She was so angry that both Lygine and Gyrina decided it would be best not to argue. They passed by the petrified form of the girl. Gyrina considered putting the necklace around the statue’s neck, but then decided against it. Lygine whispered in the girl’s ear, “Don’t worry, it will wear off soon. Go back home after that.” Gyrina did not care to hear what Lygine was saying, and continued on her way. Lygine caught up with her without any complaints about being left behind.
Luc was becoming impatient and tired while he watched the orphanage. The doors and windows were closed for a long time. He was getting worried about Nina. He had not done anything because he promised Nina he would give her a lot of time. He was going to wait the whole day before making his move. He wanted this to get over soon. He had recently got offered a special job, and he had not told Nina about it yet. He was planning to tell her about it at night in bed as a surprise after she finished the orphanage job. Luc was planning to propose to her right after she recovers from the first surprise. It would be the perfect moment. He could only imagine the happiness on her face.
Luc’s thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door. He looked one more time at the orphanage to make sure nothing was happening and then opened the door. He recognized the man standing at the door. It was the village Chief. He looked tired and lost. The woman standing behind him had a similar expression on her face, but fear was also evident in her eyes. Behind her stood the innkeeper.
Luc spoke first, “Is there something wrong, Chief?”
“Master Luc, I beg for your help.” the Chief started in a concerned voice. “My daughter, Mary, has been kidnapped by a rogue.”
The woman standing behind the Chief started weeping, “Please sir, my son is not a kidnapper.”
The Chief’s face showed fury, “Silence woman! Your son had his vile eyes on my daughter for a long time. Now I regret not banishing him from the village when I had the chance.”
Luc raised his hands to stop the quarrel. “Chief, please calm down. Come inside and explain to me what has happened.”
The concern returned to the Chief’s face as they entered the room. Chief turned towards Luc. “Master Luc, my daughter disappeared in the morning. Her room was quiet, so I wondered whether she was ill or not. I did not get any response from her. Worried, I broke down the door to find that the room was empty and the window was open. I sent men to search the village. Hearing nothing, I went to this woman’s house myself because I suspected that her son had something to do with it. He had been after my daughter for a long time. My daughter is young and did not understand what was good for her. I should not have ignored this for so long. This woman could not explain why her son was not at home. Now I am sure that he has taken my daughter away.”
Luc asked, “If that is true, where can he be gone to with her? Have you sent men to search the nearby villages?”
The Chief answered, “Yes, I have. They were not seen anywhere. I am certain that she knows where her son is hiding. I don’t have the methods to make her talk. And… I trust Master wizards like you more than the local authorities. Please help me find my daughter.”
Luc glanced at the orphanage one more time. He wanted to stay in the room so that he can keep an eye on the orphanage. He decided that the least he can do is to try and find out whether the woman knew where the couple had gone. He could do that from inside the room. The woman was nervously looking at the Chief and Luc. Luc told the Chief, “Let me talk to the woman in private.”
Chief’s anger began to show again, “This woman is a stubborn liar. She will not confess anything, please use your magic.”
Luc urged the Chief towards the door telling him that he could use a Truth potion to make her tell the truth. He finally managed to persuade the Chief and the Innkeeper to leave the room. The woman was still looking at him nervously. Luc tried to calm her down telling her that he was only trying to help the couple and it would be safer for her son if Luc found them before the Chief’s men did. Luc also told her that taking the potion would help her remember things, which might help in finding the couple. Finally the woman agreed to take the Truth potion and tell him all that she knew.
After half an hour, Luc came out of the room and told the Chief that the woman was as lost and shocked as the Chief was. She did not know which village the couple might have gone to, but she was sure that her son would not be foolish enough to go somewhere other than the villages. The Chief was not totally convinced. He looked like he was losing all hope. Luc told him, “Chief, do not worry so much. They could not have gone too far. Your men probably reached the other villages before they did. I am certain they will be found soon.”
The chief was still anxious. Luc could not think of anyway to help him at this point. He could do a Locator Spell if he had the ingredients, but he is also sure that by the time he obtained the ingredients, the Chief’s men would succeed in finding the couple. At this point, the excited Innkeeper, who was running up the stairs leading to Luc’s room, saved Luc from saying anything else. The Innkeeper informed Luc that several wizards had just walked into the Inn and had inquired about Luc and Nina. All of them went downstairs.
