really glad you woke me up...”
Camille’s voice changed suddenly, “What is going on in the kingdom your highness?”
“How did you know?” I started before shaking my head, “It’s not good. King Camulus made an attempt to kidnap me a week ago, and tried repeating that today… His spies were given the task to kill Caireen and I if they couldn’t kidnap me.”
I saw instant worry from both the spirit and host. “Princess Sofia, you may be in a great deal of danger…”
“Believe me, I already know. I fought off one attack which was really a feint before they tried for real later. My real fear is they’ll stop underestimating the baby… King Camulus’s troops have already started advancing on our kingdom, yesterday they took one of our villages that borders the kingdoms.”
“Your highness if there is any way myself or our people may serve you please let me know. I can put you in touch with our queen…”
I smiled with the thought that she was referring to one of the Team Kimba members I had heard so much. “Maybe at some point, but not yet. And today I still have to figure out what I’m doing. You’re leaving, right?”
She nodded, “I figured I would take you over to Doyle and see if Hannah was being released today.”
“If not?” I asked.
“Well let’s jump off that bridge when we come to it. Do you want a bottle or something before we go to Crystal Hall for breakfast?”
I shrugged, “While we go?”
She smiled at me, “Sure sweetie.”
I watched her fill another bottle with some milk from a pouch in the fridge, and then magically warmed it up. Before she gave it to me though I watched her check my backpack to be sure it was stocked with plenty of supplies. She threw a couple more diapers in there and some fresh bottles.
“Do you want a refrigerator and freezer compartment in here?” She asked.
I looked at her and suddenly smacked myself in the head, “I don’t know why I never thought of that…”
I watched her do the spells quickly and then she began putting some of the milk from the fridge in there too. I saw her looking at dates and she seemed to sort some of them. She saw me looking, “I’m putting some of them in the freezer, you know you can freeze breastmilk, right?”
I shrugged, “No I didn’t.”
“Should be good for like a year.”
“You realize with the amount Hannah pumps she could freeze everything in the next few weeks and probably feed me solely off of that for like two years?”
“Not with your appetite,” she smirked and zipped my backpack.
She handed me the warmed bottle, threw one strap of the small backpack over her shoulders, grabbed me, and we were off.
At Crystal Hall I must have been asked where Hannah was a half-dozen times, and another half-dozen times, ‘where’s your mommy?’ For her part Camille had a number of girls that seemed genuinely jealous that she got to babysit me! All-in-all it was a pretty miserable breakfast, following a miserable day in Caireen’s world.
“Let’s go see how Hannah is doing!” she said as she picked me up after finishing our breakfasts. As she carried me out, I noticed just how empty the hall felt with about half of the school already gone home for the holidays.
For some reason as we walked into Doyle, I had a sinking feeling that things might not have been better. That feeling may have been directly related to the power doing weird things with the lights, and a radiant green color as we approached Hannah’s room! Doctors seemed to be trying to get her blood as we walked into the door of her room.
“You shouldn’t be bringing a baby in here right now!” One doctor ordered Camille and tried to push us out the door.
“I’m not a baby,” I said to him.
He looked at me before patronizing, “I mean a big girl, only adults in here right now.”
I sighed, “I’m eighteen, is that adult enough?” With that I wriggled out of Camille’s arms, walked right past the flabbergasted doctor, and jumped up onto Hannah’s bed.
“What’s going on?” I asked her after a quick hug.
“They don’t know… right after you left, I started having some weird EMP like discharges and instead of the pyrokinetic charges going when I wanted them to… things just started flashing green.”
‘Any ideas Caireen?’
‘I’m guessing the shock from yesterday?’
‘I know… any ideas to help?’
‘Let me through…’
“Hannah, do you feel like you’re upset?” Caireen’s voice came through.
She shrugged, “No more than anyone would be who’s stuck in the hospital?”
“Have you pumped milk tonight?” Caireen asked.
“Like every hour,” she sighed, “the doctors keep wanting to test it.”
“I do have one idea, nurse Sofia, maybe it’ll calm down your discharges here?”
With that Caireen turned us back over to me and I looked at her. One of the doctors that was still in the room looked at me and said, “Wait, what?”
I looked at him impatiently, “You were told about our bond?” He nodded. “You know that milk in theory is being made for me?” He nodded. “Well, Caireen’s only thought is that since Hannah hasn’t been nursing me specifically it may be the problem?”
“Oh… worth a try,” he allowed.
With that Hannah kind of shooed him away while sitting up carefully. She bared her breast to me and I began nursing. No matter if I closed my eyes or not, the flashing green was getting to be really annoying! I tried sensing if there was anything physically wrong with her with my magic, but it was like there was a weird wall up around Hannah.
‘Keep nursing,’ she said, ‘I’m looking.’
When she shifted me to the other side, I felt Caireen sigh, ‘Sofia I don’t think this is anything that’s specifically going to be fixable for a few days. Her system is just out of whack with the discharge and the way your magical shield impacted her abilities… I’m guessing it’ll be three to five days before she’ll be better.’
‘She’ll get better?’
‘Will she be able to go back to our room?’ I asked.
