The Kelpie's Song
The third and final cannon fired, sending Fred into the tournament at last. The crowds roared, "Weasley is our king!" as Fred ran into the forest. His long legs moved skillfully, bobbing in and out of branches, dodging rocks and boulders. He was nervous, but he put on a brave face.
"I can't let them down," he thought. "I have no clue where a kelpie would be hiding, though."
Fred slowed down to a jog, thinking of which direction to go in. There were three pathways in front on him. The first, left path was lined with trees that had scratch marks in their bark. Branches were broken as if something quite large was travelling in that direction, but didn't quite fit.
"I don't think a kelpie makes those kinds of marks. From what McGonagall said, they are a bit more discreet. Making marks like that wouldn't help them stay hidden, but lead me right to them," Fred pondered.
The second, middle path didn't have many trees, but the trees it did have weren't very full. Scorch marks covered large boulders and ash blew from the ground, sweeping into Fred's face.
Coughing, Fred thought out loud, "No, that can't be the way. The ash would lead me right to them, as well. Besides, I know that Josette battled the chimaera. I know more about chimaeras than kelpies, and I know for a fact that one of its main attributes is its ability to breath fire."
The third and final path lead to the right. The ground appeared slightly softer, like a lake of some kind was close by. The plant life consisted of shrubs, which were surrounded by tiny insects buzzing around.
"Not a mark on the trees...no footprints either. This must be the way," Fred said confidently, stepping forward onto the muddy path. He walked slowly, careful not to alert anything of his presence in the swampy area. Each step was more careful than the previous. He was barely ten steps in when he heard a rustle of leaves. His head snapped to where he thought he heard the noise. Frozen on the spot, he slowly took out his wand.
"Lumos," he whisperd, pointing his wand into the shadowed area. A glittering, black eye flashed in the leaves, but quickly disappeared into the forest. Fred ran after it, with his wand held in front of him. He was led into a small clearing, before he lost his way.
"Damn," he breathed, "Nox." His wand went out, engulfing him in darkness. He could see only a few feet in front of him.
"Do you like to play in the dark?" he asked the creature. He could feel it staring at him from the cover of the trees. The little hairs on the back of his neck perked up, sending chills down his spine.
"I turned out the light for you," he said to the kelpie. "I didn't mean to frighten you...but you have something that I want."
A high-pitched cry echoed throughout the empty forest. It was the same cry the little creature in the champions tent made. The noise made Fred grip his wand tighter, hoping the thin piece of wood would somehow protect him. More rustling made Fred turn his head. The kelpie was on the move again.
"There you are," he said as he followed the creature, this time without the use of the lighting charm. All the way, the figure sang its sad sounding tune. Fred only caught small glints of his leader. It appeared that the thing was standing upright, walking on two feet. Occasionally, Fred thought he saw the outline of a women caressing the trees as she glided through the forest. Mesmerized by the beauty of the creature, he stumbled blindly through until he was led to a lake.
"Where have you led me?" he asked the creature. The only response he received was the same cry that he had followed. He looked around him, but no creature was in sight. He did notice a patch of land in the middle of the lake, with stepping stones leading to it. Suddenly, a woman's head surfaced from the water. She had raven black hair that trailed down her naked torso to the small of her back. She placed her arms on the bank of the lake, revealing her dark, scaly tail.
"Did you lead me here?" he asked dumbly, unable to avert his gaze from her beautiful face. She nodded, playfully twisting her hair between her fingers.
"But how could you have..."
She placed a finger to her lips before he could finish his sentence. Shaking her head, she motioned for Fred to join her by the water. As if he was under some kind of spell, Fred obeyed.
"Come to me, human. I am all alone, with no man to comfort me the way only a man can," she cooed in a wispy voice, "And you are such a handsome man."
Fred approached the girl. As he got closer, he was able to peer at her face more clearly. Her skin was a milky white perfection framed by dark strands of hair. Her full, pink lips pouted deliciously, opening into a smile that revealed rows of pearl-like teeth.
"Closer...closer..." she whispered alluringly. Fred kneeled down, getting less than inches away from her lovely face. That was when he noticed her eyes. Long eyelashes attempted to conceal their wickedness, but could only do so much. Each iris was as black as night, the pupils barely visible.
"Kiss me..." she breathed, puffing out her bare chest. She took Fred's face in her hands, but he had realized what she was.
"No!" Fred shouted, trying to escape her cold grip, but it was too late. She held tight to his face, her eyes changing. The black grew out into the whites of her eyes, engulfing them in an empty horror. The once pearl-like teeth sharpened into fangs, and the lovely skin became waxy.
"YOU WILL NOT ESCAPE ME!" it screeched. Fred blindly punched, hoping to hit the creature. He felt his fist connect, sending the kelpie into a fit of cries. He frantically scurried back, trying to think of a spell that would combat the beast. The mermaid was now fully transformed into its originally horse-like shape. Fred stared at it for a moment before coming to his senses. He yelled the first spell that came to his mind.
The spell flew past the kelpie's head, hitting a tree behind it. The kelpie rand towards Fred, while he just stared blankly, glued to the spot. The creature swept Fred onto its back, charging back into the murky waters. Fred closed his eyes on impact, letting the cold water rush over his skin. All of a sudden, the weight of the kelpie faded from underneath him. Fred floated in the green trenches, looking as best he could for the monster.
"You are in my domain now."
Fred widened his eyes as the voice of the kelpie sounded in his mind.
"You can do nothing to save yourself. Luckily for you, I don't like to play with my food."
A dark figure appeared from the bottom of the lake, right for Fred.
"Ascendio!" Fred thought. He was propelled out of the water and onto the island in the center of the lake. The kelpie cried in anger, but Fred was too quick for it.
"Descendo!" he yelled, pointing his wand at the kelpie. The creature was sent back into the depths. Fred quickly got up, knowing he didn't have much time before the kelpie resurfaced. He looked around him, finding a rock pedestal with an object sitting on top. He ran for it, picked up the object and ran across the stepping stones onto land. He heard a cry behind him, but he didn't stop running. He ran as fast as he could, back to the original three paths. When he was sure he was out of range of the kelpie, he slowed down. He slowed his breathing, taking each step carefully. He finally felt safe enough to stop.
"That was way too close for comfort," he panted, soaking wet. The object in his hand shined. He brought it to his face to get a closer look. It was a antiqued, greenish metal that could have been brass at one point. He ran his fingers over the delicate carvings, paying attention to the details. He noticed strange symbols, they looked like they were from an ancient language.
"What are these? I wonder if Auggie would know...she knows so much," his mind wandered to Auggie. He felt ashamed that he was attracted to the false woman.
"Auggie, this is for you. I'm sorry I let that kelpie's facade cloud my mind," he sighed. Pointing his wand in the air, he sent up red sparks. A final cannon rang through the forest. With a sad face, Fred looked at the small box in his hand.
"I'm no king."