Death and the Gods

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Death and the Gods

Postby MongoGutman » Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:39 pm

Death and the Gods

.......... Lord Ventinari stood up. Or at least the part of him that was him stood up - the fleshy shell he’d been inhabiting for all his life remained sprawled across his desk with it’s head split open.
.......... “My word,” he said, “that is a suprise.”
.......... “IT OFTEN IS.” said a voice by his elbow. “AT LEAST FOR MY CLIENTS. NOT FOR ME. NEVER FOR ME”
.......... The Patrician turned to see a tall skeletal figure in black robes leaning his scythe against the wall. “Oh, it’s you. Yes, well, I suppose you would be here.” he said.
.......... “I AM ALWAYS HERE.” said Death.
.......... “However, I was referring to the circumstances of my demise, not the fact of it,” Vetinari explained, “Colonel Condiment. In the Oblong Office. With the Blunt Instrument - I say, is that the figurine of Offler from the Palace museum? I do hope he hasn’t chipped it: it is, I believe, one of a kind.”
.......... “IT SEEMS UNDAMAGED. A BIT WET.”
.......... The jade figurine, covered in Vetinari’s blood, slipped from the Colonel’s nerveless fingers and bounced on the carpet as he backed away in horror from what he’d done. He paid no attention to Death and Vetinari’s spirit, clearly unable to see or hear them. A much smaller black robed figure scuttled across the room and examined the statuette then turned to Vetinari and Death and gave them a double thumbs up.
.......... Vetinari raised an eyebrow at the Death of Rats. “Yes...” he said, gathering himself. “As I was saying: although assassination is, of course an occupational hazard amongst tyrants such as myself, I was expecting something more along the lines of discrete stilletto between my ribs, or an expertly aimed crossbow bolt from a position of vantage - or even something like a poisoned candle. This -” he gestured at his cooling corpse, “seems so crude.”
.......... “BUT EFFECTIVE.”
.......... “Quite.” Vetinari’s eyes darted sideways at the tall figure, “Ahem, I suppose it is effective? Drumknott won’t burst in and offer some sort of first aid that saves me?”
.......... “NO.”
.......... “Perhaps the wizards will perform some... well... magic... that prevents the blow from falling at all?”
.......... “NO.”
.......... “Lady Selachi’s Igor won’t come in and give me a transfusion of vampire blood enabling me to join the ranks of the undead?”
.......... “NO.”
.......... “Fine, fine. Just covering all the options.”
.......... “THERE ARE NO OPTIONS.”
.......... “Quite.” Vetinari nodded. “Then I suppose we had better be going then hadn’t we?”
.......... As though he’d heard him Colonel Condiment snapped out of his daze and tore his eyes away from his victim. He crept to the door, opened it a crack to peek out then sidled through it.
.......... Death looked at Vetinari with renewed interest. “AREN’T YOU GOING TO ATTEMPT TO BARGAIN PLEAD OR THREATEN ME? OR PERHAPS LAUGH IN MY FACE?”
.......... “Is that required?” Vetinari asked.
.......... “IT IS SOMEWHAT USUAL WHEN I MEET MIGHTY RULERS.”
.......... “Does it do any good?”
.......... “NO.”
.......... “Well, let us just take all that as read then.” Death studied the spirit of the slain tyrant. Usually there was a certain blurring around the edges of the ectoplasmic forms of the dead. Vetinari’s, however was as sharply delineated as his own.
.......... “SOMETIMES THEY CHALLENGE ME TO A GAME.”
.......... “Do you ever lose?” Vetinari asked, intrigued.
.......... “NO.”
.......... “But still, a game sounds interesting - it is so hard to find a worthy opponent... and I suppose it will be my last chance to play.” He gestured to a Thud board set up in a corner of the room between two wingback chairs. The pieces were arranged according to the clacks game he was currently playing with the Lady Serafina. “Shall we?”
.......... “YOU WOULDN’T PREFER A GAME OF CRIPPLE MISTER ONION?” Death asked. Vetinari raised an eyebrow. “NO, I SUPPOSE NOT. VERY WELL THEN.”
.......... They crossed to the board and took their seats. As Death sat down his chair transformed itself: the wings became scaley, the arms grew claws, the feet talons and a carved skull appeared at the top of the high back. “ECTOTHANECTIC RESONANCE,” Death explained , “IT JUST HAPPENS.”
.......... “I see,” Vetinari said, returning the pieces to their starting position. “As the challenged party traditionally it is your turn to move first.”
.......... “VERY WELL. UM... HOW DO THE LITTLE PIECES MOVE AGAIN?”

