These characters are all owned by Terry Pratchett and I'm not making any money off of the.

Something barrowed

By, Clayton Overstreet

Susan sighed as she wandered through the infinite hourglasses that lined the shelves around her. She had been visiting her grandfather when he was suddenly called away on what he referred to as urgent business. That was strange. Death lived outside of time and was notorious for always being exactly on time. Leaving early was hardly his style.

Leaving the room she looked around for something to do. Albert was asleep and not exactly known to be friendly, even though he did make the effort for her these days. It was probably because he could not leave anymore.

"Aren't you going to catch that?" Quoth the raven's voice came from her father's study. "If it falls over you'll be in real trouble."

SQUEEK, the Death of rats said.

"Are you sure?"

Susan frowned. "Can't those two stay out of trouble for five minutes?" Hurrying in she opened the door and in an eye blink crossed the miles between it and the tiny piece of carpet in the middle that contained her grandfather's desk. "What is going on?"

The death of Rats and the bird looked up startled and Susan saw an hourglass on her grandfather's desk wobbling dangerously and starting to tip over the edge. Rushing forward she made a dive as it fell and caught it just before it hit the floor. Breathing a sigh of relief she stood up and set it in the middle of the desk. "Now why would grandfather leave that in the middle of his desk?" Looking closely she saw that the hourglass was a strange collection of bumps and bulges that twisted around like an artist's nightmare. Grains of sand were moving in it oddly, sometimes flowing sideways or backwards. Squinting it looked at if some of them were trying to climb back up the sides of the glass under their own power.

SQUEEK! The death of rats yelled angrily and ran at the hourglass, scythe raised up.
Susan caught him by the hood and lifted him up and away. In the tone she used when she told one of her students that it was time to talk with their parents she said, "That's enough of that! I don't know what you think you are doing, but when grandfather gets back we shall have a serious talk."

Rincewind screamed and sat straight up just before he woke up. This was the way it usually was. One time he'd found that his mattress, which was older than he was and aside from the things living in it had been exposed to magical radiation for decades, had crawled down the hallway and into the forbidden bathroom. Both of them had barely escaped with their lives.

Now he opened his eyes with the realization that he had been having another dream about falling when he had heard the familiar sound of something sharp swinging for his head. Looking around he saw a tall hooded shape.

Most people would have been frightened to see Death standing before them. Rincewind actually calmed down. "Oh, it's you."

UM, YES, the Grim Reaper said nervously.

"Missed again?"

Death's eye sockets flashed red for a moment. Then embarrassment caught up with him. NO, OF COURSE NOT. I NEVER MISS. IT WAS MERELY YOUR BED'S TIME TO GO.

Rincewind looked down at what was left of his mattress as it lay there stiffly. "Blast, and I'd just gotten it to stop cheating at cards."

"You know that was much more threatening the first ten times," Rincewind said. Death shot him a dirty look and then disappeared through the wall. Looking down again Rincewind realized that this was probably a sign of something terrible to come. "Same old same old." Seeing no sense in worrying about what he knew was coming Rincewind lay back down on his bed and closed his eyes. He was going to miss being rocked to sleep.

Lord Vetinari stood facing out of his window while Sam Vimes pounded on his desk. "I don't care how important you are, you know I hate political assignments."

"Yes, but as you just pointed out they are very important."

Vimes sighed and sat down. Mentally he realized that these days he was giving in to Vetinari much faster than he used to. In his mind he entertained the thought that maybe he had mellowed and learned that Vetinari was usually right. Then he admitted that it was because he was getting old. Several of his childhood friends, some of them younger than he was, were grandparents. Looking up he saw no indication that Vetinari was thinking along the same lines, which meant he probably was.

"How is lady Margolotta?" Vimes saw Vetinari's cheek twitch and felt a glow of pride. Nobody else could do that to Vetinari.

"She is in good health, as far as it goes," Vetinari said. "Now if you are through pushing my button, let us get back to our talk. The ruler of the Agatean Empire will be arriving on our shores tomorrow. You were sent a memo." They both shared a mental image of Vimes's desk, or rather the paperwork piled on and around it. "It should be much simpler than it would have been in Cohen still ruled there."

Vimes snorted. "I'm not so sure about that. Cohen may have been a barbarian but he was simple. This new guy, he was a vizier and everyone knows about them."

