Issue 133: Year of the Sneezing Slab!

Editorial from Filigree Street by Sir Andrew d’Ackerley

Stranger than Fiction

Agatean Whispers: All the News in Brief! by Wun Divine Grape
The Page Three Glossy: Living Contracts! by Pee Ping Tum
Changing of the Guards! by Guildious Spyium
Flies, Honey and Vinegar by Sir Andrew d’Ackerley
Sun, Sea, Sand, Safari, Sangria and Sandwiches by Angeldust
Tips and Tricks: The Parser by the dustiest librarian
The Cyber Bully by Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley

The Usual Suspects

Whinge of the Month: Kids These Days! by Whiny McSobsalot
He Said She Said: Wizards and Assassins! by Three Scrying Mirrors
The Masked Slab Awakens by The Masked Slab
Recipes from Downtown Morpork by Fat Sally
Igor, Igor, Wherefore Art Thou Igor! by M. D. Snapcase
Book Reviews by Disc Bibliomaniac
Because I’m The Mom: The Parenting Series by Arianna Darcy
Finger Sausages and Cat Bangers: Scandal in the Shambles! by M. D. Snapcase

About Town

Where Is The Emperor (May He Reign A Thousand Years)? by our man in L-Space
Underwater Drinking by a fish fancier
In the Shades by A. Crooner
Roleplay Filks by Aye Dysk Wyte
The Greville-Pipe Prize for Invisibility by the Conlegium Sicariorum PR Representative
The Gladys H. J. Ferguson Award by the Conlegium Sicariorum PR Representative
Places To Take Your Honey (That Won’t Be Overcrowded) Contest by editorial staff
The Year of the Sneezing Panda: What’s in Store for YOU? by Madame Fate


The Porcelain Pagoda by the old fairytale teller
Horrorscopes by Sparkly Windchime
Letters and Classifieds by Abby
The Almanacke and the Poll by a corrupted data handler


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Have Some Pride!

This is a large commercial property. The ceiling is open wood beams, the floor is covered with an intricate pattern in antique oak parquet and the other surfaces are papered with powder blue marbled wallpaper on which is a gold stencil of a beautiful fleur de lys. Hanging on the north wall is a blackboard below which stands a deluxe shop counter. Around the deluxe shop counter are two large black wardrobes. Hiding in the southeast corner is a glass-topped oak desk to the left of which squats a carved camphor mahogany chest. Around the glass-topped oak desk are a massive ebony bookcase and a black wicker chair. Imposing against the west wall is a rich old sofa. Near the first carved camphor mahogany chest is another carved camphor mahogany chest. Behind you the south door leads to Filigree Street between two shops.

There is one obvious exit: backward.

Dabria is sitting on the black wicker chair.

Daimon saunters in from the shadows outside and stops flat upon spotting who’s in the wicker chair.

Dabria’s eyes burn a golden yellow as she spots you and she smiles.

Daimon picks a generously sized bat off his shoulder and hangs it upside down from a shelf; it looks content enough. “What do you want?”

Dabria shrugs her shoulder dismissively. “My, your ego hasn’t improved any from being in this city. You still think the world revolves around you.”

Daimon says: Actually, I think you beat up my girlfriend.

Dabria says: Is that what she told you? She’s obviously a chronic liar. You have very poor taste in human women.

Daimon shrugs. “What’s that to you?”

Dabria stretches her legs out to admire her boots. “I meant something to you once.”

Daimon says: Yes. And now you don’t.

Dabria’s eyes flick to the desk and back to your face again. She says in rapid Uberwaldean, “Stop living this nonsensical life and come back to the homeland. You are a vampire. Where is your pride?”

Daimon shrugs again. “Buried under a curse.”

Dabria folds her arms. “That witch who cursed you died and we have found a way to reverse it.”

Daimon’s lavender gaze look her up and down. “Forty years ago, you’d have had me right at that. Now? Meh.”

Daimon asks: Why do you care, anyway?

Dabria gets to her feet and moves to the side of the room as some customers come in. “Why? What’s different now? That woman? Her stupid child?” Her eyes burn into your own. “Don’t you miss it?” She realises she’s whispering loudly and moves to the sofa, looking casual, like a cat caught licking the cream. “To me? I want to save my friend.”

Daimon slowly rolls a cigarette and lights it with a spark that springs from his thumb magically. “You’re not my friend. If you were my friend you’d ask me what I want, rather than assault my girl.”

Dabria perches on the edge of the sofa as her hair shifts lazily from waves to curls. “Even if I admit to doing that, which I don’t, then you know that she is weak.” She grins. “You could snap her in two and drain her body.”

Dabria whispers: Don’t you really really want to?

Daimon says: Nope. I like having her around.

Dabria does her best not to roll her eyes and fails. “WHY? What does she have that I couldn’t give you, or someone else from the clan?” She glances at your smoking with distaste. “Magic? You can do magic now? You must have a death wish.”

Daimon says: Naw. I have a job wish. I’m a scroll scribe. It pays the rent.

Dabria says: What rent? You don’t need a house to live in.

Dabria mockingly exclaims: You’re a vampire!

Daimon says: “But I like having one.” He shrugs again.

Dabria glares at Daimon. “You know, I really have no patience with you Daimon. Leaving me, coming here, taking up with a human woman. I can try to understand all that even though I don’t. But to turn your back on your clan?”

Dabria spits.

Daimon says: I -am- my clan. I’m the last Vlozy unless someone finds a way to drain the Circle Sea and bring my mother back. You got enough pretty boys following you around, you don’t need me.

Dabria exclaims to Daimon: But you needn’t be! Come back with me! You CHOOSE to be the last! You needn’t!

Dabria says to Daimon: Everything we know, everything we are, everything we were born to be. I am not Diadamia, I don’t have any grand plans for expansions or anything that we don’t already have. I won’t be kidnapping an Ankhian noble. But restoring our pride? I am not going to rest until I do.

Dabria quietly says: And you’re a huge part of that.

Daimon shrugs. “I don’t want to be. I like this city. Every day is new here. Back home, same old, same old.”

Dabria throws her hands up in the air. “I can’t talk to you. That woman has taken hold of you and I can’t make her let you go no matter what I try.”

Daimon say to Dabria: Nah, she came later. I had to learn this the hard way and it took decades.

Dabria crosses her legs and looks at the shop’s inventory. She snorts. “Humans. Look at all these things. This city that takes so much from us.”

Daimon says: Does it? Seems to me that if you want go on playing apex predator, you can do it just fine back in the old country. This city’s not going to stop you.

Dabria glances at Daimon. “You know more than anything, I miss you. I miss us.”

Daimon says to Dabria: No, you don’t. You miss watching me rip people apart to amuse you.

Dabria’s eyes smile. “Mm, that too.”

Daimon says: So teach one of your pets to do that.

Dabria looks at his arm so close to her she could almost touch it, but she doesn’t. She knows about crossing lines and what you’ll let her get away with, even here in public. “Nobody does it quite like you.”

Daimon says: Train them better.

Dabria says nothing as she glances out of the window.

Daimon sits on the desk and looks straight at her.

Daimon say: This really is about you feeling a human girl took away your toy, isn’t it? Get over it. She won’t live forever, you will.

Dabria’s eyes meet his. “Don’t be stupid. You were never a toy. You were more.”

You say: And now I’m someone else. You can be happy about it or pissed off about it, it’s not going to change. Do I want to know how you’d remove the curse? Yes. Will I go back to being whom I was fifty years ago? Nope.

Dabria takes advantage of the fact that the shop is pretty crowded at the moment and moves close to you, tracing the lines of your face with a slender finger. “No matter what happens from now on remember I tried to get you back, I tried to stop it, and I tried to tell you I love you still. Just. Remember that.”

Daimon says to Dabria: No. You remember this: If you hurt me and mine, I will destroy you.

Daimon says to Dabria: You leave us alone, I’ll leave you alone.

Dabria says to Daimon: Oh Danilo. You’ve lived among humans too long. That’s no longer how it goes.

Dabria moves away from him and to the door.

Daimon says: You’d be surprised.

Dabria glances back at him. “I doubt it.” She opens the door and slips out into the night.

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Female issues

Miss Georgina de Vitis swishes out of the Graduate lounge, her cheeks flushed, and then stops dead. She takes a breath, one hand lifting to rest on her chest, and then walks more calmly towards the stairs. A tap on Raleigh’s door, and she pauses there.

Raleigh Montague pauses in the act of scoring a red pen right across a badly-written page and calls, “Come in”.

Miss Georgina de Vitis slips into the room, closing the door behind her, leaning against it. “May I visit?” Her cheeks are flushed, her eyes glittering with what looks like temper.

Raleigh Montague rises to his feet as the lady enters the room, eyebrow raised. “But of course.” He gestures to the tufted chairs opposite his own, even as his surprise gives way to a smile that is not bereft of a hint of welcome. “A drink?”

Miss Georgina de Vitis nods, her lips tight for a moment, “Definitely.” She takes the chair, her eyes flickering to him, her hands clasping in her lap. “Thank you, definitely.” She takes a breath, steadying herself.

Raleigh Montague goes to the little cabinet and pours a small glass of claret. “Trouble in the library?”

Miss Georgina de Vitis shakes her head, the colour slowly calming in her face, “No, no, the library is fine. I was just… discussing things with Sir Andrew and Kurzik, and the comments about the Mano Rossa were upsetting… they are ..they have been kind to me, despite everything, you know.”

Raleigh Montague hands her the drink and settles down at his desk again, his eyes on her face. “Quite. I understand you feel a loyalty to that organisation.”

Raleigh Montague quietly says: Whether they deserve it or not.

Miss Georgina de Vitis takes the drink, blinking a little rapidly, “To the people.” His second statement gets him a quick look, a warning spark in her eyes. She takes a sip before she inhales slowly, “I understand that perhaps their behaviour is not what your people would like, I understand that…”

Raleigh Montague leans back in his chair, long fingers caressing the pen, capping and uncapping it. “Then you also understand that their behaviour to former members of their own guild is reprehensible, to put it plainly. Including to you.”

Raleigh Montague says: And that is perhaps what my colleagues were alluding to.

Miss Georgina de Vitis closes her eyes for a moment before she opens then, the glint in her eye not reflected in her calm voice, “To comment on their behaviour is one thing, but to suggest they are so … uneducated that they do not know music exists, or thump their spoons against their pasta plates is distasteful to me.”

Raleigh Montague chuckles. “Indeed? But that is a reputation they themselves take great pleasure in maintaining, is it not? Right down to the hair oil and the thug life mentalities, not to mention those – hm – rather interesting titles.”

