Vimes stopped dead, and looked down at the coat over his shoulders. It was of some silvery fur, beautifully warm, but not as warm as the rage rising within him. He"d nearly walked out wearing it. He"d come that close.
He shrugged it off and wrapped it into a ball. Quite probably several dozen small rare squeaky things had died to make this, but he could see to it that their deaths were not, in some small way, in vain.
He threw the bundle high in the air, yelled "Sergeant!", and threw himself on to the floor. There was the instant slap of the bow, a sound as of a swarm of maddened bees, the plinkplinkplink of arrow fragments turning a circle of metal roof into a colander, and the smell of burnt hair.
Vimes got to his feet. What was falling around him was a kind of
He met Chrysoprase"s gaze. "Trying to bribe a Watch officer is a
serious offence," he said.
The troll winked. "Honest like anyt"ing, I tell "em. Nice to have dis
little talk, Mister Vimes."
When they were well outside Vimes pulled Detritus into an alley,
insofar as it was possible to pull a troll anywhere.
"Okay, what do you know about Slide?" he said.
The troll"s red eyes gleamed. "I bin hearin" rumours:
"Head to Treacle Mine Road and put a heavy squad together. Go
to Turn Again Lane, behind the Scours. There"s a wedding-cake
maker up there, I think. You"ve got a nose for drugs. Poke it around,
"Right!" said Detritus. "You bin told somethin, sir?"
"Let"s just say I think it"s an earnest of good intent, shall we?" "Dat"s good, sir," said the troll. "Ernest who?"
"Er, someone we know wants to show us what a good citizen he
is. Get to it, okay?"
Detritus slung his crossbow over his shoulder for ease of carriage
and knuckled off at high speed. Vimes leaned against the wall. This
was going to be a long day. And now he -
On the wall, just a little above head height, a troll had scored a
rough sketch of a cut diamond. You could tell troll graffiti easily -
they did it with a fingernail and it was usually an inch deep in the
Next to the diamond was scored: SHINE.
"Ahem," said a small voice in his pocket. Vimes sighed
and pulled out the Gooseberry while he still stared at the
"You said you didn"t want to be interrupted. .: said the imp
"Well? What have you got to say?"
"It"s eleven minutes to six, Insert Name Here," said the imp meekly.
"Good grief! Why didn"t you tell me!"
"Because you said you didn"t want to be interrupted!" the imp quavered.
"Yes, but not " Vimes stopped. Eleven minutes. He couldn"t run it, not at this time of day. "Six o"clock is ... important."
"You didn"t tell me that!" said the imp, holding its head in its hands. "You just said no interruptions! I"m really, really sorry-"
Shine forgotten, Vimes looked around desperately at the nearby buildings. There wasn"t much use for clacks towers down here where the slaughterhouse district met the docks, but he spotted the big semaphore tower atop the dock superintendent"s office.
"Get up there!" he ordered, opening the box. "Tell them you"ve come from me and this is priority one, right? They"re to tell Pseudopolis Yard where I"m starting from! I"ll cross the river on Misbegot Bridge and head along Prouts! The officers at the Yard will know what this is all about! Go!"
The imp went from despair to enthusiasm in an instant. It saluted. "Yes indeed, sir. The BluenoseTM Integrated Messenger Service will not let you down, Insert Name Here. I shall interface right away!" It leapt down and became a disappearing blur of green.
Vimes ran down to the dockside and began to race upriver, past the ships. The docks were always too crowded and the road was an obstacle course of bales and ropes and piles of crates, with an argument every ten yards. But Vimes was a runner by nature, and knew all the ways to make progress in the city"s crowded streets. He dodged and leapt, jinked and weaved and, where necessary, barged. A rope tripped him up; he rolled upright. A stevedore barged into him; Vimes laid him out with an uppercut and speeded up in case the man had chums around.
This was important ...
A shiny four-horse carriage swung out of Monkey Street, with two footmen clinging to the back of it. Vimes speeded up in a desperate burst, grabbed a handhold, pulled himself up between the astonished footmen, dragged himself across the swaying roof and dropped down on the seat beside the young driver.
