“This is all a mistake!” cried the wizzard.
“Oh, I think not. Do you remember me?” asked the hooded man curiously.
“I don’t think so.”
“No, I suppose you wouldn't. It was long ago, in another place. And I am not all the boy I used to be” the man replied with a wistful sigh. With that, the man pushed back his cowl to reveal a head quite bald and shaven, and a face that appeared soft, round, sympathetic and that smiled, and yet…
“Let’s play a game. Who could I be? Go on, take a guess.”
The wizzard stared desperately deep into the smiling face, looking for a clue as to what was going on or a sliver of pity upon which to cling onto for dear life and beg for mercy, for whatever it wanted. And then, there, deep within, he saw something terrible and recalled the... unfortunate incident.
“Oh no. Ridcully, with the candle, in the Library?”
The smile grew wider and more kindly. This made the wizzard more nervous. “Correct. You win.”
Oh joy, a game where you can both win and die. It was time for the wizzard’s well-honed natural survival instincts to take over.
“Look, that wasn’t supposed to happen!”
“Indeed? Do tell” the man replied. His eyes seemed trustworthy.
“The… mad things, that dwell in the Dungeon Dimensions, they were breaking through. We'd tried everything else, so the Arch-Chancellor thought a little bit of blood magic couldn't make things any worse, and Ponder Stibbins couldn't talk him out of it so -”
“How unfortunate.” The man shook his head, and smiled some more.
“I wasn't even supposed to be there. I was just starting a permanent student exchange at the Citadel, when Arch-Maester Marwyn told me I had to return to the University urgently; he said it was 'where I belonged’, that he could not teach 'the likes of me' anything more about magic, that the Arch-Chancellor ‘deserved me’, and advised me to go forth and be fruitful.”
"He was a very likeable fellow. He had some wise thoughts on prophesy, said it was 'like a treacherous woman'. I didn't quite understand the allusion after that, but I'd agree that if something even looks like its going to turn out well, it almost certainly will change it's mind."
"So it would seem." The same smile. This was going rather well, mused the wizzard.
“Listen, I told them I hadn’t forged any links at the Citadel, and that I hadn’t really done any magic before, but they were all fussing over the candle and told me to just get on with it.”
“There is nothing like just having a go, is there?”
The man seemed to be taking it remarkably well, thought the wizzard.
“To be honest, I think they chose me because I don’t think they actually trusted each other with a knife, what with all the assassination attempts.”
“Internal politics. I know it well. It must have been very stressful for you.”
They seemed to be building a rapport; there could be a chance to turn this around.
“Oh yes. It made it very hard to concentrate. Something went wrong with the incantations, the Librarian turned over two pages in the Octavio, then the knife slipped –"
“Don’t blame yourself. You were inexperienced. Everyone makes mistakes.” The face continued to smile, but the wizard thought he detected just the hint of a shudder from a painful memory.
“- oh my, please, no-one knew what to do with it, it was so embarrassing. We felt awful.”
“Oh, of course.”
“What happened next, it wasn’t my idea! The Archchancellor told everyone, ‘Let’s get this over quickly, and have lunch’, one of the Senior Wizards happened to mention how hungry they were and how they could even go for one of Dibbler’s sausages-inna-bun...”
“Not your idea.” The smile remained.
“Dibbler said he’d buy as many as we had, if we offered wholesale price. But I swear, we didn’t take him up on it! Not the junior wizards, at least!”
“No, of course not.” Was it a smile, though? Was it?
“That’s about the time he started his gourmet sausages range and got that great review in the Ankh-Morpork Guide, then his business really started to take -" The wizzard stopped talking abruptly.
“I believe so.” The man was definitely doing something with his expression, but the wizzard was starting to reconsider whether it was actually smiling.
“I never ate one, I swear!”
The bald man stared deep into his eyes and leaned closer. He whispered in his ear.
“I believe you. I really do. And…I… forgive you.”
“Th..thank you!” the wizzard sighed with relief. Then, as his practical pessimism returned, “But?…”
“But… none of that is going to help you now.”
“Please, in the name of the Eight*, don’t put me in there!” cried the wizzard, pitiably snivelling.
Varys closed the lid.
Inside, he could just about dimly discern a dozen assorted figures in crumpled robes and pointed hats, and an orang-utan, sitting disconsolately. Wizards can put up with any amount of deprivation and discomfort, provided it is not happening to them. None of them seemed to be particularly pleased to see him. Ungrateful bunch. It seemed remarkably rude considering it was very likely going to be down to him enduring something humiliating and painful that they were going to all manage to get out of this, possibly mostly alive. He didn’t have many talents, but finding a way to get as far away from danger as possible was one of them.
He nodded to one of the more senior and portly gentlemen, who was at that moment lighting up a pipe with his fingertips. “Arch-Chancellor.”
“Rincewind” the gentleman muttered gruffly in reply, not bothering to stop as he sucked on his pipe to get it to catch. Smoke began to fill the dark dimension, causing some grumbling and coughing.
“Ook” said the Librarian. “Ook?” At least someone was polite enough to ask.
“I’m thinking about it, believe you me.” He turned his gaze from the illustrious ape to address the object within which they currently resided.
“Well,” muttered Rincewind testily to the Luggage, “I suppose you are finding this all very amusing, aren’t you?”
The Luggage could not speak or laugh, but Rincewind could feel himself be ever so slightly shaken in whatever dimension this was, as the Luggage gently shook with mirth.
*While it was generally considered amongst the adherents of The Faith that there were seven aspects or seven gods, amongst wizards it was generally agreed that, while the denizens of the Dungeon Dimensions were attracted even to the very idea of the number Eight, it was still wiser to acknowledge them and be the one to say "look I was on your side all along, please take me as your living vessel and kill the unbelievers" than to carry on pretending as if they didn't exist, which was only going to make them angrier.
Statistics: Posted by Ethdhelwen — Sat Aug 29, 2015 7:16 am