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sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-09 08:56 am

A Room Vith A View; PG-13. Vetinari/Margolotta

Note: This comes before "The Fire" in my own fanfictional timeline, and thus occurs sometime after Equal Rites.
Summary: Vetinari and Margolotta's first meeting is educational for them both.
Warnings: None.

Also available at AO3.

"Hmm? Oh, she was a very...unusual lady but, alas, rather older than me," said Vetinari. "Much older, I have to say. But it was a long time ago. Life teaches us its small lessons and we move on." -- The Fifth Elephant


It is very hard to surprise an Igor.

One reason for this is that, while any individual Igor might be old or young, the parts he is made of might be antique, or so new that the shine* has barely worn off. Some organs, handed down through the years, could be quite old. Even if you hadn't seen everything, your eyes had.

* Or, as Igors were wont to say, the glisten**.
** Well. The glithen, actually.

Another is that, generally, they take jobs with certain expectations. Igors are great fans of The Way Things Are Done. After all, it worked, didn't it? An Igor almost always survived the waving pitchforks or sudden shaft of sunlight. And in Uberwald -- at least, this Uberwald -- their employers stuck to certain conventions. 'Zer Castle' (crash of lightning) was always well marked and, as Otto Chriek liked to say, not all of zem scream.

Otto had, in fact, just left zer castle. He'd been up to lend a book to milady, and had stayed for -- ahem -- dinner, but then it began to rain really rather hard, and Otto did so like a good gothic carriage ride in the rain.

When the deep,resonant iron door-knocker was thumped hard on the old oak door, Igor thought that the vampire had probably left something behind. When he opened it, his hearts nearly failed.

"Stay right where you are. Our carriage is broken down but I'm not having any of this children-of-the-night rubbish, and I'm quite well armed," said a tall, youngish man sharply. He was drenched, black hair plastered to his scalp, coat hanging off of bony shoulders. One hand was extended in a warning gesture.

Igor, recovering from the initial shock, blinked owlishly.

"All I need is a spanner," the man continued. "If you do not have a spanner, a sledgehammer will be sufficient."

"Thall I thee if Mithtreth ith in?" Igor asked hopefully. This was not according to the script.

"Does Mistress have a spanner?" the young man asked.

"We have roomth for the night, if you are tired travelerth in thearch of thuccor," Igor continued.

"None of that now!" the man said sharply. "I know all about Uberwaldean hospitality. I don't want any trouble. I merely want some tools to repair the carriage with."

"It'th raining out. Do come inthide."


They stared at each other for a moment. There was an impatient noise from behind the young man.

"It's pissing down, Havelock. Can't hurt to go in. Just for a few minutes," a whining, nasal voice said. A second young man emerged from the damp gloom. "Charles Selachii," he said, holding out his hand before he'd fully seen who he was speaking to. Igor regarded it professionally.

"Oh yeth. Quite nithe fingerth," he said. "Good writht boneth, too."

"Gods give me strength," the dark-haired young man -- apparently called Havelock -- murmured. "Have you learned nothing about Uberwald, Selachii?"

"I know this is a nice warm castle and you're being a stubborn fool," Selachii replied. Havelock favored him with an icy scowl. Igor could now see a huddle of people behind the two men; four more, at least. Havelock turned back to Igor.

"Look, do you have the spanner or don't you?" he asked.

"I don't think we do, thur. Perhapth the gardener doeth, but he'th -- "

"Away for the week-end? How convenient. Fine, fine. Go on ahead, Charles. The rest of you too," Havelock said with a sigh. "I'll straighten things out."

"I don't see who died and made you Patrician," Selachii said. "I'm the eldest."

"And I am the one who did not burst into tears because we were stranded in the middle of nowhere with a broken cart-wheel," Havelock replied calmly. "Do watch your step, Alice."

This to a horse-faced young woman who gaped, touched her breast theatrically, and nearly fainted when she saw Igor.

"What is it?" one of the others asked.

"Igor, madam," Igor replied calmly. "I'll fetch the mithtreth. Thith way, gentlemen, ladieth."


What a crew, Havelock thought to himself, as the others shed their coats and began to spread out around the tastefully decorated drawing room. Well, not really 'spread out'; more like 'hunch up'. The women settled on the couch in front of the fireplace, where a small flame crackled merrily; the men took up nonchalant posts on either side of it, leaning on the mantle, trying to pretend they weren't just as desperate for the warmth.

Havelock preferred to stay by the bookcase, across the room. He had seen copper piping running up the outside of the castle as they trooped up to it and assumed, correctly, that this meant that the rooms were heated centrally by thermal springs underneath it. He had found the warm draft and was now standing in it, drying quickly.

Of all the people Aunt Roberta could have picked for him to travel with, he wondered why she'd picked these five. Charles Selachii was supposed to be the chaperone on their Grand Sneer, but he was causing more trouble than he was worth, since he tended to assume that Foreign equals Stupid and liked to steal the towels from their lodgings. Havelock knew that there was no bigger petty criminal than a rich young man, but this was taking things a bit far.

Cyril de Worde was an arrogant, speciesist bastard who was taking the 'sneer' part of their tour rather seriously. Alice Venturi and Sara* Selachii were on opposite sides of an inter-family feud, and therefore took every opportunity to be coldly polite to each other. Sybil Ramkin wasn't too bad, as people went, but Havelock couldn't look at her without being reminded of the moment when old Lord Ramkin pulled him aside and offered to murder him painfully if any harm came to his little girl. Harm, according to Ramkin, included the attentions of That Bastard Selachii or de Worde The Weasel. Apparently, Havelock was the least of the three evils.

* There's always a Sara. Nobody really knows why.

It couldn't be more than a mile to Bonk, where they were supposed to lodge for the night with Serafine von Uberwald and her new husband, the Baron. The girls had been at school with Serafine, and apparently Cyril had courted her until he found out she was a werewolf. Havelock could not wait for the experience of dinner with the Baron.

If they ever got out of this castle.

He took down one of the books and opened it, searching for information. Near the fire, the others made quiet conversation. He saw that dependable, sensible Sybil had hung her coat by the fire, instead of tossing it on the coat-rack like the others.

He didn't move when Igor suddenly stood at his elbow; it was more difficult than one might think. Igors prided themselves on their ability to appear suddenly from nowhere.

"Tea, thurs and madamth?" Igor asked, passing him and setting a tray down near the others. "I can provide bithcuitth. There ith brandy, if you prefer, or Uberwaldian vodka."

"What's in that, then?" Selachii asked.

"Grains," Igor replied. "Mothtly."

"I could go a spot of brandy," Selachii said thoughtfully, pouring from the decanter on Igor's tray once he'd served the women with tea. "Cyril? Havelock?"

