Valkyrie Cain stood on the pier, waiting for Skulduggery Pleasant to pick her up. It was about 60'clock in the evening, and it had been a warm summer's day in Haggard. The sea was calm and gently rolled towards the rocks and back again. She remembered how she used to wait here for Skulduggery when she was thirteen. She had changed a lot since then, and not just in appearance. Now she spent a lot more of her time with Tanith.

When Tanith had the remnant inside of her for a few years, Valkyrie had missed her immensely. Since Ghastly had managed to extract the remnant, they were making up for lost time. Things were, in some ways, back to normal, although it was unwise to mention Billy-Ray Sanguine in Tanith's presence as it was a rather sensitive subject.

Since the death of Kenspeckle Grouse, Ghastly had turned his attention to healing magic and remedies. Although he was no longer Grand Mage, he continued to run his tailor shop, whilst attending to various injuries that the group had contracted during training.

The gentle hum of the Bentley's engine alerted her that Skulduggery had arrived. She climbed into the passenger seat. The only reason that the car was still in one piece was that Skulduggery had reluctantly agreed to avoid using it in close proximity to gunfire, explosives, evil sorcerers or any other situation in which it was liable to be damaged.

'So, where are we going?' Valkyrie asked

'To Ghastly's shop. I have a... an item of clothing that I need him to make me.'

There was an unbearable silence, which Valkyrie broke with a cough.

'Uh-hem. So, this 'item', what is it for?'

'Well, next week is Erskine Ravel's birthday. He will be a hundred and... thirty... no, fifty... um, not sure but that's beside the point.'

'And the point is...'

'To celebrate his birthday, Erskine will be having a fancy dress party to which I am invited. I need ghastly to make me a costume. You were also invited, but I politely declined on your behalf.'

Valkyrie frowned.

'This isn't going to be a children's party, Valkyrie, with psychedelic party hats and delightful games. There will be alcohol, and loud music, and there might be some scary masks.'

'Number one,' Valkyrie began 'I'm seventeen. Number two, have you seen my Dad dancing when he's drunk? I'm pretty sure there isn't much scarier than that.'

'Well, although I have never had the pleasure to witness your father when he is drunk, if he dances anything like Gordon then you have a very valid point. Oh well. Too late now! I already uninvited you.'

'Then reinvite me.'

'No.' By this time, the Bentley had stopped outside the shop. Skulduggery took the key out of the ignition and slid it into his pocket.

'I see what this is about.' Valkyrie said, accompanied by a steely glare directed towards Skulduggery. 'You're not concerned about my wellbeing at all. You're just embarrassed about your fancy dress costume.'

Skulduggery, who had been climbing out of the car stopped, and turned his head towards her. After pausing for a moment, he said;

'Ghastly wants us to dress as food. Food, Valkyrie! What kind of dignified Sanctuary detective turns up with his friends at a fancy dress party, dressed as various comestibles? I have a reputation to think about!'

Valkyrie burst into a fit of giggles and ran into the shop, Skulduggery storming after her.