Thud!


Chapter 8




There was a pillared room on the other side of the door. It smelled damp and unfinished. There were vurms on the ceiling, but the floor was muddy and squelched underfoot. Angua could make out another dwarf door across the room, and one on either side as well. "We take spoil to a heap on the waste ground outside," said Ardent. "We, er, believe the troll got in that way. It was an unpardonable oversight." He still sounded uneasy. "And the troll was not seen?" said Carrot, kicking at the mud. "No. These chambers are finished. The diggers are elsewhere, but they came as soon as they could. We believe the grag had come up here for solitude. To die at the random hand of an abomination!" "Lucky for the troll, wasn"t it, sir?" said Angua sharply. "He just happened to wander in and stumble across Hamcrusher?" Carrot"s boot struck something metallic. He kicked some more mud away. "You"ve laid rails?" he said. "You must be shifting a lot of spoil, sir., "Better to push than to carry," said Ardent. "Now, I have arranged for-" "Hold on, what"s this?" said Carrot. He squatted down and pulled at something pale. "It"s a piece of bone, by the look of it. On a string." "There are plenty of old bones," said Ardent. "Now, I-" It came free with a gloop, and grinned at them in the sickly light. "It doesn"t look very old, sir," said Carrot. Just one breath was enough for Angua. "It"s a sheep skull," she said. "About three months dead." Oh, another clue, she added to herself. Nice and convenient for us to find, too. "Could have been dropped by the troll," said Carrot. "A troll?" said Ardent, backing away. It wasn"t the reaction Angua had expected. Ardent had been nervous already, but now, under all those wrappings, he was on the verge of panic. "You did say a troll had attacked the grag, sir?" said Carrot. "But we never- I never saw that before! Why didn"t we find it? Did it come back?" "All the doors are sealed, sir," said Carrot patiently. "Aren"t they?" "But have we sealed it in here with us?" It was practically a shriek. "You"d know, sir, wouldn"t you?" said Carrot. "Trolls sort of, well, stand out." "I must fetch guards!" said Ardent, backing away towards the single open door. "It could be anywhere!" "Then you could be heading right towards it, sir," said Angua. Ardent stopped dead for a moment, and then uttered a little whimper and ran into the dark, Helmclever on his heels. "Well, how do we all think that went?" said Angua, with a horrible smile. "And what was that you said to him in dwarfish - "You know I am a dwarf in the brotherhood of all dwarfs"?" "Erm, "With emphatic certainty you know me. I observe the rites of the dwarf. What/who am I? I am the Brothers united"," said Sally carefully. "Well done, lance-constable!" said Carrot. "That was an excellent translation!" "Yes, did you bite someone clever?" said Angua. "I am a Black Ribboner, sergeant," said Sally meekly. "And I"m naturally good at languages. While we"re alone, captain, can I mention something else?" "Certainly," said Carrot, trying the wheel on one of the closed doors. "I think a lot of things are wrong here, sir. There was something very strange about the way Ardent reacted to that skull. Why would he think the troll was still here, after all that time?" "A troll getting into a dwarf mine can do a lot of damage before it"s stopped," said Carrot. "Ardent really wasn"t expecting that skull, sir," said Sally, pressing on. "I heard his heart racing. It terrified him. Er ... something more, sir. There"s lots of city dwarfs here. Dozens. I can feel their hearts, too. There are six grags. Their hearts beat very slowly. And there are other dwarfs, too. Strange ones, and only a few of them. Maybe ten." "That"s useful to know, lance-constable, thank you very much." "Yes, I don"t know how we managed before you came," said Angua. She walked quickly over to the other side of the dank room, so that they wouldn"t see her face. She needed fresh air, not the pervasive, clinging, old-root-cellar reek of this place. Her head was full of shouting. The Temperance League? "Not One Drop"? Did anyone believe that for one minute? But everyone wanted to fall for it because vampires could be so charming. Of course they were! It was part of being a vampire! It was the only way to get people to stay the night in the dreadful castle! Everyone knew a leopard couldn"t change his shorts! But, no, stick on a stupid black ribbon and learn the words for "Lips that touch Ichor shall never touch Mine" and