.................................................................................................... *.................... *.................... *

.......... “THIS IS MOST... UNUSUAL.” said Death, leaning forward over the now barely populated board like some bony vulture.
.......... “A draw? Not at all.” Vetinari averred, “If the attrition rate of pieces in the game remains relatively even then Thud often ends in a draw - the Grandmasters Ivan Ivanovitchski and Gazza Poom once played a match over six days that resulted in thirty seven straight draws.”*
.......... “BUT NOT FOR ME. I ALWAYS WIN.” Death asserted.
.......... “How very tiresome for you,” Vetinari sympathised, “But not, it appears, this time.”
.......... “THIS HAS NOT HAPPENED BEFORE. THERE ARE NO RULES.”
.......... “So what happens now?”
.......... “I believe I can answer that." A disembodied voice said. A collumn of cloud appeared in the center of the room and rapidly coalesced into the shape of a female form.
.......... “My word,” Vetinari said, blinking in suprise, “A young lady. Wearing a curtain. Carrying a penguin. Is my demise turning into some kind of farce? Will Fred Colon bumble into the office and drop his trousers next?”
.......... “No,” the new arrival said, “but Samuel Vimes will shortly be making a somewhat pithy remark over your body, if that’s any help.”
.......... “Do you know, I rather think it is.” Vetinari said, flashing her one of his lightning-quick smiles. “I don’t believe we’ve been introduced, Miss...?”
.......... “I am Patina, Goddess of Wisdom.” A little localized peal of thunder rolled around the room then abled out, it's job done.
.......... Despite Vetinari’s innate control a flicker of hope crossed his features. Gods - and Goddessess - could perform miracles, which was precisely what he felt was required at this point in time.
.......... “How very charming,” He said, ingratiatingly, “and what a lovely bird - I’m afraid I’m not entirely cognizant of penguin differentiation - Is that a Spheniscus humboldti or a Eudyptes sclateri?”
.......... Patina rolled her eyes impatiently. “Sometimes a penguin is just a penguin.” she said, placing the bird on a corner of the desk that had not been covered in blood. The penguin looked around the room and saw no fish to chase, water to splash in or ice to slide on humourously, so it just sat there, waiting to be picked up again and taken somewhere else.**
.......... “YOU MENTIONED A SOLUTION TO OUR DILEMMA. HOW ARE WE TO PROCEED?” Death said, standing up.
.......... “You are not. You have no dominion here.” Patina said sternly. “He is not one of yours.”
.......... If Death had had brows instead of supraorbital ridges they would have been frowning. He reached into his robes and pulled out an elegant ebony egg-timer. As he held it up to his face the classic twin bowls - one empty, one full - began to reshape themselves, the glass flowing into a new configuration while the sand started to glow and dance. In moments within the tiny black cage there was a shape like a twisted figure of eight with the sand sparkling and flowing evenly throughout it.
.......... “OH.” said Death. “ONE OF THEM.
.......... “No,” said Patina, “One of Us.
.......... “I’m afraid I don’t follow you,” said Vetinari, his gaze rivetted on the object in Death’s finger bones.
.......... “The rats of Ankh Morpork, influenced by the high thaumatic field below the Unseen University and extending through the tunnels linking that establishment to your palace have acheived intelligence and crossed that threshold which We, The Gods have decreed marks the measure of true sentience.”
.......... “Which is?” Ventinari asked.
.......... “They’ve invented religion.”
.......... “Of course.” Vetinari nodded. “And - fascinated though I am by the theology of emergent species - in what manner does this effects our current situation?”
.......... “It seems that the rats have chosen you as the object of their worship. They were very impressed by your advice at the time of the Dragon-King.”
.......... “I’m the object of their worship?”
.......... “Yes.”
.......... “So I’m a God now?”
.......... “Yes.”
.......... “Of rats?”
.......... “Yes.”
.......... “The rats have made me their God?”
.......... “Yes.”
.......... “I’m a God of rats?” Few things had ever shaken Vetinari’s composure, but sudden elevation to divinty preceded by even more sudden and brutal murder did manage to give him pause for a moment.
