AFTER THE DEBRIEFING, and brutally honest criticism, all of us traveled back to Poe together. Hannah stripped me of the heavily soiled diaper I wore and carried me into the shower with her for a quick wash before lunch. We barely had enough time for me to nurse from her and make it to the cafeteria. Her lunch, and my real solid food, was finished in a record ten minutes before we headed to our afternoon classes.
At the end of Powers Theory, she told me, “Don’t forget to hurry back to Poe after your next class. We only have about a half-hour after that before they’re picking us up.”
I nodded, “Good thing we already packed…”
“And that they’re going to help us move in!” She smiled back at me.
I nodded and went to Powers Lab walking beside Lizi. When we were sitting down and waiting for class to begin, she said, “I can’t believe how much power you used!” softly.
I smiled, “It helps that Whateley is right over the top of a huuuuge artery of power.”
“I can feel there’s power, but not like you’ve described. You can really feel the ley line? And you can control it?”
“Mostly at this point,” I told her with a nod. “The first time I ever did something like that was scary. It was only because the building was warded to protect from that spell, that it didn’t continue on forever.”
She nodded and soon the teacher started off with class. With the approaching finals, the review that started was handy for catching me up with anything that wasn’t in the textbook. The next week would be the final week of classes, a week of study sessions, the following week was finals, and the week after that was supposed to be the Arena Finals. I hoped we would be done with our assignment to be back for the Arena Finals at least. I was truly curious to see how our team would do against others!
After class I lazily hitched a ride in Lizi’s arms back to Poe. She seemed to enjoy having a living doll to hold, and tossed me around and played with me on the way back. She used some sort of weird magical tickling spell somehow that took me too long to figure out to put my shield up to stop it. I was hurt when she just laughed at me after I made it stop!
Hannah meanwhile had switched her clothes out for the new ones provided to her. They seemed worn for several years like she couldn’t afford nicer things. As soon as I was handed off to her, she quickly dressed me in a long-sleeved onesie and leggings that also seemed second hand. She quickly had me strapped into the infant carrier and latched it into the stroller. “Are you changing our appearances here?” She asked me.
I shook my head, “We should do it where they brief us. I’m actually not sure we should be dressed right now in these clothes…”
She shook her head, “They said to go ahead and be dressed in these so we don’t have anything out of the ordinary on us. The van they’re picking us up in won’t allow people to see in as we drive.”
I stood on the floor and watched her gather a suitcase that held everything in it, including the baby food device, and hooked it on carefully to the stroller Camille had made. I had made a couple of alterations in color and design to keep it from being recognized, but otherwise it was essentially still the same stroller that my carrier latched into. She carefully placed a blanket around my body to keep me warm, before rapidly pushing her way out of our dorm. At the main administration building Hannah and I signed out, and then opened a door into a black Bureau SUV that Agent Sanders waited in.
“How are you doing Agent Emped, Agent Emerald?” He asked from the shotgun seat as Hannah latched my seat in.
“Good,” I told him. “How far are we going tonight?”
“About three hours from here, we’ll get you into the safe house where we’ll brief you tonight before you drive yourselves the rest of the way tomorrow.”
“Okay,” I said with a sigh. I was hungry right then…
Hannah must have sensed that because she showed me a pouch of baby food and a bottle, “Which one?”
I blushed as Agent Sanders sounded kind of shocked. “I didn’t realize that she…”
I laughed, unable to see him with the rear-facing seat, “I don’t normally, but we figured if I’m going to be just barely a year old it might make me seem like a safer target if I’m not even eating solid foods on time. One of our friends created a device that enhances baby food to add more calories and make it taste okay…”
Hannah piped in, “I don’t think you’ve had the opportunity to see her appetite, but it doesn’t look normal for a baby.”
I stuck my tongue out at her and pointed at the baby food. “What about you?” I asked.
“I figure we’ll stop for burgers on the way. I know you won’t be able to wait that long.”
My stomach growled loudly, “Your tummy?”
I sighed, “Fine…”
She warmed up the chicken and rice meal with her power and began squeezing little bits on a spoon that she then put in my mouth. I blushed as occasionally she conversed with Agent Sanders and the driver while shoveling a spoon into my mouth. Soon the pouch was empty and my stomach was genuinely full. “Good?” She asked.
