The Darkest AssassinBy: Gena Showalter
A Lords of the Underworld Novella
One Thousand and One Dark Nights
Once upon a time, in the future…
I was a student fascinated with stories and learning.
I studied philosophy, poetry, history, the occult, and
the art and science of love and magic. I had a vast
library at my father’s home and collected thousands
of volumes of fantastic tales.
I learned all about ancient races and bygone
times. About myths and legends and dreams of all
people through the millennium. And the more I read
the stronger my imagination grew until I discovered
that I was able to travel into the stories... to actually
become part of them.
I wish I could say that I listened to my teacher
and respected my gift, as I ought to have. If I had, I
would not be telling you this tale now.
But I was foolhardy and confused, showing off
One afternoon, curious about the myth of the
Arabian Nights, I traveled back to ancient Persia to
see for myself if it was true that every day Shahryar
(Persian: شهريار, “king”) married a new virgin, and then
sent yesterday's wife to be beheaded. It was written
and I had read, that by the time he met Scheherazade,
the vizier's daughter, he’d killed one thousand
Something went wrong with my efforts. I arrived
in the midst of the story and somehow exchanged
places with Scheherazade – a phenomena that had
never occurred before and that still to this day, I
Now I am trapped in that ancient past. I have
taken on Scheherazade’s life and the only way I can
protect myself and stay alive is to do what she did to
protect herself and stay alive.
Every night the King calls for me and listens as I spin tales.
And when the evening ends and dawn breaks, I stop at a
point that leaves him breathless and yearning for more.
And so the King spares my life for one more day, so that
he might hear the rest of my dark tale.
As soon as I finish a story... I begin a new
one... like the one that you, dear reader, have before
“I’m not afraid of the dark. I am the dark.”
– Bjorn, the One True Dread
“The best way to navigate the dark? With a sword.”
– Fox the Executioner
What have I done? What the hell have I done?
Vision blurry and ears ringing, Fox the Executioner stumbled around the ancient, crumbling temple. This was a warzone. She needed to focus but… So dizzy.
How many enemies waited nearby? Hoping to ward off an attack, she waved her short swords wildly, metal whistling. A cool wind blustered past the temple’s pillars, the warm, wet blood that coated her hands and dripped down her arms chilling in an instant.
She had portaled here only minutes before and…and…she had gone into some kind of trance and murdered…she’d killed… A cry of distress parted her lips. She’d killed ten demon assassins known as Sent Ones. Immortals who’d been bound and utterly helpless.
Killing wasn’t new to her. For centuries, people had paid her big bucks to slay their targets. As an equal opportunity assassin, she always welcomed a chance to take out liars, perverts, thieves, abusers, and cheaters. Even fellow exterminators. And she never failed to complete the job. No dead body meant no payment. No payment, no happiness.
Money was her source of life, and she always wanted more.
As a child, Fox had tasted the horrors of destitution. Without shelter, you were vulnerable to predators as much as the elements. Without food, you were rendered weak. Too weak to defend yourself. Without water and clean clothes, you were stripped of your humanity. Never again. She’d learned to save backup money for her backup money’s backup money.
Today, however, she would earn no fee for her kills and derive no satisfaction from taking out bad men. The Sent Ones had been good. They had not deserved death. And yet, the moment she’d spotted them, something dark and insidious had overtaken her. She’d attacked.
Something? Like she really had to wonder where to cast the blame. Not too long ago, the demon of Distrust had possessed her, and she’d let him. Hell, she’d welcomed him. Her people lived to the ripe old age of five thousand, never any longer. As she’d neared the end, she’d sought true immortality.