"City Watch," he announced, flashing his badge. "Keep going straight ahead!"
"But I"m supposed to turn left on to-"the young man began.
"And give it a touch of the whip, if you please," said Vimes, ignoring him. "This is important!"
"Oh, right! Death-defying high-speed chase, is it?" said the coachman, enthusiasm rising. "Right! I"m the boy for that! You"ve got your man right here, sir. D"you know, I can make this carriage go along for fifty yards on two wheels? Only old Miss Robinson won"t let me. Right side or left side, just say the word! Hyah! Hyah!"
Look, just-" Vimes began, as the whip cracked overhead.
"O"course, getting the horses to run along on two legs was the trick. Actually, it"s more of a hop, you might say," the coachman went on, turning his hat around for minimum wind resistance. "Here, want to see my wheelie?"
"Not especially," said Vimes, staring ahead.
"The hooves don"t "alf raise sparks when I do me wheelie, I can tell you! Hyah!"
The scenery was blurring. Ahead was the cut-through leading to Two Pint Dock. It was normally covered by a swing bridge
It was swung now. Vimes could see the masts of a ship being warped out of the dock and into the river.
"Oh, don"t you bother about that, sir," yelled the coachman beside him. "We"ll go along the quay and jump it!"
"You can"t jump a two-master with a four-horse carriage, man!"
"I bet you can if you aim between the masts, sir! Hyah! Hyah!"
Ahead of the coach, men were running for cover. Behind it, the footmen were seeking other employment. Vimes pushed the boy back into his seat, grabbed a handful of reins, put both feet against the brake lever, and hauled.
The wheels locked. The horses began to turn. The coach slid, the metal rims of the wheels sending up sparks and the throaty scream of metal. The horses turned some more. The coach began to swing, dragging the horses with it, whirling them out like fairground mounts. Their hooves made trails of fire across the cobblestones. At this point Vimes let go of everything, gripped the underside of the seat with one hand, held on to the rail with the other, shut his eyes and waited for all the noise to die away.
Blessedly, it did. Only one little sound remained: a petulant banging on the coach roof caused, probably, by a walking stick. A querulous, elderly female voice could be heard saying: "Johnny? Have you been driving fast again, young man?"
"A bootlegger"s turn!" Johnny breathed, looking at a team of four steaming horses now facing back the way they"d come. "I am
He turned to Vimes, who wasn"t there.
The men moving the ship had dropped their ropes and run at the sight of coach and four spinning down the road towards them. The dock entrance was narrow. A man could easily scramble up a rope on to the deck, run across the ship and let himself down on to the cobbles on the other side. And this a man had just done.
Vimes, speeding along, could see that Misbegot Bridge was going to be a struggle. An overloaded hay wagon had wedged itself between the rickety houses that line the bridge, ripped out part of someone"s upper storey, and had shed some of its load in the process. There was a fight going on between the carter and the unimpressed owner of the new bungalow. Valuable seconds were spent struggling over and through the hay until he was hurrying through the backed-up traffic to the other end of the bridge. Ahead
of him was the wide thoroughfare known as Prouts, full of vehicles
and uphill all the way.
He wasn"t going to make it. It must be gone five to six already.
The thought of it, the thought of that little face
He turned. A mail coach had just pulled out on to the road
behind him and was coming up at a trot. Carrot was sitting beside
the driver and waving frantically at him.
"Get on the step, sir!" he yelled. "You don"t have much time!" Vimes started to run once more and, as the coach drew level,
jumped on to the door"s step and hung on.
"Isn"t this the mail coach to Quirm?" he shouted as the driver
urged the horses into a canter.
"That"s right, sir," said Carrot. "I explained it was a matter of
Vimes redoubled his grip. The mail coaches had good horses.
The wheels, not very far away from him, were already a blur.
"How did you get here so quick?" he yelled. "Short cut through the Apothecary Gardens, sir!"
"What? That little walk by the river? That"s never wide enough for
a coach like this!"
"It was a bit of a squeeze, sir, yes. It got easier when the coach
lamps scraped off."
