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Chapter 1: Sunglasses and strange... "hair"

Our story began in a inn, at one day from Ankh-Morpork by walk, the kind of inn where adventurers met and where heroes can take a rest, well at least that's what it used to be when the last hero of the Discworld, Cohen the Barbarian, was still alive. Now it was just an inn frequented by simple travelers coming to Ankh-Morpork and some regulars.

And among these travelers, none of them looked mysterious, none of them could be some Chosen One on a big terrifying mission or the long lost heir to some antic kingdom trying to pass for a filthy commoner, because contrary to what the stories say, most of the time all that is gold does glitter, a royal heir looks like a royal heir in other words, and none of them kept a hood on the head to hide his face and remained isolated from the others.

Oops, looks like I have spoken too fast there, there was indeed only one person in the inn who had kept a hood on the head, moreover it looked like something was moving under the hood , which couldn't be explained by the wind since the hooded figure was inside, and it would have attracted the attention of others if they weren't too busy drinking. And apparently she didn't didn't kept her hood on because she was frozen since she was wearing nothing but a tunic in the Ephebian style that didn't cover her arms and legs, she was also wearing sunglasses whereas we were in autumn. Her skin was also pale green, which didn't surprise much since in Ankh-Morpork they were used to every kind of skin-colors.

And, despite all the details mentioned above, believe it or not, she hoped she would pass unnoticed.

"Well, hello there !"

Which didn't work apparently.

The grinning man who had said that had obviously drunk too much from what she could smell.

"Go away," ordered the hooded girl who didn't even look at him

"Come on, I ain't seen a beauty like ya in days. Wanna have some fun ?"

"I'm not interesssted," she left her seat, still without looking at him, with the intention to go to the bar to ask the innkeeper the key of her room so that she can get rid of the man politely.

"Playing shy, eh ?" asked the drunkard as he followed her insistently. "What do you think about taking this glasses off so that I can see your beautiful eyes ?"

"You wouldn't find them beautiful, believe me. For the lassst time, leave me alone."

She turned but he suddenly caught her arm.

"Hey, Missy ! No girl ever refused me, so you'll be a nice girl and..."

But he never finished his sentence, because the girl just threw him at the other end of the room, making fall lots of beer and glasses upon him, to the delight of the other customers who cheered the girl and laughed at the man, since they always liked an entertainment, even if they wondered how such a slim-looking girl could be that strong.

"The key to my room, pleassse," she calmly asked

Well, so much for getting unnoticed, she thought as she went upstairs.

He had finally opened the door, he put the skeleton key back in his pocket and entered into the room silently after closing the door.

This little bitch didn't only rejected him but humiliated him on top of it, he's tried to play it nice earlier, now she's gonna pay for this, he thought as he walked towards the bed.

"Remember me ?" he asked as he quickly lifted the blanket covering her head and put a hand on her mouth.

And she opened her eyes.

Oh crap, why the hell did she forget to put her sleep mask ? She thought as she was running away from the inn, better run quickly, sure there would be no hero to slay her now since the profession was in declining business, not to say a dead profession, but still it would be more careful to leave before everyone saw what she had done.
How did this idiot get in by the way ? She briefly wondered.

Tomorrow in the morning, the inkeeper's daughter came to clean the room, she knocked at one of the door and noticed it was opened, she went inside and noticed something way stranger inside.

Some minutes later, her father was with her, looking at her discovery.

"These bloody clients, they always have to forget something, and not a little something this time !" he complained. "The strange girl, she must be an artist and she's worked the other night."

"But Dad, how could she have put a stone this size in there and sculpting without anyone hearing ?"

"Well, she must have been very quite," answered the man who wasn't very rational and didn't like to be wrong.

"It looks a lot like this awful drunkard of the other night to me," noticed his daughter
"Yes, quite. And he's very expressive."

"You mean scarred ?"

He didn't answer.

"What are we going to do with it Dad ?"

He thought some minutes and then said:

"Go and tell your uncles to come here."

And after his brothers helped him to transporter the statue downstairs, he installed it near the door and put a billboard with the menu on it, and renamed his in "The petrified Drunkard."