"Ah, but Cohen chose this man himself. He seems to have been chosen on the redeeming quality that he was totally unqualified for the job. And as you know Cohen was not poisoned or otherwise killed by this man, unless you wish to question Captain Carrot's word."

"Okay, you win," Vimes growled. "I'll be there. I don't know a blasted thing about their culture, but I'll be there."

"Relax Sir Samuel," Vetinari said. "You will be in august company and as it happens there is an expert on Agatean culture happens to reside at the Unseen University who I'm sure will be happy to attend."

Rincewind stood at the front of the group of wizards standing at the dock. Normally Munstrum Ridcully the Archchancellor would have been there, but as Ridcully pointed out Vetinari had put Rincewind in charge as he was the only one who spoke the language and knew much about the Counterweight Continent. Rincewind glanced around worriedly since he was now in a position of authority and that meant something terrible was going to happen to him. It was just building up.

Around the wizards were various other dignitaries from the various guilds and agencies of the city. Off in the distance were curious people. Some of them looked on greedily. It was a known fact that gold was cheap on the Counterweight Continent and with an Emperor visiting it was likely that the chance to steal some might present itself. They may even give it away. Of course the Thieves Guild, who punished unauthorized thieving in Ankh-Morpork, were on guard. They knew better than most how easy it would be to destabilize the worth of gold and wanted to make certain that did not happen. They were openly wearing very big weapons. Several assassins were on call for similar purposes.

Vimes walked away from the Watchmen who were glaring around guardedly. Since the incident with the prince of Klatch they had gotten much tighter on the security of visiting dignitaries. He moved next to Rincewind and looked at the boat. "What is taking them so long?"

"As I understand it, they're all stowed away in the hold as the air slowly the air leaks out and they can get used to the local atmosphere," Rincewind said.

Vimes grunted. "Foreigners never appreciate air with body." Rincewind nodded.

Suddenly a loud gong rang and the plank was lowered from the strange looking ship. The first off the boat were some of the guards. It was clear that Cohen had instituted changes in the Auriental dress code. The men were wearing furs and huge swords with a lot of notches. Stepping onto the dock one of them spit into the air and hit a seagull. The bird dropped like a stone onto the surface of the water.

"Cohen trained them himself," Rincewind said with certainty.

Next came several courtiers and even some wizards. Auriental wizards wore yellow robes with large woven hats that were nothing but rim. Ridcully made a comment about how at least the wizards of XXXX had a bit of a point. He also had some choice comments about how their bears and moustaches looked like someone had glued pencils to their faces. Rather like Rincewind's only with more of a point.

"Sir, there is my friend Lin Sang," Ponder said indicating a youngish wizard standing by a skinny old wizard that looked like a walking walnut. He wore a pair of glasses and looked remarkably like an Auriental version of Ponder. "He's the one who wanted to know about those creatures…"

"Yes, yes," Ridcully snapped. "This is hardly the kind of company to discuss that."

"Right sir," Ponder said blushing red.

Ridcully nudged Rincewind. "I'll bet you're glad you aren't head of their university."

Rincewind nodded. He would have been rich, powerful, and well fed. Respect would have been his for the asking and in the Empire when you got respect it was quality. Not the knock off stuff you got around Ankh- Morpork. He wouldn't have lived five minutes.

Finally the royal family came down. The emperor was a small man with a pair of spectacles and a wide smile on his face. Yellow silk robes trailed around him. Behind him looking demure came his two beautiful daughters. The two of them walked stiffly behind their father, arms hidden under their huge sleeves. The taller one was dressed in yellow like her father and the younger wore blue. Rincewind watched closely, but no glint of metal appeared in the hands of the yellow one. Still, he didn't let down his guard. Not that he ever did.

The Emperor suddenly rushed forward and grasped Rincewind's hands. "Rincewind my old friend!"

"Hello Twoflower," he said in a resigned voice. "I see you're emperor now."

"Yes, and I have to say it came as a complete shock. But everyone seemed most insistent."

This did surprise Rincewind. "Why you? Didn't the other families object?"

"Actually Emperor Cohen, shortly after taking the throne, invited all of the others to a very big meal. They were nervous at first, but once he suggested something called a 'pot luck' they all brought their own food and were quite happy to attend."

Rincewind nodded. "It must have been quite a funeral."

"Yes. Their heads were all carefully placed in their hands in each coffin and we built a very large tomb with the faces of the Silver Hoard carved into it. It was quite fortuitous as only Governor Vincent was actually buried in our lands."