they fall for it every time. But werewolves? Well, they were just sad monsters, weren"t they? Never mind that life was a daily struggle with the inner wolf, never mind that you had to force yourself to walk past every lamp-post, never mind that in every petty argument you had to fight back the urge to settle it all with just one bite. Never mind that, because everyone knew that a creature that was a wolf and a human combined was a kind of dog. They were expected to behave. Part of her was shouting that this wasn"t so, that this was just PIT and the known effects of a vampire"s presence, but somehow, now, with the smells around her becoming so strong that they were approaching solidity, she did not want to listen. She wanted to smell the world, she was practically climbing into her own nose. After all, that was why she was in the Watch, wasn"t it? For her nose? New smell, new smell ... Sharp blue-grey of lichen, the browns and purples of old carrion, undertones of wood and leather ... even as a full wolf she"d never tasted the air so forensically as this. Something else, sharp, chemical ... The air was full of the smell of damp and dwarfs, but these little traces ran through it like a piccolo hornpipe through a requiem and formed one thing ... "Troll," she croaked. "Troll. Troll with skull belt and head-locks. On Slab, or something like it! Troll!" Angua was almost barking at the far door now. "Open door! This way!" She barely needed her eyes now, but there on the metal of the door, in charcoal, someone had drawn a circle with two diagonal lines through it. Suddenly Carrot was by her side. At least he had the decency not to say "Are you sure?" but he rattled the big wheel. The door was locked. "I don"t think there"s water behind this," he said. "Oh, really?" Angua managed. "You know that was jus"... to keep us out!" Carrot turned and there, running towards them, was a squad of dwarfs. They were heading for the door as though quite oblivious of the presence of the watchmen. "Don"t let them go through first!" said Angua through gritted teeth. "Trail is ... faint!" Carrot drew his sword with one hand and held up his badge with the other. "City Watch!" he roared. "Lower your weapons, please! Thank you!" The squad slowed, which meant that, in the nature of these things, those at the back piled into the hesitant ones in front. "This is a crime scene!" Carrot announced. "I am still the smelter! Mr Ardent, are you there? Do you have guards on the other side of this door?" Ardent pushed through the throng of dwarfs. "No, I believe not," he said. "Is the troll still behind it?" Carrot glanced at Sally, who shrugged. Vampires had never developed the ability to listen for troll hearts. There was no point. "Possibly, but I don"t think so," said Carrot. "Please unlock it. We might yet find a trail!" "Captain Carrot, you know that the safety of the mine must always come first!" said Ardent. "Of course you must give chase. But first we will open the door and make certain there is no danger behind it. You must concede us that." "Let them," hissed Angua. "It"ll be a clearer scent. I"ll be okay." Carrot nodded, and whispered back, "Well done!" Under her flesh, she felt her tail want to wag. She wanted to lick his face. It was the dog part of her doing the thinking. You"re a good dog. It was important to be a good dog. Carrot pulled her aside as a couple of dwarfs approached the door purposefully. "But it"s long gone," she murmured, as two more dwarfs came up behind the first two. "The scent"s twelve hours old, at least-" "What are they doing?" said Carrot, half to himself. The two new dwarfs were covered from head to toe in leather, like Ardent, but wore mail over the top of it; their helmets were quite unadorned, but covered the whole face and head, with only a slit for the eyes. Each dwarf carried a large black pack on his back and held a lance in front of him. "Oh no," said Carrot, "surely not here-" At a word of command, the door was swung open, revealing only darkness beyond. The lances spat flame, long yellow tongues of it, and the black dwarfs walked slowly along behind them. Smoke, heavy and greasy, filled the air. Angua fainted. Darkness. Sam Vimes struggled up the hill, tired to the bone. It was warm, warmer than he"d expected. Sweat stung his eyes. Water splashed under his feet and made his boots slip. And, ahead, up the slope, a child was screaming. He knew he was shouting. He could hear the breath wheezing in his throat, could feel his lips