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Rincewind the Wiz(z)ard
Running Away, One Foot At A Time
[a collection of character important Discworld excerpts]
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THE COLOR OF MAGIC
2016-03-23 01:13 am (UTC)
THE LIGHT FANTASTIC
2016-03-23 01:14 am (UTC)
2016-03-23 01:18 am (UTC)
2016-03-23 01:18 am (UTC)
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(1/2) Rincewind's summoned from the Dungeon Dimensions
2017-01-11 04:10 am (UTC)
So Rincewind opened his eyes. There was a ceiling above him; if it was the floor, then he was in trouble.
So far, so good.
He cautiously felt the surface he was laying on. It was grainy, woody in fact, with the odd nail-hole. A human sort of surface.
His ears picked up the crackle of a fife and a bubbling noise, source unknown.
His nose, feeling that it was being left out of things, hastened to report a whiff of brimstone.
Right, so where did that leave him? Lying on a rough wooden floor in a firelit room with something that bubbled and gave off sulphurous smells. In his unreal, dreamy state he felt quite pleased at this process of deduction.
He opened his mouth and screamed and screamed and screamed.
This made him feel slightly better.
He lay there a bit longer. Though the tumbled heap of his memories came the recollections of mornings in bed when he was a little boy, desperately subdividing the passing time into smaller and smaller units to put off the terrible moment of getting up and having to face all the problems of life such as, in this case, who he was, where he was, and why he was.
"What are you?" said a voice on the edge of his consciousness.
"I was coming to that," muttered Rincewind.
The room oscillated into focus as he pushed himself up on his elbows.
"I warn you," said the voice, which seemed to be coming from a table, "I am protected by many powerful amulets."
"Jolly good," said Rincewind. "I wish I was."
Details began to distill out of the blur. It was a long, low room, one end of which was occupied by an enormous fireplace. A bench all down one wall contained a selection of glassware apparently created by a drunken glassblower with hiccups, and inside its byzantine coils coloured liquids seethed and bubbled. A skeleton hung from a hook in a relaxed fashion. On a perch beside it someone had nailed a stuffed bird. Whatever sins it had committed in life, it hadn't deserved what the taxidermist had done to it.
Rincewind's gaze swept across the floor. It was obvious that it was the only sweeping the floor had had for some time. Only around him had space been cleared among the debris of broken glass and overturned retorts for -
A magic circle.
It looked an extremely thorough job. Whoever had chalked it was clearly aware that its purpose was to divide the universe into two bits, the inside and the outside.
Rincewind was, of course, inside.
"Ah," he said, feeling a familiar and almost comforting sense of dread sweep over him.
"I adjure and conjure thee against all aggressive acts, o demon of the pit," said the voice from, Rincewind now realised, behind the table.
"Fine, fine," said Rincewind quickly. "That's all right by me. Er. It isn't possible that there has been the teeniest little mistake here, could there?"
"Right!" said Rincewind. He looked around him desperately. "How?"
"Don't you think you can lure me to my doom with thy lying tongue, o fiend of Shamharoth," said the table. "I am learned in the ways of demons. Obey my every command or I will return thee unto the boiling hell from which you came. Thou came, sorry. Thou came'st, in fact. And I really mean it."
The figure stepped out. It was quite short, and most of it was hidden by a variety of charms, amulets and talismans which, even if not effective against magic, would have protected it against a tolerably determined sword thrust. It wore glasses and had a hat with long sidepieces that gave it the air of a short-sighted spaniel.
It held a sword in one shaking hand. It was so heavily etched with sigils that it was beginning to bend.
"Boiling hell, did you say?" said Rincewind weakly.
"Absolutely. Where the screams of anguish and the tortured torments-"
"Yes, yes, you've made your point," said Rincewind. "Only, you see, the thing is, in fact, that I am not a demon. So if you would just let me out?"
