Author: Selena Taiki
Tara yelped as the carpet shuddered before rising into the air. The ground fell away rapidly and Tara squeezed her eyes closed as the waving Fae became tiny blobs. She gripped that fabric under her hands tightly, defiantly averse to this mode of travel.
"Open your eyes Tara, you are really quite safe and the view is amazing from up here," Giles said calmly.
Tara cracked an eye open and immediately regretted it. The spell of the carpet must include blocking the wind, because, although she couldn't feel it, they were speeding through the sky at an alarming rate and the ground was a frightening distance away; the trees actually looked like little sprigs of broccoli. Firmly Tara closed her eyes again, refusing to open them until they landed in Foggybottom.
After what seemed, to Tara, like a mind numbingly long period of terror, Giles brought the carpet to a gentle landing, and tapped his frightened apprentice on her shoulder. "We are here Tara," he said.
Shakily Tara eased her eyes open, relieved the ground, which she had begun to doubt she would see again, was only a foot away. Quickly she scrambled inelegantly off the hovering carpet and stamped her feet surreptitiously, reassuring herself of the earth's firmness beneath her boots.
Raising her eyes, Tara was surprised at how neat the small mill looked. A black and white kitten sat on the split rail fence that enclosed the property. Her head swiveled to look at the new arrivals before she yawned and stretched to show how unimpressed she was.
"About time you got here," the kitten purred. "The sun is nice today."
"Ah yes," Giles said. "it is.... Er, I don't suppose you could tell me the whereabouts of young master Trevor, could you?"
The kitten started at him and Giles shifted uncomfortably. "Barn," she said at last.
"Ah, yes, of course. Thank you," he told the kitten. "Um, Tara, would you?" he asked, gesturing at the fluff ball.
"W-w-would I w-what?" Tara asked.
"Small talk, or, or, something, until I get back. Try to explain what's going on to her; we need her cooperation in this too."
"O-okay," Tara said. She could deal with a kitten, that wasn't so scary.
Giles smiled and walked towards the humble barn on the far side of the mill, swinging his staff like a walking stick. Staff, wand, right, Tara remembered, pulling out her wand. She held it absently in her hand, letting its song sooth her.
The kitten watched Tara politely, her green eyes silted with sleep.
"H-hi," Tara said, catching herself as she reached out with her free hand to pet the kitten. She stood frozen, arm half extended, unsure if a Master Cat would like to be petted the same way a normal cat would.
The kitten solved Tara's dilemma for her, leaning forward to sniff Tara's fingers before butting her head against Tara's hand. Tara's faced relaxed into a smile and she rubbed the kitten's ears before trailing her hand down the silky fur, stroking the kitten's back. "Um, d-do you have a n-name?" Tara asked as she continued to pet the now purring animal.
"I am Miss Kitty Fantastico," the kitten said grandly. "But Miss Kitty will do. You're too late you know."
"Too late?" Tara asked, frowning.
"To stop the Tradition," Miss Kitty said, looking at Tara seriously.
"W-what? What do you m-mean?" Tara asked nervously, her hand stilling. Master Cats were slightly precognitive, so if Miss Kitty was sure they were too late, they probably were.
"An ogre has been lured in already." The kitten sighed. "Keep petting please."
"Sorry," Tara said running her hand down the soft back as fear knotted in her belly. An Ogre?
"I think I can take him," Miss Kitty said, extending her ten needle like front claws into the wood fence. "Adam doesn't seem very bright. But I really don't want to spend the rest of my life helping Trevor be a noble. He's a good kid, but he wouldn't be able to run this mill on his own, let alone a dukedom."
Approaching footsteps saved Tara from needed to reply; she had no idea what they would do now.
"Tara, I- What's the matter?" Giles asked, as he returned with a lanky young man in a somewhat worn tunic, noticing his apprentice's pallor as she turned to face him.
"Th-there's an ogre," Tara said, faintly.
Giles' expression turned concerned. "Well," he said. "This is a problem."