moving, but he couldn"t hear the words he was reciting, over and over again. The darkness felt like cold ink. Tendrils of it dragged at his mind and his body, slowing him down, pulling him back ... And now they came at him with flames Vimes blinked, and found himself staring at the fireplace. The flames flicked peacefully. There was the swish of a dress as Sybil came back into the room, sat down and picked up her darning. He watched her, dully. She was darning his socks. They had maids in this place and she darned his socks. It wasn"t as if they didn"t have so much money that he could have a new pair of socks every day. But she"d picked up the idea that it was a wifely duty, and so she did it. It was comforting, in a strange sort of way. It was only a shame that she wasn"t in fact any good at mending holes, so Sam ended up with sock heels that were a huge welt of criss-crossing wool. He wore them anyway, and never mentioned it. "A weapon that fires flame," he said slowly. "Yes, sir," said Carrot. "Dwarfs have weapons that fire flame." "The deep-downers use them to explode pockets of mine-gas," said Carrot. "I never expected to see them here!" "It"s a weapon if some bastard points it at me!" said Vimes. "How much gas did they expect to find in Ankh-Morpork?" "Sir? Even the river catches fire in a hot summer! "Okay, okay. I"ll grant you that," Vimes conceded, unwillingly. "Make sure the word gets out, will you? Anyone seen above ground with one of those things, we"ll shoot first and there will be no point in asking questions afterwards. Good grief, that"s all we need. Have you got anything more to tell me, captain?" "Well, afterwards we did get to see Hamcrusher"s body," said Carrot. "What can I say? On his wrist was the draht that identifies him, and his skin was pale. There was a terrible wound on the back of the head. They say it"s Hamcrusher. I can"t prove it. What I can say is that he didn"t die where they said he did, or when they said he did." "Why?" said Vimes. "Blood, sir," said Sally. "There should have been blood everywhere. I looked at the wound. What that club hit over the head was already a corpse, and he wasn"t killed in that tunnel." Vimes took several slow breaths. There was so much bad stuff here you needed to take it one horror at a time. "I"m worried, captain," he said. "Do you know why? It"s because I"ve got a feeling that very soon I"m going to be asked to confirm that there"s evidence that a troll did the deed. Which, my friend, will be like announcing the outbreak of war." "You did ask us to investigate, sir," said Carrot. "Yes, but I didn"t expect you to come back with the wrong result! The whole thing stinks! That clay from Quarry Lane was planted, wasn"t it?" "It must have been. Trolls don"t clean their feet much, but walking mud all the way? Not a chance." "And they don"t leave their clubs behind, either," growled Vimes. "So it"s a set-up, right? But it turns out there really was a troll! Was Angua sure?" "Positive, sir," said Carrot. "We"ve always trusted her nose before. Sorry, sir, she had to go and get some fresh air. She was straining her senses as it was, and she got a lungful of that smoke." "I can imagine," said Vimes. Hells" bells, he thought. We were right on the point where I could tell Vetinari that it looked like some kind of half-baked inside job faked to look as though a troll did it, and we find out there was a troll. Huh, so much for relying on the evidence. Sally coughed politely. "Ardent was shocked and frightened when the captain found the skull, sir," she said. "It wasn"t an act. I"m certain of it. He was near collapse with terror. So was Helmclever, the whole time. "Thank you for that, lance-constable," said Vimes gravely. "I suspect I shall feel the same way when I go out there with a megaphone and shout, "Hello, boys, welcome to the replay of Koom Valley! Hey, let"s hold it right here in the city!"" "I don"t think you should actually put it like that, sir," said Carrot. "Well, yes, I"ll probably try to be a bit more subtle, since you mention it," said Vimes. "And it"d be at least the sixteenth battle referred to as Koom Valley," Carrot went on, "or seventeenth if you include the one in Vilinus Pass, which was more of a fracas. Only three of them were in the original Koom Valley, the one immortalized in Rascal"s painting. It"s said to be quite accurate. Of course, it took him years." "An amazing work," said Sybil, not looking up from her darning. "It used to belong to my family before we gave