Can you believe it? I'm writing something with actual CHAPTERS! I think the world is crumbling around me.

Anyway, tell me if you think this is a good idea or not, because I don't especially want to write something horrible all the while thinking it is absolutely splendid, because that's just embarrassing. And don't worry: NO MARY-SUES! There shall be no falling in love with canon characters while I am still breathing…


No one is sure who the greatest assassin in the history of the Disc is. Some historians talk of the infamous Lord Azaxhcha, whose daring exploits were even more impressive than the sheer difficulty of pronouncing his name. Others will mention the cunning of Lady Alice Faitch, who, it is rumored, could cook up a poison so deadly that you would be dead as soon it touched your tongue. Lastly, there is Mr. Wesley Sullivan of 422 Donner Lane, who, although probably the most deadly assassin ever known, is simply considered far too boring for any sort of renown.

However, one person was very sure of who the best was. To James Rupert Downey, the greatest assassin in history was undoubtedly James Rupert Downey.

Currently, the greatest assassin in the world was not putting on a good show. Instead of leaping over rooftops with catlike grace, he was standing in the shadows of a small unnamed street somewhere in the Shades.

This, as every native Ankh-Morporker knows, is a really, really stupid thing to do. Even James, who was in fact regarded as being really, really stupid, was considering very quietly slipping away and then, when he was out of the Shades, running down the streets as fast as his legs could carry him.

This idea had grown on him as the night wore on. His patch of shadows, which had previously seemed to be a very nice large patch of shadows indeed, seemed to have shrunk until he could hardly move. Also, he was discovering that black, while very cool, did not blend in as such. It seemed to him that his clothes were giving off a beacon of pure, white light, visible for miles around. Sounds had also grown much louder than they had any right to be, and every quiet and panicked breath he took boomed like thunder in the narrow street.

James took another quick glance around and quietly sank down onto his haunches. He flinched when he saw moonlight glance off the knife in his hand, and quickly shoved it up his sleeve.

He was tempted to speak out loud to himself, but instead complained bitterly inside his head.

Trust Father to give me this contract, he thought darkly. Why would anyone important live in the Shades, anyway?

A scraping sound echoed through the darkened streets, and James twitched, looking around wildly.

Oh Gods…what was that? WHO IS IT?

Then a scream sounded from somewhere close by. James crammed his fist in his mouth and shrieked silently.

I'm going to die. Right here. Whoever or WHATever that was is going to see me, and they're going to kill me very nastily in a way involving blunt instruments, and I'm going to die because they definitely won't know fisticuffs and my knives are only good if you don't know I'm there…and…and…Oh, GODS, I'm going to DIE in the SHADES! How humiliating…

The scraping sound was a lot nearer now. In fact, it sounded as though whoever was making it was standing…right…in…front…of…him….

James looked up, fervently wishing that he could make himself invisible. Directly in front of his face were a pair of knees, and they were possibly the most terrifying things James had seen in his life.

His gaze traveled farther up, and he noticed that his future killer wore a breastplate and chain mail. The outfit looked familiar, actually, and James's terrified mind took a moment to wonder where he had seen it before.

Swallowing, James prepared to look the stranger in the face. It turned out he didn't need to gather his courage, though, because the face abruptly swung down to his eye level.

"Hello! Nice to meet you! Who are you? Why are you crying? Are you sad? I'm Casey! I--"

James jumped up and clapped a hand over the girl's mouth. "Be quiet!" he hissed. "Are you trying to kill us?"

Casey wriggled out of his grasp. "Don't worry," she said. "No one would kill me!"

"And why is that?" James asked, rolling his eyes.

"Because I'm with the Watch!"

"Oh, no…" James breathed. So that's where he had seen the outfit before…

He grabbed Casey by the arm.

"Where are we going? Is it fun?"

"Just follow me," James growled.

He really shouldn't be doing this. He had to finish the contract. He could get kicked out of the Guild.

But, he reflected, even that was preferable to being caught with a member of the City Watch in the Shades…which, in fact, was quite likely to happen, if he didn't get out of there very, very quickly.