"Don"t know what you mean, sir," said Vimes, collapsing gratefully into a chair.
"You don"t? I was referring, Vimes, to the speed with which both parties managed to incapacitate themselves with strong liquor at the same time ... ?"
"I wouldn"t know anything about that, sir: That was an automatic reaction; it made life simpler.
"No? It appears, Vimes, that whilst steeling themselves for the fracas to come, both the trolls and the dwarfs came into possession of what I assume they thought was beer ... ?"
"They had been on the pi- been drinking all day, sir," Vimes pointed out.
"Indeed, Vimes, and possibly that is why the dwarf contingent were less than cautious in drinking copiously from beer that had been considerably ... fortified? Areas of Sator Square, I gather, still smell faintly of apples, Vimes. One could come to believe, therefore, that what they were drinking was in fact a mixture of strong beer and stumble, which is, as you know, distilled from apples-"
"Uh, mostly apples, sir," said Vimes helpfully.
"Quite. The cocktail is known as Fluff, I believe. As to the trolls, one might speculate that it would be very hard to find anything to make their beer even more dangerous than it palpably is, but I wonder if you have heard, Vimes, that an admixture of various metallic salts produces a drink known as luglarr, or "Big Hammer"?
"Can"t say I have, sir:
"Vimes, some of the flagstones in the plaza have actually been etched by the stuff!"
"Sorry about that, sir:
Vetinari drummed his fingers on the table. "What would you do
if I asked you an outright question, Vimes?"
"I"d tell you a downright lie, sir:
"Then I will not do so," said Vetinari, smiling faintly. "Thank you, sir. Nor will I" "Where are your prisoners?"
"We spread them around the Watch House yards," said Vimes. "As
they wake up we hose "em clean, take their names, give "em a receipt
for their weapon and a hot drink and push "em out into the street." "Their weapons are culturally very important to them, Vimes," said Vetinari.
"Yeah, Sir, I know. I myself have a strong cultural bias against
getting my brains bashed in and my knees cut off," said Vimes,
stifling a yawn and wincing as his ribs objected.
"Indeed. Were there any casualties in the battle?"
"None that won"t heal." Vimes grimaced. "I have to report that
Mr A. E. Pessimal sustained a broken arm and multiple bruises,
Vetinari actually looked taken aback. "The inspector? What was
"Er, attacking a troll, sir:
I"m sorry? Mr A. E. Pessimal attacked a troll?" "Yessir."
"A. E. Pessimal?" Vetinari repeated. "That"s the man, sir." "A whole troll?"
"Yessir. With his teeth, sir:
"Mr A. E. Pessimal? You are sure? Small man? Very clean shoes?" "Yessir."
Vetinari grabbed a helpful question from the gathering throng. "Why?"
Vimes coughed. "Well, Sir..."
The troll mob was a tableau. Trolls stood or sat or lay where they had been when the Big Hammer had struck. There were a few slow imbibers who put up a bit of a fight, and one who had stuck with a bottle of looted sherry put up a spirited last-drop stand until golem Constable Dorfl picked him up bodily and bounced him on his head.
Vimes walked through it all, as the squad dragged or rolled slumbering trolls into neat lines to await the wagons. And then
The day was not improving for Brick. He"d drunk a beer. Well, maybe more"n one. Where was der harm in dat?
And now, there, right in front of him, wearing one o" dem helmets an" everyt"ing, was, yeah, could be a dwarf, insofar as the fizzing, sizzling pathways of his brain were capable of deciding anything at all. What der hell, they decided, it wasn"t a troll and dat was what it was all about, right? An" here was his club, right here in his han"
Instinct caused Vimes to turn as a troll opened red eyes, blinked and began to swing a club. Too slowly, too slowly in the suddenly frozen time, he tried to dive away, and he felt the club smash into his side and lift him, lift him up and tip him on to the ground. He could hear shouting as the troll lumbered forward, club raised again to make Vimes at one with the bedrock.
Brick became aware that he was being attacked. He stopped what he was doing and, with sparks going fwizzle! in his brain, looked down at his right knee. Some little gnome or somethin" was attackin" him wi" a blunt sword and kickin" an" scream in" like a mad fing. He put it down to the drink, like der feelin" that his ears were givin" off flames, an" brushed the fing away with a flip of his hand.