it to the museum, you know." "Isn"t progress a wonderful thing, captain?" said Vimes, pouring as much sarcasm into his tone as possible, since Carrot was so bad at recognizing it. "When we have our Koom Valley, our friend Otto will be able to take a colour iconograph of it in a fraction of a second. Wonderful. It"s been a long time since this city was last burned to the ground." He ought to be springing into action. Once upon a time, he would have done. But now, perhaps he should take these precious moments to work out what he should do before he sprang. Vimes tried to think. Don"t think of it all as one big bucket of snakes. Think of it as one snake at a time. Try to sort it out. Now, what needs to be done first? Everything. All right, try a different approach. "What are these mine signs all about?" he said. "That Helmclever sort of drew one at me. I saw one on the wall, too. And you drew one. ""The Following Dark"," said Carrot. "Yes. It was scrawled all over the place." "What does it mean?" "Dread, sir," said Carrot earnestly. "A warning of terrible things to come. "Well, if one of those little sods so much as surfaces with one of those flame weapons in his hand that will be true. But you mean they scrawl it on walls?" Carrot nodded. "You have to understand about a dwarf mine, sir. It"s a kind of-" -emotional hothouse, was how Vimes understood it, although no dwarf would ever describe it that way. Humans would have gone insane living like that, cramped together, no real privacy, no real silence, seeing the same faces every day for years on end. And since there were a lot of pointy weapons around, it"d only be a matter of time before the ceilings dripped blood. Dwarfs didn"t go mad. They stayed thoughtful and sombre and keen on their job. But they scrawled mine-sign. It was like an unofficial ballot, voting by graffiti, showing your views on what was going on. In the confines of a mine any problem was everyone"s problem, stress leapt from dwarf to dwarf like lightning. The signs earthed it. They were an outlet, a release, a way of showing what you felt without challenging anyone (because of all the pointy weapons). The Following Dark: We await what follows with dread. Another translation might mean, in effect: Repent, ye sinners! "There are hundreds of runes for darkness," said Carrot . "Some of them are part of ordinary dwarfish, of course, like the Long Dark. There"s plenty like that. But some are ..." "Mystical?" Vimes suggested. "Unbelievably mystical, sir. There"s books and books about them. And the way dwarfs think about books and words and runes ... well, you wouldn"t believe it, sir. W- They think the world was written, sir. All words have enormous power. Destroying a book is worse than murder to a deep-downer." "I"ve rather gathered that," said Blackboard Monitor Vimes. "Some deep-downers believe that the dark signs are real," Carrot went on. "Well, if you can see the writing on the wall-" Vimes began. "Real like alive, sir," said Carrot. "Like they exist somewhere down in the dark under the world, and they cause themselves to be written. There"s the Waiting Dark ... that"s the dark that fills a new hole. The Closing Dark ... I don"t know about that one, but there"s an Opening Dark, too. The Breathing Dark, that"s rare. The Calling Dark, very dangerous. The Speaking Dark, the Catching Dark. The Secret Dark, I"ve seen that. They"re all fine. But the Following Dark is a very bad sign. I used to hear the older dwarfs talking about that. They said it could make lamps go out, and much worse things. When people start drawing that sign, things have got very bad." "This is all very interesting, but-" "Everyone in the mine is as nervous as heck, sir. Stressed like wires. Angua said she could smell it, but so could I, sir. I grew up in a mine. When something is wrong, everyone catches it. On days like that, sir, my father used to stop all mining operations. You get too many accidents. Frankly, sir, the dwarfs are mad with worry. The Following Dark signs are everywhere. It"s probably the miners they"ve hired since they came here. They feel that something is very wrong, but the only thing they can do about it is sign." "Well, their top grag has been killed-" "I can feel the atmosphere in a mine, sir. Any dwarf can. And that one is rancid with fear and dread and horrible confusion. And there"s worse things in the Deeps than the Following Dark." Vimes had a momentary vision of vengeful darkness rising through caves like a tide, faster than