Borogravia Needs Silver!

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.

Honest Asha Lockhart opens the west door.

Honest Asha Lockhart arrives from the west.

Honest Asha Lockhart closes the west door.

Andrew d’Ackerley looks up from the desk with mild surprise at the new arrival. “Well, well. There’s a face I have not seen in quite some time.”

Honest Asha Lockhart looks haggard and tired, she’s picked up a new scar or two. “Figured you’d be here Viscount.”

Andrew d’Ackerley chuckles softly. “Indeed, I was only five years gone myself. That’d be Earl now, by the way.”

Andrew d’Ackerley gestures to the sofa as if to suggest that she take a seat.

Honest Asha Lockhart sits and leans back, staring at the ceiling. “Earl, right? How high up is that, I can’t keep track.”

Andrew d’Ackerley shrugs dismissively. “In a kingdom, quite high. In a modern tyrantship such as ours? Outdated and irrelevant.”

Honest Asha Lockhart asks: Aren’t we all?

Andrew d’Ackerley leans against the desk, resting his hands on it. “I am trying somewhat to return this paper to relevance. It seems that after you and I both left the city for various reasons it went into quite some decline.”

Honest Asha Lockhart grins, still looking up. “Reasons, yeah. A variety of reasons for sure.”

Honest Asha Lockhart looks at Andrew, “This city… can go to hell.”

Andrew d’Ackerley says: Oh, quite. A number of them on my end as well.

Andrew d’Ackerley quirks an eyebrow over the monocle. “You mean to say that we have not yet arrived?”

Honest Asha Lockhart smirks, a twinkle in her eye. “Figuratively, at lest. I’ve certainly seen places worse, some of them I had a hand in that.”

Andrew d’Ackerley takes out a slender cigarette from a silver case and holds it out to the woman as well. “I am also looking to re-establish some of my old business activities, of course.

Honest Asha Lockhart takes the cigarette and lights it, taking a long drag. “I don’t even know what you do, Viscount.”

Andrew d’Ackerley amusedly says: Earl.

Andrew d’Ackerley says: I… am my wife’s arm candy, of course. I dabble in writing. I attend soirees and galas. I vote conservatively in half a dozen gentlemen’s clubs.

Honest Asha Lockhart looks thoughtful. “Nah, that just doesn’t roll of the tongue.”

You casually say: And of course, I do a bit of smuggling, some blackmail, an occasional murder, all for the family fortune.

Honest Asha Lockhart grins. “Now you’re talking my language.”

Andrew d’Ackerley says: I delight in annoying the living daylight out of my noble peers, buying up slums and restoring them.

Honest Asha Lockhart laughs as a cloud of smoke escapes her lungs. “Pointless. But still there’s humour in it.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague opens the west door.

Doctor Raleigh Montague arrives from the west.

Doctor Raleigh Montague closes the west door.

Honest Asha Lockhart glances at the newcomer, eyeing him over.

Andrew d’Ackerley looks at the new arrival. “Ah, hello, Montague.” He turns to Asha. “Doctor Montague of the guild, a friend of mine. One of the few besides yourself who might actually connect my name with illicit activities.”

Honest Asha Lockhart says: I wouldn’t know what you’re talking about.

Honest Asha Lockhart looks Montague up and down. “Do I know you?”

Andrew d’Ackerley says to Doctor Raleigh Montague: Asha here is quite well connected with the Thieves’ Guild.

Doctor Raleigh Montague nods to the occupants of the room, and gets out of the way of a rushing reporter. “Hello there.” He shrugs, his eyes amused. “I don’t know. Do you?”

Honest Asha Lockhart shrugs, “Well, I did run the thing.”

Andrew d’Ackerley amusedly says: Case in point…

Honest Asha Lockhart says to Doctor Raleigh Montague: You look familiar, or I’m going mad.

You quietly ask: …”going”?

Doctor Raleigh Montague looks like he doesn’t want to comment on the mental health of people he hardly knows, and grins. “Well, I’m a fixture at the Conlegium.”

Andrew d’Ackerley says: Oh, it’s quite true.

Honest Asha Lockhart’s own hair is matted and tangled, so her opinion may be inaccurate.

You ask Honest Asha Lockhart: You look like you’ve been to the underbelly of the Disc and back with only a potato sack for company. What kept you the last few years?

Honest Asha Lockhart says to you: Colloquially… this isn’t the only thing known as “slab’.

Andrew d’Ackerley says: Hmmm. Never got into the drug trade. Not quite fond of what it does to the users.

Honest Asha Lockhart shrugs. “Point A, point B, didn’t ask too many questions, eventually they start telling you and then you have to decide how much you care about what’s in the package.”

Honest Asha Lockhart says: In my case, apparently not very much.

Andrew d’Ackerley says: You need to find the fun in your work, dear. Me, I take immense job satisfaction in watching Lord Rust go reddish purple and Mr Slant lose his stitches.

Doctor Raleigh Montague asks you: Wasn’t it more of a greyish blue?

Honest Asha Lockhart smirks, “I can see the fun in that… maybe I should go back to larceny…”

Andrew d’Ackerley says: Either. Both? I will cause him an aneurysm yet.

Honest Asha Lockhart looks thoughtful, “What’s Rust’s rank, Viscount?”

Andrew d’Ackerley says: I believe he is also an Earl.

Andrew d’Ackerley says: Of course he is an Ankhian earl, whereas I am merely from some backwater region named Skund.

Honest Asha Lockhart loudly says: Well obviously there should be some sort of bloodsport. Two earls enter, one earl leaves. You could sell tickets.

Andrew d’Ackerley laughingly says: I think it is still illegal to duel one’s grandfather to the death, dear.

Doctor Raleigh Montague quietly says: I could be your second and take your place.

Doctor Raleigh Montague says: Then no such familial ties arise.

Honest Asha Lockhart says: that’s not quite as poetic…

Andrew d’Ackerley says: He’s also eighty years old, Montague, it wouldn’t be much of a fight for you.

Doctor Raleigh Montague grins and picks up a paper to peruse, still a part of the discussion, but more content to allow old friends the chance to catch up in peace. “Quite, quite.”

Andrew d’Ackerley quietly says to Honest Asha Lockhart: If you’re interested in honest work as an editor again, we seem to still have your chair out back. If you’re up for not quite legal work for me on the side, we can work something out.

Honest Asha Lockhart asks: is theft involved?

Andrew d’Ackerley says: It happens. So does bruisings, blackmail, and illegal fighting rings.

Honest Asha Lockhart says: I do need to make quota, I have some standards, lax as they are.

Andrew d’Ackerley says: To each their own. I just want to rule every part of this city that Vetinari doesn’t.

Doctor Raleigh Montague looks remarkably comfortable with this entire discussion, and turns a page of the paper he’s holding languidly.

Honest Asha Lockhart shrugs, “Works for me Viscount.”

You ask: Splendid. Say, how are you in a ballroom dress?

Honest Asha Lockhart says: Abysmal, you already knew that.

You ask: Quite. Still, ’tis but polite to ask. Think you can pull off a convincing valet, though?

Honest Asha Lockhart says: That probably depends on what a valet is.

Doctor Raleigh Montague helpfully says: Gentleman’s assistant.

You amusedly say: A manservant, dear. One of those with a powdered wig who run around looking important one step behind their masters.

Honest Asha Lockhart asks: Unseen in plain sight?

Andrew d’Ackerley says: Quite so.

Honest Asha Lockhart says: Cakewalk then.

Honest Asha Lockhart asks: This has something to do with Rust I take it?

Andrew d’Ackerley says: I am intending to set the good doctor here up as a wealthy Borogravian silver mine owner in a while, you see. I just need to find him some servant staff, that sort of thing.

Andrew d’Ackerley says to Honest Asha Lockhart: Oh, absolutely. Borogravia needs Ankhian money.

Honest Asha Lockhart says: A con? I didn’t think you had it in you d’Ackerley.

Andrew d’Ackerley smirks slightly. “Then you never paid enough attention to me five years ago, dear.”

Honest Asha Lockhart says: I suppose not, Viscount.

You ask: Have you been doing a lot of catching up the last days, then?

Honest Asha Lockhart says: Not exactly…

Honest Asha Lockhart says: Seeing as I only got here a few hours ago.

Andrew d’Ackerley whistles lowly. “And you came straight to me. I am flattered.”

Honest Asha Lockhart says: I have been avoiding the place. Too many memories. Too many wives.

Andrew d’Ackerley says: … Yes. I can relate to that one.

Doctor Raleigh Montague crosses one leg over the other and smirks at this statement. “Oh, don’t worry. d’Ackerley knows just how you feel.”

Andrew d’Ackerley absentmindedly crumbles up a print page and tosses it at Montague’s head.

Honest Asha Lockhart says: And no, I went to the guild first.

Honest Asha Lockhart looks thoughtful. “Wait, who’s armcandy are you now then?”

Honest Asha Lockhart asks: Not the Seamstress?

Andrew d’Ackerley amusedly says: Pozpaws’.

Honest Asha Lockhart says: Not the Seamstress then.

Andrew d’Ackerley says: I have not seen or heard from that one since she walked out on me, and all things considered, I should not mind keeping that status quo intact.

Honest Asha Lockhart says: Well I’ll… not give her your regards, if I see her.

Andrew d’Ackerley says: Thank you. Some bridges are best kept well and solidly burnt, I suppose.

Honest Asha Lockhart raises and imaginary glass. “To ex-wives.”

Andrew d’Ackerley raises his imaginary ditto. “Indeed.”

Honest Asha Lockhart grins and looks at Raleigh, “I guess I’m your ‘valet’ then, Doc.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague belatedly raises one as well. “And so on. Although I only have one ex-wife.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague grins back at Asha. “Let’s do it.”

Honest Asha Lockhart says: Your hair isn’t -that- good.

Doctor Raleigh Montague tosses his plait about. “It’s good enough.”

Andrew d’Ackerley says: I tell you, Ash, the widows -swoon- about it.

Doctor Raleigh Montague grins as he puts the paper aside. “Just came in to tell you that vampiress is back in town.”

Andrew d’Ackerley loses his smile. “Great. I absolutely fucking loathe that lot.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague says to you: She’s brought her entire entourage along again. Wonder if one of them will pay me a visit again.

Andrew d’Ackerley looks disgusted. “I’ll tell my wife. I’m sure she’ll tell her pet vampire.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague looks interested. “Daimon? Why? He’s unlikely to be involved.”

Andrew d’Ackerley says: That lot are all involved with each other to some degree. They all come from the same place.

Honest Asha Lockhart raises one eyebrow.

Doctor Raleigh Montague shakes his head. “I think you’re wrong about that one, old chap.”

Honest Asha Lockhart says: They’re not all bad, Uberwald was… interesting… but Daimon never struck me as anyone’s pet.

Honest Asha Lockhart says: Then again I do remember him hiding in a thieves’ den from some woman.

Andrew d’Ackerley says to Doctor Raleigh Montague: Look up the Almanack de Gothic sometime, old boy. He’s in it.

Doctor Raleigh Montague looks amused. “He did? Pray tell me more.”

Honest Asha Lockhart says: I don’t know, some mad vampire groupie.

Doctor Raleigh Montague says to you: Oh, I know he’s in it. I’m just saying he battles long and hard to keep that side of him under control, and I think he manages it well enough.

Honest Asha Lockhart says: Or another vampire or something, I barely remember, drink was involved and lots of it.

Doctor Raleigh Montague says to Honest Asha Lockhart: Hm. Interesting, nevertheless.

Doctor Raleigh Montague says: I’ll bring it up with him when I spar with him next.

Andrew d’Ackerley says to Doctor Raleigh Montague: So my wife tells me, aye. But he’s still likely to be a good bet if you want to know more about your special enemy vampiress.

Honest Asha Lockhart asks: Spar?

Doctor Raleigh Montague grins. “Oh, just – boys will be boys, you know?”

Honest Asha Lockhart says: Boys are never boys, Doc.

Andrew d’Ackerley says: Of course, one boy is a professional killer and the other is a vampire and the bastards never invited me.

Honest Asha Lockhart says to you: I could fight you if you want.

Andrew d’Ackerley says: I want to watch them beat each other up.

Doctor Raleigh Montague leans back his chair. “Considering our last fight was in the middle of a snowy ruin, I doubt you’d enjoy it.”

Andrew d’Ackerley nods. “Fair point, fair point. Perhaps in summer.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague points at you. “In the summer, aye.”

Andrew d’Ackerley says to Doctor Raleigh Montague: We should probably look into how we wish to deal with your vampiress, though.

