"Er ... hang there, commander," said Sir Reynold. "Of course." "So what you mean is, people can come and look at the pictures, and the pictures, for their part, are looked at?
"Rather like that, yes," said the curator. He thought for a moment, aware that this probably wasn"t sufficient, and added, "but dynamicaleah.
"You mean the people are moved by the pictures, sir?" said Carrot.
"Yes!" said Sir Reynold, with huge relief. "Well done! That"s just hwhat happens. And we"ve had the Rascal on public display for years. We even have a stepladder in case people hwant to examine the mountains. Sometimes people come in with a bee in their bonnet that one of the warriors is pointing to some barely visible cave or something. Frankleah, if there was some secret, I hwould have found it by now. There was no point to the theft!
"Unless someone had found the secret and didn"t want anyone else to find it," said Vimes.
"That hwould be rather a coincidence, hwouldn"t it, commander? It"s not as if anything has changed just recently. Mr Rascal didn"t turn up and paint another mountain! And, although I hate to say this, just destroying the painting would have been enough."
Vimes walked around the table. All the bits, he thought, I must have all the bits by now.
Let"s start with this legend of a dwarf turning up, nearly dead, weeks after the battle, babbling about treasure.
All right, then it might have been this talking cube thing, Vimes thought. He survived the battle, hid out somewhere, and he"s got this thing and it"s important. He"s got to get it somewhere safe ... No, maybe he"s got to get people to listen to it. And of course he doesn"t take it with him, "cos there"s still likely to be trolls wandering the area and right now they"ll be in a mood to club first and try to think up some questions later. He needs some bodyguards.
He gets as far as some humans, but when he"s leading them back to the place where it"s hidden he finally dies.
Forward two thousand years. Would a cube last that long? Hell, they bob up in molten lava!
So it"s lying there. Methodia Rascal comes along, looking for ... a nice view, or something, and he looks down and there it is? Well, I"ll have to accept that he did, because he found it and got it talking, who knows how. But he couldn"t stop it. He drops it down the well. The dwarfs find it. They listen to the box, but hate what they hear. They hate it so much that Hamcrusher has four miners killed just because they heard it too. So why the painting? It shows what the box is talking about? Where the box is? If you"ve got the box in your hand, isn"t that it?
Anyway, who says it was the voice of Bloodaxe doing the speaking? It could be anybody. Why would you believe what was said?
He was aware of Sir Reynold talking to Carrot ...
"... said to your Sergeant Colon here, the painting is set several miles from hwhere the actual battle hwas fought. It"s in entirely the hwrong part of Koom Valleah! That"s just about the one thing both sides are agreed on!"
"So why did he set it there?" said Vimes, staring at the table as if hoping to draw a clue from it by willpower alone.
"Who knows? It"s all Koom Valleah. There"s about two hundred and fifty square miles of the place. I imagine he just chose somewhere that looked dramatic."
"Would you chaps like a cup of tea?" said Lady Sybil, from the door. "I felt a bit at a loose end, so I made a pot. And you should be getting your head down, Sam."
Sam Vimes looked panicky, a figure of authority caught once again in a domestic situation.
"Oh, Lady Sybil, they took the Rascal!" said Sir Reynold. "I know it belonged to your family!"
"My grandfather said it was just a damn nuisance," said Sybil. "He used to let me unroll it on the floor of the ballroom. I used to name all the dwarfs. We looked for the secret, because he said there was hidden treasure and the painting showed you where it was. Of course, we never found it, but it kept me quiet on rainy afternoons."
"Oh, it wasn"t great art," said Sir Reynold. "And the man was quite mad, of course. But somehow it spoke to people:
"I wish it"d say something to me," said Vimes. "You really don"t need to make tea for people, dear. One of the officers-"
"Nonsense! We must be hospitable," said Sybil.
"Of course people tried to copy it," said the curator, accepting a cup. "Oh dear, they hwere terrible! A painting fifty feet long and ten feet deep is really quite impossible to copy with any kind of accuraceah-"
"Not if you lay it out on the ballroom floor and get a man to make you a pantograph," said Sybil, pouring tea. "This teapot really is a disgrace, Sam. Worse than the urn. Doesn"t anyone ever clean it out?"
She looked up at their faces. "Did I say something wrong?" she said.
"You made a copy of the Rascal?" said Sir Reynold.