a man could run ... ... which was stupid. You couldn"t see dark. Hold on, though ... sometimes you could. Back in the old days, when he was on nights all the time, he"d known all the shades of darkness. And sometimes you got darkness so thick that you almost felt you had to push your way through it. Those were nights when horses were skittish and dogs whined and down in the slaughterhouse district the animals broke out of their pens. They were inexplicable, just like those nights that were quite light and silvery even though there was no moon in the sky. He"d learned, then, not to use his little watchman"s lantern. Light only ruined your vision, it blinded you. You stared into the dark until it blinked. You stared it down. "Captain, I"m getting a bit lost here," said Vimes. "I didn"t grow up in a mine. Are these signs drawn because dwarfs think bad things are going to happen and want to ward them off, or think the mine deserves the bad things happening, or because they want the bad things to happen?" "Can be all three at once," said Carrot, wincing. "It can get really intense when a mine goes bad." "Oh, good grief! "Oh, it can be awful, sir. Believe me. But no one would ever draw the worst of the signs and want it to happen. Just the drawing wouldn"t be enough, anyway. You have to want it to happen with your very last breath." "And what one is that? "Oh, you don"t want to know, sir." "No, I did ask," said Vimes. "No. You really don"t want to know, sir. Really." Vimes was about to start yelling, but he stopped to think for a moment. "Actually, no, I don"t think I do," he agreed. "This is all about hysteria and mysticism. It"s just weird folklore. Dwarfs believe it. I don"t. So ... how did you get the vurms to form that sign?" "Easy, sir. You just smear the wall with a piece of meat. That"s a feast for vurms. I wanted to shake Ardent up a bit. Make him nervous, like you taught me. I wanted to show him I knew about signs. I am a dwarf, after all." "Captain, this is probably not the time to break it to you, but-" "Oh, I know people laugh, sir. A six-foot dwarf! But being a human just means being born to human parents. That"s easy. Being a dwarf doesn"t mean being born to dwarfs, though it"s a good start. It"s about certain things you do. Certain ceremonies. I"ve done them. So I"m a human and a dwarf. The deep-downers find it a bit hard to deal with that." "It"s mystic again, is it?" said Vimes wearily. "Oh yes, sir." Carrot coughed. Vimes recognized that particular cough. It meant that bad news was on the captain"s mind and he was wondering how to shape it to fit the available not-goingtotally-spare space in Vimes"s head. "Out with it, captain." "Er, this little chap turned up," said Carrot, opening his hand. The Gooseberry imp sat up. "I ran all the way, Insert Name Here," it said proudly. "We spotted it jogging along the gutter," said Carrot. "It wasn"t hard to see, glowing pale green like that." Vimes pulled the Gooseberry box out of his pocket and put it on the floor. The imp climbed inside. "Ooh, that feels so good," it said. "Don"t talk to me about rats and cats!" "They chased you? But you"re a magical creature, aren"t you?" said Vimes. "They don"t know that!" said the imp. "Now, what was it ... Oh, yes. You asked me about the night-soil removal. Over the past three months the extra honey-wagon load has averaged forty tons a night." "Forty tons? That"d fill a big room! Why didn"t we know about it?" "You did, Insert Name Here!" said the imp. "But they were leaving from every gate, you see, and probably no guard ever spotted more than one or two extra carts." "Yes, but they turned in reports every night! Why didn"t we spot it?" There was an awkward pause. The imp coughed. "Um, no one reads the reports, Insert Name Here. They appear to be what we in the trade call write-only documents." "Wasn"t anyone supposed to be reading them?" Vimes demanded. There was another thundering silence. "I rather think you were, dear," said Sybil, paying attention to her darning. "But I"m in charge!" Vimes protested. "Yes, dear. That"s the point, really., "But I can"t spend all my time shuffling bits of paper!" "Then get someone else to do it, dear," said Sybil. "Can I do that?" said Vimes. "Yes, sir," said Carrot. "You"re in charge." Vimes looked at the imp, which gave him a willing grin. "Can you go through all of my in-tray-" ". floor.. :murmured Sybil. "-and tell me what"s important?" "Happy to, Insert Name Here! Only one question, Insert Name Here. What