"They're on greased rails," said Vimes.
"Well done, sir!"
"And quite a few of the traps drop you into something deadly," said Vimes.
"Lucky for me that I fell into this one, eh, sir?"
"Oh, that one's deadly too," said Vimes. "Eventually deadly." He sighed. He really wanted to discourage this sort of thing but ... they'd put him off the register? It wasn't that he'd liked being shot at by hooded figures in the temporary employ of his many and varied enemies, but he'd always looked at it as some kind of vote of confidence. It showed that he was annoying the rich and arrogant people who ought to be annoyed.
Besides, the Assassins' Guild was easy to outwit. They had strict rules, which they followed quite honorably, and this was fine by Vimes, who, in certain practical areas, had no rules whatsoever.
Off the register, eh? The only other person not on it any more, it was rumored, was Lord Vetinari, the Patrician. The Assassins understood the political game in the city better than anyone, and if they took you off the register it was because they felt your departure would not only spoil the game but also smash the board ...
"I'd be jolly grateful if you could pull me out, sir," said Jocasta.
"What? Oh, yes. Sorry, got clean clothes on," said Vimes.
"But when I get back to the house I'll tell the butler to come down here with a ladder. How about that?"
"Thank you very much, sir. Nice to have met you, sir." Vimes strolled back to the house. Off the register? Was he allowed to appeal? Perhaps they thought --
The scent rolled over him.
He looked up.
Overhead, a lilac tree was in bloom.
Damn! Damn! Damn! Every year he forgot. Well, no. He never forgot. He just put the memories away, like old silverware that you didn't want to tarnish. And every year they came back, sharp and sparkling, and stabbed him in the heart. And today, of all days ...
The foregoing is excerpted from Night Watch by Terry Pratchett. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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