|Odd One Out
Author: intrasonic PM
A story of someone's quest to NOT find herself. Sometimes, it's harder than it sounds. [On Hold]Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Chapters: 5 - Words: 62,095 - Reviews: 69 - Favs: 38 - Follows: 10 - Updated: 02-01-03 - Published: 05-08-02 - id: 765896
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I've always wanted to try a Discworld fanfic. Here goes nothing...
Discworld timelines, insofar as actual years go, can be a real bitch to determine sometimes. I did the best I could, but in the end, I was forced to guess at a few details. This story can be considered to take place after both "Carpe Jugulum" and "The Fifth Elephant". Probably after "The Truth" as well. Very frequent reference will be made to "Lords and Ladies", and it would be a good idea to be familiar with the books featuring either the witches or the Watch. Obviously, I'll try to work them in properly, but prologues are for warning people about this kind of stuff.
The main character is actually one that I picked out after becoming fairly certain that absolutely nothing was done with her in future books. If you happen to know that I'm wrong, please let me know? Preferably before I get too far into this story.
Footnotes are noted by ( ) brackets, with the footnotes placed at the bottom of the current paragraph. Theoretically, this should reduce the up-and-down scrolling required to read them(1).
(1) Theoretically, anyway.
This is a story that starts on the road. Or rather, in a very short time, it will. It hasn't actually started yet, so the reader can relax for the moment. While waiting for the actual story to start, the story will stall by providing some meaningless details about the road that the story will be starting upon.
To be honest, it's actually a very plain and
Composed mainly of a mixture of dirt, gravel, more dirt, and the occasional patch of stubborn grass smart enough to take advantage of the regular influx of fertilizer, it held no surprises for a traveller of even minimal experience. Bumps and pits was scattered along its surface, new ones regularly being created by wagons swerving to miss the existing ones. By this point, there were no longer any smooth paths, only ones that didn't manage to bump small but important bits of luggage off the back of the carts.
This particular section of road happens to be situated on the immediate outskirts of a village, and has probably been given an original and dynamic name such as Main Street or King Street. But most of the people have never been out of the village, and the occasion city visitor has yet to enlighten them to reality.
Really, this road has only one notable feature, and its not even a unique one at that. Because there are hundreds - even thousands - of roads around the world, and they don't lead to a city named Rome. Or even a city named Nome or Dome.
Because this is the Discworld. And on the Disc, all roads lead to Ankh-Morpork(1).
(1) Not necessarily of their own free will, but they do.
At this point, the previous part will now be revealed to contain a glaring and obvious lie. While it was not the beginning of the story, unfortunately, neither is this part. The beginning of The Story happened quite some time ago, actually. And this story will not be revisiting it in detail. At least, not all at once. But the start of THIS story begins now. At least, it probably does. Just smile, nod, and agree, or we'll never get anywhere.
The chosen location for the start of this story
is in a building, situated alongside the road that wasted so much space
in the first section. There's a sign up front that reads "Ye Sto Telle
Sulfer Springs", and some smaller writing underneath that says "now sulfer-free".
Incidentally, were the owner of the building questioned under bright lights
by men with starch-forged suits, he would eventually give in and admit
that, at no point in the business' history, had the hot springs ever possessed
any noticeable amount of sulphur. But, as everyone knows, people will pay
more for the privilege of swimming in hot water that smells like rotten
eggs. Or in this case, once smelled like rotten eggs.
Inside this building, there are a number of areas suitable for (and designed for) bathing. While at the present moment, the building is mostly deserted, there are still a few people making use of its facilities.
And believe it or not, this story is actually going to focus on one of those people.
The person is question is presently situated
in a shallower portion of the springs. The water doesn't quite reach her
shoulders, but this is only because she's kneeling and in the process of
submerging her head and rinsing a mass of shampoo lather out of her hair.
After a short period of vigorous scrubbing, the person comes up for air, allowing anyone who overlooked the pronouns in the last paragraph to see that the person in question is most definitely female. More specifically, it's a young lady.