.......... “No, you are The God of Rats. It’s a matter of emphasis.” Patina said, a little tetchily, then unbent a little and leaned in to say, sotto voce, “Look, son, don’t knock it.”*** Vetinari’s eyes slid around of their own accord to meet the glowing orbs of Death, who had also leant in to listen.
.......... “And Gods being immortal...” Vetinari mused, “I don’t think your services will be required after all...”
.......... “IT APPEARS NOT.” Death took up his scythe. “I HAVE AN APPOINTMENT ACROSS TOWN SO I WILL BE GOING.”
.......... “By all means,” Vetinari said, “Please dont hesitate to... um...” he trailed off, aware that he actually would rather like Death to hesitate before making another appearance.
.......... Death turned to go, then swung back, his robes swirling dramatically around him, and fixed Vetinari and Patina with his uncanny stare. “I SHALL BE SEEING YOU AGAIN.”
.......... Patina glared back. “Well am I aware that in the fullness of eternity even the immortals must dance with Death.”
.......... “I WAS REFERRING TO ANNOIA’S SOIREE ON TUESDAY NIGHT.”
.......... “Oh, right. Yes. She sent you an invite?” Patina rolled her yes “Bless her, she tries so hard. Yes, well, until Tuesday then.”
.......... “UNTIL TUESDAY.” Death turned away and strode off through the back wall of the office. Patina shuddered.
.......... “I don’t know what it is about him, but he always gives me the willies...” she said.
.......... “I think I know what you mean.” Vetinari agreed, studying the wound in the back of his corpse’s head.
.......... “Thank you for your help with, you know, Death.”
.......... “You are welcome. Now it is time for your orientation.”
.......... “Is this a service you provide for all the newly divine?”
.......... “No. It used to be that new Gods would turn up unexpectedly, slinging their thunderbolts around and shouting the odds. It became quite tedious, so we drew up a rota and this century it’s my turn. Lucky me.”
.......... “I see. There are new Gods being created all the time then?”
.......... “There are many paths to divinity - some like myself exist in potentia as personifications of universal concepts and acheive metaphysical reality in response to the directed worship of our essential nature. Others begin as disembodied spirits that are able to persuade mortals to worship them. Then there are those such as yourself: mortals that are deified by other mortals.”
.......... “Does that mean that all those Kings and Emperors that declared themselves divine and built temples to themselves are really Gods too?”
.......... “No. It requires true belief. Fear doesn’t count.”
.......... “Worship and belief are the key then.” As he thought of them he felt a strange sensation in the back of his mind, like a squeaky sussuration. If he concentrated he could identify individual prayers amongst the multitude, each supplying him with a tiny spark of energy.
.......... “Indeed. As the sole Diety of a new species - and one currently occupied in a holy war - you should be more powerful than most of those fresh off the altar table.” Vetinari lifted his hand to his face and concentrated. Tiny flashes of lightning shot between his fingertips.
.......... “A holy war?”
.......... “Your followers are wiping out all the other tribes of rats in Ankh Morpork, to your greater glory.”
.......... “Should I help them? Manifest myself, perform some miracles perhaps?”
.......... “In time, perhaps. It pays not to rush into these things: less is more.” Vetinari nodded, as one who had mastered the art of controlling the biggest city on the Disc with a barely raised eyebrow the idea came as no suprise.
.......... “Let us go to Dunmanifestin: I have much to show you.” She picked up her penguin and placed a hand on Vetinari’s shoulder. Mystic smoke swirled around them for a moment and then they were gone and the Oblong Office was, well, not quite empty.
.......... The Death of Rats sidled out from beneath a chair and jumped up onto the desk. Holding his robes up out of the puddles of congealing blood he crossed to where one of Vetinari’s hands was laying on top of a paper. With the air of one who, if he had had lungs, a throat or lips would be whistling nonchalently he kicked the index finger, moving it slightly. He glanced down then strolled around the otherside of the hand and casually levered the finger with the haft of his tiny scythe, nudging it the other way. Looking down he put his clawed fists on his hipbones and said “SQUEAK!” in annoyance then got down and scrabbled over the hand until the finger was pointing at the word he wanted.
.......... Standing, The Death of Rats nodded once in satisfaction then jumped off the desk and ran out through the wall, the way Death had gone.