Vimes, helpless, saw A. E. Pessimal tumble across the plaza, and watched the troll turn back to the clubbing in hand. But Detritus, arriving behind it now, pulled it round with one shovel-sized hand and here came Detritus"s fist, like the wrath of gods. For Brick, everything went dar-
"You wish me to believe," said Lord Vetinari, "that Mr A. E. Pessimal
single-handedly attacked a troll?"
"Both hands, sir," said Vimes. "And feet, too. And tried to bite it, we
"Isn"t that certain death?" said Vetinari. "That didn"t seem to worry him, sir."
Vimes had last seen A. E. Pessimal being bandaged by Igor and
smiling in a semi-conscious way. Watchmen were dropping in all
the time to say things like "Hi, Big Man!" and slap him on the back.
The world had turned for A. E. Pessimal.
"Might I enquire, Vimes, why one of my most conscientious and
most decidedly civilian clerks was in a position to do this?"
Vimes shifted uncomfortably. "He was inspecting. Learning all
about us, sir." He gave Vetinari the look which said: if you take this
any further I will have to lie.
Vetinari returned one which said: I know.
"You yourself are not too badly injured?" the Patrician said aloud. "Just a few scratches, sir," said Vimes.
Vetinari gave him a look which said: broken ribs, I"m certain of it.
Vimes returned one which said: nothing.
Vetinari wandered over to the window and stared down at the waking city. He didn"t speak for some time, and then let out a sigh.
"Such a shame, I think, that so many of them were born here," he said.
Vimes stuck with saying nothing. It generally sufficed.
"Perhaps I should have taken action against that wretched dwarf" Vetinari went on.
"You think so? A wise ruler thinks twice before directing violence against someone because he does not approve of what they say."
Once again, Vimes did not comment. He himself directed violence daily and with a certain amount of enthusiasm against people because he didn"t approve of them saying things like "Give me all your money" or "What are you going to do about it, copper?" But perhaps rulers had to think differently. Instead he said: "Someone else didn"t, sir."
"Thank you for that, Vimes," said the Patrician, turning round sharply. "And have you found out who they are yet?"
"Investigations are continuing, sir. Last night"s affair got in the way.
"Is there any evidence that it was a troll?,
"There is ... puzzling evidence, sir. We are ... assembling a jigsaw, you might say." Except that we haven"t got any of the edges and it"d help if we had the lid of the box, he added to himself. And, because Vetinari"s face bore a hungry look, Vimes continued aloud: "If you"re expecting me to pull a magic rabbit out of my helmet, sir, it"ll be a cooked one. The dwarfs are certain it was a troll. There"s a thousand years of history telling them. They don"t need proof. And the trolls don"t think it was a troll but probably wish it was. This isn"t about a murder, sir. Something inside "em"s gone click and it"s time for all good men - well, you know what I mean - to fight Koom Valley all over again. Something else is going on in that mine, I know it. Something bigger than murder. All those tunnels ... what are they for? All those lies ... I can smell lies, and the place is full of them."
"Much hangs on this, Vimes," said Vetinari. "It"s bigger than you know. I have this morning had a clacks from Rhys Rhysson, the Low King. All politicians have their enemies, of course. There are, shall we say, factions who disagree with him, his policy towards us, his conciliatory approaches to the troll clans, his stance on the whole wretched Ha"ak thing ... And now there are stories about a troll killing a grag and, yes, rumours that the Watch has threatened the dwarfs ...
Vetinari held up a pale hand as Vimes opened his mouth to protest.
"We need to know the truth, Vimes. Commander Sam Vimes"s truth. It may count for more than you think. In the Plains, certainly, and much further. People know about you, commander. Descendant of a watchman who believed that if a corrupted court will not behead an evil king, then the watchman should do it himself-"
"It was only one king," Vimes protested.
"Sam Vimes once arrested me for treason," said Vetinari calmly. "And Sam Vimes once arrested a dragon. Sam Vimes stopped a war between nations by arresting two high commands. He"s an arresting fellow, Sam Vimes. Sam Vimes killed a werewolf with his bare hands, and carries law with him like a lamp-"
"Where did all that come from?"
