Snake Skin Pt. 2

Mera and Clark walked cautiously into the huge, empty warehouse. It smelled like a renovation site for sure but there was the scent of something wild underneath it all. Their wands did not cast nearly enough light but it gave them a perimeter. Mera watched the rear as Clark watched the front and was, therefore, leading the way. Their wands were at the ready, just as they had been so many times before. Mera knew that whatever was in the warehouse had seen her and Clark. She also knew that Clark must have realized that too. It was a measured decision, though, since neither could fight blind.

As they stepped beyond the light shining from the door, some movement suddenly entered their small circle of light. It was absolutely silent and an absolute blur of motion. Whatever it was, it had claws which stretched out toward the two wizards menacingly. Clark’s wand snapped up and he called out “Protego!” and a blue shield appeared in the air. The claws scraped against the energy of the shield and sounded like knives on steel. The shield flickered and failed but the beast had already disappeared back into the darkness.

“Shit!” Clark muttered. “It’s pretty damn big!”

“Too big for you?” Mera asked. “It’s no bigger than an Erumpet and we’ve taken care of two of those.”

“Not helping,” Clark hissed. “Watch yourself. It’s fast. What is it? You’re the scholar between us.”

“I’m not sure yet,” Mera said. “I need more info than just the claws.”

They kept moving through the darkness. Now that they knew that the creature was a hunter, they could not stay still out in the open. A few yards further and another shape loomed in their light but this time it was at ground level. Mera saw a glimpse of gray and a feline structure and she reacted immediately. She pointed her wand and called out “Reducto!” and the shape crumbled to dust violently.

“Um, Partner,” Clark said. “Did you just disintegrate our target?”

“No,” Mera said. “I had a hunch on what it might be and I was right.”

“Well, then what is it?” Clark asked.

“It’s called a Forge Tiger,” Mera said. “It uses available materials to create statue clones of itself to confuse and corral its prey.”

“Are you telling me we are dealing with an actual copy cat?” Clark asked.

Mera groaned. “Yes. That’s where the term comes from.”

“And why is it not attacking us?” Clark asked.

“My guess is that it’s pouting because we destroyed its statue,” Mera said.

“Then let’s destroy some more,” Clark said.

“You got it,” Mera said.

They started moving again and when they saw a statue, they hit it with a destructive spell and took them apart. Six statues crumbled one by one and the last one looked hastily constructed. As that last statue fell, there was a roar of challenge and desperation. A brilliantly purple tiger leaped out of the darkness, claws out. Clark pointed his wand at it and called out “Manus Fortis!” and a gigantic glowing blue hand reached out and snatched the tiger out of the air.

As Clark lowered the tiger to the ground, Mera pulled out a glass vial. It was a powerful sleeping draught that she had brewed herself as she had learned in the dungeons of Hogwarts. She unstoppered the steel flask and held it up, pointing her wand at it. She called out “Caligo!” and the liquid evaporated into a small cloud. She guided that cloud to the tiger and as soon as the tiger started to breathe it in, it fell asleep. It stopped struggling against Clark’s spell. Clark pointed his wand again and calmly said “Incarcerous” and the beast was suddenly bound in ropes.

“Good job, partner,” Clark said. “Let’s drop the copy cat off and then I owe you a crab cake.”

“I think I deserve two crab cakes,” Mera said with a smile. “and a beer.”

“A beer?” Clark asked. “It’s a deal.”

Mera smiled and thought to herself that maybe snakes can shed their skin. Maybe people can change for the better and then their life does the same. She was living proof. She hoped that her old housemates out there were doing the same. She hoped that they were happy. She hoped that the good times were finally here and that the darkness was well behind and the world was safe. She hoped and sometimes that was enough.

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