'She's got a point,' said a man in a butcher's apron. 'I've seen him running around everywhere and I've never seen him carrying any limbs.'

'That's true,' said the baker. 'And anyway, didn't he do all those lovely candles at the banquet last night? That doesn't sound very orc-like to me.'

'And,' said Bledlow Nobbs (no relation), 'he was training us yesterday and he never once said, "Get in there, lads, and tear their 'eads off".'

'Oh, yes,' said the butler, who was making no friends as far as Glenda was concerned. 'Humans don't tear off heads, not like orcs.'

An 'Awk! Awk!' echoed in the distance.

'He's been teaching us kinds of stuff you'd never think about,' said the bledlow, 'like playing the game with a blindfold on. Amazing stuff. More like filosopy than football, but damn good stuff.'

'Tactical thinking and combat analysis is part of the orc make-up,' said Nutt.

'See! No one who uses make-up is going to tear your head off, right?'

'Didn't you meet my ex-wife?' said the baker.

'Well, I'd draw the line if you wore make-up,' said the butcher to general amusement. 'Being an orc is one thing, but we don't want a funny one.'

Glenda looked down at Nutt. He was crying.

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'My friends, I thank you for your trust in me,' he said.

'Well, you know, you're like part of the team,' said Bledlow Nobbs (no relation), whose smile almost managed to conceal his nervousness.

'Thank you, Mister Nobbs, that means a lot to me,' said Nutt, standing up.

That was quite a complex movement.

It stayed in Glenda's mind for ever afterwards as a kind of slow-motion scene of bursting chains and cracking wood when Nutt stood up as though he had been restrained by cobwebs. Pieces of chain spun off and hit the wall. Padlocks broke. As for the couch, barely one piece remained attached to another. It dropped to the floor as so much firewood.

'RUN FOR IT, LADS!'

You would have needed some kind of special micrometer to work out which man said it first, but the stampede along the corridor was swift and over very quickly.

'You know,' said Trev, after a few moments' silence, 'at one point I thought this was all goin' very well.'

'Those women,' said Glenda, 'what were they?'

Nutt stood forlornly in the wreckage; a length of chain slithered off him like a serpent and landed on the flagstones. 'Them?' he said. 'They are the Little Sisters of Perpetual Velocity. They come from Ephebe. I think the name for their species is Furies. I think Ladyship sent them in case I tried to hurt anybody.' The words came out without emphasis or emotion.

'But you haven't hurt anyone,' said Glenda.

'But they ran away,' said Nutt, 'because of what I am.'

'Well, you know, they're ordinary people,' said Glenda. 'They're - '

'Twits,' said Trev.

Nutt turned and walked down the opposite corridor, kicking off the remnants of wood and chain. 'But the world is full of ordinary people.'

'You can't just let 'im go like that,' said Juliet. 'You just can't. Look at 'im! 'e looks like 'e's been kicked.'

'I'm 'is boss, that's my job,' said Trev.

Glenda caught Trev by the arm. 'No, I'll sort this out. Now, you listen to me, Trev Likely, under all that gab, you're a decent sort, so I'll tell you this: see Juliet over there? You know her, she works in the kitchens. You wrote her a lovely poem, didn't you? Ever heard of Emberella? Everyone's heard of Emberella. Well, you might not be my first choice for Prince Charming, but there's probably plenty worse.'

'What the hell are you talkin' about?' said Trev.

'Juliet's going to be leaving soon, isn't that right, Jools?'

Juliet's face was a picture. 'Well, er - '

'And that's because she's been that girl in the papers.'

'What, the shiny dwarf one? With a beard?'

'That's her!' said Glenda. 'She's going to go off with the circus, well, you know what I mean. With the fashion show, at least.'

'But she hasn't got a beard,' said Trev.

Blushing, Juliet delved into her apron and to Glenda's surprise produced the beard. 'They let me keep it,' she said, with a nervous giggle.

