I- I really don't know what to say... how to start. For all that he warned us he was coming, I didn't understand until it was too late. Would it have made a difference anyway?
Of all the people to come for one of us though.... I mean, he's had so many opportunities to hurt us in the past. Why now?
Oh gods... I have to believe she's okay. There's no reason he'd take her if he intended to kill her...
Because... he's not so considerate of anyone's feelings that he wouldn't do it right in front of us if that's what he planned. We've seen him kill, sometimes almost like he was protecting us, so why... Why would he come and take Shady away now? Why?
....... I don't know how to write this. All of us are in shock. I only just picked Lucas up today. Thank goodness all the kids were in the garden and not in the house at the time. The fight was over before any of them could be put in danger.
I feel like a part of me has been taken away. Shady is more than my best friend. She's like my sister, my family. I need her to be okay. I need her to come back.
We were sitting at the fire just a few hours ago, and now... she could be half way around the world for all I know.
Shady's been lost in thought since Sunday night. I've seen her move her finger through the air so many times I want to ask her what she's drawing. And the finger-dancing...... I almost expected her to start grunting REDRUM. Every time I've tried to talk to her since that night, she just... wouldn't even look me in the eye. I'd watch her pluck at her hair, her clothes, anything rather than look at me. I- I'd just been sitting with her as much as possible. So long as I could stay nearby, I was sure she'd know I still supported her whatever else she might be thinking. The slinky was the most maddening part, you know... You never realize how annoying the repetition of the metal on metal is until you listen to it for hours on end.
I'd listen to it for twenty-four hours straight if it meant she was back home.
It was nearly dusk and the light of the setting sun painted the room red. Something boomed against the front door. We both jumped up, running towards the sound, but we'd hardly turned the corner before the door shuddered in its frame again, a huge crack appearing near the hinges. There was a pause of some seconds and weird sounds of metal on metal reached our ears. Then another massive boom, and the remains of the door flew into the foyer.
Victor stepped into the room, his massive form illuminated by the sun like a bloody red nimbus. His aura... a thing as black as the vortex he uses on his enemies, seemed to drag and claw at the air around him, as if it would devour the world. A beartrap was fastened to one of his arms, but it hardly seemed to slow him down as he advanced across the room, towards us... towards Shady. Black blood dripped from his arm but seemed to turn to dust before it reached the floor.
I saw the Oracle then. She drifted after him like the ghost of some woodland nymph, pallid and limned by a green fire that I've only seen on some of the older, more august trees. As she looked at me with her dead eyes, I half expected to hear her mad cackle. Or a banshee scream to make my ears bleed and to herald someone's death... Not Shady's please... not her.
Before she could do either, RoadRunner grabbed her by the hair and yanked her back outside. Funny I thought ghosts were supposed to be immaterial.
But I had no time to pay any attention to their fight. Victor made a beeline for Shady, and Shady... didn't move, didn't run or try to defend herself. She just stood there, looking at the floor. Before Victor had gone more than a few feet, Sunshine ran in from behind us and tackled him.
Sunshine is not a small man, but Victor... is massive, like some kind of troll or a lost Jotun. Sunshine didn't even phase him, though he did manage to knock him down initially. It gave me hope until Victor jabbed Sunshine in the stomach with the sledgehammer and jumped to his feet again. Sunshine recovered just in time to be grabbed by the scruff of his hoodie like a naughty puppy and lifted off his feet. Victor tossed him away almost casually and turned back to Shady. But Sunshine would not give up; he tackled Victor from behind like a linebacker. Unfortunately Victor didn't go down a second time. Victor twisted and grabbed Sunshine by the shoulder, dragging him around so that he could slam his other arm into Sunshine's face and shoulders. He used the beartrap like a bludgeon, smashing Sunshine again and again until Shady cried out for him to stop.
I jumped between them as Victor dropped Sunshine and moved towards my friend, someone who had tried many times to be his friend too.
And he just... disappeared. Only to reappear behind me, ignoring me completely. I spun around just in time to see him lift Shady into the air. Trina had come in from the garden and ran towards them, an expression of shock on her face. For a moment Victor and Shady stood out, a shadow darker than any cast by the flickering firelight, and then, they were gone. Trina landed on the floor hard and looked up at me, her eyes already starting to well tears.
I saw the other kids come piling in through the garden doors.
Outside, I could still hear the fight between Oracle and RoadRunner. I thought... I hoped there still might be a chance that Victor would appear beside his... whatever she is, whatever they are. But even as I exited the door, I saw Oracle fading like a mist in the twilight. Wherever Victor had gone, she was following after him. She grinned at me, her smile a rictus like something dead, and I swear I could see her skull through her skin before she had fully faded.
I stared at where she'd been, then up at RoadRunner. RoadRunner looked at me through her bird mask and every line of her accused me of failing, of being useless. Then she seemed to twitch and was gone in a blur of motion. The children appeared at the door, the entire fight lasting only a handful of minutes. I... didn't even know what to say.
Shady is gone. I don't know where and I don't know why. And RoadRunner is right to think I'm useless. I've been running all over the property to check the wards and not a single one has been compromised. I even dug up the witches bottles and they're still sealed. I don't know what to do. I can't protect anyone. I'm nothing.