"Oh, yes. The whole thing, to a scale of one in five," said Sybil. "When I was fourteen. It was a school project. We were doing dwarf history, you see, and, well, since we owned that painting it was too good to miss. You know what a pantograph is, don"t you? It"s a very simple way of making larger or smaller copies of a painting, using geometry, some wooden levers and a sharp pencil. Actually I did it as five panels ten feet square, that"s full size, to make sure I got all the detail, and then I did the one-fifth scale version to display it as poor Mr Rascal wanted it displayed. I got full marks from Miss Turpitude. She was our maths teacher, you know, she wore her hair in a bun with a pair of compasses and a ruler stuck in it? She used to say that a girl who knew how to use a set square and protractor would go a long way in life."
"What a shame you no longer have it!" said Sir Reynold.
"Why should you say that, Sir Reynold?" said Sybil. "I"m sure I"ve still got it somewhere. I had it hanging up from the ceiling of my room for some time. Let me think ... Did we take it with us when we moved? I"m sure-" She looked up brightly. "Ah, yes. Have you ever been up into the attics here, Sam?"
"No!" said Vimes.
"Now"s the time, then."
"I"ve never been on a Girls" Night Out before," said Cheery, as they walked, a little uncertainly, through the night-time city. "Was that last bit supposed to happen?"
"What bit was that?" said Sally.
"The bit where the bar was set on fire."
"Not usually," said Angua.
"I"ve never seen men fight over a woman before," Cheery went on.
"Yeah, that was something, wasn"t it?" said Sally. They"d dropped Tawneee off at her home. She"d been in quite a thoughtful frame of mind.
"And all she did was smile at a man," said Cheery.
"Yes," said Angua. She was trying to concentrate on walking.
"It"d be a bit of a shame for Nobby if she lets that go to her head, though," said Cheery.
Save me from talkative druks ... drinks ... drunks, Angua thought. She said, "Yes, but what about Miss Pushpram? She"s thrown some quite expensive fish at Nobby over the years."
"We"ve struck a blow for ugly womanhood," Sally declared loudly. "Shoes, men, coffins ... never accept the first one you see."
"Oh, shoes," said Cheery, "I can talk about shoes. Has anyone seen the new Yan Rockhammer solid copper slingbacks?"
"Er, we don"t go to a metalworker for our footwear, dear," said Sally. "Oh ... I think I"m going to be sick..."
"Serves you right for drinking ... vine," said Angua maliciously.
"Oh, ha ha," said the vampire from the shadows. "I"m perfectly fine with sarcastic pause "vine"; thank you! What I shouldn"t have drunk was sticky drinks with names made up by people with less sense of humour than, uh, excuse me ... oh, noooo . .
"Are you all right?" said Cheery.
"I"ve just thrown up a small, hilarious, paper umbrella...Oh dear."
"And a sparkler. .."
"Is that you, Sergeant Angua?" said a voice in the gloom. A lantern was opened, and lit the approaching face of Constable Visit. As he drew near, she could just make out the thick wad of pamphlets under his other arm.
"Hello, Washpot," she said. "What"s up?"
"... looks like a twist of lemon ..: said a damp voice from the shadows.
"Mister Vimes sent me to search the bars of iniquity and low places of sin for you," said Visit.
"And the literature?" said Angua. "By the way, the words "nothing personal" could have so easily been added to that last sentence."
"Since I was having to tour the temples of vice, sergeant, I thought I could do Om"s holy work at the same time," said Visit, whose indefatigable evangelical zeal triumphed over all adversity. Sometimes whole bars full of people would lie down on the floor
They say there"s one in every police station. Constable Visit-the-Ungodly-with-ExplanatoryPamphlets was enough for two.
with the lights out when they heard he was coming down the street.
There were sounds of retching from the darkness.
""Woe unto those who abuseth the vine"," said Constable Visit.
He caught the expression on Angua"s face and added: "No offence meant.
"We"ve been through all that," moaned Sally. "What does he want, Washpot?" said Angua.
"It"s about Koom Valley again. He wants you back at the Yard: "But we were stood down!" Sally complained.
"Sorry" said Visit cheerfully, "I reckon you"ve been stood up again." "The story of my life," said Cheery.
"Oh, well, I suppose we"d better go," said Angua, trying to disguise her relief.
"When I say "the story of my life"; obviously I don"t mean the whole story," mumbled Cheery, apparently to herself, as she trailed behind them into a world blessedly without fun.