Doctor Raleigh Montague looks thoughtful, and nods. “She is – becoming a problem.”

Andrew d’Ackerley says to Honest Asha Lockhart: How are you with mugging vampires?

Doctor Raleigh Montague says to you: And by the way, d’Ackerley, that ninja of yours, the one who lives in my building, I think she might be in trouble. I saw Quelch mopping up quite a lot of blood on her floor, and she hasn’t been seen since.

Honest Asha Lockhart grins, “Give me a pointy stick and–” She starts and shakes her arm wildly. Pulling up her sleeve to reveal several chattering imps and even more watches.

Honest Asha Lockhart snaps, “Shut up.” She turns to the two men, “Apparently I have to be in several places boys. You know where to find me.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague eyes the watch and imp collection with interest.

Andrew d’Ackerley quirks an eyebrow at Asha. “We do. But get back to me on vampire mugging.”

Andrew d’Ackerley says to Doctor Raleigh Montague: As for my little ninjadversary, I assure you that I did nothing to her.

Doctor Raleigh Montague easily says to Honest Asha Lockhart: See you around.

Honest Asha Lockhart says: Dark alley, pointy stick, 30%.

Honest Asha Lockhart says: Business as usual.

Honest Asha Lockhart salutes Andrew d’Ackerley.

Andrew d’Ackerley smirks and nods at Asha as she leaves.

Honest Asha Lockhart bows to Doctor Raleigh Montague.

Doctor Raleigh Montague bows courteously to Honest Asha Lockhart.

Honest Asha Lockhart grins sarcastically, “Have fun being boys being boys. Viscount, Doc.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague grins.

Honest Asha Lockhart slips out of the building arguing with her sleeve.

Andrew d’Ackerley mildly says: Earl.

Doctor Raleigh Montague says to Andrew d’Ackerley: I was quite sure it wasn’t you; it didn’t look like it was quite your style.

Doctor Raleigh Montague thoughtfully says: I don’t know if she’s still alive.

Andrew d’Ackerley says: Well, maybe I should try to find out. If she owes me, she might be willing to let go of her ridiculous vendetta.

Doctor Raleigh Montague amusedly says: Stubborn as they come.

Andrew d’Ackerley says: So’s Asha.

Andrew d’Ackerley says: Also a criminal prodigy with no morals whatsoever.

Doctor Raleigh Montague asks you: How long have you been acquainted with her?

Andrew d’Ackerley says: However, she likes me.

Andrew d’Ackerley says to Doctor Raleigh Montague: She took over the editorship here after me the first time, some eight years or so ago.

Doctor Raleigh Montague nods. “A long friendship then.”

Andrew d’Ackerley nods. “You can probably tell that she has a lot of my confidence.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague quietly says: It did become fairly obvious, yes.

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Boy Time

Doctor Raleigh Montague puts away his papers at last and prepares to be social; it’s a rare weekend he doesn’t show up at the guild, and he didn’t over this past weekend. He moves to the cabinet. “What’s your poison, d’Ackerley? I think we might have – tea.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Mineral water, or tea will be fine as well.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: … I really need to stock my own office. It’s still got most of my predecessor’s wardrobe in it.

Doctor Raleigh Montague quickly puts the small portable kettle on and laces a cup with tea leaves. He grins. “Strange thing to store in your wardrobe at work. Perhaps he had a busy social life.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague says: I didn’t really know him at all.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley politely says: He certainly kept quite a few throwing knives. And unlabelled bottles.

Andrew d’Ackerley walks over and settles at the desk as well.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley sits at the desk.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley asks: So, had a nice weekend?

Doctor Raleigh Montague pauses in the act of pouring himself a brandy. “Unlabelled bottles are not pleasant things in our profession.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague makes your tea as the kettle boils and hands you a cup. “Not a bad weekend, even if Ankh was blanketed in snow. You?”

Andrew d’Ackerley accepts the tea and adds one lump of sugar to it. “Oh, quite nice. I had a chat with one of your students, Alaia, as well. Lovely girl.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague looks amused as he settles down with his brandy snifter. “Regular mischief.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Mm, quite. I think I managed to keep her out of trouble this time, though.

Doctor Raleigh Montague toasts you with his glass. “I thank you.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague asks: What exactly was she about to do, or dare I not ask?

Andrew d’Ackerley clinks his teacup against the glass in a mockery of a proper toast. “Mm. She picked up some exciting gossip to share with the girls. I managed to convince her to keep quiet.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague raises an eyebrow. “Dear me. These girls, d’Ackerley, will be the death of me.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague says: Mind you, it’s not like the boys at Viper House didn’t gossip; of course they did.

Andrew d’Ackerley observes with amusement, “I have often felt that way about the lot of them, girls and boys alike. However, you do seem to have made quite the impression on Miss de Vitis. I just convinced Alaia to leave it be.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague narrows his eyes as the implications of this sink in. “What?”

Andrew d’Ackerley looks up from his tea, quirking an eyebrow over the monocle. “I’m sure she is not the first lady to blush and fidget at the mention of your name, mister his hair has its own fan club.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague groans and puts his glass down, getting to his feet as he does. He strides to the window. “That is – unfortunate.” He stares out over the rooftops of Morpork, lost in thought for a second. “And so now I am the target of idle gossip at the guild – something I have strived so hard to avoid.”

Andrew d’Ackerley sips his tea. “Not unless Alaia doesn’t keep her promise to me.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague turns around to face you, leaning against the window as he does. “It will make no matter if she does or does not keep her promise to you if Miss de Vitis continues to fidget and blush at the mention of my name.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley calmly says to Doctor Raleigh Montague: Ladies are fickle like that. Let her blush. I’m sure she is not the only lady in the guild who fancies you. She will not be the last, either.

Doctor Raleigh Montague taps the fingertips of his left hand against the window sill thoughtfully. “Well, as long as that’s all she does, I suppose you do have a point.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley offhandedly says: Alternatively, get married and develop consumption. I have never drawn the ladies’ eyes to any great extent.

Doctor Raleigh Montague amusedly says to you: How comes Alaia to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time? She managed to sneak into the pits – and now this.

Andrew d’Ackerley replies with equal amusemment, “She reminds me of myself at that age. I think that is why I like her.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague grins. “My dear chap, you do not give yourself enough credit. You have drawn the ladies’ eyes enough to marry three times, surely a record worth noting.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: I am possibly just a sucker for romantic affection, my friend. Be that as it may, I am quite content with the lady whose eye I do possess. I think I made a seamstress very happy last night by pointing that out.

Doctor Raleigh Montague laughs as he returns to his desk, and the brandy snifter. “Indeed. That sounds like a story in itself. Pray tell me more.”

Andrew d’Ackerley gestures dismissively. “I was simply having a nice chat with a young lady of that profession. She thought I wanted to hire her. She was relieved to find out that I had no such intention.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague swirls and sips his brandy with an almost religious fervour. He shakes his head thoughtfully. “It always baffles me that anybody would choose that for a profession.” He holds up a hand. “And yes, before you tell me of the social evils that befall the women who have no other choice, I am amazed that in this day and age that this should be the case, still.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Mm-hmm. However, it is not for me to tell a young lady about the perils of her trade, I am certain she is aware.

Doctor Raleigh Montague drily says: Indubitably, sadly enough.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: It amused me, however, how relieved she was that I was not looking to hire.

Doctor Raleigh Montague chuckles. “It seems odd that she would care, either way. Is she acquainted with your wife, perhaps?”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Aye, she mentioned something about that.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley amusedly says: Aye, it does, but still. The burn. The pain. The blow to my masculinity. Even seamstresses sigh with relief when he passes them by.>

Doctor Raleigh Montague amusedly says to you: There, there, d’Ackerley. At least you have a wife to warm your bed at night, not to mention your cold, cold heart.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley dramatically says: No woman will ever thaw out this ice.

Doctor Raleigh Montague quips quickly, “Except the one who did.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: All three of them. Although third time does seem to be the lucky time for me.

Doctor Raleigh Montague says: Three times a charm; I’ll keep it in mind.

Andrew d’Ackerley steeples his fingers. “Mm. I admit that I feel somewhat awkward when talking about my wife, that is, my first or second wife…

Doctor Raleigh Montague says: So, your ex-wives.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: The romantic in me protests that true love does not leave a trail of ex-wives.

Doctor Raleigh Montague waves this aside airily. “I don’t know about the romantic in you, d’Ackerley, but mistakes can be – and are often – made. At least you have the courage to try again.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague says: I am convinced that I could never be married again.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley quietly says: I felt like that at first when Dameer died.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Then… I felt I needed to have somebody in my life who cared whether I lived and died. I suppose I got a tad desperate, even.

Doctor Raleigh Montague doesn’t say anything, but his eyes are sympathetic. He nods. “Yes. And that was a mistake, which is clearly why it ended. As for me, I think I am well and truly done. Imogen was the first – and the last.” His eyes are far away. “I do not possess that fine art that other men do of letting anyone get past a certain point, least of all a woman, and Imogen felt it keenly.” He sighs. “I simply couldn’t be the husband she needed me to be.”

Andrew d’Ackerley studies the other man’s face for a bit, then replies, “Pozpaws respects that point in me. She knows that she will never own all of me, just like I know that I will never own all of her.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague enviously says to you: And I – I envy that.

Doctor Raleigh Montague says: Most women want to possess all of me, and I am simply not one of those men who ever could be.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley quietly says: I count my blessings daily. With the right woman, men like us can be happy. But do not make my mistake and rush in a second time, no.

Doctor Raleigh Montague shakes his head. “No. I can promise you I will never do that.”

Andrew d’Ackerley lights a sleek cigarette and places it in a cigarette holder. “You are not under pressure to wed. Enjoy your freedom and the lack of obligations that comes with it.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague helps himself to a cigar from a drawer beside him, and offers you one for after you’ve finished your cigarette. He lights it, and settles back in his chair. “Oh, I intend to, d’Ackerley. I have no desire to wed. I do not think it suits me to have a wife, and I infinitely prefer to live alone.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: I have set up a little place, a flat if you will, to have an office away from home. Some of my business I prefer to keep out of the eyes of the ladies of the house.

Doctor Raleigh Montague blows a smoke ring and glances amusedly at you. “Ah, a secret lair that not even your wife knows of, eh?”

Doctor Raleigh Montague lazily says: You dog.

Andrew d’Ackerley lights the cigar from the end of the cigarette. “Oh, she knows it exists but…”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Mm-hmm. There are some of my affairs I like to keep private, as you well know.

Doctor Raleigh Montague amusedly says to you: And plenty enough of mine I’d like to keep private as well, naturally.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley asks: I take it that you will not be bringing Miss de Vitis to my… establishment?

Doctor Raleigh Montague puts his feet up on his desk, looking a little too relaxed for his own good. “You’re crazy, d’Ackerley. Why would I ever tell anybody about that part of my life, when I haven’t in three years, ever since I started?” He glances at you. “It’s one of the reasons Imogen blew up at me, that final day. She said I was doing something she wasn’t to know about, and killing myself, and that she felt useless as a wife. And I, being the cad that I was, I dismissed her.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague simply says: And she left.

Andrew d’Ackerley nods. “I do not think women will ever understand why men must balance on the precipice to feel truly alive. I am secretly relieved that my wife does not ask.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague says: I do not wish to be possessed, and I do not wish to possess. I do not know why this is so hard to accept or understand.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley quietly says: Most people fear abandonment.

Doctor Raleigh Montague shrugs. “Then I do not understand that. Perhaps I am just not cut out for relationships.” He taps the ash from his cigar into a glass ashtray on the desk. “I can only ever offer some of myself, never all.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says to Doctor Raleigh Montague: When is anyone perfectly suited for one or the other, Montague? When I was a youth I wanted to marry so that someone would love me. Married, I still find myself sometimes looking wistfully at girls in spite of having everything I need. Men are never quite satisfied, I fear.

Doctor Raleigh Montague says to you: And yet, funnily enough, to be married was never one of my dreams.

Doctor Raleigh Montague pauses. “You know – some of my history. What man in his right mind would ever wish to involve another in that madness? I fell for Imogen; I don’t deny it. I think, mostly, I fell for the way she loved me.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague says: But a family? Children? No. I am simply not the right man for it.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: I’ve spent most my life trying to meet my parents’ expectations or rebelling against them. I married Poz, finally, because all she asks of me is that I be her friend. Not her master, not her pet.

Doctor Raleigh Montague quietly says to you: And it is a reasonable request.