While this isn't that kind of story, it's worth noting that the young lady is a rather attractive example of such. Not in a blatant or deformed way, but in a quite normal fashion. A figure that possesses all the necessary bits in their proper amounts. Furthermore, it was lacking any details that would normally detract from the good parts, which is actually a much rarer thing. It was a form suited to words such as circumference, radii, length, width, curvature, mass, gravity, tension, symmetry, proportion, and balance. And many other words as well, but at this point, the mathematicians and physicists all need to go have a cold-shower and a lie-down.
Even more detail could be provided, but it's already been stated that this isn't that kind of story. But for the record, if it was that kind of story, this young woman has recently turned eighteen and would have been legal in a lot of areas(1). But that's another topic altogether. And amazingly enough, those details wouldn't have been the most interesting thing about this young woman.
Because in the meantime, this young woman has finished tying her mass of light-blond tresses up, and has turned away from this increasingly-voyeuristic story to leave the hot-springs. She is now clean, and devoid of dirt (and amazingly, the smell of sulphur). And despite some other excellent options, one's eyes are immediately drawn to her shoulder. More specifically, towards her left shoulder.
Because there is a scar.
It's not a particularly big one, but on skin that miraculously managed to ride puberty without so much as the faintest pimple or mole, it stands out like a well-placed whoopee cushion at a flute convention. It's a rather unusual scar, in that it's simply a round mark, devoid of any signs of tearing, ripping, or infection. It's the kind of scar that would result from a pointed object cleanly entering, then cleanly being removed by a talented healer, which shouldn't result in any scar at all.
But this scar was more than skin-deep.
(1) Possibly even yours.
By the time this story can refocus on the young
lady, she's made her way to the changing room. She's wrapped herself with
a large towel that has also managed to cover the scar, hence restoring
her appearance to its former strength. Her long tresses have been wrapped
atop her head in a second, smaller towel, awaiting the ministrations of
a comb in the near-future.
Both towels are completely black, and unlike most hotel and inn towels, were actually large enough to respectfully cover a person while they went about retrieving their clothes from a suitcase.
The strange thing, an observer would notice, was that one could almost imagine that the bigger black towel was actually a black dress. And the second towel could be a pointed black hat with a mysterious-looking veil around it. And perhaps the fingernails would even be painted black.
And were all that the case, the person would have seemed... different. Still the same person, but somehow changed. She would be mysterious and knowledgeable... even powerful. She would be regarded in awe by those around her, with many wanting to follow in her footsteps. And she wouldn't have an ordinary name. It would be a special name, one that hinted of intrigue, the occult, and of dark, romantic secrets.
It would probably be a name like "Diamanda".
Alas, even if the observer managed to see this,
a closer look at the suitcase would have instantly dispelled all illusions.
Because it had a name tag affixed to it, upon which was clearly written
"Property of Lucy Tockley", which was clearly as un-mystical a name as
one could ever hope to find. Even if the reader was exceptionally idealistic,
'Lucinda' would instantly squelch all doubts.
Within a surprisingly short period of time, the now-named young lady had dressed and groomed herself into an image suitable for public presentation. She was now a person prepared to go places, and to consider the luggage, she was travelling light. After one last inspection of herself in the mirror, she nodded approvingly, then headed outside to the road.
The road that lead to Ankh-Morpork.
Two buildings down from 'Ye Sto Telle Sulfer
Springs', there was another building. This one bore a sign reading 'Ye
Sto Telle Trans Porte Servise'. Outside was an open-air coach attached
to a single horse. It bore a lot similarities to the standard inter-city/village/town
coach, except that it didn't ride as smoothly, didn't have a roof for when
it rained, and the driver wasn't required to shave once a month. It was,
however, accordingly less expensive to take, which was to say that it didn't
involve selling one's first-born child.
There was a man presently feeding the horse, and it was quite likely that he also did the driving and the cart repairs when necessary. Despite having a rather unrefined look about him, he also bore the appearance of someone who was willing to be polite and patient with the rest of the world, at least until it stopped returning the favour. In other words, he was so generic that his name won't even be provided for this story.
"G'day, miss," he called out, seeing the aforementioned young woman approaching. "Ye all set to be goin'?"
She nodded, but didn't provide anything further, except for her lone piece of luggage.