The Ramkins never threw anything away. There was something worrying about their attics, and it wasn"t just that they had a faint aroma of long-dead pigeon.
The Ramkins labelled things. Vimes had been into the big attics in Scoone Avenue to fetch down the rocking-horse and the cot and a whole box of elderly but much-loved soft toys, smelling of mothballs. Nothing that might ever be useful again was thrown away. It was carefully labelled and put in the attic.
Brushing aside cobwebs with one hand and holding up a lantern with the other, Sybil led the way past boxes of "men"s boots, various; "Risible puppets, string & glove, "Model Theatre and scenery".
Maybe that was the reason for their wealth: they bought things that were built to last, and they seldom, now, had to buy anything at all. Except food, of course, and even then Vimes would not have been surprised to see boxes labelled "apple cores, various, or "leftovers, need eating up".
"Ah, here we are; said Sybil, lifting aside a bundle of fencing foils and lacrosse sticks. She pulled a long, thick tube out into the light.
"I didn"t colour it in, of course, she said as it was manhandled back to the stairs. "That would have taken for ever."
Getting the heavy bundle down to the canteen took some effort and a certain amount of shoving, but eventually it was lifted on to the table and the crackling scroll removed.
While Sir Reynold unrolled the big ten-foot squares and enthused, Vimes pulled out the small-scale copy that Sybil had created. It was just small enough to fit on the table; he weighed down one end with a crusted mug and put a salt cellar on the other.
Rascal"s notes made sad reading. Difficult reading, too, because a lot of them were half burned, and in any case his handwriting was what might have been achieved by a spider on a trampoline during an earthquake.
The man was clearly as mad as a spoon, writing notes that he wanted to keep secret from the chicken; sometimes he"d stop writing in mid-note if he thought the chicken was watching. Apparently he was a very sad sight to see until he picked up a brush, whereupon he would work quite quietly and with a strange glow to his features. And that was his life: one huge oblong of canvas. Methodia Rascal: born, painted famous picture, thought he was a chicken, died.
Given that the man couldn"t touch bottom with a long stick, how
That was a phrase of Sybil"s that got to him. She"d announce at lunch: "We must have the pork tonight, it needs eating up: Vimes never had an actual problem with this, because he"d been raised to eat what was put in front of him, and do it quickly, too, before someone else snatched it away. He was just puzzled at the suggestion that he was there to do the food a favour.
could you make sense out of anything he wrote? The only note that seemed concise, if horrible, was the one generally accepted as his last, since it was found under his slumped body. It read:
Awk! Awk! It comes! IT COMES!
He"d choked with a throat full of feathers. And on the canvas, the last of the paint was still drying.
Vimes"s eye was caught by the message numbered, arbitrarily, #39:1 thought it was a guiding omen, but it screams in the night." An omen of what? And what about #143: "The dark, in the dark, like a star in chains"? Vimes had made a note of that one. He"d made a note of many others, too. But the worst thing about them - or the best, if you were keen on mysteries - was that they could mean anything. You could pick your own theory. The man was half starved and in mortal dread of a chicken that lived in his head. You might as well try to make sense of raindrops.
Vimes pushed them aside and stared at the careful pencil drawing. Even at this size, it was confusing. Up front, faces were so large that you could see the pores on a dwarf"s nose. In the distance, Sybil had meticulously copied figures that were a quarter of an inch high.
Axes and clubs were being waved, spears were being pointed, there were charges and countercharges and single combats. Across the whole length of the picture, dwarfs and trolls were locked in ferocious battle, hacking and smashing
He thought: who"s missing?
"Sir Reynold, could you help me?" he said quietly, lest the nascent thought turn tail and run.
"Yes, commander?" said the curator, hurrying over. "Doesn"t Lady Sybil do the most exquisite-"
"She"s very good, yes," said Vimes. "Tell me ... how did Rascal know all this stuff?"
"There hwere many dwarf songs about it, and some troll stories. Oh, and some humans hwitnessed it."
"So Rascal could have read about it?"
"Oh, yes. Apart from the fact that he put it in the wrong part of the valleah, he got it down quite accurately."
Vimes didn"t take his gaze off the paper battle.
"Does anyone know why he put it in the wrong place, then?" he said.
"There are several theoreahs. One is that he hwas deceived by the fact that the dead dwarfs hwere cremated at that end of the valley, but after the storm that is hwhere many of the bodies ended up
. There hwas also a great deal of dead hwood for bonfires. But I believe he chose that end because the view is so much better. The mountains are so dramatic."