"I am not fooled by thy outer garb, demon," said the figure. In a more normal voice it added, "Anyway, demons always lie. Well-known fact."
"It is?" said Rincewind, clutching at this straw. "In that case, then - I am a demon."
"Aha! Condemned out of your own mouth!"
"Look, I don't have to put up with this," said Rincewind. "I don't know who you are or what's happening, but I'm going to have a drink, all right?"
He went to walk out of the circle, and went rigid with shock as sparks crackled up from the runic inscriptions and earthed themselves all over his body.
"Thou mays'nt - thou maysn't - thou mays'n't -" The conjurer of demons gave up. "Look, you can't step over the circle until I release you, right? I mean, I don't want to be unpleasant, it's just that if I let you out of the circle you will be able to resume your true shape, and a pretty awful shape it is too, I expect. Avaunt!" he added feeling that he wasn't keeping up the tone.
"All right. I'm avaunting. I'm avaunting," said Rincewind, rubbing his elbow. "But I'm still not a demon."
"How come you answered the conjuration, then? I suppose you just happened to be passing through the paranatural dimensions, eh?"
"Something like that, I think. It's all a bit blurred."
"Pull the other one, it has got bells on." The conjurer leaned his sword against a lectern on which a heavy book, dripping bookmarks, lay open. Then he did a mad little jig on the floor.
"It's worked!" he said. "Heheh!" He caught sight of Rincewind's horrified gaze and pulled himself together. He gave an embarrassed cough, and stepped up to the lectern.
"I really am not -" Rincewind began.
"I had this list here somewhere," said the figure. "Let's see, now. Oh, yes. I command you - thee, I mean - to, ah, grant me three wishes. Yes. I want mastery of the kingdoms of the world, I want to meet the most beautiful woman who has ever lived, and I wan to live forever." He gave Rincewind an encouraging look.
"All that?" said Rincewind.
"Oh, no problem," said Rincewind sarcastically. "And then I get to have the rest of the day off, right?"
"And I want a chest full of gold, too. Just to be going on with."
"I can see you've got it all thought out."
"Right, right. Only -" Rincewind thought hurriedly, he's quite mad, but mad with a sword in his hands, the only chance I've got is to argue him out of it on his own terms," - only, d'you see, I'm not a very superior kind of demon and I'm afraid those sort of errands are a bit out of my league, sorry. You can avaunt as much as you like, but they're just beyond me."
The little figure peered over the top of its glasses.
"I see," he said testily. "What could you manage then, do you think?"
"Well, er -" said Rincewind, "I suppose I could go down to the shops and get a packet of mints, or something."
There was a pause.
"You really can't do all those things?"
"Sorry. Look I'll tell you what. You just release me, and I'll be sure to pass the word around when I get back to -" Rincewind hesitated. Where the hell did demons live, anyway? "Demon City," he said hopefully.
"You mean Pandemonium?" said his captor suspiciously.
"Yes, that's right. That's what I meant. I'll tell everyone, next time you're in the real world be sure and look up - what's your name?"
"Thursley. Eric Thursley."
"Demonologist. Midden Lane, Pseudopolis. Next door to the tannery," said Thursley hopefully.
"Right you are. Don't you worry about it. Now, if you'll just let me out -"
Thursley's face fell.
"You're sure you really can't do it?" he said, and Rincewind couldn't help noticing the edge of pleading in his voice. "Even a small chest of gold would do. And, I mean, it needn't be the most beautiful woman in the whole of history. Second most beautiful would do. Or third. You pick any one out of, you know, the top one hundr - thousand. Whatever you've got in stock, sort of thing." By the end of the sentence his voice twanged with longing.
Rincewind wanted to say: Look, what you should do is stop all this messing around with chemicals in dark rooms and have a shave, a haircut, a bath, make that two baths, buy yourself a new wardrobe and get out of an evening and then - but he'd have to be honest, because even washed, shaved and soaked in body splash Thursley wasn't going to win any prizes - and then you could have your face slapped by any woman of your choice.