Andrew d’Ackerley nods and sips the last tea. “It is. As for children… I don’t think I would make a good father. Fortunately for any potential offspring of mine, I also seem unable to sire them.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague finishes his own brandy. “Pssh, old chap. I think you might make an excellent father, mostly because you know what not to do.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: What, spend my time drunkenly raping the country lasses? That is not too complex.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Avoiding that, I mean.

Doctor Raleigh Montague says: That, and putting undue expectations on sons.

Andrew d’Ackerley steeples his fingers. “I am somewhat off that hook, at least. With Anthony as my designated heir and his son after him, it’d only be a mess if I was to add a pup of my own to the roost.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague grins and smokes his cigar. “Very obliging of your brother, in that case.”

Andrew d’Ackerley gestures a vague dismissal. “He’s always been the one who did things right. I have come to terms with it. He seems to be doing a very good job at restoring the estates, and I am sure that once his kids are old enough to recognise faces, I will help influence them.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague amusedly says to you: Besides, you might just father a girl.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley amusedly says to Doctor Raleigh Montague: In that case, should such a thing ever occur, I pity the male half of the population for I shall guard her like a very angry hawk.

Doctor Raleigh Montague grins lazily. “And quite right too.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: -Especially- from suave gentlemen whose hair has its own fan club.

Doctor Raleigh Montague laughs. “Give me -some- credit; I will console myself by being her favourite uncle and teaching her lethal kicks.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: According to Alaia, my marriage to Poz is the most romantic thing ever to happen on the Disc. I wonder who told these girls all about it.

Doctor Raleigh Montague rummages on his desk and pushes a lurid magazine towards you, clearly intended for teenage girls. “I confiscated that from Miss Bingham-Jones the other day. There’s a feature on your wife, and they certainly make it sound like she has quite the life, married to a nobleman, owns her own businesses, writes by day, and dances by night.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague says: Add the iconographs to that drivel, and there you have it.

Andrew d’Ackerley glances at it. “Does it remember to note that my lady wife outranks me in terms of nobility?”

Doctor Raleigh Montague drily says to you: They quite forgot to mention that.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Thought so. It doesn’t sound quite as romantic as being swept up and away by a knight on a white horse, I suppose.

Doctor Raleigh Montague shakes his head, looking amused. “Not at all; they do make it sound like you rescued her.”

Andrew d’Ackerley laughs softly. “From what, being the city’s most desirable bachelorette?”

Doctor Raleigh Montague grins at you. “Pile of filth, isn’t it? It gave me great pleasure to confiscate it.”

Andrew d’Ackerley chuckles and nods. “Goodness, I don’t even publish that level of pointless non-truth in the Slab.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague laughs as he stubs out what’s left of his cigar. “And that is saying a lot, that is.”

Andrew d’Ackerley smiles. “It is. And I enjoy every minute of it. Who is better suited to drag a man’s reputation through the filth if not that man himself?”

Doctor Raleigh Montague gazes at the softly falling snow outside his window and stretches. “Who, indeed? Mind you, I am quite glad to no longer be featured in your Page Three column. Miss Smitten really did pay undue attention to me for quite some time.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: That must have been before I returned to the editor’s chair.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Given that page three is dedicated to an Agatean beauty these days.

Doctor Raleigh Montague grins. “Quite, and Miss Smitten is currently undercover in Genua, for some bizarre reason.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague drily says: I keep tabs on people who keep tabs on me.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Of course. Who wouldn’t? I publish mild dirt, I keep the filth in secret drawers in case I need it.

Doctor Raleigh Montague says: Don’t we all.

Andrew d’Ackerley studies the other man a moment. “I should play fair by you, I suppose. I intend to take over Alaia.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague raises an eyebrow. “In what fashion?”

Andrew d’Ackerley quietly says: The girl is a troublemaker. She has a keen intellect and she likes being in trouble. If she continues on her current path I’ll have her set up as one of my finest agents in a few years.

Doctor Raleigh Montague raises an eyebrow. “Quite so. Mind you. Dammit, d’Ackerley. She’s only seventeen. Just – ease her in slowly, and keep her safe.”

Andrew d’Ackerley nods. “Fret not, my friend. I am neither cradle robber nor child abuser. For all we know, she might decide to marry and raise ten snot-nosed brats.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague laughs. “Heaven forbid, and although it hasn’t happened yet, I am starting to feel keen sympathy for her husband of choice.”

Andrew d’Ackerley says, with obvious amusement, “I am simply grateful to not be seventeen. I would have fallen for her so hard she could have dragged me around by a ring in the nose.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague laughs at the thought of this. “She’s trouble, that girl. Smart as a whip, brave to the point of being foolhardy, and naturally rebellious. Cute as a button too.”

Andrew d’Ackerley smiles. “Aye, makes me all fuzzywarm and paternal inside.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague grins. “Her own parents are rather overprotective, which might not be so odd for first-generation immigrants.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: No, quite. This city is not friendly to those who look foreign. It has always amused me how quickly my own family integrated into Ankhian society — have blond hair and blue eyes and marry a Rust, ta da.

Doctor Raleigh Montague nods at you. “Yep, I’ve got the blonde bit covered.” He pauses. “Uberwaldean ancestry gives us a pass. White is white everywhere.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Aye. Small gods bless the ancient Hacknkoffs for never importing blood from Brindisi, I suppose.

Doctor Raleigh Montague raises an eyebrow. “Quite, quite.”

Andrew d’Ackerley steeples his fingers again. “Speaking of the Rusts, I really need to get back to my long term goals of ruining them financially and making Old Freddy off himself in embarassment.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague folds his arms, his feet still on his desk, and lazily leans back in his chair, which obliges with a slight creak. “Want some help?”

Andrew d’Ackerley quirks an eyebrow over the monocle. “And pray tell, how good are you at passing for a wealthy foreign investor, I wonder?”

Doctor Raleigh Montague tips his invisible hat to you and tells you in flawless Uberwaldean that he is so looking forward to seeing the new system of clacks to invest in; all that gold’s been burning a hole through his ancestral home’s property wall and he’s dying to move to Ankh-Morpork, ah the dream, the dream. Look, he even does the hand gestures to match.

Andrew d’Ackerley laughs softly. “I shall have to introduce you at the next clan get-together, then. Everyone knows I have no head for managing my vast fortune, and if I show up with a wealthy investor, there will be several lords vying to take you away from me.”

Doctor Raleigh Montague laughs. “And this is where I should rub my fingertips together and cackle like a maniac, eh?”

Andrew d’Ackerley smirks. “Indeed. Let us make certain that the Rusts never exhaust their supply of, say, slightly tainted silver from — where shall we say, Borogravia?”

Doctor Raleigh Montague laughs. “We shall, d’Ackerley. We shall.”

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That time of the month eh?

Raleigh Montague arrives at the ruins in the middle of the Tump, where, unaccountably, nobody goes, and slips in between the marble ruins to the centre, where there is a rather crude courtyard. He settles down on a fallen column, and takes in the surrounds, as the last of the pink light disappears from the sky.

Daimon arrives on silent wings, scanning the area before landing and resuming his human shape right behind the assassin. “Boo.”

“Come in, we’ve been expecting you”, says Raleigh Montague in Uberwaldean, and laughs. “Yo, Daimon.”

Daimon hops onto the column, squatting Indian style on it. “Got a note for you.” He holds out a piece of plain looking paper.

Raleigh Montague takes the paper from you, and tucks it away inside his coat; it can wait, whatever it is. “How’ve you been?” He turns around to look at you as he lights a fat candle left behind in the shade of the column, which provides enough light for him to see you clearly. “Sorry about last week. I was – busy.” That was definitely a slight pause.

Daimon looks up at the dark sky. “Been… a bit distracted. You?”

Raleigh Montague looks at the horizon. “Yeah, about the same”, he says absent-mindedly.

Daimon glances the assassin. “You been sitting around rooftops fantasizing about killing people too?”

Raleigh Montague grins as he begins wrapping his fists in preparation for his sparring session with you. “Nah. Don’t need to, mate. I get to do plenty of that.” He glances at you sideways. “That time of the month eh?”

Daimon nods. “Yeah. Guess you’d know about that.” The vampire does nothing to prepare himself.

Raleigh Montague gets to his feet and casually says, “Did you hear from Aell after she went away?” He rolls his eyes. “I feel like I should add the word ‘again’ here.”

Daimon shakes his head. “Don’t think I really got my name on her friendly vampire list anymore. Don’t think she’s in town, though. Not enough bodies.”

Raleigh Montague snorts as he discards his coat, revealing that he is dressed in his preferred non-assassin attire of worn-out jeans and a very casual t-shirt, with boots resembling work boots on his feet. He balls his fists up. “Well, I don’t think she’s got anyone else on that list, so it’s probably empty.” He dances about. “The night is young, dude.”

Daimon stands and lets his hands fall to his sides, the black coat falling to his ankles. “Mm-hmm. My chick asked me to beat a guy up.” He waits for the assassin’s first move.

Raleigh Montague puts his fists in front of his face without clenching them, crouches, and goes for your shoulder instead of your head, probably because this a friendly spar and is intended to be prolonged, both as a social interaction and as practice. “She did?”

Daimon side steps easily with preternatural speed, cloak swishing. He crouches down and prepares for the real hit he knows must be coming. “Yeah, bloke as beats his wife.”

Raleigh Montague takes his time, circling around you, and aims with a backfist. “In that case, the request is entirely justified.”

Daimon counters by raising his arm to intercept the blow, a sensation not unlike hitting a brick wall. “Yeah, I’m thinking about it. Don’t want folks to think I’m a killer, though.”

Raleigh Montague heads in for a grapple, enjoying the tussle. “You’re not going to kill him, you’re just going to scare him straight.”

Daimon sinks into the other man’s embrace a bit too willingly, carrying out a mock biting motion towards his throat. “Yeah.”

Raleigh Montague avoids the lunge and laughs, putting you in a mock choke hold as he does. “So where does this miscreant live? No point reporting him to the watch first?”

Daimon puts his palms on the other man’s chest and presses, hard, pushing himself free with preternatural strength. “Reckon the watch ain’t got time for every domestic tiff in Peach Pie Street.”

Raleigh Montague spins, aims low, and wraps his arms around your knees, pushing forward to dislodge your balance until you land on your back. He quickly straddles your waist. “Yeah, well, the watch is supposed to care about all of this. Domestic dispute 101.”

Daimon arches his back, coiling up and releasing like a spring, in attempt to throw the other man off himself. “Just gotta make sure I don’t like beating him too much.”

Raleigh Montague gets off you, slapping your chest lightly with the back of his hand. “Well, he’s likely not in peak physical condition, so you don’t even need to take too long about it.” He pauses thoughtfully. “Hm. What would the NN do, I wonder?”

Daimon takes a step backward, cloak settling into place around him with a swish of that natural style vampires possess. “The who?”

Raleigh Montague spins and kicks, but near you, not at you. “NN. Naughty Nobles. I have no idea who is behind it, but the theory goes that one day a bored Ankhian decided to do some good in the world for a change, and got up this group. They don black masks and black clothing, so it’s impossible to tell who they are.” Another kick. “The group has some sixteen to seventeen people in it now, and comprises both ladies and gentlemen. They often deal with cases like this.”

Daimon reaches out to snatch the doctor’s ankle out of the air mid-kick. “Yeah?”

Raleigh Montague bends backwards, quite literally, which is the only way to get out of a move like that, and releases his ankle from your grasp. “Yeah. It’s all shrouded in secrecy, although I haven’t been approached to join. I suspect I may know one or two people who are in it, however.”

Daimon crouches with feline grace, awaiting the next attack. “Reckon they’d do more good as by lowering the rent.”

Raleigh Montague grins as he dances around. “Not every Ankhian owns disgusting tenements at high prices in Morpork, Daimon. Besides, they do some good, so what harm can come of it? I hear Commander Vimes has offered a reward to anyone who can tell him about this group. They call them vigilantes.”

Daimon gestures, conjuring up mist at his feet. “Do you?”

Raleigh Montague eyes the gathering mist. “The only property I own is my own home.” He considers this. “In Ankh-Morpork, anyway.”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: d’Ackerley bloke owns quite a bit.

Raleigh Montague aims a kick to where he thinks your knees are. “Yeah, he does. He’s Ankhian though, so it’s to be expected.”

Daimon sidesteps, sending a whorl of mist up around himself and reappearing behind you. “Some of those places ain’t fit for living in. Think one of the Rusts owns ours.”

Raleigh Montague jabs back with a lethal elbow, although he doesn’t really mean it. “d’Ackerley’s related to the Rusts.”

