Ghost thought for a while. “1260, A.D” Marcus, Olivia, and Skulduggery all looked at each other.
“It’s 2011, Ghost.” Ghost looked bewildered. Aquila looked calm, and serene. It was almost….
“You’ve time travelled before.” Said Skulduggery. “you’re not in the least bit disoriented.” Aquila inclined her head gracefully.
“Yes,” she purred. “I have been to this time, in somewhat… different conditions.” Ghost nodded.
“Aquila’s my time magic master. I’m relatively new to this time lark, so I’m depending a lot on her to ensure that I don’t mess up the timeline.” Aquila smiled at Ghost.
“Well, if we aren’t facing two criminals with a known type of powerful magic, then what are we doing?” Marcus heard the rare shock in the Skeleton Detective’s voice, and it frightened him. When you’re nearly a thousand, and you’re a skeleton, things that really frighten you would scare anyone else witless.
Ghost pondered for a moment. “In the rule of time travel, there are two foils. The first is that there are points of solidified time. Any time traveller attempting to rematerialise within those points or approach those points at high speed, like this,” Ghost melded into the shadows, blurring so much like a vampire that Marcus already had his arms up and tattoos glowing. However, the blade had already slithered its way across his neck, pressing hard enough to threaten a cut, but not hard enough to leave any bruising. “Will go splat.” He continued. Ghost truly was a blades master. Marcus relaxed, and Ghost stepped out from behind him, sheathing the blade in a deft movement.
“And the other condition of time travel?” asked Olivia, still staring at Aquila. Aquila answered serenely,
“It’s the law of equivalent exchange. A specific mass of matter being travelled through time, must exchange it’s place with an equal matter of the same mass.” Skulduggery looked at Ghost, then at Aquila.
“So we have a time travelling giant?” Aquila inclined her head again.
“it would seem so.”
Skulduggery thought for a while. There were only three people with sufficient mass to transport through time and still end up whole. And out of those three, two were dead. Or were they…
Marcus was looking at a small patch on the floor. “Skulduggery. We have something here.” Skulduggery walked over, Olivia right behind.
“Condensed crystals. I wonder what they’re made of.” Olivia wondered out loud. She reached out her hand to touch one.
“Don’t touch those!” Aquila snapped, a feral expression appearing on her otherwise beautiful face. Then, composing herself, she replied “Those are time condensate. They are time, frozen within one particular moment, and thus, frozen in eternity.” Olivia cautiously withdrew her hand. “Ghost, show them.”
Ghost pulled a slim sliver of a dagger out of his belt, and threw it. It expertly slammed into the shard of condensed time tip first. There was a brief pause, then the dagger turned transparent, an almost translucent sheen of metal that stuck out at an awkward angle from the shard. Olivia glared at Aquila, while Marcus shot her an excited smile.
“I… I knew that!” she snapped, irritably. “But since you guys are too busy cooing over ms Aquila over there, I reckon you haven’t noticed. There are two footprints here instead of one.” Skulduggery walked over, sheathing his revolver. Olivia realised that Skulduggery hadn’t put it away, and was comforted by the fact that someone besides her did not trust these two. Skulduggery leaned over and checked the footprints.
“True. Two people left here and two people returned. So we’re not after a giant after all.” Marcus stepped forward. Skulduggery looked at him and then nodded in silent approval. Marcus tapped the symbols etched above his eyelids, and his pupils burst out white hot energy. Slowly, the energy began to form into solid shapes. “Val,” whispered Skulduggery. The young woman struggled in her captor’s grip, valiantly; she slammed an elbow into her captor’s nose. He swore, and she stumbled as his grip loosened on her elbow. Before she could get far, however, the hooded man opened his mouth and articulated something that they could not hear. Val’s eyes widened in fear and then, with a flash of blinding light, they were gone. In their place, Ghost and Aquila stood, Ghost looking bewildered and a little flustered, Aquila looking unnaturally serene, not a hair out of place. Then, the image dissipated into motes of light, and the energy pouring out of Marcus’s eyes slid back up his arms and onto his brow, curling into the familiar pattern of the tattoos.