'Right,' said Glenda. 'You say you love him. Trev, I don't know whether you love her or not, time to make up your mind. You're both grown up, well, strictly speaking, and so you better sort yourselves out, 'cos I don't see any fairy godmothers around. As for Mister Nutt, he hasn't got anyone.'

'She's gonna leave the city?' said Trev, realization dawning slowly through a male mind.

'Oh, yes. For quite a long time, I suspect,' said Glenda.

She watched his face carefully. You haven't got much learning and you haven't opened a book in your life, Trevor Likely, but you are smart and you must know there is a wrong way and a right way to reply to what I have just told you.

She watched the high-speed changes around his eyes as he thought, and then he said, 'Well, that's nice. It's the kind of thing she's always dreamed of. I'm very happy for her.'

You cunning bastard, you actually got it right, Glenda thought. You're not appearing to be thinking about yourself at all, 'cos you know I'd have no time for you if you were. And who knows, you might just be genuine. In fact, heavens help me, I think you are, but I'd pull all my own teeth out rather than tell you.

'She likes you, you like her and I've made a lot of silly mistakes. The two of you, sort out what you want to do. And now, if I were you I'd run, before anyone else beats you to it. And can I offer you a word of advice, Trev? Don't be smart, be clever.'

Trev took Glenda by the shoulders and kissed her on both cheeks. 'Was that smart or clever?'

'Get away with you, Trev Likely!' she said, pushing him away, in the hope that he wouldn't notice her blush. 'And now I'm going to see where Mister Nutt has gone.'

'I know where he's gone,' said Trev.

'I thought I just told you two to go off and live happily ever after,' said Glenda.

'You won't find 'im without me,' said Trev. 'I'm sorry, Glenda, but we like him too.'

'Do you think we should tell somebody?' said Juliet.

'And what will they do?' Glenda snapped. 'It'll just be like that lot back there. All hanging around in the hope that somebody will come up with an idea. Anyway,' she added, 'I'm sure the wizards upstairs know all about him. Oh yes, I bet they do.'

She had to admit, ten minutes later, that Trev had been right. She probably wouldn't have noticed the door on the other side of another cluttered, abandoned cellar. Light shone from under the door.

'I followed 'im once,' said Trev. 'Everyone should have a place to call their own.'

'Yes,' said Glenda, and she pushed open the door. She might as well have opened an oven. There were candles of every size and every colour and many of them were burning.

And in the middle of it was Nutt, sitting behind a ramshackle table, which was covered with candles. In front of him they burned in every colour. He was staring at them with a blank expression, and did not look up as they approached. 'You know, I fear that I will never really get the hang of blue,' he said, as if to the air. 'Orange, of course, is ridiculously easy and red goes without saying and green is not difficult at all, but the best blue I could achieve, I have to admit, is very largely green... ' His voice trailed off.

'Are you all right?' said Glenda.

'Do you mean, am I all right apart from being an orc?' said Nutt, with a very small smile.

'Well, yes, but that's not really your fault.'

'It can't really be true, can it?' said Trev.

Glenda turned on him.

'What good is it saying that?' she said.

'Well, they were supposed to have died out hundreds of years ago.'

'Annihilated,' said Nutt. 'But some survived. I fear that when this oversight is revealed, there will be those who will endeavour to rectify the situation.'

Trev looked blankly at Glenda. 'He means he thinks they're going to try to kill him,' she said.

Nutt stared at his candles. 'I must accumulate worth. I must be helpful. I must be friendly. I must make friends.'

'If anyone comes to hurt you,' said Glenda, 'I will kill them. I'm sure you won't try to pull a leg off, but I might. Trev, this needs a woman's touch.'

'Yes, I can see that.'

'That wasn't clever, Trev Likely. No, Mister Nutt, you stay there,' said Glenda, dragging Trev and Juliet back out into the corridor. 'Off you go, I want to talk to him alone.'