Finally, she arrived in Ankh-Morpork after walking most of the night and all the morning, luckily enough she hadn't met any bandits, not that she was worry about getting hurt, no, she just didn't want to use the favorite way of defense of her race to get rid of them, that was all. She had already made one mistake in the inn, better not do that again.

So this was Ankh-Morpork ? she thought. Well, the smell reminded her of home, the delicious smell of putrid swamps. It was very different from the Ephebian cities she had seen before that were pure white, this city was... well kind of greyish, brownish and other things in "ish", another thing in common with her native swampland. Maybe she won't feel that much homesick after all.

"Sausage in bun ! Who wants a sausage in a bun ?" yelled the most tenacious and unlucky business-man of Ankh-Morpork, aka Digger-Cut-my-own-Throat, as every Morporkers, who had tasted at least once in their life Digger's sausages, were running away from him.
"You Miss ?" asked the Throat as he came towards the girl with sunglasses. "New in town ?" he asked rhetorically, he had a flair for spotting strangers, the only ones who maybe wouldn't run away from him

"Issss it that obvioussss ?" hissed the girl.

Judging by her tunic, the girl had to be Ephebian, Digger had heard that Ephebian were renowned to have a lilting accent, but he had never heard until now that they had a hissing accent.

"So, looking for fortune in the Big Wahoonie, eh ?" asked Digger, using here of his oldest tricks: pretend he was interested in a stranger's life to get the sucker's trust, well he wasn't pretending from his point of view: he was actually interested in the stranger's life if it could get him to buy one of his products.

"We can sssay ssso. Do you know where'ssss the City-Watch ?"

"One sausage ?" asked Digger, who was always willing to help his neighbor but not for free. "Five pounds and I'm cutting my own throat !"

"Alright," answered the young woman who had understood what the man meant as she gave him the five pounds and received the sausage at best made of pork in a bun. "Now, where'ssss the Watch ?"

"Two streets away," answered the Throat before running towards another innocent stranger freshly arrived in town

The Ephebian girl followed the direction indicated by the street-seller and decided, after hesitating a little, to finally eat the sausage, deciding she would have to get used to human's food anyway sooner or later. She spat it. How could humans find what her people ate disgusting and eat that ?

"Good morning."

Victor Thumb, a human (1) who preferred the boring world of administration to the thrilling world of crime-fighting unlike his colleagues, the ones who found administrative work boring, Victor on the contrary saw it as the most exciting thing in life (2), raised his head slowly and looked at the young lady standing in front of him the way he looked at anything that wasn't connected with paperwork: with little or no interest. And this young person was wearing sunglasses in autumn, how ridiculous ! He hated eccentricity more than everything.

"What do you want ?" he asked drily

"I would like to join the Watch."

"I see. Sit down please."

He then took the files he had prepared specially for the inscription of the new recruits (3) and a pen.

"Name ? Country ? Town ?"

"Issskandra, I'm from Ephebe and I wasssn't born in a town."

"A village then ?"


"Where ?"

"A ssswamp."

"And how did you call this swamp ?"

"We jussst called it the ssswamp," answered the girl, acknowledging her ancestors didn't have a great imagination when it came in naming things. Only the humans used such names as "the Forbidden Swamp", "the Swamps of Doom" or "the Green-Brownish Death" for the places where her people lived, when it came to imagination humans were definitely better at it than her kind.

"Age ?"

"123 yearsss old."

Thumb calmly wrote down the information: he was used to see young-looking people in the Watch who were in fact old enough to be his great great great great grandparents.

"And why do you want to join the Watch ?"

Even if the City Watch's reputation wasn't anymore like it used too, the City-Watch was in fact pretty much renowned now, it was still strange to see people choosing this career.

"I heard it wasss a tradition to join the Watch in Ankh-Morpork when you're the firssst of your speciessss to come in thisss city."

"The first of your species ? Sorry to disappoint you young lady but we already have vampires and zombies among us."

"But I'm not one of them."

"Oh, you're 123 years old and your skin is rather pale and greenish, but you're not an undead. May I ask you what you are then ?"

"Thisss," she hissed as she pulled down her hood, dozens of little reptilian eyes stared at Victor Thumb who dropped his pen.

"I... I thought you had all disappeared !" exclaimed the guard

"No, we just don't leave our swamps often, that'sss all. And sssince heroesss were the only ones to sssee us and disssappeared, you don't hear of usss often."

