The fog was clearing somewhat, but still around. Eerie shadows from the trees in the surrounding forest seemed to reach towards the group of seven like long spindly arms and hands with bony fingers at the end. The shadows were all the more strange considering there wasn’t a source of light for them to be there. Lycralad spotted them and was about to comment when Beryl stopped him: “A fairytale land… remember?” Lycralad nodded, but couldn’t help feeling confused.
Cheryl Olive picked up a large twig and drew a circle in the ground, and then a slightly larger triangle over the top, with one of the points facing the cottage. Then, she drew a larger circle around the two shapes and finally planted the stick in the ground next to the point of the triangle facing the house. “Psychic Sue, could you stand here please, and hold this stick?” She pointed just in front of the stick, and Sue obliged. “Lycralad, Firetop and Invisible Charlie… could you each stand by one of the lines on the triangle, facing outwards?” And they too complied. “Now, we simply must wait.”
The night was cold, even though the sky, which was occasionally visible through the fog, was cloudy. A sudden screech from the woods made Lycralad jolt.
“An owl.” Beryl advised. “Always remember the owls!”
“That didn’t sound like an owl to me.” Lycralad whispered.
“Me neither, being honest!” Firetop replied, with a hint of a nervous laugh.
“We do find ourselves in some strange situations,” Charlie commented, “I mean; this isn’t what we’d normally be doing on Hallowe’en!”
“It’s no more strange than other cases we seem to get embroiled in though, thinking about it” Firetop said, “Although standing in a witch’s circle on Hallowe’en is rather odd, even for us!”
“Will you please stop mentioning that it’s Hallowe’en?” Lycralad said, “I’m trying to cast that thought from my mind!”
“How can you do that?” Firetop laughed. “We’re in the presence of three witches, in a witch’s circle in a witch’s garden, in the middle of a witch’s wood, on a cold and foggy night with screeching owls and shadows that shouldn’t be there.”
“You’ve spotted them too, then?” Lycralad asked.
“Can’t help not to notice them, Lycralad, they’re all around!”
“And they’re moving!” Charlie observed.
“See: Hallowe’en is all around us!”
“I’m pretending it isn’t, Firetop. I could be at a fabulous Hallowe’en fancy dress party now, and instead I’m here. So I’m pretending it isn’t Hallowe’en.”
“You’re not making much sense, Lycra!” Firetop laughed. “I should be at Parrot Girl’s sister’s birthday party. I told her I couldn’t make it through work, but she was disappointed. Parrot Girl was as well, which is strange.”
“Having a birthday on Hallowe’en would be good, I think.” Charlie said, keeping his eye on one of the shadows that was moving back and forth in front of him.
“For the party opportunities it would” Lycralad’s sentence was cut short by another screech – a closer one this time – “…be…”
“I’m starting to feel very uneasy, guys” Invisible Charlie whispered. “These shadows seem to be swaying in a rhythm!”
“And that screeching from the ‘owls’ is either getting louder or closer” Lycralad felt a bead of sweat trickle down his brow. “I’m more than a little nervous, if I’m honest!”
“We’ve been in trickier situations than this…” Firetop reminded the other two. “What’s the worst that could happen?” he asked, with a knowing smirk. He glanced over to Psychic Sue, who smiled. “You three make me laugh!” she commented, still holding the twig.
Another screech filled the air, this time above the four heroes in the large circle. Red claw-like hands grasped Lycralad under his shoulders and swiftly hoiked him from the ground, and carried him away into the night’s sky.
“LYCRALAD!” Sue screamed, taken totally unaware by what happened. Firetop and Charlie turned quickly, but Lycralad had already vanished.
“Do not break the Circle” Cheryl Olive commanded, from the doorway of the cottage, where she stood with the other two witches.
“No.” Firetop stated. “That is not good.” He noticed one of the shadows hurrying toward him, others quickly moving behind it. “Charlie…”
“I see them,” Charlie interrupted, “I’ve been watching th…” a shadow wrapped itself around Charlie before he finished speaking, and pulled him quickly deep into the forest.
“What the hell?!” Firetop stood shocked. Sue looked back to the three witches.
“What are you doing?” She asked, very annoyed.
“Remain in the Circle” Beryl now commanded.
Sue looked back toward Firetop with a frown.
“Can’t you read what’s happening?” Firetop asked.
“No. They’re blocking me… or something is; I can’t tell. Sorry, Firetop”
“No need to apologise, Sue. I’m just very frustr…” Skeletal hands forced themselves through the ground and gripped Firetop’s ankles. Before he had time to activate his fire powers, he was dragged underground, with the soil appearing to instantly swallow him.
The twig Sue was holding burst into flames, forcing her to let go. “Ouch!” she screamed; frustrated that she couldn’t do anything to warn or help her colleagues. The circles and triangle then burst into flames, making Sue leap from the place she was standing. “Are you three crazy?” she shouted. “I thought we were friends!”
“Magic uses its own power,” Cheryl Olive commented. “You of all people should know that.”
“I am a psychic, Cheryl, not a magician.”
“You are a mystic, my good friend, and adept in psychical and magical realms. And it is Cheryl Olive.”
The Witches Three turned and walked into the cottage. Sue quickly followed them. “So, now what? We just leave them out there?”
“Their searches have begun” Beryl smiled. “They have merely been taken to their relevant destinations, to carry out their searches, by their chosen methods of transportation.”