"None for me, thank you," Havelock answered. He put the book away and joined the others around the fire.

Cyril was looking in fascinated disgust at Igor. At least he had better sense than to speak; Charles would have asked 'what are you?', as his sister Sara had, but Cyril merely stared. Le mot juste was the de Worde motto; 'the right word in the right place' was how Cyril translated it, choosing circumspection over inquiry.

Havelock, who had done rather better in languages than Cyril, thought it ironic that the real translation referred to fairness in no small way.

"Mithtreth will be down thortly," Igor said. When he pronounced 'Mithtreth', there was a flash of lightning through the windows. High, small windows, Havelock noticed, with heavy curtains, easily drawn.

"I say, these biscuits are rather good," Alice announced. "Do try one, Havelock."

Alice was looking for a potential husband, and she'd apparently settled on him until something better came along. Havelock gave her a withering stare. It was a good stare, one he'd practiced on several Ankh- Morpork street cats. He was only really getting into it when there was a discreet cough from the direction of the hallway.

The Mistress of the castle was still many years from beetotalism and the grandmotherly getup which it inspired. Now she stood, tall and pale and beautiful, in the doorway. She had long dark hair, braided elegantly, and her dress was...well, calling it 'revealing' would have cheapened the experience, but Cyril could have told you that 'respectable' was definitely not the mot juste. It was the way the deep black fabric clung to her hips. And other parts.

"Good evening," she said, inclining her head regally as the women rose to curtsey, and the men bowed. Her Morporkian was excellent. "I apologise I could not greet you sooner. I am -- "

"Lady Margolotta Amaya Katerina Assumpta Crassina von Uberwald," Havelock said. "In the short form. I believe."

The Mistress -- as well as the rest of the castaways -- regarded him curiously.

"I prefer simply 'Lady Margolotta'," she said. "So much more elegant. And you are...?"

"Havelock Vetinari."

"Vot an unusual name."

Havelock raised an eyebrow. "It's ancestral."

"No doubt. Vill you introduce me then, Havelock Vetinari, to your travelink companions?"

"Charles Selachii and Cyril de Worde, you see there; Charles' sister Sara, Sybil Ramkin, and Alice Venturi," he said. Alice would take issue with being last, but he would deal with that later.

"You muszt be from Ankh-Morpork," Lady Margolotta said with a smile. Havelock noticed she didn't show her teeth. "Travelers on the Grand Sneer, perhaps?"

"Only our carriage broke down, and the driver ran off -- " Alice began. Lady Margolotta held up a hand.

"Yes, I have heard this story before. Many times, I have told Igor to patch zer hole in zer road, but vot can you do? It's this blasted rain ve get," she said. Havelock detected the touch of a master liar. "Ve are vell used to bedraggled visitors, here at zer castle. I am sure that even as ve speak, Igor is preparing rooms for you all."

"That won't be necessary," said Havelock sharply. "If you can provide us with -- "

"Do lay off the spanner, Havelock," Cyril said. "I for one don't want to troop back down to the carriage in the rain. Besides, it's not as though it's ours. And hard luck to the driver, if he runs off at the first little sign of trouble, he doesn't deserve to keep it."

"Our luggage is down there," Sybil pointed out.

"Igor has dispatched a man to fetch it," Margolotta said smoothly. "He iz such a treasure. I think you should listen to your friends, Mister Vetinari."

Havelock was a smart enough man to know when to retire gracefully. He looked to the women; Sara and Alice -- and Charles, for that matter -- looked frightened. Sybil's jaw was set, but he could see that she was indecisive. Cyril was watching him.

"We will reimburse you for the expense," he said finally. "Regular inn rates."

Margolotta smiled. "I vouldn't dream of taking your money," she said. Havelock lowered his voice so that the others, several feet away, couldn't hear.

"What exactly would you dream of taking?" he asked.

Margolotta laughed. "You are a joker, Mister Vetinari! I treasure a person who can make me laugh. Come in to dinner."

Havelock thought that the invitation could have been phrased better. He caught Sybil's arm as she passed. The others continued on, led by Lady Margolotta, who was explaining the origin of some object d'art in the hallway.

"Sybil, I want you to keep an eye on the other two," he said, in an urgent, low voice. "If we stay here tonight, she's going to put the women in one wing and the men in another. You keep an eye on Alice and Sara, all right?"

"Yes, of course, but..." Sybil was a woman who believed the best of everyone. He'd nearly forgotten.

"Let's just say I don't trust her ladyship. Please, Sybil."

"All right, Havelock. Don't worry so much," she said. "Besides, I think you've scared her. How'd you know her name?"

"She's got bookplates," he said. Sybil stifled a laugh.


The meal was obviously assembled in haste, from what happened to be about. There was sclott, which seemed to be bread, and elderly butter; a strange sort of soup with sausages in it; cold mutton, and liver, served by Igor, which nobody touched.

Lady Margolotta was a good hostess, as far as entertainment went. She kept them talking about themselves, their travels and their home; she urged them to visit several interesting historical sites in Bonk, and offered them the use of her carriage for the trip into town the next day. Havelock kept quiet, picking at his food -- he never ate much, even at home -- and listening to the way Lady Margolotta spoke, rather than what she said.

There was a disturbing frankness about her. She told them exactly what they thought she was thinking. Havelock had seen Guild masters at school pull this trick on an errant student before. He'd never seen it done with such deftness among adults, however. Youngsters, true, none older than twenty, but the children of nobility, for whom suspicion and mistrust were natural survival traits.

She was charming, and attractive enough -- indeed, there was something about the cut of the dress that made Havelock think unusual thoughts -- but she didn't seem particularly interested in any of them as a snack. Oh, she showed interest, but not the sort Havelock was watching for. Although that could simply mean that she knew he was watching.

No; she was intelligent, and he'd made no secret of his suspicions, but he could tell from the indolence in her conversation that she was not acting for his benefit. She didn't bother to check and see if he was listening, or address specifically disinterested comments to his neighbors.

They might, if they were careful, just get out of this alive.

Havelock was still quite young, and had years of education in politics ahead of him before he would assume the Patricianship. Despite his considerable intellect, it did not occur to him that she was ignoring his companions because her interests lay elsewhere.

After the meal, they returned to the drawing room, taking up various entertainments to put off the moment of going upstairs and facing the possibility of sleeping in the same house as an Igor. Cyril and Selachii became involved in a chess game, using a carved antique set that Margolotta provided; Alice and Sybil were keeping travel journals. Sara watched the chess game languidly, while Havelock watched Margolotta, under the guise of exploring the volumes in the bookcase.

