“A skin changer?” Sylvie asked.
Inés nodded. “They got right past me and vanished in the crowd. I don’t know what they look like now.”
“We weren’t even supposed to give chase!” Serena declared. “We were just supposed to identify them and let Miss Lais know.”
“It’s a good thing I did chase them, though,” Inés argued. “Otherwise she’d be looking for a disguise.”
“I hate to agree with the mermaid,” Sylvie stated. “But she’s right, in this case. Catching a skin changer requires some specific precautions.”
“But she could have really been hurt,” Serena protested.
“Aww, were you worried?” Inés rubbed Serena’s head. “It’s good to know you care, although I can look after myself. So, what’s the plan now?”
“Now we tell Lais she’s dealing with a skin changer and we go on our way,” Sylvie stated.
“That’s dull,” Inés said. “I say we nail the bastard ourselves.”
“And how do you propose to do that?” Sylvie asked. “They know what you look like but they can look like anyone.”
“I have considered that,” Inés said. “And I have an idea. You two are going to just have to try and chase me down. Or, at least, Sylvie will.”
“Come again?” Sylvie asked.
“Gangway!” Inés cried, fleeing through the wood. Lightning scorched the ground behind her, narrowly missing the trees.
“Stop right there!” Sylvie declared.
“You better not get in my way,” Inés stated. “I have something very important to report to the royal guards!”
“I don’t care, I’m going to fry you!” Sylvie exclaimed. A burst of lightning crashed downward. Inés rolled, avoiding the burst. She quickly regained her feet and continued her flight. “Take what you deserve for tarnishing my sister!”
“I’ll have to decline,” Inés called. “At least wait until after I make my report.”
From above, Serena watched from Dusk’s back. The elves around them were staring, crowding, trying to figure out what was happening. Serena observed the crowd. If Inés was right, their target would try to take advantage of this situation.
That’s when she spotted it. A faint glint in the trees. Serena rode as the arrow was loosed. Fortunately, Inés spotted it and knocked it away with a quick swing of her staff.
Serena followed the archer. She gingerly moved to Dusk’s back and lunged, tackling the skin changer out of the tree line. The two fell, Serena got several cuts and bruises from the branches, but she refused to let go.
The landing was hard but she managed to pick herself up quickly only to find herself face to face with a smirking version of herself. She got up to face her doppelgänger, suddenly very aware that her right arm had been injured in the fall.
“Serena!” Inés and Sylvie ran over.
“Over here,” the skin changer cried out before she could, apparently grasping the situation. As Inés and Sylvie approached the skin changer ran towards them. “Careful, it took my form!”
“That’s a lie!” Serena declared. “Well, it did, but I’m the real me.”
“Both of you stay back!” Sylvie commanded. She and Inés looked from one Serena to the other.
“I’ve dreamt about this,” Inés admitted. “But my dream was a lot sexier.” She snapped her fingers. “Serena, where’s that spot that you really, really, really like to have caressed?”
“That’s… so embarrassing,” the doppelgänger flushed. “It’s…”
“My inner thigh!” Serena interrupted. “Especially the left thigh.”
Inés staff swung down on the skin changer’s head with a sickening crack. “Bingo!”
The skin changer’s body shifted, its skin turning a mossy green and yellowed tusks appearing on its mouth. Grey hair emerged from its head. Its body turned bent with age. Saggy breasts appeared.
“So she was a lady,” Inés muttered. “Not young or attractive, though.”
“You know,” Sylvie said, rubbing her temples. “We could have figured out which one was the real Serena by having her show us her tonfas.”
“Yeah,” Inés said. “But my way worked just fine.”
“Your way also provided way too much information,” Sylvie said.
“Oh, it’s good for you,” Inés stated. “You really could learn more about what women like. Who knows, maybe Illyana likes to have her inner thighs caressed.”
“Don’t you dare think about what she likes!” Sylvie warned.
“Ladies, let’s not fight,” Serena entreated. “It all worked out, right?”
“Let’s just hope she was acting alone,” Sylvie stated. “No questioning her now.”
The next morning, Inés went to report to Lais personally. Serena was getting her arm treated and Sylvie was keeping an eye on her.
“A troll skin changer, huh,” Lais stated. She tapped her fingers together. “It may have been one bitter person acting alone, our peoples do have a troubled history, but it also could have very well been a deliberate act of espionage. I’ll have to tighten security. Thank you, for dealing with the immediate problem.”
“No problem,” Inés said. “We did say we’d help.”
“So, you’re continuing your journey tomorrow, I take it,” Lais said.
“That’s the plan,” Inés confirmed. “Serena got a little hurt so we’re just going to make sure she’ll be okay before we go.”
“Then I owe her a debt,” Lais said. She walked confidently over to Inés. Her long fingers brushing under her chin. “After all, I do believe we had a date planned for when the situation was resolved.”
“I remember,” Inés said. “But, I must confess, I didn’t think you were taking me seriously.”
“I was very serious,” Lais said. She moved behind Inés and blew lightly on her neck, moving her lips up to whisper in her ear. “I don’t suppose I could persuade you to spend the rest of the day in its entirety in my bed?”
“I’m already convinced!” Inés declared.
“Good,” Lais chuckled. “Then come and show me where you get that marvellous confidence from.”