Oh dear. This may be the squickiest thing I've ever written. Spawned by my sudden realisation that Shadow, unlike every other vermin in the book, calls Cluny by his actual name, and begs him for help as he dies. (It's not too late to turn back now you've realised who I've slashed this time!)

First few lines stolen from the original Jacques, as are the characters.

Make up your own mind about the title.


The powerful tail lashed backwards, wrapping itself around Shadow's body. He was dragged forwards, face to face with his master. Cluny's rancid breath blasted into Shadow's face as he ground out each syllable.

"Bring that picture back here to me. Fail me, and your screams will be heard far beyond the woodland and meadows! Succeed, and ..." he smirked obscenely as one paw extended and roughly caressed Shadow's face. "Let's say you'll still be screaming, but not quite for the same reason." Shadow's expression did not change, but Cluny saw his whiskers twitch.

Darkclaw, slouching on an old church pew and munching the remains of a shrivelled apple, glanced quizzically at Redtooth.

"What's the chief mean by that?" he whispered.

Redtooth gave him an exasperated look and pointed back at the two on the pulpit. By now Cluny's paw had slunk down to Shadow's neck scruff, and his other paw was slipping under the hem of the black rat's tunic. Shadow closed his eyes and gasped. Cluny's wicked smirk broadened, and Shadow jerked slightly as he sank his claws into the flesh.

Darkclaw blinked as the metaphorical acorn dropped, and slowly put the apple down. He'd suddenly lost his appetite.