Daimon easily dodges but relocates to being in front of you all the same, allowing the mist to dissipate. “Figures, ain’t most of ’em shagging up with cousins and grands?”

Raleigh Montague thrusts this slightly disturbing image out of his head. “Yeah.” He pauses. “It’s an endless game, although d’Ackerley can at least laugh at some of it. Not all of them can.”

Daimon nods and bends at the knees to launch himself in a superhuman leap -over- the other man. Grinning he agrees, “Yeah he ain’t the worst of the lot though he really fucking hates vampires.”

Raleigh Montague whips around, plait flying. “Nice move, Fangs.” He grins. “He’s not the only one. You’re tolerable for your species, you know.”

Daimon crouches, awaiting the other man’s next move. “Yeah, yeah. I’m bein’ so human I oughta hand in my teeth.”

Raleigh Montague takes his t-shirt off; it’s cold, but he’s made himself hot with all the running and jumping. He balls it into the pile where his coat is and circles you. “What’s the alternative?” He pauses. “If you want to live here, with your family – the woman you love and the kid you call your own – then tell me, what’s the alternative? Hm?”

Daimon watches with interest before replying, “Lying. I could lie.”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: People die in Morpork all the time. When as I kill, I don’t leave fang marks.”

Raleigh Montague lashes out with an open palm – he’s not an idiot enough to come at you with a closed fist, because he knows it’d be like smacking cement – and wraps it around your throat. “Except you can’t, Fangs. You’d die.”

Daimon’s hand whips out, catching Raleigh’s throat in a similar hold, initiating a stalemate that is a tad unfair given that only one man needs to breathe. “Naw, that ain’t why I don’t. It’s cause killing ain’t right.”

Raleigh Montague grasps your wrist with his other hand, trying to move it down and aside. His eyes are amused, even though he can’t really talk right now, and kicks your ankle, hoping it will distract you enough to break your hold around his throat.

Daimon yelps and hops backwards. “Ow!”

Raleigh Montague steps backwards, putting some distance between you and him. “And that’s what I mean. You think it’s ‘not right’. That’s abnormal for a vampire, dude. The fact that you think that is abnormal.” His voice, understanding until now, becomes mocking, teasing in the way men do. “You have morals. Who’s a little moral vampire then?”

Daimon’s pale lip curls into a sneer as he flies straight at the other man’s face, hands first. Sore spot.

Raleigh Montague dodges out of the way with quick reflexes, but barely. He circles around, eyes watchful, as his hands go up in front of his face again.

Daimon pauses. “Don’t make me angry.”

Raleigh Montague raises an eyebrow. “Or what?” He puts his hands down. “You – know I was teasing, right?”

Daimon nods. “Yeah, yeah. It’s just… Not when we fight. Any other time, make fun of me, just not while we fight.”

Raleigh Montague nods, and leans in with his fists to bump them with you. “Maybe we should call it a night, eh? Want a smoke?”

Daimon returns the fist bomb. “Yeah, sure. You know how my curse works, right?”

Raleigh Montague fishes about in his coat and finds his cigarettes, which he keeps in a plain holder, and tosses them to you, followed by a box of matches. He picks up his t-shirt and shrugs into it. “Well, I think so. You feel what you inflict? So good gives you good, bad gives you bad?”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Kinda. If I got their living blood on me.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: IN me, I mean.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Can still kill a guy with my fists.

Raleigh Montague sits on the column, his eyes tired suddenly. “Yeah. I can do that too, sadly enough.”

Daimon nods at Raleigh. “Difference between you and me is, you don’t get off on it, I reckon.”

Raleigh Montague stretches his legs out in front of him, and leans on another column as the flickering light from the candle lights the arena. “I don’t know why I do it.” He glances at you. “Or I do, and I don’t want to discuss it. Reckon it’s already all talked out anyway.”

Daimon nods and lights his cigarette on a flame procured from his thumb. “Yeah. I’m gonna beat that guy up. Just gonna make sure I don’t like it -too- much.”

Raleigh Montague lights a cigarette of his own, using his hand to shade it as he does. “Hard not to, I’d like that a little too much too.” He grins. “No wonder people become vigilantes. Even the thought of doling out justice like that feels like a drug.”

Daimon studies the other man a moment. “Yeah, I suppose it would.”

Raleigh Montague smokes his cigarette, thoughtful himself. “I may not be able to make it next week. I – told a lady I couldn’t have dinner with her today because I’d already promised to come here. Course I didn’t tell her what, why, where, or whom.”

Daimon fixes his lavender gaze on the younger man. “Yeah? Good. Guy needs a chick to make it worth dealing with the shit life throws at ‘im.”

Raleigh Montague says wryly, “And let’s face it, it’ll never be Aell. I’m not waiting around for that.” He glances back at you. “I don’t know what this is, but she’s interesting.” He adds as an afterthought, “And attractive.”

Daimon asks with an Uberwaldean accent: Aell is like, totally fuckable but she ain’t someone you marry or even live with. So good on you. Anyone I know?

Raleigh Montague reminiscently says: Oh yeah, Aell was hot.

Raleigh Montague drily says: Plus, we’d give each other hell.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Aell gives everyone hell, that’s what she does for fun.

Raleigh Montague shakes his head. “Genuan. Lady.”

Raleigh Montague drily says: No, that’s what she does because she can’t help herself.

Daimon searches his memories, then shrugs. “Haven’t really noticed. Introduce me sometime if as you think it’ll be okay.”

Raleigh Montague nods, as he looks at the shadows on the marble. “Yeah, maybe.”

Daimon rests his feet on the column. “Posh type?”

Raleigh Montague says: Definitely a lady. You’d remember if you met her.

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Probably not my type, then. I ain’t exactly been keeping up on my ballroom manners.

Raleigh Montague grins. “How’s your barroom manners?” He gets to his feet and offers you his hand. “In other words, want to get a drink? Let’s go the long way.”

Daimon says with an Uberwaldean accent: Coffee. Your treat. The good stuff.

Raleigh Montague says: Deal.

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To Be Hired or Not To Be Hired….

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.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley is sitting at a table and Jack Bank is standing here.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks up from his newspaper as the lady arrives and smiles a greeting.

Tippy Toesies smiles back at the gentleman and slips into a seat at an empty table and orders a coffee.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley turns a page in his copy of the Ankh-Morpork Times, and makes a note on a small notepad with a pencil.

Tippy Toesies pulls out a small notebook, which is clearly a ledger or something, and starts making small ticks in it. Her coffee arrives and she takes it absent-mindedly, nodding to Jack as she does.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley politely asks: I have a feeling that I have seen you somewhere recently, miss. Am I being horribly rude in not remembering where?

Tippy Toesies turns around, looks at your face, and then shakes her head. “I don’t think so, I’m pretty sure I’d have remembered you.” She smiles.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley chuckles lightly. “Pray tell, perhaps you frequent the Filigree store, miss?”

Tippy Toesies oohs. “Oh I was just employed there. OH! Of course, I met you there once. I am so sorry. I forgot!” She laughs, a slightly nervous giggle. “You see, I was very tired that day and I was just there for a few minutes.”

Tippy Toesies asks Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: How do you do?

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley asks you: Aha! We are collegues after all, then! I am quite well — yourself?

Tippy Toesies smiles warmly. “Never better.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: My wife does have a lot of young ladies employed. I do wonder where she finds you all.

Tippy Toesies giggles. “Well, we all answered the advertisement I think. In the New Woman journal.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks amused. “There is a New Woman journal? Clearly there is a market which has eluded me. I should branch into this.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley politely asks Tippy Toesies: I trust my lady wife is paying you well enough to meet expenses?

Tippy Toesies pulls out a slightly tattered magazine with a blonde woman on the cover and hands it over to you, half-apologetically. “Sorry it’s a bit bent and stuff.”

Tippy Toesies says to Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: Very well thank you. It’s the best pay, everybody says so.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley inspects it with professional curiosity, looking at the front page and the index page in turns. “Fashions and society, it appears. Goodness.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: I am glad to hear it. One hears dreadful stories of young ladies having to work several jobs to make ends meet.

Tippy Toesies turns around in her chair a bit so she can see you a bit clearer. She picks up her coffee and blows on it before sipping. “Mm, and they’ve other stuff too, some random advice, beauty tips, silly things really. The things they think girls love.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Relationship advice and dating advice as well, I imagine? I have been considering dating advice for the Green Slab, actually, but Agatean courtships are very different from what we are accustomed to here.

Tippy Toesies chuckles and blushes at your earlier statement. “Well, I do have another job I guess, but only cause I want a place of my own sometime. Sometimes it can take years and – and sometimes you have to get married and stuff.” She nods, and considers this. “Well yes, definitely. But I think since the Green Slab is an international paper and has an office here in the city you can definitely market your articles to both countries.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley politely asks: We do try, but in fairness, there are several competing papers here in the city as it is. May I inquire as to your second occupation? You are a reporter, perhaps?

Tippy Toesies smooths down the pleats of her short skirt and shakes her head, the blush deepening. “No, no. Nothing like that.” She sips her coffee. “Just some other stuff.”

Tippy Toesies laughs, again, with the nervous giggle.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley returns the magazine to its owner. “Dear me, I did not mean to pry, miss.”

Tippy Toesies takes the magazine and stashes it in her bag. She shakes her red curls. “No no you’re not prying, I promise.” She smiles.

Tippy Toesies bites down on her lower lip and then, with a rush, she says, “I’m actually an escort, but please don’t fire me, I really need this job.” She gazes at you over her coffee. “I promise I won’t bring any clients into the shop or anything.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley places a slender cigarette etui on the table and takes a cigarette from it. Lighting it with a match, he looks up and then laughs softly.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Goodness me, Miss — Tippy, isn’t it? That is hardly for me to judge.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: I am a professional murderer. I have my own ghosts in the wardrobe.

Tippy Toesies sips her coffee, wrapping her hands around the mug for warmth. “It’s hardly a respectable job, I know.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley adds with a small smile, “Besides, my second wife had that profession as well.”

Tippy Toesies’s eyes become very large. “Well.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley confides with amusement, “It was quite the scandal in society, back in the day.”

Tippy Toesies crosses one leg over the other. “I know we’re supposed to be really honest and stuff with our spouses but when I get married I want a clean slate. I won’t tell him all this part of my life.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley nods his understanding. “There are questions that I never asked. A man does not need or want to know everything.”

Tippy Toesies nods, and takes another sip of her coffee. “But not everybody’s as understanding as you and if the man I love was to see me differently, why I don’t think I could bear it.”

Tippy Toesies softly says: I am not even telling my parents really, and they just live on the other side of town.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley nods and draws on his cigarette. “It is a profession with a lot of stigma attached, as I understand it. I speak purely from the bystander’s point of view, though. The only time I actually hired a seamstress, ’twas to help me bathe a runaway girl aged fourteen.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: It did not seem appropriate for me to hold her under myself.

Tippy Toesies raises an eyebrow. “Fourteen? Surely that is old enough to bathe, why I could bathe alone at age six or seven.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks amused at the memory. “She was a… bit on the wild side, that one. Ended up marrying a Fish priest and moving off somewhere. Dated my younger brother first, though. And almost everyone else.”

Tippy Toesies says: And hopefully she can have baths on her own now.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley nods goodnaturedly. “I suspect that I was attempted seduced and missed it, to be honest.”

Tippy Toesies giggles. “By a fourteen year old? Sounds like trouble.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley asks: Oh, quite so, quite so. Some young ladies come with built-in trouble, have you noticed?

Tippy Toesies finishes her coffee and puts her mug down. She shrugs. “I guess I could be one of those although I never gave trouble to anybody else.” She thinks for a second. “And plenty of young men come with built-in trouble too, even worse, in fact because they affect other people too.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley stirs his coffee then raises his spoon and shakes it like a finger. “No, no. Young men do not come with built-in trouble. Young men, at least the ones with money, -are- trouble.”

Tippy Toesies shakes her head. “No Sir Andrew, you don’t need money to be trouble. You can be trouble when you’re poor too.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: The difference there, my dear, is that poor men -can- be trouble, but wealthy young men almost inevitably are.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: The boys in Cobra House, goodness, I think they consist of ninety percent hormones, eight percent rebellion, and two percent common sense.

Tippy Toesies looks doubtfully at Sir Andrew d’Ackerley as she doesn’t know any wealthy young men such as the ones you allude to. “Well I suppose.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says to Tippy Toesies: I may be biased, managing a flock of boys aged eight to twenty.