Miss Georgina de Vitis gives him a thoughtful look, her expression suddenly polite, and she puts the glass down. “I can see we differ on this topic.” There is a polite coolness to her voice and she gives him a smile that doesn’t touch her eyes, “I fear I am interrupting, Dr Montague. Do forgive me.”

Raleigh Montague glances amusedly at the lady. “Not at all. I am pleased to have been of service – albeit briefly.”

Miss Georgina de Vitis rises from the chair, giving him a nod, “The pleasure was mine.” A polite nothing, and she turns, quietly shutting the door behind her.

Miss Georgina de Vitis opens the west door.
Miss Georgina de Vitis leaves west.
Miss Georgina de Vitis closes the west door which locks as it closes.

(Later that day.)

The graduate lounge is a warm, comfortable place, with a few snug leather couches and armchairs placed around the room and a warm fire crackling in the hearth. A bookshelf stocked with choice reading material is against one wall and newspaper boxes sit on either side of it. Small paintings decorate the panelled walls for those who would rather while away the time admiring some art. All in all a wonderful place to relax away from the stress and whining of the student Assassins.
There is one obvious exit: east.
Mr Carter is standing here.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley opens the east door.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley and a cornflower blue cloud arrive from the east.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley closes the east door.

Raleigh Montague says: Ah, d’Ackerley.

Raleigh Montague says: Pull up a pew.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley sits in an armchair.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley nods at his teacup. “Montague. I believe I have been pewed.”

Raleigh Montague is in the act of snipping his cigar and grins. “How was your day?”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley thoughtfully says: Dramatic.

Raleigh Montague raises an eyebrow. “That sounds wearisome.”

Raleigh Montague asks: Not the students again, I hope?

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley shakes his head. “No, no. Female issues.” His tone carries a slight dismay.

Raleigh Montague lights his cigar and leans back, watching the window where Carter is deep in conversation with someone. “Then I shall inquire no further. I believe one’s marital discords are best left behind at home.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley chuckles. “No, I’m afraid not. I just don’t want to speak poorly of a mutual female acquaintance whose company you appear to enjoy.”

Raleigh Montague looks blank for a second, before his eyes become amused. “Oh yes, I do recall something. I had a very brief visit from the lady in question, although I doubt my answers pleased her better.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley quietly says: Mm-hmm, she seemed quite… upset. I’ll do my best to keep a distance from now on, I have had… dramatic ladies enough in my life.

Raleigh Montague sympathetically asks Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: Did she stomp on your cravat?

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says to Raleigh Montague: Hah. No. Just slammed the door on Kurzik and myself.

Raleigh Montague mutters something that sounds like ‘dear, dear’ before leaning forward, and speaking more quietly, so as to keep the conversation between you both. “I do not quite understand the reason for the temper; they have after all treated her very shabbily.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: The lady seems to feel otherwise.

Raleigh Montague quietly says to Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: She left my office rather suddenly, protesting she had interrupted me, just as I was trying to ascertain what was happening. Mind you, I empathise; Aell was quite enough drama for me.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley softly says: Quite so. Ladies can be quite… ” He lets the sentence trail off.

Raleigh Montague’s eyebrow, and brief expressive nod, conveys a world of meaning. “Quite so, quite so.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley shakes his head lightly. “As I said, I do not wish to speak ill of people. Suffice it to say, I will be keeping my distance as to avoid a repetition of today’s… scene.”

Raleigh Montague nods thoughtfully. “You are right; I am fond of her company. I suppose this is what one calls the spot between a rock and a hard place, eh?”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley quietly says to Raleigh Montague: I’m sure she will calm down and forgive you.

Raleigh Montague quietly asks Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: Until the next time I dare to have a differing opinion?

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: I cannot offer you much advice, old boy. Three marriages have taught me never to pursue a woman when she storms out, since she is trying to teach you to be on a leash when she does.

Raleigh Montague amusedly says to Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: Oh, Aell taught me that well enough.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley nods his agreement. “Aye, she was ever a temperamental one as well. I cannot have to do with it.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: I felt sorry for the poor fellow, Kurzik. He seemed rather caught between chairs.

Raleigh Montague raises an eyebrow. “Indeed? The new Master of Assassination?”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Aye, quite. They are friends, as it turns out.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: He seemed rather… uncomfortable, bridging the gap between his friend and his house master. None of his fault, of course.

Raleigh Montague amusedly says to Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: Indeed? She never mentioned him to me. I do not think I know the chap, save for a nod or two in the hallways or the Big Hall.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Oh, he’s quite all right, good natured bloke, keen sense of humour, sharp tongue.

Raleigh Montague nods at you, and then nods at an acquaintance as she passes. “And this is why, old chap, I never bother with relationships. There is so much stepping about and stepping around that one wonders where one is half the time.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: If not for a very insistent young lady on a boat I would be in complete agreement with you.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Fortunately she forgives my curmudgeonly ways.

Raleigh Montague finishes smoking his cigar and laughs. “You lucky so-and-so, d’Ackerley.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley simply says: I know.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley softly says: My temper was perhaps a bit short already given that we were speaking of music and music studies. You might know that that is somewhat a sore area for me.

Raleigh Montague quietly asks Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: My dear chap. You know very well that we harbour no love for the Genuans in this guild, particularly given recent circumstances. Communication with them has completely collapsed over the past year, and things are at a very low point. Why should you not be entitled to your opinion?

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley shrugs lightly. “I usually do not bother to argue with women.”

Raleigh Montague says: Actually, I have not bothered to argue with anybody in years, for it is quite a waste of time. It is much easier to agree to disagree.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley nods. “That as well. However, ladies often are prone to theatrics and I have absolutely no patience for that.”

Raleigh Montague shrugs. “As are some gentlemen. However, I agree that I do not have the time or the patience for dramatics.”

Raleigh Montague amusedly says: I believe there is a good opening with a local theatre company for it in God’s Collar, however.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley laughs softly. “Oh, I should have been delighted to join them when I was fifteen. Now, though? I’d rather not bother with it.”

Raleigh Montague grins. “Speaking of fifteen-year olds, your little ninja is alive and well.”

Raleigh Montague cryptically says: The man she dispatched outside her front door, however, is not.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley asks: Aye, you said. Do tell, what happened?

Raleigh Montague leans forward again. “It will do us both good, although I would appreciate it if you led the way, to make inquiries with her. She is – interfering – with somebody’s affairs up in Ankh, although I do not know whose.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley honestly says: Surprisingly, not mine. I can try, but please remember that we are not exactly on friendly terms.

Raleigh Montague says to Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: I did my best to find out, and failed. She is – exceptionally good – at covering her tracks.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: She is, yes. I shall make inquiries, however.

Raleigh Montague looks amused. “I can probably handle myself if she comes calling, but our proximity to each other makes me wary of making any further moves, you understand.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley nods. “That, and the fact that you and I are friends. She will likely think us to be in cahoots.”

Raleigh Montague nods as he picks up his cigarette case, in preparation for wandering back to his study. “That too. Come, d’Ackerley. Let us leave the guild to its own devices and head north. It is that time of the evening, I note.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley stands and closes his coat. “Indeed.”

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Clarinets Can Go Places in the Human Body

The graduate lounge is a warm, comfortable place, with a few snug leather couches and armchairs placed around the room and a warm fire crackling in the hearth. A bookshelf stocked with choice reading material is against one wall and newspaper boxes sit on either side of it. Small paintings decorate the panelled walls for those who would rather while away the time admiring some art. All in all a wonderful place to relax away from the stress and whining of the student Assassins.
There is one obvious exit: east.
Kurzik De’Vardis, Miss Georgina de Vitis and Mr Carter are standing here and a cornflower blue cloud is floating in the air here.

Mr Carter says: Greetings Andrew.

Andrew d’Ackerley nods a polite greeting.

Mr Carter says to Andrew d’Ackerley: The teacup of Earl Black tea, just for you! There you are.
Mr Carter gives Andrew d’Ackerley the teacup of Earl Black tea.

Andrew d’Ackerley sits in an armchair.

Miss Georgina de Vitis takes his arm, slanting a smile up at him, her eyes laughing as she does so, her skirts swishing around her legs as they head for the lounge. Once there, she picks a chair, settling comfortably there, before she gives Andrew a smile. “Sir Andrew. Mr Carter, I will have a gin and tonic, if you would.” The mischief rising should at least warn Kurzik, “And a cigar.”

Andrew d’Ackerley rests one leg over the other and opens the Ankh-Morpork Times to page three. “Miss de Vitis, Kurzik.”

Kurzik De’Vardis hangs his cloak to Mr Carter who puts it away, and nods politely to Andrew, “Good to see you mingling with us common folks, House Master.” He grins as he says this, his voice light and playful, obviously joking, then he turns and orders drinks from Mr Carter, handing Georgina a drink and a cigar.

Andrew d’Ackerley lowers the paper enough to throw Kurzik a smirk over the top. “Aye, I normally barricade myself in my office to write angsty poetry about the night and the horrors of being a post-graduate teacher.”

Kurzik De’Vardis asks Mr Carter about buying the gin and tonic glass.
Kurzik De’Vardis gives Mr Carter some money.
Mr Carter says to Kurzik De’Vardis: The gin and tonic glass, just for you! There you are.
Mr Carter gives Kurzik De’Vardis the gin and tonic glass.
Kurzik De’Vardis gives a gin and tonic glass to Miss Georgina de Vitis.

You hold a teacup of Earl Black tea in your left hand.
You sip from the teacup of Earl Black tea, the taste exciting your mouth and the aroma relaxing your mind.

Kurzik De’Vardis asks Mr Carter about buying the scotch glass.
Kurzik De’Vardis gives Mr Carter some money.
Mr Carter says to Kurzik De’Vardis: The scotch glass, just for you! There you are.
Mr Carter gives Kurzik De’Vardis the scotch glass.

Miss Georgina de Vitis takes her drink and cigar, slanting Andrew a look, “Do you mind, Sir Andrew?” The question is about the cigar, the woman lifting it slightly to emphasis it. “It is lovely to see you out. We were just discussing the latest trend in inhumation…” She slants Kurzik a laughing look, teasing him with an obvious affection and familiarity.

