The Bentley sat, soaked and gleaming in Gordon's old garage. Skulduggery removed the key and got out, Valkyrie followed suit and together they raised their arms, lifting the rainwater off the beautiful car and letting it disperse into thin air, leaving the car's black surface clean and dry.

The path to Gordon's house was short but muddy and Valkyrie found it necessary to hop from dry spot to dry spot in order to keep her feet from getting wet.

"I don't see why you bother," Skulduggery said as he floated a few inches above the ravaged ground, "those boots get covered in all sorts of muck and you never mind then."

"Blood and guts I can handle, Skulduggery, but mud? I see you're not too keen to step in it either." Skulduggery looked down at his polished black shoes, hovering a few inches over the mud and shrugged.

"So long as I can avoid it."

"You could at least help me avoid it." Valkyrie complained.

"Ah, but people failing to avoid mud is one of the most amusing things on earth, it's a wonder they don't make it a spectator sport." Valkyrie glowered at him before making a final leap and landing clumsily on Gordon's back stoop. She stuck her tongue out at Skulduggery and retrieved the house key from her trouser pocket.

Gordon's house had thousands of books on every subject imaginable. When he was alive, Gordon had been a bestselling author and a good friend of Skulduggery's. Now that he was dead his house belonged to Valkyrie, even if it wouldn't technically be hers until she turned eighteen.

"Alright," Valkyrie said, starting up the stairs, "I'll search up here and you can have the ground floor."

Skulduggery nodded and took off his coat, hanging it neatly on a hook beside the door.

Valkyrie wasted no time. She entered Gordon's office and pulled on the book that opened the secret room. Her late uncle materialized in front of her, glowing blue in the light of his Echo Stone, which stood in a cradle in the middle of the room.

"Ah, why hello, Valkyrie, and what might you want from me?"

"Gordon, have you ever heard of a girl called Haruhi Suzumiya?"

Gordon frowned. "Not once in my life, and not recently, either. Is that a taken name? It sounds foreign."

"It is foreign, Japanese, to be exact. She's some school girl with the power to destroy the universe."

"Kind of like you, eh?"

"I don't want to think about that, but anyway, I thought you might be able to help. If you've never heard of her, I guess I should be going." Valkyrie turned to walk away.

"You insolent young folk are getting worse and worse," Gordon's voice came from behind her, "You'd think I was just a gossip-dealer like China, but my own niece? That's harsh."

Valkyrie grinned. "Fine, would you like to come with us then? I could bring you in my suitcase."

"No thank you!" Gordon huffed, "What would my fans think if they found out I was riding around in a luggage cart?"

"All your friends think you're dead." Valkyrie told him with her hand on the door.

"Well, technically, they're right." Gordon muttered, but his niece was already gone. She ran down the stairs and grabbed Skulduggery who was perusing one of the many bookcases.

"You were right, it's too recent, he doesn't have anything so let's go, I want to pack."

"You've given up quickly. I told you I'm always right."

Valkyrie glowered at him, but led the way back to the Bentley anyway, being careful not to step in the mud on the way.