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Mhing’s only a part-time secret assassin; his official position is Chosen Supervisor of the Glorious Municipal Plumbing System.

“And my uncle says it IS your responsibility to fix the koi pond,” says Lai smugly.

“I must beg a momentary excuse,” says Mhing, a blue sleeve in his peripheral vision.

“Hurry up!” snaps Lai.

Mhing does hurry: he vaults the garden wall, phoonts a blowdart at a quickly-stiffening court stenographer, and returns, unruffled, before Lai’s tea can cool.

“My tea got cold!” says Lai. “I’m telling the Emperor!”

Mhing regrets that killing Lai would make his assassinness considerably less secret.