The man took it, placing it in the luggage rack. "So who are ye? I've got a Miss Lucy Tockley on m'list here...?"
"A pleasure to meetcha, Miss Tockley, I'll be ye driver today. We'll be leavin' shortly, soon's the other lady gets here. In the meanwhile, ye can have yer choice o' seating."
With a minimum of effort, she used one of the three side steps to climb the cart, then selected one of the two seats facing forwards. And did nothing further.
The man nodded. This passenger apparently wasn't the talkative type, but he didn't really mind. There were different ways of being quiet, and this young woman's version wasn't the sort that implied any offense. But if she did talk, it would probably be to say something worth hearing. Besides, he had a hunch that the other young lady was going to more than make up for it.
Speaking of the devil... "Don't leave without me!!!"
"That'd be her now," the man noted, sounding almost a little weary.
It probably was. Several hundred feet away, another young woman was dragging a collection of suitcases that quite possibly outweighed her. Unfortunately, this was turning out to be a problem, because nature had not seen fit to give this particular young lady muscles of iron and rock. Or even, when it came down to it, of lead.
It has already been stated that the driver was a general decent individual. So it's worth noting that he actually hesitated before walking over to give her a hand with her things. Especially since the only possible chance she could have had to give a bad impression would have involved merely buying tickets in the first place.
"Miss Irie von Celeste? I'll take that for ye," the man offered, upon reaching her.
She glared at him, or at least did her best to glare at him. She was one of those people gifted with an eternally pleasant and cheerful face, which was poorly suited for some expressions. "That's what you think! You're just assuming that because I'm a woman, I'm too weak to take care of myself!"
"Not at all miss," the man replied wearily, the expression on his face indicating that he had expected this from the outset. "I just-"
"Well, you can just forget it! I'm not some old-fashioned woman who needs men to do everything for her! I'm perfectly able to handle my own affairs!!!"
"I... can see that," the man lied. What he didn't mention was that whatever else she could handle, her luggage wasn't one of those things.
"And don't you forget it!" she snapped.
Several long minutes passed.
Several more long minutes passed, by which time the second young lady and her luggage had covered the impressive distance of ten yards, with possibly another ninety to go.
The man looked up, realizing that the first young woman had made her way over and was also watching the spectacle herself. It was also the first time he'd heard her say anything. "Yes, Miss Tockley?"
"I can't help but think," she noted, "that she probably paid in advance, just as I did."
"Yer right about that, miss." And more was the pity, he silently added.
She pursed her lips thoughtfully. "I can't help but think that what a fare actually does is to give one the opportunity to board a the cart at a particular time. And I don't believe the form I filled out actually requires the driver to wait past that particular time."
It was the type of statement only a lawyer would normally make, but the driver could still remember the scene involved in just selling the ticket. And despite his aforementioned good nature, he was still human. "Miss Tockley... I don't reckon I can find a flaw in that argument o' yers."
Several minutes later, after a brief discussion over the fact that someone did NOT need the help of a man to climb up the side of the cart, the young ladies and their luggage, were on the cart, with the driver steering the horse down the road to Ankh-Morpork
"...and so I said to him, 'How dare
you assume that just because I'm a woman I'm not as good at tree-cutting'.
And then he gave me some nonsense about the axe weighing twenty pounds,
and the trees being twenty feet around, and I could see that he was plainly
nothing but a bigot, so I..."
The driver pinched himself to stay awake. Normally the travelling was the part he loved best about his job. Sometimes the passengers were talkative and full of news. Other times, they were silent and this provided an opportunity to enjoy the scenery. But this was shaping up to be a trip he was going to do his best to forget.
Miss Irie von Celeste just kept talking, non-stop. And talking. And talking. And it all had a common theme, which was beginning to give him something of an inferiority complex. Either that, or threatening to put him to sleep at the reins.
In complete contrast was Miss Lucy Tockley, who after dredging up another technicality regarding fares, cart steps, and the lack of obligation on the driver's part towards people who refused assistance in climbing them, hadn't said another word. Somehow, she was actually managing to listen to non-stop dialogue without falling asleep. Her eyes looked rather glazed, but
otherwise open and attentive.
