Ruby is a modern troll. She wants more than just the traditional courtship ritual of getting hit on the head with a rock and Detritus will give her anything to prove his love. He makes a promise to bring her a beautiful rock every day. He shows devotion that extends long after marriage and love that endures through his entire life.
" He'd gone down to the beach and found a rock. But not any old rock. He'd searched carefully, and found a large sea-smoothed one with veins of pink and white quartz. Girls liked that sort of thing. "
Terry Pratchett (Moving Pictures)
In the drizzly streets of Ankh-Morpork there was a bar and in that bar there was a troll and to Detritus she was the most beautiful troll in the world. His heart soared at the sight of her rocky body dancing on that stage. Her voice echoed like a bear in an ancient cavern. Ruby was dazzling and for the time being she was Detritus' girlfriend. She was also the disc's first troll feminist.
"You have to do things right. You have to court me," said Ruby. The show was over and something in her silicon brain told her that it wasn't.
"What should I do?" asked Detritus.
"I… I want… um."
Trolls were not known for being romantic but Ruby knew there had to be a change. All of the human courtship rituals seemed to have backfired on Ruby. She wanted something better and new but still uniquely trollish. It couldn't be just a gift. There had to be a promise.
"I want rocks," she said.
"No, not just rocks, you have to give me only the best rocks like the one you…" Ruby blushed. The memory was sweet even if it hadn't gone so well. "When you hit me over the head, back then, you used the most beautiful rock. I want rocks like that."
"But that was when we were in Holy Wood. The whole place is covered in sand now," said Detritus. "I'll never find it."
"That's okay. I didn't really like that one anyway," Ruby lied. "I want a new rock from you every day. I want only the best you can find. They have to be rocks not stones and rock shaped but not quite rock shaped. Well, maybe rock shaped but definitely not stony. Pebbles are only good if they're rocky. I want rock sized rocks that aren't too much like rocks."
The human language is severely lacking in words for rocks.
"Should I hit you with a rock each day too?" asked Detritus uncertainly.
Ruby still wasn't quite sure what she wanted, but hitting your intended over the head with a rock was very traditional. On the other hand, everything she was doing was going against tradition. That was kind of the point.
"Um… no, I mean yes. You should hit me … but you have to do it romantically."
"How do I do that? I've only ever hit someone the same way."
"That—that's why it's important!" she shouted. Trolls don't improvise well so they make up for it by being loud. "I don't want to get hit just like anyone else. I want to be special, a special rock for a special troll in a special way."
"Oh… but what are you going to do with all the rocks?" asked Detritus.
"I'm um, I'm going to keep them."
"You're not going to eat them?"
"I'll put them somewhere so I will have special rocks from you."
She said it in a way that it should be obvious to any cultured troll. Detritus was suddenly very nervous. He had never been a very refined troll. It wasn't long ago that he was chained to the wall of a pub like a cross between a bouncer and a guard dog. City life was still confusing to him. Suddenly everything was very complicated and the heat made his thoughts muddled. Things were so much simpler back in the mountains.
"You're going to keep them?" he said timidly. "But what if they're not good? You'll have a bad rock."
"If they're not good enough then you're a bad rock," said Ruby turning her back on him.
Detritus crumbled anxiously. The prospect of having something permanent was a new idea to him. Trolls don't really care about property, territory yes, but not property. The dwarfish love of hoarding never made any sense to him.
"But if you keep the rock then you'll have to carry it around with you or it could get stolen," said Detritus.
"Can you really be that stupid?" said Ruby glaring at him.
Detritus started to panic. If he need a place to put things he just put them on the floor, but that wasn't good enough for a lady like Ruby. She should have a grand cave like the posh trolls in the mountains. There had to be stalagmites and maybe even bats. A troll with bats in his cave was so knobby that they didn't even bother eating them.
"I uh… but there aren't any caves in Ankh-Morpork," said Detritus.
"A house maybe?" said Ruby impatiently.
"No way, that's not good enough! It's just not right!"
Detritus was an idiot even by troll standards. He could also be a bit too traditional at times. Ruby held his hand as tenderly as a troll can.
"These are modern times," she said sweetly. "You have to adapt. Houses are trendy right now. You don't want me to look uncultured do you?"
"You have more culture than anyone! I will get you a house with lots of room to put all your culture. No one will say my Ruby's uncultured."
Detritus had rented out a small stone building around Quarry Lane. And by 'rented out' he meant evicted the previous tenants in a uniquely troll-like way. It was built flush to an ancient wall that had years ago surrounded the city. It was a house that looked as much like a cave as he could find. Ruby wasn't at all happy.
"You can't just steal a house, you dumb rock! You have to pay for it!" Even as she voiced her dissent Ruby started making herself comfortable. "That's crime. No proper troll would steal things."
Ruby shoved a large wooden table out a gaping hole in the wall. The roof was still intact but the interior had seen better days.
"Oh it has a cellar too." Ruby said happily. "This is nice."
Ruby smiled at Detritus and hugged him awkwardly. It wasn't exactly a gesture that translated well to the hard rocky bodies of trolls.
"It's beautiful. I can keep many things here, many things that you give me." Ruby said gleefully. "But that doesn't mean I'll let you get away with stealing. When those people come back you have to pay them."
"But I don't have any money," said Detritus.
"Then you better get some money or you'll be a bad troll."
"Can I steal the money?"
"No! You have to get a job. You want get married, you get a proper job, I'm not gonna marry a troll what people say, that no good troll, he's thick as a short plank of wood."
So Detritus got a job. Then he was fired and got another job which ended on an embarrassingly sour note. He got another job then another. Unfortunately most of his employers were disinclined to write a letter of recommendation so Detritus had to stick with entry level thug work. It wasn't great, but at least they paid him most of the time. Detritus usually gave his earnings to Ruby and every day he found her a new rock.
The rocks were amazing, each one beautiful in a different way. The first rock had been enormous and now sat outside the house covering the hole in the wall. Ruby had to explain to him the restrictions of dimension.
In time, Detritus got a job on the Night Watch. They even gave him a new name to add to his old one. He was now Lance-Constable Detritus. He rather enjoyed having two names. It was like being a spy.
The first day on the job made Detritus' world explode with color. He made friends with a dwarf named Cuddy. It was an accomplishment that defied centuries of interspecies hatred. He learned to count and got shot at. He got stuck in the Pork Futures warehouse and almost froze to death. He fell into a sewer, found a dead body, and got a bitchin' new crossbow. Lance-Constable Cuddy even made him a cooling helmet to help clear his thoughts. He was a really good friend even if he was a grit sucking dwarf.
The next day Lance-Constable Cuddy died.
It was a curious thing. Detritus had been brought up his whole life to hate dwarves and he still hated them, but Cuddy wasn't a dwarf. He was a watchman. Detritus had wanted to learn more from him but the world doesn't always turn out so nicely. After Mr. Vimes' wedding Detritus went back to the watch house and stared at his new helmet. Before he met Ruby, he wouldn't have bothered keeping sentimental things, but now he understood why she wanted to keep the rocks that he gave her.