“Wanna play cards?” Bianca asked.
They were seated outside of the house that Bianca’s scrying had led them to. Hiding.
“I thought you just wanted to hold hand,” Hilde whispered.
“We can do both,” Bianca said. “Besides, it’s boring just sitting here.”
“I understand your sentiment,” Hilde said. “But detective work can be like this. Sometimes you have to just sit patiently and wait.”
“It couldn’t hurt,” Bianca argued. “I’ll detect it when it shows up anyway.”
“Baby, I don’t think you’ll be able to detect it when you couldn’t pinpoint it earlier,” Hilde said. “Let’s just stay on alert.”
“Bah,” Bianca muttered. She lightly squeezed Hilde’s hand and watched.
It was just past midnight when they caught their first glimpse of the culprit. Bianca felt a huge chill going down her spine. He flew down in a misty sleigh. He was covered in coarse, black fur with long horns. From his horns dangled bells. He was carrying a large, writhing sack. He looked up at the house and vanished.
“Where?” Hilde wondered.
“It’s a simple teleportation spell,” Bianca said. “He’s gonna be in the house.”
They left the Beetle and moved over to the child’s window. The creature was stuffing him in its sack. He followed it up by beating on the sack with a heavy branch. The room was eerily silent. Not a sound escaped from it.
“Is that actually the krampus?” Hilde asked.
Bianca nodded. “We should give up on this case,” she urged. “The krampus is an incredibly dangerous demon. He…” She grabbed Hilde’s hand and pulled her to a hiding spot.
The krampus reappeared near them in a burst of dark smoke. A tiny arm poked out of his sack. He bludgeoned it with his branch and shoved it back in.
He returned to his sleigh and flew back up.
“Bianca, your broom,” Hilde whispered.
Bianca sighed. She retrieved her broom from the Beetle. “Hold on tight,” she said.
They soared into the air, following behind the grey, misty sleigh. Hilde sat behind Bianca, her arms holding securely on to her waist.
“Just how dangerous is this guy?” Hilde asked. “And will offering him schnapps really work?” She spoke a little loudly to be heard over the rush of air around them.
“Offering him schnapps only works if you do it before he grabs you,” Bianca answered. She was close to shouting. “As for how dangerous he is… If my sisters and I all brought a half dozen witches and we all struck at him as one, we might be able to scratch him. There’s absolutely no way that we could do more than that.”
Hilde glanced ahead. He showed no signs of having seen them.
“Any way we can rescue the children?” Hilde asked.
Bianca was silent.
“Biance, please,” Hilde pleaded.
Bianca sighed. “If… if I can distract him long enough for you to reach his sack, you might be able to get them out of it. The spell on it doesn’t keep them in, it just makes it bigger on the inside so he can fit a lot of them.”
“So, it’s a TARDIS?” Hilde asked.
“No idea what that means,” Bianca said. “Regardless, our one advantage is that he’ll have to return to the hellish dimension he came from before too long. If we can just run out the clock on him, we’ll win. You’re going to go for it, aren’t you?”
“I have to,” Hilde said. “It’s my job.”
“Why’d I have to fall for a heroic type?” Bianca wondered.
“Maybe it’s something we share,” Hilde said.
Bianca shook her head. “If it were up to me, I’d be going back home right now. There are some battles you don’t want to fight if you can help it.” They flew in silence for a time when Bianca spoke up. “You have Francine’s picture, right?”
“Yeah, I’ve got it,” Hilde answered. “Why do…”
“And you have the pendant I gave you to protect you from magic, right?” Bianca interrupted.
“Of course,” Hilde said. “I always wear it.”
“Then when he’s done with his night’s work I’ll approach him,” Bianca said. “You sneak up and get the bag open. Once you’ve got the bag open, grab Francine and run. He will definitely give chase to get her back. You can not stop for an instant. Understand?”
“I wouldn’t worry too much,” Hilde said. “He’ll have a lot of children to try and get back.”
Bianca kept silent. She watched the city below them as her broom kept pace with the sleigh. She couldn’t tell Hilde the truth about just what would happen when the krampus noticed his bag had been opened. She’d try to do something to change it and probably get killed.
Right now, Hilde’s mind was on the job and Bianca’s mind was working on a way to keep Hilde alive and well. No matter what happened to anyone else.