Chapter 1 : Fact and Fiction
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Ian McNeice as Minister Faris "Spout-Hole" Spavin
Furthermore, the cast list mentioned above is a list of people I envision to be the characters and is only provided to serve as visual aids for the reader. I have, in no way shape or form, any means to actually procure these actors to be my characters. Thank you!
WARNING! May contain scenes of hunting, but no animals were hurt during the writing of this story. Viewer discretion is advised. Reserve judgement on the topic when the story is complete.
Fact and Fiction
“It will not come. I bet my good knife on it.”
Her round friend’s fear made her laugh. They’d worked with each other for somewhere close to a decade, but Gustave still felt that chill crawling up his spine. The same one that Serefina had long been able to cast away. “Mind you season your words well, Gustave. I would hate for you to eat them bland,” she laughed as she threw away her cigar and crushed it deep into the earth with the butt of her rifle.
The ground trembled underneath her. The creature was getting close. She could smell the rotting flesh from its breath. It wouldn’t be long now.
It had been three months since they’d left for the expedition. They all knew how hard the ground trembled this near to the creature’s nest, but none of them managed to grow comfortable with it. The rustling trees and the shaking rocks just reminded them of the fearsome beasts that travelled underneath them as they slept, that slivered in hell while they dared it to come out.
But it had never shook like this. Not like the earth wanted to rip itself apart. That meant Gustave was wrong. The beast would come tonight. She was sure of it.
Despite their doubt, the men around her followed her lead. They ate their meager dinner of beans and bread without a word. Rifles resting ready on their knees. There was not much laughter around the camp that night. Not while Serefina remained so tense. Not when the small hairs on her skin stood at the scent of trouble.
They knew well to listen to her instincts in matters like this. It had never failed them before, nor was it likely to. Serefina Fiametta was the most famous hunter in Europe, if not the world. She had never met a creature she could not kill and there was never a moment when her first instinct did not lead them to the hide of yet another successful prize.
They told stories about her, when they thought she could not hear. Stories about how she’d killed the erumpent with a butter knife or how she’d sliced off a quintaped’s leg with a single strand of silken thread. There were so many stories about her. Fact and fiction had long blurred into a single, grand legend about a woman and her insatiable thirst for the cold hands of danger.
And far as they knew, all the stories were true.
Suddenly, she stood up and took her gun with her. Signaled for them to follow her as she walked into the Sumatran jungle with no hint of hesitation or fear.
The roar of the beast had pierced the quiet night air. And the game was afoot.
No one could light their wands. It would only scare off the beast. Serefina had made it clear that a man caught with any bit of light on him would be fed to the beast as a distraction. Everyone kept their eyes wide open. Their ears alert for any sudden sound.
Serefina ripped them to a halt as she felt the beast encircling them. Two bright yellow eyes peaked from behind the trees in the distance. Then another pair. Then another. Then another.
The entire family had come out to play!
Each and every man there prayed for dear life, but Serefina kept her ground and showed no fear. She even smiled.
“Draw closer to me,” she whispered to them as the group willingly followed. “Only fire on my mark, or I swear, I will have your head instead of theirs. Am I understood?”
They all nodded.
The beasts’ harrowing cries could be heard from all around. Serefina felt it. Felt them crawling over tree roots and corpses. She felt the other animals of the jungle flee at the very sight of them. They drew closer and closer. Their stench and the stench of those they had killed marched with them. Hell’s army sent to drag all into the abyss.
The creatures pounced! All five at once! Grilfors, cursed with the heads of a panther and the bodies of a snake. Their fangs hungry for our flesh! No hope could be seen as the men stared unto their doom.
Serefina gave the signal. Dragonfire came spewing from their rifles. The light burned brighter than the moon in the darkest nights and rendered the beasts blind on sight. They tried to scramble away, but the Devil was not to have his pets alive! Serefina broke from the group and hunted them down one by one. Armed with nothing but her faithful cutlass, she hacked through the fell creatures and killed them all before the dawn rose.
“Respectfully, sir. I think this is trash!”
Wesley Scamander could not believe that this was the reason he’d been asked to the Minister of Magic’s Office! Of all the nonsense in the world! Was this the only solution they could think of? To hire an all likely fictitious beast hunter to act as savior for the British people? He thought not! Wesley was a proper member of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures! Not some aristocratic twiddle with nothing to do but read silly novels and mistake them for news!
He snapped the book shut and threw it back on the table. “The manticore attacks have become very severe, Minister. We cannot afford to lose a moment! I’m sure my team is more than equip to handle the situation if only you will allow us another try!”
“NO!” Minister Spavin roared. “I will not waste anymore of the Ministry’s funds in your failures! It is enough, Mr. Scamander. You have had your chance and it is time you step down. If anyone is to be blamed for the escalating severity of the attacks, it is your team’s incompetence! If you had your way, England would run out of willing Trappers and we’d be forced to draft them! Now I will hear no more about it! No more!”
Wesley knew well than to engage the Minister in his rage. He knew his place and it was far below the chain of command. Bureaucrats and politicians made the decisions in the government. Even when they were ignorant of the simple facts of the matter. Wesley was the last Senior Officer left among the Trappers. All the other lads had met their end in the manticore’s jaws. It was his reluctant duty to make sure that England was safe from the beast. He would bite his tongue until blood spewed out if that’s what it took.
But this business about the Italian adventurer bode ill – even to his freshly promoted ears.
The Minister sat back down and sighed. “Your boys have left us no choice, Mr. Scamander. We can’t keep sending off green thumbs out there to be eaten alive. Its bad form! Bad form indeed.
Wesley forced himself to nod.
“Other measures must be taken,” Minister Spavin continued. “If you insist on being a part of this mission, you must agree to work with Signorina Fiametta, or quit the matter all together. Quit your post while you’re at it.”
And this was why they called him Spout-Hole Spavin. Not only did he have the physique of a fully grown whale, but he could also crush you with minimal effort.
There was really no choice in front of Wesley.
The manticore attacks had been his task and his failure, true enough. One would imagine he would have to see it through. But he never imagined that groveling to an oafish foreigner was part of the job description.
Still, Wesley was a professional. He would swallow his pride and ensure that the job was done.
He nodded to the Minister.
“Good then,” Minister Spavin replied. “You are to go to Morocco at once and extend our offer to the woman, yourself. The British government will not take no for an answer. Use any means necessary, but get her to London before it is too late!”