Vimes sat down, staring at the sketch, willing it to yield its secret. Everyone will know the secret in a few weeks, Mr Shine had said. Why?
"Sir Reynold, was anything going to happen to the painting in the next couple of weeks?" he said.
"Oh, yes, said the curator. "Hwe would have installed it in its new room.
"Anything special about that?"
"I did tell your sergeant, commander," said the curator a little reproachfully. "It is circular. Rascal always intended it to be seen in the round, as it were. So that the viewer could be there."
And I"m nearly there, too, Vimes thought.
"I think the cube told the dwarfs something about Koom Valley," he said, in a faraway voice, because he felt as though he was already in the valley. "It told them that the place where it was found was important. Even Rascal thought it was important. They needed a map, and Rascal painted one, even if he didn"t know it. Fred?"
"The dwarfs weren"t bothered about damaging the bottom of the
painting because it doesn"t contain anything important. It"s just people. People move around."
"But, with respect, commander, so do all those boulders," said Sir Reynold.
"They don"t matter. No matter how much the valley has changed, this picture will work," said Vimes. The glow of understanding lit his brain.
"But even the rivers move over the years, and any amount of rocks have rolled down from the mountains," said Sir Reynold. "I"m told the area looks nothing like that now."
"Even so," said Vimes, in the same dreamy voice, "this map will work for thousands of years. It doesn"t mark a rock or a hollow or a cave, it just marks a spot. I can pinpoint it. That is, if I had a pin.
"I have one!" said Sir Reynold triumphantly, reaching to his lapel. "I spotted one in the street yesterday, and of course hwe all know the old saying: "See a pin and pick it up, and all day long-""
"Yes, thank you," said Vimes, taking it. He walked to the end of the table, picked up one end of the painting, and dragged it back down the length of the table, the heavy paper flapping after him.
He pinned the two ends together, held up the circle he had made, and lowered it over his head.
"The truth is in the mountains," he said. "For years you"ve been looking at a line of mountains. It"s really a circle of mountains."
"But I knew that!" said Sir Reynold.
"In a way, sir, but you probably didn"t understand it until now, yes? Rascal was standing somewhere important."
"Well, yes. But it was a cave, commander. He specifically mentions a cave. That"s why people have searched along the valleah walls. The painting"s set right in the middle, near the river."
"Then there"s something we still don"t know!" said Vimes, annoyed that a big moment had so quickly become a small one. "I"ll find out what it is when I get there!"
There. He"d said it. But he"d known that he was going to go, known for ... how long? It seemed like for ever, but had it seemed like for ever yesterday? This afternoon? He could see the place in his mind"s eye. Vimes at Koom Valley! He could practically taste the air! He could hear the roaring of the river, which ran as cold as ice!
"Sam-" Sybil began.
"No, this has got to be sorted out," Vimes said quickly. "I don"t care about the stupid secret! Those deep-downers murdered our dwarfs, remember? They think the painting is a map they can use, and that"s why they"re going there. I"ve got to go after them."
"Look, Sam, if-" Sybil tried.
"We can"t afford a war between the trolls and the dwarfs, dear. That business the other night was just a dumb gang fight. A real war in Ankh-Morpork would wreck the place! And somehow it"s all tied up with this!"
"I agree! I want to come too!" Sybil screamed.
"Besides, I"ll be perfectly safe if- What?" Vimes gaped at his wife while his mental gears ripped into reverse. "No, it"s too dangerous!"
"Sam Vimes, I"ve dreamed of visiting Koom Valley all my life, so don"t dare think for one moment you"re gallivanting off to see it and leaving me at home!"
"I don"t gallivant! I"ve never gallivanted. I don"t know how to vant! I don"t even have a galli! But there"s going to be a war there soon!"
"Then I shall tell them we"re not involved," said Sybil calmly. "That won"t work!"
"Then it won"t work in Ankh-Morpork either," said Sybil, with the air of a player cunningly knocking out four dwarfs in one go. "Sam, you know you"re going to lose this. There"s no point in arguing. Besides, I speak dwarfish. We"ll take Young Sam, too."
"So that"s all sorted, then," said Sybil, apparently struck by sudden deafness. "If you want to catch up with the dwarfs, I suggest we leave as soon as possible."
Sir Reynold turned to her with his mouth open. "But, Lady Sybil, armies are already massing there. It"s no place for a lady!"