Nutt hung his head as she stepped back in. 'I'm sorry I'm spoiling it for everyone,' he said.

'What's happened to your claws, Mister Nutt?'

He stretched out his arm and with a faint noise the claws extended.

'Oh, well, that's convenient,' said Glenda. 'At least that means you can change your shirt.'

She thumped the table so the candles jumped. 'And now, get up!' she screamed. 'You are supposed to be training the team, Mister Nutt, don't you remember? You're supposed to be going out there and showing them how to play the football!'

'I must accumulate worth,' said Nutt, staring at the candles.

'Then train the team, Mister Nutt! How can you be so certain that the orcs were that bad in any case?'

'We did terrible things.'

'They,' said Glenda. 'They, not we, not you. And one thing I am certain of is that in a war no one is going to say that the other side is made up of very nice people. Now, how about you just run along to training? How hard can it be?'

'You saw what happened,' said Nutt. 'It could be very bad indeed.' He picked up a nearly blue candle. 'I must think.'

'Okay,' said Glenda.

She shut the door carefully behind her, walked a little way along the corridor and looked up at the dripping pipes. 'I know someone is listening. I could hear the creaking pipes. Come out right now.'

There was no reply. She shrugged and then hurried along the labyrinth until she reached the steps to the Library, ran up them and headed for the Librarian's desk.

As she approached it, his big grinning face appeared above it.

'I want - ' she began.

The Librarian rose slowly, put a finger to his lips and placed a book on the table in front of her. The three-letter title, silver on black, was ORC.

He looked her up and down, as if trying to reach a conclusion, then opened the book, and turned the pages with exquisite care, given the thickness of those fingers, until he found the page he had been looking for. He held it up in front of her. There had been no time for breakfast today, but it's still possible to throw up when there's nothing left to throw. And if you needed to vomit, the woodcut held up beneath the Librarian's hands would be a sure-fire medicine.

He put the book down on the desktop, reached down again and produced a barely used handkerchief and, after some rummaging around, a glass of water.

'I don't have to believe that,' said Glenda. 'It's a drawing. It's not real.'

The Librarian's thumb went up and he nodded. He put the book under one arm and grabbed her with another and led her with surprising speed out of the door into the great maze of halls and corridors of the university.

Their breathless journey finished in front of a door on which was painted 'Department of Post-Mortem Communications'. The paint, however, had peeled somewhat and under the bright new title could just be made out the letters NECR and what could possibly be one half of a skull.

The door opened每any door pushed by the Librarian would assuredly open. Glenda heard the clink of the catch falling on to the floor inside.

In the middle of the floor that was revealed stood a hideous figure. Its horrifying countenance had less than the effect it might have done, because from it dangled a quite readable label that said 'Boffo Novelty and Joke Emporium. Improved Necromancer's Mask. Sale Price AM$3'. This was removed to reveal the more salubrious countenance of Dr Hix.

'There really is no need to - ' he said, and then spotted the Librarian. 'Oh, can I help you?'

The Librarian held up the book and Dr Hix groaned. 'That again,' he said. 'All right, what do you want?'

'We've got an orc down in the cellars,' said Glenda.

'Yes, I know,' said Dr Hix.

The Librarian had a big face, but it nevertheless was not large enough to accommodate all of the surprise he wished to show. The head of the Department of Post-Mortem Communications shrugged and sighed. 'Look,' he said, as if weary of having to explain so often, and sighed again. 'I am supposed to be the bad person as defined by university statute, right? I am supposed to listen at doors. Supposed to dabble in the black arts. I've got the skull ring. I've got the staff with the silver skull on it - '

'And a joke-shop mask?' said Glenda.

'Quite serviceable as a matter of fact,' said Hix, haughtily. 'Rather more frightening than the original thing and washable, which is always a consideration in this department. Anyway, the Archchancellor was down here weeks ago, after the same stuff you are, I very much imagine.'