Luc recognized two of the three wizards to be his colleagues, Mallock and Kimbley. They were accompanying Luc’s old teacher, Grand Master Ushar. Luc greeted them with a surprised smile on his face. “This is a pleasant surprise! What are you doing here?”
Brenda was sitting on a chair in the corner of her own room wearing a set of clothes that belonged to Lulu. With every movement she was noticing how silly the oversized clothes looked on her. So now she sat still watching Nina go through all the papers and sort them out. With every passing moment, Brenda felt her life being stripped away from her. She felt that from now on she would have to live the life of the children of the orphanage. And for the first time, she began to see how horrible that life was. She was trying to force the thought out of her head, but it kept coming back. She wanted to run up to Nina and beg her to return everything back the way it was. At the same time, she was also struck with fear as she remembered Nina’s hand hitting her behind and her stern voice shouting out “Behave!” The latter fear was winning every time.
After sometime, Nina finished arranging all the papers she needed. She gave a stern look at Brenda and walked to the front room. Brenda heard Nina talking with the children. Her name was not even mentioned. Nina said something about coming back after a while. Brenda was feeling a little relieved that Nina would go away, but at the same time she was scared thinking what the children might do to her in Nina’s absence. She heard Nina trying to open the door and Brenda suddenly remembered that she had locked it in the morning and had hid the key. The next moment she heard several footsteps coming towards her room. She began to get anxious again, but gathered enough courage to take the key out of its hiding spot and put it in her pocket.
Luc was sitting in his room with Grand Master Ushar. It appeared that the three wizards had come to this region on a business regarding the Fountain of Youth and Ushar had come to this village to visit Luc and Nina. Mallock and Kimbley had gone off to collect ingredients for the Locator Spell. Grand Master Ushar seemed to take special interest in the Chief’s problem. Luc could tell that it was because Ushar’s daughter had run away with someone when she was a teenager.
Ushar asked, “So, where is your new fiancé?”
Luc was a little startled for a moment. Then he replied, “Nina is not my fiancé yet.”
“You haven’t proposed yet?”
“No Master. I am going to wait till her work is done.”
“What work is she doing here?”
“Its for the kids at the orphanage. She is sure that the owner misuses the funds, and she is determined to obtain proof from the inside. I am supposed to wait here till she is done.”
Ushar became lost in thoughts for a while. Then he said, “She is a rare gem. You don’t find compassionate women like her easily. In my life, I’ve met only one other woman with such compassion.”
Luc’s voice softened, “Your wife?”
“Master, I am sorry for bringing sad memories back.”
“Don’t worry Luc. The memories are not sad. Those were the happiest days of my life.” Ushar paused for a while. “You are a lucky young man, Luc.”
Mary guessed that the sun was setting. She could not see the sky and so could not be sure. After the last ray of the sun penetrating the leaves had left her sight, she had slowly started losing hope again. Now, she could not tell whether she was more worried about Trevor or herself. In the morning when they were passing through this forest, this dimly lit spot under the dense trees seemed like a magical place. Now it felt more like a prison.
She reminded herself that the real prison was her own body. For a long time since the morning, she had thought that it was going to keep her bound forever, but her hope for freedom was aroused in the afternoon by an unknown woman who seemed to be aware of her condition. The voice of the woman was not deceptive. Her words warmed Mary’s mind, which was the only part of her that was alive right now. Concentrating on that dwindling hope, Mary tried to focus on remembering the quickest way back to the village. She would have to rely on her memory if she gets her freedom at night.
Slowly, as it got darker, something other than the hope warmed her body. It started from in between her legs and spread inside her. If she were capable of sweating, she would have. Before this, the last thing she remembered feeling was Trevor’s lips on her lips, just before he collapsed in front of her and was taken away by an evil hand. She could not see where he was being taken away, because her mind was distracted by the deep voice of the Fate Orb and filled with the childhood memory of the time she tricked a smaller boy into standing perfectly still for an hour while she ran away with his clothes and toys. As the warmth spread through her, she somehow knew that freedom was coming.
Brenda could not hide the nervousness on her face when Nina entered the room. Nina asked “Where is the key to the front door?”
Brenda’s eyes shifted as she said that she didn’t know where it was.