"But why did you choose this career ? I thought gorgons weren't, you know, very friendly towards humans."

"Ssso were the werewolves and the vampires, and sssome of them work in the Watch."

"You're right. But that still doesn't answer my question: why do you want to join the Watch."

"It'sss the Century of the Anchorvy, species can't remain isolated anymore, we have to live with humansss and show them gorgonsss can adapt and are not a threat anymore."

"Well, it will be difficult to change the image of your race, you know."

The snakes on her head hissed at him furiously.

"Quiet you !"

"I beg your pardon ?" asked an offended Victor who had on the moment briefly forgotten of the snakes.

"I wasssn't talking to you."

When he saw her slapping the snakes a little and muttered under breath "little bastardsss !" as one of them had bitten her finger, Victor understood she was talking to her... well, not exactly her hair but what stood for it in her species.

"Why do you sssay that sssir ?"

"Well, you're known to change people into stone just by looking at them, I don't think people will forget this kind of detail easily."

"Asss you can sssee I took precautionsss so that accidents of thisss kind can't happen," she added as she touched her sunglasses. "And it worksss: you're ssstill made of flesh."

"Well, I'll submit your demand to the commissioner Vimes, but don't expect too much, I don't think he will be very thrilled by the idea of recruiting a gorgon. Come in two days and you'll know the answer."


She was about to leave when he realized something.

"Wait, I've forgotten to ask you one information for the file. What color are your eyes ?"

"I don't know."

"What ?"

"Did you ever heard how gorgonssss were defeated by heroes ? With a shield so shiny it'sss like a mirror. We're not immune against our own eyesss, so do you ssseriously think I know what they look like ?"

The snakes moved under the hood she had put back on her head, she slapped some of the reptiles and left the Watch building, swearing under her breath, which sounded for anyone with a very good sense of hearing like hissing.

(1) Carrot, Colon and Vimes are not the only humans in the Watch of course, they just are the most famous. What do you mean I forgot someone ? Nobby ? Wait... he's human ? And he has documents to prove it ? Oh... Gods.

(2) What do you want ? You need everything to make a world after all, even people who sincerely love paperwork.

(3) A novelty he had introduced to the Watch. Before that, anyone who asked to join the Watch or was kindly asked to do so by Sergeant Detritus, a quite impressive troll with a crossbow that was originally a weapon of siege, was accepted immediately.
A Gorgon in the City Watch

Chapter 1: Sunglasses and strange... "hair"

I had the idea of writing this fic because of a detail of Unseen Academicals. When I read it last year I noticed that a gorgon recruited in the Watch was mentioned somewhere in a short passage where it is said that she lost her sunglasses by accident, thus turning some people into stone.

So I thought it would be interesting to write a fanfic about this character. Concerning the description, that is not fully given there, she has pale green skin and the snakes on her head are of a darker green, as for her eyes, you'll eventually know their color later in the story. She also talks like thisss, hissing a little like a snake, concerning her diet, since she mentioned gorgon's food seems disgusting to humans (and she thinks the same of human food), there will be precisions in the chapters to come.

Finally, concerning her name it has been hard to find, I didn't want to call her Medusa, Stheno or Euryale, the names of the three gorgon's sisters, I tried to find a greek name and remembered the oriental name of Alexander of Macedonia: Iskander, and invented a feminine equivalent: Iskandra (or Issskandra if pronounced by the eponymous character), that way I keep a little of the greek reference since she comes from Ephebe.

I'm working of some illustrations about her, I'll try to submit as soon as I can.

I wonder if we'll hear of this character again in Discworld novels or not, maybe in Snuff (when it's in the library I'll buy it immediately, I just can't wait for the translation, even if I'll end up reading it anyway since our national translator Patrick Couton is really good). Anyway, I thought it might be nice, before the character gets presented more precisely eventually by Pratchett, to imagine a story about her.

Your opinion on the story is more than welcolme.

Enjoy !

Disclaimer: Nothing belongs to me, the Discworld and all his characters, the gorgon included, come from the genius mind of Terrry Pratchett, and he's the one getting paid for this, not me.
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October 4, 2011
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