I mean, it wouldn't be much, but it would be body contact.
"Sorry," he said again.
Thursley sighed. "The kettle's on," he said. "Would you like a cup of tea?"
Rincewind stepped forward into a crackle of psychic energy.
"Ah," said Thursley uncertainly, as the wizard sucked his fingers, "I'll tell you what. I'll put you under a conjuration of duress."
"There's no need, I assure you."
"No, it's best this way. It means you can move around. I had it all ready anyway, in case you could go and fetch, you know,
"Fine," said Rincewind. As the demonologist mumbled words from the book he thought: Feet. Door. Stairs. What a great combination.
It occurred to him that there was something about the demonologist that wasn't quite usual, but he couldn't put his finger on it. He looked pretty much like the demonologists Rincewind had known back in Ankh-Morpork, who were all bent and chemical-stained and had eyes with pupils like pinheads from all the chemical fumes. This one would have fitted in easily. It was just that there was something odd.
"To be honest," said Thursley, industriously mopping away part of the circle, "you're my first demon. It's never worked before. What is your name?"
Thursley thought about this. "It doesn't ring a bell," he said. "There's a Riinjswin in the Demonologie. And a Winswin. But they've got more wings than you. You can step out now. I must say that's a first-class materialisation. No-one would think you were a fiend, to look at you. Most demons, when they want to look human, materialise in the shape of nobles, kings and princes. This moth-eaten-wizard look is very clever. You could've almost fooled me. It's a shame you can't do any of those things."
"I can't see why you'd want to live for ever," said Rincewind, privately determining that the words "moth-eaten" would be paid for, if ever he got the opportunity. "Being young again, I can understand that."
"Huh. Being young's not much fun," said Thursley, and then clapped his hand over his mouth.
Rincewind leaned forward.
About fifty years.
That was what was missing.
"That's a false beard!" he said. "How old are you?"
"Eighty-seven!" squeaked Thursley.
"I can see the hooks over your ears!"
"Seventy-eight, honest! Avaunt!"
"You're a little boy!"
Eric pulled himself up haughtily. "I'm not!" he snapped. "I'm nearly fourteen!"
The boy waved the sword at Rincewind. "It doesn't matter, anyway!" he shouted. "Demonologists can be any age, you're still my demon and you have to do as I say!"
"Eric!" came a voice from somewhere below them.
Eric's face went white.
"Yes, mother?" he shouted, his eyes fixed on Rincewind. His mouth shaped the words: don't say anything, please.
"What's all that noise up there?"
"Come down and wash your hands, dear, your breakfast's ready!"
"Yes, mother." He looked sheepishly at Rincewind. "That's my mother," he said.
"She's got a good pair of lungs, hasn't she," said Rincewind.
"I'd, I'd better go, then," said Eric. "You'll have to stay up here, of course."
It dawned on him that he was losing a certain amount of credibility at this point. He waved the sword again.
"Avaunt!" he said. "I command you not to leave this room!"
"Right. Sure," said Rincewind, eyeing the windows.
"Promise? Otherwise you'll be sent back to the Pit."
"Oh, I don't want that," said Rincewind. "Off you trot. Don't worry about me."
"I'm going to leave the sword and stuff here," said Eric, removing most of his accoutrements to reveal a slim, dark-haired young man whose face would be a lot better when his acne cleared up. "If you touch them, terrible things will befall."
"Wouldn't dream of it," said Rincewind.
When he was left alone he wandered he wandered over to the lectern and looked at the book. The title, in impressively flickering red letters, was Mallificarum Sumpta Diabolicite Occularis Singularum, the Book of Ultimate Control. He knew about it. There was a copy in the Library somewhere, although wizards never bothered with it.
This might seem odd, because if there is one thing a wizard would trade his grandfather for, it is power. But it wasn't all that strange, because any wizard bright enough to survive for five minutes was also bright enough to realise that if there was any power in demonology, then it lay with the demons. Using it for your own purposes would be like trying to beat mice to death with a rattlesnake.
