Skulduggery Pleasant parked the 1954 black Bentley and got out. He was wearing all black today - black shirt, black hat, black jacket - due to the occasion and his skull gleamed in the moonlight. Valkyrie Cain got out after him. She was nearly 17 and was tall, had dark hair, dark eyes, and was wearing her usual black outfit made to protect her. They walked over to the boot of the Bentley, opened it, and took out a small black bag. As they quietly crept away, Valkyrie glanced at the back of Skulduggery's head.
"Are you sure we'll be able to get away with this?" she whispered.
"Almost positive," he whispered in his velvety voice. "However, the chances are we're going to fail horribly, so be prepared if we're attacked by Cleavers."
"Don't worry. If that happens - which it probably will - I'm sure I can talk our way out of it. Besides, you're the one who wanted to do something fun for Halloween."
Valkyrie muttered something under her breath, but Skulduggery ignored it. They were silent as they crept onwards, and were approaching the Sanctuary's main entrance. Skulduggery motioned for her to stay put for a moment, and he peeked out, then nodded to her and they walked to the back of the building.
When they stopped, Valkyrie glanced around and asked, "Where's Shudder?"
"He should be here any second now," Skulduggery said, then tilted his head like he'd heard something. "Hide."
They ducked down. Skulduggery peeked out, then tapped her arm, then stood up. Valkyrie stood up as well. Walking towards them was Anton Shudder. He was tall, had long black hair, and he too was wearing black. "I can't believe I agreed to this," he grumbled.
"Well," Skulduggery said, "it was either you come or I tell Valkyrie the story, and you decided to come. Or, if you prefer that I make a tremendous fool out of you, you can always change your mind."
He sighed but didn't offer to change his mind.
Skulduggery reached a hand into the black bag and pulled something out. A hammer.
"What on earth are we going to do with that?" Valkyrie asked skeptically.
"We're going to smash windows with it, Valkyrie."
"Seriously? In the Sanctuary?"
"Seriously. In the Sanctuary."
"And what are we going to do? Put up decorations? You haven't even told me why you chose here in the first place."
"I chose here because His Highnesses Ghastly and Erskine are here, being boring, and need something to scare them."
"That doesn't seem like like a very good reason to me," Valkyrie muttered.
"You never answered her question, though," Shudder said. "What exactly will we be doing here?"
"We're going to smash a window. From there, just follow my lead."
Valkyrie sighed and Shudder shook his head and said something under his breath.
"I'm glad you two have so much faith in my plan," Skulduggery said, nodding.
"What?" Valkyrie said. "What's this? We actually have a plan?"
"Did I say that? I was lying. Valkyrie, would you like to do the honour of smashing the helpless window over here?"
"Sounds like fun," she said, a smile forming. "But what do we do after I smash it?"
"We crawl through."
"Won't smashing it sound an alarm?"
"Of course it will."
"And won't they know we're here?"
"Not if we crawl really fast."
"You are so annoying," she said, but took the hammer from him. "So I just smash it? Just swing the hammer into it?"
"What could be easier?"
"Fine. Stand behind me so you can get in faster."
Shudder and Skulduggery stood almost a half a meter behind her. She thought about what would be the best way to do this so she took a step back then brought the hammer behind her quickly and was about to bring it forward when it hit something and she heard someone behind her cry out.
She turned around just in time to see Skulduggery crumple to the ground. She clasped a hand over her mouth and was trying not to shake with laughter. She had hit Skulduggery - right between the eye sockets - and now he was curled up on the ground, silently angry. She looked at Shudder to see him doing his best not to smile.
Skulduggery got up and Valkyrie stepped back, trying so hard not to laugh she was practically crying. Skulduggery brushed the dirt off his suit, and tilted his head to her slightly.
"Nice aim you've got there, Valkyrie."
"That's what I was thinking," Valkyrie said, grinning.
"Well, I have been thinking, and I have decided that it would be the best for everyone's safety if you gave that to me." He held out his hand.
"Aw, and I thought I was doing so well with it." But she gave him the hammer anyway.
"I'm not quite regretting my decision anymore," Shudder said.
"And I'm sure you both thought that was hilarious," Skulduggery said. "But now let's get to what's fun for everyone."
"Which is...?" Valkyrie asked.
"Smashing windows and breaking into the Sanctuary."
Skulduggery motioned for them to step back - further back than when Valkyrie had told them to - and swung the hammer though the glass. An alarm sounded.
"Quick!" Skulduggery said. "Crawl through!"
Shudder hopped through quickly. Valkyrie started to crawl through, but it was harder than it looked. Skulduggery put the hammer in the bag and tossed it through the window. He wrapped an arm around Valkyrie's waist and jumped through the window, careful to keep the glass shards away from Valkyrie's head.