"Watchmen across half the continent will say that Sam Vimes is as straight as an arrow, can"t be corrupted, won"t be turned, never took a bribe. Listen to me. If Rhys falls, the next Low King will not be one who is prepared to talk to the trolls. Can I make it simple for you? Those clans whose leaders have been dealing with Rhys will in all likelihood feel they have been made fools of, overthrow said leaders and replace them with trolls too belligerent and stupid to be fools. And there will be a war, Vimes. It"ll come here. It won"t be a gang crumble such as you thwarted last night. We won"t be able to hold fast or stand aloof. Because we have our own fools, Vimes, as I"m sure you know, who"ll insist we pick sides. Koom Valley will be everywhere. Find me a murderer, Vimes. Hound them down and
bring them into the daylight. Troll or dwarf or human, it doesn"t matter. Then at least we shall have the truth, and can make use of it. It is rumour and uncertainty that is our enemy now. The Low King"s throne trembles, Vimes, and thus do the foundations of the world."
Vetinari paused, and carefully squared up the paperwork in front of him, as if he now felt he"d gone too far.
"However, obviously I do not wish to put you under any kind of pressure," he finished.
In Vimes"s confused, lukewarm brain, one word bobbed to the surface.
Lord Vetinari"s secretary leaned down and whispered into his master"s ear.
"Ah, I believe I meant "rumble"," said Vetinari brightly.
Vimes was still trying to cope with the international news digest.
"All this over one murder?" he said, trying to stifle a yawn.
"No, Vimes. You said it yourself: all this over thousands of years of tension and politics and power struggles. In recent years things have gone in certain ways, causing power to shift. There are those who would like it to shift back, even if it returns on a tide of blood. Who cares about one dwarf? But if his death can be turned into a casus belli" - here Lord Vetinari looked at Vimes"s sleepy eyes and went on -"that is, a reason for war, then suddenly he is the most important dwarf in the world. When did you last get some proper sleep, Vimes?"
Vimes muttered something about "not long ago.
"Go and have some more. And then find me the murderer. Quickly. Good day to you."
Not just thrones trembling, Vimes managed to think. Your chair is wobbling a bit, too. Pretty soon some people will be saying: who let all these dwarfs in here? They undermine our city and they don"t obey our laws. And the trolls? We used to chain "em up like guard dogs, and now they"re allowed to walk around threatening real people!
They"d be gathering now, the plotters, the people who chatted quietly in the corner at parties, the people who know how to fashion opinion into knives. Last night"s little affray had been turned into a joke that had probably dismayed the party people, but you couldn"t do it twice. Once things began to spread, once a few humans had been killed, you wouldn"t need to talk behind closed doors any more. The mob would scream on your behalf.
They undermine our city and they don"t obey our laws ...
He climbed into the coach on legs that were only marginally under his control, muttered an instruction to head for Pseudopolis Yard, and fell asleep.
It was still night time in the city of endless rain. It was never not night time. No sun rose here.
The creature lay coiled in its alley.
Something was seriously wrong. It had expected resistance. There was always resistance, and it always overcame it. But even now, when the invisible bustle of the city had slowed, there was no way in. Time and again it"d be sure that it had found a point of control, some tide of rage it could use, and time and again it"d be slammed back here, into this dark alley where the gutters overflowed.
This was not the usual kind of mind. The creature struggled. But no mind had ever beaten it. There was always a way ...
Through the ruin of the world the troll staggers ...
Brick lurched out of Dolly Sisters Watch House, clutching his head with one hand and, in the other, holding the bag that contained as many of his teeth as Detritus had been able to find. The sergeant had been very decent about dat, Brick thought. Detritus had also explained to him exactly what would have been happening to him had his second blow hit the human, graphically indicating that finding Brick"s teeth would have been secondary to finding a head to put them in.
He"d gone on to say, though, that there might be a place in the Watch for any troll who could still stand up after a headful of Big Hammer, and maybe Brick might like to conduct his future behaviour with an eye to this.
So, Brick thought - insofar as the term could be applied to any brain activity within two days of Big Hammer - the future was looking so bright that he had to walk along with his eyes almost shut, although that was probably the Big Hammer again.
He"d heard the other trolls talking. And the watchmen, too. All dis stuff about a troll killing a dwarf down in dat new mine. Now, Brick was still certain he hadn"t killed no dwarf, even after half an ounce of Scrape. He"d gone over and over it in what currently remained of his mind. Trouble was, the Watch had all dese tricks dese days, dey could tell what a guy had for dinner just by looking at his plate. An" he"d lost a skull down there too, he was sure o" dat. Like, dey could jus" sniff it and know it was him! Except it wasn"t him, right? "Cos dey said der troll dropped his club, an" Brick still had his club "cos he hit dat top watchman wi" it, so maybe that was what dey called an Ally By? Yes?
