"Scars can come in handy. I have one myself above my left knee that is a perfect map of the London Underground." -Dumbledore
The mixed bunch of weary adventurers was spotted long
before they reached the bottom. There were shouts, and people gathered, staring
at the strangers unashamedly.
Getting down had proved to be a hit and miss affair: one
missed one's footing, was hit by something falling from above, and mis-stepped
once again. Only Draco, sitting on moderately well-balanced Luggage, reached the
grassy lower slope without falling over at all.
At the bottom, they assembled in a little group, which was
quickly surrounded by villagers—dark-faced, weather-beaten men and women who
looked more curious than frightened.
"Translation charm, I used to know, err…"
Hermione muttered. She tried a few spell-words; the third one transformed the
random babble around them into a random babble in which they could understand
the occasional word.
"Hello?" Harry tried, making a vague hands-out
The villagers stopped talking to each other and stared at
him. One of them steeped a little closer. "Hello?" he said, and then
touched his mouth, frowning. "I am… speaking your tongue? By magic?"
Harry nodded. "So we understand each other," he
said. He knew that was what he'd said, but he was aware that there was magic
wrapped around the words, magic that would make them clear to whoever listened.
He'd used the charm before. The strangeness of the sensation didn't fade, and
neither did the sense that he was in a dubbed Muggle film, in which people's
lips didn't move in time with the words they spoke.
"I am Degyel," the man said. "You and your
friends are magicians, yes? You have a walking box."
Slightly helplessly, Harry nodded. Behind him, he heard
Ponder hiss, "Not *magicians*. *Wizards*."
"Wizards," Harry repeated. "We're
"With magic?" Degyel pressed. "Magic?"
"Yes, that's right," Harry agreed. "But
we've, ah, lost our way. If you could…"
"Magic man?" Degyel said again. "Magic man
we have heard of."
"Ah," Harry said. "Heard of?"
Degyel nodded proudly, and Harry reached up, to brush the
hair from his forehead and reveal his scar. But Degyel was pointing, and it
wasn't at him.
"Malfoy!" said Degyel, happily, and looked to
Harry for confirmation.
"Err—yes," Harry said, glancing at the blond
man on the walking box. "Yes, that's Draco Malfoy." He bit his tongue
before he added, 'my lover', thinking that it was best to give them the
information one step at a time.
Degyel looked puzzled. "Draco Malfoy?" he
repeated, and then shook his head. "Lucius Malfoy."
Outraged, Draco stood up. Harry noticed—because years
with Draco taught one to notice such things—that he took his weight on his
supposedly injured ankle without so much as a flinch.
"No," Draco said firmly. "Draco Malfoy.
Lucius is *dead*!"
Degyel and the other villagers recoiled from the fierce
attack, and Harry laid a hand on Draco's arm. "Not now, Draco," he
said, quietly. "Let me sort this out."
Draco subsided a little, enough to take a step back.
Harry held out his hands again, in what he hoped was a
friendly and reassuring way. "I'm sorry," he said. "I'm afraid
you've got the wrong person there. Is there another—ah—magic worker around
The villagers looked at each other. Eventually, Degyel
looked Harry in the eye, and nodded. "Not here," he said. "We're
just a hunting party. In the proper village, over the next mountain, there is
"Could you give me detailed directions?" Hermione
asked, stepping forward.
"End the magic," Degyel said suddenly, making a
chopping motion across his chest. "Stop it."
Startled, Hermione said, "Finite Incantatem."
The villagers huddled again, talking quickly in low voices,
though they kept casting nervous glances at the strangers.
"Do you have a plan at all?" Gytha asked Harry.
Harry shrugged. "Experience suggests that almost
anywhere you go, there's a little group of wizards there if you ask around
enough. And if they've heard of Lucius Malfoy…"
"… they're real, if not exactly up-to-date with the
latest news," Draco said wryly. "That is to say, about fifty years
"It can't be easy to get newspapers up here,"
Hermione said. "Besides, I suspect they thought you were Lucius
reincarnated or as a zombie or something, not really him. And—don't take this
the wrong way, Draco—I'm a little concerned about how pleased they were to see
Draco was about to take it the wrong way, when Harry spun
around suddenly, away from the group.
Degyel had tapped his shoulder, and said something clearly
in his native language.
"Oops," Hermione said, then cast the translation
charm again. "That should help."
"Thank you," Degyel said to her. To Harry, he
said, "We will give you a guide. My son and my sister's son know the way
and are of an age; they will accompany you the day's walk to see the magician,
and introduce you to him. We help you," he cast a glance at Draco,
"because we have no choice. You have power."