Kurzik De’Vardis asks Mr Carter about buying the perfecto cigar.
Kurzik De’Vardis gives Mr Carter some money.
Mr Carter says to Kurzik De’Vardis: The perfecto cigar, just for you! There you are.
Mr Carter gives Kurzik De’Vardis the perfecto cigar.
Kurzik De’Vardis gives a perfecto cigar to Miss Georgina de Vitis.
Kurzik De’Vardis asks Mr Carter about buying the perfecto cigar.
Kurzik De’Vardis gives Mr Carter some money.
Mr Carter says to Kurzik De’Vardis: The perfecto cigar, just for you! There you are.
Mr Carter gives Kurzik De’Vardis the perfecto cigar.

Andrew d’Ackerley murmurs politely, “Not at all,” and takes out a slender cigarette of his own. Aristocratic ponce that he is, he inserts it into an ivory cigarette holder before lighting it.

Kurzik De’Vardis turns from Mr Carter with a drink and cigar of his own, glancing sideways at Georgina with a small smirk before wiping the expression from his face and looking completely serious for once, “Yes, Miss de Vitis was just telling me her theory that many of our students may have passed the run by accident, falling and inhuming on the way down.” His voice is as serious as his face, except for a small twinkle of amusement in his eyes.

Kurzik De’Vardis holds a scotch glass in his left hand.

Andrew d’Ackerley politely says: I do not believe that the Cordat expressively forbids us using a student body as a missile.

Miss Georgina de Vitis lights her cigar with evident practice, her feet tucking up beneath her skirt onto the chair, obviously settling in comfortably. “It does not. I have read it a few times over the last week…” She sips the gin and tonic, her eyes dancing with mischief.

Kurzik De’Vardis moves to occupy a third chair, taking a sip of his drink as he does so, “And Hat knows it’s about the only way we’ll turn some of them into living weapons.” He sets his glass aside and lights his cigar, the small smile returning to his lips after his first puff.

Andrew d’Ackerley nods and turns a page. “In fairness, a good number of them never intended to become actives in the guild. Most are merchants and lords to be.

Miss Georgina de Vitis rests her glass on the table, her hand moving to prop her chin up. “The post-grad classes surely should have a little more ambition.” The light comment comes with a warm smile though, her gaze moving between them, and she smokes.

Andrew d’Ackerley smirks over the edge of his paper again. “I wouldn’t know, my dear. My classes are delightfully unattended.”

Kurzik De’Vardis glances at Andrew and chuckles softly, “I’d be happy to give you some of my students. Some of those who seem to only still be here because mummy and daddy are paying for the courses.” He picks up his glass and takes another sip, making a slightly dismissive gesture with his cigar, “Being here before becoming a lord or a merchant doesn’t mean you can lack style or class while you’re here.”

Andrew d’Ackerley nods goodnaturedly. “It does tend to mean that one is quite useless in practical terms, though.”

“Oh dear…” Miss Georgina de Vitis murmurs, her lips twitching with amusement. “I won’t comment, I think.” She settles back in her seat, watching the pair of them through the smoke. “But I think merchants are not useless…” (Georgina)

Andrew d’Ackerley amusedly asks Kurzik De’Vardis: Shall we cede that perhaps, merchant’s sons can become useful members of society?

Kurzik De’Vardis grunts softly in agreement to Andrews comment, and glances sideways at Georgina, “I think it’s safe to say that they can become useful in the future, and as good Sir Andrew suggested earlier, while here they have much use in terms of ballistics.” He puffs on his cigar, smiling broadly around it.

Miss Georgina de Vitis returns Kurzik’s look, widening her eyes at him, her smile lighting up her face for a moment. “And shoes. And perhaps books…” She is teasing Kurzik with the comfortable ease of familiarity.

Andrew d’Ackerley puts the paper in his lap and adjusts his monocle. “Goodness. And here I thought that using human hide for book binding was against some law or other.”

Kurzik De’Vardis lowers his cigar, leaning forward slightly in his chair, “Possibly, but at least then they’re be safer than letting some of the students actually get their hands on them.”

“For those that return books in poor condition, Sir Andrew, the revenge is above the law.” Miss Georgina de Vitis speaks in mock seriousness, her eyes giving it away, the laughter showing. “I am very stern, you know…” (Georgina)

Andrew d’Ackerley mildly says: And you have your own library, Miss de Vitis… I must share with the good Kompt de Yoyo, and you do not want to know what he does to students who mistreat his beloved clarinet.

Kurzik De’Vardis chuckles at the comments, “Well, I will have to remember to treat the Kompt’s instruments with the same respect as Georgina’s books. Alas, if only all members of the guild would do so.” He sighs, a very over the top display, his whole body moving slightly with the breath, but his face portrays his amusement the entire time.

Miss Georgina de Vitis “I can imagine… ” The smile is warm and amused, as she reaches out to take her glass up, sipping it, watching them over the brim. “It is worth treating all of my books with the utmost respect, more than the Kompt. After all, Gwendolyn is on my side.

Andrew d’Ackerley says: And you have your own library, Miss de Vitis… I must share with the good Kompt de Yoyo, and you do not want to know what he does to students who mistreat his beloved clarinet.

Andrew d’Ackerley laconically says: Clarinets can go places in the human body.

Kurzik De’Vardis raises an eyebrow slightly at Andrew and softly murmurs, “Some more painful than others, I’m sure. But I doubt the Kompt would do that with his beloved clarinet, at least.” He shoots a grin at Georgina before taking a sip of his drink.

Miss Georgina de Vitis returns the grin, her eyes laughing. “He may have to borrow someone’s. Do you play, Sir Andrew?” Her eyebrows arch, her eyes dancing.

Andrew d’Ackerley shakes his head. “The clarinet, only what little I have been made to as a part of music studies.”

Kurzik De’Vardis raises an eyebrow at Andrew, the smile remaining in place but his eyes taking on a thoughtful cast to them, “I would have thought, Sir Andrew, that music would have been something you would have pursued. The arts are after all as large a part for us as our contracts. Just another part of our style, surely.”

Andrew d’Ackerley quietly says: Not the clarinet.

Miss Georgina de Vitis bites her lower lip, trying really hard not to laugh, but her eyes give it away. The struggle is well hidden by a swig of gin and tonic, and a slow puff on the cigar. “I fear that is something that the Mano Rossa are not so interested in, and I must learn…”

Andrew d’Ackerley asks: Mano Rossa thump their spoons against their pasta plates, I imagine?

Andrew d’Ackerley sips from the teacup of Earl Black tea, the taste exciting his mouth and the aroma relaxing his mind.

Kurzik De’Vardis glances sideways at Georgina, the twinkle of amusement back in his eyes, “Oh, but they’d have to be careful with their precious suits around any kind of pasta sauce. Wouldn’t want to spoil them. And music? Far too outrageous.” He says all of this while carefully brushing dust that isn’t there off his clothing.

Miss Georgina de Vitis lifts her eyebrows, some of the laughter cooling, “They merely take a more practical approach.” There is a soft note of protectiveness in her voice, some affection still there. She puts her empty glass down, shooting Kurzik a look that hints this is not the first conversation like this one.

Andrew d’Ackerley observes drily, “Given the behaviour I have observed from their members here in the guild in recent times, I should be surprised if most of them are aware that music exists. I’d expect most of them to still be in awe of fire.”

Kurzik De’Vardis pauses with his glass halfway to his lips, his eyes flicking briefly from Georgina to Andrew and back again, “Of course, as part of what we are, we cannot judge as quickly as that. A few bad eggs does not make the entire lot of them rotten to the core. To assume so would be to blind ourselves to alternatives, wouldn’t you say?” He raises the glass the rest of the way, taking a long sip.

Miss Georgina de Vitis puts the cigar down into the ashtray, uncurling from her seat, her smile gone. “And I believe I shall leave you gentlemen to your drinks.” There is the softest emphasis on the word gentleman, and there is a spark in her eye that hints at a temper despite the attempt by Kurzik to save himself.

You say to Miss Georgina de Vitis: Given the recent assault in this very room upon yourself by them, I am surprised at your reaction. Perhaps it is a matter better left in silence.

Kurzik De’Vardis lowers his drink, eyes narrowing slightly at Georgina, but he says nothing, merely bows his head slightly before turning to Andrew and murmuring softly, “Sometimes, where we’ve comes from has a hold on us, no matter what we do. Fairly evident in the origins of most of our students after all, wouldn’t you say?”

Andrew d’Ackerley politely says: Evident, quite. Excusable? Not quite. The Mano Rossa do what they want in Genua, but that does not give them the right to assault our members on our own grounds.

Miss Georgina de Vitis gives Kurzik a nod and then slips from the room.

Kurzik De’Vardis nods his head slightly, “Of course, any actions on guild ground should be dealt with swiftly, but I think it’s obvious Miss de Vitis has seen a different view of the Mano Rossa than we are ever likely to see. Surely she is evidence that they are not all bad.”

Andrew d’Ackerley glances after the fleeing woman. “Hmm. I believe that that was a quite obvious example of fear of further repercussions from her former associates. The ones who tried to kill her, that is.”

Andrew d’Ackerley matter-of-factly says to Kurzik De’Vardis: Miss de Vitis may adore the Mano Rossa for all that it is my business, old chap. I will still express my dinstinctive dislike of brutes who try to kill our members on our guild grounds. I find it entirely unacceptable. If that bothers Miss de Vitis, then perhaps it is better for her to associate with more forgiving people.

Kurzik De’Vardis glances at the door, a small frown passing briefly across his face, gone by the time he turns back to Andrew, “The protection of our guild and its members are a high priority. Don’t mistake me on that in the slightest, I far from approve of what they have done and would seek justice if I could. I merely do not like to see a friend like her in such…discomfort.”

Andrew d’Ackerley says: I imagine she was in more discomfort while Machiavelli was trying to kill her.

Andrew d’Ackerley says: But, we pick our own allegiances. Miss de Vitis needs not explain nor excuse her choice of friends to me.

Kurzik De’Vardis nods slightly, finishing his drink and putting down the glass, “Of course. I merely meant that she seemed far more upset than I would have expected from our comments. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her, of course, so I may need to spend more time with her. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s getting late, and I find myself growing tired.” He rises from his chair, putting out his cigar and bows slightly to Andrew.

Andrew d’Ackerley politely says: Naturally. Goodnight.

Andrew d’Ackerley resumes reading his newspaper.

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Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Daimon alights on his friend’s window sill, content to sit on it, legs dangling, until such a time as the man might notice his guest.

Raleigh Montague wasn’t in his office, but enters it shortly after, flicking on the light to notice the shadow on the windowsill. He knocks on the pane.

Daimon looks back over his shoulder. “Evenin’.”

Raleigh Montague opens the pane. “Evening, Daimon.” He leaves the window open, beckoning, as he goes to his desk.

Daimon swings his legs inside and stands. “Wondered if you’d be in tonight and all.”