"...so I've decided to go to Ankh-Morpork, because everybody says that you can make it big there. I'm sure that such a wonderful city will have gotten over any foolish notions about gender-inequality. So, what about you?"
The driver risked a glance backwards.
Miss Tockley's eyes abruptly un-glazed, and she blinked. "I'm sorry?"
"I asked you why you're going to Ankh-Morpork?"
The reply had the sound of a very carefully-formulated answer. "I'm going to Ankh-Morpork... to not be a witch."
The driver returned his gaze to the road ahead. He didn't know what that statement meant, but it definitely sounded like a prelude to a flashback.
She couldn't quite remember the When anymore,
but the What was more defined.
Put simply, Lucy Tockley had realized one day that more of world tended to make sense to her. This is of course, highly unusual for anyone, to say nothing of a child. The vast majority of the world doesn't take sense to anybody, but the human brain has long since learned to simply ignore and filter that part out, turning its reserves towards dealing with the 1% that does make sense(1). But Lucy actually understood some of that remaining 99%, even if she hadn't learned the words to try and explain them to anybody else.
And then her mother died. This would be considered a tragic thing by anyone, but in the Ramtops region, particularly in Lancre, a little girl would learn a lot about life from her mother. Things like cooking, cleaning, bandaging. Even things related to the birds and the bees(2) would be passed down from mother to daughter.(3) And at the tender age of 7, Lucy hadn't gotten around to learning some of those things yet. And Old Man Tockley had miraculously possessed the presence of mind to know, as well as plenty of neighbours to tell him(4), that he wasn't up to the task. So he sent her to school to learn those things. For ten years.
And Lucy learned many things. The level-headedness and careful-mindedness that was second-nature to anyone from Lancre was given a whole new playground to swing from. She went to school in Sto Lat, and learned a lot about the 3 R's. She learned how to work with long pages of numbers and make them make sense. She learned why the memos of Leonard of Quirm were superior to the stories of Creosote. She learned how to calculate the hypotenuse of a triangle. She even learned about the birds and the bees, at least, as far as the basic mechanics were concerned.
And outside of class, Lucy learned even more. She learned how to get a dollar's change from 75 pence. She learned why casinos gave the winner's free drinks. She learned how to sneak out of securely-guarded dormitory rooms. She even learned about the rest of the birds and the bees, if not through direct experience.
Sometimes, the things she learned were a mystery to everyone else. She learned why Carter the Jeweller could sell his jewellery for such a low price and still make so much money. She learned why Vincent the Chicken Farmer was seeing his chickens disappear at approximately the same rate that Joseph the Other Chicken Farmer's flock was increasing. And although she could be stumped by a long math or geography problem like any other student, the trick questions that the teachers would occasionally produce were transparent before she'd even bothered to pick up his pen.
Gifted, the teachers had said. A know-it-all, some students had said. A know-too-damn-much, was the opinion of any less-than-honest businessman in town. But all the things were obvious, she had always maintained. So perhaps it wasn't very surprising that, after almost a decade of schooling, through only a little fault of her own, she had few friends and no close ones. There are very few people who trust someone who understands more than they do.
So it was that, after ten years of schooling, despite a commendable academic record, Lucy Tockley decided to return home to Lancre.
(1) And does its best to make that part as complicated as possible.
(2)Which is a strange euphemism for the whole business, because there are some marked
differences between how these animals handle their procreation and how humans do it.
(3) And from father to son, which explains a lot of the misunderstandings that occur later on.
(4) The people of Lancre have always believed in telling each other exactly how things were,
especially when the other person doesn't want to know.
"...so I quit my job at the butchers, because
the men refused to accept that I might actually take some pride
in my work. So I took the cart to the next town, Sto Felis - you wouldn't
the man driving that cart - and I heard about this other woman who was
working at the post office in the complaints department. She apparently
doing an incredible job, and I desperately wanted to meet her and tell
what a good job she was doing, setting an example for woman-kind everywhere,
but when I got there, they told me that she was laid-off-"
"The people's complaints were being dealt with too quickly,"(1) Lucy agreed, a larger bump in the road having jolted her into consciousness long enough to catch the last part of Irie's monologue.
