“Valkyrie patted Fletcher’s arm. “Don’t worry,” she said. “If the bad man comes, I’ll protect you.”
“If the bad man comes,” Fletcher responded, “I’ll bravely give out a high-pitched scream to distract him. I may even bravely faint, to give him a false sense of security. That will be your signal to strike.”
“We make a great team.”
“Just don’t forget to stand in front of me the whole time,” he said.”
“The fact is that we have no way of knowing if the person who we think we are is at the core of our being. Are you a decent girl with the potential to someday become an evil monster, or are you an evil monster that thinks it's a decent girl?"
"Wouldn't I know which one I was?"
"Good God, no. The lies we tell other people are nothing to the lies we tell ourselves.”
“We punch people, Valkyrie. That’s who we are. Embrace your inner lunatic. Fun times guaranteed.”
“I swear, talking to you is like talking to a really good-looking and mildly stupid brick wall.”
“You think Bernadette Maguire killed him?”
“Uh… no. She’s, like I said, she’s old.”
“Old people can kill people too.”
“I know, but…”
“She could be a ninja.”
“She’s not a ninja, for God’s sake. She’s somebody’s great grandmother.”
“I want you to think carefully about this, Kenny. Have you ever seen her with a sword?”
“How about throwing stars?”
“This is ridiculous.”
“Have you ever seen her dressed up as a ninja? That would have been my ﬁrst clue.”
The girl sucked in her cheeks so she wouldn't laugh out loud.”
“We're not really intruding," he called down. "This is all a big misunderstanding."
"Stop right there!" shouted one of them.
Skulduggery held his hand to an ear he didn't have.
"OK, we'll keep going.”
“Valkyrie dialed Skulduggery's number and he picked up. 'Hey,' she said, 'It's me.'
Skulduggery paused. 'No it's not. If it were me, then I'd be talking to myself, and I don't do that any more. I certainly don't RING myself. That's one of the first signs of madness, and if it's not, it should be.'
She sighed. 'Are you finished talking nonsense?'
'I haven't talked nonsense all morning. I miss it.”
“I kill a sofa for you and you go and sit in a chair?” Skulduggery asked. “I don’t think you appreciate the sacrifice that has been made for you.”
“By the way, all joking aside, do I call you Ghastly or Elder Bespoke?'
'You can call me whatever you like.'
Vex nodded. 'Thank you, Gladys.”
“You want to see safe hands?' her dad asked. He went to the fruit bowl on the side of the table, took two apples and proceeded to juggle them. 'See? Safe as anything.'
'Are you proposing you juggle our newborn child?'
'Of course not,' he said. 'I'd only be able to juggle her if you'd had twins. Otherwise it would just be throwing.'
(...) 'From this moment on, I will be the best father the world has ever seen. Wifey, may I please hold my child?'
Valkyrie's mum looked at him suspiciously. 'When you hold a baby, what's the most important thing to remember?'
'Not to drop it,' he said proudly.
'Well, yes, well done dear, but I was thinking more about how you hold the baby.'
'Ah,' he said, 'Of course. The secret to holding a baby is to pick it up by the scruff of its neck.'
'You're thinking of kittens.'
'Pick it up by the ears, then.'
'You're thinking of nothing.'
'Can I please just hold her?'
'I don't think that's wise.'
'A lot of things aren't wise, Melissa. Is crossing the road with your eyes closed wise? No, but I do it anyway.'
His wife nodded. 'Stephanie, you are in charge of teaching Alice how to cross the road.”
“Embrace your inner lunatic. Fun times guaranteed.”
“I think zombies are kind of cute.”
“I may be thinking about bunnies. Which one has the fluffy little tail, zombies or bunnies?”
“Then it’s bunnies I’m thinking of.”
“You're bored, aren't you.'
'I need constant distraction. Shall we go?'
'Uh, aren't you supposed to delegate responsibility or something? If you're not here, who's in charge?'
Skulduggery looked around and pointed to a sorcerer at the far side of the cemetery. 'He is.'
'Who is he?'
'Don't know. He looks like leadership material, though, doesn't he?'
'He's wearing a hat.'
'And that means he's a leader?'
'Leaders wear hats. It's to keep the rain off while we make important decisions. He'll do fine.'
'Shouldn't you tell him that he's in charge?'
'And spoil the surprise?”
“The lies we tell other people are nothing to the lies we tell ourselves.”
“I have sought you out to cure me.'
'To cure you of what?'
'Of this cursed affliction.'
'I cannot cure stupidity.'
“He crouched at the car window and looked in. 'What a lovely family you have. What a charming family. They're all lovely. Except for that one.' His finger jabbed the glass. 'That one's a bit ugly.”
“But if you can confront your inner demons—"
"I did confront my inner demon. I punched him in the face and he exploded."
Valkyrie had to laugh. "But now he's back."
"Of course he's back. He's resourceful. He is my inner demon, after all.”
“Look, this is all very, very weird. Why are you focusing on rumours and urban legends? You haven’t even asked me any
“Normal questions? Like what?”
