All the many and strangely varied city notables ( even it seemed, Chrysoprase, who winked at Vimes when their gazes met. He hasn't forgotten the favour he did me in the KV incident, but I'll be damned if I let him use it to manipulate me, Vimes thought. (1)) were summoned and seated in the Universities great hall, where an omniscope had been set up so they could see Hex, but unfortunately it kept cutting either to a giant red fiery eye or to an ancient man in some sort of movable metal chair, surrounded by strange floating pepper pots, who were complaining in staccato voices of 'communications interference' and 'Crucible on maximum alert', if only for the look of the thing and because Vimes rather enjoyed the idea of depriving the assassins of their sleep.

Vimes glanced around and noticed the very unusual orc, Mr Nutt, who was just back from some time in Uberwald doing only the God's and possibly Vetinari and select others knew, and carrying, Vimes noticed an inordinately large battleaxe, rather fine baroque style Lancrastrian work according to Nobby who was a living lexicon on all extant objects for putting holes in people, that is to say, modern weaponry, and had been on patrol earlier that day and seen it, and the owner of the rather fine baroque style axe smiled politely at him and Trev Likely, who gave him a cheeky grin and a cheery wave, then got out that infernal tin can of his and began to kick it around, and just when Vimes was beginning to contemplate the tempting thought of arresting him on the grounds of contravening the Being Bloody Stupid act and detaining him on the additional grounds of Trying My Patience, he volleyed it very hard and hit the back of Lord Rust's head with pin point accuracy. This caused his lordship to stand up and bellow at the grinning young man, who promptly stopped grinning when Rust, having gone an extraordinarily interesting purple colour, drew his horse whip. While Vimes was savouring the sweet possibility of arresting Lord Rust for assault, he noticed that Mr Nutt had stepped up beside Lord Rust, whispered something in his ear and pointed to the former archchancellor (2) of Brazeneck (The university having been dissolved after the 70 foot high chicken incident, which caused mass destruction and terror and the biggest fried egg in the history of the multiverse.) who had recently been reinstated as Dean and was currently wearing a hat with the words, 'I fought the Watch and was dragged into a cold cell for the night' emblazoned on it, and was more importantly happily aiming his staff at Lord Rust and making Hut noises. The message appeared to be, hit one of our staff and enter a new life as a living Quirmian delicacy. As Rust backed down hurriedly and haughtily, Vimes shook his head in amusement and disbelief. Wizards. Trev Likely, smile restored, waved at Vimes in a friendly manner.

Vimes nodded coldly, concealing a grin at Rust's embarrassment, and let his gaze rove over the assorted guild leaders and miscellaneous others and- he sniffed the air and sighed- Foul Ole Ron's smell. He was wishing it hadn't turned up when he noticed it was occupying the seat between Lord Downey and Mr Boggis, who were both shifting in their seats in a manner that had all the effect of pointing out their highly acute discomfort. He grinned evilly as he watched Lord Downey trying vainly to staunch the as yet quite small and slow flow of wax from his ears with little success. Mr Boggis, who was rather more used to such smells, and was consequently faring somewhat better, had plugged his ears.

As Vimes turned back to the Omniscope, he saw Lord Vetinari intently gazing at the giant burning eye, which appeared to be losing an unofficial staring contest and was watering somehow, and thus giving off steam. Apparently the wizards having been unable to ask Death as to what the problem was, were having Hex analyse the results from the thaumometer, then transport Vimes, Vetinari, Carrot, Angua and Mr Nutt to the History Monks monastery at Oi Dong.

As Lord Downey finally vacated his seat in irritation and booted a lower ranked Assassin out of his chair and whispered something that made the Assassin blanch. Downey merely glared at the quite young Assassin, who whimpered and trudged over to what had formerly been Downey's seat, and the Smell, pleased at having a new companion, tried to make friends with him, by as far as Vimes could tell, floating around his head. It only stopped when the unfortunate Assassin collapsed, and Nobby and Igor both ran (or in Igor's case, half ran half lurched) over to what they both saw as a victim in need of assistance. Igor got to the Assassin first and waved Nobby away as he leaned over hopefully. When Igor managed to resuscitate the young Assassin, he opened his and saw Nobby, precipitating a horrified scream from the young man, because he thought he was dead and had been sent to the Nether hells, which was quite incorrect. Demons didn't wear watch uniform or smoke dog ends.

Vimes' perambulating gaze and proceeding thoughts were interrupted by Hex's voice saying.

+++ I DETECT...+++

+++ I DETECT...+++

At this point Ridcully interrupted by bellowed, "Will the damn machine get on with it already?" in Ponders ear. Ponder winced, and Hex said,



(1) In truth, Chysoprase is not that stupid, because he knows that Vimes would go spare (4) and absolutely destroys him in one way or another, then Vetinari wouldn't raise a finger to stop Vimes or even reprimand him.

(2) Note the small a. If Ridcully had had his way it would have been somewhere around this size: a. While wizards (or indeed wizzards) are very definitely celibate (none of that business with young women, or indeed young men, because this is the century of the Anchovy), there is always going to be an element of 'mines bigger than yours'.

(3) I think I should explain at this point that while most of the UU staff and a few others know what 'the little grey buggers are', they are a bit surprised by the appearance of one in human form, as only Death, Susan, Lu-Tze and Lobsang know they can take on human form.

(4) The idea of Vimes going spare is the one thing that terrifies Ankh-Morpork's criminal population even more than Sergeant Angua with PLT.

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