...to be continued



*The match was finally decided by the now famous ‘chair leg around the lug-hole gambit’.
**Which was only wise.
***Wise words.


...Mongo

comments, criticisms, advice and abuse welcomed
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Postby michelanCello » Sun Jan 23, 2011 7:28 am

Mongo wrote:...to be continued

Image
Can't wait!
Listen.
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Postby BaldFriede » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:49 am

I don't want to put a fly in the ointment, but since I used to work as a translator for years I have an eye for certain things, so I have to point to this sentence:

“Of course.” Vetinari nodded. “And - fascinated though I am by the theology of emergent species - in what manner does this effects our current situation?”

There is an error in this sentence. It has to be "effect", not "effects".

There alsio is the misspelling of "Deity" in this sentence:
“Indeed. As the sole Diety of a new species - and one currently occupied in a holy war - you should be more powerful than most of those fresh off the altar table.”

Otherwise very nice. Please continue.
Last edited by BaldFriede on Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:26 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Tonyblack » Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:12 am

Proving that the rule 'I before E except after C' is a load of nonsense. :wink:
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
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Postby Penfold » Sun Jan 23, 2011 12:30 pm

I enjoyed it, and looking forward to the next episode. :D
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Sun Jan 23, 2011 1:02 pm

Tonyblack wrote:Proving that the rule 'I before E except after C' is a load of nonsense. :wink:

I was taught that it's 'I before E except after C' - except when it isn't :lol:

But let's not allow spelling and grammar to distract us too much - 'tis the plot that counts after all and this one's very enjoyable :wink:

I'm presuming that godliness will kick in after full orientation in Dunmanifestin, whilst on the Disc not a nanosecond will pass? :lol: I'm really looking forward to Vimes's pithy remark :D
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Postby BaldFriede » Sun Jan 23, 2011 4:01 pm

Jan Van Quirm wrote:
Tonyblack wrote:Proving that the rule 'I before E except after C' is a load of nonsense. :wink:

I was taught that it's 'I before E except after C' - except when it isn't :lol:

But let's not allow spelling and grammar to distract us too much - 'tis the plot that counts after all and this one's very enjoyable :wink:

I'm presuming that godliness will kick in after full orientation in Dunmanifestin, whilst on the Disc not a nanosecond will pass? :lol: I'm really looking forward to Vimes's pithy remark :D

What about "leisure" or "seizure" or "to reign"? English spelling seems to have no rules at all. As George Bernard Shaw once remarked, one might as well spell "fish" "ghoti": "gh" like the "gh" in "laugh", "o" like the "o" in "women" and "ti" like the "ti" in "nation ".
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Postby Tonyblack » Sun Jan 23, 2011 5:21 pm

"I before E except after C" used to be taught in school in the UK. It isn't any more because there are so many exceptions. :)
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Postby MongoGutman » Sun Jan 23, 2011 9:45 pm

Thank you for reading. I don't really care about a couple of typos or mistakes. Gimme a break.

I should perhaps have mentioned that this takes place in the same trouserleg of time as my previous vignette The Poor Blighter.
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Postby Willem » Mon Jan 24, 2011 7:07 am

BaldFriede wrote:There is an error in this sentence. It has to be "effect", not "effects".

Wouldn't it be affect though?


Nice story, looking forward to the next part!
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Postby BaldFriede » Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:36 pm

MongoGutman wrote:Thank you for reading. I don't really care about a couple of typos or mistakes. Gimme a break.

I should perhaps have mentioned that this takes place in the same trouserleg of time as my previous vignette The Poor Blighter.

I am sorry; it was not meant as a complaint. When you have been a translator for years it becomes a kind of professional disease to notice these things. The story is great; by all means continue.
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:49 pm

BaldFriede wrote: As George Bernard Shaw once remarked, one might as well spell "fish" "ghoti": "gh" like the "gh" in "laugh", "o" like the "o" in "women" and "ti" like the "ti" in "nation ".


I tell my students that one (but use station, not nation) :P

I'm looking forward to yours BF, because I'm sure there'll be no grammar and spelling mistakes in it, anywhere. :P
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Postby Antiq » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:17 pm

I enjoyed that very much :D Looking forward to more.
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Postby Willem » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:28 pm

BaldFriede wrote: As George Bernard Shaw once remarked, one might as well spell "fish" "ghoti": "gh" like the "gh" in "laugh", "o" like the "o" in "women" and "ti" like the "ti" in "nation ".

I'm pretty sure the Klingon word for fish is, in fact, ghotI' :)
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Postby Dixie » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:56 pm

Tonyblack wrote:"I before E except after C" used to be taught in school in the UK. It isn't any more because there are so many exceptions. :)


Of the 319 words in The Collaborative International Dictionary of English that contain a combination of cie or cei, 212 words (66%) are exceptions to the rule

:lol: :lol: :lol:

Loving the story, I can't wait for the next bit. I also wouldn't be suprised if he was already aware of the rats!
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