He was also calculating how long he could have toyed with Cyril before defeating him utterly at chess, but this did not take much thought; Cyril had provided endless hours of this sort of entertainment in the past, fumbling through the game like a wizard trying to undo a brassiere*. The challenge was not to defeat your opponent, which was easy, but confuse him into defeating himself. Perhaps when Cyril had beaten Selachii, in, six now...all right, yes, good man, de Worde, only two moves to go.

* Someone else's, of course. And not that a wizard would do, or rather undo, that sort of thing; everyone knew that wizards were celibate. My word, yes.

He wondered what it would be like to play chess with the Lady Margolotta. What happened if you got a vampire who was a sore loser?

The chess set didn't have white pieces. They were pale wood, stained red.

Maybe that.

He applied himself, as his mother had taught him, to the intellectual exercise of Discovering the Levers, a game which had most put out his father, a rather fun-loving man who thought young Havelock ought to play more rugby. It wasn't that Havelock didn't enjoy rugby (though he didn't); it was just that he was a small, slim boy, destined to forever be smaller and slimmer than many of his companions who had sacrificed brainpower for an absurd amount of muscle.

The Assassins' Guild had given Havelock all the physical strength he needed, as an agile climber and fighter. It had not done too terribly much to further his education. He'd been forced to do that himself. Discovering The Levers was a great help, in that regard.

Give me a lever and a solid place to stand, said the philosopher Legibus, and I can move the world.

Vetinari preferred the version he'd read in the Omnian Book of Brutha, which quoted a man named Simony as saying: give me a lever and a place to stand, and I'd smash that place like an egg.

The game was quite simple. Consider what you knew about the person in question, and consider where and in what fashion you would apply pressure in a way that moved the subject in the desired direction. It was people -- wonderfully complicated, brutal, intelligent, reasoning people -- which made the game fun. People do not have one motivation at a time; they are constantly assaulted by their own conflicting desires and insecurities. So not only do you have to find the right combination of influences, but you must have a care not to accidentally ram one lever into another, snapping both off and possibly resulting in grievous bodily harm.

What were Lady Margolotta's levers?

She was a vampire. Obviously, sunlight, religious symbols -- garlic? -- and blood.

She was a noble woman. She almost surely subscribed to the Assassins' Guild credo that required the victim to be given a fighting chance.

She liked her books; they were well-used, and had nameplates in. She had suggested, and was now watching, the chess game. Young men?

Of course, young men. She's a vampire.

She's a woman.

Yes. Indubitably, a woman.

So, if Sybil held up her end of the bargain, the ladies need not worry. That was something.

Vetinari allowed himself the brief luxury of pleasure in the thought of Cyril de Worde and Charles Selachii, killed by a vampire. Alas, however, though he was an Assassin, he was averse to unnecessary death, and he was responsible for these people.

Another short pleasure, in the rebellious thought. Why must I be responsible? Why does it fall to me?

Because you're competent, of course,
came the immediate reprimand.

And that was the end of that.

He caught Margolotta looking at him, and nodded at her, over the book. Cyril hadn't yet noticed that he was two moves away from checkmate.

"You are a great reader, Mister Vetinari?" she asked. "I shall send a book onvard vith you. No, it is my pleasure; books should be shared. But you must let me szelect vhich von you take."

"I would not dream of taking anything more from you, your Ladyship," he said shortly. "The meal and shelter are quite enough of a debt."

Lady Margolotta drew closer. Attuned as Assassins were to the different shades of the dark spectrum, he could see red highlights in her black hair.

"Zer payment need not be prompt," she said quietly. Havelock felt the book pulled from his nerveless fingers. He had never been so close to a woman so enthralling.

A glamour. It must be. But that was faeries, wasn't it?

Did it matter? She was doing it to everyone. As long as he kept his wits about him, he'd be fine.

"And of course, it is not always odious, repaying a debt."

Find the levers, he thought frantically. Find the levers --

"Indeed. There is a satisfaction in having a clean slate," he heard himself say. "To go on one's way with the knowledge that one has done all the good one can do."

Margolotta looked at him in surprise. "Is zat so? I had no idea Ankh-Morpork raised such virtuous young men."

"Well, there is virtue, and there is honesty. The two are sometimes mutually exclusive, I've found. Which do you favor, Ladyship?"

Now she was outright shocked, and a little inner Havelock, the one who felt everything that a Vetinari didn't show outwardly, grinned.

"I favor truth, in votever light you may see it," she said slowly.

Havelock Vetinari, 1; Her Ladyship has yet to score.

"Ah yes. Subjectivity. Cyril's very interested in truth, aren't you, Cyril?" he asked. Cyril held up a finger, finally checkmated Selachii, and turned in his seat.

"I'm a student of truth," Cyril said. "I don't believe in lies. Even the sort we tell every day -- you know, the harmless ones."

"Telling your aunt how much you like the birthday present," Havelock prompted.

"Yes. Or making up excuses. That's even worse, you see. Because it's trying to make lies interesting. A lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on, you know," he added. Selachii rolled his eyes, and began re-setting the chessboard. "I believe that humanity can only advance if the utmost truth is told on every occasion."

"Vell, zere are of course those of us who believe humanity's advancement may not be all it's cracked up to be," Margolotta said. Cyril stared at her.

Havelock Vetinari, 2, Ladyship 0; a brilliant stroke, bringing a civilian into the game like that. The lad's in good form.

Don't get cocky, Havelock.

"Sybil, what do you think?" Havelock asked. Sybil looked up from her journal.

"About what?"


"Dragons," she said succinctly. Everyone looked at her.

"Dragons, Sybil?" Cyril asked.

"Yes. When you breed for show quality in dragons, you see, you can't be concerned about everything. You have to go slowly. You breed out a tendency towards floppy ears, and then you breed out the, well, the nerves -- otherwise they explode all the time. Truth's like dragons. You can't force all of it all at once, or it just explodes."

"Bang," said Havelock gravely. "Do you agree, ladyship?"

"I'm afraid I'm not very partial to dragons," Margolotta said. She gave him a sharklike smile.

Hm. The judges say it's fair. Havelock Vetinari, 2; Lady Margolotta, 1.

"No, they're thin-blooded, aren't they?" Havelock asked. Rebound; the score is 3 to 1.

This was better than creaming Cyril at chess. Loads better.

He was moving more carefully now, because Margolotta was beginning to get lost in the conversation; she didn't understand what he was doing, and when that happens, people tend to lash out. Find the lever.

"A moot point, I suppose, at any rate," he continued. If he could scare her into leaving them alone, it would be better for all concerned. "At least when speaking of debt. Cyril and Charlie and I, you know, graduated from a school whose motto is 'No death without payment'. Very big on keeping ledgers, the Assassins."

"Not much on ethics, though," Cyril agreed. Aha, and the civilian takes the field for himself. That was almost a point for you, Cyril. Good lad.

