A Rightful King
Disclaimer: Well, for a change of pace, we've got a Discworld story! I beg that all readers note that, first off, I suck at writing in general, and, secondly, I've read five of the books. That's it. Five. So don't be expecting some great literary masterpiece or anything. Finally, I don't own them, and all I'm doing is writing the story that Terry Pratchett wouldn't write. And believe me, I tried. -_- Stupid caller ID and long-distance phone charges…
The Night Watch of Ankh-Morpork had several members, but of them all even the Patrician knew that Angua was no doubt one of the most useful. And as she bounded down Short Street on all fours in apprehension of an unlicensed thief, it seemed that she was about to prove for the three thousandth, four hundredth, and seventy-third time (Captain Carrot had been keeping a mental tally) just how useful a werewolf could be to the Watch. Sergeant Colon and Nobby, slowly following behind at a leisurely run, were certain that Angua could manage on her own. The werewolf in question raced onward, barely even a streak of gold to onlookers.
The thief turned a corner into an alley and Angua turned with it, disappearing from sight. Nobby and Colon slowed to a walk. In a closed area, Angua definitely had the advantage. It almost wasn't fair to the unlicensed thief they were chasing.
Colon stopped, bending over double with his hands on his knees, wheezing. "Tell me again," he began, "why we're with Angua tonight?"
"Carrot," Nobby panted, leaning against the crumbling brick wall of a nearby building. "He was ordered to take the day- the night, I mean- off. Vimes told him to."
"Doing to much again, is he?"
Colon took his bearings and realized that they were quickly approaching the Shades. He cleared his throat. "What say you we let Angua take care of this bugger and get a drink?"
"Are we anywhere near the Drum?"
"We're close enough."
As the two sauntered off, they didn't hear they yelp from the alley…
Angua scratched irritably at the silver collar looped around her neck and glared at the hooded man who held a connecting chain an arms length away. The werewolf had a dank, foreboding feeling in the pit of her stomach and she could see the strangely calm and triumphant glee radiating off her captor in a dim wave of green. She growled. Now that she was closer to the man, the scent was all too familiar to her nose and she didn't like this situation at all.
The Patrician lifted his hood. "I thought this would work."
Angua's growl intensified and the Patrician smiled softly.
"Calm yourself, my dear. That's hardly necessary; I have no intention of hurting you. I simply wish to run a proposition by you, but I know you would never listen in any normal situation. Thus, I was forced to rely on such desperate measures. Are you willing to listen?"
Angua wondered how the Patrician could possibly think she would consider even having a choice. She stopped the growls and the Patrician smiled.
"That's what I thought you would say. Now, Miss Angua, listen carefully. If you do me this favor, I'll be willing to do one for you."
So Angua listened as instructed, and by the time he finished she had decided, with slight horror, that the Patrician could never be an evil man, no matter how hard he tried. The problem was that he could not be a good one, either.
The house Angua and Captain Carrot shared wasn't very large, but it had a somewhat homey feel to it. A one story building, the small ground-space was occupied by a kitchen, a few closets, two bedrooms, a bathroom, and one cramped little room where Angua and Carrot kept a sort of couch, a bookcase, and an assorted collection of maps, weapons, and chew toys. Not that the maps and weapons were ever needed, really. Carrot relied on his short sword as a weapon for the most part, although very few people were willing to pick a fight with the innocent bulge that was Carrot in the first place. Likewise, Angua used her short sword as well, although she preferred to use tooth and nail as necessary. Well, tooth and claw on some occasions. Carrot knew the city better than any map did, and since Angua was most often with him, the knowledge of the city was also rubbing off on her.
As Angua walked into the house, still in her wolf form, she sniffed around. With the silver collar removed from her neck, Angua was much less irritable, but the indignity of the Patrician's words made the slight pain in her right forepaw seem like nothing.
Carrot's familiar scent led her to the door outside his bedroom, where she paused and vaguely smiled, in whatever way a wolf can do so. The poor boy had been so indignant when Vimes had ordered him to take the night off, but he admired Vimes so much and he was so obedient that really Carrot had no choice but to do as he had been asked. Carrot loved the city and he loved his job; it never occurred to him that he was trying a little bit too hard to protect Ankh-Morpork. Vimes had even complained that Carrot was doing his job well enough to put him out of a job- no one wanted to mess with Captain Carrot.
Except, Angua realized, the Patrician. Of course, the Patrician had a tendency to mess with everybody.