Vimes winced. Sybil had made up her mind. This was going to be like watching that dwarf being flamed by dragons all over again.
Lady Sybil"s bosom, which she was allowed to have, grew as she took a deep breath; it seemed to lift her slightly off the ground.
"Sir Reynold," she said, with a side order of ice, "in the Year of the Lice my great-grandmother once cooked, personally, a full dinner for eighteen in a military redoubt that was entirely surrounded by bloodthirsty Klatchians, and she felt able to include sorbet and nuts. My grandmother, in the Year of the Quiet Monkey, defended our embassy in Pseudopolis against a mob, with no assistance but that offered by a gardener, a trained parrot and a pan of hot chip fat. My late aunt, when our coach was once held up at bow-point by two desperate highwaymen, gave them such a talking to that they actually ran away crying for their mothers, Sir Reynold, their mothers. We are no strangers to danger, Sir Reynold. May I also remind you that quite probably half the dwarfs who fought at Koom Valley were ladies? No one told them to stay at home!"
So that"s settled, then, thought Vimes. We- Damn!
"Captain," he said, "send someone to find that dwarf Grag Bashfullsson, will you? Tell him Commander Vimes presents his compliments and will indeed be leaving first thing in the morning."
"Er, right, sir. Will do," said Carrot.
How did he know I"d be going? Vimes wondered. I suppose it was inevitable. But he could have hung us out to dry if he"d said we"d mistreated that dwarf. And he"s one of Mr Shine"s pupils, I"ll bet on it. Good idea to keep an eye on him, perhaps ...
When did Lord Vetinari sleep? Presumably the man must get his head down at some point, Vimes reasoned. Everyone slept. Catnaps could get you by for a while, but sooner or later you need a solid eight hours, right?
It was almost midnight, and there was Vetinari at his desk, fresh as a daisy and chilly as morning dew.
"Are you sure about this, Vimes?"
"Carrot can look after things. They"ve quietened down, anyway. I think most of the serious troublemakers have headed for Koom Valley."
"A good reason, one might say, for you not to go. Vimes, I have ... agents for this sort of thing."
"But you wanted me to hunt them down, sir!" Vimes protested. "In Koom Valley? At this time? Taking a force there now could have far-reaching consequences, Vimes!"
"Good! You told me to drag them into the light! As far as they"re concerned, I am far-reaching consequences!"
"Well, certainly" said Vetinari, after staring at Vimes for longer than was comfortable. "And when you have boldly reached so far, you will need friends. I shall make sure the Low King is at least aware of your presence."
"Don"t worry, he"ll find out soon enough," growled Vimes. "Oh yes.
"I have no doubt he will. He has his agents in our city, just as I have in his. So I will do him the courtesy of telling him formally what he will in any case know. That is called politics, Vimes. It is a thing we try to do in the government."
"But ... spies? I thought we were chums with the Low King!" "Of course we are," said Vetinari. "And the more we know about each other, the friendlier we shall remain. We"d hardly bother to spy on our enemies. What would be the point? Is Lady Sybil happy to let you go?"
"She"s coming with me. She insists:
"Is that safe?"
"Is here safe?" said Vimes, shrugging. "We had dwarfs coming up through the damn floor! Don"t worry, she and Young Sam will be kept out of harm"s way. I"ll take Fred and Nobby. And I want to take Angua, Sally, Detritus and Cheery, too. Multi-species, sir. That always helps the politics:
"And the Summoning Dark? What about that, Vimes? Oh, don"t look at me like that. It"s common talk among the dwarfs. One of the dying dwarfs put a curse on everyone who was in the mine, I"m told."
"I wouldn"t know about that, sir," said Vimes, resorting to the wooden expression that so often saw him through. "It"s mystic. We don"t do mystic in the Watch."
"It"s not a joke, Vimes. It"s very old magic, I understand. So old, indeed, that most dwarfs have forgotten that it is magic. And it"s powerful. It will be tracking them."
"I"ll just look out for a big floaty eye with a tail, then, shall I?" said Vimes. "That should make it easy."
Vimes, I know you must be aware that the symbol is not the thing itself," said the Patrician.
"Yessir. I know. But magic has no place in coppering. We don"t use it to find culprits. We don"t use it to get confessions. Because you can"t trust the bloody stuff, sir. It"s got a mind of its own. If there"s a curse chasing these bastards, well, that"s its business. But if I reach "em first, sir, then they"ll be my prisoners and it"ll have to get past me.
