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Lupine Wonse

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[27 Aug 2005|04:02pm]
My Lord has made no mention of our talk the night before last. I suppose that's just as well.

Last night I dreamt dragons.
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secret societies and a chat with my Lord [26 Aug 2005|07:38am]
Busy times. I have exhausted every resource looking for Leonard da Quirm, and to no avail. He seems to have simply... disappeared. It's tempting to call these past few weeks a complete waste of time, but I did make one important discovery, one which has started me on an entirely new search.

I met Muriel about a week ago - I first saw him arguing at a vegetable shop, presumably about blemishes on his tomatoes or maybe wilted celery leaves. It struck me how very like the kids on Cockbill Street he was, seizing on the tiniest injustices because he couldn't do any thing about the larger ones. We never had much on Cockbill, but we still managed to do more than the rich kids. I suppose it was because, having so little, we always strove for more. Or maybe it was all the spite and resentment we had bottled up. Not much can stop you when you're loaded with malice and you've taken aim.

What I couldn't accomplish with another gang of kids like that.

After that I kept my eyes peeled, watching for other people like Muriel. There were plenty, but what to do with them? I decided to start a Secret Society - you can't go wrong with one of those, after all. There are probably several dozen secret societies in Ankh-Morpork alone, but I doubt this lot would ever make it into any of them, except maybe Brotherhood of the Dregs of Society, and even then only as Keepers of the Sign-In Sheet. This is not, contrary to popular belief, because they're not good for anything, but because nobody understands how to use this sort of potential. They don't have talent, they don't have insight. All they have is the complete mastery of mediocrity, and seething anger because of it. They're stupid like sheep, and just as amenable, with the added bonus of unsheepish rage at the general unfairness of life. Give them some nonsense passwords and an eldritch portal and you have their undying loyalty. It's true that they'll never accomplish anything on their own, but in the right hands, they're excellent tools, exactly the way my Lord is not.

Speaking of whom, my Lord never stops surprising me. Just when I think I've gotten a decent grasp on his character, he suddenly turns around, and I realize that I don't know him after all.

Last night was our first meeting (it's taken that long for the cloaks to ship in). I had the members of the new Secret Society choose Secret Names for themselves, you know, Brother this and Brother that. Muriel, who'd been the last one in and who'd had to shut the door, decided to be Brother Doorkeeper. Tulney, the plasterer, decided to be Brother Plasterer. Neither was as bad as Dunnykin, who decided to really exercise his imagination and call himself Brother Dunnykin.

In any case, upon returning to the Palace, I was informed that my Lord had asked me to see him in his office. Immediately.

I admit that I panicked slightly. Did he know? Considering that this was Vetinari, who had enough eyes in the city to rival Blind Io, I wouldn't be surprised if he did. Does.

When I arrived, his desk was completely clear, not a paper in sight, and he was just sitting there, hands folded, eyes fixing instantly on my face as I opened the door. The candle hadn't been lit, the curtains hadn't been drawn, and the moonlight poured in through the window, soaking his face and hair pale silver. He looked deathly ill, sort of ghostly, or maybe just old.

I was relieved to find that he had not summoned me on the matter of secret societies and taking over the throne. In fact he wanted to... talk. About life, about purpose. Not, and very conspicuously so, about loneliness. It was "Which of these things is not like the others" only reversed; we danced a ring around the subject, touching everything close to it but never exactly what was so visible on his face.

I didn't know what to do, quite frankly. In all my time here at the Palace, I've never seen or even imagined Vetinari acting like this. I tried to go along with whatever he said, but after a while, I had to ask, gingerly, "My Lord? Do you miss... people?" (Even I wasn't going to go around asking Lord Vetinari whether he was lonely. For one thing, the new Brothers would be wondering where their Supreme Grand Master went.)

He stared at me a long time - it's pretty much impossible to get used to that stare, no matter how many times you've been treated to it. Finally he said, and his voice was perfectly calm, "Yes, I do. I quite miss my Aunt, for example. You've met her, haven't you? A wonderful woman."

I couldn't figure out whether that was an innocent remark (unlikely, considering the source), or, if it was a cue, whether it was telling me to stop asking questions, or to start asking better ones.