Vimes was now able to take in the state of the coach"s side. The
paintwork was scored all along it.
"All right," he shouted, "tell the driver I"ll meet the bills, of course!
But it"ll be wasted, Carrot. Park Lane"ll be jam-packed at this time
"Don"t worry, sir! I should hang on very tight if I were you, sir!" Vimes heard the whip crack. This was a real mail coach. Mailbags
don"t care whether they"re comfortable. He could feel the
Park Lane would be coming up very soon. Vimes couldn"t see
much, because the wind of their flight was making his eyes water, but up ahead was one of the city"s most fashionable traffic jams. It was bad enough at any time of day, but early evening was particularly horrible, owing to the Ankh-Morpork belief that right of way was the prerogative of the heaviest vehicle or the gobbiest driver. There were minor collisions all the time, which were inevitably followed by both vehicles blocking the junction whilst the drivers got down to discussing road-safety issues with reference to the first weapon they could get their hands on. And it was into this maelstrom of jostling horses, scurrying pedestrians and cursing drivers that the mail coach was heading, apparently, at a full gallop.
He shut his eyes and then, hearing a change in the sound of the wheels, risked opening them again.
The coach flew across the junction. Vimes had a momentary glimpse of a huge queue, fuming and shouting behind a couple of immovable troll officers, before they were spinning on down towards Scoone Avenue.
"You closed the road? You closed the road!" he yelled, above the wind.
"And Kings Way, sir. Just in case," Carrot shouted down.
"You closed two major roads? Two whole damn roads? In the rush hour?"
"Yes, sir," said Carrot. "It was the only way."
Vimes hung on, speechless. Would he have dared do that? But that was Carrot all over. There was a problem, and now it"s gone. Admittedly, the whole city is probably solid with wagons by now, but that"s a new problem.
He"d be home in time. Would a minute have mattered? No, probably not, although Young Sam appeared to have a very accurate internal clock. Possibly even two minutes would be okay. Three minutes, even. You could go to five, perhaps. But that was just it. If you could go to five minutes then you"d go to ten, then half an hour, a couple of hours ... and not see your son all evening. So that was
that. Six o"clock, prompt. Every day. Read to Young Sam. No excuses. He"d promised himself that. No excuses. No excuses at all. Once you had a good excuse, you opened the door to bad excuses.
He had nightmares about being too late.
He had a lot of nightmares about Young Sam. They involved empty cots, and darkness.
It had all been too ... good. In a few short years he, Sam Vimes, had gone up in the world like a balloon. He was a duke, he commanded the Watch, he was powerful, he was married to a woman whose compassion, love and understanding he knew a man such as he did not deserve, and he was as rich as Creosote. Fortune had rained its gravy, and he"d been the man with the big bowl. And it had all happened so fast.
And then Young Sam had come along. At first it had been fine. The baby was, well, a baby, all lolling head and burping and unfocused eyes, entirely the preserve of his mother. And then, one evening, his son had turned and looked directly at Vimes, with eyes that for his father outshone the lamps of the world, and fear had poured into Sam Vimes"s life in a terrible wave. All this good fortune, all this fierce joy ... it was wrong. Surely the universe could not allow this amount of happiness in one man, not without presenting a bill. Somewhere a big dark wave was cresting, and when it broke over his head it would wash everything away. Some days, he was sure he could hear its distant roar ...
Shouting incoherent thanks, he leapt down as the coach slowed, flailed to stay upright, and skidded into his driveway. The front door was already opening when he raced towards it, scattering gravel, and there was Willikins holding up The Book. Vimes grabbed it and pounded up the stairs as, down in the city, the clocks began to mark various approximations to the hour of six o"clock.
Sybil had been adamant about not having a nursemaid. Vimes, for once, had been even more adamant that they get one, and a head cavern girl for the pedigree dragon pens outside. A body could
only do so much, after all. He"d won. Purity, who seemed a decent type, had just finished settling Young Sam into his cot when Vimes staggered in. She gave him about one third of a curtsy before she caught his pained expression and remembered last week"s impromptu lecture on the Rights of Man, and then she hurried out. It was important that no one else was here. This moment in time was just for the Sams.