"Vimes, Archchancellor Ridcully tells me he believes it may be a quasi-demonic entity that is untold millions of years old!"
"I"ve said my piece, sir," said Vimes, staring at a point just above Lord Vetinari"s head. "And it is my duty to catch up with these people. I believe they may be able to help me with my inquiries."
"But you have no evidence, Vimes. And you are going to need very solid evidence."
"Right. So I want to bring them back here, eyeballs on a string or not. Them and their damn guards. So"s I can inquire. Someone will tell me something:
"And it"ll also be to your personal satisfaction?" said Vetinari sharply.
"Is this a trick question, sir?"
"Well done, well done," said Vetinari softly. "Lady Sybil is a remarkable woman, Vimes."
"Yessir. She is."
After a while Vetinari"s chief clerk, Drumknott, entered the room on velvet feet and placed a cup of tea in front of Vetinari. "Thank you, Drumknott. You were listening?" "Yes, sir. The commander seemed very forthright." "They invaded his home, Drumknott."
Vetinari leaned back and stared at the ceiling. "Tell me, Drumknott, are you a betting man?"
"I have been known to have the occasional little "flutter"; sir." "Given, then, a contest between an invisible and very powerful quasi-demonic thing of pure vengeance on the one hand, and the
commander on the other, where would you wager, say... one dollar?" "I wouldn"t, sir. That looks like one that would go to the judges." "Yes," said Vetinari, staring thoughtfully at the closed door. "Yes,
I don"t use magic, thought Vimes, walking through the rain towards Unseen University. But, sometimes, I tell lies.
He avoided the main entrance and headed as circumspectly as possible for Wizards" Passage, where, halfway down, university access for all was available via several loose bricks. Generations of rascally drunk student wizards had used them to get back in late at night. Later on, they"d become very important and powerful wizards, with full beards and fuller stomachs, but had never lifted a finger to have the wall repaired. It was, after all, Traditional. Nor was it usually patrolled by the Lobsters, who believed in Tradition even more than the wizards.
On this occasion, though, one was lurking in the shadows, and jumped when Vimes tapped him on the shoulder. "Oh, it"s you, Commander Vimes, sir. It"s me, sir, Wiggleigh, sir. The Archchancellor is waiting for you in the gardener"s hut, sir. Follow me, sir. Mum"s the word, eh, sir?"
Vimes trailed after Wiggleigh across the dark, squelchy lawns. Oddly, though, he didn"t feel so tired now. Days and days of bad sleep and he felt quite fresh, in a fuzzy sort of way. It was the smell of the chase, that"s what it was. He"d pay for it later.
Wiggleigh, first looking both ways with a conspiratorial air that would have attracted instant attention had anyone been watching, opened the door of the garden shed.
There was a large figure waiting inside. "Commander!" it bellowed happily. "What larks, eh? Very cloak and dagger!"
Only heavy rain could possibly muffle the voice of Archchancellor Ridcully when he was feeling cheerful.
"Could you keep it down a bit, Archchancellor?" said Vimes, shutting the door quickly.
"Sorry! I mean, sorry," said the wizard. "Do take a seat. The
The university porters, or bledlows, who doubled, with rather more enthusiasm, as its proctors. They commanded their nickname for being thick-shelled, liable to turn red when hot, and having the smallest brain for their size of any known creature.
compost sacks are quite acceptable. Well, er ... how may I help you, Sam?"
"Can we agree for now that you can"t?" said Vimes.
"Intriguing. Do continue," said Ridcully, leaning closer.
"You know I won"t have magic used in the Watch," Vimes went on. As he sat down in the semi-darkness, a coiled-up hosepipe ambushed him from above, as they do, and he had to wrestle it to the shed floor.
"I do, sir, and I respect you for it, although there are those that think you are a damn silly fool."
"Well. .: Vimes said, trying to put "damn silly fool" behind them, "the fact is, I must get to Koom Valley very fast. Er ... very fast indeed."
"One might say- magically fast?" said Ridcully.
"As it were," said Vimes, fidgeting. He really hated having to do this. And what had he sat on?
"Mmm," said Ridcully. "But without, I imagine, any significant hocus-pocus? You appear uncomfortable, sir!"
Vimes triumphantly held up a large onion. "Sorry," he said, tossing it aside. "No, definitely no pocus. Possibly a little hocus. I just need an edge. They"ve got a day"s start on me."