"Just her?" I said weakly.

"Is there someone else I should miss?" He still hadn't moved.

"Maybe people in general?" I suggested.

"I see people every day," was his response.

"Maybe people you can talk to, instead of order around or negotiate with?"

"Maybe," he said. "And where could I find such a person?"

I knew what I wanted to say to that: There is one right in front of you, my Lord. I didn't think I could say it though, for a million reasons - I didn't know if that was what Vetinari wanted to hear, it wasn't my place to say it... and so on. Not least of all because I was plotting to overthrow him.

Obviously my response was taking too long, and Vetinari sighed. "Nowhere," he answered himself. "The person you describe doesn't match anyone in this city or the next, anyone who knows who I am - and these days my face is printed on small change. I suppose that's what happens when you rule the city. Loneliness of command and so on."

It was the sigh. Right from the sigh, I knew that I had made the wrong decision. I should have said, I will treat you like a human being, or We can talk whenever you like, the way we have been tonight, or even the first response that had come to mind: You don't need to find such a person, my Lord. I am right here.

What could I say to make up for the sigh? He must have really let his guard down, because I could tell he was getting tired and frustrated, which is no small thing for Vetinari. He looked like he was preparing to dismiss me, so I said the first thing I could think of that sounded remotely coherent: "It seems to me that, because of the position you hold, it is difficult to find someone who will treat you as an equal." I glanced at him quickly. He didn't seem too offended, so I continued, "You never know if people are trying to gain favor, or find a weakness, and that's assuming they're actually brave enough to talk to you without filling every sentence with 'if it pleases your Lordship, sir' and frantic curtsies." I glanced at him again. He seemed to be paying close attention. I swallowed. "But that comes with the job. And... and it seems to me that someone must do it. A capable ruler must give up himself, his life. He must become superhuman - above people. He must be slightly distanced from the city, for the sake of the city."

I looked at him again. His expression hadn't changed. I walked briskly to the window, made a slightly cramped gesture with an open hand. "So I should think that when, um, when nights get long and cold, a ruler who is giving up so much for the city but receiving so little thanks, should look at the... at his city. He should remind himself what miracles he has worked in his city, and tell himself that the... the nights are worth it. For the city."

Did I believe everything I was saying? I'm not sure. Didn't I feel even a little guilty for my hypocrisy? Yes, yes I did. But at that moment I thought I could see exactly what he was seeing - night upon lonely night in a little office with stacks of papers, all neatly lined up and stretching forever into the future. It was slightly frightening that Vetinari would be desperate enough to reach out to me, to come so close to outright admitting weakness, and really, I just didn't want him to be lonely anymore. In any case, he seemed to feel better after my impromptu speech. If he knew I had been working against him, I suppose he decided to ignore it for the time being. Instead he joined me at the window, and lifted his face to the moonlight.

I think that was the first time I've ever really seen him smile.
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brainstorm: how to prove Kingship? [07 Aug 2005|10:19pm]
How should we convince the people of Ankh-Morpork that the person I choose should be King? If it's some sort of incredible task, it'll have to be something the King can do that nobody else can. Also, if we're trying to win people over through tradition, we should use some traditional story elements - trusty steeds, wicked magicians, that sort of thing.

Several possibilities:

1) He pulls a sword from a stone.
The idea has merit, but how do we stop everyone else from being able to pull it out as well? Maybe hidden mechanisms that he has to activate? It's probably better if he thinks he accomplished it by himself. If we're going to tell everyone that he's the rightful King, he has to believe it too. Maybe I'd activate the hidden mechanisms, then?

2) He overthrows the evil tyrant, freeing the citizens from their sorrow and oppression.
An emphatic NO. My Lord isn't actually a tyrant, as such. Besides, if he were just overthrown all of sudden, I think people would be more bewildered than joyful. Besides, this is only a good idea if we want a King with sharp, metal things protruding from vital parts of his anatomy.