“Thanks to the adjustments… other than the texture yes. I tried to just think of it as a weird thick soup…”
A warmed bottle of her milk was placed in my hands, and with the long day and soothing car motion, I fell asleep for a short while nursing it.
I NAPPED APPARENTLY in the real world long enough to attend a briefing with General Slane and Caireen about Camulus’ army. They were getting nearer to us, and were probably only a day or so ride from their scouts reaching the valley wall. Plans were made that the next day, both of the gates would be sealed with the large granite stones I had designed to seal them off. We would truly be cut off on our own then!
When I woke up in our world I was dangling from the end of Hannah’s arm. She was carrying the carrier into a house that I didn’t get much of a chance to look at.
Agent Sanders told her, “You can get Emerald’s diaper changed and we’ll meet in the living room to brief you both.”
“Sounds good,” she said. She looked down at me and said, “Oh, Miss Sleepy Agent decided to wake up?”
I tried to stick my tongue out but the pacifier I was sucking on was in the way. I decided just to ignore her as she carried me to a bedroom where I could see a playpen had been set up. I looked at it and asked, “I have to sleep in that…?”
She laughed, “I’ll let you sleep on the bed with me, I guess. Camille said you managed last weekend.”
I smiled at that as she picked me up out of the carrier and placed me on top of a changing mat. This wasn’t my normal one I noticed, and it looked pretty worn with cracking spots in the material. It reminded me of one we had thrown out from Lily last year… When she went to put a new diaper on me, I noticed she didn’t put me in my normal brand. “What’s this?” I said poking at it a moment later before she pulled my leggings up.
“Mommy’s cover is that she’s not made of money sweetie; you get store brand diapers while we’re on this mission.”
“Not even Luvs?” I complained.
“The legend for our covers says I’m basically broke and trying everything to keep your butt alive, four cents per diaper adds up at least another pouch of baby food a week.”
“That’s really sad…” I said.
“It’s what a lot of people go through Olivia.”
“Are we already…?”
“Yep, I’m Mommy and you’re my wittle year old baby girl, Olivia!” She tickled me before picking me up. “Let’s go finish getting our briefing so that we can get some sleep. It sounds like it’s going to be all stress from here until we’re done.”
I nodded and leaned into her as she carried me out to the living room. Agent Sanders went through more information on our legends, quizzed us on all of the facts Hannah had to have memorized, and prepared us for departing in the morning. We’d be taking off with Hannah driving an old beat up looking four door Honda. It was older than us, and had rust spots in multiple places. There was already an old rear-facing car seat in place that looked like it had a full year of baby stains on it. I tried not to get grossed out by it, but it wasn’t easy!
The inside of the car looked like it was a poorly kept vehicle too, but he informed us that under the hood was a really powerful engine. The car itself was also actually armored against small caliber bullets. When we got back inside I changed Hannah’s hairstyle, color, and her appearance to fit her legend better.
In the past couple weeks Caireen had taught me how to basically sculpt flesh with magic. She also showed me how to include a magical ‘reset’ button to return us back to normal. Hannah griped, “I’m fat now!” While she was looking at her new self in the mirror. She looked to have gained thirty pounds and had bigger hips and boobs when I was done, to make her look like she had gone through childbirth. Instead of magic for her eyes, she just put in contacts that made her eyes look a duller, normal human color of blue. Her hair color was now a light blonde instead of our normal matching red.
For myself I was a little limited due to my BIT, but I was able to adjust teeth as one big thing. I now only had the average six teeth that a baby my covers’ age should have. I shortened my hair from being long, to being just a wispy covering that just managed to cover my head. It came down barely into the length it could be put into a bowl cut, and the shortest my hair had been since I was in elementary! There was probably just barely enough to put little hair bands and fake ponytails, but not enough to really style. For my eyes we had debated about contacts too, but I was so small I didn’t trust them. I ended up using the same spell I’d used before to make them a realistic grey blue color, that combined with my now blonde hair, meant I fit the rings primary victim type. I looked at some pictures of actual twelve-month old babies and also added some fat around my cheeks and body. My legs in particular had a chubbiness about them that ‘Haley’ declared ‘adorable!’
