Well. We found the shack......By pure, unholy luck. After nearly three whole fucking WEEKS of fruitless searching, dead ends, proxy phone-napping, and the Rake on our heels everywhere we look.
This morning around 6am, I awoke to the very strong smell of smoke. Rising from the forest about a half mile to the west was a thick column of black smoke. I shook Skan awake (which, for future reference to anyone who might come across a similar situation, is a bad idea..it will earn you a gun butt to the face) and, after holding my face in pain for a few moments, pointed at the smoke.
"There is no way that's a coincidence, Skan. It's out in the middle of the godforsaken forest. There's no town there, right?"
She stared at me blankly for a few moments, then her eyes got wide. "Our luck can't be that good. Can it?"
We took off in the direction of the smoke, as quickly and quietly as possible. The closer we got, the more....wrong.... the air felt. By the time the dilapidated (and now, burning) thing came into view, I wanted to throw myself on the ground and be sick. I heard shotgun shots from behind me...I spun to find Skan alternating between glaring daggers and popping off shells at a tree 30 yards away. The Rake. AGAIN. FUCKER.
I drew my sword and ran for the building. If Hawk was in there.......I had to get him. Had to. No choice. Those proxy fuckers better NOT have set him on fire.
I got closer and heard yelling and the screeching of car tires, but I couldn't see the front of the shack due to the amount of black smoke. It was so choking, I had to drop to my hands and knees to keep going. I felt Skan drop in behind me, trying to stifle a cough.
We rounded the corner just in time to see a black bundle roughly thrown into the backseat of a black truck. It was moving and making angry muffled noises, until Hypnos hit it with his cane.
They saw Skan and I then. Three proxies came running at us, faces half covered with bandannas to protect them from the smoke. Hypnos yelled something, and a woman with a screaming face mask (It's me, stupid little girl. Your detective skills are so poorly lacking. I thought you did this for a living?) jumped in the driver's seat. Squealing the tires, they took off with the bulk of their 'army'. And my Hawk.
Howling in rage, I jumped at the three proxies. I cut one across the face before Skan grabbed me and said, "Eternity! No! They aren't worth it. Come on, if we stay here we're going to be crispy!" She pulled at my arm, desperately. I happened to notice the roof of the shack beginning to fall...With reluctance, I stumbled away with Skan pulling on me. It fell on one of the proxies. He screamed and went down among the rubble..the one I cut. He was grabbing his face when he fell.....
The other two ran.
And that's all I remember of that day. I woke up in a tent, with Skan sitting at the entrance, my sword on her lap and the gun right beside it. I got up and walked by her. Surprisingly she didn't stop me....I walked out to the camp perimeter and pulled out my knife. One long, slow cut. Another addition to the notebook.