'Were the orcs terrible creatures?' said Glenda.

'I think I can probably show you,' said Hix.

'This gentleman has already shown me the picture in the book,' said Glenda.

'Was it the one with the eyeballs?'

Glenda found the memory only too vivid. 'Yes!'

'Oh, there's worse than that,' said Hix happily. 'And I suppose you want the proof?' He half turned his head. 'Charlie?' A skeleton walked out through black curtains at the far end of the room. It was holding a mug. There was something curiously depressing about the slogan on said mug, which ran: 'Necromancers Do It All Night'.

'Don't be scared,' said Dr Hix.

'I'm not,' Glenda said, terrified to her insteps. 'I've seen the insides of a slaughterhouse. It's part of the job and, anyway, he's polished.'

'Thank you very much,' the skeleton articulated.

'But "Necromancers Do It All Night"? That's a bit pathetic, isn't it? I mean, don't you think it's trying a bit too hard?'

'It was hard enough to get that one made,' said Dr Hix. 'We're not the most popular department in the university. Charlie, the young lady wants to know about orcs.'

'Again?' said the skeleton, handing the mug to the doctor. It had a rather hoarse voice, but on the whole far less dreadful than it might have been. Apart from anything else, his bones were, well, apart from anything else, and floated in the air as if they were the only visible parts of an invisible body. The jaw moved as Charlie went on: 'Well, I think we've still got the memory in the sump 'cos, you remember, we called it up for Ridcully. I haven't got round to wiping it yet.'

'Memory of what?' said Glenda.

'It's a kind of magic,' said Hix loftily. He continued. 'It would take too long to explain.'

Glenda didn't like this. 'Let's have it in a nutshell, then.'

'Okay. We're now quite certain that what we call the passage of time is in fact the universe being destroyed and instantly rebuilt in the smallest instant of eventuality that it is possible to have. While the process is instant at every point, nevertheless to renew the whole Universe takes approximately five days, we believe. Interestingly enough - '

'Can I have it in a smaller nut?'

'So you don't want to hear about Houseman's theory of the Universal Memory?'

'Possibly the size of a walnut,' said Glenda.

'Very well, then, can you imagine this: current thinking is that the old universe is not destroyed in the instant the new universe is created, a process which, incidentally, has been happening an untold billion number of times since I have been talking - '

'Yes, I can believe that. Can we try for a pistachio?' said Glenda.

'Copies of the universe are kept. We don't know how, we don't know where, and it beats the hell out of me trying to imagine how it all works. But we're finding that it is sometimes possible to, er, read this memory in certain circumstances. How am I doing in terms of nut dimensions?'

'You've got some kind of magic mirror?' said Glenda flatly.

'That's it, if you want the size of a pine nut,' said Hix.

'Pine nuts are actually seeds,' said Glenda smugly. 'So, what you're saying is that everything that happens stays happened somewhere and you can look at it if you have the knowing?'

'That is a magnificent distillation of the situation,' said Hix. 'Which is incredibly helpful while at the same time inaccurate in every possible way. But, as you put it, we use a'每and here he gave a little shudder每'magic mirror, as you put it. We recently looked at the battle of Orc Deep for the Archchancellor. That was the last known battle in which the race known as orcs were deployed.'

'Deployed?' said Glenda.

'Used,' said Hix.

'Used? And you can find something like that in the total history of everything there has ever been?'

'Ahem. It helps to have an anchor,' said Hix. 'Something that was present. And all I am going to tell you, young lady, is that there was a piece of a skull found on that battlefield, and since it was a skull that firmly puts it into the responsibility of my department.' He turned to the Librarian. 'It's okay to show her, isn't it?' he said. The Librarian shook his head. 'Good. That means I can do it, then, under university statute. A certain amount of surreptitious disobedience is demanded of me. We have it set up on an omniscope. Since my colleague is so certain that I should not be doing this, he will not mind if I do. It's only a very brief fragment of time, but it did impress the Archchancellor, if impress is the right word.'