By the time we went to bed, nothing about us looked like ourselves. Agent Sanders had actually looked rather surprised and pleased by our efforts!
The bed in the room was placed right against the wall already. “I’ll let you sleep beside me next to the wall,” she told me.
“You know I won’t fall out of bed…”
She laughed, “Do you have any idea how much you move in your sleep?”
I nervously shook my head, “No…?”
“You’re a wiggle worm! I watch you roll against your crib bars all the time.”
I blushed, “Oh… really?”
“Really!” she smiled.
“So, won’t I keep you up tonight? Maybe it would be better to put me in the playpen…”
She hugged me, “For the next however long you are pretending to be my genuine baby. I guarantee you if I was really Haley, I would be co-sleeping with you most of the time.”
“Because Haley struggles for everything, just so she can do the best for the baby she loves. I guarantee you she would happily sleep with her baby until she was in elementary school if she needed to.”
“That’s weird…” I said.
She shrugged, “Not really, I slept in my parents bed off and on until I was in fourth grade.” I looked at her in shock and she smiled, “I think I turned out pretty normal?”
I shook my head, “I think we’re going to have a difference of opinion there!”
She began tickling me mercilessly until I took it back. She pecked me on the forehead with a kiss and placed me at her breasts to nurse myself to sleep.
I WOKE UP being held in Caireen’s arms and bounced as she looked out the windows of one of the turrets. “Decided to wake up?” She asked me with a smile.
I looked at her, “I guess… Why are we up here?”
She just nodded her head off to the distance where the sun was just bathing the land in light. Maybe a few miles down from the southern wall I had built, campfires were clearly evident with smoke filling the valley in a gray fog.
“They’re here…” I breathed nervously.
“Yes, they are… or will be today. I have no doubts that we’ll begin to hear swearing as they get within eyesight of the magnificent wall you built.”
“Certainly, when they start hitting the traps…” I said aloud. Right then really loud shouts and almost explosive sounds were heard rolling around across the valley in the distance. “What’s that?”
She squeezed me, “Probably some of the efforts of the men you sent behind their lines. Just before we dropped the granite blocks one of the groups sent word of their successes in the last day. Camulus has had about a quarter of his men desert him in the last few days, and they’ve managed to decimate the officer ranks. Some of his divisions don’t have anyone leading who was above the rank of a corporal four days ago.”
“That’s awesome!” I said with a smile.
“It’s definitely helpful! I’ve spent some time warding the wall, so I know even Camulus won’t easily penetrate it with magic.”
“So, we’re just planning on holding tight for right now?”
“Yes, and no… I have set up a number of scrying mirrors down in the throne room that will display the view from the wall like your televisions. I thought we would go watch later…”
I nodded, “Okay,” I said and stayed silent as we both watched some more sudden plumes of smoke, and then a large forest fire started up in the distance. I actually thought that might be the straw to break the camel’s back, but it ended up just being an exercise of King Camulus to pull down massive rain from the otherwise blue sky to put it out. I figured his men had to have been miserable though, and armor like they wore would start to rust if they didn’t take care of it afterwards. ‘We can only hope…’ I thought, knowing that we wouldn’t be that lucky.
Caireen nursed me, and then changed my diaper into the thinnest cloth diaper I had ever worn there – it felt barely thicker than regular underwear! “What’s this?” I asked.
“Something I hope you can move better in… I enchanted them to deal with soaking up your pee and poo just fine, but they’re thinner… and they don’t need a cover.”
I smiled at that as she then proceeded to dress me in the same costume I had made for back home, with the addition of a short sword like I had been practicing with being strapped on my side. In complete contrast to that sword, she handed me my doll Emie, and we went downstairs together to wait and watch.
On the wall of the room she had placed a large number of huge mirrors that she had enchanted. They showed the views beyond the walls, from the citadels, and from the castle. My initial excitement at seeing them faded to boredom as we waited for hours until the first traps were sprung. Finally I watched as about eighty men, with locked shields at the front, advanced towards the wall on the road. One of Caireen’s mirrors zoomed in on their shocked faces at the sight before them. She’d managed to use magic to prevent anyone seeing the wall until they were within a very close distance. When they closed within a hundred feet of the wall, the ground disappeared from underneath their feet, and they found themselves skewered in a punji pit. All of them died within minutes of the pierced wounds they experienced.