"What about Teach?"

"Cohen had instructions for him that involved a burial mound, Lord Hong's remains, a burning boat, and for some reason their toenails." Twoflower cleared his throat. "As you know Emperors in the empire are considered to be as gods and since Cohen disappeared there are rumors that he may have taken this somewhat more literally than most."

Rincewind kept a poker face he had developed from months of late night games with his mattress. "I can't really say."

"Ah, well then I suppose I will have to make something up. It's so inconvenient, but sometimes the people seem to prefer it when we lie to them. Ruling is such an odd job."

Something about the way Twoflower said that sparked Vimes's memory. "Speaking of which, where is Vetinari?"

"In the Empire it is customary for anyone who wishes to see the Emperor to come to the palace themselves," Rincewind said. "Until recently not many people came to visit and Cohen wasn't the sort to come out to greet people unless they were armed."

Twoflower turned to Vimes and said, "You are the Duke, are you not? I have heard many tales of your adventures. You have become somewhat of a legend among my people."

"A legend?" Vimes asked.

Twoflower turned and motioned to the ship. Suddenly some eunuchs ran down carrying several large crates. "I understand now that gold is perhaps the wrong gift to bring to this place, so we have something else. They are quite popular in our country." One crate was open and Vimes saw books piled inside. They were printed backwards from what he could see and had a picture of a man with huge eyes and a scar over one eye on the cover. The young man was dressed like an Ankh-Morpork watchman, except that he had a sword bigger than he was strapped to his back. "You see Cohen had views on how a book should be written. His exact words were 'I can't be having with this blasted picture writing. You're going to start drawing just who was talking and put the words in little bubbles over their heads like them drawings in the newspaper.'" He handed Vimes one of the books. "We call them manga. They have been translated."

Vimes opened the book and flipped through it. It was arranged in tiny boxes with different scenes. In some panels the character, named Sam, was fighting various opponents, his sword glowing with power. In others he was talking to two women. One was a beautiful woman dressed in black with bat silhouettes sews in a pattern on her skintight dress. She was labeled as Margolotta. The other was a smaller mousy girl named Sybil. Both seemed to be vying for his affection. Meanwhile Sam's superior, who was handsome dressed in black with his pointed beard but vicious looking, had several misadventures caused because he was jealous of Sam's luck with the countess.

Vimes blinked as he realized that all these people were supposed to be the ones in his life. "I see. Um, thank you." Somehow he could not even begin to imagine how Vetinari would react to this. "Lots of pictures. I'm sure the people will love them. And deWord will like knowing that the idea came from his paper." He glanced off into the crowd where he saw William himself waiting patiently to interview the Emperor.

Taking his sudden silence as a good thing Twoflower turned back to Rincewind. "And of course you must remember my daughters."

"I am so happy to see you again Great Wizard," Lotus Blossom said and smiled in a way that mad Rincewind feel lightheaded. In fact several men behind him sighed at once.

"You too," he said. Then he caught sight of the icy stare her sister was giving him. "Hello Pretty Butterfly. Have you killed anyone recently."

"It is early yet," she said seriously. "I am pleased to see you."

"I suppose it's good to see you too."

"We have a great surprise planned for you at tonight's celebration," Twoflower said.

Rincewind felt himself stiffen up. He should have known things were going too well. "Twoflower, you know how I feel about surprises."

"This one is good, I promise. After all, you vanished so suddenly and we never were able to properly thank you for everything you did for the empire."

Rincewind remembered how some of the people felt about Cohen's ascension to the throne. "Really, I'll just take one of these little books and we'll call it even." He could live with a few paper cuts.

"No! The great Wizard has to be properly awarded. My people would not stand for anything less."

His heart dropping into his stomach Rincewind said, "Yes, I'm sure they do." He waited until Twoflower bid him goodbye and then tried to blend in with the other wizards. The Empire's wizards, now that Twoflower was gone, came forward to introduce themselves. The old man that Ponder's friend was with looked up at Rincewind with interest. "Yes?"

"I an Lee Sung. You are who they would have given my position?" He asked in Agatean.

"I turned it down," Rincewind said hurriedly. "I'm not really qualified. Can't even do magic. Only ever did eight spells in my life."

"Yes, but as I understand it those eight are the ones from the Octavo." He bowed low. "We present our thanks for saving the world and for the brilliant display of magic which must surely be what used up all of your magic."

