The Abbot was still a young man – about six years old, on this particular cycle – but he had already regained his booming voice. Or at least, it would be booming when it broke. For now, 'strident' was probably the politest way to describe it. Lu-Tze the Sweeper hurried through the door into the Mandala hall and stopped dead. There weren't many things that could halt Lu-Tze in his tracks, but the pattern still forming in the sand was one of them.
"Lancre again?" he asked, his worried eyes finding the Abbot's face.
The other monk shrugged. "Similar," he agreed. "But the location...?"
Lu-Tze studied the pattern – stable now, even beginning to fade. After a long silence, he checked no-one else was present, and admitted, "I don't know."
"Can you find out?"
The Sweeper shook his head slowly. "It is written, 'I'm stumped'. It looks like it's everywhere – or nowhere – or both."
The Abbot of the History Monks nodded. "Then... your protégé?"
Lu-Tze looked startled. "The boy? I wouldn't begin to know how to reach him."
"I see." The Abbot's mouth set in a thin line. "Then you cannot help?"
"... well, I do have one idea," Lu-Tze admitted, glancing towards the door. "But I'll have to persuade Qu to let me into his kitchen again..."
High on the peak of Cori Celesti, Holy and Sacred Anoia, goddess of things which stick in drawers, shifted her cigarette from one side of Her mouth to the other and raised an eyebrow. "Well, that was new," She admitted to no-one in particular. "I can't recall anyone ever rattling an exploding drawer before. What's up?"
She seemed to listen to an inaudible voice, then frowned. "Tricky," She mused. "I don't know him personally... or anyone who does." She blew out a ring of smoke and tucked the cigarette behind her ear. "There was this one bloke, though... all right, leave it with me." Humming softly to herself, she walked briskly towards the Great Hall.
Beside Bilious, Violet rolled over sleepily. "Wha'?" she mumbled. Bilious clutched at his head.
"I thought this was over... argh, all right, all right, I'm listening."
Rubbing sleep from her eyes, Violet sat up and looked at him. "What is it?" she asked, her face creasing with concern. "Your head?" But Bilious wasn't listening. Wincing, he nodded a few times – then collapsed onto the pillow, his face a mingled mask of pain and relief. Violet touched a hand to his forehead and gasped. "You're burning up!"
"It's all right," the (former) Oh God of Hangovers said, waving her hand away weakly. "He's gone."
"He who? Gone how?"
"Io. Wanted me to pass on a message... where's Banjo?"
Susan Sto Helit checked her hair one last time, brushed some possibly-imaginary dust off her skirt, and stopped her clock. Usually she did this by snapping her fingers, but this time she broke with tradition and just blocked the second hand with her thumb. The strip of wood shuddered against her skin, emitting sad little ticks as it tried desperately to keep track of time.
"That hurts, you know," a voice said, and a haze of blue light descended on the room. Susan smiled and moved her finger as a familiar figure coalesced.
"Hello, Lobsang," she said. "How's time?"
"Mostly still going," the anthropomorphic personification of Time said with a shrug. "Is this just a social call, then?"
Susan's lip twitched. "I had a visit from the rat," she admitted. Lobsang raised an eyebrow.
"What's gone horribly wrong now?"
"I don't know," Susan said. "He brought a message from Old Man Trouble, who got it from the Scissor Man, who got it from the Tooth Fairy... anyway, long story short, Lu-Tze has a question for you."
Lobsang frowned. "Go on."
"He wants to ask you, Who skipped forward?"
Lobsang stared at her for a long, tense moment, then burst out laughing. Susan folded her arms and watched him until he stopped and grinned at her. "Sorry. But honestly, Miss Susan, you're going to love the answer to this one."
And high above Llamedos, where white-robed druids practice less-than-serene rites under perpetual cloud, a patch of sky that was far more solid than usual was filled with babbling voices..
"All right, settle down," came a command above the racket. The voices grew hushed – but not quite enough. "I said, quiet!" the voice shouted, and there came the sound of something being thrown – something rather more lethal than the usual chalk or board eraser. Silence fell with the tink of metal on stone.
"Excellent. Now then, class, your first lesson today is on underused plot elements, their importance, and correct usage. Pens out, everyone..."
It had taken a five year timeslip to make it happen, but OFUDisc was back in session. It was going to be a year to remember.
Disclaimer: All Discworld canon characters and locations are the creations of Sir Terry Pratchett. The Official Fanfiction University concept is the creation of Miss Cam. All details of (and mistakes in) plot, narrative and dialogue are mine. Thanks to the Irish Samauri for betaing.
Author's Note: Eight years ago, or five in-universe years, I started writing the original Official Fanfiction University of Discworld. Four chapters in, it was deleted from for being interactive.
This is the reboot, or perhaps the continuation. This story is emphatically not interactive. You cannot apply to OFUDisc. Applications closed eight years ago.
That being said... I hope you have as much fun reading this as I did writing it. I realise that's a cliché, but in this case it happens to be true.