Raleigh Montague sits on the edge of his desk. “I’m usually in most nights.” His voice is a little wry. “I think I spend half my life in the guild, if I’m being honest. Cigarette?”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Sure.

Daimon walks up to the desk, trying hard not to prowl.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Bloody full moon.

Daimon sits on the desk.

Raleigh Montague grins, pushing his cigarette case towards the vampire. He points to another cigarette case on the desk, in plastic. “Don’t take those cigarettes. I confiscated those.”

Raleigh Montague helpfully says: They’re those exploding ones from the joke shop.

Daimon snickers and makes certain to get one from the right pack. “Yeah, that’d freak me out, night like this, for sure.”

Raleigh Montague amusedly says to Daimon: Alaia. And friend.

Raleigh Montague says: But mostly Alaia.

Daimon lights it with a spark springing frmom a thumb. “I believe it. Alaia bein’, well, Alaia.”

Raleigh Montague nods, taking a cigarette himself, before getting off the desk and wandering over to his little liquor cabinet. “No point offering you a drink, I suppose?”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Not unless as you got some willing lady with a good neck in there, no.

Raleigh Montague pauses. “Thankfully, no.”

Daimon asks with an Uberwaldean accent: But speaking of, how’s it going with you and the lady?

Raleigh Montague casually asks: What lady?

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: The one as whose scent is all over your coat.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Not meaning to pry though. Just, I notice these things, particularly when as the moon is full.

Raleigh Montague laughs as he settles down with a small brandy, and his cigarette. “Right. Well, things are well, I suspect.” He toasts you with his glass. “For a given definition of well.”

Daimon toasts back with an imaginary glass. “Good news. I like her perfume.”

Raleigh Montague cradles his glass and cigarette in his long fingers, and grins. “How are you? Apart from the whole full moon thing.”

Daimon asks with an Uberwaldean accent: Life’s good. Got a good chick, great kid, nice place… Keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, you know that feeling?

Raleigh Montague considers this. “Not really, but I’ll take your word for it.”

Raleigh Montague says: Speaking of shoes dropping, though.

Daimon asks with an Uberwaldean accent: Yeah?

Raleigh Montague says: Our vampiress is back in the city, I hear, with her entourage.

Daimon rolls his eyes.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Great. Bloody fantastic. She scared the shit out of Arianna last time, roughed her up and all.

Raleigh Montague raises an eyebrow. “Why?”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Because of me. Dabria hates me. I dumped her.

Raleigh Montague leans back in his chair and rests his feet on his desk. “Ah.”

Raleigh Montague thoughtfully says: And there, I suppose, is the rub.

Daimon sighs. “Yeah. What the hell did she expect… All she ever wanted was to told how awesome she is, chicks like that get boring fast.”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: This was a century or more ago, you’d think she’d get over it.

Raleigh Montague smokes his cigarette thoughtfully. “What are you going to do?” He blows a smoke ring. “Because the last time she visited the city you were a little freaked out about your family’s safety, and considering how events have played out, I can’t say I blame you.”

Raleigh Montague easily says: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Daimon sighs. “I don’t know what I -can- do. It ain’t illegal, being a vampire in Ankh-Morpork.”

Raleigh Montague asks: No, and you can hardly stay home to babysit your family all day. Besides, doesn’t your girlfriend go to work as well?

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Yeah, she’s with the Thieves’ Guild.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: There ought to be something one could do about her being assaulted but she says the watch won’t care.

Raleigh Montague finishes his cigarette. “She might be right, although there are things you could do.”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: … Keep talkin’.

Raleigh Montague opens a drawer and takes out a box, from which he takes a red-edged card. “Go see him over the weekend, preferably after two or three in the morning, if you can manage it. Say Montague sent you.” He glances at you. “I use their services myself from time to time. They’ll keep an eye on her and your child, until such time they don’t need to, and step in when they have to.” He pauses. “And no, she won’t know they’re there.”

Raleigh Montague says: Tell them to send me the bill.

Daimon looks at the card. “Kinda whacked, assassin sending me somewhere else for killers…”

Raleigh Montague grins lazily. “Can’t be everywhere at once.”

Daimon pockets the card all the same. “Three in the morning ain’t no problem for me. These guys, are they from home? ‘Cause I don’t want to get staked by accident.”

Raleigh Montague shakes his head. “Morpork born and bred; they do business with all sorts. If you’re there, it’s because you were referred. That’s how they work. Word of mouth.”

Daimon nods. “Thanks, man. I do appreciate it. Back home I’d know how to deal with this, but here…” He gestures vaguely at the window. “This city is cool for the undead, too damn cool, ’cause no one will do a thing until there are corpses in the morgue.”

Raleigh Montague finishes his drink and nods. “The watch are decent for the most part, under Vimes, but even they can’t find killers who don’t want to be found. That’s the whole point of it, I suppose, and in a city of this size and magnitude, anybody can hide.” He grins. “I mean, look at me, hiding in plain sight.”

Daimon nods. “Yeah, true. It’s just… I’m used to being the scary thing in the night. I don’t much like being on the other end, I guess.”

Raleigh Montague drily says: Welcome to love.

Daimon face palms at himself.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Night like this, all I wanna do is chase somebody through the woods and rip them apart. Pity Dabria ain’t around.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: I could do chasing her.

Raleigh Montague says to Daimon: I think you chased her enough, old chap.

Raleigh Montague says: That’s why this is all happening.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Yeah, well, I’d like to chase her just one more time. Her and me, alone in the woods, whoever still has a head in the end wins.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: ‘Sides, she weren’t even all that.

Raleigh Montague says: I’ll take your word for it. I’m not fond of vampiresses myself.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Me either. My mum first, then that one, kinda got me over them fast.

Raleigh Montague grins. “I bet they did.”

Daimon flicks the butt of his cigarette out the window. “Tell me about your chick. Tell me about a nice normal woman as don’t like to start her day with flaying the maid.”

Raleigh Montague lights another cigarette. “She’s not my chick.” He laughs. “I’m just starting to get to know her.”

Raleigh Montague asks: She has good taste in perfume?

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: I liked it.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Whether -I- got good taste though…

Raleigh Montague amusedly says: That’s worth noting.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Folks always tell me I ain’t got no taste. It takes a man to wear pink, that’s all I’m saying.

Raleigh Montague says: Or several men to, if they’re graduates of this guild.

Raleigh Montague says: I hasten to add that I own zero pink things.

Raleigh Montague lazily says: Grey being my preferred colour of choice.

Daimon wrinkles his nose. “Pink frilly underwear ain’t what I mean. Wear it proudly. In sight.”

Raleigh Montague flatly says: I’d rather not.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Mine’s crimson. But I never wear it ’cause when I do, I look like… well, like the old days.

Raleigh Montague says: I believe the frills are – er – optional.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: I wear pink because it makes me look harmless.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Nobody’s scared of a coffee drinking vampire in a pink teeshirt.

Raleigh Montague says: Unless you’re afraid of pink and coffee makes you hallucinate.

Daimon chuckles. “Yeah, maybe.”

Raleigh Montague grins. “Anyway, I know why you do it. It doesn’t bother me.”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Prize I pay to be a contributing member o’ society.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Met someone today as really has his looks about him though.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Bronze skin, jewellery, piercings, oiled muscles, make-up, the works.

Daimon asks with an Uberwaldean accent: Most boy seamstresses are more discreet, you know?

Raleigh Montague considers this. “Actually, I do not know.” He grins. “I take it you enjoyed looking?”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Naw, I’m not really into boys unless I’m hungry as heck.

Raleigh Montague doesn’t even raise an eyebrow at this statement. “Right.”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: He were complaining that chicks don’t notice him. I were like… Stop dating blind chicks.

Raleigh Montague laughs. “Quite, quite.”

Daimon stretches his legs and steals another cigarette.

Raleigh Montague absentmindedly helps himself to one of the joke ones.

Daimon keeps silent.

Raleigh Montague lights his cigarette and puffs thoughtfully. “So. What else is up with you? Been at the pits lately?”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Met a fairy in the mountains last time I went out to hunt proper.

Raleigh Montague raises an eyebrow, even as his cigarette emits little clouds of black smoke, looking very much like a smoking chimney on its last legs. He groans and flicks it into the fireplace, where it explodes with a hiss and a crackle into the fire. “That bloody Alaia.”

Daimon laughs. “Wish I had an impstomatic!”

Raleigh Montague laughs as well. “Yeah, yeah.”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Of course she pisses me the hell off when she’s trying to convince Ari that I’m bad for her.

Raleigh Montague grins as he leans back in his chair. “She’s acquainted with your girlfriend then?”

Daimon groans. “They’re best buddies.”

Raleigh Montague sympathetically says to Daimon: My sympathies.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Thanks. She’s convinced I’m the worst thing ever.

Raleigh Montague says: I hasten to point out that she may, of course, be right.

Raleigh Montague says: Statistically, you might well turn out to be the worst thing ever.

Daimon shrugs. “I’m pretty damn domesticated by now.”

Raleigh Montague says: Then you should just do the dishes.

Raleigh Montague says: In Alaia’s face.

Daimon grins at the other man. “It drives her batty when I clean around her.”

Raleigh Montague laughs. “See? There’s your secret weapon.”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: I keep my mouth shut because she were there for Ari when I were not.

Raleigh Montague nods. “She’s a pain and a pest, and I wouldn’t wish her on any teacher or House Master but she is loyal to a fault and brave, and I think those are good qualities.”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Yeah. That’s why I don’t tell her to fuck off.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: ‘Sides, it ain’t every little chick who dares tell me off to my face.

Raleigh Montague grins. “Alaia dares tell anybody off. I think it’s part of her charm.”

Raleigh Montague says: She’s certainly won your boss over.

Daimon asks with an Uberwaldean accent: Yeah?

Raleigh Montague says: Not Her Ex. His Ex.

Raleigh Montague nods. “They are friends, I suspect.”

Daimon asks with an Uberwaldean accent: Really? Wouldn’t have thought it of the anaemic guy. Ain’t she a bit young for him?

Raleigh Montague says: Now I just want her to develop an unhealthy interest in languages and end up in d’Ackerley’s class.

Raleigh Montague says to Daimon: Friends. With a capital F. d’Ackerley would never cheat on his wife.

Daimon blows a smoke ring. “That’s unusual for noble blokes.”

Raleigh Montague says: Not unusual for that couple.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Her Pozness is something, yeah. I never dared hit on her, you know. She’s too classy for me.

Raleigh Montague grins at you. “So classy is the Daimon repellent eh?”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Hah.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: In a way. There’s some chicks where as you know that they ain’t interested in slumming.