Hoping nobody would mention the grades he got before the eighth spell had taken up residence in his head. "I really don't like to brag about that. Usually it happened while I was trying to run away."

"Indeed. The Emperor's book has been made into manga, which many people enjoy. Your adventures are well chronicled and delight many people."

"I'm afraid I don't remember it quite as delightfully," Rincewind said sourly. "But really, I want to assure you I don't want your job."

"Rincewind," Ridcully said. "Enough foreign babble. Introduce us."

"Who is this fat man with the bush on his face?" Lee asked.

Rincewind made introductions and stepped aside at the two men began to talk haltingly. Ponder looked at Lin Sang and asked, "Did you bring it?"

"Indeed," the young wizard said and produced a small box from his robe. "It will not open until I wish it. Should I…"

"Not here," Ponder said quickly. "Wait until we are at the University." The librarian came forward and sniffed the box. "Please tell your ape to be careful."

"He's our librarian," Ponder said quickly. "And please be careful. The only reason you still have your limbs right now is because you didn't call him a monkey." The librarian shot Ponder a look, but sniffed. Warnings were fair enough he supposed.

The crowd began to disperse, breaking into two groups. The wizards, except for Ridcully, went off on their own to the university while the rest followed Twoflower. Soon only Vimes and Rincewind stood on the dock.

"We're going to have to follow them eventually," Vimes said.

Rincewind looked at the river. "Not if we kill ourselves first."

"I can't, I have a kid," Vimes said.

The wizard shrugged. "Well, I'll probably regret it, but I don't want to spend all day sinking either. With my luck I'd survive anyway."

The two men walked after the crowd pacing themselves. There was no reason to hurry. After all, nobody ever rushed to their own hanging.

The reception at the palace was a lavish affair with food from many different countries, none of them being from the Counterweight Continent. Rincewind wondered if Lord Vetinari had been there. In any even as long as they weren't serving up anything made from pig whiskers Rincewind was happy. The foreign dignitaries sniffed suspiciously, but when Twoflower began to eat with gusto they followed his example. Centuries of Emperors who killed you if you didn't weren't going to be forgotten in a few years.

Interestingly enough Twoflower seemed to be pretty good at the dignitary thing. He was talking to Vimes and the man was actually smiling. Of his own free will. That was almost unprecedented. Things were going wonderfully. That was why when Vetinari tapped on the edge of his glass Rincewind was only able to fight the urge to run because the entrances and exits were all guarded by heavily armed men with no compunctions about shooting anyone who started running for an exit.

"The Emperor wished to make an announcement," Vetinari intoned.

Twoflower was suddenly the center of attention. He cleared his throat and said, "I want to thank so many of the good people of Ankh-Morpork for all of the kindness they've shown me over the years. Since the first time I arrived here, a modest merchant with naught but a few hundred pounds of gold to my name, I have received nothing but kindness from the people of this city. Which is why I am opening trade routes to this continent through this city." Vetinari actually smiled. "But one person in particular has been the most kind and helpful to me. He has risked life and limb to save me from Death's doorstep and in fact there is not a person on this world that does not owe him their lives."

Rincewind was suddenly alone in a huge sea of faces. "Please stop."

"Look how modest he is!" Twoflower said brightly. Rincewind saw Lotus beaming at him and Butterfly glaring. Around him people were watching with interest. "But I have personally seen this man save the world once. You all remember the baby turtles? And my research into his life from sources around the world say that he has done more. Gods and demons owe him their existence. He has faced a sourcerer, dragons, trolls…" Several trolls grunted. "… Mercenaries, monsters, and the devourer of souls, heroes, Lord Hung, and everything else this world could throw at him. And he stands before us today, obviously ready to spring into action." Rincewind was eyeing the door and doing some quick calculations based on how fast he could run and whether it was possible to avoid the arrows that would surely follow. "We all owe this man more than we can believe, so raise your glasses in a toast to the Great Wizard…" He waited until all the glasses were up. "… And my future son-in-law!"

Everyone cheered loudly while Rincewind stood with his jaw hanging open to his chest. Several people patted his back and after a while he realized that Twoflower was standing in front of him. "Were you surprised?"

"What?" Rincewind said coming out of his trance.

"Oh you were, I'm so glad. So few things seem to surprise you."