'I just want to get something clear,' said Glenda. 'You can actually disobey the orders of someone like the Archchancellor?'

'Oh, yes,' said Hix. 'I am under instruction to do so. It is expected of me.'

'But how can that possibly work?' said Glenda. 'What happens when he gives you an instruction that he doesn't want you to disobey?'

'It works by common sense and good will on all sides,' said Hix. 'If, for example, the Archchancellor gives me a command that absolutely must not be disobeyed, he will add something like, "Hix, you little worm (by university statute), if you disobey this one, I'll smack your head." Though in reality, a word to the wise, madam, is sufficient. It's all done on the basis of trust, really. I am trusted to be untrustworthy. I don't know what the Archchancellor would do without me.'

'Yeah, right,' said Charlie, grinning.

A few minutes later, Glenda was in another dark room, standing in front of a round, dark mirror, at least as high as she was. 'Is this going to be like the Moving Pictures?' she said sarcastically.

'An amusing comparison,' said Hix. 'Except for, one, there is no popcorn and, two, you would not want to eat it if there was. What might be called the camera in this case was the last thing one of the human fighters saw.'

'Is this the person whose skull you've got?'

'Well done! I see you have been following things,' said Hix.

There was a moment of silence. 'This is going to be scary, isn't it?'

'Yes,' said Hix. 'Nightmares? Very probably. Even I think it's extremely disconcerting. Are you ready, Charlie?'

'Ready,' said Charlie, from somewhere in the darkness. 'Are you sure, miss?'

Glenda wasn't sure, but anything would be better than facing Hix's know-it-all smile. 'Yes,' she said, keeping her voice firm.

'The fragment we are able to show lasts less than three seconds, but I doubt whether you will want to see it again. Are we ready? Thank you, Charlie.'

Glenda's chair went backwards very quickly and Hix, who had been hovering, caught her. 'The only known representation of an orc in battle,' said Hix, standing her upright. 'Well done, by the way. Even the Archchancellor swore out loud.'

Glenda blinked, trying to slice slightly less than three seconds out of her memory. 'And that's true, is it?' But it had to be true. There was something about the way the image was sticking to the back of her brain that declared the truth of it.

'I want to see it again.'

'You what?!' said Hix.

'There's more to it,' said Glenda. 'It's only a part of a picture.'

'It took us hours to work that out,' said Hix severely. 'How did you spot it the very first go?'

'Because I knew it had to be there,' said Glenda.

'She's got you there, boss,' said Charlie.

'All right. Show it again and this time magnify the right-hand corner. It's very blurry,' he said to Glenda.

'Can you stop it?' said Glenda.

'Oh, yes. Charlie has worked that one out.'

'Then you know the bit I mean.'

'Oh, yes.'

'Then show me it again.'

Charlie disappeared behind his curtain. There were a few flashes of light and then...

'There!' She pointed at the frozen image. 'That's men on horseback, isn't it? And they've got whips. I know it's blurry, but you can tell that they've got whips.'

'Well, yes, of course,' said Hix. 'It's quite hard to get anything to run into a hail of arrows unless you give it some encouragement.'

'They were weapons. Living creatures as weapons. And they don't look so different from humans.'

'A lot of really interesting stuff happened under the Evil Emperor,' said Hix, conversationally.

'Evil stuff,' said Glenda.

'Yes,' said Hix, 'that was rather the point. Evil Emperor. Evil Empire. It did what it said on the iron maiden.'

'And what happened to them?'

'Well, officially they're all dead,' said Hix. 'But there have been rumours.'

'And men drove them into battle,' said Glenda.

'If you want to put it like that, I suppose so,' said Hix, 'but I'm not certain that changes anything.'

'I think it changes everything,' said Glenda. 'It does if all that people talk about are the monsters and not the whips. Things that look very much like people, well, a kind of people. What can you make from people if you really try?'