“Stop this Brenda. I can see that you are lying.”
Brenda tried to pretend to be innocent like all the times she did when Nina came to the orphanage. She shook her head again and tried to bring tears to her eyes. “I forgot where I kept it.”
Nina believed her this time. With what Brenda had gone through in the afternoon, Nina thought that it was very likely that she forgot where she kept the key. Nina sighed and started searching the room again. Some of the children were peeking into the room. Some of them were still scared of entering Brenda’s room. Marcy pointed out from the door “She sometimes kept stuff under her pillow.”
Lulu added “Sometimes its under the covers.”
Brenda was about to glare at the children. The memories of Lulu and Marcy spanking her in the afternoon stopped her just in time. She tried to avoid eye contact with anyone and stared at the ground. The two girls snickered as they looked at Brenda. Brenda started blushing again. The children were slowly coming into her room to help Nina, and Brenda could not gather any courage to protest. At one point, Brenda slowly walked towards the door and got out of the room. Some of the children followed giggling. Brenda went to a corner in the front room trying in vain to hide from the children.
After sometime, Nina and the children came to the front room breathing heavily. They had been moving all the furniture to look for the key. Nina sat down on the chair where they had spanked Brenda in the afternoon. She called out “Brenda, where is the key? Try to remember!”
Brenda tried to sound convincing “I don’t remember, M- Miss Nina.”
Lulu shook her head “I think she’s lying Miss Nina”
Marcy giggled, “I think she will tell the truth after a little more spanking.”
They heard a whimper coming from Brenda’s corner.
Nina was beginning to feel sorry for Brenda. She was about to ask the children to not torture Brenda anymore, when she suddenly noticed Miranda looking at Nina and the two girls with a concerned expression. “What’s wrong Miranda?”
The same concern was in Miranda’s voice as well, “Miss Nina, the three of you are looking slightly younger.”
Nina suddenly realized that she was right. Her clothes did not feel as tight anymore and Marcy and Lulu had become a bit shorter. They looked slightly alarmed. Nina stood up and asked “Miranda, was there something in the food?”
Miranda was confused “I don’t know Miss Nina. We all ate it.”
“We have to get out of here. There is something very wrong in this place. We should have got out when everyone started regressing at the beginning.” Nina said as she looked around the room.
There was a pause when all the children were looking at themselves and each other. No one seemed to be affected other than Nina, Marcy and Lulu. Brenda stood up and checked whether she has gotten shorter or not. She could not be sure and was getting anxious. Nina called out, “Brenda come here.”
Brenda shook her head and backed away towards the counter away from Nina. Nina looked like she was a 14 year old now.
“Brenda, we need to find the key or we may all become babies.”
Brenda’s heart gave a small jump with fear, but the next moment it was filled with a slight feeling of power. She felt the cold metallic key in her pocket against her skin and it gave her a small hope that all the children might regress before she does. All she said was “I don’t care.”
Marcy glared at her. Brenda looked away, trying to hold on to that weak hope. Marcy approached her, “Come here little girl.”
Brenda turned around and ran towards the corner with Marcy after her. All the children screamed and cheered at once. Brenda ran among them like a chubby little rabbit. Everyone else joined in the chase. It went on through the whole orphanage. Brenda felt the children grabbing her clothes and arms several times. She kept struggling and running whichever way she could. Nina watched Miranda and the children chase Brenda out of the room. After a lot of crashing and screaming in the other rooms the crowed was once again in the front room. Everyone, including Miranda, looked a bit younger than when they left the room a few seconds ago. A look of realization passed over Nina’s face. As some of the children grabbed onto Brenda and struggled with her, Nina shouted out “Everyone, stop moving.”
The children stared at her blankly. Nina said quickly, “You will become younger faster if you run.”
The children’s grip on Brenda loosened a bit. Brenda backed away from them immediately. The children all looked at themselves. They were at least a year younger than they were before the chase. Brenda was five years old. She sobbed softly but was still not willing to give up the key. She saw that Miranda had become a 10 year old. It gave her hope again.
Everyone was starting to panic. Brenda continued to sob lightly to show that she was feeling the same thing. Nina started looking around for something to break the door or window. The children were trying to stand as still as possible. Among all this chaos Tommy who was standing behind Brenda suddenly noticed a glint of silver light coming from her pocket. He realized what it was and using the skills that Brenda had thought them he picked it out of her pocket.