Rincewind looked at Lotus Blossom who was smiling up at him happily. "So you and I are supposed to…"

"Oh no Great Wizard! I would have been honored to be the one to marry you, but nobody could expect such a great man to settle for the Emperor's second daughter. The first Great Wizard received the first daughter and we would not ask any less of you."

Rincewind nodded. As Twoflower said he was rarely surprised. Slowly he turned to look at Pretty Butterfly who was still frowning. "And you want to do this?"

"It is my father's wish," she said.

Rincewind looked at Twoflower and then said carefully, "I'm not sure it's allowed. Wizards aren't supposed to get married these days. It diminishes the magical abilities."

From behind him Rincewind heard the voice of the Archchancellor. "Oh, I think we can make an exceptions this time."

Rincewind turned to shoot him a desperate look. "Sir, don't you remember? Wizards aren't allowed to marry because it could produce a sourcerer."

"You would have to have eight children for that to happen," Ridcully said and glanced at Pretty Butterfly. "I think you're overestimating yourself man."

Rincewind looked between the four of them and realized he was beaten. Maybe if he was lucky he could get Death back for an early appointment. With resignation he said, "Fine."

"Fantastic," Ridcully said. "I can arrange to send out invitations with transportation spells on them. Ponder and Hex should have just the thing I think. If not they will."

"Maybe we'll just elope," Rincewind said and mentally added, preferably without the bride.

"Nonsense, father has arranged everything for the ceremony already," Butterfly said. "Besides, who knows how long it would take you to find a ladder?" She gave him the look that was meant to tell Rincewind she knew exactly what he was thinking.

Rincewind nodded solemnly. "You're probably right. But keep in mind I travel a lot. Usually at great speed."

"I'll keep up," she said flatly.

She would too, Rincewind was sure. "You know it's bad luck to see the bride until the ceremony."

"You'll have to adjust. I'm keeping my eye on you until it happens.'

"So, when will the happy even be taking place?" He asked.

"Tomorrow at sunset," Twoflower said. Rincewind nodded again. It was the perfect time for an execution. "And once you are married you'll be officially declared the greatest hero in the history of the world."

Later everyone Rincewind told this story too agreed that it was in poor taste for Death to be standing in the corner sharpening his scythe.

At the university Rincewind and Butterfly were walking to his room. Out of morbid curiosity he had asked her what she had been doing since the last time he had seen her. She told him, "I was first put in charge of the palace guards after Cohen's training."

"He taught you how to fight?" Rincewind said. Butterfly had already been deadly in hand-to-hand combat. With Cohen's training she could probably have served as the entire palace guard all by herself. "That's… great."

They were passing by the high-energy magic building when they heard a loud exclamation from inside. Rincewind tried to hurry on, but Butterfly stopped and looked interested. He sighed and said, "I can see there are still a few things you need to learn. One of the first rules of my life: Never go towards loud noises."

"If that is how you live how will anything interesting happen?"

"It usually finds a way," Rincewind admitted.

She waved him off and walked towards the door. Rincewind considered letting her go, but then remembered that she was his problem now. Whatever they did to people who let the princess come to harm in the Empire, it probably involved that old rusty cheese grater. Following behind he kept a look out for trouble as she entered the building and started up the stairs. She was the only thing he saw.

When they got to the top Rincewind saw Ponder, Ridcully, and Lin Sang were bent over a creature. Ridcully caught sight of Rincewind and said, "Well come in. Don't stand out there all day."

Suddenly holding Butterfly's shoulder and ignoring her enraged look he asked, "Is that thing dangerous?"

"What this? Don't be ridiculous. It's just a dammit."

"And what is a dammit?" Rincewind asked carefully.

Ridcully frowned. "I suppose you weren't here for that one Hogswatch," Ponder said. "You see when you have a world with high magic content like this one then belief takes on certain forms. Like Death, Time, the Hogfather…"

"I know," Rincewind said.

"Well, then if you take away a focus of belief then it builds up. One year the Hogfather was almost destroyed and as such the excess belief began to create things. Small house gods were brought back. And something else too; we found that curse words took on a life of their own, becoming small creatures like this one."

Lin said, "In the Empire we do not believe in much. We know things exist. That is not the same thing."

Rincewind looked down at the little creature, which looked like a cross between a snake, a frog, and a bat, with its wings flapping eagerly. It burped and a tiny flame shot out and singed Rincewind's beard. Jumping back Rincewind beat out his face and glared at Ridcully who barely noticed.

