AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story is in progress and updated somewhat regularly... Hopefully you'll enjoy reading it as much as I've enjoyed writing it. I've tried to stick as close to canon as possible (obviously, I've had to bend and/or break it in some places), and when it's finished I'll post a chapter of notes at the end to share my references. Read on, please review, and enjoy!
For once, Ponder Stibbons hadn't had to handle the paperwork. The Archchancellor had hired new faculty entirely without help, going so far as to quickly close and lock his office door when Ponder came knocking. Such behavior was extremely unusual for Ridcully, who typically couldn't be bothered with anything that involved paperwork, signatures or a conversation more than five minutes long and not having anything to do with trout.
Ponder was nervous. He shifted from one foot to the other as he glanced around the Great Hall of Unseen University, noting similar discomfort among his fellow wizards. The old men didn't care for change, and the introduction of a new faculty member would be sure to disrupt their carefully crafted routines of sleeping, eating, and the avoidance of anything that could be considered work. One more mouth at the dinner table meant that many mouthfuls unavailable to the rest of the faculty, one less cigar in the community cigar box, the disruption of their traditionally nonexistent class schedules.
Ridcully appeared out of nowhere, clapping a hand on Ponder's shoulder hard enough to make him stumble. "Stibbons! Look at this, will you!" With his free hand, he gestured to the assembled faculty.
Ridcully hooked his thumbs underneath his suspenders and gave them a satisfying snap. "Quite the display of wizardly unity, ain't it?"
Ponder had never seen a less unified assortment of people in his life. Wizards, as a general rule, did not unify. Everyone in the Hall was fidgeting, whispering rumors into the ear of whoever happened to be next to them. The wizards would be glad when the event was over.
The Archchancellor shoved past Ponder, heading towards the center of the head table, where he pounded one giant fist and loudly demanded silence. He kept going until the wizards got the idea.
"Brothers!" Began Ridcully, which Ponder thought was strange, as the fraternity of wizards was not really all that brotherly. "Today we welcome a new member of our faculty into the, er, bosom of the University, as it were."
This introduction was followed by a long, wordy speech that Ponder didn't really bother to listen to. It sounded as though Ridcully had taken it directly from a book, as Ponder was sure the Archchancellor didn't know the meaning of some of the longer words. Instead of listening, Ponder observed the wizards. None of them were listening, either, and had continued their restless behavior, the low murmur of gossip buzzing around the corners of the room.
It wasn't until Ridcully's speech reached a deafening crescendo in Ponder's ear that he started to pay attention. The massive oaken doors of the Great Hall opened with a crack akin to lightning, slamming the doors back against the wall as a long figure in white robes strode into the chamber. Ponder strained his eyes, fighting to see into the illumination from the entry in the dim room.
Those closer to the door were making noises of outrage, turning to follow the figure through the Hall. The doors closed, and Ponder began to blink the spots out of his eyes. When he was able to see again, he realized why the assembly of wizards was roaring its disapproval.
With a satisfied smirk, Ridcully announced their new brother's name.
"Wizards of Unseen University, I give to you Miss Katarina Smith."
Ponder could see how this was going to be a problem. He had no doubt that Miss Smith could see it, too.
Regardless, she stood in the center of the Great Hall, back straight, eyes forward, her face remarkably expressionless. Her robes were impeccably white, her pointy hat tilted over one eye. Red hair curled under her chin and down her shoulders in a bloody shock against the white of her robes. Ponder noted that she didn't carry a staff, a move which, on her part, was either brilliant or stupid. While the traditional staff might have made her seem more wizardly, it also might have caused quite a bit more outrage. Still, Ponder thought, the amount of force with which the Hall doors had opened had to have come from somewhere—she probably had at least a wand stashed away in a pocket.
Miss Smith stood motionless until the uproar had died down. It was by no means quiet, wizards were still grumbling, but it the situation had calmed enough that Ridcully's booming voice could be heard over the crowd.
"Wotcher, Archchancellor." Said Miss Smith, with a wicked grin and a wink. Her voice was strange; Ponder was sure he had heard the accent once before but couldn't place it. Also—Wotcher? Awfully informal, thought Ponder. Common. And that smile! The wink! What was happening here?
Ponder was forced to admit to himself that if a woman was going to wink that way at a wizard, it probably would be at Mustrum Ridcully.
"How's old Bill?"
"Keeping busy. University is suffering a bit, blight of roos and all that. He sends his regards."
Ponder blinked. Fourecks, that's where he'd heard the accent! She must be referring to Bill Rincewind (no relation to Unseen's own), the Archchancellor of Bugarup University. Ponder had a brief flash backwards in time to the Unseen faculty's adventure in Fourecks, and shuddered.
What in the Dungeon Dimensions was a blight of roos?
"Gentlemen!" Roared Ridcully, bringing Ponder back to the present. "That is what I expect you to act like around Miss Smith. Some of you have got to be old enough to remember 1966."
This unleashed a new wave of discontent from the assembled faculty.
Ponder noticed Miss Smith casually dip a hand into her pocket. He had been correct about the wand. A brief flick of the hand, and a fireball burst into the air about the congregation's heads. Silence. The wizards of Unseen University hadn't seen a casually-thrown fireball since Ridcully put an unofficial end to the traditional rite of succession.
Ridcully applauded madly. "Well done, Miss Smith! I can't shut the buggers up for half that!"
Another smile, a half shrug.
Ridcully turned to holler directly in Ponder's ear. "Stibbons!"
He cringed. "Yes, Archchancellor?"
"Show Miss Smith to her office, will you?"
"I don't know where her office is, sir. Might I remind you that you kept all of this rather, er, secret?"
"I'm sure you'll find it eventually. Off you go!" Ridcully laid one massive hand on Ponder's shoulder and shoved him backwards. Half-falling out of his chair, Ponder stumbled from behind the table and toward Miss Smith, who gave him an appraising look before turning on her heel and striding back toward the door.
The buzz of angry wizards followed them out, silencing only when the heavy doors closed behind them.