Despite the cerebral gurgling noise of the Big Hammer draining away from his higher brain functions, Brick suspected that it wasn"t
. An" anyway, if dey lookin" for a troll what done der deed, and dey find out I was dere, lost a skull an" everyt"in" an" I say, okay, I was dere but I never walloped no dwarf, dey"ll say, ho yus, pull der other one, it is havin" bells on.
Right here, and right now, Brick was feeling a very lonely troll.
Dere was nothin" for it. Dere was only one person who could help him wi" dis one. It was too much t"inkin" for one troll.
Slinking through alleys, pressed against walls, keeping his head down, avoiding every living creature, Brick sought out Mr Shine.
Angua decided to go straight to Pseudopolis Yard, rather than a closer Watch House. That was HQ, after all, and besides, she always kept a spare uniform in her locker.
What was annoying was that Sally walked so easily in six-inch heels. That was vampires for you. She had taken hers off and was carrying them; it was that or turn an ankle. The Pink PussyCat Club had a fairly limited choice of footwear. There wasn"t much to choose from in the way of clothing either, if by clothing you meant something that actually made an attempt to cover anything.
Angua had been rather surprised that the stage wardrobe had included a female Watch outfit, but with skimpy papier-mache armour and a skirt that was much too short to be any protection. Tawneee had explained, rather carefully, that men sometimes liked to see a pretty girl in armour. To Angua, who"d found that men she was apprehending never looked very pleased to see her, this was food for thought. She"d settled for a sequinned gold dress, which just didn"t work. Sally had picked something simple and cut to the thigh in a blue which of course had become stunning the moment she"d put it on. She looked fabulous.
So when Angua strode ahead of Sally into the main office, slamming the big doors back, and there was a derisive wolf whistle, the
unwise watchman found himself being pushed backwards until he was slammed against the wall. He felt two sharp points pressed against his neck as Angua growled, "You want a wolf, do you? Say no, Sergeant Angua."
"No, Sergeant Angua!"
"You don"t? I was probably mistaken then, was I?" The points pressed a little harder. In the man"s mind, steely talons were about to pierce his jugular.
"Couldn"t say for sure, Sergeant Angua!"
"My nerves are a tad stretched right now!" Angua howled. "Hadn"t noticed, Sergeant Angua!"
"We"re all a little bit on edge at the moment, wouldn"t you say?" "That"s ever so true, Sergeant Angua!"
Angua let the man"s boots reach the ground. She put two black, shiny and noticeably pointed heels into his unresisting hands.
"Could you do me a really big favour, please, and take these back up to the Pink PussyCat Club?" she said sweetly. "They belong to someone called Sherilee, I think. Thank you."
She turned and looked over to the duty desk, where Carrot was watching her with his mouth open. Well aware of the stir she was causing, she walked up to the desk past an audience of shocked faces and threw a muddy necklace down on to the open Incident Book.
"Four dwarfs murdered by other dwarfs, down in the Long Dark," she said. "I"ll bet my nose on it. That belonged to one of them. He"d also got this." A muddy envelope was dropped by the necklace. "It"s pretty slimy, but you can read it. Mister Vimes is going to go spare." She looked up into the blue eyes of Carrot. "Where is he?"
"Sleeping on a mattress in his office," said Carrot, and shrugged. "Lady Sybil knew he wouldn"t go home, so she got Willikins to make up a bed down here. Are you two all right?"
"Fine, sir," said Sally.
"I was getting very worried-" Carrot began.
"Four dead dwarfs, captain," said Angua. "City dwarfs. That"s what you should be worrying about. Three half buried, this one crawled away."
Carrot picked up the necklace and read the runes. "Lars Legstrong," he said. "I think I know the family. Are you sure he was murdered?"
"Throat cut. It"d be hard to call it suicide. But he took some time to die. He made it to one of their damn doors which they"d locked shut, and scrawled one of their signs on it in his own blood. Then he sat down and waited to die in the dark. In the damn dark, Carrot! They were working dwarfs! They had shovels and wheelbarrows! They were down there doing a job and when they weren"t needed any more they got the chop! Hacked down and left for the mud! He might even still have been alive down there when Mister Vimes and I went in. Behind their bloody thick door, dying by inches. And do you know what this means?" She pulled a folded piece of card out of her bodice and passed it over.
"A drinks menu?" said Carrot.
"Open it," snapped Angua. "I"m sorry it"s written in lipstick. It was all we could find."
Carrot flipped it open. "Another dark symbol?" he said. "I don"t think I know this one."