It wasn't that Irie was a bad person. It was simply that she tended to grate on people like eating 10 pounds of sugar in five minutes. To use the previous-described Lucy as a comparison, if they were both trading cards, Irie would have possessed a +5 under a lot of the physical attributes, except for the ones where a -5 was more desirable. She would have been given a +10 in the area of "impotent fury towards the world". And under the heading of "capable of warping her own perception of reality", there would be at least a +50. (2) The entire combination was simply offsetting to anyone forced to listen to it for any period of time.
"-which I'm sure was just their way of dealing with the fact that they felt inferior and inadequate in the face of the woman's superior talent and intelligence. But they said that she had gone to Sto Telle, so I decided that I would never get any fair treatment where I was, and decided to see if I couldn't run into her there. When I arrived, I heard that she was working as an accountant and secretary for the local watch, and had completely cleaned up the watch, ever going so far as to break a major crime ring, but after only a few days had been released again-"
"The crime ring was mostly made up of watchmen," Lucy agreed.
"-I realized that men were the same everywhere, and this incredible woman was simply a victim of it all. But I knew she wouldn't let a little thing like that discourage her, and I heard that she was headed to Ankh-Morpork. So here I am now!"
At the front of the cart, the driver had been listening to both people, and made a few conclusions of his own. And was presently torn between trying to hire the one woman and hoping that the other one would accidentally fall off the cart while it passed over a bridge. He settled for an attempted topic change. "I... hear there's some impressive women over in Lancre," he
"You have no idea," Lucy muttered.
(1) Everyone knows that people in the complaints department are employed as punching bags.
They aren't actually supposed to make things better.
(2) And under 'Vocal Endurance', there would be at least a +100.
When you're a person far away from home, with only a few casual friends, and too much time on your hands, you find things to occupy it with. And while she might have very well become a genius and made brilliant discoveries after investing all that time into her studies, Lucy found something else to catch her interest.
Most people dismissed it as nothing but superstitious folklore, but Lucy had grown up in the Ramtops, where witches were very real and present. And with so many stories floating about, only a fool would completely dismiss the stories about witches like the legendary Black Aliss. Witchcraft was real and alive, for someone with the will and time to learn, and Lucy fit that category perfectly. She started talking with the fortune-tellers and unlicensed doctors in the area, straining their claims for credibility. She investigated the less-used areas of the school library, and sifted the words for grains of truth. And before she left for Lancre, she learned a few things.
When she arrived home in Lancre, the local witches were apparently on vacation, but there were still plenty of avenues of knowledge available. And Lucy was quick to search them all, even picking up a small but surprisingly devoted following. The people in Lancre held less hostility for those who could understand the world better than they could. Those kind of people were called witches, and whatever else anyone thought about them, they were accorded more than a small degree of respect.
With her little group of followers in tow, they did all manner of occult things. They read cards, drew magic circles, learned about the mystical phases of the moon, and even consulted Mario boards (1). They adopted more exotic, witchy names such as Magenta, Perdita, and Diamanda. But even though this was exciting, Diamanda nee Lucy Tockley still wanted more. She knew there was more to witchcraft than what their little coven had played at so far. And after hearing a few folktales, she decided where she would find it.
The fair-ones. The enchanted folk. Not so much 'magical people' as raw magic with a little bit of people to hold it all together. Magics would be second nature to such people, and after some more reading, she learned how to reach them.
Diamanda was by herself the first time she sought out The Dancers. Eight stones set in a circle, said to mark the gate into the Elf World. One book seemed to suggest they might actually be blocking the elves, but that was obviously gibberish. Everyone knew elves were beautiful and happy and graceful people.
The books had said that dancing around the stones would open the gateway... so Diamanda had danced. She had danced with all her heart, bringing forth the semesters of gym class that had been determined to teach lady-like skills to young girls. Some of the books had also suggested that a lack of clothing was beneficial, so she'd done that part too.
She had danced through the night, but the dancing at the end was far different then the dancing at the beginning. It was... more inspired, as though another power was guiding her through the steps, and power was exactly what she had come seeking in the first place. A tentative link had been formed between the two worlds, and both sides had found each other in agreement...