“Mom.” He whispered. Olivia felt sorry for him, she couldn’t help it. He looked so forlorn, and so much likes a little boy. She walked over, feeling terrible about her previous outburst.
“It’s going to be alright, Marc, you’ll see.” She knelt down next to Marcus and cradled his heads in her arms. Marcus took a deep steadying breath, whispered thanks and stood up, just in time to see Ghost looking with a small smile at Skulduggery, and Skulduggery shrugging in that good-natured, teasing way of his.
“What?” asked Marcus? They both said nothing. Then, there was a moment of silence, as though the lull before the storm. A window broke open, and a blur leapt through. It was large, black, and wore black leather.
Skulduggery’s gun was up and roaring and the leather clad shadow stopped, and roared back, equally loud, if not louder. Ghost had his blade out, and was sprinting towards the new threat, while Marcus had slammed his fists together, activating the symbols that gave him strength. His hands glowed red and he began shuffling forward towards the creature.
“Valkyrie. Where is Valkyrie?” the creature shouted. Ghost took advantage of the momentary loss of concentration and slashed. There was a spark of metal against enchanted leather. Ghost hesitated, and the creature flung out a clawed arm. Ghost was sent sprawling head over heels on the floor. Aquila jumped forward, not letting up, landing a barrage of palm strikes on the creature’s chest. It stumbled backwards a few steps, then caught onto Aquila’s rhythm, stepping back just out of range, and then slamming a painful looking kick into her abdomen. She doubled over, coughing, and a kick to her ribs sent her across the room, skidding to a stop on her back.
The creature growled. “Good.” Then, it turned and walked straight into a magically charged fist. Something cracked, and the monster stumbled backwards, clutching at its face. Olivia swept her arm in a wide arc, gathering shadows, and then punched straight out. The bolt of shadows caught the monster in the midriff, at the exact moment when Ghost’s fist slammed into its cheek. The monster howled pitifully, hanging in air for the briefest of moments, then the force launched it into the stone wall, cracks webbing out as though Billy-Ray had just been through.
Marcus walked close, his guard still up. Then, a fist shot out, straight between his guards, crunching into his nose. His eyes watered, vision blurring, and with a whump, a kick connected with his midriff. His torso was on fire, and he felt the ground zoom away and slam into him again, winding him. He vaguely saw the skeleton detective move into position, slamming elbows, fists and knees into every possible place, but the creature barely hesitated. Then, clear as crystal, the sound of Ghost’s voice
“Stop. Or I rip your head off.” Though it was recognisably Ghost’s voice, there was something different. A little more nasal and a little ginger around the fs. Marcus rubbed his eyes, wincing at the pain, and then stood up. Ghost’s eyes were slit-pupilled, and his hands were covered in a fine layer of black hair. His fingernails were long, and hard looking, wickedly curved and sharp beyond a doubt. He could see the tips pressing into the creature’s neck, and droplets of blood began to ooze out when the creature began to struggle. Skulduggery pressed a gun against the creature’s head.
“Who are you? And what do you want?” The creature grinned, a grotesque display of sharp teeth and gums.
“Don’t you recognise me Detective? Caelan. Ring any bells?” Skulduggery kept the gun pressed against his forehead.
“My god.” Muttered Skulduggery. Marcus pressed his palms together and aimed the two halves of the glowing sigils at Caelan. “What happened to you?”
Caelan laughed, cold, empty and smooth. “I overdid the wolfsbane serum.”
“I should kill you right now, beast. Give me one reason why I shouldn’t” Ghost hissed, his features gradually becoming more feline. Caelan looked straight ahead, seemingly resigned to his death. Ghost sighed, then blurred into a black stream, reforming next to Marcus. His fur retracted, and he became human looking once more.
“I know who took Valkyrie.” Said Caelan. Everyone stared. “And I know the incantation that took her.” Everyone stared some more.