There were other dwarf watchmen in the office. Carrot held up the symbol. "Does anyone here know what this means?"
A few helmeted heads shook, and a few dwarfs backed away but a deep voice from the doorway said: "Yes, Captain Carrot. I suspect I do. Does it look like an eye with a tail?"
"Yes ... er ... sir?" said Carrot, staring. A shadow moved.
"It was drawn in the dark? By a dying dwarf? In his own blood? It is the Summoning Dark, captain, and it will be moving. Good morning to you. I am Mr Shine."
Carrot"s jaw dropped as the watchmen turned to look at the newcomer. He loomed in the doorway, almost as broad as he was tall, in a black cloak and hood that hid any possible feature.
"The Mr Shine?" he said.
"Regrettably so, captain, and can I charge you to see that no one in this room leaves for a few minutes after I do? I like to keep my movements ... private."
"I didn"t think you were real, sir!"
"Believe me, young man, I wish it were possible to keep you in that happy state," said the hooded figure. "However, my hand is forced."
Mr Shine stepped forward, pulling a rangy figure into the room. It was a troll, whose look of sullen defiance did not quite manage to conceal knee-knocking terror.
"This is Brick, captain. I deliver him back into the personal custody of your Sergeant Detritus. He has information of use to you. I have heard his story. I believe him. You must move fast. The Summoning Dark may already have found a champion. What else ... oh yes, be sure not to keep that symbol in a dark place. Keep light around it at all times. And now, if you will excuse the theatricals-"
The black robe twitched. Hard, white, blinding light filled the room for a second. When it had gone, so had Mr Shine. All that was left was a large, egg-shaped stone on the stained floor.
Carrot blinked, and then pulled himself together. "All right, you heard," he said to the suddenly animated room at large. "No one is to follow Mr Shine, understood?"
"Follow him, captain?" said a dwarf. "We"re not mad, you know!" "Dat"s right," said a troll. "Dey say he can reach inside o" you an" stop your heart!"
"Mr Shine?" said Angua. "Is he what they"ve been writing about on the walls?"
"It looks like that, said Carrot shortly. "And he said we don"t have much time. Mr ... Brick, was it?"
Whereas Chrysoprase"s trolls had contrived to swagger while standing still, Brick just managed to huddle all alone. You usually need two to huddle, but here was a troll trying to hide behind himself. No one could have hidden behind Brick: for a troll he was stick thin to the point of knobbliness. His lichen was cheap and matted, not the real thing at all, probably the stuff they made up out of broccoli stalks in the back alleys of Quarry Lane. His belt of skulls was a disgrace; some of them were clearly the papier-mache kind that could be bought from any joke shop. One had a red nose.
He looked around nervously, and there was a thud as his club dropped from his fingers.
"I"m in deep copro, right?" he said.
"Certainly we need to talk to you," said Carrot. "Do you want a lawyer?"
"No, I ate already."
"You eat lawyers?" said Carrot.
Brick gave him an empty stare until sufficient brain had been mustered.
"What d"y"call dem fangs, dey kinda crumble when you eat dem?" he ventured.
Carrot looked at Detritus and Angua, to see if there was going to be any help there.
"Could be lawyers," he conceded.
"Dey go soggy if you dips "em in somefing," said Brick, as if undertaking a forensic examination.
"More likely to be biscuits, then?" Carrot suggested.
"Could be. Inna packet wi" all paper on. Yeah, biscuits."
"What I meant," said Carrot, "was: when we talk to you, do you want someone to be on your side?"
"Yes, please. Everyone," said Brick promptly. To be centre of attention in a roomful of watchmen was his worst nightmare. No, hold on, what about dat time when he had dat bad Slab wot had bin cut wi" ammonium nitrate? Whooo! Goodbye lobes! Yep! Den dis was his second worst nightmar- No, come to fink of it, dere was
dis time when he had dat stuff wot Hardcore jacked off"f One-Eyed Goddam, whee, yes! Who knows where dat had bin! All dem dancin" teef! So dis was his- Hey, wait, remember dat time you got lunched on Scrape an" your arms flew away? Okay, dat was bad, so maybe dis was his ... Wait, wait, of course, can"t be forgetting der day when you got baked on Sliver and blew powdered zinc up your nose an" thought you"d thrown up your feet? -Aargh, here come dat time again when you"d, aargh no, when you"d, aargh
Brick had got as far as his nineteenth worst nightmare before Carrot"s voice cut through the snakes.