Raleigh Montague laughs as he tries to imagine Lady d’Ackerley ‘slumming’. “I suspect you might be right.”

Raleigh Montague says: Besides, those two are well suited. Both old money, for a start.

Daimon nods knowingly. “Seem happy enough. Of course I don’t really get along with His Ex. I leave him little presents.”

Raleigh Montague asks Daimon: Let me guess. Voodoo dolls wearing blue cravats with their heads hanging on by a thread?

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Chestnut figures. I don’t do with the voodoo thing.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: He complain about it? Good.

Raleigh Montague says: Nah. But I know you.

Daimon grins. “Hey, it keeps him on his toes. Besides, he keeps leaving garlic on my desk.”

Raleigh Montague says: I was just going to ask what he leaves you.

Daimon looks serious. “Reckon if he thought I were a real threat or something, he’d do a lot worse than that. But it’s all right. He don’t like vampires, I don’t much care for old school nobs.”

Raleigh Montague nods. “I don’t think he considers you a real threat. Besides, I think we all of us have bigger things to focus on.”

Raleigh Montague thoughtfully says: At least for a while.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: I am no real threat. I ain’t no threat at all.

Raleigh Montague points out, “Unless your name is Dabria?”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: In that case, I’d be willing as to ‘fess up to the blood on my hands and the ripped off head in my hand to Mister Vimes, yeah.

Raleigh Montague says: We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Yeah.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: If I get a chance, though…

Raleigh Montague nods. “Bridge. Crossing. In time.” He stretches and looks out of the window. “Home time, I reckon.” He gestures to his case, offering you another cigarette. “One for the road?”

Daimon takes it. “Don’t mind if I do.”

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You seem to have a curious visitation

This modern cafe provides people with coffee, fresh from Klatch, Quirm and Howondaland and, as well as normal coffees, they also sell specialities from around the Disc, allowing a truly cosmopolitan experience. Owned by Jack Bank, who can normally be found behind the counter serving the customers, this exclusive place is very popular and fashionable. Hanging on the back wall is a menu detailing the drinks that are sold.
There is one obvious exit: east.
Jack Bank is standing here.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley wanders inside and, passing by the counter to place an order, secures himself a seat at an empty table at which to study his newspaper.

Delia has her arm looped through Zale’s as they enter the shop and takes a look at the menu.

Zale looks at the menu before continuing part of what he had clearly been talking about. “And I’m telling you that sirens are real.”

Delia digs in her pocketbook for some coins and counts carefully, then looks at the menu again. “One hot chocolate please! And I’m telling you that it’s most likely just nereids having some fun. They certainly don’t drown the poor sailors!”

Zale orders a hot chocolate of his own, handing change indiscriminately without looking at it, and getting some returned. “Well. Well, you’re wrong. My dad used to be a sailor and he heard the siren’s songs.”

Delia shakes her head at how carefree Zale is with money. She’s learned its importance over the past week…and how poor she is. Retorts with a grin, “If I ever meet your dad, I can’t wait to sing for him and see if he recognizes the song.” Upon being handed her hot chocolate, she looks around for a table.

A greedy banker and three troll bodyguards arrive from the east. Chef Turtlespawn arrives from the east and suddenly attacks the bodyguards.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley glances at the troll’s head as it rolls past his feet and tsks mildly before turning a page.

Zale gets out of the way of the brawl and takes refuge in a corner with his own mug. “But. Oh alright.” He grins goodnaturedly as the warrior exits the cafe, and shakes his head. “I’ll never get used to that.” He nods to the gentleman in the corner, the only other occupant of the cafe, and puts his money away without looking at it.

Delia delicately checks her shoes for bloodstains and happy that they withstood that little episode, considers Zale’s folding on the argument as proof that she’s won again. “Where shall we sit? Before this gets cold!”

Zale drops into the table near where he’s standing. “Right here?”

Delia bounces over lightly to the table and sits in the chair next to zale. She holds her mug with both hands and inhales the rich aroma delightedly.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley stirs his tea with just a single clink of teaspoon against porcelain.

Zale finds a stray thread of wool in his faded jumper and tugs at it, stretching his long legs out beside the table, posing an immediate threat to anybody who wants to walk past.

Having absorbed as much delight as she can from the chocolately perfume, Delia takes a large sip of the beverage and closes her eyes happily, rolling it around on her tongue to get every last taste out of the treat.

Zale gulps his own chocolate down without really bothering about it. Drink, hot, cold day, mouth, go. He manages a chocolate moustache that he doesn’t realise he has, and grins at yours.

Zale chortles in joy at Delia and says, “If only you could see yourself.”

Delia opens her eyes and then narrows them at Zale. Her attempt at ferocity fails immediately upon noticing his chocolate moustache and she starts giggling. “Trying to be a Genuan?” she teases.

Zale catches sight of himself in a convenient mirror and laughs, using the back of his sleeve to wipe his face. “Well you have one too!”

Delia giggles and wipes off the moustache. “But the difference is, I make *this* look good!” She gives a little shiver and while she would love to linger over this treat, knowing she won’t be able to afford them after this, she drinks a little faster in an attempt to warm up.

Zale finishes his own, and nods, agreeing. “You should go for the set, try a beard as well.”

Very Reverend Khepresh visits Delia unexpectedly! Very Reverend Khepresh gets a small leather shield from a pocket in a crude string bag. Very Reverend Khepresh puts the holy symbol and the large red bottle in a pocket in the crude string bag.

Very Reverend Khepresh says in Djelian: not bibh-nut-khin-lat-lip-yih khat-bhon-fit-khot lat phin-sap-bibh Dybbler’s prin-lat-khin bil-bit. not ghot-mit QUiyan there.

Zale carefully says: You seem to have a curious visitation.

Delia looks astonished at the unexpected visitor. “I’m sorry, sir…I’ve only just started learning Djelian. I’m afraid I don’t know what you said to me.”

Zale finds the sight of the dancing Hattian a little too much and chortles. He grins lazily at Delia. “Djelian’s easy. I can talk it just fine.”

Delia rolls her eyes at Zale, “Great, then you should work on your Morporkian!”

Zale wrinkles his nose at you. “What’s wrong with my Morporkian?” He sits up, which in his instance is just a slight movement which does almost nothing to change his general stance, and drones in an impressive imitation of what he thinks is perfect Djelian. “Jhip-sip-mip-tip-clip.”

Delia pokes Zale in the ribs. “Even *I* know that wasn’t Djelian. As for your Morporkian, you might want to work on ‘speak’ing it, not ‘talk’ing it” she teases.

Zale gets poked in the ribs. “Ow, your fingers are pokey.” He grins. “Fine, fine, so it’s not real Djelian but that’s what it sounds like. Gib-sib-mib-tib-lib. Anyway, how hard can it be?”

Delia pokes Zale in the rib one more time to show how pokey her fingers can be! “Well, I just started taking lessons. It’s not hard but it’s not the easiest thing. But if there’s anywhere that needs to learn of the glory of Fish, it’s in the desert!”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks up briefly at that comment and chuckles very quietly to himself.

Zale gets out of the way of your fingers. “Ow, you poke me far too much.”

Delia can’t resist that opening, “You don’t poke me enough!”

Very Reverend Khepresh steps forward and seems to vanish, leaving behind a lingering sound of champagne corks popping.

Delia mutters “Thank Fish!” under her breath at the Hattian’s departure.

Zale blinks, tousles his hair so it’s even more dishevelled, and then blushes a deep red before doing his best to straighten his posture. “Well, I – uh.” He takes advantage of Khepresh leaving to change the subject. “So what prayers have you learned?”

Delia smirks at Zale’s discomfort. “Oh! I learned to consecrate today!” she says excitedly.

Zale lazily asks: What’s it like?

Delia can’t help but bust out laughing loudly. “It’s uh..uh…” and collapses into a fit of giggles as she tries to imagine Zale doing his first consecrate.

Zale has probably not been going to the temple as much as he ought. Ankh-Morpork has been far too interesting; there’s been far too much to see, do, and explore. He glares at Delia. “What?”

Delia tries to reign in her giggles. The sugar from that hot chocolate must be taking ahold. “How do I explain consecrate…oh you’ll just have to experience it yourself. It’s very…um…intense.” She winks knowingly at Zale.

Delia goes to take another drink from her mug and discovers it empty. She sadly pushes it to the side of the table. Delia looks around, “Do you know where the bathroom is?”

Zale is a bit amazed at your reaction and scratches the end of his nose, misinterpreting your reaction for teasing that he can’t do the ritual. “Well, I will, so there.” He looks around. “No. Ask Jack.”

Zale points to the owner, standing behind the counter, wearing a name tag that says ‘Jack’.

Delia turns to ask Jack just as he slips into the back room. “Catfish!” she swears loudly.

Delia she turns to the only other person in the shop, “Excuse me, sir, do you know where the bathroom is?”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley politely says with a Morporkian accent: Door at the end of the room, turn right, if memory serves me, miss.

Delia breathes a sigh of relief and hops out of her chair. “Thank you!” she calls over her shoulder to the fancy gentleman and bounces in the direction he indicated.

Zale manages to lounge on the straight-backed chair, and looks out of the window at the autumn scene outside. God’s Collar can be quite pretty, with the fallen leaves and so on, and is one of the better parts of the city. He watches you leave as his long fingers unknowingly draw on the table in front of him.

Delia comes bouncing back to the table and sits down again. She looks longingly at her empty cup and then turns to Zale. “I sure haven’t been seeing you at the Temple much,” she chastises him gently. “What have you been doing?”

Zale absent-mindedly says: Wandering.

Very Reverend Khepresh visits Sir Andre d’Ackerly unexpectedly! Sir Andrew d’Ackerley stands up at a table. Sir Andrew d’Ackerley manages to get around Very Reverend Khepresh’s defences and launches a vicious attack. Very Reverend Khepresh looks quite confused. Very Reverend Khepresh steps forward and seems to vanish, leaving behind a lingering sound of champagne corks popping.  Sir Andrew d’Ackerley sits down at a table.

Delia exclaims to Sir Andrew d’Ackerley in Djelian: Normally I wouldn’t condone such actions but catfish whiskers he’s getting on my nerves!

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley arches his eyebrow over the monocle, clearly not understanding the lady’s words.

Zale listens admiringly to Delia’s Djelian. “Sure is a great language to be angry in.”

Delia takes her empty mug up to the counter as Jack has completely failed to clear it away and the lingering scent of the mug is too much a tease.