"No. But then, ethics are not traditionally part of the worries of the ruling class. After all, if we do it, it must be all right. Chess, Cyril?" he asked. Cyril yawned.

"No thanks, Havelock, we're too evenly matched. It always takes hours to play. I'm for bed."

The others began to make their excuses as well, and Havelock followed Cyril and Selachii up a creaking set of stairs, to a tower with a rimwards view of the land below Uberwald. Igor'd left a candle in his room.

And the competition is called to a halt on account of darkness. Ball still in play; it's still anybody's game, Ladyship...

He did some few small chores, and then composed himself to read; he customarily retired later than the others. His trunk had been left at the foot of the rather large, ornate, nightmarishly decorated bed, and before he moved it, he retrieved his own book. It wasn't as expensive as some of Lady Margolotta's, but it was newer. 'Thoughts Upon Quite Nearly Everything' by Leonard da Quirm. Vetinari thought he would like to meet Leonard, someday.

He'd broken off a spar from the inside of his trunk, and now laid it on the table where he was reading.

Sometimes a lever is nothing more than a sharp bit of wood.


It was two hours later, nearing midnight, when Havelock looked up from his book. There was a quiet scratching at the window, and a mild curse. He smiled.

Ten minutes afterward, the candle blew out, and one of the wooden panels behind the tapestries which covered the walls gave a very suspicious thump. He had matches in his trunk, but he might as well try to sleep; he marked his place, closed the book, and crossed to the bed. He'd barely settled himself on it when there was a noise like a loose guitar string being plucked, or possibly a spring going awry somewhere in some complicated mechanism.

Finally, there was a knock at the door. He sat up, and tilted his head.

"Come in," he said.

Margolotta opened the door. She was slightly damp; otherwise she seemed perfectly at ease, though he noted a trace of dust on the hem of her dress.

"Zis is not according to zer vay things are done," she said, mildly.

"I'm sorry, I'm foreign, and we seem to have come to a cultural crossroads," he answered. "In the big city, your Ladyship, a gentleman locks his window before he goes to bed at night."

"There vas no lock on zer vindow."

"But there is now," said Havelock. "And my trunk, you will notice, has been stored under the bed. Unfortunately on top of the trap-door, but I'm sure those things aren't in use anymore."

" barbarian Morporkian!" snarled Margolotta.

"Ladyship, please. My companions are asleep nearby, and I'm sure I wouldn't want them to think I had a woman in my room."

"They don't think at all," she snapped.

"Quite. I notice their windows are unlocked, their secret-corridor entrances un-barred by heavy writing desks. Of course, both men will wake tomorrow morning rather surprised to find cloves of garlic in their bedclothes -- it's a little trick of mine."

"You're not supposed to reason about it," she said. "It vouldn't kill you to show a little villing."

"If by 'willing' you mean 'neck', then I beg to differ."

"How old are you, Mister Vetinari?" she asked suddenly. He looked at her.

"How old are you?"

"Old enough to know how zer game is played," answered Margolotta.

"Aha, but are we playing the same game, Ladyship? I'm playing the one where I prevent you from snacking upon my traveling companions. What game are you playing?"

She set her jaw. He nodded.

"I'm nineteen. And it's Lord Vetinari."

"So young, to be so vorld-veary," she said.

Hmmm. Apparently the Ladyship has a secret weapon. The score is three to two, with six hours left before dawn.

"I don't think I've seen enough of the world to be weary of it," said Havelock cautiously. "Though I must say the bits I have seen thus far -- "

"I haff been under zer impression that things vere not as they are," Margolotta continued. "I don't normally get anyvone bright enough to outsmart me, even vhen they think they vant to."

"The bright ones, Ladyship, know how to repair a carriage wheel -- "

He stopped, because she'd held up a hand, and waved it theatrically; a spanner appeared in it. She tossed it on the bed.

"I could have sent you packink," she said. "Igor could easily repair zer carriage. But I thought you vere vone of zer...curious."


"Oh, ve get them all the time. They practically have to back up and run over zer pothole three or four times to break down. Then zer handsome man comes up to zer castle, and ve have our little game. I get vot I vant, and the others have an interesting sztory to tell, and possibly a fun scar."

"People expect this?" Havelock asked. When he was older and wiser, he would look back on this exact moment and, if not laugh, then be really quite amused.

"Yes, yes. But I can see I haff mistaken the case." She moved closer, snapping her fingers. The candle flared to life. "You vould be a match for even a very determined predator, Lord Vetinari."

Havelock felt light-headed. People did this for fun? Trooped through the rain for the chance to be vampire-bait?

She really was a very beautiful woman.

"I think ve could teach each other qvite a lot," Lady Margolotta said. "Nineteen, my vord. You vill be an interesting man."

Ladyship scores! Tie game --

Havelock bridled silently. It wasn't as though he was completely a babe in the woods. He was a qualified Assassin who'd fought in the rebellion not four years ago, and -- well, it was true that technically he'd never had what you might call romance in his life, he was well-versed in the various facades of it required of one by society.

"Were you an interesting woman?" he asked, and saw his bolt hit home. Four to three, but the edge was slipping now.

"Vhat I vas does not concern us. Ve are discussing vot ve are. How did you gain so much power over your companions? And myself? I vant to know. I have never seen anyzing like zat."

He couldn't help himself; it was born-in, this thing. "Power? Any thug has power." He waved a hand, demonstrating with long, pale, precise fingers. "Power is never in short supply. If you don't have it, you can hire it. I closed up all your options, and forced you to knock on my door. That made this my room, and you a visitor here only by my permission. That's not power; it's control."

She regarded him for a moment; she appeared to be thinking entirely new thoughts, which he imagined for a vampire was rather unusual.

"And vot vould it take to lose zat fine sense of control, Lord Havelock Vetinari?" she asked.

"More than you can provide, I'm afraid," he answered, with all the arrogance of the young.

"Is it so?" said Margolotta. "Are you szure?"

Her dress slipped from her shoulders, seemingly of its own accord. It had clung to her hips, but it did not stop now when it reached them.

Ah yes, said a small, detached voice inside him, while the rest of his brain was busily crossing its signals. Aunt told you about this. It's the one thing a woman almost always has over a man, if she chooses to use it.

Score's tied again. The lad's making a valiant effort...

It was weakness, he knew that, he understood that; but in typical Vetinari fashion, he embraced the weakness, made it his own, and gained some little modicum of control back with it.

"I think," he said, as she moved closer to the bed, "You've learned your first lesson, Ladyship."