Even wizards thought demonologists were odd; they tended to be surreptitious, pale men who got up to complicated things in darkened rooms and had damp, weak handshakes. It wasn't like good clean magic. No self-respecting wizard would have any truck with the demonic regions, whose inhabitants were as big a collection of ding-dong as you'd find outside a large belfry.
He inspected the skeleton closely, just in case. It didn't seem inclined to make a contribution to the situation.
"It belonged to his wossname, grandfather," said a cracked voice behind him
"Bit of an unusual bequest," said Rincewind.
"Oh, not personally. He got it in a shop somewhere. It's one of them wossname, articulate wossnames."
"It's not saying much right now," said Rincewind, and then went very quiet and thoughtful.
"Er," he said, without moving his head, "what, precisely, am I talking to?"
"I'm a wossname. Tip of my tongue. Begins with a P."
Rincewind turned around slowly.
"You're a parrot?" he said.
Rincewind stared at the thing on the perch. It had one eye that glittered like a ruby. Most of the rest of it was pink and purple skin, studded with the fag-ends of feathers, so that the net effect was of an oven-ready hairbrush. It jiggled arthritically on its perch and then slowly lost its balance, until it was hanging upside down.
"I thought you were stuffed," said Rincewind.
"Up yours, wizard."
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(2/2) Rincewind's summoned from the Dungeon Dimensions
2017-01-11 04:14 am (UTC)
Rincewind ignored it and crept over to the window. It was small, but gave out on to a gently sloping roof. And out there was a real life, real sky, real buildings. He reached out to open the shutters -
A crackling current coursed up his arm and earthed itself in his cerebellum.
He sat on the floor, sucking his fingers.
"He tole you," said the parrot, swinging backwards and forwards upside down. "But you wouldn't wossname. He's got you by the wossnames."
"But it should only work on demons!"
"Ah," said the parrot, achieving enough momentum to swing upright again, whereupon it steadied itself with the stubby remains of what had once been wings. "It's all according, isn't it. If you come in the door marked `wossnames` that means you get treated as a wossname, right? Demon, I mean. Subject to all the rules and wossnames. Tough one for you."
"But you know I'm a wizard, don't you!"
The parrot gave a squawk. "I've seen 'em, mate. The real McWossname. Some of the ones we've had in here, they'd make you choke on your millet. Great scaly fiery wossnames. Took weeks to get the soot off the walls," it added, in an approving tone of voice. "That was in his granddad's day, of course. The kid hasn't been any good at it. Up to now. Bright lad. I blame the wossnames, parents. New money, you know. Wine business. Spoil him rotten, let him play with his wossname's old stuff, `Oh, he's such an intelligent lad, nose always in a book`," the parrot mimicked. "They never give him any of the things a sensitive growing wossname really needs, if you was to ask me."
"What you mean love and guidance?" said Rincewind.
"I was thinking of a bloody good wossname, thrashing," said the parrot.
Rincewind clutched at his aching head. If this was what demons usually had to go through, no wonder they were always so annoyed.
"Polly want a biscuit," said the parrot vaguely, in much the same way as a human would say "Er" or "As I was saying", and went on, "His granddad was keen on it. That and his pigeons."
"Pigeons," said Rincewind
"Not that he was particularly successful. It was all a bit trial and wossname."
"I thought you said great big scaly -
"Oh, yes. But that wasn't what he was after. He was trying to conjure up a succubus." It should be impossible to leer when all you've got is a beak, but the parrot managed it. "That's a female demon what comes in the night and makes mad passionate wossn -"
"I've heard of them," said Rincewind. "Bloody dangerous things."
The parrot put its head on one side. "It never worked. All he ever got was a neuralger."
"It's a demon that comes and has a headache at you."
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2017-01-06 06:14 pm (UTC)
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