Zale tugs on another stray woollen thread in his jumper and looks thoughtful as you come back to the table. “But yeah, I should probably go to the temple tomorrow.”

Delia replies with a slight frown, “Yes, you really should.”

Zale grins at Delia and says to her: Swot.

Delia pokes her tongue out at Zale.

Zale sticks his tongue out too. Nyah nyah.

Delia eyes Zale’s tongue from the corner of her eye and sighs inwardly.

Zale looks utterly oblivious to any sighing, external or internal, and slouches on his chair.

Delia looks at Zale’s jumper. “You know, you keep pulling on those threads and soon you won’t have any jumper left.”

Zale looks at his own jumper and grins. “I probably need another jumper or something anyway. This one’s about four years old I think.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley stands and, with a polite nod to Jack and other customers, exits the cafe.

Delia exclaims to Zale: Well, I’m sure it would last longer if you didn’t keep tugging on it!

Zale notices your own clothes for the first time. “You look very swish.”

Delia is ridiculously pleased Zale noticed but tries to hide it. “Oh? Thank you! I was feeling a little low and thought dressing up might help.”

Zale looks a bit concerned. “Why? Are you missing home?” He himself feels no homesickness; he loves his parents, but it’s been great to get away and start life on his own terms. But he understands the pull of home, that long slow tug in the direction of hearth and family.

Delia looks a little wistful, “Not home so much as the ocean. The sound of the gulls crying in the wind. The pound of the surf on the sand.” Her eyes turn a soft blue as she thinks of it.

Delia no longer quite seems to be present there at the cafe.

Zale scratches the tip of his nose again and nods sadly. “Well, that’s kinda like home to you, I guess. Pity the river’s so awful, I guess. I’d have loved to go swimming in it.”

At the mention of the Ankh, Delia is pulled back a bit rudely from her reverie. She makes a little moue of disgust. “I don’t know how they can even call that a river!”

Zale shrugs. He himself grew up in a place with pristine lakes and rivers, so he doesn’t get it either. “Yeah, I don’t get it either.”

Delia turns her gaze to meet Zale’s, her eyes a lovely shade of blue. “Please tell me in all your wandering (ahem, when you should have been at the temple, ahem) that you’ve found somewhere lovely to go swimming? I need to feel water on my skin soon. Bath water doesn’t count.”

Zale bumps his long legs awkwardly against the underneath of the table and winces for a second. “Actually, I did but it might be too cold for us now. It’s getting on to winter.”

Zale says with a Lancrastian accent: It’s a place called Hyde Park, up in Ankh, and it’s got a really great lake and a playground.

Zale doesn’t mention the half an hour he spent swiming there, his own eyes a deep blue in the cafe’s dim light. “Anyway, it’s nice.”

Delia replies: Oh! I’m sure it won’t be so bad if I wear a swimsuit. It’s not like the ocean is all that warm. Of course, that would mean I’d probably need a swimsuit.

Zale’s mouth is a perfect o. “What? Er. Don’t you always?”

Zale hurriedly says with a Lancrastian accent: Never mind.

Delia innocently says: Oh no. I never bother with one.

Zale’s face goes a deep red. “Oh.”

Delia continues absent-mindedly, “I like to feel all of the water and besides, who wants tan lines?”

Zale grins as he gets to his feet. “Well, we’ll go there one day.” Then, in a renewal of what he said earlier, he adds, semi-seriously, “But I will go to temple tomorrow.”

Zale asks: Coming?

Delia giggles, “Good. Otherwise, you’ll be so far behind you won’t even see my wake!” She stands up and grabs Zale’s arm affectionately. “Yeah, I have a few more hours until my Djelian lesson.” She snuggles in to his side in preparation for braving the chill outside the door.

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An Unholy Alliance

Daimon prowls the night on silent wings, flying towards his usual hunting grounds near the hills south of the city where the deer and the antelope play but there fortunately are quite few ranges and ranches.

Standing waist-deep in a mountain stream in the dead of winter is not recommended for humans, but fortunately Daisy Blossoms is not human. Her wings glisten in the moonlight even as the rain that falls on her turns into a silver gossamer-like mist. She lifts handfuls of water out of the stream, holding it out to the moonlight, before dropping it back into the stream, tinged with silver light.

Daimon’s curiosity is tickled; that’s unusual, and it’s in a lake in winter without freezing solid. He circles and eventually lands, silently, behind a small clump of firs, curious enough to watch.

Daisy Blossoms is probably aware that she is being watched, although she pays no attention to anything other than her ritual, lifting water to the moon, pouring it back into the stream. She knows that watchers are likely to feel captivated by the beauty of the scene in front of them, although that is not foremost in her mind at the moment. A fine silver mesh eventually rises from the stream, even as she rises from it on silent wings and hovers, wings gently flapping, her wet robes clinging to her slender body like a second skin.

Daimon sits down on a convenient rock and lights a cigarette, content to watch. This isn’t something you see every day. Not even in Ankh-Morpork.

Daisy Blossoms gathers up the mesh, easily, even though it looks like it is made of mist and vapour. She gently rolls it, and then flies to the side of the lake, close to where you are, where she deposits it on the ground. She murmurs to herself, and her robes start to steam, sending out heady scents of flowers and roses as they clearly dry.

Daimon offers a slow clap. That was some show.

Daisy Blossoms turns to where the sound is coming from. “I knew there was someone there”, she says, in a slow, soft voice. “Who are you?”

Daimon replies casually, “Name’s Daimon. You?”

Daisy Blossoms folds her wings protectively against her back even as she bends to secure the mesh. “Daisy.”

Daimon asks with an Uberwaldean accent: Mind if I ask what you been doing with — that?

Daisy Blossoms looks at the mesh. “This?”

Daimon begins to roll a cheap cigarette. “Yeah, that.”

Daisy Blossoms hesitates, even as she wrinkles her nose as the scent of cigarette wafts to her. “It’s – payment. I need to make several, but the moon has to be right. So it’s going to take some time.”

Daimon looks up at the moon before a spark springs from his thumb to light the cigarette. “Yeah? Reckon I got no clue what kinda thing takes payment in water, but it looks interesting.”

Daisy Blossoms walks warily around you. “It’s not just water. It’s water, it’s magic, and it’s the moon.”

Daimon looks up again. “Moon’s still up there, I reckon.”

Daisy Blossoms nods. “Except for the bits that are in here.” She pats the mesh. “You’re a vampyre.”

Daimon nods goodnaturedly. “Yup. And you’re… a chick as doesn’t freeze solid when bathing in winter.”

Daisy Blossoms waves a hand and a light falls to where she is, bathing her in silvery light, revealing a tall, fine-boned delicate creature, with large gossamer wings folded against her back; green eyes sparkle out of a pale slightly pointed face framed by curls in blue-black, and one of her eyes has an elaborate spiralling star tattooed around it. “I am not a woman. I am a faerie.”

Daimon looks her up and down, slowly and curiously. “Yeah? Ain’t seen one of those before.”

Daisy Blossoms eyes the vampyre before her. “Alas! I wish I could say the same but I have certainly met one of your kind before.”

Daimon blows a smoke ring in the still night. “Weren’t a happy meeting, I take it?”

Daisy Blossoms shakes her head, her eyes sad. “No. It was not. I suppose, in hindsight, we should have run. We could certainly smell him a mile away.”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Yeah? I hope I don’t stink that bad. I bathe, you know.

Daisy Blossoms is still keeping her distance from you. “Oh yes. But you can’t bathe away the stink of blood.” She pauses. “I suppose that could hurt your feelings. I suppose you could have them. But I don’t mean it as a personal insult, you know. It’s true that whatever you eat, you smell of. That’s why we only eat fruits and berries.”

Daimon nods. “Yeah, that’s fair. ‘Swhy I come out here, to hunt.”

Daisy Blossoms unfolds her wings slowly, and they unfurl; they look strong, despite looking so delicate. She rises easily into the air. “That doesn’t sound right. There are no humans here.”

Daimon mildly says with an Uberwaldean accent: I hunt deer. Not people.

Daisy Blossoms looks curiously at you. “Nor does that sound right.”

Daimon shrugs. “I live in the city, north of here. Killing people don’t work under their laws.”

Daisy Blossoms nods, circling slowly. “Ankh-Morpork.”

Daisy says: I live there.

Daimon nods. “That’s it. The Big Wahoonie. City where even vampires can hang out.”

Daisy Blossoms twirls up into the air, seemingly unable to stop the carefree spirit inside of her, despite her outwardly formal appearance. “And where fae can walk amongst humans, provided we keep our wings safely out of sight.”

Daimon asks with an Uberwaldean accent: Sounds about right. Must be pretty used to seeing us there then?

Daisy honestly says: Not one like you.

Daimon draws a leg up under himself, resting comfortably. “Vampires in town all got to play by the rules or they can’t stick around.”

Daisy Blossoms leaps gracefully from branch to branch, landing lightly on her toes, going in a circle around you. “Most vampyres in the city are beaten down, torn up. You still seem free.”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: As free as I wanna be, yeah.

Daisy Blossoms descends slowly, slightly closer to you, so that you can feel the draught from her wings. Her eyes, though watchful, are also sympathetic. “And yet you have given up much.”

Daimon does not look like he’s prone to suddenly pounce but then, predators rarely do until, well, they do. He finishes his cigarette and tosses the butt end away. “Naw. Ankh-Morpork’s an okay place for vampires these days. Just need to go somewhere else to hunt. Like this.”

Daisy Blossoms’s wings continue to beat rhythmically. “It’s okay. The city is not perfect. But I’ve discovered that nowhere is.”

Daimon nods. “Sounds about right. So you’re like, some kind of nereid?”

Daisy Blossoms shakes her head. “Actually, you know, I am also feared, even by my own people. My sister and I are part elf, part fairy.” She smiles, a little sadly. “An unholy alliance, some call us.”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Oh yeah. Elves. Got a bad rap too. Reckon people hate ’em even more than they hate us.

Daisy Blossoms raises a hand up to her face and moves her hair to one side to reveal the familiar pointed ears of the elf. She twitches her hair back again. “I cannot hide my wings, but I can hide those.” Her glittered tattoo glints in the moonlight. “My father. He was the elf. Also feared, but different. Not like the rest.”

Daimon stretches his legs gracefully. “Yeah? Well, reckon having wool and curly hair don’t have to make you a sheep.”

Daisy Blossoms listens to your startling statement and then, as it sinks in, laughs; it’s a lilting musical sound. “Yes. I agree with you. If you have wool and curly hair, you could be a curly haired human or dwarf who is wearing wool.” Clearly a joke is something that also needs to be taken apart, understood, and then laughed at.