Vimes's eyes narrowed. "You've met him, haven't you?"
"And taught him all he knows, right?"
She blew smoke down her nostrils and gave him a radiant smile. "I'm sorry? You think I taught him?"
-- The Fifth Elephant


Charlie Selachii was not, by any stretch of the imagination, an observant man, but even he couldn't help notice that Lady Margolotta had a particular affinity for thick, dark curtains. None of the windows in the dining room were open enough to let more than a sliver of light in, and it was obvious that Igor was well-used to the situation.

"I say, couldn't we have some light in here?" he asked, as Igor wheeled several covered dishes into the room. "I think it's probably a nice day out..."

"Mithtreth doethn't believe in thunlight in the morning. Bad for the eyeth," Igor replied. "Will thur have thautageth?"

Selachii wiped his cheek. "Eggs for me, thank you. Good morning, Cyril!"

"Morning, Selachii," came Cyril's surly reply. He was not a morning person. "Is it me, or are the Uberwaldean beds -- "

"Carved by a mad cuckoo-clock maker? I think so."

"Soft beds," sniffed Cyril. "Soft life, up here in the mountains. Wouldn't last five minutes in Ankh-Morpork."

Sybil, who had quietly accepted a plateful of sausages from Igor, noted to herself that there were several areas of Ankh-Morpork where Cyril would not have a terrifically long life-expectancy, either. Alice seemed to be thinking the same thing. Sara was staring vacantly at a point on the wall while she ate; Sara was also not a morning person.

Havelock was nowhere to be seen.

"Good morning, ladies, gentlemen. I hope your night vos restful," said Lady Margolotta, appearing in the doorway.

"The view was..." Sybil pondered how to put it. "There was an awful lot of it," she said finally.

"Yes, von of the advantages of livink on a cliff," Margolotta said graciously. "I'm afraid I have already eaten, but I do hope you vill enjoy your breakfast. I shall see you in the drawing room after breakfast, and ve can arrange for the carriage to take you into Bonk."

"Here, do you know where Havelock's got to?" Selachii called after her. She stopped in the doorway.

"Perhaps he is sleepink in," she said, and vanished into the hallway's shadows.

"Havelock never sleeps in," Selachii said thoughtfully.

"Shouldn't think he ever sleeps," Cyril added.

"Must be the soft Uberwaldean beds," Sybil murmured. Alice shot her a grin.

"Does it occur to you, Cyril, that Havelock's a bit of a nut job?" Selachii asked. Cyril snorted.

"I wouldn't call him a nut job. That would be passing up the perfect opportunity to use the phrase 'marbles-rolling bonkers'."

"I don't think he's insane," Alice said stoutly.

"You wouldn't," Selachii said nastily.

"Now then," Sybil murmured, in gentle remonstration.


Havelock was not sleeping in; Havelock had slept very little, the night before, even without Margolotta's...distractions. At sunrise, he'd left the castle, and walked out to see the countryside. What he saw was, mainly, vertical.

He'd always been good at climbing. It was the one thing at the Guild that he'd truly been passionate about, the one thing where he'd taken his masters seriously and not simply paid lip service while going about the business of learning more on their subjects than they would ever know.

Now he was putting his education to work. True, he'd been an urban edificeer, but really, was there that much difference between the dissolving brickwork of the Tower of Art and the tattery cliffs of Uberwald?

Thin, deft fingers hooked themselves around a rock and he pulled himself up, legs scrambling for purchase on the sheer cliff. There was a ledge, here; you could see almost all the way to Ankh-Morpork. All you had to do was follow the roads which, obeying the landscape, began to distort into straight, direct lines about twenty miles outside the city.

He put his arms around his legs and sat, looking and thinking.

Margolotta was a vampire. Vampires adhered to tradition. She'd made that clear last night. It was expected, in Uberwald, that certain traditions be upheld. Havelock was all in favor of tradition if it contributed to the stability of life; this was simply a silly way to pass the years, playing tourist attraction to curious lads like himself from Ankh-Morpork.

Margolotta told him he was different. He was keenly, bitterly aware of that. He didn't need telling. She'd also told him he was the cleverest man she'd met in centuries, which was something of a compliment, but Havelock was wary of compliments.

Clever. Hah. Clever got you put in charge of five other brats on a trip you didn't want to take, away from the city you loved and missed, so that you could be seduced by a vampiress who thought you were only in it for the thrill in the first place.

She'd been curious, though. About what he thought. He couldn't remember the last time anyone gave two shillings for what Havelock Vetinari thought. Possibly because what he thought would send most people screaming for the comfort of drunken unconsciousness, but that was neither here nor there.

Margolotta was worth spending time on. She fascinated him. A woman like her ought to be able to break free of tradition. With a little tutelage, she could rule this part of Uberwald.

Oh, how arrogant. He was nineteen, what could he have learned in nineteen years that she hadn't learned in two hundred?

A lot, apparently, said a dark little voice inside him. Although he didn't know it yet, it was the voice of the man he was going to be, the Patrician, and it was already growing. He'd learned to listen to it. It was arrogant and manipulative and never, ever wrong.

He could stay here. Margolotta was worth exploration. It would break up the monotony of the trip, and distract him from his companions. He could stay here with her, and they could pick him up on their way out of Bonk. He decided he could live without meeting Serafine von Uberwald and her husband.

Perhaps, he thought idly, remembering the evening before, Margolotta could teach him a few things, too. Wasn't it one of the first Patricians who'd said 'I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught'?*

* Lord Winstan Fabbergat, who learned quite quickly that it doesn't pay to ignore current events, and was taught a new appreciation of the afterlife.

His lips curled upward. Some things he enjoyed being taught.

Most of the common-wisdom that Havelock had learned in life -- it won't get better if you pick it, a stitch in time saves nine, or the ever popular 'because' -- he'd picked up at the Guild, where he'd spent three-quarters of his life. The History Master had been fond of a phrase about this kind of thing: All we can do is sing as we go.

About time he learned how to sing, he supposed.

He could see the others, trooping out to a waiting coach, with Igor perched on top. Margolotta wouldn't see them off, of course. Not in the daylight.

He dropped down over the edge of the cliff, and began the descent back to the castle.


"You're what?" Cyril asked, blinking in the early morning sunlight. Havelock flicked the last little speck of evidence of his climbing expedition off of his sleeve.

"I'm not going to Bonk. I'm going to stay here for a few days," he said, his icy blue eyes daring any of them to object. "Lady Margolotta has an interesting library, and I'd like to learn more about the castle."

"Library," Cyril repeated, in a tone so expressionless that it went through blank implication and out the other side into innuendo. "Oh, of course, the library."

"You've got to pass by Ladyship's castle on your way out of Bonk at any rate. You can pick me up then. It's not as though I'm the chaperone," he added, more for his own reassurance than the others'. He was not afraid of staying at the castle, but he did worry that Selachii might inadvertently get himself killed in Bonk -- possibly by the Baron, who did enjoy playing with his food -- and then Aunt would have Words on the subject with him.