Young Sam pulled himself up against the cot"s rails, and said, "Da!" The world went soft.
Vimes stroked his son"s hair. It was funny, really. He spent the day yelling and shouting and talking and bellowing ... but here, in this quiet time smelling (thanks to Purity) of soap, he never knew what to say. He was tongue-tied in the presence of a fourteen-month-old baby. All the things he thought of saying, like "Who"s Daddy"s little boy, then?" sounded horribly false, as though he"d got them from a book. There was nothing to say, nor, in this soft pastel room, anything that needed to be said.
There was a grunt from under the cot. Dribble the dragon was dozing there. Ancient, fireless, with ragged wings and no teeth, he clambered up the stairs every day and took up station under the cot. No one knew why. He made little whistling noises in his sleep.
The happy silence enveloped Vimes, but it couldn"t last. There was The Reading Of The Picture Book to be undertaken. That was the meaning of six o"clock.
It was the same book, every day. The pages of said book were rounded and soft where Young Sam had chewed them, but to one person in this nursery this was the book of books, the greatest story ever told. Vimes didn"t need to read it any more. He knew it by heart.
It was called Where"s My Cow?
The unidentified complainant had lost their cow. That was the story, really.
Page one started promisingly:
Where"s my cow?
Is that my cow?
It goes, "Baa!"
It is a sheep! That"s not my cow!
Then the author began to get to grips with their material:
Where"s my cow?
Is that my cow?
It goes, "Neigh!"
It is a horse! That"s not my cow!
At this point the author had reached an agony of creation and was writing from the racked depths of their soul.
Where"s my cow?
Is that my cow?
It goes, "Hruuugh!"
It is a hippopotamus! That"s not my cow!
This was a good evening. Young Sam was already grinning widely and crowing along with the plot.
Eventually, the cow would be found. It was that much of a pageturner. Of course, some suspense was lent by the fact that all other animals were presented in some way that could have confused a kitten, who perhaps had been raised in a darkened room. The horse was standing in front of a hatstand, as they so often did, and the hippo was eating at a trough against which was an upturned pitchfork. Seen from the wrong direction, the tableau might look for just one second like a cow ...
Young Sam loved it, anyway. It must have been the most cuddled book in the world.
Nevertheless, it bothered Vimes, even though he"d got really good at the noises and would go up against any man in his rendition of the "Hruuugh!" But was this a book for a city kid? When would he ever hear these noises? In the city the only sound those animals would make was "sizzle" But the nursery was full of the conspiracy, with baa-lambs and teddy bears and fluffy ducklings everywhere he looked.
One evening, after a trying day, he"d tried the Vimes street version:
Where"s my daddy?
Is that my daddy?
He goes, "Bugrit! Millennium hand and shrimp!"
He is Foul Ole Ron! That"s not my daddy!
It had been going really well when Vimes heard a meaningful little cough from the doorway, wherein stood Sybil. Next day, Young Sam, with a child"s unerring instinct for this sort of thing, said "Buglit!" to Purity. And that, although Sybil never raised the subject even when they were alone, was that. From then on Sam stuck rigidly to the authorized version.
He recited it tonight, while wind rattled the windows and this little nursery world, with its pink and blue peace, its creatures who were so very soft and woolly and fluffy, seemed to enfold them both. On the nursery clock, a little woolly lamb rocked the seconds away.
When he not-quite-awoke, in twilight, with ragged strands of dark sleep filling his mind, Vimes stared in incomprehension at the room. Panic filled him. What was this place? Why were there all these grinning animals? What was lying on his foot? Who was this
doing the asking, and why was he wrapped in a blue shawl with ducks on it?
Blessed recollection flowed in. Young Sam was fast asleep, with Vimes"s helmet clutched like a teddy bear, and Dribble, always on the lookout for somewhere warm to slump, had rested his head on Vimes"s boot. Already the leather was covered with goo.
Vimes carefully retrieved his helmet, gathered the shawl around him and wandered down into the big front hall. He could see light under the door of the library and so, still slightly muzzy, he pushed his way in.