Tippy Toesies says to Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: It does sound like hard work.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley shakes his head. “Not so much hard as… Let us say that one gains a certain understanding of just how much young boys can be driven by their desire to show off and their desire to meet girls. I dread to think that I was once one of them myself.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley may speak like a sixty-year old but from the looks of him, he’s actually just in his mid-thirties.

Tippy Toesies laughs as she picks up her ledger. “Well, you know, I think it’s sort of hard to look back sometimes at yourself.” She smiles, a little shyly. “That’s why I want this part of my life to disappear completely when I’m ready to move on to the next bit.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley asks: Quite, quite. Pray tell, would it be extremely rude of me to inquire as to which part of society you take jobs in, so to speak?

Tippy Toesies blushes. “Well, right now I’m sort of going freelance a bit.” She fidgets, her hands in her lap. “I mean the guild’s all very well but I don’t really want to give a percentage of my pay away and I can take care of myself. I’m sort of aiming for Ankh really. I’ve only had one job and it was from there.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks interested. “Ankh, aye? Perhaps we shall meet on formal occasions, then.”

Tippy Toesies sighs, noting your look of interest. “I suppose so.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley chuckles softly. “I meant that you might be accompanying others, Miss Tippy.”

Tippy Toesies laughs. “Oh thank god.” She chuckles. “I do like your wife a lot, and really to be honest, if she can’t keep her husband faithful with that face, there’s no hope for the rest of us.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley amusedly says: I have absolutely nothing to complain about in that regard, indeed. My wife is also good intellectual company and well educated.

Tippy Toesies smiles at Sir Andrew d’Ackerley. “You seem well matched I think.” She flexes a shoe-clad foot as the postman talks to him and giggles to herself.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: I believe that it is quite common for unwed gentlemen to proposition a professional lady to escort them to social events, however. One is taught to think of it somewhat as them learning how to behave in preparation for their eventual marriages.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley politely thanks the postman and sends him on his way. Can carry my own shopping, thanks.

Tippy Toesies folds her hands on her lap and nods, listening attentively. “Yes that’s true, I think that’s the reason for a lot of it.” She hesitates slightly. “Of course you know it’s not only about the escorting, they like to call you an escort but you’re also really – well, they pay for your time, let me just put it that way.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley politely says: Oh, yes, I am quite aware. My father’s family has always sported a surprising amount of young ladies with no actual family affiliation, if you will allow me to put in such a fashion.

Tippy Toesies tries to make sense of what he means. “You mean your father played the field?” she offers at last, hesitantly.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley mildly says: Let me put it like this: There are at least eight people of roughly my age in our home town who look remarkably like me.

Tippy Toesies looks uncomfortable. “Oh I am sorry.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley shakes his head. “Don’t be. It is quite common for nobles to be, ah, promiscuous.”

Tippy Toesies sighs. “Common but it’s not acceptable. At least it shouldn’t be.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley steeples his fingers. “I suppose that is for society to decide. Personally I find that one woman is more than enough for me. I do take an interest in the activities of younger members of my family, though.”

Tippy Toesies says: But since society is just a larger representation of people, people like you and me, then I guess whatever we feel we are also society.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says to Tippy Toesies: Aye, but while we can lead by example, we cannot always order others to cease behaving in ways we find inappropriate..

Tippy Toesies shakes her head. “That would be a dictatorship. Or a meritocracy?” She creases her forehead trying to remember the word; she’s clearly someone who went to school for as long as her parents could afford to send her and actually listened in class. “Anyway, it’s been really nice to run into you like this.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley asks: And you, Miss Tippy. Perhaps sometime we can sit down a bit and talk about society?

Tippy Toesies smiles and laughs. “Yes that would be nice. And you’re buying the coffee next time.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley adds with amusement, “I am, and I promise to not try to hire you.”

Tippy Toesies laughs as she gathers up her things. She gives a tiny wave. “Alright well I’ll see you at the shop later.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley returns the wave goodnaturedly. “Take care, Miss Tippy.”

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The Best Coffeehouse on the Disc

This is a small coffee house known as Fat Sally’s. There are three long tables with benches next to them. A small, grimy lamp gives some light, and above it, steam and pipe smoke swirl together around the ceiling. The benches are generally crowded but there is always room for one more. On the stove a kettle whistles and coffee pots are scattered here and there over the tables.

There is one obvious exit: west.

Daimon wanders in, black coat swishing at his feet, and heads straight for the counter to order a generously sized black coffee.

Miss Georgina de Vitis is sitting at a table, nursing a coffee, a book opened in front of her. The slight smile on her lips is a soft one. The shared tables here tend to be busy, forcing people to sit together.

Daimon strolls towards the nearest empty chair. “Mind if I join you, miss?”

Miss Georgina de Vitis almost startles, nudging her coffee, but she smiles at him, “Oh please do.” She uses a handkerchief to mope up the little mess, adding lightly, her cheeks pink, “I was miles away.”

Daimon plops himself down without much further ado, possessing the casual feline grace of the undead. “Thanks. Ain’t easy finding a spot here.”

Miss Georgina de Vitis nods, a small rueful laugh escaping, “I admit, Sandra has been glancing at me for nursing my coffee. I may have to order cinnamon toast to get myself out of her bad books.”

Daimon nods and begins to roll a cheap cigarette. “Name’s Daimon, by the way. Wearing black, not with the school of deadly and posh, though.”

Miss Georgina de Vitis gives him a smile, closing the book and tucking it into her bag. “Georgina. Not wearing black but I am one of the deadly, if not posh.”

Miss Georgina de Vitis is wearing a neat grey skirt and a white blouse, neither of which are expensive.

Daimon quirks a raven eyebrow. “Wouldn’t of thought it, most of those types dress to show off.”

Miss Georgina de Vitis lifts a shoulder, giving him a rueful smile, “Consider me one of those whose pockets and heritage is not always considered suitable. I am a transfer from Genua, you see, where their recruitment is a little more practical in nature.”

Daimon quirks the other eyebrow. “Yeah? You seem sane, though.”

Daimon says: I mean…. Genua.

Miss Georgina de Vitis laughs, her face lighting up. “My family are very grounded. Bookmakers, you see. It is hard to be less than sensible… And you?”

Daimon says: Uberwald. Just, I met a couple of Genuans last night and they were batshit crazy if you’ll pardon my Quirmian.

Miss Georgina de Vitis bites her lower lip, suppressing a smile. “We are… more passionate in nature than this city seems. But Uberwald surely has its own craziness?”

Daimon sips his scalding hot coffee. “Yeah, but this guy was going around the Drum offering people to make them cement shoes, and the chick was all, I so sexeh.” He drawls the last words in a sticky-sweet fashion.

You ask in Morporkian: I mean, not even in bloody Uberwald would a werewolf walk up to you and go, like, dude, want me to shed on your carpet and eat your kid?

Miss Georgina de Vitis widens her eyes and shakes her head, “I’m… I have nothing. How strange.” She catches Sandra’s eye and asks quietly, “May I have some cinnamon toast?” That done, she turns back, “I promise you I shall neither offer you shoes, nor find it attractive. If nothing else, I believe I am meant to be paid.”

Daimon laughs softly. “I were half thinking that the guy were just trying to pull some scam. Maybe he were really from Cockbill Street and his brother sells travel insure-ants.”

Miss Georgina de Vitis laughs, lifting a hand to cover her mouth as she remembers she is meant to be a lady. “Maybe someone was lifting your pocket watch when you were distracted…”

Daimon says: Yeah, I’d understand that, totally. Naw, these kids were just bein’ bloody weird. The other day I went there, some chick from your school pulled a crossbow on me for not wanting to buy a blowjob from her.

Daimon says: It’s like that place attracts all the weirdos.

Miss Georgina de Vitis blinks slowly, “My school? How… ” She trails off, giving Sandra a smile as she accepts her food. “Have you tried this? It is bliss, I promise.” Her grin is full of mischief for a moment and then she adds softly, “Perhaps it is the locality?”

Daimon glances at the place and shakes his head. “Ain’t much for solid food, me. Looks nice, though.”

Miss Georgina de Vitis takes a bite, munching rather than the delicate manners of the ladylike. “I truly think I could live on this… but perhaps having someone who could cook might help that.”

Daimon lights his cigarette with a spark springing magically from his thumb. “That ain’t me. I can boil an egg and I can make coffee, and that’s it.”

“Me neither. I burn water, I swear it.” Miss Georgina de Vitis shoots him a rueful smile, “People who can cook are like gods.” A faint blush colours her cheeks and she reaches for her coffee, taking a sip. (Georgina)

Daimon says: Wizard were laughing at me last night for not just conjuring up food.

Daimon says: Pointed out to him that conjured blood tastes like Ankh water smells.

Miss Georgina de Vitis laughs, shaking her head, “But you are not a wizard?” She pauses at the latter, and then shakes her head, “Forgive me, I had no idea. I’m chattering on about food…”

Daimon shakes his head, raven locks dancing. “Naw, I do study at the University, though. I copy scrolls, that sort of thing.”

“My father used to say that honest work is all a person needs to have worth.” Miss Georgina de Vitis’s voice is soft, the affection for her man obvious. (Georgina)

Daimon nods goodnaturedly and sips his brew again. “Honest work enough for me, writing scrolls. Just don’t make me a Wizard, capital double vee, since I ain’t a graduate and all that. The wizards are hella particular about those things.

Miss Georgina de Vitis smiles, shaking her head, “A little like us deadly types.” She is almost teasing, relaxing as she eats toast, pulling it into little pieces to prolong that pleasure.

Daimon says: Yeah. Seems to be like, a Morporkian thing.

Miss Georgina de Vitis quietly says in Morporkian with a Morporkian accent: Have you had much to do with those at the Guild? It is rather … a certain class of person.

Daimon says: The assassins? I work for a couple, free lance. They use a lot of scrolls.

Miss Georgina de Vitis nods, pushing her emptied plate away, giving him a smile, “I ought to learn perhaps. For the moment though,… there is so much to learn of their culture.”

Daimon nods and offers a small, pearly white smile. “Yeah. Felt that way when I first came to town too. This city’s… bloody different.”

Miss Georgina de Vitis nods slowly, her amusement fading, “It truly is. I come here to feel a little more at home, and less…” She pauses, seeking the words, “Needing to be fitting in.”

Daimon gestures dismissively at the door. “I gave up on that. My kind around here seem to “fit in” by having weekly singalongs and cocoa.”

Miss Georgina de Vitis lifts her cup, curling her hands around it, a little comfort seeking in the gesture. “Do you ever meet someone and wish you were in their class enough?” There is a wistful note to it

Daimon thinks for a moment, then shakes his head. “Not really. I always get told I ain’t got no class to begin with.”

He earns a laugh from Miss Georgina de Vitis, her wistfulness fading under the amusement. “Oh I think you do. Style if nothing else.” (Georgina)

Daimon grins. “The nobs around here always seem bloody uptight, like they ain’t allowed to just kick back and have fun, ever. Ain’t something I want to strive for, I like just floating along on the current, see where life takes me.”

Miss Georgina de Vitis laughs, giggling, and her face relaxes. “I think they can let their hair down if they aren’t in view but everyone is so proper in the Guild, that I think if I speak as we do at home, someone might catch fire.”

Daimon says: Yeah, I believe that. The ones I write scrolls for sure act different when you’re one on one with ’em.

Miss Georgina de Vitis nods, resting her elbows on the table, her chin in her hands, “They do, or some of them do. Some of them just… not scare me, but a little intimidating. Titles, and the like.”

Daimon says: My kind collect titles like other people collect those little pins.

Daimon says: It ain’t all that big a deal.

Miss Georgina de Vitis tilts her head, “The titles? No. But the education at the Guild, it is different to mine. I am their librarian, you know, and I..” She hesitates, giving him a look, judging whether to speak or not. “I cannot read all of the languages in that library.”

You ask in Morporkian: Can anyone?

Miss Georgina de Vitis nods, giving him a rueful smile, “It feels like half of them can.” She shrugs, sipping the coffee, adding lightly, “I’m sorry, I had no intention of going into… after all, we just met.”

Daimon says: Maybe half of ’em are just pretending. Most folks who put on airs are pretending, that’s my experience.

Miss Georgina de Vitis studies him over the brim of her cup, before she nods, smiling at him. “That is likely true. After all, I am.”

Daimon upends his cup and holds it out for Sandra to fill from the Klatchian pot.

Miss Georgina de Vitis joins him in getting a refill.