‘With as bad as those electrical fluctuations are the doctors are never going to let her out of here like this.’
I discovered I was nursing on an empty breast a few minutes later and popped my head up. There was absolutely no change to Hannah’s state even though she seemed more relaxed. She cleaned up and redressed herself. “Well I feel better Sofia, but I don’t think it fixed anything,” she said.
“No, Caireen thinks it’s a matter of time.”
Camille’s voice changed, “I suspect it will actually go away a little quicker without Sofia here. I sense it may be re-charging the problem right now.”
As if to emphasize it there was a little pop and one of the monitors seemed to blow in the corner. “Great,” Hannah said.
“Look Hannah, I was getting ready to offer this to both of you, but seeing as how you’re stuck here and Sofia probably should be elsewhere… Sofia, do you want to come with me to New York City? I bet we could still get another train ticket? Or actually you’re probably free...”
Hannah looked nervous, “What if the MCO recognizes her?”
“I’m not saying yes yet, but...” I told her, but changed my hair to blonde and my eyes to a natural, but pretty blue.
“You should keep that,” Hannah said with a smile, “it suits you. What about facial scanners?”
“Well they work by taking some measurements of the geometry of the face, so…” I moved my eyes just slightly closer together and my nose was made smaller. In general, it looked like my bone structure was just a little bit smaller.
The doctor that had come back into the room said, “fascinating.”
“There’s another reason it would be a good idea Han,” Camille said. “Sofia told me about her upcoming assignment, if she went with me, she could hang out with my family and little sister.”
I groaned, “and pretend to be a regular baby the whole time?”
“Better there than here not knowing who’s going to take care of you?”
‘She’s right you know; it would be a good test run.’
“Do your parents know about me?” I asked Camille.
“They will, and I’m not saying you can’t be yourself some of the time, but let’s just say you pretend for my sister’s sake?”
“Go,” Hannah told me.
“If you don’t go, how are you going to get out of your crib?”
“All of our friends are basically gone on vacation, what happens if someone decides to pull a prank? There are a million reasons, but this will also keep you from being bored in our room.”
I thought for a moment, “Only if I can take the textbooks with me and get caught up?”
Camille nodded, “We can do that. Let me go call my parents really quick.” She stopped for a moment, “Sofia, why don’t you go ahead and give me your parents number so my parents can talk to them if they want?”
I pulled my phone out of the pocket I had the purse in and sent her the contact information for my home and mom.
“I’ll be right back,” she told us.
I took the opportunity to snuggle into Hannah. “I really don’t want to go,” I told her.
“You need to though,” she told me, “she’s especially right about the baby experience.”
I sighed, “I know.”
She squeezed me, “Besides, it’ll do us both some good probably to have a few days of space.”
I turned my head to look at her, “You don’t believe that any more than I do.”
Tears started coming from her eyes, “I know.”
I hugged her and let her hold me tight for about a half hour before Camille came back in. “Okay I called my mom, she talked to your mom, and it’s all set Sofia!”
“Are you sure you’ll be okay?” I asked Hannah.
“I’ll be fine Princess,” she reassured me.
“Do you want to make a list of things you need from your room and we’ll swing them back by on our way?”
She gave us a list and Camille carried me back across the campus to our room. “Okay Sofia, we’ve got to get moving quick. Can you find the stuff that Hannah said she needed?”
I nodded, “sure.”
I started climbing over her desk, her bed, going through her drawers, and even found some of the cookies that were still there from our mom’s last week. I put everything inside the backpack I had made bigger for her and smiled at Camille, who had her own pile of things. She had the diaper bag my mom had sent me, my bag, Esmie, my teddy bear, and a few other things like a stroller.
“Where’d you get the stroller?” I asked.
She shrugged, “You had a doll stroller in the box. I started with making it bigger and then made it more like my sisters.”
I nodded, “Hanging out with Hannah so much I forget other people can do magic…”
“You said you wanted your books, which ones do you need to take?”
I grabbed all of my textbooks from the pile I had left on the floor and carried them to my bag. They all went in their places that I had made for them there. I thought for a second and then grabbed the laptop that I had been given on my desk and put it in there too.
“Not sure how much time I want to let you get on the computer if we’re planning on you pretending,” Camille told me.
I shrugged, “I just figured it would be good to have it. We’ll be gone five days?” She nodded, “I just don’t want to get to the point I need it and not have it.”
I watched her give the room one last look, “Anything you can think of that we forgot?”
“You grabbed my clothes?” I asked.
“Yep, plenty of dresses and outfits to choose from... and plenty of diapers, wipes, etc. too!”
I groaned but was glad she had those. “Where are they?” I asked.
“I made your diaper bag larger,” she told me with a smile. “Let’s change you one more time before we take this stuff to Hannah and go catch the shuttle to the train station.”
I sighed, but held my arms up to her for her to pick me up. It was a quick change, I wasn’t all that wet even, and then she sat me down in the stroller and buckled the built-in harness around me. I looked up kind of depressed at her and she laughed, “Here, suck on your paci for a while,” while placing one of my pacifiers in my mouth.