Daimon grins slightly, not particularly eager to reveal the fact that the fairy thing’s presence makes him want to pull the wings off butterflies just to see what they’ll do about it. “So, you come around here often then? Do — that thing you were doing?”

Daisy Blossoms smiles. She nods. “Not always here. But always near water. Water is important. And only on moonlit nights.” She is still holding the mesh. “I would offer for you to touch it, but it will change you, and it is not ideal.”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Yeah, I’ll pass on that. I kinda like being me.

Daisy Blossoms nods solemnly. “I like being me too. Mostly.”

Daimon asks with an Uberwaldean accent: There… a lot of you guys out here, then? Fairy… elf… ladies?

Daisy Blossoms shakes her head. “Not many. Not any, in fact, now that my sister is – yes. I am the only one in Ankh-Morpork. Of this I am certain.”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Oh, I’m sorry. About your sister, I mean.

Daisy Blossoms glances down at the mesh in her arms. “There might be hope for her. We shall see.”

Daisy Blossoms rises, her strong wings lifting her higher. “I suppose I should go. In Ankh-Morpork I live near Phedre Road. I can be found most evenings in the Pishe temple. Perhaps we will meet again.”

Daimon grins. “Not inside that temple we won’t. But maybe outside.”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: My girlfriend’s got a place on Peach Pie Street.

Daisy Blossoms smiles, and nods. “Yes, I know that street very well. Goodbye, Daimon.” The name is pronounced carefully. “Good health and happiness to you.” She twirls, silver-tipped wings glowing in the moonlight. “Until we meet again.”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Look after yourself, fairy chick.

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I’m just a temporary guest.

Delia looks around her with interest.

Zale looks doubtfully at the paper in his hand. “Uhm, I think this might be it.”

Delia peers around your shoulder at the paper, “Well if the key works, must be it!” she decides logically with a grin.

Zale cheerfully exclaims with a Lancrastian accent: Here goes!

This is a small studio. Zale is standing here.

Delia asks with a Genuan accent: Wow, how did you end up with this place?

Zale flicks his hair back as he wanders around the room and looks a little embarrassed. “Well, it was my mum. She wrote ahead I guess.”

Delia doesn’t notice the embarrassment, “That was nice of her! My stupid sister Lexi could have mentioned we don’t live at the Temple here.”

Zale grins as he looks out of the window. “Does she live here in the city?”

“She did until recently. Dad called her home for some reason or other.” Delia opens a door, “Oh! Here’s the bedroom!”

Zale removes his satchel and dumps it on the table; the studio is sparsely furnished and will probably need a few bits and pieces. “Do you want to take that and I’ll camp out here?” He looks at a corner and examines the wall. “Could do up a curtain for me here easy and put a bed behind it.”

Delia takes off her own bag and plops it on the table as well. “Oh no, I couldn’t put you out! You take the bedroom. I can sleep on this sofa.”

Zale makes it to the ‘bedroom’ and realises it’s the bathroom. “This is the bathroom! I was wondering what you meant; my mum said it was going to be a one room thing.”

Zale says with a Lancrastian accent: So that means we got to put up two curtains or something here so we can have some privacy. Maybe the two corners or something. I’ll do it now.

Delia walks over to peer around Zale “But the bed is right there!” She points at the copper tub.

Zale leans against the door and folds his arms. “That’s for bathing in.”

Zale grins lazily.

Delia looks confused, her eyes a bright blue. “And sleeping” she says with a “duh” tone in her voice.

Zale divests himself of another pack and laughs. He marches up to you and propels you by your shoulders to the bed. “That’s a bed.”

Zale further demonstrates this fact by flopping down into the bed, looking instantly at home.

Delia blushes when she realizes she probably looked like an idiot just now but tries to play it off and flops down close to Zale.

Zale goes a bright red, realises he’s red, and then coughs to divert attention.

Delia bounces on the bed a bit, experimentally. “But it’s so soft! How could you ever sleep on this?”

Zale watches the bouncing, not realising his mouth is making a bit of an O shape. He decides girls are beautiful. “It’s supposed – uh – to be soft.”

Zale gets hurriedly off the bed. “So I’ll get some sheets and make curtains for us and you’re going to need a bed too.”

Delia is completely oblivious and bounces a bit more and a bit harder, it’s kinda fun!

Delia looks interestedly at Zale, “Curtains? Why ever for?”

Zale pokes about in a hole in the wall that is apparently a closet. “So we can get changed and sleep and stuff without bothering each other!” He pulls out a couple of sheets and realises he has no tool box. “Ah bugger. I need a hammer and stuff.”

Delia walks over to the sofa and gives it an experimental bounce. “Oh, this is much better. I’d rather sleep here!” She stretches out, “Don’t worry about curtains on my account. You’re letting me sleep in your space, you can’t bother me at all.”

Zale decides he needs the curtains more than you then. “No, let me get that done anyway”, he adds, a little firmly, and then coughs self-consciously. “Let me go down and ask that landlady if she has a tool box I can borrow. Be right back.”

Delia shrugs innocently. “Of course! It’s your place, I’m just a temporary guest.”

Delia wanders over and pokes in the pantry, noting that she should get some food for the both of them as it’s the least she can do.

Zale returns, looking purposeful, and carrying a large red toolbox. He starts measuring, whistling to himself as he works.

Delia pulls a paper and quill out of her bag and starts making a list.

Zale turns around to you with a grin. “Okay, you might want to cover your ears.”

Delia brushes the strands away from her delicate fan-shaped ears and puts her hands over them obediently.

Zale marks his spots and then easily and quickly installs a support and uses the hammer to pound a few nails in, before hanging up a cord, and stringing the sheet on it to make a curtain. “Going to do the other one and then I’ll sew that up real quick so it won’t fall off when we draw it forwards and back.”

Delia didn’t realize she was still holding the quill when she put her hands over her ears and has drawn a nice line of ink on her cheekbone. “You sew, too?”

Zale quickly does the other curtain as well, on the opposite side of the room, nicely covering the bed that was already there to make a small alcove. He turns around, putting the tools away in his tool box. “Yeah! Doesn’t everyone?”

Delia takes her hands down off her ears and gives a little shake of her head to tumble the hair back over them. “Well, I mean sure, you need to be able to repair sails or fishing nets. Here, just tell me what to do and I can do it faster than a minnow darts off.”

Zale notices the fine line of ink on your cheek and his lips twitch. “Yeah, and you can learn to sew, but I can’t learn to move faster than a minnow!”

Delia giggles.

Delia pulls a needle and thread out of her pack. “What do we need?”

Zale flicks the two sheets. “Just sew them across, so they’re like a curtain? I’ll go return this toolbox.” He grins. “You – uhm – have some ink on your face.” He grins to himself and stalks out of the door with the tool box.

Delia rubs at her face, but since he didn’t tell her where it was, she only kind of smears it a bit. She gets the sheets and stitches two easy lines across.

Zale returns, dragging a mattress in as he does. “A mattress for you!” He busies himself with dragging it into your alcove and his voice floats out of it as he arranges it. “We’ll get a frame delivered for it later, the landlady promised.”

Delia walks over and starts trying to hang the curtains but can’t reach.

Delia sighs exasperatedly, “Please, don’t go to all this trouble! The sofa would have been fine!”

Delia drags a chair over and climbs on it to hang the curtains she’s finished sewing.

Zale emerges from the alcove and looks at your inky face as he does. He laughs, seemingly unable to help himself. “Oh, it’s no trouble.”

Zale says with a Lancrastian accent: Uhm, you actually have that ink on your face still.

Zale rubs your cheek where the ink is with a thumb.

Delia giggles and loses her balance, toppling off the chair.

Zale instinctively reaches out to catch you. “Geez, don’t fall!”

Delia eeps and grabs ahold of Zale’s arms. She looks up into his blue eyes and the lock of hair that’s tumbled into them again.

Zale looks down into your own eyes and realises he’s holding your waist a little firmly. He moves slightly, trying to move aside, but finds himself trapped by the chair and the alcove and – as much as he’s trying not to think about it – you. He clears his throat. “Ahm.”

Delia reaches up to move the hair out of Zales eyes. “Thank you! I guess I don’t have my land legs yet,” she says with a laugh.

Zale moves the chair aside. “Yeah, that’s – uhm – fine. Just don’t fall, and you know, get hurt.” He lets go of your waist suddenly, as though you were fire, and then edges out.

Delia picks up the chair and replaces it at the table. “Oh! So the pantry is empty, I made a list and I can pick that up tomorrow. Is there anything in particular you want?”

Zale grins lazily as he wanders towards his pack. “Nah, not really. Maybe some fish, but I can always buy that fresh from the stalls.” He starts pulling his stuff out willy nilly, but instead of unpacking properly he finds what he’s looking for, a long wide book, and a box that looks like a pencil box, and flops down on the window seat, looking out of the window towards the river where the evening’s light is just starting to fade. He flips the book open and opens the box, lifting out what looks like a long piece of charcoal from it, and then, resting his back against the sill, he starts to sketch in light airy strokes.

Delia admires Zale’s profile illuminated by the reflected sunset and wanders over to her own pack. She stuffs the quill back in it, rummages for a bottle, and then walks over to drop the pack by the mattress in her alcove, stifling a giggle about the unnecessary hoopla. “Would it be alright if I take a bath? It was such a long, dusty carriage ride.”

Zale gets more comfortable, propping up a knee to rest his book on, and turns to look at you, his eyes a brilliant blue in this light. “Hey you live here too. Do whatever.” He grins lazily and returns to his sketching.

Delia carries the bottle into the bath and starts the tap running. She comes back out and digs around in her bag before pulling out a very short, rumpled teal silk bathrobe.

Zale moves to the sofa and drops into it, looking instantly comfortable, like he hasn’t moved from there in years. He grins at you as he turns the page and starts to sketch, using the charcoal, but also using various shades of blue pencils.

Delia flicks the bathrobe a few times to try to get some of the wrinkle out and makes a little moue when it doesn’t make much of a difference. She heads into the bathroom but only closes the door halfway when she notices there’s no window and it’s already pretty steamy. She starts undressing, softly singing a haunting melody to herself.

Zale listens to the song from inside the bathroom with interest; with his love for music, he can’t pass up a song. His fingers fly furiously over the paper.

The smell of coconut bubblebath wafts out of the bathroom along with the steam. As Delia reaches the chorus for a third time, her voice shifts into singing the harmony.