Daimon says: Everybody’s got something they’re great at. Folks as try to look like they’re great at everything always make me think they ain’t found their own thing yet.

Miss Georgina de Vitis leans back a little against the bench, studying him for a moment. “I think that really is true.” She smiles, a softer one, adding lightly, “Sometimes the changes are a good thing, they bring new people, new friends.”

Daimon nods with a bright white smile. “I can tell you this, I’d rather be a nobody in Morpork than a big shot in Uberwald.”

Her hands hesitate for an instant as Miss Georgina de Vitis flickers a look at him. “I think I would rather be here, than home.” (Georgina)

Daimon says: Well, I ain’t been to Genua yet but if those two last night are common there… ‘Sides, people eat a lot of garlic there.

Miss Georgina de Vitis shakes her head, a small smile creeping out, “I have never met people like you describe.”

Daimon says: Thank some god or other for small mercies.

Miss Georgina de Vitis laughs, her fingers curling around her cup once more.

Daimon goodnaturedly pinches Fat Sandra’s bum in passing.

You ask in Morporkian: Genua’s still got this story thing going on as it used to?

Miss Georgina de Vitis shakes her head, sipping her coffee, before she asks lightly, “Where is the other Morpork? I believe I have seen Ankh rather a lot, but I feel sure there is a less… polite version.”

Daimon says: Gotta head south of the river and into the poorer parts of town. Might not want to go alone, though. There’s parts of town as really ain’t nice.

Miss Georgina de Vitis slants him a look, her eyebrows arching, “Deadly, remember? Sometimes it is useful to know somewhere that others may not wish to go too.”

Daimon says: Yeah. But let me put it like this: There’s a part of town where vampires don’t go ’cause you don’t know what’s in the dark.

Miss Georgina de Vitis leans back in her seat, her eyes widening for a moment, “Which part, Daimon? It would be unfortunate to wander in there.”

Daimon says: Folks here call ’em the Shades.

Miss Georgina de Vitis softly says in Morporkian with a Morporkian accent: Thank you.

Miss Georgina de Vitis looks thoughtful, her finger tapping on the cup, her eyes narrowing slightly.

You ask in Morporkian: It’s that part of town where the monsters check under the bed for humans before going to sleep, you know?

Miss Georgina de Vitis nods, slanting him a look, before she shakes her head, “There is always somewhere in a city like that.”

Daimon says: Yeah, reckon there is.

Daimon says: I know a couple of the senior assassins like to hang out in that part of town, always figured they got some kind of death wish though.

Miss Georgina de Vitis finishes her coffee, putting the cup down gently, carefully. “Always useful to know where.” She glances up at him, curiousity in her eyes. “Or a desire to let their demons out.” She sounds as if she might understand that, a slight smile curving her lips.

Daimon upends his cup as well. “Yeah, that’s a good point. Everyone’s got demons. I go beat the snot out of trees sometimes.”

Miss Georgina de Vitis slants him a look, replying lightly, “I like to run over the rooftops, just for the freedom.” A wistful note slips in her voice as she makes the confession.

Daimon says, with a mildly teasing note, “I can fly.”

Miss Georgina de Vitis laughs, giving him a real smile, one that reaches her eyes, “I envy you. Perhaps a race sometime.”

Daimon says, more seriously, “I envy humans. Sunlight looks nice. The whole family thing. Having a purpose. I guess the grass’s always greener somewhere else, eh?

Miss Georgina de Vitis’ smile fades a little and she gives him a look that has some sympathy in it. “It always is.”

Daimon says: Yeah. See, that’s why I love about this city. You get to meet ’em all. Get to know ’em all.

Miss Georgina de Vitis nods, giving him a thoughtful look. “I should go, I’m afraid. Time to work a little…” She offers him a smile as she gathers her things. “It has been a pleasure, Daimon.”

Daimon waves lazily. “Take care around, enjoy the city.”

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Our Finest Virtue

Thick cigar smoke curls through the air of this stately reading room, wafting across the ornate oil paintings that hang on the clover-green walls. Empty brandy glasses sit on the oaken end-tables. Several stiff leather armchairs provide a stylish place to recline. Clearly this room is regularly inhabited by men in cravats. An important looking sign hangs on the wall.

There are two obvious exits: east and south.

Alaia bounces into the room as is her usual custom and stops short as she sees you in your customary chair. “Hi!”

Andrew d’Ackerley looks up. “Ah, hello, Alaia. I wanted a word with you, actually, if you’re not busy?”

Alaia looks remarkably unbusy as she usually does. “I’m not busy, but if this is about homework or something, can it wait? I’ve just been yelled at for putting my gum under the table in prep.”

Andrew d’Ackerley laughs softly. “No, no. Not in a house master or faculty role, I promise.”

Alaia flops into a chair. “Okay! Well in that case I’m all ears.” She leans forward looking like she is literally all ears.

Andrew d’Ackerley’s lip curls up into a small smile. “I wanted to talk to you about a mutual friend. Or rather, the lady friend of a mutual friend.”

Alaia’s eyes are big. “Ooh. Who?”

Andrew quietly says: I noticed the look on your face when you realized that Miss de Vitis appears to be quite fond of Doctor Montague.

Alaia shrugs an expressive shoulder. “Well, I was a bit surprised she was saying it so much.”

Alaia says: You know, cause he doesn’t like us talking about him or asking him stuff about his life.

Alaia remembers a rather awful punishment she was given once for doing just that.

Andrew d’Ackerley nods. “Doctor Montague is a very private man. That is why I wanted to suggest that we let this… development… stay between the two of us.”

Alaia grins. “Well, alright. I was going to tell some of the girls, but I won’t say anything.”

Andrew d’Ackerley nods approvingly. “I’m sure that the good doctor’s fancies are a subject of interest to a lot of the young ladies. More so with his hair having its own fan club and all.”

Alaia giggles at this. “Well have you seen it? He does stuff and it never gets out of place.” She pats her own curls dismally. “Wish mine would.”

Andrew d’Ackerley reaches up to touch a strand of his own sandy-white locks. “I have to admit that I have never really paid attention to the hair styles of gentlemen to any great extent. I suppose I find ladies’ hair to be of more interest.”

Andrew says: Still, ’tis no great surprise that a handsome, healthy, and unwed man still in his youth would draw the female eye.

Alaia eyes your own hair. “Well, I like men’s hair better I guess although the girls in magazine photos are pretty cute.” She beams. “I guess, and he doesn’t really encourage the girls so that makes them like him more.” She snorts. “‘Sif they stand a chance anyway.”

Andrew d’Ackerley chuckles softly. “I suppose that I do not wish to see our good doctor upset and angered by idle gossip. I would also prefer not to see various ladies of the guild starting to scratch each other’s eyes out in jealousy.”

Alaia looks slightly alarmed at this prospect. “And it could happen too now we’re learning poisons”, she says cryptically.

Andrew d’Ackerley’s gaze turns serious. “Yes. As a matter of fact, I have dealt with attempts to poison my wife twice. Granted, two different wives.”

Andrew says: And unlike Doctor Montague, I am not considered a prize catch by the ladies of the guild.

Alaia’s eyes are round. “Does that happen a lot to your wives then?” She shakes her head. “I’m amazed women still marry you.”

Andrew d’Ackerley nods again. “Twice. That said, I have always been amazed that anyone would marry me as well.”

Alaia pushes the leather of the armchair in with an exploratory finger. “Well your current wife’s very beautiful, she was in the paper for her food column picture.”

Andrew mildly says: My current and, gods willing, lasting wife has admirers enough of her own that I should possibly check my own clothes for poisoned needles, indeed.

Andrew says: My point is, jealous people do bad things.

>

Alaia nods solemnly. “Well, okay. I’ll keep it in mind.” She sighs. “I won’t gossip although it’s very hard to have news and not say. But I do understand what you mean by the greater good.”

Alaia says: Or something.

Andrew softly says to Alaia: I thought you might. Yours is a sharp mind. Tongue too, but predominantly a sharp mind.

Alaia grins. “Thanks, my dad told me I was too sharp-tongued but I was just like him so it doesn’t matter I guess.”

Andrew d’Ackerley looks innocent. “I have certainly never been accused of such a thing myself.”

Alaia says to you: That’s why you and I are such friends.

Andrew says to Alaia: Because we are both gentle, soft-spoken and mellow individuals? I must concur.

Alaia says: And really clever too.

Andrew says: But foremost of all, we are modest.

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Closing registrations

It is pretty evident that we’ve made it onto some bot script somewhere as the site is getting registrations in the hundreds daily at the moment, all the names following the same pattern. While none of these fake accounts can actually post or interact, having them means a pain in the backside for me whenever somebody asks me to search the user directory for their lost account name.

Because of this I am shutting down open registrations at the moment. New roleplayers are still very welcome to register and participate — you’ll just need to mudmail me your desired account name and your email address (to Andrew) in the game instead of registering directly on the site.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

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Biscuits and Tea

Ruff slips into the shop, his hands in his pockets, his air of innocence matching the expression on his face. No cap covers that ruffled hair, and no amount of clothing covers the grubbiness as he browses around the place.

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley stands at the shop counter, making notes in her ledger whilst consulting a small book beside her. She pays no attention to the visitor; she’s used to people coming in at all hours, and she leaves the greetings to her employees. She turns a page thoughtfully, murmuring something to herself as she does.

The lad pauses beside the options of small items, studying them thoughtfully. A keen eye, Ruff is looking at the small and expensive items. That said, he turns away shortly later, to consider other items, the weapons next.

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley rubs the centre of her forehead thoughtfully as she studies the ledger, and gives up trying to balance the books. Making a note to herself to talk to Daimon or Zale when they come in, she heads to the desk, where she pours herself a small drink from a carafe there.

A glance over his shoulder as she pours a drink from the carafe and he moves quietly towards the desk, glancing over the snacks before Ruff asks, casually, “‘ow much is that dagger over there? The black ‘un?”

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley turns around blankly, and looks at the darkened stile in question. Never assuming anything about a person from their appearance is a special trait of hers, and she smiles. “The darkened stiles? Five hundred dollars. They’re from Ephebe.”

His eyes widen a little and he nods, swallowing before Ruff returns her smile with a cocky grin, “Maybe next week then.” The cockiness shows in the faint swagger as he moves past the desk, towards another display.

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley’s eyes are amused, but she nods. “Would you like a cup of tea to go with that packet of biscuits?”

Ruff turns back to her, a picture of innocence, “I wouldn’t mind both, missus. That’d be nice and civilised.” Those biscuits are gone, concealed somewhere on his person.

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley pushes the wicker chair towards you and nods towards it
before putting the kettle on. “What’s your name?”

Ruff takes that seat, as if he is King of all he surveys, and his reply is given cockily, but there is a look at her, just checking her response to his name, “Ruff”.

Tea is poured into a paper-thin china cup which is handed to you with solemnity, and a similar cup of tea is poured out for herself. Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley gestures towards the sugar and the milk, indicating you should add your own. “Well, my name is Poz.” She twinkles. “Shall we share those biscuits you have in
your coat?”

Ruff takes the cup carefully, adding milk and five teaspoons of sugar, “What biscuits?” The blunt reply comes with a grin, and he nods towards the other snacks. “Could share them, if you’ve a fancy to eat?”

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley stirs her own cup of tea, the spoon making no sound. “You’re very welcome in my shop, and you can come in for a cup of tea whenever you like. If I’m not here, tell the people who work here that I said you could.” She smiles. “But if we’re to be friends, Ruff, we have to be honest with each other. Did you notice the sign on the front door? That says this shop and everything within it is all paid up with the thieves’ guild. So that means if you take something, you are breaking your own guild rules, and if you’re not an official member, you’re breaking the rules of the guild _and_ the city. You may keep those biscuits for now, but any future pilferage will result in my reporting you. Please don’t say later that I didn’t warn you.”

Ruff takes a swig of the tea, nearly emptying the delicate thing. “Alright, missus, they’re biscuits, not anythin’ big.” He reaches into the pocket, drawing them out of it and putting it on the table. “There you go.” He empties the cup then, finishing it in preparation to being tossed out on his ear, the expectation obvious.

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley tears the paper holding the packet together and offers you one, a delicious digestive coated with chocolate. “More tea? Those are wonderful dipped in the tea.”

Ruff takes the one, giving her a suspicious look before he nods, offering up his cup. “I’ve got my licence, missus, just you know, figured biscuits aren’t worth the quota.” Almost apologetic, and he wipes his hands on his trousers, merely relocating dirt from one to the other.