3) He defeats the beast which has been plaguing the city, freeing... etc.
Probably not. There is no beast, and even if we had one brought in, any monster that was weak enough for the King to defeat wouldn't last long in a city like Ankh-Morpork. No doubt angry merchants and irate bartenders would have it outside the gates in a matter of minutes. Also, freeing the city from a beast that arrived yesterday probably won't earn as much gratitude as we're hoping for. On the other hand, patience is key, something I learned from my Lord himself (ironic that his wisdom should come up now, while I'm plotting to overthrow his reign). Setting the beast upon the town and waiting a few weeks could work. Even a few months or a year would be fine.

4) He rescues the princess from great peril (thus freeing her from...).
Problem: there is no princess. People might believe there was one if we told them so, but even then, if they don't know first-hand how blindingly fair and (most importantly) generous she is, why should they care whether she's rescued or eaten? (In fact they might prefer it if she died a gruesome death, the more gore the better. Everybody loves a show. They might even pay for tickets.)

5) He conquers all our enemies, even if they didn't know they were enemies, and brings to Ankh-Morpork an age of peace and prosperity.
Well, technically speaking, my Lord has already done this, only with fewer battles and more diplomacy than fairytales would lead one to expect. If anyone else did this, it would probably involve a great war of some sort, lots of deaths, and bitter old veterans. Probably not the way to go.

Of course the best option would be for him to be born into the royal family, with the royal blood flowing through his veins, but we'll just have to make do with what we have. Out of these options, probably the first one would work the best. I just need some sort of stone that attaches to the sword... I heard that Leonard da Quirm was quite ingenious at creating interesting new devices. I'll ask around and make an appointment to see him sometime this week.

My Lord has been in one of his Moods lately. As always, the term is relative - it's hardly noticeable unless you're watching, which the entire staff is - but it's as if the rather expensive floor tiles have turned into eggshells, and the walls into flimsy rice paper. The maids all hurry outside during breaks to gasp for the air they had been afraid to breathe in on shift, in case the rice paper walls blew in from all the excess respiration or, worse, in case my Lord decided to be sarcastic at them about it.

It's not even as if my Lord has been particularly nasty lately. In fact, he's been positively nice. He keeps asking people how they're feeling. Several maids have decided that they couldn't take it anymore, and now I have a folder full of resignation letters.
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what they think they want [06 Aug 2005|07:40pm]
It's occured to me that I might have overlooked an option.

I don't need to get the Guilds interested in a replacement. I could appeal to the citizens.

And what do the citizens want?

They want the "back in my day" that they keep talking about. They want what they had before all this Patrician nonsense, which was, of course, of the Patricians - they just want stability.

But since they don't even know what they're looking for, they would be easy to convince that what they really want is a King.
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better than leadership [04 Aug 2005|09:27pm]
I think that, upon looking at me today, very few people would believe I was ever part of a gang. On Cockbill Street, though, what was the alternative? There was no way I could've beaten them, so I had to join them - had to find a place among kids bigger, older, and stronger than I was. Fortunately I found it before long, my niche, and it didn't even involve being beaten up very often either: though I couldn't run very fast or punch very hard, I could think. I came up with ideas.

Intelligence was in rather short supply among the Cockbill kids. We're talking about young boys and girls who nicked whole watermelons for thrills. They couldn't even carry the watermelons. Just how far did they think they were going get, rolling their loot around the streets of Morpork? Obviously the point wasn't to meet the desperate need for watermelons on Cockbill Street. The point was to impress. (After a while, you learn to think like that too. Even if it's something you personally would never do, just to keep the rest of them happy you start coming up with really flashy, really stupid ideas, like, "Let's everyone put a hand on that butcher's stand over there and grin cockily at the butcher! Whoever keeps his hand there longest wins. Oh, and don't leave any fingers behind or it's a loss by default.")

Being the only one who had more brains than testosterone meant that I was the only one who actually thought things through. I came up all the ideas, and, most importantly, everyone listened to me. I wouldn't have switched places with any of the other kids, not even the gang leader, whomever it happened to be that week. I could never understand why everyone wanted to lead. It was such a superficial position: if you were too brainless to figure out what to do (most of our gang was), let alone what everyone else should do, does it matter whether anyone listens to you?

The position of the leader constantly shifted, passing from person to person like some sort of wonderful prize. The moment you got your hands on it, everyone who hadn't was looking enviously at you, cracking their knuckles and showing their teeth.