I groaned but sat back in the stroller as she messed around a bit around the back where I couldn’t see. The stroller itself was actually very comfy, with a little table in front that I could sit stuff on. I had a feeling it also leaned back for naps like my sisters had. I didn’t like the fact I couldn’t really lean forward to see though due to the harness straps. “Almost done Princess,” she called to me.
True to her word a moment later she pushed me out the door and towards the elevator. One of the upperclassmen that had stuck around was in the elevator. “You know Sofia you get to be a cuter baby every time I see you.”
“What’s up with the extra baby gear? Where’s Hannah?” she asked Camille.
“Yesterday Hannah tried a new trick with her powers and had a bit of an accident on the firing range. Sofia here put a shield up to save her with her magic, but didn’t take it down before Hannah did the mommy thing of trying to pick up her baby with the near-death experience…”
The girl laughed a bit, “Her shield was still up?”
“So that should have just knocked her down?”
“Normally, but apparently she had some sort of odd reaction with that and her powers so she’s in Doyle for a few days until it clears.”
“So, Sofia needed a babysitter…”
“I am right here you know,” I said having pulled the pacifier out of my mouth.
They both laughed, “So you look like you're packed to go somewhere, meeting your family?”
They talked then about things other than me as the elevator doors opened and we began walking towards Doyle. There we didn’t have much time Camille said, so she handed Hannah her bags and other than a quick hug from her I was pulled away and back in the stroller to go on a new adventure.
THE RIDE ON the shuttle to the station was pretty uneventful. Camille had called ahead and they had a car seat ready for me to sit in, grabbed our luggage, and we were on the road. Once there she buckled me back in the stroller and said, “Okay Sofia, let’s see how long you can keep up the eighteen-months stuff.”
I started to sigh, but chose to smile and say, “Baba!” instead.
She smiled at me and produced a warmed bottle for me that I nursed while she sorted out her ticket, our luggage with the porter, and then finally picked me up out of the stroller that was stowed and carried me onto the train still sucking on a now empty bottle. I noticed Camille was getting looks like Hannah now and I felt sort of bad.
“Auntie twain!” I exclaimed as we sat down in a row of seats.
“Yep Princess, we’re on a train!” She smiled, knowing I knew it was a game worth playing. Around us there was an older grandmotherly lady, a mom and a girl of about six, and a man that kind of stuck out as being odd with a hat across his face and looking like he was trying to sleep. Something about him was off though.
“She’s adorable!” The grandmotherly lady said. “How old is she?”
“She’s eighteen months,” Camille said with a smile and clapped my hands together for some reason.
“She said Auntie?”
“Yeah, she’s my sister’s baby. She’s unfortunately in the hospital this week. Her husband is staying with her, so they asked if I could take her,” she tickled me and then squeezed, “I couldn’t say no to her. Plus, this way she gets to see her Grammy and Grampa, huh?”
For the next several minutes they talked and then the mother of the six-year-old girl, who I knew now as Kelsey, would chat. I was kind of bored so I started making fussy sounds. “Is her diapee wet?” The little girl asked.
“I don’t know,” Camille said with a smile. “I guess we should check, that would be a really good reason for her to be fussy huh?”
“Uh-huh!” She said, “My dolly fusses at me if her diaper is wet too!”
She showed Camille her doll with absolute pride. Camille chose that moment to pop open a few snaps on my romper legs and said, “Well what do you know, you’re exactly right!” To the little girl. “Do you want to help me change her?”
I buried my head in Camille’s shirt, ‘Really?’ I begged in my head.
‘Baby, remember?’ Caireen reminded me. ‘You can’t care.’
I sighed internally but just fussed some more so that Camille picked me up and asked her mom, “I’d be happy to take your daughter to the restroom while we change little Sofia here?”
Her mom smiled at us, “Thanks!”
Once we got to the bathroom, she told Kelsey, “Go potty first and then we’ll change her diapee together.”
I was sat down on the ground while she dug into my diaper bag for a changing pad, diaper, wipes, and everything else. I thought she would set me on the changing table, but instead she just laid the mat down on the ground. Kelsey came out excitedly, “I help now?”
“Wash your hands first,” she told her. I was left on the ground while she helped her before she came back and sat me down.
“I never changed a diaper before…” The girl said a little worriedly.
“Don’t worry, I hadn’t ever either, but my mommy showed me just how I’m going to show you!”
“Okay!” She giggled.
Thankfully at that moment Camille chose that moment to put a pacifier in my mouth. I sucked on it as if my life depended on it! She had her undo the snaps along my legs while she said, “good baby,” to me.
It may have been the longest ten minutes of my life, but Camille actually let her do almost all of the work of wiping me and putting a new diaper under my butt. The only thing she did was make sure that the tapes were tight. By the time we got back to our seats I was feeling something between being mortified and something else… accepting?
Back seated I spit my pacifier out and said “Baba?”
Camille warmed a bottle up surreptitiously before handing it to me to drink. “We have a few hours before we’ll get there, Sweetie. Why don’t you take a nap?”
I was warm and comfy in her arms so I ended up taking her advice.