“Like, I don’t know, like if Lynch had any enemies.”
“Did Lynch have any enemies?”
“Well, not that I know of, no.”
“Then there really was no point in me asking that, was there? Unless you wanted to distract me. You didn’t want to distract me, did you, Kenny?”
“No, that’s not—”
“Are you playing a game with me, Kenny?”
“I don’t know what you’re—”
Inspector Me leaned forward. “Did you kill him?”
“It’d be OK if you did.”
Kenny recoiled, horriﬁed. “How would that be OK?”
“Well,” Me said, “maybe not”
“This is your last chance to do the right thing.'
'Do you want to attack first, or will I?'
Skulduggery held up a finger. 'Do you mind if I confer with my colleague for a moment?'
'By all means.'
Skulduggery leaned in towards Valkyrie. 'Damn,' he whispered. 'She's not going to do the right thing.'
'Did you really think she would?'
'I was really hoping.'
'Can we beat her?' Valkyrie asked.
'I don't like our chances.'
'What are our chances?'
'We don't have any,' Skulduggery admitted. 'Do you think you can take Craven on your own?'
'Me either. Do you want to leave him to me then, and you can take her?'
'I like that idea even less.'
'I don't blame you.'
She sighed. 'We're going to get killed, aren't we?'
'It looks likely. Our only hope is a surprise attack.'
'They're staring right at us.'
'Dammit.' Skulduggery straightened up. 'We have discussed the situation,' he said to them, 'and decided that it would be in everyone's best interests for me to fight you, Melancholia, and for both Valkyrie and Cleric Craven to stand back and cheer or boo as they see fit.”
“Oh, China. How I have missed you.'
'And I have missed you, Eliza. But don't worry, next time my aim will be better.”
“I try not to underestimate my opponents, no matter how ridiculous their beards.”
“Get away from my ex-girlfriend, you moany little whinge-bag.'
Caelen took a deep breath, like he was in pain, and stood up. His voice was low, guttural. 'I was hoping I'd get the chance to kill you.'
'You won't be killing anyone, you sad little emo git.'
'You've stood in the way of our love for long enough.'
'Just listening to you makes me want to top myself, you self-pitying Paranormal Romance novel reject.'
Caelen glared. 'Stop insulting me.'
'Why? If you cry will your mascara run?”
“I'm sorry,' said the shopkeeper. 'I can't understand your ridiculous accent.'
'It is quite silly.'
'So you can't understand me?'
'Not a word.'
'Then how did you understand that?'
''You didn't understand what I just said?'
'You understood that, though.'
'Not at all.'
The American glowered.”
“You're in a bad mood,' Skulduggery said. 'I understand. I do. You're saying things that you don't really mean. It's OK.'
'I'll kill you both.'
'Hurtful things said in the heat of the moment. We're not going to hold it against you, Bison. We're all friends here.'
Valkyrie nodded. 'We love you Bison.'
'We do,' Skulduggery agreed. 'You're our favourite Necromancer. You're the cuddly one.'
'Shut up,' Dragonclaw said. 'Both of you just shut up.”
“I would love to have a battle of wits with you, Bison, but I doubt it would be a fair fight.'
'Shut your face.'
'Exactly my point.”
“You should have called us. Desmond would have picked you up.'
'No I wouldn't,' Valkyrie's dad said, stepping into earshot. 'Sorry, Fletcher, but I had important fatherly duties to take care of, which included eating breakfast, showering, and finding my trousers. Of those three, I only managed two. Without looking down, can you guess which one I missed?'... Fletcher smiled back. 'I just want to borrow Stephanie for a moment.'
'Take our daughter,' Valkryie's dad said, waving a hand airily. 'We have another one now.”
“He looked at her. “We’re meant to be together…”
“And this is exactly what I mean.”
“Our love is written in the stars.”
“And there you go again.”
“I love you.”
“You bore me.”
“Every human being who has ever lived has the same potential in them for good and evil. Mortal or sorcerer, it doesn't matter. Power has a way of bringing out the worst in people. Mevolent. Serpine. Hitler. Lord Vile. Darquesse. We're all the same."
"You just put me on a list with Hitler."
"You're going to start sulking again, aren't you?”
“He had decided long ago that no Situation had any objective reality: it only existed in the minds of those who happened to be in on it at any specific moment. Since these several minds tended to form a sum total or complex more mongrel than homogeneous, The Situation must necessarily appear to a single observer much like a diagram in four dimensions to an eye conditioned to seeing its world in only three.”
“We also live in strange places: each in a universe of our own. The people with whom we populate our universes are the shadows of whole other universes intersecting with our own.”
“She “loved me” in quotations She kissed me in bold I TRIED TO KEEP HER in all caps She left with an ellipsis . . .”
“My mother once told me that no woman is naked when she comes equipped with a bad mood and a steady glare.”
“Do you know what is our problem? We know everything about our weapons, but we know nothing about how to use a telephone.”
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