Pressure Point Chapter 6

Sam Vimes is a man with enemies. You don't get to be the second most powerful man in the greatest city on the Disc without a few people being upset. But every man has a weak spot…

A/N: Yes, at times this story may seem a bit dark. Being taken captive is rarely a pleasant experience, and the people who do it are usually out to cause maximum distress. This is why Lady Sybil is portrayed as having upsetting experiences.
Plus, I do actually think Sam would feel like the stuffing had been knocked out of him if anything happened to Sybil. She is his "one warm, beautiful thing", if you like. Unlike Carrot, he cannot actually put into practice "personal isn't the same as important." {Carrot baffled him in Jingo.}

Another point is that I am taking considerable liberties with the Guild of Merchants and their scope and manner of operation. For the purposes of this story anyone selling goods must be a member of the Guild of Merchants and Traders, and the head is Antimony Parker. Of course, any errors are entirely my own, as is Pelmet Ruse.

The Patrician steepled his fingers and stared speculatively over them at the man on the other side of his desk. He pursed his lips thoughtfully, allowing the weighted silence to elongate. The other man did not flinch. Vetinari sighed to himself. Of course he wouldn't flinch, the man never did.

"Sir Samuel, do you intend to update me on your activities or must I make an educated guess?"


Vimes stared impassively just to the side of the Patrician's right ear, at a spot on the wall behind. It was a classic policeman's stare, and one Vimes could keep up for hours if necessary.

"I am choosing to believe that you understood that question, Vimes."


"It was rhetorical, Vimes."


"If you answer another question with 'Sir?' it will go very hard for you."

"Couldn't say, Sir."

The Patrician leaned back in his chair. He couldn't explain satisfactorily, even to himself, why Vimes fascinated him. He picked up a piece of paper on his desk and sat forward again.

"At our last meeting, I believe I gave you leave to employ whatever methods you felt would be necessary to facilitate the speedy return of the Duchess. Perhaps you would be kind enough to appraise me of recent events."

Vetinari narrowed his eyes as he watched the other man's face. Vimes' countenance had changed markedly since their last meeting, of that the Patrician was in no doubt. He was leaner, edgier .

"Sir. We, that is, I, received 2 parcels that I believe are from the, uh, kidnappers." Vimes paused as he struggled to keep his composure.

Vetinari said nothing as he watched the other man.

"The first one," Vimes continued, "I gave to Corporal Littlebottom – our alchemy expert – to examine." Vimes paused again. He took a deep breath and continued. "There was a lace collar in the envelope that had come from Sybil's dress. It was blood stained." Vimes' fists were balled by his sides. "There was nothing else with it. Corporal Littlebottom examined the envelope and what it did contain was trace residue of whitewash paint."

The silence between the two men stretched out further.

"The second envelope was delivered not to our house, but to the Yard yesterday. One of the desk Sergeants brought it up to my office. Again a plain envelope, but inside..." Vimes' voice trailed off. He closed his eyes for a moment and continued. "Inside was a gold locket that I gave to Sybil on our wedding day, and her wedding rings. There was nothing else."

Vimes flicked his gaze to the silent tyrant in front of him.

"Sir." He said, after a pause.

"Nothing in the second envelope?" Vetinari asked eventually.

"I'd put money on it being exactly the same, Sir."

"These tell us so much, yet so little," Vetinari mused as he got out of his chair and looked out of the window at the overcast sky.

"It tells me that someone is playing games with me, Sir," Vimes said, feeling the first flashes of anger.

"And the stall holders in Sator Square?"

"Uh, Fred Colon is taking statements as we speak," Vimes replied. "But there doesn't seem to be much there. I might get him and Nobby to pay a visit to the Guild of Merchants."

Vetinari nodded. "Leave no stone unturned, Vimes, and no avenue unexplored." Vetinari strode back over to his desk and sat down. "There is unrest in the city, Sir Samuel. Do not forget your position."

"Unrest? Sir?"

Vetinari smiled slightly. "You forget, Sir Samuel, just where you are in the chain of command. Don't lose sight of the bigger picture in this crime against your wife."

Vimes gaped, before remembering where he was and hastily closing his mouth. His senses, which had been perpetually scattered since Sybil's disappearance, showed no sign of regrouping any time soon.

Vimes returned to the Yard in a foul mood. Vetinari's at it again, he snarled to himself as he kicked open the door to his office and threw himself into his chair. Still, on the bright side no more mystery parcels. He shuddered and wondered what the hell they were trying to tell him – aside from painfully and cruelly holding his wife.

...You forget, Sir Samuel, just where you are in the chain of command. Don't lose sight of the bigger picture in this crime against your wife...

How can I forget? The whole damned city tells me constantly – half try to ignore my very existence, the other half are just waiting to find me crawling inside a bottle of Jimkin Bearhuggers.

Make a list...sort out your thoughts...You used to do that remember? When the world was swimming out of focus and you were out of Bearhuggers and Nobby had raided the petty cash and all you had were a handful of IOUs...

Sighing, Vimes pulled his desk pad towards him and settled down. Tapping his pencil against his chin, he attempted to sift through the tumultuous events of the last few days.

Itym: Sybil dysappears in Sator Square. Noe one sees anything unusual.

Vimes stared at that statement. He was trying his level best to rise above the pure gut-wrenching pain of having to write that statement down, but for the moment it was the latter part that was catching his eye. No one saw anything. Everyone sees something – they just might not realise the import of what they had seen, but this was an utter blank. This just didn't happen. He put a star by that item.

Itym: Sybil last seen at 11am by Cumbling Michael, ae beggar.