"But you'll miss all the sights," Alice pointed out. "We're going to go to the embassy, and the Chocolate Museum, and meet the Baron -- "

"Sounds tiring," Havelock said with a small smile. "I feel I need a...a break from all this touristing."

The other five exchanged worried looks. Havelock had never taken a break in his life.

"Now look here, Vetinari, I am the chaperone, and I say you've got to come along," said Selachii. "I'm not leaving you in some stranger's castle to make a fool of yourself."

"A fool of myself?" Havelock asked, raising one eyebrow. "How, pray?"

"Well, it's obvious why you're staying!"

"The library? I hardly see how sitting and reading quietly would make me any more a fool than tromping around some back-country village in the hills. Well, I admit, it won't be all reading. I may play a game of chess, if I can stand the excitement."

"Your aunt'll hold me responsible if anything happens to you," Selachii said, as a last desperate appeal.

"Oh, Aunt knows better than to hold you responsible for anything," Havelock replied sweetly. His point flew over every single head*, as he'd intended. "My mind is made up, Charlie. I shall see you in a week. Enjoy yourselves."

* Except maybe Igor's, and then only because of the magnetic metal plate in his.

And with a bow, he began to walk back towards the house. Cyril and Selachii started after him, but didn't go far.

"Let him go, tiresome boy," he heard Sara say. ""He'll only sulk if you make him come along, Charlie."

No, Havelock thought, You would sulk if you were forced to, but I wouldn't. And that's the difference between you and I, Sara Selachii.

Margolotta was in the garden when he found her. Not the outside garden, of course, which was somewhat overgrown, but the garden in the cool, damp basement, where she was growing Black Scolpani in a dark-room and various nocturnal plants in a dim one. Pure, glowing white blossoms bloomed in the darkness. There was only one area that could be seen clearly; a shaft of sunlight fell into one of the planter boxes from a hole in the stone ceiling. A carefully cultivated red tulip grew in the little illuminated box.

Margolotta had changed out of the just-let-me-see-your-neck evening-wear, and into an old tatty jumper and dungarees. She had gardening gloves on, and, ironically, a sun-hat.

"What are they called?" he asked, leaning against the doorframe. She froze, her back to him, in the process of tending one of the plants.

"I thought you vould go vith the others," she said.

"That's a funny name for a flower."

"Szo you are stayink?" she asked, turning and rising. She held one of the white flowers in her hand.

"For a little while. I thought we could be...mutually informative to each other."

"You zink you have a lot to teach me."

"I think we have a lot to teach each other. Don't you? I could name a few places to start."

"Oh yes?"

"Sara Selachii just tried to shame me into going along with them to Bonk, to see some ridiculous museum. But because she aimed for my pride -- "

"And you have no pride?"

"Aha, you see? I have plenty of pride. I have reason to be proud. But I control it, rather than letting it control me. The trick is not to rid yourself of bad habits. Bad habits can be quite useful, but -- " he had to stop talking; she'd kissed him, and it's difficult to talk into someone else's mouth.

"And vot do I have to teach you, Havelock?" she asked, when she was finished. He tried to catch his breath.

"That'd be a good start," he managed. She laughed, and handed him the flower. "Teach me about tradition, Margolotta."

"Vot vould you vant to know about that?"

"How to use it. How to shape it. How it becomes law. Why it's been allowed to rule Uberwald for so many years. Teach me about history."


"Teach me how history changes things. It's difficult to learn, when you've got less than two decades to fall back on."

"Ah yes. I szee," she said. "Vell, don't just sztand there. There's spare gloves in the corner box. Ve vill work as ve talk."

He nodded, and set the brilliant white blossom on the soil, gently.


"It'll end in trouble, my lord," said Ridcully. He'd found it a good general comment in practically any debate. Besides, it was so often true.

Lord Vetinari sighed. "In my experience, practically everything does," he said. "That is the nature of things. All we can do is sing as we go." --The Truth


Extracts: The Patrician's Papers, by Havelock Vetinari, published postumously.
Chapter Two: Dialogues

Editor's note: The contents of chapter two make up apparent dialogues between a young Havelock Vetinari and an older mentor of some kind. Although scholarly research suggests that this may have been a woman from Uberwald with whom Lord Vetinari had an affair -- possibly the 'Dark Lady' mentioned in the dedication -- theories abound as to her identity. It is also a widely-held belief that the dialogues are nothing more than a literary device, intended to educate the reader through debate. Although every other aspect of the manuscript was perfectly edited for publishing, it is obvious that chapter two was only hesitantly included, and has not been thoroughly polished. We can only provide conjecture as to why...

First Extract: From 'Dialogue Upon Society'

Explain to me manners. What are they?

The social conventions ve follow so that ve can communicate. A structure of rituals, yes? Things vhich are expected.

Things without which we are not admitted into polite society.

Vhich is vhere everything vorth doing gets done. Szo control must be relinquished, to some extent.

Yes, but not to any one person. To a social ideal. One must never let oneself be manipulated by what another person thinks of one's manners. Therefore, one must always be better mannered than those one interacts with.

Is that really possible, Havelock?

No, of course not. Achieve perfect manners and we would cease to be human. Plus it would be terribly boring, I imagine.

Rudeness is a human condition?

It is the first human condition. To be rude is to behave as if one was untutored by society. From the Latatian rudis, unwrought, uncivilized. Rudeness is the only natural state. But we do not live naturally. We are tutored by society, whether we like it or not.


Well, do you live in a tree and eat only fruit and raw meat?


And I do not possess a tail. But to return to the matter at hand. It is possible to make the attempt, or to give the impression, of better manners. My companions know this. They act as though they are never wrong, and lo and behold, they never are.

At leaszt in polite society.

Yes. If they were to descend to street level, things might perhaps be different. But they aren't.

Ve must never deal vith things except as they are?



Second Extract: From 'Dialogue upon Desire'

Vot is it that people really vant, Havelock?

If I knew the answer to that, I could rule the world.

Think about it.

Men or women?



That is a young man's answer. Other than that?

Depends on which people.

Not as much as you vould think. Consider vhat social institution has survived longest. Not manners. Before manners. At some point between descending from zer trees and livink in draughty castles on distant cliffs.

I don't know.

Vhen you do know, you vill never vant for purpose. Vhen people look for a leader, vhat does he promise them?

A new regime.

Vhy do they vant a new regime?

Because the old one is wrong.


Unexpected things happen. Things are never safe.

They are unstable.

Yes. Oh. Oh...

You see it now?