"So, when Cohen showed up in the Empire and with all the Octiron deposits it's no surprise that these little things would show up," Ponder said.

"The children love them and train them," Lin said.

"Yes, children do tend to latch onto bad words," Rincewind said. "What do they train them to do?"

"Fight," Lin said. "Like with roosters."

The dammit licked Butterfly's finger happily and then started saying, "Dammit! Dammit!"

Ridcully sniffed. "I'm not sure what the point is. If you tried to mount one on the wall it would vanish as soon as you killed it."

"It keeps them out of trouble until they grow up."

Rincewind said, "I'm sure. After all, I know all kinds of parents who would love to give their children tiny fire breathing monsters." For example parents with large families and little money for a start.

"Bah, they're useless as far as I'm concerned," Ridcully said gruffly. "Ponder, do what you want with that thing as far as I'm concerned. But make sure you get out those invitations." He slapped Rincewind on the back unexpectedly.

Ponder looked at Rincewind. "Is there anyone we should invite?"

"I suppose there's my relative in Fourecks," he said. "But if you can find anyone who knows me and doesn't want me dead then feel free."

Ponder nodded. "And who do you want as best man?"

Rincewind paused to consider this. He really wanted nothing to do with the details, but if he was going to go through with it he might as well pick someone. So who could he ask? The librarian had always been a good friend of his, but then again he had hung Rincewind off of that tower in Fourecks. Besides, this was an opportunity to choose someone he really wanted to keep an eye on. Rincewind gave Ponder a name. Everyone in the room looked at him like he was insane.

"Um, you're sure?"

Rincewind nodded. "I've known him for years and I can't think of anyone I'd rather have there." Better than having him lurking in the shadows.

Ponder shrugged. Pretty Butterfly looked at Rincewind closely. "Are you perhaps joking?"

"Not at all," he said.

Butterfly took his arm and started walking o the stairs. "You will explain this."

When they were gone Ridcully looked at Ponder and said, "Can you do it?"

"I think so," Ponder said. "And he is always well dressed. So we contact Rincewind's relatives and anyone he knows who doesn't want him dead."
"It should be a short list," Ridcully said.

In his room Rincewind opened his wardrobe and knocked on the lid of the Luggage. Its lid creaked open in a slow yawn and the huge mahogany tongue licked out for a moment. Finally it stood up on its thousands of tiny feet and faces Rincewind.

"Open up," Rincewind said. The lid popped open. Immediately he started shoveling his possessions inside. This consisted of three robes, seven spare hats with lots of sequins, and six sacks of potatoes. When it was full he said, "Close."

"What are you doing?" Pretty Butterfly asked.

Rincewind said, "I'm preparing to get out of here as fast as possible."

"You can't run away from this," she said.

"I know, but that's beside the point. Listen…" For the next several minutes he explained his plan.

"But that would be the act of a coward!" Butterfly finally said.

Rincewind smiled and said, "Exactly."

Butterfly fumed for a moment, but finally said, "Alright. I will follow you. But I will not run away."

"Just stick close or you'll get left behind."

It turned out that there were more guests than anyone had expected. The courtyard of the Unseen University was full of people. Rincewind realized that he knew all of them. Everyone he considered a friend. In his mind he mentally defined "friend" as "the people trying to get me killed instead of actually trying to kill me".

He saw Conina, sitting with Nigel and three kids. The two boys were taking turns pulling on the girl's hair until she turned around and punched them both in the stomach. Definitely Cohen's grandkids. Bill Rincewind and a group of wizards from Fourecks waved at him. He nodded back. Mad the dwarf, the nearly all male cast of the show he had traveled the Outback with, and a kangaroo with a smug expression on its face were all nearby. Eric, the demonologist, sat with two people who had to be his parents. Next to him a slightly older boy with golden eyes nodded knowingly at Rincewind.

Leonard of Quirm was off to the side painting random pictures of people at the reception. Vimes and Carrot had an entire troop of watchmen standing by, armor shining. The Librarian was glaring at him and Rincewind shrugged helplessly and indicated the dark figure of the best man. The ape huffed, but didn't utter so much as an "ook".

Various gods took up almost one whole side of the seats. Only Fate seemed absent. The Lady sat at the front, her glowing green eyes on Rincewind. He walked up to her.