“Miss Nina! I found the key!” Tommy cried out. Everyone turned towards him. Brenda spun around to face him with a look of anger and astonishment. “It was in her pocket” Tommy said as he threw it at Nina.
Brenda tried to catch the key in the air but it was too late. A moment later it was in Nina’s hand. Brenda felt lost. She turned around and tried to hit Tommy on the face, but Tommy grabbed her arm just in time. It led to a struggle which some of the other children joined in. Brenda was pinned down onto the floor just as Nina opened the door. Lying helpless on the floor with the children looking down on her, she watched Nina walk out of the orphanage. She started crying for real this time. All her hopes were gone. She struggled feebly. The worst part was that she was still getting younger.
Miranda said, “Don’t let her get away. All of you stay here.” She followed Nina out of the orphanage.
Brenda stared at the children’s faces. All she could see was vengeance in their eyes. Her little heart was beating fast and she kept getting younger. She squirmed with all her strength while sobbing loudly.
“Aww what a cute wittle baby.” Marcy teased.
“She’s like a wittle scared bunny.” Lulu said.
“She’s squirming like a chubby little worm.” Max laughed.
Tommy put his hands on her two cheeks to keep her head from moving side to side. She cried, “Lemme go.” As his fingers touched her neck, she let out a giggle all of a sudden.
Tommy laughed out, “Brenda’s ticklish!”
Brenda saw several wicked smiles coming from above her. She realized what was coming. The next moment she felt Lulu’s fingers tickle her feet. Laughter replaced her sobbing instantly. She heard Marcy’s voice, “Lulu, hold her legs.”
As she felt Lulu grab her legs, the others’ hands let her go and in one pull her oversized dress came off her. She was lying totally naked on the floor. She screamed. The next moment, all the hands were on her again. This time there were moving all over her neck, armpits, belly, sides and feet. All she could say was “Please no…” before breaking out into a fit of hysterical laughter. The children were tickling her mercilessly.
Luc saw the orphanage door burst open and Nina stepping out shortly followed by Miranda. She was looking slightly older than he left her to be. Without hesitation, Luc excused himself quickly from Master Ushar and ran down the stairs of the inn. He rushed towards the orphanage knowing that something went wrong and Nina had to use the emergency antidote. Halfway towards the orphanage, Luc suddenly realized that he should have brought the potions and ingredients with him, but instead of going back he decided to find out first what was happening.
Nina saw Luc approaching and she rushed towards him. By the time they were within hearing range, Nina was panting and she had lost another year. She shouted out, “Luc! Everyone at the orphanage is getting younger. I don’t know why. You have to do something. Get some antidotes quickly!” Nina finished by falling into Luc’s arms. She took two deep breaths and rushed Luc again. “Hurry! The children may not last too long.”
Luc turned around to go towards the inn and saw Master Ushar standing behind him. Nina’s mind was too busy to be surprised by Master Ushar’s presence. Master Ushar inquired what had happened while Luc ran towards the Inn. Nina breathed heavily while she described the nature of the transformation that was taking place in the orphanage. By the time Luc came back with the ingredients for the antidotes, Master Ushar had a look of concern on his face. Looking at Luc he said, “A regular antidote will not work. Let me show you what to do. Just follow my instructions, there is no time to explain.”
In half an hour Nina, Miranda, Luc and Master Ushar were walking towards the orphanage with two large bottles of potions, each of a different shade of blue. Half the village was following them. Nina was now 10 years old and Miranda was 7. Master Ushar offered the antidote to Nina, but she refused to take it to make sure that there was enough for the children first. After they reached the orphanage they found the front room full of children less than 7 years of age. Some of them could not walk anymore. Brenda was a crying 6-month-old baby. The children had tickled her till she was reduced to this age and had wet herself. The tickling stopped because the children started panicking as they kept regressing.
They applied the antidote starting with the youngest, which was now Brenda. One potion stopped the regression and the other grew them back to their original age. For Brenda, the second potion was not applicable according to Nina’s instructions. Master Ushar urged everyone to hurry because there is a time limit on the spell after which the change will become permanent. He did not explain anything further. As the children turned back to their original self, they came out of the orphanage into the crowd of confused villagers. The crowd, which was concentrated around the orphanage door, was dispersing a bit as they looked at the children happily dancing about.
