Jingo Page 27


'Er... no,' said the Dis–organizer. 'Says here “Violent Row With Lord Rust”, Insert Name Here.'

'Aren't you supposed to tell me what I'm going to do?' said Vimes, opening the box. 'Er... what you should be doing,' said the demon, looking very worried. 'What you should be doing. I don't understand it... er... something seems to be wrong...' Angua stopped trying to rub the collar off against a bulkhead. It wasn't working, and the silver pressing against her skin seemed to freeze her and burn her at the same time. Apart from that – and a silver collar on a werewolf was a fairly major that – she'd been treated well. They'd left a plate of food, a wooden plate, and she'd let her wolf side eat it while the human side shut its eyes and held its nose.

There was a bowl of water, quite fresh by Ankh–Morpork standards. She could see the bottom of the bowl, at least. It was so hard to think in wolf shape. It was like trying to unlock a door while drunk. It was possible, but you had to concentrate every step of the way. There was a sound. Her ears pricked up. Something tapped once or twice under the hull. She hoped it was a reef. That meant... land, possibly... with any luck she could swim ashore... Something clinked. She'd forgotten about the chain. It was hardly necessary. She felt as weak as a kitten. There was a rhythmic noise, like something chewing at the wood. A tiny metal point splintered through the wall just in front of her nose, and rose an inch. And someone spoke. It sounded far off and distorted, and perhaps only a werewolf would have heard it, but words were happening, somewhere under her paws. '––can stop pedalling now, Corporal Nobbs.'

'I am knackered, sarge. Is there anything to eat?'

'There's some more of that garlic sausage. Or there's the cheese. Or cold beans.'

'We're in a tin with no air and we're supposed to eat cheese? I ain't even going to comment on the beans.'

'I'm very sorry gentlemen. Things were rather rushed and I had to take food which would keep.'

'It's just that it's getting a bit... crowded, if you get my meaning.'

'I will pay out the rope as soon as it's dark and we can surface and take on air.'

'Just so long as we get rid of the air we've got, that's all I'm saying...' Angua's brows wrinkled as she tried to make sense of this. The voices were familiar. Even muffled as they were, she recognized the tones. The vague feeling that fought its way through the mists of animal intellect was: friends. The tiny little unchangeable centre of her thought: good grief, next thing I'll be licking hands. She laid her head down near the point again. '–way to do it, young man. There you go again! Sink ships? I can't imagine how anyone could think of such a thing!' Names. Some of those voices had... names. Thinking was getting harder. That was the silver at work. But if she stopped, she might forget how to start again. She stared at the point of metal. The point of metal with sharp edges. The tiny human part of her mind raged at the wolf brain, trying to get it to understand what it needed to do. It was after midnight.

The lookout man knelt on the deck in front of 71–hour Ahmed and trembled. 'I know what I saw, wali,' he moaned. 'And the others saw it too! Something rose up behind the ship and began chasing us! A monster!' Ahmed looked at the captain, who shrugged. 'Who knows what lies on the floor of the sea, wali?'

'Its breath!' moaned the seaman. 'There was a great roar of breath like the stink of a thousand privies! And then it spoke!'

'Really?' said Ahmed. 'This is not usual. What did it say?'

'I did not understand!' The man's face screwed up as he tried to assemble the unfamiliar syllables. 'It sounded like...' he swallowed, and went on, `Ye gods, that was better out than in, sarge!"' Ahmed stared at him. 'And what did that mean to you?' he said. 'I do not know, wali!'

'You have not spent much time in Ankh–Morpork?'

'No, wali!'

'Then return to your post.' The man stumbled out. 'We have lost speed, wali,' said the captain. 'Perhaps the sea monster is clutching at our keel?'

'It pleases you to joke, lord. But who knows what has been disturbed by the rising of the new land?'

'I shall have to see for myself,' said 71–hour Ahmed. He walked alone to the stem of the ship. Dark waters sucked and splashed and left a phosphorescent glow edging the wake. He watched for a long time. People bad at watching didn't last long in the desert, where a shadow in the moonlight could be just a shadow or it could be someone anxious to help you on your way to Paradise. The D'regs came across many shadows of the latter persuasion. D'reg wasn't their name for themselves, although they tended to adopt it now out of pride. The word meant enemy. Everyone's. And if anyone else wasn't around, then one another's. If he concentrated, he might believe that there was a darker shape about a hundred yards behind the ship, very low in the water. Waves were breaking where waves shouldn't be. It looked as though the ship was being followed by a reef. Well, well... 71–hour Ahmed was not superstitious. He was superstitious, which put him in a minority among humans. He didn't believe in the things everyone believed in but which nevertheless weren't true. He believed instead in the things that were true in which no–one else believed. There are many such substitions, ranging from 'It'll get better if you don't pick at it' all the way up to 'Sometimes things just happen.'

Currently he was disinclined to believe in sea monsters, especially ones that spoke in the language of AnkhMorpork, but he did believe that there were a lot of things in the world that he didn't know about. In the far distance he could see the lights of a ship. It didn't seem to be gaining on them. This was much more worrying. In the darkness 71–hour Ahmed reached over his shoulder and grasped the handle of his sword. Above him, the mainsail creaked in the wind. Sergeant Colon knew he was facing one of the most dangerous moments in his career. There was nothing for it. He was out of options. 'Er... if I add this A and this O and this I and this D,' he said, the sweat pouring down his pink cheeks, 'then I can use that V to make “avoid”. Er... and that gets me, er, a... what d'you call these blue squares, Len?'