"I'm surprised you made it."

She smiled and said, "And what? Miss my own son's wedding?"

"You never did tell me why you ran away before I was born," Rincewind said.

The Lady shrugged. "You know the laws that bind me. Your grandfather found out who I was." She grinned and then said, "But you must admit, I have taken good care of you."

"Right, and the second I rely on that I'm dead."


Unnerved Rincewind gave her a quick hug and then quickly moved away. Several demons were glaring at him. Others were looking behind him in fear as the Luggage followed closely behind. At some point Conina's children had managed to tie some cans to it. That it had not quite shaken off yet. Rincewind gave it a kick and said, "Go pick up the gifts." Its keyhole eyed his leg hungrily for a moment, and then seemed to notice the green eyes boring into it from the side. Resigned it walked over to the gift table and began to devour the stack of boxes.

Through reminiscing Rincewind took his position at the front of the crowd in front of the priest of Io, who was looking at the best man nervously. Death adjusted the red suit he was wearing and tugged at his bowtie. I HATE WEARING THESE THINGS.

"Why red?" Rincewind asked him.


"I think I'll make you godfather of my kids."

Death's eye sockets flashed red. NO. The word dropped like a tombstone.

Rincewind shrugged and stood waiting. After a moment music began to play. The Librarian played the organ loudly and everyone rose up expectantly. When a loud gong rang the music stopped and everyone turned. Pretty Butterfly was at the end of the red carpet that led up to where Rincewind stood. Everyone stared, none more so than the groom. As much as she scared him, Rincewind couldn't help picture a pile of mashed potatoes with lots of butter. When she started walking towards him the image suddenly included chives and sour cream. By the time she reached him he could practically taste it.

She stopped and looked at him. For once, she actually had a smile on her face. Rincewind swallowed and it was some time before he was aware that the priest had asked him a question. With the mental sound of a manacle locking into place he said, "I do." And it was done. Butterfly suddenly leapt and kissed him hard on the lips.

That was when Death's clothes suddenly changed into their standard look and he swung his scythe. It tore through the air just as a barbarian hero jumped out of the audience, sword at the ready. Just before he reached Rincewind one of Conina's hairclips pierced his skull and the scythe separated him from his body. The man's departing spirit let out a wail and said, "No! I'm to be the greatest hero in the world! I was to kill Rincewind!"

Someone else moved in the crowd. "No, it will be me!" And a bolt of lightning charred him where he stood. Susan, in full death robes, reaped his soul in the same moment.

Death smiled and the two of them moved into the crowd. I TOLD YOU THIS WOULD BE A GREAT BONDING EXPERIENCE.
"Yeah, right," Susan said.

More came, dieing by the dozens. Death and Susan took them all. But then an arrow flew through the air and pinned his hat to the wall of the university. Rincewind whistled and the Luggage came running. He kicked the lip. "Open up and let us in!" The lid popped open.

"Are you nuts?" Butterfly asked. "I have seen this thing eat people!"

"Then stay here," Rincewind said and jumped in. "I told you this was going to happen.

Butterfly sighed and followed him. Her arm shot out and slapped a poster on the lid that read 'Just Married' and pulled back just before it snapped shut. The Luggage took off at amazing speed, dust shooting up behind it and the cans ringing loudly. Behind it the guests and the party crashes battled, those not killed instantly vowing revenge.

Ridcully absently turned somebody into a frog and said to Ponder, "All in all, not a bad ceremony."

"Sir, as long as I've got you here," Ponder said. "It seems Lin can't quite find his Dammit. Have you seen it?"

"Don't' ask stupid questions Ponder."

From under the wizards hat came a small puf of fire and a brief curse word. Ponder eyed his boss, but neither of them said anything. Finally the younger wizard, knowing he was beaten, gave up and watched the chaos around him.

On a small island a group of headhunters found three strange objects. One was a large stick with a bloody nail in it. The second was a half-eaten potato. Finally was a large box, settled peacefully in the sands of the beach. As they approached the box moved slightly, on its own.

One of the headhunters pushed another one forward. That one glared at his friend and then moved closer to the box. Carefully he reached out and opened the lid. A petite fist shot out and hit him in the face.

"Do you mind?" The lid snapped shut again. As one the headhunters turned and ran.

Author's Note

Yeah, it wasn't much. I'm not Terry Pratchett. I just wanted to get this written down and see what you think. Tell me at