Zale lazily sketches your face, lingering over your eyes, trying to get them perfect, before closing the book and tossing it on the table, along with all his pencils, charcoal, and the bit of rubber he uses when he arts. The box they go on is already on the table, but the pencils don’t go in the box. Nope. He lounges back, looking at his charcoal-coated fingers thoughtfully.

Delia luxuriates in the water, more at home there than anywhere else. Aware that Zale might want a bath, she stands up with a sigh and starts the tub to empty. She steps out and realizes she doesn’t have a towel so just wrings her hair out over the tub, slides off what water she can with her hands, and pulls on her robe. She’s still wrapping it around herself as she comes to the door. “Your turn if you want!”

Zale decides he should probably bathe. He rolls off the sofa and grabs a towel, a new pair of briefs, and a bar of soap from his pack, waiting for you to come out of the bathroom so he can go in.

Delia moves out of the way, the thin fabric of her robe soaked through in places from her wet hair. She leans over to pull a comb made of whale bone out of her pack and slinks over to the sofa where she perches and begins combing out the tangles.

Zale didn’t notice the way your robe clung to you, nope. He disappears quickly into the bathroom and shuts the door.

Delia hums another song from home, one she and her sisters often sang together, as she finishes getting out the snarls from her hair. She twists it up with an easy and practiced hand and uses the comb to pin the mass in place on top of her head and off her back. She leans back and eyes Zale’s sketchbook, curious about what he was drawing.

Zale washes quickly in the bath, sans song, before lying back and soaking briefly. Hm. Head could use a soap too. He moves down and then immerses himself completely into the water, opening his eyes underneath and grinning to himself before surfacing. He attacks his head vigorously with the soap, working up a lather.

Delia resists the desire to invade Zale’s privacy and look in the sketchbook. After all, the sweet guy kept her off the streets and took in a total stranger. She gets up and wanders over to the window to look out on her new city as the last rays slip away.

Zale finishes his bath, empties the tub, remembers to rinse, thanks to years of having it dinned into his head by his parent, and then towels off, dressing in the bathroom and putting his towel up to dry. He leaves his laundry on the floor near the hamper and emerges from the bathroom, clean but damp. He tousles his own hair and whistles as he lights the lamps in the room.

Delia turns as she hears Zale enter the room. “So, what were you sketching? May I see?” Gold flecks sparkle in her eyes reflecting the lamp light.

Zale sticks his hands in his pockets. “Sure, if you want.”

Delia walks to the table and bends over to pick up the sketchbook, not paying attention to what that means in a short robe. She flicks it open to the last page and looks surprised. “Me?”

Zale scratches his elbow looking embarrassed. “Yeah, I – uh – sketch anything nice.” He amends hurriedly. “Not that I think you’re nice.” He stops. “I mean, you are nice”, he says awkwardly. “I’ll just go get some dinner.”

Delia barely hears Zale trip over himself as her fingers trace lightly over the sketch. He got the ears a bit wrong, but there’s a reason why she wears her hair down usually. He catches her attention with the word dinner though. “Dinner?”

Zale pauses in his heady rush towards the door. “Do you want to come with me? I was thinking – dunno – there’s some cafes and things on the riverfront.” He grins, all ease now after the awkwardness, and tousles his own hair some more.

Delia closes the sketchbook carefully and looks up at Zale with a grin. “If you don’t mind me tagging along some more. I’m suddenly starving.

Delia says: Just let me change, I don’t suppose I should go out in this.

Zale goodnaturedly nods and rummages around in his pack, which he just carries over to his alcove. He remembers his satchel and moves that as well, before looking around the ‘kitchen’ part of the room properly, trying to think of anything else that might be needed to be bought. “Just remembered I forgot to buy my beads from that lady in the temple, maybe tomorrow.”

Delia heads to her alcove and tugs the curtain closed for Zale’s sake, she’s started picking up on the fact that he seems to not like seeing skin. That will be hard to remember. “I’m sure she’ll be there, she needed time to make them anyway,” Delia calls out as she slips off her damp robe and spreads it on top of the curtain to dry. She shimmies back into some lingerie and throws a simple and easy dress on over top.

Zale turns around as you emerge from your alcove and grins. “Right, let’s go.”

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Else-game I run plots. How would it be if I did something similar? For example:

What do you think?

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At Least It is not Genua!

The foyer of the AM branch of the Green Slab office is just bustling with activity as reporters and editors rush in and out, slamming doors and occasionally slamming into each other. The whole atmosphere has a jumbled and chaotic feel. Office memos fly through the air and it is easy to see how the truth might get lost in the middle. A map hangs on one wall, another wall is covered with notices, another is filled with framed iconographs, and the fourth bears a huge representation of the Green Slab logo and a painting of the head office in Bes Pelargic. A few cheap metal chairs are lurking for visitors, and two doors lead off to other parts of the suite.
There are three obvious exits: east, west and south.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley is looking ever elegant.
A bulletin board [ 16 notes ] is mounted on one wall and The Green Slab box is in one corner.
Sammie closes the west door.

Sammie stumbles into the office, closes the door, and races pellmell into the editor’s office to the south. Finding it empty, she peeks out in a moment and glares at you. “Do you know where Miss Lockheart is?”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks up from his pile of notes, some of them blood drenched, and smiles lightly. “Miss Lockhart? She left earlier, I fear.”

Sammie looks slightly sick and collapses into a chair near the door. She rubs her temples distractedly. “Uhm, that’s too bad. I’ll write her a note then.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks at the young lady curiously. “Goodness. She’s an editor for half a day and disasters already happen. Can I possibly be of assistance in her place?”

Sammie gazes at Sir Andrew d’Ackerley. “What? Don’t be ridiculous.” She looks a bit green for a second. “I think I might be sick soon”, she informs you helpfully.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks mildly worried. “Oh, my. There is a bucket under the desk.”

Sammie decides to risk trying for the bathroom in the basement. “Mrrgfl”, she says, and dives for the stairs.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks after her with mild concern. “Goodness.”

Sammie returns in twenty minutes, looking a little better, and slightly sorry for herself. “Well. Sorry about that, whoever you are. It’s been hellish.” She looks tortured for a moment. “Absolutely hellish.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: Dear me. Please, do sit. Napkin? Andrew d’Ackerley at your service.

Sammie perches on one of the little metal chairs intended for visitors, and tiredly takes her blazer off. “Are you a reporter too? Do you know where she lives? Asha, I mean. She’s the owner, and I really need to talk to her.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley politely says with a Morporkian accent: Miss Lockhart has not owned this establishment in years, dear. That said, I believe that she comes by daily.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: A year, anyhow. I think there was some mixup.

Sammie gasps, all her tiredness vanishing. She rises from her chair like an angry cockatoo, her high fluffy ponytail aiding this resemblance magnificently. “Well! Isn’t that just the limit, I am the last to hear all about it, and I was the one risking my life with those crazy Genuans!”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks politely flustered. “Goodness. I am — sorry? Tea?”

Sammie looks briefly mollified. “Six sugars please.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley pours out a cup of sugar and adds a bit of tea. “My. Rough day?”

Sammie takes the cup from you before you can offer it. “Rough year.” She dives into it.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley asks with a Morporkian accent: And you will, still, ah, be working here, I take it?

Sammie emerges from the cup. “What do YOU think?” She sits down again, and presses a hand to her forehead, very much like the subject of ‘Lady faints’, art by Gendert Stuysbak (to be found in the Royal Art Museum). “You have no idea what I’ve been through. Dear lord. Dear LORD. I was a gossip columnist.” She sits up, and looks imploringly at you. “A harmless little gossip columnist. That’s what I was.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: Ah. Yes. Right. I remember being a gossip columnist. Terribly frightening at times. Yes.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley pours himself a cup of tea as well. Normal amount of sugar.

Sammie waves this aside. “No, no, no, no, NO. I was GOOD at it. I was excellent. I. was. the. BEST.” She downs her tea and gives her cup to you, indicating you should pour again. “But then, this story came along. Undercover. Join the Mano Rossa. Why not Sammie?” She laughs to herself, slightly manically. “YES. Why not Sammie? Why? WHY? Just because I’m – Genuan? Oh god. I couldn’t bear it, you know. The first time. I came running here. HERE. To the land of the free. The home of the – the – Morpork.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley pours obediently. Somebody has him well trained.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: Ah, the Mano Rossa. Terribly crude people, I am told.

Sammie takes her cup back from you, and sniffles into it. “I did it. For the love of the Slab. For the love of – of – this paper.” She looks up at you. “You have no idea. No idea. Thugs. Ruffians. RUFFIANS.”

Sammie whispers tragically to you that they use HAIR OIL.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley touches his hair with two fingers, then look at his two fingers, horrified. “Goodness. How… uncivilized.”

Sammie finishes her cup of tea and attacks a chocolate biscuit with enthusiasm. “I couldn’t sleep in my bed at night, for fear of – fear. Yes. I was afraid of being afraid. And – and – all the things I was finding out.”

Sammie says: Which obviously I can’t tell you anything about.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley politely asks with a Morporkian accent: I take it, ah, horses’ heads and garlic?

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with a Morporkian accent: One hears a lot about those and Genuans.

Sammie shudders. “Worse, worse, worse, so much worse.”

Sammie says: And all this time Asha has been GONE? I shall sit on her when she gets back.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley takes off his monocle and polishes it carefully before murmuring, “Goodness, me, she’d likely enjoy that. Ahem.”

Sammie raises an eyebrow and then colours. “Uh, anyway. I was editor here, you know. I was important.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley mildly asks with a Morporkian accent: I do believe that we are all important – in some fashion — are we not? More tea?

Sammie asks Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: Got anything stronger?

Sammie assures you solemnly that some people are _more_ important than others.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley raises his eyebrows and rummages in the drinks cabinet. “Brandy? I think this bottle has been sitting since my last tenure, ahem.”

Sammie eyes it. “I’ll take it.” She holds up a hand. “I don’t need a glass.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley wordlessly holds out the bottle for her to take.

Sammie cuddles the bottle and sips from it and tells you the most amazing story of escape, of carriages changed, of pursuers lost, and of roads well and truly left for dust. “And I came shtraight here”, she finishes, sounding a bit worse for wear.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley mildly says with a Morporkian accent: Goodness, once again. And here I am, worried that my lady wife will be upset that I might be late for dinner. You must lead a very extraordinary life, Miss…”

Sammie assumes the posture of the subject of ‘Lady faints’ again. “Shammie. Shammie Shmitten. How do you do? Quite well thank you. Oh yesh yesh oh yesh.” She passes out.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley repeats pointlessly, “Andrew d’Ackerley. I remember that name. You write about Doctor Montague.”

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