I felt sadness about it, and kind of sick to my stomach, but there was no getting around that people were going to die since King Camulus was being a greedy ass bastard! He sadly was perfectly fine with his losses and ordered the next group forward. Reinforcements arrived and began looking on the sides of the road for trees to make a bridge over the fifty-foot-deep pit, that extended one-hundred feet across. As they did so they ran into other traps and a few-hundred other men died before we could see Camulus in golden armor approaching the wall himself.
His anger was evident even without audio, and I watched in horror as he ran one of his attending soldiers through with his sword in anger. Right then the trees around him erupted in a volley of crossbow bolts fired from some hidden positions in the rocks above. The trebuchets in the citadels opened up simultaneously and explosions from their ceramic oil bombs rocked the ground around him. I smiled as a bolt stuck his armor, but frowned when it quickly fell harmlessly to the ground. Men around him weren’t so lucky, and we watched him retreat back to his camp about a mile back down the road.
“Well I’m guessing he’s not happy now?” I giggled.
Caireen squeezed me, “Probably not. I’m guessing he’ll take a day or two to come up with a new plan. Even if he’d made it to the wall it wouldn’t have been as easy as he thought…
The fires of the camping soldiers were visible in the distance as Caireen nursed me to sleep looking out the tower windows that night. ‘I hope we can hold them off…’ I thought worriedly. ‘He’s not going to give up that easily…’
I WOKE UP that morning with my feet being tickled by Hannah.
“Stop that!!!” I told her.
“I think you just used more words than you know…” she said and then tickled me further.
“Mama, no!” I cried.
“Okay,” she said and proceeded to pull open the sleeper I was in. “We’ll get you changed, fed, and then we’re going to be on our way to our new home Livy.”
“Livy?” I said.
“Mommy has to have a nickname for her baby girl! Plus, she hopes you’ll be able to say that sooner than Olivia,” she told me.
“I hadn’t really ever considered not being able to say my own name…” I said aloud.
“Now remember from this morning on, you can’t say anything unless we’re in our apartment and I say ‘splendiferous’ and you use a warding spell.”
I nodded, “This is going to be tough…”
She finished changing my wet, and slightly poopy diaper, and dressed me in another cute jumpsuit outfit that would be easy for diaper changes. Like all of ‘Olivia’s’ clothes they were obviously second-hand shop purchases. The Bureau had a team of people pick up used clothing and furniture for us to use at the apartment. A pair of older agents were pretending to be her parents today. They were doing the typical parental thing and moving her in with an old beat-up truck pulling a short U-Haul trailer. It was to be clear she was moving out on her own, but parents weren’t kicking her out.
They were getting their own final instructions from Agent Sanders when we came out. I was able to enjoy a last real breakfast of eggs before leaving on the mission. Bacon was available too, but my mouth was missing so many teeth that Hannah nixed that one for me. I pouted, and grumbled that I received no real sympathy!
“Remember, no matter what you can’t break your cover. Emerald I expect you’ll have the toughest job there…”
I nodded, “Yeah it will, but I’ll do it! I’ve had practice, we’ll get this job done sir.” Since I was missing some teeth, I had developed a very babyish lisp that made me blush as he looked at me.
“Good luck to you all then,” he said and I soon found myself nursing a bottle of juice in the back of the packed junker car. A few of ‘my toys’ and animals had ended up placed on the seat next to me. A worn blankie was in my hands and I knew I would be expected to love it throughout this mission. Pulling up to the apartment complex I could see it wasn’t a bad neighborhood per se, but it was definitely lower income housing. I was carried into the office wrapped in the blanket and ‘Granny’ played with me while my ‘mommy’ signed the final lease paperwork. The apartment manager declared me the cutest baby ever and cooed at me too, before Hannah was given the key. We walked through the one-bedroom apartment and I found myself seriously unimpressed!
The first item they brought up was the playpen, and I was unceremoniously dumped inside while they carried stuff in, and began sorting through things. Since there wasn’t a whole lot of furniture and possessions really, it didn’t take all that long before they said goodbye to us and we were left alone. Hannah took that moment to call the daycare and make sure they would be able to take me on Monday.
