Like a snake…

This little scene was inspired by a phrase prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth (Like a disappearing snake)…

**

When they reached the original crime scene, Lachlan kept well back from what the two wizards were doing.  The last thing he wanted was to be anywhere near the basil that he knew was still in the area.  On top of that, he didn’t want to be in the way when they worked magic.  No, it was better for all of them if he stayed back and simply kept watch.  He was thankful of his decision when he saw where Eileen found the trace of the first magic: in the center of the wild basil.

“Ah,” she said, her expression brightening.  She grinned at Ezra and nodded.  “Here it is, Officer Metternich.  Someone hid here and fouled your shields.”

“When I used the spell to detect what magic was used on O’Neill,” Ezra said, his voice faint, “my own magical signature overprinted the one left by the person who had killed him.”

Nodding, Eileen set about documenting the scene.  She glanced over at Lachlan and added, “He concealed himself both magically and by using the wild basil for cover.  Then, he slipped away in the underbrush, like a snake.”

“An apt analogy, if ever I’ve heard one,” Lachlan groused.  He heaved a sigh and then looked over at Ezra.  “Think we can get anywhere near the more recent scene?”

“I expect it’s under guard, but we can try,” Ezra said, grimacing.  He chewed at his lip and then shrugged.  “It’ll depend on who they’ve sent to guard it.  I might be able to keep them from arresting me with a bit of fast talking.”

“Do you want to chance it?” Lachlan asked.

Ezra nodded.  “It might be the only chance we’ve got,” he said.  Then he beckoned to Eileen and the trio made their way through the forest to the lake.  They moved around the margins of the lake until they reached the spot where they’d found Nowell earlier that day.

Lachlan tensed when he spotted the shadowy figures by the edge of the water.  “Company,” he breathed.  He glanced at Ezra and shrugged.  “I’ll guard the girl.  You ready to employ that glib tongue of yours?”

Nodding, Ezra moved forward.  He raised his hands when the two peace officers spun around, wands ready.  “Stay your hands, gentlemen.  It’s just us,” he said.  He stepped closer and then shrugged.  “Master Lupin is here to do some spell detection near the crime scene.  Then we’ll be on our way.”

“The chief’s been trying to get hold of you two since the body was carted off, Metternich,” one of them said, scowling.  “You’re not doing yourself any favors by hiding.”

“Who’s hiding?” Ezra said, grinning.  “I’m right here, in front of you, and I fully intend to report back to headquarters, as does my partner.  We simply wanted to bring in a material witness: a charms master of the highest skill to verify what you’ve, no doubt, already found.”

“Your magical signature is everywhere, Metternich,” the other man said.

“He was attempting to ascertain the spell used to kill Nowell,” Lachlan pointed out.

The peace officer shot him a glare.  “His shields would have kept that from overprinting the caster’s magical signature,” he snapped.

“His shields were fouled,” Eileen said, from further up the bank.  She waved at Lachlan and grinned.  “Downwind of you, aren’t I?”

Lachlan grimaced and nodded.  “Less so now that you would have been in the morning, with the wind blowing in from the water,” he said, his voice soft.

The two peacekeepers exchanged a glance and then one of them went up the bank to where Eileen stood.  After a moment, he nodded.  “She’s right, Tom,” he said.  “Someone cast an anti-shielding charm from here five hours ago: exactly when Metternich would have been here.”

“Then, just like a disappearing snake, he vanished into the underbrush,” Eileen said, grinning a bit viciously.  Then, she looked over at Ezra.  “We’ve got his magical signature now, though.  If he’s done any dark magic in the past, we’ll have him.”

Ezra heaved a sigh of relief.  “Thank you,” he said, giving her a weak smile.  He looked at the two peace officers.  “We will report back to headquarters, but there’s something we need to do first.”

Tom nodded.  “Pete was our friend too, Ezra,” he said, his tone somber.  “You catch this guy – catch him for Pete.”

“And for Lachlan,” Ezra said, glancing over at his partner.  When Lachlan flushed, he added, “After all, it was you they were trying to get thrown off the force.”

“You too,” Lachlan said, his voice soft.  “We’ve got a host of reasons to stop this man, not the least of which is the two deaths he has to answer for.  Both Nowell’s family and O’Neill’s family will rest better knowing he’s been captured.”

“Right,” Eileen said.  “So, let’s go already.”

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