Kimbley and Mallock were almost done with the spell for locating Mary and Trevor. The Chief stood anxiously nearby. They were at the Chief’s house because they needed to use Mary’s personal possessions in the spell. The Chief noticed a crowd near the orphanage but was not even curious to know what they were doing. Kimbley suddenly called the Chief and informed him that the spell is done. Mallock pointed out on the map that they created that Trevor is moving towards the orphanage of the village and Mary was somewhere in the nearby forest and was also moving towards the village. The Chief did not wait to hear more. He immediately rushed out and ran towards the orphanage.
Gyrina and Lygine avoided the crowd and created an opening at the back of the orphanage for them to sneak in through. They found themselves in the kitchen with the sounds of a baby coming from the next room. Lygine went to check if that was Vynnie while Gyrina looked around for the items stolen from her in the morning. She found the box of seeds on a desk along with a lot of papers in a bedroom that had been searched thoroughly by someone. She could hear Vynnie in the next room apologizing to Lygine and begging to be taken back. After searching a bit more, she found the empty bottle on a shelf in the kitchen. She concluded that Katria would just have to work with whatever little water was left in the bottle. By that time, Lygine had picked up Vynnie and was already making her way out of the orphanage with Vynnie in her arms. Gyrina looked around a bit for anything of interest. Finding nothing, she sighed and casually dropped her necklace that was Trevor into the pitcher on her way out. Gyrina started walking towards the forest, leaving Lygine to seal the opening they created behind the orphanage.
The Chief reached the orphanage and immediately ordered some men to go around and search the surrounding area. He then inquired about what was happening there and caught bits of information from the crowd. Trevor’s mother was standing in the crowd as well. She watched the men go on the search around the orphanage, but she did not try to interfere. She was keeping her eyes and ears open so that if the men find Trevor, she would know immediately.
Lygine finished sealing the opening while cursing Gyrina for leaving her. Then she noticed some men searching the area. She thought the best thing to do would be to try to blend into the crowd. She hid herself in the dark and walked along the wall of the orphanage into the crowd. Two of the chief’s men have gone into the orphanage and were running their search in it. By that time, Luc and Master Ushar were done with the children and were trying to disperse the crowd. Nina and Miranda followed them out of the orphanage once they were sure that none of the children were left out.
While Master Ushar was trying to control the crowd, he bumped into a young woman in her twenties holding a baby girl in her arms. Master Ushar was about to look away when he suddenly noticed the glint from a necklace around the woman’s neck. Even in the darkness of the evening, the necklace seemed to have a strange familiarity to it. Even stranger was the look of shock and slight recognition in the baby’s eyes.
A cry of joy from the Chief distracted Master Ushar for a second. Lygine took this chance to slip out of Master Ushar’s sight. Master Ushar did not see which way she went, nor did he hear what the baby girl mumbled after she saw him. Since Vynnie’s face was close to Lygine’s ears, she could clearly hear Vynnie say “Daddy…?” Lygine did not let the surprise slow her down. She made her way towards the forest after coming out from the other side of the crowd away from the Chief’s men.
The Chief had cried out when he saw Mary making her way through the crowd towards the orphanage. She had reached the village a few minutes ago and had rushed towards the crowd when she heard from one of the Chief’s men that the Chief was looking for Trevor around the orphanage. The Chief ran upto her and hugged her. Trevor’s mother walked up to Mary as well. Mary glanced at her and looked into the Chief’s eyes and asked whether he found Trevor yet. The Chief pushed her away furiously. He started shouting at her in front of the whole crowd about how she should not listen to Trevor’s lies and deceit. Mary started feeling embarrassed with the whole situation, but she kept telling her father that she ran away with him willingly and she insisted that Trevor’s intentions are true.
While the argument continued, the Chief’s men started to help with controlling the crowd. Soon the crowd got thinner. A few curious people still lingered around. Luc and Master Ushar turned their attention to Nina and Miranda who were both 6-year-olds by that time. As it turned out, there was only a little bit of the aging potion left. Luc said in a concerned voice, “Master Ushar, this would be good enough for just one person. We can stop both their regressions, but we can make only one of them as old as they used to be.”