“Well little girl, it’s just you and me!” she said to me. “Ready for your din-din?”
“Mama!” I said.
“Oh, you probably need a diapee change too, huh?”
I sighed and nodded as she took care of that on top of a dresser in ‘our’ bedroom. A crib was crammed in not far from her bed with a mobile attached. She had a small vanity table that looked like something she would have been given as a kid, and the dresser might very well be old enough to be her old changing table actually.
I grew quite bored that night after she fed me a jar of baby food and we watched TV together. Eventually I pawed at her shirt like a baby and she nursed me to sleep.
I WOKE UP in my crib to the sounds of distant screams, jeers, and other sounds that I would forever now associate with the beginning of war. Caireen was standing by my crib and came to pick me up as soon as I stood up. “Good morning Princess,” she told me with a strained smile.
“Morning,” I told her in reply. She squeezed me in a gentle hug and wasted no time in conversation before placing me at her breasts. As soon as I was done, she changed me and carried me to the room with the mirrors, where a large map was now placed on a table. There were wooden markers placed on it, and it reminded me of a game of Risk or something. I could tell that the markers denoted troops, and unfortunately the other side still had way more than we did.
“Any new information, General Slane?” she asked.
“My field generals report that the fire yesterday took out a good chunk of the front lines. They estimate our initial efforts on their approach have removed three-thousand men from the fight.”
“How many have we lost?” I asked nervously.
“From the wall yesterday?” He smiled, “None, Your Highness. We have heard back from those ‘special forces’ troops you came up with. They’re down to about sixty-percent strength at this point and consolidating their numbers. They continued making raids into the rear forces last night. From what we can tell they’re having a pretty significant impact on their supply lines. If they can keep that up, we believe they’ll be limited in the length of their siege.”
“What are the orders of the day?” Caireen asked.
“Your Majesty, so far we’re holding the wall. We expect Camulus to approach himself again today. I would advise that this is the time to resume firing the trebuchets not only from the citadels, but also from our lines inside the gate. The targeting plan that the princess suggested has potential to remove another large chunk of our attackers then.”
“So ordered,” Caireen told him. I spent the rest of the morning with Caireen on a few lessons mostly to distract me, and received another sword lesson before lunch too.
During lunch the large scrying ‘screen’ she had setup showed Camulus finally approaching the walls himself. He’d spent the morning sending men foolishly to die during attempts to fill in the pits in some way with trees, and even one spade of dirt at a time. I had no way of knowing one way or another, but I guessed he’d lost another thousand men by the morning's end. Our archers on top of the gate had been able to leisurely take aim at their targets.
As he approached, he called out in a magically amplified voice that reached even the castle, “People of the Emerald Kingdom, I urge you to surrender and present your queen and princess to me so that maybe I’ll spare your lives! Your queen foolishly rejects my offer of an alliance through marriage between my son and her daughter. Deliver them and we’ll make an even greater kingdom than the one I have now!”
I wondered about how we could easily respond to him about ‘going to Hell,’ but the troops did it for us. Right then a volley of arrows fired simultaneously down the wall from up top, joined by another volley from archers to the rear of the wall. It was like a cloud of locusts as they came down on the battlefield below!
Camulus seemed undeterred and began launching fireballs at the wall! Again, and again a nearly endless stream of flames left his hands. I felt like I could feel the heat from watching it on the mirrors. Just as I wondered if the granite in the wall would melt, a volley of trebuchet rounds hit simultaneously in front, behind, and directly on top of him!
I lost sight of him for a moment before seeing some of his aides pulling his injured body away. “He’s not going to die from that, right?” I asked Caireen.
“No, he’ll just be really mad,” she said.
“That fire spell… it’ll eventually melt the granite?”
She shook her head, “I warded the wall against that spell. It’s going to take real physical force attacks to get through it. Hopefully we can keep making it impossible to do that. The wall you built may be one of the strongest structures that has ever been formed here… With the extra magical protections that I added, it should slow them down from either of those passages for a couple weeks. Luckily the other routes should be just as difficult to get through too.”
I nodded and watched as their forces tried a few other random attacks, but were again repelled by ours. I noticed that the forest leading up to the wall was growing more and more scorched with each hour. ‘That’s going to be a no-man’s land…” I thought to myself.