"Er ... is dat still me?" said Brick nervously. He could really, really do some Slab right now ...
"Generally your advocate is one person," said Carrot. "We"re going to have to ask you some difficult questions. You"re allowed to have someone to help you. Perhaps you have a friend we could fetch?"
Brick pondered this. The only people he could think of in this context were Totally Slag and Big Marble, although more correctly they fell into the category of "people dat don"t fro fings at me much and let me glom a bit o" slab sometimes" Right now, these did not seem ideal qualifications.
He pointed to Sergeant Detritus. "Him," he said. "He helped me find my teef."
"I"m not sure a serving officer is-" Carrot began.
"I"ll volunteer for the role, captain," said a little voice. Carrot peered over the end of the desk.
"Mr Pessimal? I don"t think you should be out of bed."
"Uh ... I am in fact "acting lance-constable" captain," said
A. E. Pessimal, politely yet firmly. He was on crutches.
"Oh? Er ... right," said Carrot. "But I still think you shouldn"t be
out of bed."
"Nevertheless, justice must be served," said A. E. Pessimal.
Brick bent down and peered closely at the inspector. "It"s dat gnome from last night," he said. "Don"t want him!"
"You can"t think of anyone?" said Carrot.
Brick thought again, and at last brightened up. "Yeah, I can," he said. "Easy. Someone to help me answer der questions, right?"
"Well, easy peas. If you can fetch that dwarf I saw down in dat new dwarf mine, he"d help me:
The room went deadly quiet.
"And why would he do that?" said Carrot carefully.
"He could tell you why he was hitting dat other dwarf onna head," said Brick. "I mean, I don"t know. But I "spect he won"t wanna come on account of me bein" a troll, so I"ll stick with the sergeant, if it"s all the same to you."
"I think this is going too far, captain!" said A. E. Pessimal.
In the silence that followed this, Carrot"s voice sounded very loud.
"I think this, Mr Pessimal, is the point where we wake up Commander Vimes."
There was an old military saying that Fred Colon used to describe total bewilderment and confusion. An individual in that state, according to Fred, "couldn"t tell if it was arsehole or breakfast time.
This had always puzzled Vimes. He wondered what research had been done. Even now, with his mouth tasting of warmed-over yesterday and everything curiously sharp in his vision, he thought he"d be able to tell the difference. Only one was likely to include a cup of coffee, for a start.
He had one now, ergo, it was breakfast time. Actually, it was near lunchtime, but that would have to do.
The troll known to everyone else and occasionally to himself as Brick was seated in one of the big troll cells, but in deference to the fact that no one could decide if he was a prisoner or not, the door had been left unlocked. The understanding was that, provided he didn"t try to leave, no one would stop him leaving. Brick was engulfing his third bowl of the mineral-rich mud that, to a troll, was nourishing soup.
"What is Scrape?" Vimes said, leaning back in the room"s one spare chair and staring at Brick as a zoologist might eye a fascinating but highly unpredictable new species. He"d put the stone ball from the mysterious Mr Shine on the table by the bowl, to see if it got any reaction, but the troll paid it no attention.
"Scrape? You don"t see it much dese days now dat Slab"s so damn cheap," rumbled Detritus, who was watching his new find with a proprietorial air, like a mother hen watching a chick who was about to leave the nest. "It what you "scrape up", see? It a few bits o" draingrade Slab boiled up in a tin wi" alcohol and pigeon droppin"s. It what der street trolls make when dey is short o" cash an". .. What is it dey"s short of, Brick?"
The moving spoon paused. "Dey is short o" self-respect sergeant," he said, as one might who"d had the lesson shouted into his ear for twenty minutes.
"By Io, he got it!" said Detritus, slapping the skinny Brick on the back so hard that the young troll dropped his spoon in the steaming gloop. "But dis lad has promised me all dat is behind him and he is damn straight now, on account o" havin" joined my one-step programme! Ain"t dat so, Brick? No more Slab, Scrape, Slice, Slide, Slunkie, Slurp or Sliver for dis boy, right?"
"Yes, sergeant," said Brick obediently.
"Sergeant, why do the names of all troll drugs start with ess?" said Vimes.
"Ah, it make dem easier to remember, sir," said Detritus, nodding sagely.
"Ah, of course. I hadn"t spotted that said Vimes. "Has Sergeant Detritus explained to you why he calls it a one-step programme, Brick?"