'A “Three Times Ye Value of Thee Letter” score,' said Leonard of Quirm. 'Well done, sergeant,' said Lord Vetinari. 'I do believe that puts you in the lead.'

'Er... I do believe it does, sir,' squeaked Sergeant Colon. 'However, I find that you have left me the use of my U, N and A, B, L, E,' the Patrician went on, 'which incidentally lands me on this Three Times the Whole Worde square and, I rather suspect, wins me the game.' Sergeant Colon sagged with relief. 'A capital game, Leonard,' said Vetinari. 'What did you say it was called?'

'I call it the “Make Words With Letters That Have All Been Mixed Up Game”, my lord.'

'Ah. Yes. Obviously. Well done.'

'Huh, an' I got three points,' mumbled Nobby'

'They was perfectly good words that you wouldn't let me have, too.'

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'I'm sure the gentlemen don't want to know those words,' said Colon severely. 'I'd have got ten points for that X.' Leonard looked up. 'Strange. We seem to have stopped moving...' He reached up and opened the hatch. Damp night air poured in, and there was the sound of voices, quite close, echoing loudly as voices do when heard across water. 'Heathen Klatchian talk,' said Colon. 'What are they gabblin' about?' “'What nephew of a camel cut the rigging?”' said Lord Vetinari, without looking up. `Not just the ropes, look at this sail – here, give me a hand..." '

'I didn't know you spoke Klatchian, my lord.'

'Not a word,' said Lord Vetinari. 'But you–'

'I did not,' said Vetinari calmly.

'Ah... right...'

'Where are we, Leonard?'

'Well, er, my star charts are all out of date, of course, but if you would care to wait until the sun rises, and I've invented a device for ascertaining position by reference to the sun, and devised a satisfactorily accurate watch– '

'Where are we now, Leonard?'

'Er... in the middle of the Circle Sea, I suspect.'

'The middle?'

'Pretty close, I should say. Look, if I can measure the wind speed–'

'Then Leshp should be in this vicinity?'

'Oh, yes, I should–'

'Good. Unhitch us from his apparently stricken ship while we still have the cover of darkness and in the morning I wish to see this troublesome land. In the meantime, I suggest that everyone gets some sleep.' Sergeant Colon did not get a lot of sleep. This was partly because he was woken up several times by sawing and banging coming from the front of the Boat, and partly because water kept dripping on his head, but mainly because the lull in activity was causing him to consider his position. Sometimes when he woke up he saw the Patrician hunched over Leonard's drawings, a gaunt silhouette in the light of the candle – reading, making notes... He was in the immediate company of a man even the Assassins' Guild was frightened of, another man who would stay up all night in order to invent an alarm clock to wake him up in the morning, and a man who had never knowingly changed his underwear. And he was at sea. He tried to look on the bright side. What was the main reason why he hated boats? The fact that they sank, right? But this one had the sinking built in right from the start And you didn't have to watch the waves going up and down, because they were already above you. All this was logical. It just wasn't very comforting. When he awoke at one point there were faint voices coming from the other end of the vessel. '––don't quite understand, my lord. Why them?'

'They do what they're told, they tend to believe the last thing they heard, they're not bright enough to ask questions, and they have that certain unshakable loyalty available to those unencumbered by too much intelligence.'

'I suppose so, my lord.'

'Such men are valuable, believe me.' Sergeant Colon turned over and tried to make himself comfortable. Clad I'm not like those poor bastards, he thought as he drifted off to sleep on the bosom of the deep. I'm a man with special qualities.

Vimes shook his head. The stem light of the Klatchian ship was barely visible in the gloom. 'Are we gaining on them?' he said. Captain Jenkins nodded. 'We might be. There's a lot of sea between us.'

'And has all excess weight been thrown overboard?'

'Yes! What do you want me to do, shave my beard off?' Carrot's face appeared over the edge of the hold, 'All the lads are bedded down, sir.'

'Right.'

'I'll turn in for a few hours too, sir, if it's all right with you.'

'Sorry, captain?'

'I'll get my head down, sir.'

'But. .. but–' Vimes waved vaguely at the darkening horizon, I we're in hot pursuit of your girlfriend! Among other things,' he added. 'Yes, sir.'

'So aren't you... you mean you can... you want to... captain, you intend to go and have a bit of a nap?'

'To be fresh for when we catch up with them. Yes, sir. If I spend the whole night staring out there worrying then I'll probably be a bit useless When we catch up with them, sir.' It made sense. It really did make sense. Of course it made sense. Vimes could see the sense all over it. Carrot had actually sat down and thought sensibly about things. 'You'll be able to get to sleep, will you?' he said weakly. 'Oh, yes. I owe it to Angua.'

'Oh. Well... goodnight, then.' Carrot disappeared into the hold again. 'Good heavens,' said Jenkins. 'Is he real?'

'Yes,' said Vimes. 'I mean... would you go and bang your ear if he was chasing your lady in that ship?' Vimes said nothing. Jenkins sniggered. 'Mind you, if it was Lady Sybil, she'd be a bit lower on the waterline–'

'You just watch the... the sea. Don't run into any damn whales or anything,' said Vimes, and strode up to the sharp end. Carrot, he thought. If you didn't know him, you wouldn't believe it... 'They're slowing, Mr Vimes!' Jenkins called out. 'What?'

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