Miranda and Nina looked at each other’s little faces, but could not say anything. Luc was concerned, “There must be some other way to reverse it.”
Master Ushar shook his head slowly, “I don’t think there is enough time for it. You can still try, but it will be in vain. This is a very powerful spell.”
“Which spell was it?” Luc was getting impatient.
“There is no time to explain. Make up your mind.”
Luc glanced at Miranda and then looked at Nina. He asked in a hesitant voice, “Nina…?”
Nina sighed, “Let Miranda have it.”
Miranda did not answer. Luc felt lost but he knew that there was nothing he can do. It was all upto Nina. Once she made a decision, she would stick to it. He let them drink the potion for stopping the regression and approached Miranda with the aging potion. Miranda looked one more time at Nina before taking the vial from Luc. She glanced at the children standing nearby. Brenda was being carried by Marcy. She looked tired and sleepy and was peacefully lying in Marcy’s arms. Miranda thought for a moment and then approached Nina with the vial.
Miranda offered the vial over to Nina who looked at her with a surprised expression. Miranda said, “You can have it, Miss Nina. I do not want to be my previous self.”
“What are you saying Miranda? Do you want to stay this way?”
Miranda took a deep breath and said “Yes, Miss Nina. I want to relive my childhood free of Brenda.”
Nina felt tears in her eyes as she hugged Miranda. Then she reached for the vial. Miranda stopped her. “On one condition Miss Nina.”
Nina looked at Miranda and tried to guess what it might be that Miranda wanted.
Miranda smiled and said, “Only if you promise to take care of the children and me in Brenda’s place.”
All of the children’s attention became directed at Nina. If the Chief were not still arguing with Mary, there would have been total silence in the area at that moment. Nina smiled back and said, “I promise.”
In the midst of cheers from the children, Nina drank the potion and grew back into her previous self. Luc gave her a cloak to cover herself as the clothes she was wearing had become too small for her. Now the children were dancing around her along with Nina. Marcy handed Brenda over to Miranda.
Miranda looked into the baby’s eyes and tweaked her cheeks saying, “Aww, wittle Brenda is so cute.”
Brenda became a little anxious and squirmed around to look for someone else to take her. Miranda patted Brenda’s belly and kissed her on the forehead saying, “Don’t worry baby. I won’t be as mean to you as you were to me.”
Miranda heard Brenda let out a little whimper and strangely it felt as if Brenda was expressing guilt rather than fear. The next second Brenda quit squirming and gave in to Miranda.
By that time, Mary and the Chief were getting tired of arguing. On top of that, Mary was also upset about Trevor still being missing. The Chief was about to call his men off when one of them came running out of the orphanage and cried out, “Sir, there is some strange sorcery in there! There’s a pitcher in the kitchen that is shaking as if possessed by an evil spirit.”
The Chief was about to say something when Master Ushar interrupted saying, “Quickly! Bring it out here. There is no time to waste.”
The man hesitated for a moment and then ran back into the orphanage and along with another man carried the vibrating pitcher out to the grounds infront of Master Ushar. They dropped it on the ground and the shaking seemed to increase. A crowd was forming again around it, but they kept their distance from the pitcher.
Master Ushar warned, “Get back everyone!”
The crowd panicked and moved further back. The pitcher swayed a bit from side to side and then suddenly broke apart. The crowd cried out. The pieces were thrown apart and the water flowed out. In the place of the pitcher was sitting a naked man who seemed to have burst out of the pitcher. The local people recognized him to be Trevor.
Trevor stayed a grown man for just one second. The crowd gasped as he started shrinking. They backed away further. They had never seen anything like this before. Wherever the water touched the ground, it would turn brown as the grass leaves shrunk and disappeared into the soil. The flowers became buds and the plants retreated into the ground. As Trevor regressed beyond the twenties, he looked up at the crowd and spotted Mary who looked shocked, happy and scared at the same time.
Mary took a step towards Trevor and the Chief tried to grab onto her hand. The grip wasn’t as strong as the Chief hoped it would be. In two seconds, Mary struggled free and ran at the 12 year old Trevor. As she stepped onto the warm water, she started shrinking as the crowd gasped again. The Chief felt too afraid to follow her but he kept yelling at her to come back. By the time Mary reached Trevor, she had become 12 and Trevor was 6 years old. He stretched out his arms towards Mary. She grabbed them and pulled his warm body up from the ground into her arms.