Tradition. Tradition is what people want. Of course. Of course. That's why Uberwald never changes. Too much tradition. And Ankh-Morpork lost its tradition when the king lost his head --

They think they vant good government and justice for all, yet vhat is it they really crave, deep in their hearts?

Only that things go on as normal and tomorrow is pretty much like today.

Good boy.


Lady Margolotta didn't have a bed. She had a coffin. It was a nicely-padded coffin with the finest silk lining that money could buy, but it was still a coffin, and it gave Havelock nerves. So they'd agreed that he ought to stay in the high guest room, although he took the lock off the window and unbarred the secret entrance. Margolotta still came in that way, for the look of the thing, but it was acknowledged that this wasn't, strictly speaking, necessary.

Now he lay, staring up at the terrifyingly fancy canopy, arms behind his head, once again...thinking.

Margolotta had asked him about that. She'd caught him staring off into space, waiting for her to make a move in the chess game that'd been going on for three days now, between meals and other activities. She'd asked him why he spent so much time inside his own head. Because there was so much to think about, he'd answered, and she'd seemed satisfied.

He hadn't been. Of all the questions she'd asked him -- both as student and teacher -- in the days since his companions left for Bonk, that one bothered him the most. Obviously not everyone thought like him. As far as he could tell, nobody did. But surely there were others who preferred thoughts to mindless chatter? Margolotta seemed to. This da Quirm fellow, now, he must think a mile a minute. The wizards, too, they spent all their time in the University, that must inspire thought.*

* Which just goes to show that Havelock had a lot to learn about wizards.

The point was, if you stopped thinking, you got into trouble. If you weren't one step ahead of the crowd, what good were you?

It was all right for Selachii and Cyril and Sara and Alice and Sybil not to think, because they seemed to amble through life never really causing trouble, or getting into it, or having to get others out of it. They were constantly on the knife's edge of chaos, as was indeed the entire city of Ankh-Morpork, but it didn't seem to matter to them.

It mattered to Havelock. Perhaps because he saw how easily one little shove could knock everything over. Or perhaps because he had a mind that was always hunting for that little shove, a mind that said it would be so easy to say this and do this and everything will be at your feet.

If I knew the answer to that question, Margolotta, I could rule the world.

And she'd told him! What kind of fool --

Not a fool. No. She was many things, but not a fool.

Igor'd gone into town today. He'd asked about the others. They were nearly done. They'd be here in a few hours to pick him up, and then the newly rented carriage would take them, and him, down past Borogravia and into the valley that led to Genua, where his aunt was waiting for them.

It's too soon. I'm not done yet.

And then a thought so shocking that he froze.

I don't want to leave.

Not leave Uberwald? Not go back to Ankh-Morpork? He couldn't remember a time when he'd thought of the city as anything other than his home. All through the tour, which was a good two months already, he'd thought with longing of going home. He had learned a great deal and seen at least four of the eight wonders of the Disc, but the whole time, while he baited Cyril and ignored Alice and conspired with Sybil, he'd been counting the hours until they were back in Ankh-Morpork.

He slid out of bed, carefully, and glanced back to make sure he hadn't woken Margolotta. She'd be up soon enough anyway.


He wished, not for the first time, that there was one single mirror in this blasted castle. He had no idea if he was shaving his entire face or just bits of it. He sighed, and ambled down to the drawing room.

It was his move at the chessboard. He'd spent the first day -- well, night, really, since Margolotta slept when the daylight was strongest -- the first night of the game testing, circling, trying to understand her strategies. He didn't realize until he was almost asleep that night -- day -- that she was doing the same.

She was a match for him. It was unprecedented in his experience.

Now he picked up one of the bishops and considered it. He liked bishops. They moved obliquely. They had subtlety. Most people, when they look at a checkered board, can only think in straight lines -- up, down, left, right. They tend to forget about bishops.

He touched the square where the bishop had been, and drew a diagonal up the board to one of Margolotta's knights. The bishop clicked when he set it down.

He left it a square away from taking the other piece. Sometimes it is better to show what you could have done, than to actually do it.

Margolotta would notice he'd moved. She always did.

"I cannot bear chess before breakvast."

He blinked. How long had he been standing at the chess board?

Margolotta was standing behind one of the low couches, a wine-glass in her hand. It was tacitly understood that Havelock, being her companion, was not an entree, and so she'd resorted to other methods that he didn't inquire too deeply about.

"Hunger makes you sharp," he said.

"Assassins' Guild saying?"

"Their excuse for small portions in the dining hall."

She came to look at the chess-board, and laughed.

"Very good, Havelock. I like that. It has sztyle."

"We won't finish the game."

"Oh no?"

"I'm leaving in a few hours. Selachii and the rest are coming to get me."

"Sztay here. At least until the game is finished."

He felt her hands on his shoulders, her cheek between his shoulderblades.

"You haven't taught me everything you know," she said quietly.

"Neither have you."

"Pretty vell nearly." He let himself be turned to face her. "Stay until zer game is done. You can follow your friends in a veek or two."

"It wouldn't be fair."

"To whom?"

"Either of us. I'd play for a draw."

"Vould that be so bad?"

"I never play for draws, Margolotta. If I don't leave now, I won't ever. I have to leave. I wouldn't be happy like this. You wouldn't be happy with me."

Margolotta laughed, but she was nervous now. "Vhy? Vhy vouldn't you be happy?"

"The same reason I couldn't have let you in through the window on the first night we came here. I can't respect tradition, not when it's like this."

"Like what?"

" an excuse for not doing anything! Don't you see? I've been trying to explain it for a week."

"Vell, I'm sorry if I'm being stupid," she said angrily.

"Are you, Margolotta?" he asked, well aware that it was anger talking now and not good sense, but he couldn't seem to stop. "I don't think you really wanted to learn. I think you enjoy the stupid life."

"Vot?" asked Margolotta, in a dangerously low voice.

"I think you like being a...a roadside attraction!" said Havelock. "I think it's easy. You talk about feeding off people, making them docile, but it makes you tame too, doesn't it? It's the easy road. Be The Vampire. Embrace The Night. It's a mindless way to live, Margolotta, and you're smart enough to choose the better option."

"Vot, like you? Bearing the veight of the Disc on my shoulders because I can?"

"Yes! Because if we don't, who will? Uberwald's just a little assortment of fifedoms constantly at war with each other over who gets the biggest bowl of fatsup -- "

"Und Ankh-Morpork is so very civilised? I hear zey have secret police, und political killings, und -- "

"But we don't pretend that it's the right way to do it because it's the way things have always been done. People protest."

"Until they cut out their tongues."