is important?" "Well, the fact that the dunnikin divers are carting a whole lot more muck out of the city is pretty damn important, don"t you think?" "I wouldn"t know, Insert Name Here," said the imp. "I do not, in fact, think as such. But I surmise that, if I had drawn your attention to such a fact a month ago you would have told me to stick my head up a duck"s bottom." "That"s true," said Vimes, nodding. "I probably would. Captain Carrot?" "Sir!" said Carrot, sitting up straight. "What"s the situation on the street?" "Well, troll gangs have been wandering around the city all day. Dwarfs, too. Now a lot of the dwarfs are hanging around in Sator Square, sir, and a fair number of trolls are congregating in the Plaza of Broken Moons." "How many are we talking about here?" said Vimes. "About a thousand, all told. They"ve been drinking, of course." "Just in the mood for a fight, then." "Yes, sir. Just drunk enough to be stupid but too sober to fall over," said Carrot. "Interesting observation, captain," said Vimes thoughtfully. "Yes, sir. The word is that they"ll start at nine. Arrangements have been made, I gather." "Then I think before it gets dark there should be a load of coppers in the Cham, right between them, don"t you?" said Vimes. "Get the word out to the Watch Houses." "I"ve done that, sir," said Carrot. "And get some barricades sorted out." "All arranged, sir." "And call out the Specials?" "I put the word out an hour ago, sir." Vimes hesitated. "I"ve got to be there, captain." "We should have enough men, sir," said Carrot. "But you won"t have enough commander," said Vimes. "If Vetinari hauls me over the coals tomorrow because there was a major riot in the city centre, I don"t want to tell him I was having a quiet evening at home." He turned to his wife. "Sorry, Sybil." Lady Sybil sighed. "I think I shall have to have a word with Havelock about the hours he makes you keep," she said. "It"s not doing you any good, you know." "It"s the job, dear. Sorry." "It"s just as well I got the cook to make up a flask of soup, then." "You did?" "Of course. I know you, Sam. And there"s some sandwiches in a bag. Captain Carrot, you are to make sure he eats the apple and the banana. Dr Lawn says he must eat at least five pieces of fruit or vegetable every day!" Vimes stared woodenly at Carrot and Sally, trying to project the warning that the first officer to crack a smile or even mention this to anyone, ever, ever, ever, would have a very hard time of it indeed. "And, incidentally, tomato ketchup is not a vegetable," Sybil added. "Not even the dried stuff round the top of the bottle. Well, what are you all waiting around for?" "There is something I didn"t want to mention in front of her ladyship," said Carrot, as they hurried down to the Yard. "Er, Hitherto is dead, sir." "Who"s Hitherto?" "Lance-Constable Horace Hitherto, sir? Got walloped on the back of the head last night? When we were at that meeting? When there was that, er, "disturbance"? Got sent to the Free Hospital?" "Oh, gods. .: said Vimes. "It seems like a week ago. He"d only been with us a couple of months!" "They said at the hospital his brain died, sir. I"m sure they did their best." Did we do ours? Vimes wondered. But it was a bloody melee, and the cobblestone came out of nowhere. Could have hit me, could have hit Carrot. Hit a kid, instead. What"ll I tell his parents? Killed while doing his duty? But his duty shouldn"t have been to stop one lot of idiot citizens murdering another lot of idiot citizens. It"s all got out of hand. There aren"t enough of us. And now there"s a few less. "I"ll go and see his mum and dad tomor-" he began, and his sluggish memory shifted at last. "Does- Didn"t he have a brother in the Watch?" "Yessir," said Carrot. "Lance- Constable Hector Hitherto, sir. They joined together. He"s down at Chittling Street." "Then get hold of his sergeant and tell him Hector is not allowed on the street tonight, okay? I want him introduced to the joys of filing. In a cellar, if possible. And wearing a very thick helmet." "I understand, sir," said Carrot. "How"s Angua?" "I think she"ll be fine after having a lie-down, sir. The mine really got to her." "I"m really, really sorry about that-" Sally began. "Not your fault, lance-constable ... Sally," said Vimes. "It was mine. I know about the vampire and werewolf thing, but I needed you both to be down there. It"s just one of those decisions, okay? I suggest you take the evening off. No, that"s an order. You"ve done very well on