Nobody ever wanted to take my position, which I guess was slightly telling: yes, of course there were disadvantages. I told everyone what to do, but only as long as they wanted to listen. At all times I danced half a step from being a punching bag. But so long as I kept them entertained, I wasn't entertainment, which was better than what I had before.

As it was, I became very good at coming up with ideas.

You could say it was a life skill.

Yet at the moment, there are no ideas, and I think I know why. Ever since I read that journal, I have been trying to prove that I wasn't like Lord Winder's clerk, most especially by way of homicidal urges. I have come to the conclusion, however - and this is most regrettable - that as long as my Lord is in power, there is no way for me to reach The Goal.

I have utmost respect for my Lord, but the very things that cause me to respect him as a person make him the worst possible instrument in attaining The Goal. He is not pliable, my Lord. He has no hidden desires, no weaknesses to exploit. I suppose I could poison his dog and offer the antidote for his resignation, but then I would have to invent some poison hitherto unknown to man (and, by extension, my Lord), and even then I fear he'd simply raise his eyebrow at me and somehow everything would fall back into his favor again.

No, a future with my Lord as the Patrician is not the future I need.

I will not kill him (must always put that line between myself and Lord Winder's clerk, myself and insanity; besides, he'd probably refuse to die). He will just have to be put out of office somehow.

I see two options: I could either expose some hidden failing of his, or I could increase Guild interest in another candidate. Either way I would need a suitable person to take the figurehead as the next Patrician. Someone popular, friendly, very obedient, but not given to quiet reflection. Or thinking at all, for that matter.

In other news, an interesting letter arrived at the Palace today. For the first time in recent history, someone has volunteered to join the Watch. A dwarf, no less, straight from the mines - I doubt he would fit in with the Day Watch. I'll have a word with Captain Vimes about it, but I don't think he will need much convincing. He only has four members at the moment, after all, including himself. I believe he needs all the help he can get.
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obligatory first entry [02 Aug 2005|06:38pm]
Someone has misfiled page three of the Thieves' Guild monthly report. I sincerely hope it wasn't me, because then I would have no one but myself to blame for a wasted day.

Several other clerks and I have spent all morning searching, but to no avail. What we have found out of place totals as follows: a book on written grammar, several blank sheets of paper which probably at one point served as place-holders, a hairpin, and the journal of a clerk who served under Lord Winder. I have read a few entries and come to the conclusion that it obviously wasn't just the Patrician who was mad. Every page is crammed from edge to edge with ravings over the nature of Lord Winder's gloves and what it means to be free. One entry stood out to me, however, and I transcribe the first half of it here verbatim:

He is calling for me...Collapse )

The second half is almost entirely illegible - that is to say, moreso than the first.

Despite the rather... frantic nature of his writing, something in that entry struck a chord with me.

It's not that I want to kill my Lord, not at all; in fact I bear no ill will toward him whatsoever. But it's true that sometimes I wonder if I couldn't do better than that, if it shouldn't be me sitting at his desk, running his city... But that's not it either. Why be the man in power when you can be the man behind the power? (Technically, that's where I am now, but Lord Vetinari doesn't listen, not as much as he should.)

The fact remains that I am a man with goals, with ambitions. I come from admittedly humble origins, but I was raised to reach for the stars. What I need is to create in my mind the ladder I must climb to reach those stars, to follow until I can just stretch out my hand and pluck that prize from its celestial branch. (Sound effects at that point would be optimal. Nothing fancy, mind. Something simple would do, like pling, or glick.)

Ladder-building. Yes, that is what I need. That is what this journal is for: to solidify The Goal in my mind, to allow me to occasionally take a step back, so that I may see where the sum of my efforts is taking me. I don't believe that just writing something often enough will make it happen (words have power, but not that much power. That clerk was obviously a fool - if you want someone dead, you can't just talk about it. Whoever heard of anyone being killed by words?), but it will keep me focused. It's easy to be caught up in the little things, the path rather than the goal. It's easy to forget the destination. I will not let that happen to me.

Finally, I realize that I am taking advice from a madman's diary. However, even a pile of rubbish can yield jewels. One merely has to have enough experience to pick out the precious stones from the glittering rocks. That is all.
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