Caireen eventually took me to the nursery and nursed me to sleep that night. I hoped nothing bad would happen while I was gone!
THE NEXT MORNING, I woke up on my own and realized drool was dried all over my face. I stood up and made a face about that and the mushy feeling in my diaper. I said, “Mama! Mama!” a few times before Hannah appeared.
She smiled and cooed at me, “Oh look who’s awake!!!”
I thought Caireen had some moments of fun with over the top babying of me… Now I wondered if she should take lessons from Hannah! She changed me and dressed me into a set of coveralls and a long-sleeved onesie while indulging in her inner mommy more than I had seen her do. ‘She’s taking this seriously…’ I thought, ‘Too seriously…’
I felt Caireen giggled, ‘It’s soooo cute! I love it! She’s awesome!’
I sent her an image of me mentally sticking my tongue out at her. Hannah strapped me into the cheap highchair and put a bib on me. She pulled out a pouch of apple oatmeal baby food and began spooning it into my mouth. I’d been missing the rest of my teeth since yesterday, and couldn’t get used to having nothing to ‘chew’ on within the back of my mouth. I wasn’t even sure how I would have something more solid as you couldn’t really chew with the small front teeth that I had.
Fortunately, Volango’s device had made this taste a bit better too, and I was mostly full at the end of the meal when she wiped a much dirtier bib across my face. “What a drooly baby girl!” she teased me.
“Mama!” I told her.
“You’re right, I am your mama, huh?” she tickled me as she sat down on the one decent piece of furniture we had, a wooden rocking chair. I latched onto her and nursed until she was empty and I felt a little bloated. ‘Maybe I need her to dial down the calories of that one a bit…’ I thought to myself.
She changed a poopy diaper and then sat me down in the playpen, “Mommy needs to clean up a little and then she’ll play with you, okay baby?”
I shrugged and babbled at her in some of the nonsense syllables I had practiced. She smiled and left me to the few toys that were sitting in the playpen with me. Knowing my fate for the next however long involved my hiding as a baby, I proceeded to play with a stacking toy for a while. Remembering my sister used to slobber all over hers I put a ring up to my mouth and drooled on it. The sound of a phone taking a picture made me jump. “Mama!”
“Okay, Mommy will play with you now…”
She spent the next hour pretending like I was a baby she was playing with. It was embarrassing, but also kind of fun to do with her for some reason. I had just felt my diaper growing warm when she looked at a clock that had been hung yesterday. “Well, let’s get you changed and then go get some groceries. Mommy needs lots more baby food for her baby!”
I made a face at that and she laughed, “Oh come on, you know you love your nummy food!”
I just sighed as she dressed me in a coat and strapped me into the car seat a short while later and used her phone to find the nearest grocery store. She carried me, my blankie, and the diaper bag to a cart and strapped me in with the seatbelt. I grabbed onto the blankie like it was my best friend and nursed on the pacifier she’d clipped to my onesie. We’d made it just a short way in when a lady said, “Oh my gosh, your baby is so adorable! How old is she?”
“Thanks, she just turned one last week!”
“She’s so precious!”
Hannah kept moving and grabbing different groceries here and there, but not anything extravagant. Her own meals seemed to be chosen to be as cheap and easy as possible. When she reached the baby aisle, she grabbed a box of the cheap grocery brand diapers, and more wipes, before pushing the cart by the baby food. I wanted to cry as I watched her put in a week’s worth of meals and snacks into the cart. She put in some puffy apple rice pieces that seemed like the most solid thing in there. She patted my head, “Got to have food for you, huh? Maybe someday you’ll like solid foods and we can stop feeding you this icky stuff,” she tickled me and made me giggle.
A nearby mom with a two-year old girl smiled, “Can’t get her to move past baby food? How old is she?”
“She just turned one… and no. If it’s not pureed, she spits it right out. Her pediatrician said it’s okay for another month, if she’s still doing it, we might have a problem.”
The lady smiled at her, “Oh sweetie the doctors think they know everything, but sometimes you just have a picky little girl. Maya here wouldn’t touch most solid food until she was fifteen months. She’s doing fine now and eating everything in sight. Babies move at their own pace, enjoy it and don’t rush it!”