your first day. Off you go. Get your head down ... or whatever." They watched her out of sight before continuing down the street. "She is very good, sir," said Carrot. "She picks things up fast." "Yes, very fast. I can see she"s going to be useful," said Vimes thoughtfully. "Doesn"t that strike you as odd, captain? Up she pops, just when we need her." "She has been in Ankh-Morpork for a couple of months, though," said Carrot. "And the League vouches for her." "A couple of months is about the same time as Hamcrusher"s been here too," said Vimes. "And if you wanted to find things out, we"re not a bad outfit to join. We"re official prodnoses." "Sir, you don"t think-" "Oh, I"m sure she"s a Black Ribboner, but I don"t think a vampire comes all the way from Uberwald to play the cello. Still, as you say, she does a good job. Vimes stared at nothing for a moment and then said thoughtfully, "Doesn"t one of our Specials work for the clacks company?" "That"d be Andy Hancock, sir," said Carrot. "Oh gods. You mean "Two Swords"?" "That"s him, sir. Very keen lad." "Yes, I saw the dockets. Normally a training dummy lasts for months, captain. You"re not supposed to chop through three in half an hour!" "He"ll be down at the Yard now, sir. Do you want a word with him?" said Carrot. "No. You have a word with him: Vimes lowered his voice. So did Carrot. There was whispering. Then Carrot said, "Is that strictly legal, sir?" "I don"t see how. Let"s find out, shall we? We haven"t had this little conversation, captain." "Understood, sir." Ye gods, it was so much better when there were just four of us up against that bloody great dragon, Vimes thought as they walked on. Of course, we nearly got burned alive a few times, but at least it wasn"t complicated. It was a damn great dragon. You could see it coming. It didn"t get political on you. It had started to rain a fine invasive rain by the time they arrived at Pseudopolis Yard. Vimes had, with extreme reluctance, to hand it to Carrot. He certainly could organize. The place was bustling. Wagon-loads of yellow and black barricades were being trundled out of the old lemonade factory. Watchmen were pouring in from every street. "I really pushed the boat out on this one, sir," said Carrot. "I thought it was important. "Well done, captain," said Vimes, as they stood like islands in the flood. "But I think there is a little matter of forward planning you may have overlooked..." "Really, sir? I think I"ve covered everything; said Carrot, looking puzzled. Vimes slapped him on the back. "Probably not this one," he said. And added, but only to himself: because you, captain, are not a bastard. Bewildered and aimless, the troll wanders through the world ... Brick"s head really gonged. He really didn"t want to be doing dis, but he"d fallen into bad company. He often fell into bad company, he reflected, although sometimes he had to look all day to find it, "cos Brick was a loser"s loser. A troll without a clan or a gang, and who is considered thick even by other trolls, has to take any bad company he can find. In this case he"d met Totally Slag an" Hardcore an" Big Marble, an" it had been easier to fall in wi" dem than decide not to, an" dey"d met up wi" more trolls an" now ... Look at it like dis, he thought as he trudged along, singing gang songs a bit behind the beat because he didn"t know the words ... All right, being in der middle of dis mob o" trolls ain"t "lyin" low, dat is a fact. But Totally Slag had said the word wuz that the Watch wuz also after the troll who"d been down dat mine, right? An", if you fink about it, the best place to hide a troll, right, is in a big bunch of trolls. "Cos the Watch"d be pokin" around in der cellars where der real mean trollz hung out, they wouldn"t be lookin" here. An" if they did, an" were puttin" the finger on him, then all dese brother trolls would help him out. He wasn"t too certain about that last bit, in his heart of hearts. His possibly negative IQ, complete absence of street cred and, above all, his permanent inclination to snort, suck, swallow or bite anything that promised to make his brain sparkle, meant that he had been turned down even by the Tenth Egg Street Can"t- fink- of- aname Gang, rumoured to be so dense that one of their members was a lump of concrete on a piece of string. No, it would be hard to imagine any troll caring much what happened to Brick. But right now dey were brothers, and der only game in town.





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