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley pours more tea into your cup and positions the teapot closer to you, before pushing some little paper napkins closer to you as well. She takes a seat on the sofa with her own cup, and a biscuit or two. “Oh, I know, but you know how it is. I have to be straight with you if I want you to be straight with me.” She looks curiously at you. “Do you live in the guild?”

Ruff takes the cup, filling it with sugar again, adding some milk. “Sometimes, ‘n’ sometimes not. Depends, see, on how I’m feelin’.” His grin is broad, as he adds, “Some nice places left without anyone lookin’ after them somedays. Like up on the posh bits. I don’t steal nuffin,, so it don’t count.”

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley looks amused as she nods. “Yes, indeed. Mind you, there are usually caretakers, but not many who do their jobs as they ought, I suspect.” She dunks her biscuit in her cup solemnly.

“You get to know which do and which don’t. Either road…” He takes two biscuits, dunking them both at once, and managing to fit both in his mouth. Ruff is not letting a crumb get away. “You live somewhere nice, I betcha?”

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley crosses her ankles delicately as she nods. “Quite. My husband and I live up in Ankh, yes.” She nudges the biscuits closer to you. “Did you grow up in this city, or are you from elsewhere?”

Ruff grins, a broad and cocky one, some swagger to cover his youth. “I grew up over Elm St, missus. It ain’t ‘alf as flash as Ankh but I got me own bit of space and stuff.” He swigs down his tea, using a bit of his sleeve to cross over his lips, his gaze lifting to watch the newcomer thoughtfully, as if appraising his value.

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley performs the necessary introductions. “Lord Camelion Sinensis, this is Ruff, and vice versa.” She nods at the youth. “Quite so. It’s very important to have a space of one’s own, in my opinion.” She hesitates over the word. “Flash isn’t necessary, of course. A roof and four walls and a small piece of home is what counts.”

Lord Camelion Sinensis asks you: Tea, eh? What kind of tea?

“Don’t even need a full roof, not really.” The comment is made through crumbs, and he finishes the biscuits, having hoovered them up, followed by his tea. “Nice ter meet you, mister. She’s got nice tea, see.” He hesitates before putting a small item on the table next to PozPaws, giving her a brief, embarrassed grin, “I gotta get goin’, got my quota to fill, see.” He stands up, shoving his hands into his pockets, “Might come back ‘n’ see you.” Then he is gone, out of the door, shooting Lord Camelion another look on the way past.

Lady PozPaws d’Ackerley pours a cup of orange pekoe tea for Camelion into a paper-thin china cup, and hands it to him, playing the hostess with ease. She gestures towards the sofa. “Please sit, Lord Camelion. I am sure your rabbit can spare you for a few minutes of civility!”

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Cat can look at a king..

The courtyard of the Assassins’ Guild

Ruff is leaning against the wall, his hands in the pockets of his very scruffy trousers, his ankles crossed on the ancient boots, and watching the world go by.  The world, being at this moment, Alaia.

Alaia finds herself the object of scrutiny and wrinkles her nose at the scruffy boy.

Ruff is shameless and grins, lifting a hand to tug at his forelock. “Evenin’ miss.”

Alaia folds her arms and looks around her before looking back at you. “Are you LOST?”

Ruff pushes off from the wall, strolling over, cockily, his grin broad, hands in his pockets. “Nah, I thought I’d see ‘ow the other ‘alf live.”

Alaia unscrambles the words in her head until they make sense. She looks curious. “Why?”

Ruff shrugs, offering that cocky grin again, “Why not? A cat can look at a king, can’t ‘e?  Besides, someone told me you ‘ave stupid ‘ats to wear.”

Alaia rolls her eyes. “Nothing could be more stupid than those pants”, she retorts with spirit.

Ruff glances down at his pants, up at her and then shrugs again, “Yeah? You reckon? That why you ain’t wearing the ‘at then?”

Alaia sticks her tongue tip out at you. “I am not a student. ONLY students wear blonk-hats.”

“Ohhhh, you’re a proper assassin then?” Ruff is definitely mocking her, offering that tug at his forelock again.  “Well, excuse me!”

Alaia puts her hands on her hips. “You’re excused.” She points. “The gate’s that way.”

He straightens and grins at her, “Bright too!  It’s good you know where the gates are.  Best make sure no bugger steals it.” Ruff is laughing at her, the brown eyes in that grubby face dancing.

Alaia says: Brighter’n you, lounging about in the assassins’ guild on a cold afternoon without a coat.

“See, I don’t need a coat. There are these hot girls hangin’ around, making me all over heated.”  Ruff waves a hand in front of his face, turning to watch a classmate of Alaia’s pass.  Or parts… 

Alaia snorts and turns to leave, remembering she needs to get to the lodge.

“See you around, hot girl.”  Ruff is amused by the reaction, turning to stroll casually towards the gates, as if he owned the place.

Alaia pffs and disappears inside to chat to Mr Stippler about her lost key. Again.

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Smoking and blushes

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Good day, Miss de Vitis.Sir Andrew d’Ackerley sits in a stiff leather armchair.

Georgina de Vitis is sitting, reading a book of poetry with a smile on her lips. Her finger traces over the lettering.

Georgina says: Good evening, Sir Andrew.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley settles in and takes out a sleek cigarette from a silver etui. He lights it and leans back. “And how does the day find you?”

Georgina de Vitis smiles, her eyebrows arching upwards, “I have a small technical problem with being a librarian. You?

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley asks: Oh, indeed? No more shelf space, I imagine?

Georgina de Vitis chuckles and shakes her head, offering the little book of poetry, written in Agatean. “My education is lacking. I cannot read these languages.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley asks: Ah. I shall be expecting you in my senior classes then?

Georgina says: I believe I shall have to start with the child classes first, I fear.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: We must all crawl before we can walk, Miss de Vitis. I am still struggling with Klatchian grammar myself.

Georgina de Vitis lifts her eyebrows, hesitating before she comments softly, “And yet, I believe you were married to one?”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley politely says: My first wife was Djelian, not Klatchian. There are similarities, but the two languages are not identical.

Georgina de Vitis nods, and looks a little embarrassed. “Ah forgive me.” She attends to her book once more.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley shakes his head. “‘Tis an easy misconception. Klatchian is… more guttural.”

Georgina de Vitis tilts her head, lifting her gaze to him once more, “How interesting.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley smiles mildly. “It is to me. I suspect that I am a member of a somewhat exclusive minority, though.”

Georgina de Vitis shakes her head, giving him a smile, “No, I can see the interest. I wonder why there is a difference… although, perhaps we see the same here.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley blows a smoke ring. “I trust that on the whole, the guild has taken to you kindly, though? It must be quite the change from Genua.”

Georgina de Vitis smiles, her eyes warming as her cheeks colour. “Very kindly. I have had some lovely … acts of kindness”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley nods his mild approval. “Very good. I do like to think that we are at least a match for the Genuans in hospitality.”

Georgina de Vitis nods, sitting back in her chair, “Definitely.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: The weather must be quite a change, though.

Georgina says: It is rather, and the streets are so different. But Ra… the good doctor has kindly shown me the sights a little.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley nods. “Very good. I trust that he has also warned you against certain parts of the city, the Shades and the like?”

Georgina de Vitis nods, giving Andrew a wry smile, “He has. We took a brief tour of some locations… ”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley nods again. “As long as one does not thoughtlessly amble into the
Shades, the city is quite safe for us who wear the black.”

Georgina says: And the rooftops are a convenient route to everywhere…

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley amusedly says: Ah, yes. Montague does like his rooftops.

Georgina says: I do too, rather. There is a pleasure in the freedom to run across them…

Georgina de Vitis smiles, and a little blush enters her cheeks.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley softly says: Oh, quite, quite. I tend to find myself out of breath too soon, though.

Georgina says: Practice, Sir Andrew. Exercise is everything…

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley mildly says: I suffer from consumption. The Morporkian air is not kind to me.

Georgina asks: That is very unfortunate. Perhaps a kinder climate at times?

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Aye. I rather enjoyed sailing around the Rim, for that matter.

Georgina de Vitis smiles, nodding quietly, her face thoughtful. “I haven’t travelled that far, I admit.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: We sailed, for five years. The disc is a marvellous place, Miss de Vitis. Marvellous, and vast.

Alaia arrives from the east.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley greets Alaia with a nod and a small smile.

Alaia stalks past and then comes back. “Hi!”

Georgina smile at Alaia.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says to Alaia: Good day, Miss Alaia. Miss de Vitis, Alaia here is one of Montague’s little female bundles of trouble.

Alaia beams brightly.
Alaia says: Actually he says I’m more of a pest than anything else.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says to Alaia: Take a seat. Miss de Vitis could do with getting to know a few more people.

Alaia sits on one of the tables.

Alaia says: Alright, but those armchairs are so stuffy and stiff.

Georgina says: I believe we have met. The other day, I think? How are you, Miss Alaia.

Alaia perches her bottom on a table instead.

Alaia asks Georgina: We did meet. Aren’t you the book lady?

Georgina de Vitis nods, her smile curving her lips, “I am indeed.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley steeples his fingers and, not being the deportment professor, says nothing about sitting on tables.

Alaia crosses her legs, ignoring skirt etiquette, and beams at you both. “Isn’t this nice?!”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley amusedly says: Quite, quite.

Georgina de Vitis chuckles. “Rather lovely.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley asks Alaia: I trust Montague has let you off the hook for whatever it was he had you doing extra classes for?

Alaia considers this, and casts her mind back to several punishments ago. “Oh yeah. He’s
punished me loads more since then.”

Georgina asks: You are often in trouble, Miss Alaia? Perhaps this is something I can help with?

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley hides a small chuckle behind a well manicured hand. “And, pray tell,
have you learnt anything?”

Alaia says to Georgina: You have ideas for more mischief? I don’t think there’s more I could do.

Alaia says: I mean, I just fell off the roof and onto Professor Pendrake, and I mean, he said it was the worst thing ever.

Alaia solemnly says to Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: Don’t fall.
Alaia says: But if you, make sure there’s a professor under you.

Georgina softly say to Alaia: I was rather more thinking about how not to get into trouble.

Alaia wrinkles her nose. “But that sounds so boring.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley mildly says: Then he edited the truth a little. I think that time I met Pendrake in the woods, a bull dog attached to the seat of his pants, was worse.”

Alaia giggles.

Georgina de Vitis chuckles and shakes her head, her eyes twinkling.

Alaia folds her arms on her lap, looking way more demure than she could ever possibly be. “And anyway, Doctor Montague would be bored too if I were suddenly good.”

Alaia says: I’m really thinking of him.

Alaia assumes her most selfless expression.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says to Alaia: Might I amend your lesson learned to, make sure it is a professor of some physical size? I do not think I would cushion your fall well.

Alaia says to Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: I think you’re stronger’n you look.

Georgina says: I’m sure he would be delighted. If you fear he would be bored, perhaps I could distract him

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley asks Georgina: Did she just call me weak looking?

Alaia looks interestedly at Georgina. “Oooooh.”
Alaia says: Doctor Montague and the book lady, sitting in a treeeee.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: On a roof top, dear, we are -assassins-.

Georgina de Vitis chuckles, giving Andrew a smile, “I’m sure she merely meant…” She trails off, blushing, “We are just friends, Miss Alaia.”

Alaia says: No, no, that’s not how it goes.
Alaia appears to be rhyming with roof under her breath, and can’t think of any naughty
rhymes. She gives up sadly.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Poof.

Alaia says: Not really ideal here and anyway that’s rude.

Georgina says: Spoof. Hoof.

Alaia says: Love is love.

Alaia nodnods noddingly.

Georgina says: Tooth, if Georgina says it in the Morporkian style.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley chuckles softly.

Alaia sneezes, and looks surprised. “Gosh I hate cigar smoke.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks at his cigarette.

Georgina says: Unfortunate. This is the smoking room, it may be inevitable.

Alaia says: The only cigarette smoke that is sort of nice is the Klatchian cigarettes that Doctor Montague smokes in his office sometimes and that’s only because it’s Klatchian.

Alaia assumes a ferociously patriotic expression for someone who has never been to the land of her fore-fathers.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: I am partial to these Krullian ones myself. I may have to import them.

Georgina de Vitis chuckles, sitting back in her chair and watching them.

Alaia hopefully asks Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: May I try one?
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says, “Certainly,” and offers over his silver cigarette case.

Alaia helps herself to one and looks at it suspiciously from the tobacco end, holding the filter end away from her. This could take a while.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley watches with amusement. “Might want to turn that around, dear.”