Angua nudged the door open with her nose and took in the room. Carrot's bedroom wasn't much to look at; just four plain walls with three roughly sketched maps posted on them- one of a mine, one of Ankh-Morpork, and one of some city Angua had never heard of before. In one corner, by the door, was Carrot's bed, and under the window, strategically placed to take full advantage of the light, was Carrot's writing desk. And, at the moment, Carrot was hunched over the desk, a pencil in hand as he carefully wrote a word down on paper. He looked over at Angua when the door hinges creaked.
"You're back early," he observed with a smile.
Angua's head nodded silently. Carrot turned his head away politely as she started to shed her canine form and wrapped herself in his bed sheet. The bed sheet was a little distracting because it smelled so much like Carrot, but she ignored it as she belatedly realized that she could have just stopped in her own room to change and dress. But Carrot didn't mind, she knew, and the Patrician had been very specific about his directions for her.
"You can look now," Angua said as she sat on his creaky bed, clutching the bed sheet to her. The springs went groink. "I'm decent enough. Human, in any case."
"That's good." Carrot turned to face her, smiling widely. His eyes gleamed, and it struck Angua- not for the first time- that those eyes of his could capture a person's attention better than almost anything else Angua had ever seen. "How was patrol?"
Angua hesitated. "The usual. Nobby and Sergeant Colon went out with me. There wasn't much to do."
Carrot nodded. "I didn't think there would be. There hasn't been much trouble for a long while, except for a few minor offenses. I need to talk to Dibbler about the way he's been advertising lately."
"I can see how posting fliers over street signs could be a problem. I heard Colon mention that he had wandered into the shades a few nights back."
"Mmhm." Carrot turned back to his writing desk and picked up his pencil. Angua watched.
"Are you writing to your parents?"
"Mmhm. How do you spell secretlyness?"
"I don't. Try secrecy." Angua paused. "Carrot?"
The muscled dwarf by adoption didn't cease his writing. The birthmark on his arm, left uncovered since he was only wearing a short-sleeved vest without his chain mail and armor, moved a bit with the muscle underneath it. Angua swallowed. "Yes?"
"I've got a question for you."
"All right." Carrot stopped writing and turned to face her again. "What is it?"
"If Ankh-Morpork needed a king- really really needed a king, I mean- on the throne, what would you do about it?"
Carrot blinked at her. "Commander Vimes says that a king is a-"
"I know what Vimes says! What do you say?"
He considered this for a moment, his wide face screwing up as he thought. He stood up and frowned. Finally, he shrugged. "I suppose it's like I told Lord Vetrinari a few months ago. A king is really only necessary at times of certain danger. The rest of the time he just kind of stays on his throne and watches things go by him. A bit like a Watchman, at times. We just ring our bells and say that all is well, provided that all is well, of course. That's all." He sat next to her on the bed and the springs went groink grink creak.
Angua shifted in her spot. "Some people think that the heir to the throne is already in Ankh-Morpork."
"Maybe." Carrot didn't say anything else, so Angua prodded him further.
"What do you think about it?"
"If he is here, then he'd be best to stay quiet, wherever he is. The city doesn't need a king right now."
"And when it does?"
"Then he should take charge of the situation as is in his nature to do. Become a leader. But when his job is done, he should go back to the place where he was before and stay firmly put."
Angua nodded. That made sense. "What if you were king, Carrot? What would you do?"
"If I were king?" He frowned at her. "I'd quit being a king and join the watch, all over again, that's what I'd do. A king is like a watchman, in any case, and a good watchman knows to stay out of the way and not to hang around once his job is done with." He smiled at her. "You should go get dressed and take some sleep while you have the chance."
"All right." Exchanging a smile, Angua left.
It wasn't until later that Angua realized that Carrot had never answered her original question; the one the Patrician had told her to ask. She smiled, wrapping herself in the blankets of her bed and laying the blanket she had stolen from Carrot at the foot of the bed, where he could retrieve it later. Carrot was simple, but being simple definitely didn't mean he was stupid. The Patrician could keep his lousy "certificate of humanity" for himself; he'd need it. Angua wasn't about to go back in there and tell Carrot that Lord Vetrinari thought he was important to political matters.
Besides, when Carrot was around, Ankh-Morpork didn't need a king.
Yup, that's it. Sorry. ^_^ I know it wasn't very good, but hey, I tried. The idea came to me one day after I read Men At Arms, and I had to find out if it would work on paper. It did, but I didn't like it as much as I thought I would. Argh… Well, if you liked it, go ahead and click on the review button. And if you didn't like it… Well, go ahead and click on the review button. Constructive criticism is adored until the parts fall off and flames provide something to roast marshmallows with. ^_^