...and when Diamanda had finally fallen to the ground in exhaustion, the woman had appeared before her. She had been beautiful beyond description, with gorgeous red hair that sparkled around her exquisitely featured face. There had been stars and moons across the sky, and colourful lights that both dazzled and inspired awe.
And the woman had told her things. Things that she'd never heard or dreamed of before. Knowledge lost to frail humans minds long ago, but preserved in the world of the elves. And this woman, this wonderful, beautiful, woman had shared this knowledge and power with her.
(1) Closely related to the Ouija board. *rim shot*
"-I passed through Lancre some time ago," Irie was saying, "but the women there aren't interested in anything except housework and raising kids. They're so blind to their own potential, it was all I do to keep from lecturing them all about it. There's some witches there too, and they seem pretty independent, but they never to want to do anything-"
With her newfound power and knowledge, Diamanda had been quick to teach the rest of the coven. They had quickly become the talk of the town, both them and their exploits. They even did the dancing around the stones together, although it was somehow never quite the same as the first time.
Then the Witches had arrived back home. And it had only taken a matter of days before Diamanda had met them face-to-face. The leader-of-sorts was Granny Weatherwax, who she had only remembered vaguely from her child-years. A tall, lean, and hard-edged woman who was probably forged, not born. And she had a stare that could burn a person up from the inside out.
But Diamanda had rallied and withstood the woman, using her newfound knowledge and power. She had even taken the woman up on her challenge, facing her down before the population of Lancre. And she had won the challenge.
She had won. She knew she had won. Nobody else seemed to realize this, but she knew she had won the challenge. Yet everybody seemed quite definite that the old woman had won the match. And reacting the only way she knew how, she had gone back to the stones, back to the beautiful woman who had given her knowledge and power. And Granny Weatherwax had been waiting for her, as though there had never been any doubt in her mind at all. And screaming defiance at the old witch, Diamanda had plunged past The Dancers, determined to reach a world that understood how things worked.
That was where Diamanda began to learn how the world really worked. And it didn't work the way she had thought it did. She could remember bowing before the elf woman, her mind effortlessly bent around someone else's will, even as Granny Weatherwax fought back. She could remember a frantic attempt at escape, and then a numbing cold spreading through her shoulder, then through her entire body.
Things after that were muddled, but she could remember enough to try and realize what had happened. The badly-done play and the beautiful, yet terrible singing. The villagers falling before the glamour in droves. The elves randomly stabbing their copper knives into her helpless body to see where it hurt her the most. And then... nothing.
She had awoken later on, to the news that the elves were gone. The witches had beaten and humiliated the elves, right down to their queen herself. No flashy lights and stars. Just soppy old pre-queen Magrat in an over-sized armour suit and holding an axe, followed by Granny Weatherwax single-handedly dragging a unicorn across the town square and getting it shoed.
And from there, life went on as normal.
And somehow, for Lucy Tockley, that was the worst part of it all. The village knew she had lost. They probably even knew that she was responsible for the elves appearing in the first place. But they didn't mind. Not even an accusing glare or a hushed whisper behind her back. Excrement had happened, but they had cleaned up and were now moving along in the way that Lancre people always did.
Even her father didn't understand her depression. As far as he was concerned, it had been a little childish to think of fighting against Granny Weatherwax in the first place, but no real harm done. And besides, she had put up a better fight than the old King ever did, so she had nothing to be ashamed of.
The worst thing was that they were probably right.
"-and I just know I'll make it in Ankh-Morpork. No more discrimination just because I'm a woman, so I'll make it big somewhere - oh, we're here?"
"Sure as can be," the driver agreed, gesturing towards the massive walls of Ankh-Morpork. At least, they would have been massive if they weren't so full of holes that they looked like a grey line of Swiss cheese. "I'd take you into the city, but the smell spooks the horse."
True enough, there was a slightly pungent odour hanging in the air, despite the fact that there was a brisk wind blowing into the city. It was, it was said, a smell that no other place on the Disc could hope to match. It was also a smell that no other place on the Disc would want to match.