His look took in the others, too: Ponder, just behind Harry
and trying to be as brave; Gytha, standing close to Hermione; Hermione herself,
apparently deep in thought but also attentive to the situation; and Rincewind,
now sitting on the Luggage at the back of the group, glancing nervously around
in the process of plotting his escape route. Two of them were armed with
six-foot staffs, Draco had his wand out, and everyone had seen the walking box.
They were quite the frightening sight to unknowing eyes.
"That's very kind of you," Harry said. "Can
we…" he hesitated. He wanted to offer to help them somehow, probably with
magic, but he was well aware that the Ministry considered that against the
rules. He had, after all, written the rules.
"Go to the magician," Degyel said. It was almost
"What's his name?" Harry asked, but Degyel shook
"Not for me to say." One of the women, who had
bustled off after the villager's huddle, returned, carrying a basket of food.
She handed it to a young man with a striking resemblance to Degyel before
pushing him forward. "This is my son, Yinpar," Degyel said, and then
waved to another young man, "and this is my sister-son, Potrul. They will
go with you."
The two teenagers stood close together. They eyed the
"I don't bite," Harry said, grinning at them and
ignoring Draco's muttering. "Shall we be going?"
They nodded, and Harry was irresistibly reminded of Fred
and George Weasley.
"Which way?" Hermione asked.
They pointed south-east, into the mountains, an exercise
slightly defeated by the fact that there were mountains all around them, and
they all looked the same.
"Right," Harry said. He took a deep breath and
then started off in the direction they had indicated.
* * *
Angua nodded. “Ah, that explains it.”
“What does?” asked Vimes suspiciously.
“He thinks that when the spell went wrong, only the
wizards were contributing enough power to be swept away by it,” explained
Angua. “Magrat and Mrs Ogg were left behind because of their being witches.”
Vimes blinked. “You got all that from ‘ook?’”
Angua nodded. “Yes, sir. The Librarian also says that the
wizards have probably been taken to the same place as the giant. They’ll have
to make their own way back."
“Oh.” Vimes thought about it. “They’re wizards.
They’ll turn up, they always do. Ah, Carrot.”
“Reporting, sir,” said Carrot, who was on horseback.
“The Queen insisted on accompanying me.”
“Commander Vimes.” Magrat was looking and sounding a
monarch. “The Librarian has just been attempting to explain things to Mrs Ogg.
She’s a little panicky about Gytha. I’m sorry everything didn’t go as well
“It went as well as I expected, ma’am,”
replied Vimes frankly, and swung himself up on his horse. On his other side,
Angua did the same, and the Librarian clambered up behind Carrot. “Thank you
very much for your hospitality.”
“It was no trouble at all, commander. Please, give my
regards to the Patrician, and have a safe journey.”
“I certainly shall. Thank you again.” With a nod for her and a click of his tongue, Vimes jerked into motion. He wasn’t a natural horseman, unlike Angua, who had a werewolf’s natural seat, and Carrot, who had a king’s. Vimes had grown up in the gutter and was more accustomed to the under surface of a horse.
Magrat bid goodbye to Carrot, Angua and the Librarian, and
watched them go, riding in triangular formation across the rocky ground, across
the icy stream and down towards the flat country. From this vantage point, she
could see them getting more and more distant until they were three small moving
blurs, raising dust on the spreading expanse of the Sto plains. It would take
them three days to reach Ankh-Morpork, riding fast.
* * *
High above the twin cities of Ankh and Morpork, young Sam
Vimes was sitting at his window. The river was downwind of him, which meant he
could enjoy the morning air in some comfort. He let his legs dangle from the
windowsill, and stared dreamily into the distance. Beyond the city gates
stretched the plains, with its traders and merchants, bandits and highwaymen,
raising dust as they rode through the clear air.
Sam sighed and swung his feet from side to side. And
something prodded him, hard. He turned indignantly to see a large black bird. It
had its head thoughtfully inclined to one side, and it was better-fed than the
average city bird, with longer, glossier feathers. Sam wasn’t altogether
surprised when it prodded him again and asked, “What’s up with you, then?”
“You’re from the University, aren’t you?” Sam said.
“That’s why you can talk.”
“That’s right, kid.” It hopped neatly onto the
windowsill to sit beside him. “Genuine talking bird, me. A Tower of Art raven,
if you want to be precise. Bloody wizards. Throwing magical waste out all over
the place. I hatched from my egg on the Tower of Art, nested there my whole
life, and then I wake up one morning and I’m only friggin’ conscious,
ain’t I? Suddenly aware of my shallow meaningless existence and my
insignificant place in the multiverse. Gets right up your nose, that does.
