Baby B isn't in this. However, his presence has been noticed at last.)
Blue walked desultorily down the road away from his master’s cottage, his hands shoved into the pockets of his pie-stained uniform. Sympathetic to his mission, his friend Dillon slouched beside him, looking more normal than usual, except for the collection of tails.
“Casi threw the pie at you, didn’t she?” Dillon asked.
Blue sighed. “It’s not my fault. She said ‘bring me my pies.’ Well, I found one of them right away, but was she happy? No.”
“Ah.” Dillon thought about Blue’s master. Given her temperament, he was just as glad that Moreena was his master. She was far more likely to cry than yell. He preferred the crying. Well, not really. There just seemed to be more hugging and less throwing involved with Moreena. “At least you were able to bring it back to her.”
“Yeah, but she wanted it in one piece. With less dirt.”
“Kind of picky, isn’t she?”
“Yeah,” Blue sighed. He should have known better, he supposed. He loved his Casi, but she was such a nag about some things. “I have to find the other pie. She said she wouldn’t sleep with me if I didn’t.”
Dillon shuddered in sympathetic horror. He couldn’t imagine a fate worse than that. “Maybe someone’s seen it,” he suggested and called along the hive line to his brothers.
Hey, has anyone seen a pie?
What do you need a pie for? came an immediate response.
I don’t need it, Dillon clarified. Blue does. It’s Casi. It was stolen and she threatened not to sleep with him if he didn’t bring it back.
I’m sorry to hear that.
I thought you were still cut off from last month.
Blue hunched into himself. No, she forgave me for the sheets.
Really? Even after what happened with the pink dye and the chicken feathers?
Can we get back to the stolen pie? Blue whined. Casi’s nagging me. I really need to find it.
You know, I’m looking for stolen goods too. A basket of yarn.
You too? I’m hunting for some missing toys.
A whole bunch of lefthand socks here.
I’m looking for a cow.
Suddenly, Mace’s voice silenced them all. How many people are looking for stolen items? he demanded.
A chorous of ‘me’ and ‘I am’ and ‘I wanna blow up a thief too!’ sounded. Dillon and Blue looked at each other. “It’s an epidemic.”
“Why would anyone want to steal socks and cows and toys?” Dillon wondered.
“I dunno. Humans are weird.”
Battle sylphs! Mace boomed. We have a thief in the Valley! We will find them and destroy them!
Blue sighed as the cheering echoed. “Well, if it’s not just her, do you think Casi will be less angry?”
“It’s Casi. What do you think?”
“You’re right. I’m screwed.”
“I thought the whole threat was in how you weren’t going to be.”
They started trudging again, following the road as it curved around and away from Casi’s cottage. Blue glanced down at his feet and stopped. There was a pie sized drag mark in the dirt, a faint indentation that led away from the cottage, across the road, and away from the town.
Blue felt hope start to bloom in his chest. “Look! That’s got to be the pie!”
“Why would someone drag it?” Dillon wondered as his friend ran ahead, pumping his arms and jumping for joy as he shouted that he was going to get some. Finally, he shrugged. “Humans are weird,” he agreed and hurried after his friend.
Together, Blue and Dillon stared at the little patch of meadow that the town fence ran through. It was filled with spare socks, wood, toys, sacks of grain, manure, ladies undergarments, a bone comb, several stunned cats tangled in the yarn, and a cow.
They looked down at the sadly broken remains of what had once been a perfectly baked pie. The cow had stepped on it.
Um, Casi? Blue sent to his master. I found your pie.
Casi was unimpressed with their success.
“What’s wrong with you?” she screamed at Blue. “It’s a pie! How hard is it to keep someone from stealing a bloody pie?”
Blue kept his head down, shoulders hunched and apologizing profusely to the love of his life. Dillon kept his own mouth shut and stood back against the fence, trying not to attract her attention.
Something tickled at his senses. There was something hidden in the fence that was trying very hard to avoid his notice. Dillon blinked and hunched down, peering in through a crack to see a small gap where two tiny elemental sylphs huddled, staring at him in silent terror. They weren’t of the hive. Dillon snarled and lifted a hand, his palm glowing with destructive energy.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Casi snapped, distracted from her nagging.
“Couple of baby sylphs in here,” Dillon said. “I’m going to kill them.”
If Dillon had thought to ask him first, Blue could have warned him that using such words as ‘baby’ and ‘kill’ in the same context near Casi was a mistake.