Two watchmen stood up. Sybil turned in her chair by the fire. Vimes felt the ducks slither slowly down his shoulders and end up in a heap on the floor.
"I let you sleep, Sam," said Lady Sybil. "You didn"t get in this morning until after three."
"Everyone"s double-shifting, dear," said Sam, daring Carrot and Sally to even think about telling anyone they"d seen the boss wearing a blue shawl covered in ducks. "I"ve got to set a good example."
"I"m sure you intend to, Sam, but you look like a horrible warning; said Sybil "When did you last eat?
"I had a lettuce, tomato and bacon sandwich, dear," he said, endeavouring by tone of voice to suggest that the bacon had been a mere condiment rather than a slab barely covered by the bread.
"I expect you jolly well did," said Sybil, rather more accurately conveying the fact that she didn"t believe a word of it. "Captain Carrot has something to tell you. Now, you sit down and I"m going to see what"s happened to dinner."
When she bustled out in the direction of the kitchens Vimes turned to the watchmen and debated for a moment whether to give that sheepish little grin and eye-roll that between men means "Women, eh?" and decided not to on the basis that the watchmen consisted of Lance-Constable Humpeding, who"d think he was a fool, and Captain Carrot, who wouldn"t know what it meant.
He settled instead on "Well?"
"We did the best we could, sir," said Carrot. "I was right. That mine is a very unhappy place."
"Murder scenes usually are, yes."
"Actually, I don"t think we found the murder scene, sir." "Didn"t you see the body?"
"Yes, sir. I think. Really, sir, you had to be there-"
"I don"t think I can go through with this," Angua had hissed as she headed along Treacle Street again.
"What"s wrong?" said Carrot. Angua jerked a thumb over her shoulder.
"Her! Vampires and werewolves: not good company!"
"But she"s a Black Ribboner," Carrot protested mildly. "She doesn"t-"
"She doesn"t have to do anything! She just is! For one of us, being around a vampire is like the worst bad hair day you can imagine. And believe me, a werewolf knows what a real bad hair day is!"
"Is it the smell?" said Carrot.
"Well, that"s not good, but it"s more than that. They"re so ... poised. So perfect. I get near her and I feel ... hairy. I can"t help it, it goes back thousands of years! It"s the image. Vampires are always so ... cool, so in control, but werewolves are, well, shambling animals. Underdogs."
"But that"s not true. A lot of Black Ribboners are totally neurotic, and you"re so sleek and-"
"Not when I"m around vampires! They trigger off something! Look, stop trying to be logical about it, will you? I hate it when you
get logical on me. Why didn"t Mister Vimes hold out? All right, all right, I"m on top of it. But it"s hard, that"s all."
"I"m sure it"s not easy for her, either-" Carrot began.
Angua gave him a Look. But that"s him, she thought. He really does think like that. It"s just that he doesn"t know when saying something like that is a really bad idea. Not easy for her? When was it ever easy for me? At least she probably doesn"t have to stash changes of clothes around the city! Okay, going cold bat can"t be nice, but we get cold bat every month. And when do I ever rip out a throat? I hunt chickens! And I pay for them in advance. Does she suffer from PIT? I don"t think so! Oh gods, and it"s already well past Waxing Gibbous tonight. I can feel my hair growing! Bloody vampires! They make such a big thing about not being murderous bloodsuckers any more. They get all the sympathy! Even his!
All this flashed past in a second. She said, "Let"s just get down there and get it done and get out, shall we?"
There was still a crowd hanging around near the entrance. Amongst them was Otto Chriek, who gave Carrot a little shrug.
There were still guards on duty, too, but it was clear that someone had been talking to them. They nodded to the squad when they arrived. One of them even opened the door, very politely.
Carrot beckoned the other watchmen closer.
"Everything we say will be overheard, understand?" he said. "Everything. So be careful. And remember - as far as they are concerned, you can"t see in the dark."
He led the way inside, to where Helmclever stood, beaming and edgy.
"Welcome, Head Banger," said the dwarf.