They heard the footsteps of running Cleavers coming closer. Skulduggery grabbed the bag and they ran through the corridor, went into an empty room. Shudder and Valkyrie ran in, and just as Skulduggery did, he shouted, "Prisoners escaping!"
He shut the door behind him and they all ducked down. They heard running footsteps pass by. About a minute later Skulduggery risked a glance out of the window on the door. "It's safe," he said.
"So what do we do when we're out of here?" Valkyrie asked. "Where are we going to go?"
"We're going to go to the room where the Elders have their very important and boring meetings, and we're going to stir things up."
"The equipment I packed in this bag." He held up the black bag. "I have a voice-distorting device that should make me sound like whoever I wish to."
"Can I try it?"
"I don't know. Can you?"
She sighed. "May I try it?"
He handed it to her. She twisted a knob on it. "Do I just push this button and speak into it?"
"You hold it down."
"Oh." She held down the button and spoke into it. "Like this?" she asked in a voice so high pitched Shudder covered his ears. "Ha ha... I bet this is what Skulduggery sounded like as a kid."
"I did not." Skulduggery took it from her and twisted the knob in the opposite direction. "Valkyrie," he said in a voice so deep it was barely audible, "this is your conscience. Stay away from vampires--"
"That's enough," Valkyrie said, trying to pull it from Skulduggery's grasp. Skulduggery didn't let go, however, and they began to grapple for the small voice-changer.
"Valkyrie," Skulduggery continued as Valkyrie desperately tried to pull it away, "vampires are stupid. They are just poop on legs--"
"Give... it... to... me..." Valkyrie said through gritted teeth. Skulduggery started laughing, but just then Shudder stood up and grabbed the voice-changer from their grasp.
"I feel like an annoyed parent right now," Shudder said in his quiet voice, glancing downwards at the two of them. "We're here to scare Ghastly and Erskine, aren't we? Let's do that."
Valkyrie and Skulduggery disentangled themselves from each other. "Way to spoil the fun, Shudder," Skulduggery said. "But I suppose your right - we do need to get to work."
Skulduggery took the voice-changer from Shudder and put it in his bag. He walked over to the door, but just as he was about to open it, he heard footsteps again. They dropped back to the floor, and heard someone grab the doorknob. Valkyrie glanced at Shudder, who glanced back at her, then they both glanced at Skulduggery, who was sitting directly beneath the door. They heard something click, and the footsteps passed. They waited a moment before getting up.
Skulduggery got up and waited until both Shudder and Valkyrie were standing before opening the door. He motioned for them to stay put, then twisted the knob.
Skulduggery twisted it again, faster this time, then turned around. He looked at Valkyrie, who was arching an eyebrow at him, then at Shudder, who was giving him a look similar to a glare.
"Um," Skulduggery began, "it appears that we're... stuck."
"Stuck?" Valkyrie asked.
Shudder sighed quietly but irritably. As far as Valkyrie could tell, Shudder was not enjoying this.
"Can't you pick the lock?" she asked, looking at Skulduggery.
"I'm afraid I can't. It's locked on the outside, you see, and we're on the inside."
"Ah. That's... that's..." Her head drooped. "That is really, really, annoying."
"It is indeed."
"Are there any air vents or anything to crawl out of in here?"
"Not that I can see, no."
"Then how do we get out?"
"Break the window on the door."
"I could've guessed that. And will that sound another alarm?"
"This is a small, useless room, Valkyrie, not the Gaol. I'm sure we'll be fine."
Shudder cleared his throat loudly. "Might I suggest that we get going? Isn't there a certain time that the Elders will have to go in their meeting room?"
Valkyrie hesitated. "I hadn't thought of that," she said.
Shudder finally was something other than grumpy. "And what about you, Skulduggery? Had you thought of that?"
"Of course I had," Skulduggery said. "I just was waiting for someone else to... think about it before... I... uh..." He faltered. "No," he confessed.
"Wow," Shudder said, "I thought of something before Skulduggery. How does that make you feel, Skulduggery?"
"It makes me feel like you sound like a therapist. Now let's get out of here, unless, of course, Shudder will allow me to tell a certain story to Valkyrie."
"Let's get out now."
"That's a shame." He picked up the bag, and pulled the hammer from it. He counted to three, then swung the hammer through the glass, and heard someone yelp.
He instantly looked at Valkyrie, checking that he hadn't hit her. When he noticed she was fine, they all vaulted themselves through the window. Valkyrie looked over and saw a man running away from them. She grabbed Skulduggery's arm. "Over there!"
"Hold on a moment," he said, handing the bag to Shudder. Skulduggery's arm encircled Valkyrie's waist and they lifted off the ground, hurrying after the running man. They picked up speed, and then they heard Shudder yell Skulduggery's name. Skulduggery only glanced back for half a second, because he looked back again when he heard Valkyrie cry out.
