Skulduggery froze as he saw her silhouette by the stagnant lake opposite the Sanctuary. She had her legs crossed like a child in class; he could only tell it was her in the dull light because her left hand was gripping the hair of poor Isla Jefferson. He looked back to the Sanctuary, wondering if he should call for back up before approaching. Turning to the lake again, he shuddered. Darquesse was in the exact same position, only closer.
He saw her shoulders slump as if she was sighing. Impatience was not one of Valkyrie’s strengths so he highly doubted Darquesse would be better at waiting. To test, he stared down at the floor, at his Italian leather shoes then snapped his head back up.
She had, as he suspected, moved closer. She was almost rounding the corner of the lake where the willows leaned over the water.
“Show – off,” he muttered. He snapped his palms and sent a light ripple of air towards her, watching it creep forwards as warily as he would. Her hair; much longer, he noticed, than before, splayed away from her face and he heard her giggle.
That sound would have filled him with confidence if the foul noise of a bone breaking hadn’t then swept across the street. Isla screamed loud and short before a hand must have clamped over her mouth.
“The longer you take,” she said mechanically, “The worse she’ll get.”
Skulduggery could barely hear her but he stepped forwards all the same, getting faster as he got closer. A fireball in his hand, he found himself looming over her while she picked up a stone and skipped it across the lake. It bounced nine times; he was a little impressed.
“I got bored with her,” Darquesse said, lifted up Isla’s limp hand for him to take, “And you’re here again so she’s of no use to me.”
Skulduggery hunkered down beside Isla, lifting her away from Darquesse. He was no doctor but he saw that her wrist was broken and she was pale from loss of blood, the gash down her arm was dripping relentlessly.
Darquesse leaned back on her arms, the scabbing noughts and crosses game not going unnoticed by the skeleton, and sighed again. “You’ll need to take her to the hospital,” she mumbled, picking at the grass, “I’ll still be here when you get back.”
Her reasonable mood wouldn’t last; he knew that much but Isla would bleed to death if he didn’t get her some help.
He turned to Darquesse who was now sending shadows to break the water. “Don’t move,” he warned.
“I couldn’t if I wanted to.”
Skulduggery nodded uncertainly and glanced at her legs, wondering if she literally couldn’t move. They were turned inwards, her knees touching and her toes pointed out awkwardly. He was about to ask what had happened to her but next to him, Isla spluttered, breaking his concentration.
“What’s happening?” she croaked.
She caught sight of Darquesse and screamed.
“You need to stop doing that,” Skulduggery said, “I’m going to take you to the hospital.”
Isla frowned. “What about her?”
The skeleton watched as Darquesse twirled a strand of hair around...