"Er, if we are using Morporkian, I would prefer Captain Carrot," said Carrot.
"As you wish, smelter," said the dwarf. "The elevator awaits!"
As they descended, Carrot said, "What powers this, please?"
"A Device," said Helmclever, pride breaking out over his nervousness.
"Really? You have many Devices?" said Carrot. "An axle and an average bar."
"An average bar? I"ve only ever heard of them."
"We are fortunate. I will be happy to show it to you. It is invaluable for food preparation," Helmclever gabbled. "And down below we have a number of cubes, of varying powers. Nothing may be withheld from the smelter. I am ordered to show you everything you wish to see and tell you everything you wish to know."
"Thank you," said Carrot, as the elevator stopped in blackness speckled with the corpse glow of vurms. "How large are your diggings here?"
"I cannot tell you that, said Helmclever quickly. "I do not know. Ah, here is Ardent. I will go back up-"
"No, Helmclever, remain with us, please," said a darker shadow in the gloom. "You should see this, too. Good day to you, Captain Carrot, and" - Angua detected an element of distaste - "ladies. Please follow me. I am sorry for the lack of light. Perhaps your eyes will adapt. I will be happy to describe to you any object that you touch. Now I will lead you to the place where the dreadful occurrence ... occurred."
Angua looked around as they were led along the tunnel, noting that Carrot had to walk with his knees slightly bent. Head Banger, eh? Funny, you never mention that to the lads!
Every dozen yards or so Ardent stopped in front of a round door, invariably with the vurms clustered around it, and turned a wheel. The doors creaked when they opened, and they opened with a ponderousness that suggested they were heavy. Here and there in the tunnels were ... things, mechanical things, hanging from the wall and clearly there with a purpose. Vurms glowed around them. She hadn"t got a clue what the objects were for, but Carrot greeted them with enthusiastic glee, like a schoolboy.
"You have air bells and water boots, Mr Ardent! I"ve only ever heard of them!"
"You were raised in the good rock of Copperhead, were you not, captain? Mining in this wet plain is like digging tunnels in the sea."
"And the iron doors are quite watertight, are they?"
"Yes, indeed. Airtight, too."
"Remarkable! I should like to visit again, when this wretched business is over. A dwarf mine under the city! It"s quite hard to believe!"
"I"m sure that could be arranged, captain:
And that was Carrot at work. He could sound so innocent, so friendly, so ... stupid, in a puppy-dog kind of way, and then he suddenly became this big block of steel and you walked right into it. By the smell of it, Sally was watching him with interest.
Be sensible, Angua told herself. Don"t let the vampire get to you. Don"t start believing you"re stupid and hairy. Think clearly. You do have a brain.
Surely people could go mad living in this murk? Angua found it easier to close her eyes. Down here, her nose worked better without distraction. Darkness helped. With her eyes shut, various faint colours danced across her brain. Without the stink of the damned vampire, though, she would have been able to pick up a lot more. The stench poisoned every sensation. Hold on, don"t think like that, you"re just letting your mind do the thinking for you ... hang on, that"s wrong...
There was a faint outline in the corner of the next chamber, which was quite large. It looked like ... an outline. A chalk outline. A glowing chalk outline.
"I understand this is the approved method?" said Ardent. "You will be aware of night chalk, captain? It is made of crushed vurm. The glow persists for about a day. On the floor here you will see, or rather, you will feel the club that dealt him his death blow. Just under your hand, captain. There is blood on it. I regret the
darkness, but we kept the vurms out. They would have feasted, you understand."
Angua saw Carrot, outlined in his permanent smell of soap, feel
his way across the space. His hand touched another metal door. "Where does this go, sir?" he said, tapping it. "To the outer chambers."
"Was it open at the time the troll attacked the grag?" You really assume a troll did it? Angua wondered. "I believe so," said Ardent.
"Then I would like it open now, please."
"I cannot agree to that request, captain."
"I did not intend it to be a request, sir. After it has been opened, I will need to know who was in the mine at the time the troll broke in. I will need to speak to them, and to whoever discovered the body. Hara"g, j"kargra."