Georgina de Vitis chuckles softly, watching the pantomime with amusement.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: I used to be partial to Djelian tobacco, but I find that the mint leaves help me breathe a little easier.

Georgina says softly: Are you aware of the rumours that smoking does not help these things? I believe I read it in a book somewhere.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley nods. “I have read something to that extent as well. I like to think that a man should be allowed at least one vice, though, or surely he will die from being so absolutely dull.”

Georgina de Vitis laughs softly, replying quietly, “Perhaps practice other vices…”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley inquires with amusement, “Might you have recommendations, Miss de Vitis?”

Georgina says: I believe there are some excellent lists in the etiquette books, Sir Andrew.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley studies his slender, long-fingered hands. “Ah, but these hands were not put on right for flower pressing.

Georgina de Vitis chuckles, her eyes twinkling. “Gloves are an excellent addition to any gentleman’s wardrobe.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley honestly says: I have never liked them. I like to feel the texture of what I touch.

Georgina de Vitis tilts her head, considering, “How interesting. Man is such a tactile creature.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley politely says: I do play the violin at times. I suppose one might call that a vice, at least if one is trying to sleep at the time.

Georgina says: It may be one, if you are not talented. My abilities on the recorder, for example, are the bane of those in the same building as I am.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley offers a small smile. “I shall take note to run away if you open a recorder case.”

Georgina de Vitis glances down at her little bag, where a recorder is poking out.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Touch it and I will run.

Alaia eventually gets it right and puffs away at the cigarette with a thoughtful expression on her face, clearly not bothering to inhale. “Hmpf and what a fuss to make of such a silly thing.”

Georgina de Vitis chuckles, giving a smile, “I am not certain that the image does not amuse me.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: I only play for my own pleasure, I must admit. And usually without an audience.

Alaia says: But it’s so easy.

Alaia blows smoke like the god of wind.

Georgina asks: Smoking or playing an instrument?

Alaia waves a hand airily. “Oh, I play the clarinet really well. No, I mean smoking.”

Alaia says: I don’t think it’s

Alaia interrupts herself by accidentally inhaling – the way she’s supposed to – and turns a delicate blue with a very unladylike coughing fit.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley watches with polite interest. Such fascinating shades.

Georgina de Vitis tilts her head, “Do you need a glass of water?”

Alaia wheezes sadly, holding the offending cigarette far far away from her.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley softly asks: A bit too minty, perhaps?

Alaia croaks, “A bit too hurty.”
Alaia gets up and walks to the table and plonks the cigarette into the ash tray there with unnecessary ferocity. “I KNEW they were evil!”

Georgina de Vitis smothers a laugh.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks at his silver cigarette etui. “Evil certainly comes in neatly
engraved boxes these days.”

Alaia glares at Andrew. “Or immaculately clothed gentlemen.”

Georgina says: They are not to be trusted, Miss Alaia, they do lead you astray.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Oh yes. I lead Alaia across the courtyard once.

Alaia giggles.

Georgina de Vitis laughs, covering her mouth demurely.

Alaia says: I don’t think a lot of the girls would mind Doctor Montague leading them astray…

Alaia titters.

Georgina de Vitis blushes, ducking her head to study the book in her lap.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley mildly says: The good doctor does seem to be quite popular with his Widows. I suppose that he does have that certain dangerous look of the classy assassin.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks at his thin hands. “Unlike those of us who just look, well, domesticated.”

Alaia says to Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: I don’t know, I met your wife. You’re lucky.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley asks Alaia: I believe that I heard some of you young ladies started a fan club for his hair?

Alaia giggles.

Georgina de Vitis has a sudden interest in her book, “I’m certain that your wife would disagree.” The blush is taking on its own life.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley amusedly says: Let me just point out that my hair does not have its own fan club.

Alaia nods and laughs. “Yes there’s a fan club for his hair. And some girls have found a way to look inside his office.”
Alaia says: I dunno, a stick and a mirror and another mirror and something something.

Georgina de Vitis lifts her head abruptly, her cheeks now scarlet, a look of mortification showing for a moment before she schools her features.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley quietly says: I suppose I should find out how that is done, so I can keep my office private. I did go in there. Once in the last nine years.

Alaia says to Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: But I keep telling them he won’t ever be interested in them and they won’t listen, they’re silly.

Alaia giggles.

Alaia says: I can find out for you if you like.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley amusedly says: By all means, although I do not think that my cobras are quite so interested in my private doings.

Georgina de Vitis coughs, covering her expression with that hand. “I’m sure the Doctor would be grateful for the privacy.”

Alaia says: Serves him right for being so hot then.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley laughs mildly.

Georgina de Vitis gives Sir Andrew a look, before she returns her attention to the book.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley amusedly says: I shall have to ask him how it feels to be so hot.

Georgina de Vitis murmurs, “I’m certain any companion of his would appreciatethe privacy.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: I am certain that half the Widows would like to bury any companion of his.

Georgina softly say: I do hope they would recall their manners before…

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley politely says: We do train people to kill. Fortunately we also train them to have restraint.

Alaia says: Oh, I’m glad he doesn’t have a girlfriend, I’m sure the girls would take her apart.

Georgina hastily says: For money only, Sir Andrew, not for petty jealousies and revenge.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley quietly says: Aye, indeed. I had the, ah, pleasure of coming across a very well made necklace recently. Prone to poison its wearer slowly.

Alaia blinks.

Alaia says: Okay, that’s just evil.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: ‘Twas commissioned for my wife. Jealousy and revenge, indeed.

Alaia stares at Sir Andrew d’Ackerley.
Alaia asks: By whom?

Georgina de Vitis drops the book, reaches down for it and, in doing so, covers her face. “How awful.”

Alaia says to Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: Hope you got that person back.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley politely says: The guild is not in the habit of revealing the identities of those who take out contracts, dear.

Georgina asks: But surely you have some idea?

Alaia folds her arms. “Then there has to be a rule against contracts like that. That’s just evil and unfair.”
Alaia says: I mean, that would work on me.
Alaia exclaims: I love jewellery!

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley mildly says to Alaia: I imagine that most clients are unhappy with their contracts, dear. I am just trying to illustrate that while we kill for money, the money is still paid for by petty jealousies and revenge.

Alaia says: Well that’s true.

Georgina softly says: It is wise to rise above petty jealousy then. I hope none of the Black Widows would behave s…

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Not unless paid, I rather like to think.

Alaia’s ears prick up and travel slowly in Georgina’s direction.

Georgina says: Absolutely. Payment is the thing…

Alaia looks interestedly at the lady. There’s a lot to tell and gossip is its own currency
in a school such as this. She grins to herself.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley steeples his slender fingers. “The wizards have also been known to
be quite competitive. And, of course, the gentry.”

Georgina de Vitis returns the look with a smile and guileless eyes. “Dead men’s
shoes in the Wizards. I will shortly have the benefit of interviewing Grissom, for his
biography.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: It is a curious thing. One realizes one’s age when the men of one’s generation begin having biographies.

Georgina says: A man who achieved so much so young. His reputation is interesting.

Alaia says in a sing-song voice, “One is one and one plus one is two and one never knows one does one?”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley chuckles softly.

Georgina de Vitis gives Alaia a bemused look before she turns back to Andrew. “And Lady Llylia.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: I remember her as a waif of a girl in her blonker.

Alaia shudders visibly. “I hate those silly blonkers, I never wore mine and lost several in many creative ways.”

Georgina says: I’m afraid that the studying I did to convert saved me the dreaded blonker.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says with quiet relief, “Old money. Saved from the disgrace.”

Alaia says: My mum kept writing notes asking the school to return the blonker I’d left behind at gym and the school kept writing notes to my mum asking where my blonker was.

Alaia says: Neither of them got any notes at all.

Alaia assumes her most angelic expression.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: It is a good thing that I do not teach the young students. I should likely have them all turned into blonkerless rebels.

Georgina de Vitis covers a smile, her eyes laughing.

Alaia says to Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: And it’s very hard being only one of five day scholars here, we’re always under the spotlight.
Alaia plaintively says: It’s not FAIR.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley contentedly says: Not a teacher of students.

Alaia pouts as hard as she can.

Georgina de Vitis smiles, her eyebrows lifting, “Life is, in my experience, rarely fair.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley softly asks: Life is what we make of it, Miss de Vitis. Who has the skill to go elsewhere and become somebody else entirely if not we?

Shadwell tips his hat stylishly.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley greets Shadwell.

Georgina softly say: There are sometimes barriers to doing so, Sir Andrew. Money, for example.

Shadwell says: Ah, Sir Andrew. Well met.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley asks Shadwell: Good day, Master Shadwell. The day finds you well, one hopes?

Shadwell says: Fairly well.

Shadwell sits down in one of the armchairs.

Alaia discreetly sticks her tongue tip out at the new entrant.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley politely says to Georgina: I would argue that money only dictates what level of society one might attempt to blend into.

Shadwell eyes Alaia’s dexterous digit, and chuckles.

Georgina de Vitis gives Alaia a reproving look, her eyebrows arching, before she replies to Sir Andrew, “I disagree. Should you wish, for example, to make a new start in a new city, money is remarkably helpful.”

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley quietly says: If one wants that start to be in comfort, certainly.

Shadwell says: I would have to agree. My father grew up in the Shades, and he seems to be blending into the nouveau riche environment quite well.

Georgina says: Such comforts as clothing, housing and food…

Shadwell grins at Alaia.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: To some, those are comforts, my dear.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley politely says to Shadwell: Might one inquire as to the name? I do have connections among the, ah, young money.

Shadwell says: Bennington Shadwell… but some might know him better as Bent Shades. He wouldn’t like that one getting ’round, of course.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley softly asks: Shadwell… There is a Shadwell and Wainwright law firm, I believe? Or are we speaking of another Shadwell?

Alaia asks Shadwell: What’s your name?

Shadwell looks embarrassed, then says “Radiant Moonstar Justin Shadwell. Please, let’s just keep that in this room.”

Alaia blinks.

Alaia says to Shadwell: Radiant…

Shadwell says: Justin, then.

Alaia giggles.

Shadwell says: My mum’s influence.

Alaia says to Shadwell: Alaia.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Andrew Michael Etienne Chesterton d’Ackerley at your service, Master Moonstar.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks quite amused.

Shadwell bows deeply to Alaia.

Alaia giggles.

Georgina says: Oh you poor thing. I am Georgina de Vitis. Sadly, no middle names to share.

Alaia blushes. “Alaia Fathima Al Rashid.”
Alaia says: But JUST Alaia.
Alaia looks fierce.

Shadwell says to Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: Da was kind of a black sheep; even after he cleaned up on owning a lot of the pork in some of the pork futures, they still wouldn’t talk to him.

Shadwell nods at Georgina.

Shadwell says: Just Justin, or Shadwell, is fine here.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: I can imagine. My paternal ancestors came to these parts several hundred years ago, and we are still on the fringes of Ankhian gentry.

Alaia snorts derisively. “Then you can imagine how we feel! My mum and dad migrated here and we’re rich and my sisters and I were born here and we’re Ankh-Morporkian but everybody still says we’re foreigners.”
Alaia exclaims: And we’re not!

Shadwell smiles and says, “I’m told we’ve been here a long time, too – I’m supposed to have bits of the last five invading armies in my bloodline.”

Alaia stubbornly says: I’m Ankh-Morporkian.

Georgina de Vitis remains silent, her hands folded on the book.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley politely says: If one wishes to be considered Ankhian gentry and -proper- nobility, one must have a direct link to the Selachiis or the Rusts, really.

Shadwell hums a few bars of “Morporkia.”

Alaia says: Oh no. I just want to be considered Ankh-Morporkian.

Alaia says: The gentry is so boring and I saw Lord Rust at a horse racing thing and he looked like a horse himself.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says to Alaia: Change your name to Agnes or Mary, dear.

Alaia says: Only a very constipated one.

Shadwell says: Or be truly indispensible, as our dear Patrician has done.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks amused. “You are speaking of my grandfather, I should probably mention.”

Alaia says to Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: Why should I? I like my name.

Alaia doesn’t look contrite at all. “Well, he does.”

Shadwell says: Really! How fascinating.

Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says to Alaia: He sounds like one too.

Alaia giggles.

Shadwell leans back and taps his chin thoughtfully. “You don’t suppose the next Patrician might have the surname, oh, just speculating here – Vimes?” He grins.

Georgina de Vitis rises to her feet, holding her book against herself, giving them a smile, “I must check this into the library. Thank you for the talk, Sir Andrew, Alaia, Mr Shadwell

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