'It's an interesting theory,' said Hix. 'But I don't think you can prove it.'

'When Kings fight other Kings and win, they chop off the other King's head, don't they?' said Glenda.

'Sometimes,' said Hix.

'I mean, you can't blame a weapon for how it's used. What's it they say? People can't help how they were made. I think the orcs were made.'

Glenda glanced at the Librarian, who looked at the ceiling.

'You work as a cook, don't you? Would you like to work for my department?'

'Everyone knows women can't be wizards,' said Glenda.

'Ah, yes, but Necro - Post-Mortem Communications is different,' said Hix proudly. And added, 'We could do with some sensible people here, heavens know. And the feminine touch would be very welcome. And don't think I would require you to just come and do the dusting. We treasure our dust in this place and your cookery skills will be invaluable. After all, basic butchery is all part of the job. And I do believe that Boffo's shop has a rather good female Necromancer's costume in their sale, isn't that right, Charlie?'

'Ten dollars including lace-up bodice. A bargain in anybody's money,' said Charlie from behind his curtain. 'Very slinky.'

There had been no reply because Glenda's mouth had stuck in the act of opening, but she finally managed a polite, but firm, 'No.'

The head of the Department of Post-Mortem Communications gave a little sigh. 'I thought as much, but we are part of the scheme of things. Light and dark. Night and day. Sweet and sour. Good and evil (within acceptable college statutes). It just helps if you can have sensible and reliable people on both sides, but I'm glad that we've been able to be of assistance. We don't see many people down here. Well, not people as such.'

This time Glenda walked along the corridor. 'Orc,' she thought. 'A thing that just kills.' Every time she blinked, the image came back to her. The teeth and claws of a creature in full leap seen, as far as one could tell, by whoever it was it was leaping at. Fighters you couldn't stop. And Nutt had been killed, according to Trev, and then sort of became unkilled again before going back to Unseen University and eating all the pies.

There was an awfully big gap in all this, but men with whips filled it. You can't have something that just fights, she thought. It has to do other things as well. And Nutt isn't any stranger than most of the people you see around these days. It's not a lot to go on, though, but then again, the Evil Emperor was a sorcerer, everyone knew that. Everyone knows you can't help how you're made. Well, it's worth a try. It's a little bit of uncertainty.

As soon as she arrived back outside Nutt's special place, she sensed that it would be empty. She pushed the door open and there was a definite absence of candles and, more importantly, a very noticeable absence of Nutt. But I told him to go and help them train. That's where he's gone, to go and train, definitely, she said to herself. So no need to worry, then.

On edge, feeling that something was nevertheless wrong, she forced herself back to the Night Kitchen.

She was nearly there when she met Mr Ottomy, his scrawny Adam's apple as red and glistening as chicken giblets.

'So, we've got a man-eating orc down here, have we?' he said. 'People aren't going to stand for that. I heard somewhere that they could go on fighting while their heads are chopped off.'

'That's interesting,' said Glenda. 'How did they know which way to go?'

'Ah-ah! They could smell their way,' said the bledlow.

'How could they do that with their heads chopped off? Are you telling me they had a nose up their arse?' She was shocked at herself for saying that, it was bad language, but Ottomy was bad language made solid.

'I don't hold with it,' he said, ignoring the question. 'You know something else I heard? They were kind of made. When the Evil Emperor wanted fighters he got some of the Igors to turn goblins into orcs. They're not really proper people at all. I'm going to complain to the Archchancellor.'

'He already knows,' said Glenda. Well, he must do, she thought. And Vetinari, too, she added to herself. 'You're not going to make trouble for Mister Nutt, are you?' she said. 'Because if you are, Mister Ottomy'每she leaned forward每'you will never be seen again.'

'You shouldn't threaten me like that,' he said.

