Seeing Bianca perform her magic was just as impressive when you knew what to expect. At least, Hilde thought so. Bianca held her crystal ball and performed her incantations.
The crystal started to swirl into an image. Hilde watched intently. Before it could complete its work, however, the crystal cracked and shattered, falling into shards.
“You okay?” Hilde asked.
“Fine,” Bianca said. “None of the pieces got my hands.”
Hilde let out a sigh of relief. “So, why did that happen?”
“Whoever has the girl has some anti-scrying protection,” Bianca answered, turning over one of the crystal shards in her hand. “Very powerful too.”
“Is it possible to get through it?” Hilde inquired.
“N… maybe,” Bianca answered. “I’d have to put a lot of power into a counter-spell. There are risks, though. First off, given the strength of their protection it might fail. Secondly, whether it works or not attacking their protective spell will alert them to us immediately. You want me to try, Love?”
“Forget it,” Hilde said. “It’s probably better if they don’t know we’re looking for them. We’ll find the kid the old-fashioned way.” She leaned back, turning her newsie hat around in her hands. “You know more about magic and the creatures who use it than I do. Where might we find a child abductor?”
“Magical creatures come in three basic varieties,” Bianca answered. “There are those who tend to hide in plain sight, disguised as humans or other ordinary things. There are also those that live in the holes of this world.”
“Holes?” Hilde asked. “What do you mean, holes?”
Bianca thought for a moment. “Have you ever felt like you were being watched but no one was around? Or misplaced something, even though you could swear you knew exactly where it was?” Hilde nodded. “Everyone has,” Bianca continued. “That’s because this world has small… nexus points where magical energies gather. Small points that cross into a magical world. That’s where you can find the fae and other small, magical creatures that cross freely from world to world. They like to dart in and out.”
“And you said the fae do abduct children,” Hilde recalled.
Bianca nodded. “I don’t think they’re responsible for this, though. They wouldn’t have left that print nor would they have such an incredible anti-scrying spell protecting them. I think we’re looking at the third type.”
“That seems to worry you,” Hilde observed. “What’s the third type?”
“Creatures that dwell primarily in the other world,” Bianca said. “They normally can’t cross over here because they’re so powerful that portals, like the one we used to reach that witch’s pocket dimension, can’t retain their stability for them. There are two cases where they can cross. The first is when a group of lesser magical beings convene and perform a very involved summoning ritual. The second is to wait for a time of the year when magical energies are at their peak, enabling a stronger portal to link our worlds.” Bianca looked thoughtfully at Hilde. “The solstice is such a time.”
“I’m guessing we’re close enough that it’s a possibility,” Hilde said. “So, how would you suggest we find this thing?”
“Well,” Bianca said “If it’s taking advantage of the solstice then it will still be around. It won’t want to be around humans because it’ll stand out. So, it should be creeping about in the night.”
“And during the day?” Hilde asked.
“Hiding somewhere away from humans,” Bianca answered.
“What kind of children will it be targeting?” Hilde asked.
“Most magical creatures that steal children go after the particularly bratty ones.”
“Given that the kid we’re looking for disappeared after having a fit because she couldn’t have another horse, that fits,” Hilde said. “If we get you another crystal ball, can you scry to find us the worst behaved child who isn’t missing or is that too vague?”
“It’s not too vague at all,” Bianca said. “Are we doing a stake out?”
“I think it’s more effective than searching every single abandoned building, nature area and what have you in the vicinity,” Hilde said. “Unless you have something else to do.”
“And miss spending time with you?” Bianca asked. “Perish the thought.”
“Flatterer,” Hilde snorted.
“Can we sit intimately close and hold hands?” Bianca inquired.
Hilde shrugged. “Sounds fine to me. I may even let you sneak the occasional kiss if you’re good.”
Bianca grinned. Inwardly, she was wondering if the closeness would make facing this thing… whatever it was, worth it. Still, she couldn’t let Hilde go it alone.
The two linked arms and headed out to grab a new crystal ball.