Lucy lightly hopped down from the cart, grabbing her suitcase with one hand. "Thank-you," she said to the driver, "for the trip."
He nodded, giving a brief glance back to where Irie was straining to get her luggage down from the cart. "I couldn't help but wonder, Miss Tockley... where'd ye learn t'sleep with yer eyes open like that?"
She smiled faintly. "I went to school for ten years."
He smiled too. "Well then, I reckon there are some useful things t'be learned in school after all. Ye take care, y'hear? I reckon there's a proper place for anyone, even if they gots t'go to Ankh-Morpork to find it."
"I hope so. I really do."
In the end, it wasn't the humiliation that
bothered Lucy, although it was humiliating.
She had challenged, won, and then learned that she hadn't truly known The Rules of the game. And for any witch, knowing The Rules was what it was all about, and she'd plainly demonstrated that she didn't in front of everyone in Lancre. She'd plainly demonstrated it in front of herself.
To make it worse, she had screwed up so badly that the kingdom had almost been conquered by elves. And it had been her enemy, Granny Weatherwax, who had worked to save her. And it had been Granny Weatherwax who had saved the day. And it was Granny Weatherwax who had told her that the elf-taint was gone, and she was sure that Lucy would do well at whatever she set her mind to, especially if it involved any of the young men around Lancre.
Yes, the humiliation was definitely there. And Lucy knew that the normal course of action would be to immediately start down the spiral of bitterness and self-destruction, devoting herself to revenge against the woman who had humiliated her. And she knew that whatever the plan was, it would inevitably fail in a spectacular fashion and provide more fodder for story-writers
everywhere. So she knew better than to start down that road.
Knowledge, in her opinion, was highly overrated.
But the worst part was that she had failed at being a witch. She had known that she was supposed to be a witch, and she had failed in a spectacular fashion. Witchcraft didn't allow for failure, and she had failed. And the worst part was that she still knew she was supposed to be a witch. Whether it was on account of a sixth-sense, a soul, an inner self, or something else entirely, she somehow knew she was supposed to be a witch.
And since reality had proven that knowledge to be wrong, therein lied the problem. She supposed that she could have simply settled down, found a handsome young man, married him, and raised a family and lived happily ever after. It wasn't as though she hadn't noticed some of the looks she was getting from some of the young men around town.
But Lucy also knew that she would never be able to 'settle down' in her present state. For better or for worse, some part of her KNEW that she was supposed to be a witch. And the only way she'd ever get on with her life was to make that part of her realize that it was wrong.
She would simply have to not be a witch.
It was harder then it sounded, not being a
witch, Lucy reflected bitterly.
As though burning all her occult things, and giving away her black clothing hadn't been enough. As though deliberately avoiding any contact with the Lancre witches hadn't been enough. As though leaving Lancre for the Sto Plains hadn't been enough. As though working at exceedingly plain and ordinary jobs ranging from retail to fashion to accounting wasn't enough.
Somehow, the Witch eventually leaked through. No matter how un-witchy the job was, she would start noticing things that no one else did. She would handle matters in ways that weren't normal, and the matters would actually get handled. She did her best to repress it and ignore it, but every so often, it would manage to squeeze through long enough to make her life difficult.
It was time for desperate measures, and that measure was Ankh-Morpork, the jock-strap of the Discworld.
Lucy looked from side-to-side as she walked
down the main streets of the aforementioned jock-strap. She was given the
occasional glance from other people, but it took all types to make a cosmopolitan,
and Ankh-Morpork had them all (and then some) in spades. Trolls, Dwarves,
the Undead, Gnomes, Pixies, and of course humans... no one was special
It was a great big melting pot, Lucy decided. It was like banging together barrels of nitroglycerine, then watching the energy turned towards a thousand different, unique, and often conflicting tasks. In its basest form, Anhk-Morpork was a giant factory with a million employees who worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
And in this city of one million people, it would surely be impossible for any witch-ness to show through. She would find a normal job and become such an anonymous and un-special individual that the part wanting to be a witch would simply shrivel up and die.
It was worth a shot, Lucy admitted to herself. She'd tried everything else.