For Angua, the smell of Ardent changed. Under all those layers, the dwarf was suddenly uncertain. He"d walked right into it. He hesitated for several seconds before replying.
"I will ... endeavour to meet your reque- your requirements, smelter," he said. "I will leave you now. Come, Helmclever."
"Grz dava"j?" said Carrot. "K"zakra"j? d j h"ragna ra"d"j!"
Ardent stepped forward, uncertainty growing, and held out both hands, palms down. For a moment, until his sleeves slipped, Angua saw a faintly glowing symbol on his right wrist. Every deep-downer had a draht as unique evidence of identity, in a world of shrouded figures. She"d heard they were made by tattooing vurm blood under the skin. It sounded painful.
Carrot took his hands for a moment, and then let go. "Thank you," he said, as if the dwarfish interlude had not taken place. The two dwarfs hurried away.
In the thick darkness, the watchmen were left alone. "What was all that about?" said Angua.
"Just reassuring him," said Carrot cheerfully. He reached into
a pocket. "Now we"ve arrived, let"s have some light in here, shall we?"
Angua smelled his hand move vigorously across the wall once or twice, as if he was painting. There arose an aroma of ... pork pie?
"Soon be brighter," he said.
"Captain Carrot, this wasn"t where-" Sally began.
"All in good time, lance-constable," said Carrot firmly. "For now, we just observe."
"But I must tell you-"
"Later on, lance-constable," said Carrot, a little louder. Vurms were flowing around the open door they"d arrived by, and across the stone. "By the way, er, Sally ... will you be all right if we view the body?"
That"s right, Angua thought, think of her. I"ve dealt with blood every day. Walk a mile in my nostrils!
"Old blood will not be a problem, sir," said Sally. "There"s some in here. But there"s-"
"I expect they"ve set up a morgue," said Carrot quickly. "The death rites are quite complex."
Morgue? A home away from home for you, my dear! snarled Angua"s inner wolf.
The vurms were spreading out now, crawling across the wall with a purpose.
She crouched down to bring her nose nearer to the floor. I can smell dwarfs, lots of dwarfs, Angua thought. Hard to smell trolls, especially underground. Blood on the club, like a flower. Dwarf smell on the club, but there"s dwarf smell everywhere. I can smellHang on, that"s familiar ...
The floor mostly smelled of slime and loam. Carrot"s footprints showed up, and so did hers. There was a lot of dwarf smell, and she could still just make out the smell of their concern. This is where they found the body, then? But this patch of mud here, this was different. It had been trodden into the floor, but it smelled just like
the heavy clay from up around Quarry Lane. Who lived in Quarry Lane? Most of the trolls in Ankh-Morpork.
She smiled in the dwindling darkness. And the trouble with clues, as Mister Vimes always said, was that they were so easy to make. You could walk around with a pocket full of the bloody things.
The darkness was disappearing because the light was growing. Angua looked up.
There was a huge, bright symbol on the wall where Carrot had touched it. He dragged some meat across it, she thought. They"ve turned up for the feast ...
Ardent came back in, with Helmclever trailing after him.
He got as far as: "The door here can be opened again but, alas, we-" and stopped.
They were happy vurms. By the standards of greeny-white glow, they were brilliant. Behind Carrot there was now a gently glowing circle, with two diagonal lines slashed through it. Both the dwarfs stared at it as if in shock.
"Well, let"s take a look, shall we?" said Carrot, apparently oblivious of all this.
"We, alas, the water ... water ... not entirely watertight ... the other doors ... the troll caused flooding. .:Ardent murmured, not taking his eyes off the glow.
"But you say we can go through here, at least?" said Carrot politely, pointing to the sealed door.
"Er, yes. Yes. Certainly."
The steward hurried forward and produced a key. The wheel, unlocked, turned easily. Angua was acutely aware of how the muscles on Carrot"s bare arms glistened and pumped as he pulled the metal door open.
Oh no, not yet, surely! She ought to have at least another day! It was the vampire, that"s what it was, standing there looking so innocent. Bits of her body wanted her to become a wolf, right now, to defend herself...