Mary and Trevor were exactly in the center of the puddle of magical water. Mary pulled Trevor towards the crowd to get away from the water. Soon Trevor was only 3 and Mary had become 9. Mary’s clothes were getting in the way now and were slowing them down. They were only a few steps away from the edge of the puddle when Mary tripped and fell face down onto the mud. She felt the warm water soak into her clothes.
The Chief cried out “Somebody help her! You men, get her out of there.” but he did not make any efforts himself. The Chief’s men were too scared to go in as well.
Mary’s regression rate seemed to increase. By the time she got up from the ground, she had become 6 years old and Trevor was 2 years old. She picked him up from the ground and took a few more steps. As her height decreased, the edge of the water appeared to move further way.
Finally, Trevor’s mother could not bear to wait anymore and ran into the puddle. She put her arms around the two regressing children as her own age started to decrease. As she pulled them away from the water, the magic users and the Chief ran towards them. Master Ushar shouted out that the children need to be dried off as quickly as possible. Trevor’s mother was already using the loose ends of her clothes as towels for the 1-year-old baby Trevor. Nina reached the 4-year-old Mary and pulled her baggy clothes off her. Mary blushed as she became naked infront of the crowd and she grabbed onto Nina and tried hiding herself. Nina took off her own cloak and dried Mary off with that. After Trevor and Mary were dry, his mother turned her attention to herself and dried off her arms and legs using the cloak.
Meanwhile, Luc had poured different quantities of the potion for stopping the regression into three vials. He used them on the three victims. When the regression finally stopped, Trevor’s mother was 28, Trevor was a 6-month-old baby and Mary was a two-year-old toddler. There was no way to turn them back. Trevor and Mary started crying when Master Ushar made that announcement. Nina and Trevor’s mother tried to console them.
After everyone calmed down a bit, the Chief approached Trevor’s mother who was carrying both Mary and Trevor. Mary seeing her father hid her face in Tervor’s mother’s breast. The Chief tried to take Mary, but she wouldn’t even look at him and cried out, “Me no wanna go to daddy. Me neva wanna go to daddy.”
The Chief tried ignoring what Mary said and tried to take her again forcefully. Mary started crying. Nina interrupted, “Please Chief. Stop bothering her now. She has been through a lot.”
The Chief did nothing to hide his anger. “She is my daughter. She needs me right now, not the mother of a kidnapper. I am the only one capable of taking care of her.”
Nina stayed quiet for a moment thinking about something. Then she spoke up again, “Actually, the papers I found at Brenda’s orphanage indicate otherwise. Someone who can turn a blind eye to children’s sufferings in exchange for bribes is not capable of taking care of anyone.”
The Chief was shocked. “This is absurd! That lying wench made things up to frame me. Where is that fat cow?”
Some of the children noticed Brenda bury her face in Miranda’s breasts, but they did not say anything.
Master Ushar intervened. “Chief please lets take this inside. There is no need to disturb the peace further.”
The three magic users, the two babies and their parents moved towards the Chief’s house. Slowly the Chief’s men drove the people away to their homes. Mallock and Kimbley put up a protection barrier around the magical puddle of water.
By that time, Lygine and Vynnie were halfway towards their house. They had not talked at all till then. Vynnie had been softly sobbing all that time and was stroking the necklace around Lygine neck with her tiny hands. Lygine patted Vynnie on her head and spoke softly, “Mother.”
Vynnie looked up in surprise. It felt like it had been forever since she had been called that.
Lygine paused for a second and then continued, “Would you tell me what had happened with grandmother and grandfather?”
Vynnie’s sobbing did not stop easily. Lygine tried to calm her down slowly. Eventually, Vynnie stopped sobbing and took some deep breaths. Then she slowly started telling Lygine things she had never talked to anyone about before. The topic was so serious that after a while Lygine did not even notice that it was a baby talking to her.
Back at the witch sisters’ house, Cindy had woken up by the sounds of quarrels coming from the next room. It sounded a lot worse than before. She felt a bit scared again realizing that soon any bonds the sisters may have had with each other would fall apart.
End of Part 3