Metaphorically speaking, o’ course. Enough about me.” It prodded him again.
“What’s up with you?”
Sam blinked. “What do you mean?”
“Come off it, kid.” The raven peered at him. “It’s
eight o’clock in the morning and you’re hanging out the bloody window. Why
aren’t you out in the Mended Drum, terrorising the elderly, that kind of
“Ah.” Sam sighed deeply. “It’s not important.”
“It bloody well is. Spill it.”
“Well…” Sam looked at the raven curiously. “Do
you… do you have a girlfriend?”
The raven fluttered its feathers indignantly. “I think not,
“Oh.” Sam stared, and realisation dawned. “You’re a
girl, aren’t you?”
“Bloody human way of putting it, but yeah, I am. You, on
the other claw, are not. So who’s the lucky girl? Has she gone off and left
“Not in the way you mean,” Sam replied, suddenly
conscious of the fact he was discussing his problems with a talking raven. The
raven herself seemed to realise what he was thinking.
“Tell me all about it,” she said, still as hoarsely as
ever but somehow kindly. “It’s not like I have anything better to do. I’m
as useless as a talking bird, as they say.”
“It’s like this.” Sam hesitated, but plunged on.
“She’s apprenticed to a wizard at the University.”
“Oh. A magical one. You got good taste, kid.”
“And now she’s gone off on some kind of quest,” said
Sam desperately, “because the wizard she’s apprenticed to, yeah, his
long-lost father, or something, turned up in the fireplace, and then they
went off with a giant somewhere with my dad and the Watch, and Lord Vetinari, he
came to tell Mum that my dad’s coming back but Gytha, that’s the girl, she
isn’t, ‘cause she got accidentally sent to another world, and I don’t
think she’s ever coming back!”
“Don’t worry, it’s all very clear,” said the raven
“Oh, good.” Sam blinked.
“I mean it,” she continued. “I live at the
University, right? You overhear a bit. Wizards never learn to keep their voices
down. Well, it’s, like, what makes the Disc go round? Stories. It’s
all wossname, narrativium.”
“Sure. Million-to-one chances? Happen nine times out of
ten. It’s all got to come out right in the end, don’t it?”
“I don’t know…” Sam was doubtful.
“Look at this way. What’s the wizard called? Ain’t
Ridcully, is it? That man shouts too much.”
“The one your girl’s apprenticed to.”
“His name’s Professor Stibbons. He works with their
thinking machine thingy.”
“Oh, you mean Ponder,” said the raven. “Not
bad for a human, him. Anyway, yeah… so, out of all the people who could have
turned up in the fireplace, it’s his long-lost father? And this happens the
same day as a giant turning up in Ankh-Morpork? Million-to-one chances – nine
times out of ten. So the girl’s in another world, big deal. She’ll find her
way back. Maybe more long-lost relatives will turn up. It’s the story.”
“Not necessarily,” Sam argued. “It only has to happen
that way if you’re royalty. The third son of a king, or something.”
“Kid, your father is the Duke of Ankh.”
“Well, yes.” Sam looked honestly surprised. “I just
never think of him that way. My dad’s a copper. And” – something
else had just occurred to him – “how do you know who I am?”
The raven preened and fluffed her feathers with a sound
like someone riffling through a pack of cards. “Who doesn’t? You’re young
Sam, aren’t you?”
Sam, long since resigned to the fact he would be ‘young
Sam’ in his dotage, nodded.
“There you go, then. Your girl will come back, don’t
you worry.” She prodded him with her beak again. “Be good. And if you
can’t be good, sonkies are a penny a packet.”
Sam smiled. “I’ll remember. Thank you.”
“T’wasn’t no trouble. Look after yourself, kid.”
She took a step towards the edge of the windowsill and then walked straight off
it, falling like a stone for a few metres before she spread her wings and soared
towards the sky. Sam waved, and then swung his legs back round into the room. As
he did so, there came a knock at the door. Lady Sybil’s head appeared round
it. “Sam? Oh, you’re up.”
“Sam, did you hear? Havelock was here earlier, and he
“I heard, Mum.” Sam smiled. “They’ll find their way back.”
what one might otherwise think, a werewolf's natural seat does not consist
of bloody long claws dug into the horse's back, a lot of frothing at the
mouth and horsy screams, at least not when the werewolf isn't, err, a wolf.
Stories Index Chapter Index Chapter Twelve