I think I'll skip all that official mumbo junk about dates and such. It's the same day anyway and the same case, if you want to call it that. I still haven't killed that blighter of a prince so don't get excited.

The chamomile tea is making me sleepy though, so I'm not going to go into details.

I got out of that sewage system and very gladly left it behind. I think I'll chop my own head off before going back down there. I met the largest, slimiest rat I've ever seen just as I was about to leave. Its eyes were red, I tell no lie. And they gleamed. And the rat hissed and bared its nasty little yellow fangs.

I killed it in short order, I'll tell you that. But there's no doubt in my mind that there are millions more of those in a little rat kingdom living down in the vile depths of that place and I'm not going to be the one to discover them. Live and let live. At least in their case. Most assassins prefer to say Live, assassinate, and let the rest live. Much more accurate, don't you think?

So I left the sewer and made my innocent way out of the city limits into the less populated areas. Lots of cozy looking houses with gardens and duck ponds and children's toys scattered in the front yards and rocking chairs on the front porches and, most importantly of all, clothes strung in neat rows between old oak trees. At least, that's a very good description of the first house I passed. I snagged a pair of trousers that looked about my size and a long-sleeved shirt and coat. All in browns, grays, and dark blues. Nice, normal, innocent-people clothing.

I slipped a rock into my borrowed ballgown and dropped it into the duck pond.

Unfortunately, there were no good shoes, so I tossed my dance slippers into the duck pond as well and went on barefooted. Maybe they'd think I was a poor dairymaid or whatever civilians do around here. Of course, I'd need a pail and a cow for that, wouldn't I? Never mind. Were there drugs in that chamomile? Maybe peasants are craftier than I thought. There, a yawn! It must be drugged. Or maybe running through demon-rat infested sewers and being chased by soldiers actually made me tired.

So I walked on, feeling safer and safer as I escaped the city. I was surprised they hadn't closed it down, but maybe they were just slow, or maybe they thought I would still be hiding in the city, intent on finishing my evil work.

Did I ever finish my narrative of my first failure? Hm, apparently not. Okay, where did I leave off?

The ball. I went to the ball in the pretty gown and escaped from my companions before they could see that it was not actually their dear friend Lady Hilary. The ballroom was beautiful, I have to say. Lots of green plants and blue drapes and flowers and music and soft candlelight. I let myself enjoy it. That was my first mistake. I forgot what I was there to do and actually accepted a dance from a very attractive blond in dark violet. Blonds are so dangerous.

After a dance or three, I remembered my job and began circulating, listening for someone talking about my victim. He had to be here somewhere. I happened to hear a snippet of conversation about how:

"He's dreamy, isn't he?" One of Hilary's friends. I kept clear just in case she recognized the dress.

"They say all the Cseku'und men are attractive," stated another unrecognized female. Yes!

"I wish my mother would introduce us. He keeps dancing with those insipid, little Shelling twins. Doesn't he know anyone else? I wish he knew me." A languishing sigh.

"Which twin is he dancing with now?"

"Betny. She has the blue dress on, I think. All that frizzy orange hair. How can he stand it?"

I immediately scanned the ballroom for a frizzy haired, blue gowned female dancing with a certain prince. There she was. So that must be him.

Now all I needed to do was spill something on him, get him out of the room, and use my stiletto. So simple. So beautifully, purely uncomplicated, straightforward. How did I manage to forget the one very large potential disaster who was even now wandering throughout the ballroom with a vacant, stupid smile on his pathetic, soft-cheeked face?

I waited till the dance ended and came near the prince, unobtrusively following him toward the side. Someone with a drink would come to talk with him. Someone would, I just knew. Patience, patience. It's all in the waiting. I kept myself as calm as usual and played the waiting part, refusing to get distracted by the waltz striking up. I love waltzing. Or at least I used to.

I blame that stupid waltz for my failure. I hate waltzes. Tediously dull one-two-three one-two-three. All waltzers should be assassinated on sight.

Because I was watching the waltz when I noticed a drink-holder next to the Cseku'und prince, I didn't look at his face before I neatly tripped him in the correct direction. Red, sparkling punch splattered all over the prince's pale gray dress uniform. The glass holder yelped and turned toward me. And I saw his face.

If only I'd put our own, dear Crown Prince Jerome Prescori out of his misery last time, I wouldn't be in this infernal position.

He recognized me. How, I don't know. I'd thought his eyes were on the ceiling or pressed into the rug while I was in the room. Maybe it was a magical sense that he possesses which gives him the ability to recognize people who previously threatened his life. Either way, he squeaked.


I backed away, smiling with polite confusion, all the while trying to figure out if I could trip him again and make sure his head hit a marble pillar or the edge of a table.

"Tried to- you're the- she's going to- knife- kill- assass- ssassinass- kill- my throat- knife- y-y-y-y"

I turned and started to melt into the crowd, but his squeaking had gained volume and I was surrounded by a tight press of concerned, confused people. The Cseku'und prince was looking from me to Prince Jerome in confusion and some concern. Jerome was turning a very interesting shade of green and looked as if he might vomit. Everyone was trying to figure out what he was saying,. I looked for a way out, but that shnilling prince from the worm-eaten, fungus-infested country of Cseku'u had his eyes pinned on me.

"attacked me- my room- kill- murder- assassassassinass- knife?" squealed Jerome.

At least he sounded unintelligible.

"She attacked me in my room and was going to kill me unless I helped her find you!" gasped Jerome, in one burst of complete coherence, before fainting dead away with an audible thump-crack! as he hit the floor.

And I made my escape.

It involved a great deal of knife wielding and very hard shoving, but I got through and made it to the doors. There were guards there- honorary ones, mostly. They hadn't expected trouble and simply stared at me in blank confusion as I hurried past. Then the people began shouting out words such as "dangerous female!" and "knife!" and "prince down!" and, most importantly, "assassin!"

I got out, using my Stealth skills more than I'd ever had to before. Jumped out a window, even. It hurt, but I think I assassinated more pansies in that one jump than I have people in my entire career.

And from there, I went to the sewers, as it seemed a logical hiding place. Never again.

Chamomile is lovely.

So back to my wandering through the safe village-y area outside of the city. I walked past another house where the children were actually playing with their toys next to their duck pond in their front yard and the mother was rocking in the rocking chair, watching indulgently. I must have looked exhausted or something, because she asked me to come in for dinner.

Hospitable. They must not get many assassins around here.

Dinner was fantastic.

And the bath, bed, and tea I have just enjoyed are even better. So I'm done writing. That bloody prince can wait one more day. But I'm going to get him. It's not really a failure unless I die. Which I haven't done yet. And don't plan to do for quite some time. Chamomile. I think I'll get some when I go home again.