'You're right, I shouldn't,' said Glenda. 'I should have said that you will never be seen again, you egregious slimy little twerp. Go and tell the Archchancellor if you like and see how much good that does you.'

'They ate people alive!' said Ottomy.

'So did trolls,' said Glenda. 'Admittedly they spat them out again, but not in much of a state to enjoy life. We used to fight dwarfs once and when they cut you off at the knees they weren't joking. We know, Mister Ottomy, that the leopard can change his shorts,' she sniffed, 'and it might be a good idea if you did, too. And if I hear of any trouble from you, you will hear from me. Up there it's the Archchancellor. Down here in the dark, it's cutlery.'

'I'll tell him what you said,' said the luckless bledlow, backing away.

'I would be very grateful if you did,' said Glenda. 'Now push off.'

Why do we tell one another that the leopard cannot change his shorts? she mused as she watched him scurry away. Has anyone ever seen a leopard wearing shorts? And how would they be able to put them on if they had them? But we go on saying it as if it was some kind of holy truth, when it just means that we've run out of an argument.

There was something she had to do, now what was it? Oh, yes. She went over once again to the cauldron on which she had chalked 'Do Not Touch' and lifted up the lid. The beady eyes stared up at her from the watery depths and she went away and got a few scraps of fish, which she dropped towards the waiting claws. 'Well, I know what to do with you, at least,' she said.

A fully working kitchen holds a great many things, not least of which is a huge collection of ways of committing horrible murder, plus multiple ways of getting rid of the evidence. This wasn't the first time the thought had crossed her mind. She was quite glad about it. For now, she selected a really thick pair of gloves from a drawer, put her old coat on again, reached into the cauldron and picked up the crab. It snapped at her. She knew it would. Never, ever expect gratitude from those you help.

'Tide's turning,' she told the crustacean, 'so we're going to take a little walk.' She dropped it into her shopping bag and headed across the university lawns.

A couple of graduate wizards were working in the university boatyard nearby. One looked at her and said, 'Are you supposed to be walking on the university lawns, madam?'

'No, it is absolutely forbidden to kitchen staff,' said Glenda.

The students looked at one another. 'Oh, right,' said one of them.

And that was it.

As easy as that.

It was only a metaphorical hammer. It only hit you if you allowed it to be there.

She pulled the crab out of her bag and it waved its claws irritably. 'See that over there?' she said, waving her own spare hand. 'That's Hen and Chickens Field.' It's doubtful whether the crab's beady eyes could focus on the grassy waste across the river, but at least she pointed it in the right direction. 'People think it's because there was chickens kept there,' she went on conversationally while the two wizards looked at one another. 'As a matter of fact, that's not so. It used to be where people were hanged, and so when they walked out from the old gaol that used to be over there, the priest in front of the procession with his billowing robes seemed to lead the line of doomed men and gaolers like a hen leading its chicks. That sort of thing is what we call a droll sense of humour in these parts and I haven't got the faintest idea why I'm talking to you. I've done my best. You now know more than any other crab.'

She walked down to the very edge of what passed for water as the river flowed through the city, and dropped the crab into it. 'Stay clear of crab pots and don't come back.' She turned round and realized the wizards had been watching her. 'Well?' she snapped. 'Is there any law about talking to crabs around here?' She then gave them a little smile as she walked past.

Back in the long corridors she wandered, feeling a little light-headed, towards the vats. Some of its denizens eyed her nervously as she passed through, but there was no sign of Nutt, not that she was looking for him at all. As she walked on towards the Night Kitchen, Trev and Juliet appeared. Glenda couldn't help but notice that Juliet had a somewhat bright-eyed and ruffled look. That is, she couldn't help but notice because she made a point of noticing every time. Semi-parental responsibility was a terrible thing.

'What are you still doing here?' she said.

They looked at her and there was more in their expressions than mere embarrassment.

'I come back to say goodbye to the girls and I 'ad to wait for Trev because of the training.'

