The Viper and the Urchin
by Celine Jeanjean
Release Date: July 27th 2015
Summary from Goodreads:
Being Damsport’s most elegant assassin is hard work. There’s tailoring to consider, devilish poisons to concoct, secret identities to maintain… But most importantly, Longinus has to keep his fear of blood hidden or his reputation will be ruined. So, when a scrawny urchin girl threatens to expose his phobia unless he teaches her swordsmanship, he has no choice but to comply.
It doesn’t take long for Rory to realise that her new trainer has more eccentricities than she has fleas. But she’ll put up with anything, no matter how frustrating, to become a swordswoman like her childhood hero.
What she’s not prepared for is a copycat assassin who seeks to replace Longinus, and who hires Rory’s old partner in crime to do away with her, as well. Rory and Longinus must set their differences aside and try to work together if they’re to stop the copycat. But darker forces than they realise are at play, and with time running out, the unlikely duo find themselves the last line of defence against a powerful enemy who seeks to bring Damsport to its knees.
An Interview with Longinus
Thank you for doing this interview Longinus! It’s a pleasure to have you here.
Well of course it is. I’d love to reciprocate, but I don’t yet know whether your questions will be any good.
Oh, haha. No pressure!
O-kay, let’s get right to it then. You’re afraid of blood – isn’t that a bit unusual for an assassin?
I’m not in the habit of enquiring after my colleagues’ thoughts on blood. For all I know it’s a widespread sentiment in our line of work. And I don’t see why it wouldn’t be. After all, no assassin worthy of the name would lower himself to use crude weapons like swords or knives – or in fact any other method that would result in bloodshed. They are the marks of an amateur.
There are many methods available to the elegant assassin – strangulation is adequate, as is drowning I suppose – but poison is obviously the most refined and therefore the only one worth considering.
Isn’t poison a little limited though?
Oh how little you know – the varieties of poisons are endless! You see the mark of a great assassin isn’t just in the execution of difficult jobs, but also in the variety of methods used. Poison, in its infinite variations is therefore the superior weapon.
For example, say I needed to kill someone in their sleep. Why, I have a poison for every possible sleeping position. There’s Deafly Silence – an auricular poison – that is applied with a funnel in the ear. Then Smells Like Death is an olfactory poison that can be waved under the sleeper’s nose, and –
Yes, alright. Let’s not go through every poison there is. Tell me about Rory. You two have a bit of a tricky relationship.
That girl will be the death of me. I have never in all my years met someone as rude and annoying. I am nothing if not a patient and generous soul –
A-hem! *Longinus glares*
As I was saying, I am nothing if not a patient and generous soul, but she tests even my limits. She is dirty, uneducated, crass, and worse she is grammatically incorrect. But I have to admit she has her uses, and an assassin such as myself should really have an assistant. So, I put up with her.
It’s for her good too. No doubt you’ll have noticed the effect my presence has had on her? She was a filthy street urchin when I first met her, and I’m sure you’d agree that she is now vastly improved. Almost respectable. It’s inevitable really: a man of my culture and elegance cannot help but elevate those around him.
Err, yes… I feel elevated as we speak.
Wait, why are you saying Rory’s your assistant? Isn’t she blackmailing you?
*stony face* No comment.
Okay, I guess I’ll move on. I understand you write?
Indeed I do! Mostly pamphlets detailing the exploits of the Viper – the name under which I work. I began writing them for purely practical reasons: to spread the word of my kills and build up my reputation. But, as with everything I do, I infuse them with such poetry that they are truly delightful little literary gems.
I wanted to ask –
Have you noted the expression ‘literary gems’? I don’t want to be misquoted now. Literary gem is the best way to describe my writing.
Yes, yes – I have it written just there.
I wanted to ask you about your fear of blood again. What caused that? Was it a trauma of some kind? Some difficult experience…
*Longinus looks troubled*
I don’t mean to pry, but if you could –
I have to go. I’m afraid I have a pressing appointment. *Longinus stands*
But I’m not finished!
Terrible shame, I’m sure, but I must dash. Especially if you’re resorting to this sensationalist nonsense. You could have questioned me about my poetry, you could have dug further into my skill with poison, or even asked me about my views on philosophy – and they are extensive – but no, you had to go there.
Well, I don’t know what I was expecting from someone so common. I’d ask you not to contact me again – I shan’t be giving any more interviews. Goodbye.
Celine Jeanjean is French, grew up in the UK and now lives in Hong Kong. That makes her a tad confused about where she is from. During her time in Asia she’s watched the sun rise over Angkor Wat, lost her shoes in Vietnam, and fallen off a bamboo raft in China. Celine writes stories that feature quirky characters and misfits, and her books are a mixture of steampunk, fantasy and humour.
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