Hannah smiled at her, “Thanks for the advice,” and pushed me onward.
In my head, ‘If I have to eat baby food for the next three months, I think I will go off and beat the whole staff up just to get out of there…’
Caireen shook her head at me, ‘It’s not that bad since the flavors were adjusted. If it was the regular stuff you would be right. Your friend Beth really came through for you there.’
Some more cooing, embarrassing attention, and boredom later, Hannah had me back buckled in the car seat and headed home to our dingy apartment. Once we got there, she figured out the joys of having a baby as a single mom, managing to carry me and a single bag to the apartment and depositing me in my playpen, before running back and forth twice more to get everything from the car. I could tell she was kind of tired herself when she strapped me into the high chair and began feeding me a lunch of vegetable chicken dinner. Unfortunately for me she forgot to put it in the device first! I refused to take spoons of it and cried before she figured out her mistake.
“Oh, I am so sorry baby, Mommy forgot she needed to touch up this food for you!”
I had almost broken character there, and was grateful that she figured it out before I had to. There shouldn’t be any way that any surveillance would be happening, but we had been told to never let our guard down…
“How’s this baby, better?” She asked as she spooned in a spoonful of puree.
“Mama!” I said with a smile after that.
“Well, I take it, that's better!” She smiled and shoveled the rest of it in my mouth one bite at a time. Thankfully after the device was through with it, it tasted like a good chicken and noodle soup. Once you ignored the completely awful and weird texture it was almost tasty.
When I had finished the bowl she said, “Let’s get you your num-nums and then you can take your nap.”
I just smiled and cooed as she brought me to her breast and I began to nurse. ‘This at least tastes a lot better than the baby food…’ I thought to myself, ‘I could see just having breast milk only at daycare if I didn’t need to drink like four bottles worth…’
I felt Caireen’s amusement at my statement but ignored her as I faded off to sleep.
THE REST OF the afternoon had passed by slowly as I had been limited to baby activities, playing with Hannah, and alternating diaper changes. Being nursed to sleep for my new early bed time of six o’clock had been mildly infuriating, but also nice because if I slept the day and night away, the less pretending I had to do! I felt like I was a rock star at the whole sleeping like a baby thing!
In her world Caireen woke me up and we began dealing with additional barrages from Camulus’s forces. They had begun setting up some massive rams to attempt to bash their way through the wall. Midway through the day a suspicious bat was seen flying around the southern wall. “What’s that?” I asked Caireen as I spotted it on one of the scrying mirrors.
“That bat… it looks a lot like…”
Apparently, the archers had also thought something was wrong – or were bored – because a slew of crossbow bolts flew out, one of them hitting it in the wing and causing it to rapidly spiral to the ground on their side of the wall. One of the mirrors showed the bat turning into a woman.
“That’s not…” I said with a hiss.
“It is…” Caireen said, “What an incredibly resilient creature… She must have built up a huge reservoir of essence to return here just before she died?”
I shook with rage and wanted to go after her then, but watched her limp away with the crossbow bolt sticking from her shoulder. Not long after she left, the men abandoned the rams and returned to their camp.
“Decided the wall was too thick?” I mused.
Caireen laughed at that, “Well it is… Unfortunately, whatever they do figure out is going to have to be devastating…”
I nodded at that. We watched the front of the wall and the views from each of the citadels throughout the day. Just before nightfall a small force of fifty men approached the northern end of the valley. I smiled at their faces as they obviously cursed at the sight of another wall that suddenly came into view. I smiled as the archers stationed there killed most of them, leaving just a few alive to report back to Camulus that he was blocked that way as well!
Knowing that it was inevitable that a determined enemy would make it past those walls we began working on nearer defenses to the castle. There hadn’t been an immediate wall around the castle grounds, so I worked with Caireen to build a circular ring around the castle made of the same granite as the valley walls. These were seventy feet thick, with the outer ten being ringed with corridors with narrow slots to shoot from. The top of the walls extended one-hundred-and-fifty feet high, with a new streamed moat that ringed the outside of that wall as well. On the main castle Caireen had added so many wards and spells over the years that I felt like it would probably be enough alone to stop most enemies, but between the valley walls, the new outer castle wall, and those, I hoped Camulus might run through his supplies before getting through.