"At least they used them. Listen to me, Margolotta! Right now I've been sent out of the city because it's dangerous to be a nobleman under Snapcase. The others have families to protect them, none of them are titled lords or ladies yet. My parents died when I was a very young man. From the moment I became Lord Vetinari it was my job to protect the city. Twelve years old! Twelve years old and I thought I ought to be on the walls, defending Ankh-Morpork against invaders. But the poison's coming from inside the city, and I can't defend against that. So here I am. In Uberwald. I know about uselessness, Margolotta, but you have power in this place. You could -- "

"I am not villing to take that risk."

"Of course not. You're not really alive."

He was sorry as soon as he'd said it; the hurt that crossed her face was quickly hidden, but it was all too real.

"Look at that, Margolotta," he said quietly. "You did make me lose control. Well done. I think your training is complete. You won't ever have the courage to use it, but at least it'll be something to think about on the long Uberwald nights."

And he left. Out into the sunlight, where she couldn't follow. By the time he came back for his trunk, she was gone. Igor said she was down in the garden.

There was a single white flower, like a delicate reproach, on the bed.

When he arrived home, he found a book in his trunk, as well. A History of Uberwald, by Antoni Zhalien.

Well, she had promised to give him a book when he left.


The next time he heard from Margolotta, it was an official document of congratulations; he didn't know how word had got back to Uberwald so quickly, but he was sure she had her sources. Everything about it was formalised -- the neat, copperplate writing, heavy official paper, dead ceremonial words. Lady Margolotta begs to congratulate his Lordship on his appointment to the office of Patrician of Ankh-Morpork...

Even then, it meant more to him than all the letters from the guilds combined*. He wasn't a great man for keeping things, but he put it in the History of Uberwald, and it was still in his bookshelf, next to his desk in the Oblong Office.

* Even the one from the Assassins' guild, about how proud he'd made them all and how they hoped this would be a boon for the school, up Viper House!

Now, twenty-five years later, here he was. Patrician, sitting in the Palace, with the power he'd talked about -- yelled about, really -- during the last dialogue with Margolotta.

"We were all glad to see you safely back in Ankh-Morpork," he said. The Commander of the Watch, standing before his desk, nodded. "I understand things were quite...eventful, in Uberwald."

"You could say that, sir," Vimes answered.

"Still, you managed to come out on top, Vimes, as usual. I've ratified the trade agreement, and the fat should, very soon, be rolling in. Quite a keen negotiator, your Lady Sybil. And I hear the dwarves were most impressed by her operatic abilities."

"She's a woman of many talents."

"I agree. How is her health?"

He waited to see if Vimes would catch it. Sometimes he was surprisingly keen. Word had got around about Sybil's pregnancy, though Vetinari was almost positive that she'd told Vimes before his own sources had informed him of it.

There was a glint in Vimes' eye. Yes, he'd caught it.

"She's well. The holiday did us both good."

"Excellent. Now. I assume Carrot's been briefing you on the situation in the city, so I shan't waste your time. I have your report on your Uberwaldean activities...most amusing, I'm sure. You seem to have single-handedly upset hundreds of years of tradition in about three and a half days. Even for you, Commander, that is most likely a record."

"Couldn't speak to that, sir. I wasn't the only one playing Silly Buggers up there."

"I'm sure you never are," Vetinari said gravely. "I think that's all, Commander."

Vimes was almost to the door by the time Vetinari decided that yes, he did want to ask the question.


"Yes, sir?"

"I'm told you...had some dealings with the Lady Margolotta, while in the old country."

Now Vimes smiled, a smile that Vetinari, who usually had the upper hand in conversations like this, had never seen before.

"Yes, sir."

Vetinari waited patiently. Even a copper, when faced with such a suckingly silent listener, tends to want to fill the void.

"She's a Black Ribboner now, sir."

"How interesting." Vetinari fought another losing battle; yes, Margolotta was the one person who could break his famous control. He continued to stare at Vimes, while the young Havelock from long ago begged the Duke not to make him ask.

"She did mention you, sir," said Vimes, finally.

"Oh yes?"

"Asked after your health. She said you wouldn't have sent a fool to Uberwald. And that politics is more interesting than blood."

Vetinari nodded. "Thank you, Commander. You may go."


Like this? Check out its sequel, The Patrician's Papers.

[identity profile] 2005-09-20 10:22 pm (UTC)(link)
Sam, all your stuff is wonderful, but this was bloody brilliant!

[identity profile] 2005-09-21 04:55 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you! Keep an eye cocked for The Patrician's Papers -- it's the sequel to this one, set just before Night Watch. I'll probably be posting it either tomorrow or Thursday.

[identity profile] 2005-09-21 02:31 am (UTC)(link)
Wow. You nailed both Margolotta and Vetinari. Great story.

*shakes head*

[identity profile] 2005-09-23 09:00 pm (UTC)(link)
It was arrogant and manipulative and never, ever wrong.
Love. That. Line.
I love Young(!)Vetinari in this, too. He's still him, but . . . I don't know . . . different. Please excuse my inarticulacy, I'm usually left speechless after fanfic as good as this.

[identity profile] 2005-09-24 02:47 pm (UTC)(link)
The Mistress of the castle was still many years from beetotalism

I adored this one.

[identity profile] 2005-09-30 02:45 am (UTC)(link)
I've fallen in love with your young Vetinari.

P.S. Your footnotes are great. Not only because they're just right in tone, but also because they're not at the bottom of the page making it so much easier to read. :p

[identity profile] 2005-10-03 03:50 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks! :D I used to put them at the bottom of the page, but that was such a pain....

[identity profile] 2006-06-17 12:35 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh my god, that was fucking brilliant. Love it. Love it totally and utterly.

[identity profile] 2007-08-11 11:06 pm (UTC)(link)
Years later, I come out of the woodwork and announce:

That fic is awesome.

[identity profile] 2008-02-05 08:37 am (UTC)(link)
Love this story! I didn't think it was -possible- to write about their meeting in such a convincing way, but it's all perfect! I was a bit shocked that she's the one who tells him about people's need for stability, since it's such an important part of his way of ruling later (I wonder if I'm missing something there, because why exactly does she tell him?), and considering how cynic he seems about it in G!G!, I imagined it's something he'd have discovered over time himself. But I like the idea that what he asks her to teach him is how tradition works – though she's being too modest when she says -he- taught -her- in that case.
And I absolutely love how you write the younger Vetinari.

[identity profile] 2008-08-26 03:14 am (UTC)(link)
GAH. Amazing. Such wonderful characterization of Vetinari. Especially early Vetinari. Love, love, love this!

[identity profile] 2010-02-04 05:58 am (UTC)(link)
This was really well done, and offered some wonderful insights into Vetinari. Wonderful work!

[personal profile] chironsgirl 2011-11-23 01:45 am (UTC)(link)
Margolotta was always "The One", wasn't she?