Butterflies leapt onto the narrow window ledge, just to test her balance. She stayed there for five minutes, quite comfortably, until a knocking at her door sent her jumping down. She straightened her black tunic and combed her white-streaked hair before answering.
“Hello?” she asked. Cleric Wreath stood outside, shadows wrapping around his cane. Behind him were three people: a tall, thin man, his hair brown and his eyes pale blue. He touched his collarbones and the face retracted to show a gleaming skull; a young woman, dark haired and dark eyed and a young man with impossibly spiky hair. “Cleric.” She greeted, ignoring her visitors.
Wreath nodded, satisfied with her conduct. “My top assassin,” he replied, using his term of endearment for her. “These are your visitors: Skulduggery Pleasant, Valkyrie Cain, Fletcher Renn and Marcus Cain.” At these words, a young boy emerged from behind Wreath. He had inherited Valkyrie’s thoughtful eyes and Fletcher’s blonde hair. “They want your help. I suppose you can give it generously.” With that, he bowed and tapped his cane. In a flurry of shadows, he disappeared.
Butterflies sighed and muttered, “That old show off,” then a broad smile, “What can I do for all of you?”
The boy’s eyes flickered to the huge array of swords, pistols, rifles, crossbows and arrows. His eyes, however, were intensely attracted by the humongous sword that hung just above the bed. It had a sharpened tip of black steel. Butterflies caught his gaze and glanced over her shoulder, smiling gently when she saw what he was looking at. She quietly padded over and lightly took the sword from its place with a faint scraping of metal. She turned and placed it across her broad shoulders confidently.
Butterflies took it off her shoulders and with one hand, took hold of the blunt side of the sword. She swung the handle and it stopped, right in the middle of Marcus’ chest with pinpoint accuracy. “Want to carry it? Careful, it took me torn ligaments to be able to carry this monster.” Marcus grabbed the handle confidently. If someone with the strength of a fourteen year old could do it, then he, with the strength of a sixteen year old, could do it as well.
Of course, he left out the vampire factor.
At first, it was light to the touch. Then, he realized that Butterflies was holding it up for him. He nodded, and she slowly let go. His centre of gravity collapsed under its huge weight and the floor groaned with its heaviness. He tried to lift it up, but it wouldn’t budge. Butterflies raised an eyebrow and twitched her finger, using shadows to put the sword back in its place. “Her name is Brontosaurus.” She explained, looking at it lovingly.
Somebody cleared his throat and she turned to see the Skeleton Detective staring at her. She shrugged. “What can I do for all of you? I asked that question, but no one seems interested enough to answer.”
“I am,” Skulduggery said in his velvety smooth voice. “Butterflies, the only reason why we came to you is because you have the special ability to be able to change at will. There has been a murder in Anton Shudder’s hotel and we want you to help us with the blood analysis. Do you consent, or will your bestial nature take the better of you, I wonder?”
Much to Valkyrie’s surprise, Butterflies shrugged. “If it means I get a free snack, then yes, I will do it. You guys are just really, really lucky I’m around.”
Skulduggery seemed to inspect her for a moment before turning back to Fletcher with his impassive skull. “Let’s go, then.”
Marcus grabbed Butterflies’ right arm, and Fletcher took her left. Butterflies took one last look at the room around her, not knowing she won’t be back for a very long time.
In an eye blink, they were at the scene of the crime. The victim’s body was sprawled on the carpet, his limbs twisted in a position only Butterflies could manage without tearing any muscles. He was fat, and was wearing a mahogany shirt that did not look good. His head was twisted towards their shoes. Blood spilled all over the carpet, one patch here, one patch there. Butterflies pointed to seemingly similar blood splatters on the carpet. “That one’s from the criminal, that’s from the victim.”
She moved over to taste the blood but Valkyrie stopped her. She narrowed her eyes. “How can you be so sure?”
Butterflies shrugged and tapped Valkyrie’s nose, once. “I can smell the difference. The victim’s one smells like fat and the other one smells like socks, for a particular reason.” She shrugged again, and knelt by the blood, dipping a finger into it and put it in her mouth. After a while, she snapped her fingers. “Everybody, out. Out! If this investigation is going to be successful, all of you must go out.”
Fletcher muttered something about Butterflies being as bossy as his wife, then went out of the room. They lounged around outside for what seemed like five minutes before Butterflies poked her head out. She looked pale and sweaty. “I have identified the murderer.”
Skulduggery tilted his head. “Who is it then?”
Butterflies opened her mouth to speak, but was cut off, her head thrown back in the arms of an old enemy. His blade flashed to her throat, and he kissed it in a vampire bite style, once. “Hello, li’l darlin’,” he whispered, his voice coarse and rubbing on her face.