Glenda sat down. 'Make me a cup of tea, will you?' And because old habits died hard she added, 'Boil water in the kettle, two spoons of tea in the pot. Pour water from kettle into pot when it boils. Do not put tea in kettle.' She turned to Trev. 'Where's Mister Nutt?' she said, nonchalance booming in her voice.

Trev looked down at his feet. 'I don't know, Glenda,' he said. 'I've been - '

'Busy,' Glenda completed.

'But no hanky panky,' said Juliet quickly.

Glenda realized that right now she would not have minded if there had been hanky panky or even spanky. There were things that were important and things that weren't, and times when you knew the difference.

'So, how did Mister Nutt get on, then?'

Trev and Juliet looked at one another. 'We don't know. He wasn't there,' said Trev.

'We kind of thought 'e might be with you,' said Juliet, handing her a cup of what you get when you ask for a cup of tea from someone who tends to confuse the recipe even at the best of times.

'He wasn't in the Great Hall?' said Glenda.

'No, 'e wasn't there - Wait one moment.' Trev ran down the steps and after a few seconds they heard his footsteps coming back. 'His toolbox 'as gone,' said Trev. 'I mean, it wasn't much. He made it outta bits he found in the cellars, but as far as I know it's all 'e owned.'

I knew it, thought Glenda. Of course I knew it. 'Where could he be? He's got nowhere else to go but here,' she said.

'Well, there is that place up in Uberwald he talks about quite a lot,' said Trev.

'That's getting on for about a thousand miles away,' said Glenda.

'Well, I suppose he thinks he might as well be there as here,' said Juliet innocently. 'I mean, Orc, I'd want to run away from a name like that if I was me.'

'Look, I'm sure he's just wandered off somewhere in the building,' Glenda said, believing absolutely that he hadn't. But if I believe he's going to be around the next corner or has just nipped off to... powder his nose, or has just wandered away for half an hour每which, of course, is his right; perhaps he needs to go and buy a pair of socks?每if I keep believing he'll turn up any minute, he might, even though I know he won't.

She put down the cup. 'Half an hour,' she said. 'Juliet, you go and check around the Great Hall. Trev, you go down the tunnels that way. I'll go down the tunnels this way. If you find anyone you can trust, ask 'em.'

A little more than half an hour later, Glenda was the last to turn up back in the Night Kitchen. She very nearly half expected that he would be there and knew that he wouldn't. 'Would he know about getting on a coach?' she said.

'I doubt 'e's ever seen one,' said Trev. 'You know what I would do if I was 'im? I'd just run. It was like when Dad died, I spent all night walkin' around the city. I wasn't bothered where I went. Just went. Wanted to run away from bein' me.'

'How fast can an orc run?' said Glenda.

'Much faster than a man, I bet,' said Trev. 'An' for a long time, too.'

'Listen.' This was Juliet. 'Can't you 'ear it?'

'Hear what?' said Glenda.

'Nothing,' said Juliet.

'Well?'

'What happened to Awk! Awk!?'

'I think we'll find them where we find him,' said Trev.

'Well, he can't run all the way back to Uberwald,' said Glenda. 'You couldn't.'

At last Glenda said it: 'I think we should go after him.'

'I'll come,' said Trev.

'Then I'm goin' to come, too,' insisted Juliet. 'Besides, I've still got the money and you're goin' to need it.'

'Your money's in the bank,' said Glenda, 'and the bank is shut. But I think I've got a few dollars in my purse.'

'Then, excuse me,' said Trev, 'I won't be a moment. I think there's somethin' we ought to take... '

The driver of the horse bus to Sto Lat looked down and said, 'Two dollars fifty pence each.'

'But you only go to Sto Lat,' said Glenda.

'Yes,' said the man calmly. 'That's why it says Sto Lat on the front.'

'We might 'ave to go a lot further,' said Trev.

'Just about every coach in this part of the world goes through Sto Lat,' he said.




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