Itym: Sybil's last knowne appointment 11am at Hattie's Hats (mylliner)

Itym: First parcel contayning lace collar – bloodstained and whitewash

Itym: Second parcel – locket and wedding rings

Itym: 'Every story has ae begynning'

Itym: 'Don't lose syght of thee big picture'

Vimes stared at his list. It wasn't making any more sense written down than it did up in his head. If he wasn't much mistaken, Vetinari seemed to be implying this city-wide unrest was somehow...pertinent? So, what would this be? A political crime? But it can't be, Vimes argued with himself. Lady Sybil herself was already a political creature well before Vimes had even met her, by virtue of her lineage and family. She knew all of the oldest and richest families not only of Ankh-Morpork, but stretching across the Sto Plains. That couldn't be the reason. Nothing about Sybil had changed, certainly not to warrant a brutal crime of this magnitude.

Anyway, Vimes switched tack, what unrest? Why weren't the Watch informed? Knowing Vetinari, it could be absolutely anything. Vimes glowered down at his list again, and patted his pockets searching for his cigar case. Lighting his cigar, he snatched up his list and headed for the Watch room below with sudden purpose.

"Morning, Sir," Captain Carrot saluted as Vimes descended the stairs, puffing on his cigar.

"Morning, Captain." Vimes nodded as he walked to the end of the room. "Carrot, come here please."

He stuck his list on the wall and looked at his Captain.

"These are the main points, Captain."

Carrot peered attentively at the paper on the wall.

"I want any clue, any new information, anything at all, that is of relevance to the case, no matter how small, to be added to this wall."

"OK, Sir," Carrot said doubtfully.

"It's so we have all of the information in one place, Captain," Vimes explained patiently. "It means we can visually see any relationships with the evidence."

He narrowed his eyes as he looked at Carrot's open, honest face.

"Oh, I see!" Carrot brightened. "That's an excellent idea, Sir!"

"I know. It's one of mine." Vimes opened his cigar case and extricated another cigar. "OK, tell the man what to do with this," he waved his hand at the wall behind him.

"Where are you going, Sir?" Carrot called after Vimes' retreating back.

"Guild of Merchants, and Fred's coming with me," Vimes added to the surprised Sergeant as he passed the front desk. "I want some answers!"

In her cramped, dark prison Lady Sybil stared down at the pieces of paper placed in front of her. She raised fearful eyes to the shadowy figures of her captors.

"I won't do it," she whispered. "I won't do it..."

"But Duchess, you will. Believe me, you will."

Antimony Parker, Head of the Guild of Merchants and Traders stared in astonishment at his second in command, Pelmet Ruse.

"Commander Vimes? Is here?"

Ruse nodded and pulled worriedly at the lace cuff on his sleeve. Antimony Parker rearranged his belt around a stomach that could only be called ample, in his claret coloured velvet tunic – its comedic value was enhanced by a pair of very skinny legs encased in white doublet and hose. Ruse, by contrast was tall and thin, with a pinched, pale face. Antimony blew his breath out worriedly, his mouth twitching behind a beard that looked as if he had been savaged by a hedgehog.

"Well, we'd better see what the blasted man wants," he grumbled. "He'll never go away, otherwise."

Antimony, closely followed by Pelmet Ruse, entered the antechamber by the main door of the Guild headquarters a few minutes later.

Striding forward, Antimony extended his hand as he greeted the Watchmen.

"Ah, Commander Vimes, allow me to pass on my deepest condolences regarding Her Ladyship. How may we be of assistance to you?"

Commander Vimes pointedly ignored Antimony's outstretched hand.

"This is Sergeant Colon. He has been taking statements from some of your Guild members in Sator Square, and would you believe that not one person had anything of any use to say?" Vimes did not mince his words. He had already decided that he disliked Antimony Parker intensely.

"Well, busy time, surely not everyone –"

"Exactly! That's just what I thought!" Vimes beamed manically at Antimony. "All those people, surely at least one person from the thousands that either work there or make their way through there every day? Well, would you believe it, Antimony, that no one saw anything." Vimes lowered his voice to a growl. "My wife is one of the most high profile and recognisable people in this whole damned city."

Antimony Parker paled. Pelmet Ruse was standing by the wall conferring quietly but urgently with a colleague.

"And then I thought, well, what's the common denominator here, and would you know...they are all members of the Guild. The Patrician does like to keep up to date lists, doesn't he? So, Antimony, how about explaining why none of your Guild members apparently saw the most popular woman in Ankh-Morpork disappear on a harmless errand?"

I shouldn't have to take this, Antimony thought. But somehow the words dissolved when he saw Vimes' grin, which was about as funny as a lit fuse.

"Guild members are, of course, encouraged to do their civic duty, Sir Samuel. I cannot be held responsible if no one saw the alleged disappearance."


"Well, is there evidence of a kidnap? She may have gone of her own –"

"Don't do it, Mister Vimes!" Sergeant Colon, with great presence of mind, had stepped forward and was using his bulk to prevent the Commander from physically assaulting Antimony Parker.

Levelling a stare like a basilisk, Vimes growled, "We're coming back with a warrant to pull this place apart. I'm not done with you, Mr. Parker."

Storming out into the street outside, Vimes pulled out a cigar and took a deep drag. He was getting closer, he could feel it. To what, he didn't know, but he was getting closer. The trouble was, as he got closer, the mystery deepened. He closed his eyes as he leaned against the outer wall and thought of Sybil. The knife turned, deep inside. The bastards would pay.

Comments would be greatly appreciated