And when he looked back, it was at the same time they collided with the running man who wasn't really running anymore. He saw Skulduggery and Valkyrie, recognised them instantly, and started sobbing.
"Please don't hurt me!" he wailed. "Please!"
"Oh for crying out loud," Skulduggery said irritably, "will you just shut up?"
The man stopped sobbing immediately. He just turned and was about to run the opposite direction when Skulduggery suddenly said, "The sparrow flies south for winter," and punched the sobbing man across the jaw. He crumpled to the ground, unconscious.
"We really need a different code," Valkyrie said, and Skulduggery shrugged.
"I still think it's an excellent code," Skulduggery said as he motioned for Shudder to join them. "Nobody would ever guess."
Valkyrie sighed. Shudder approached and handed Skulduggery the bag. They walked through the corridors, looking for the meeting room. Every once in a while they'd hear someone and change their direction. Skulduggery led the way - he seemed like the only one who even knew where anything was - and he lead them over to a corner and spoke to Shudder and Valkyrie.
"The meeting room is just down there," Skulduggery said quietly. "From what I can tell, there isn't anyone in there, so we should be able to go right in and do what we came here to do."
"And you still haven't exactly told us what that is," Shudder pointed out.
"Well, you'll know soon enough. Now let's go."
They walked to the door of the meeting room. Skulduggery opened the door and stepped inside. Valkyrie and Shudder followed. Shudder shut the door behind him, and Skulduggery flipped the light switch. There was a sound, like a splash, and Valkyrie cried out.
Ghastly Bespoke, Erskine Ravel, Dexter Vex, Shudder and Skulduggery all started laughing. Valkyrie glared.
"Oh, don't be so upset," Ravel said. "It was funny."
"No it wasn't," Valkyrie scowled.
"It really was."
"Dumping freezing cold water with huge chunks of ice in it on me doesn't seem very funny."
"Happy Halloween, Valkyrie," Ghastly said, grinning.
Valkyrie sighed and looked at Skulduggery. "I said I wanted to do something fun," she said.
"This is fun. This is very fun," Skulduggery said, amusement in his voice.
"It's not very fun for me."
"You never made that specific."
"So you, Shudder, Ghastly, Erskine and Vex all planned this?"
"And what about Shudder's embarrassing story?"
"Doesn't exist. I needed you to think that there was some reason that he would come other than to prank you."
"But don't worry, Val," Vex said. "We're going to get Skulduggery too."
Skulduggery tilted his head and turned around just as Ravel grabbed his head. Skulduggery turned around, and from what Valkyrie could tell, Ravel was laughing and moving one of his hands and Skulduggery was trying to grab Ravel's hand and pull it away. He finally got free, and as soon as he turned around Valkyrie and the others burst out laughing.
"You were right," Valkyrie managed to say. "This is really fun."
Ravel grinned and put a cap on his permanent marker. It looked like he'd been trying to draw on Skulduggery's skull. There was two ridiculously large eyebrows, a squiggly moustache, and a half-drawn beard.
"That was not part of the plan," Skulduggery said.
"Hey Skulduggery," Valkyrie said, pulling out her phone. "Look over here."
He turned around just Valkyrie took a photo on her phone. Skulduggery lunged at her and she laughed and tried to dodge but she slipped in the puddle from where she'd had water dumped on her. Skulduggery knocked into her and they both went sprawling. Everyone else had gone silent for a moment, but now they were laughing even harder than before.
Vex helped Valkyrie to her feet, then helped Skulduggery. Valkyrie put her phone in her pocket, and turned to Skulduggery. "So now what are we going to do?" she asked.
"We're going to do our part, which is telling incredibly intelligent and true stories," he said as he pulled something out of the black bag and tossed it to her. She caught it and looked at it. It was the voice-changer. She arched an eyebrow at him. "Seriously?"
"Seriously," He said. He had a voice-changer also. He turned the knob so that it was almost the deepest it could go. Valkyrie twisted hers so that it was really shrill and high-pitched. She looked over and saw that Skulduggery was already begining to speak into his.
"Once upon a time," Skulduggery started, "there was Ghastly, Erskine, Shudder, and Vex. They all were incredibly jealous of one person. His name was Skulduggery Pleasant. He was way smarter than all of them, and braver, and more good-looking, and--"
"Skulduggery," Vex interrupted, "this is the worst story I've ever heard."
While Vex and Skulduggery were arguing on whether or not Skulduggery's story was true, Valkyrie decided to twist the knob on the voice-changer so that it was as low as Skulduggery's.
"...and then while they were all fawning over Skulduggery," Valkyrie said, "Skulduggery realised that they shouldn't be jealous of him, and that they should all be begging to speak to the amazing Valkyrie Cain."
Everyone was looking at her by the time she finished speaking. Then she grinned at them and said,