Oh, obvious, said Granny. “I’ll grant you it’s obvious. Trouble is, just because things are obvious doesn’t mean they’re true.”
In his dreams gods rose and fell, ships moved with cunning and art across canvas oceans, pictures jumped and ran together and became flickering images; men flew on wires, flew without wires, great ships of illusion fought against one another in imaginary skies, seas opened, ladies were sawn in half, a thousand special effects men giggled and gibbered. Through it all he ran with his arms open in desperation, knowing that none of this really existed or ever would exist and all he really had was a few square yards of planking, some canvas and some paint on which to trap the beckoning images that invaded his head.
Only in our dreams are we free. The rest of the time we need wages.
Hwel the dwarf dreams
Witches are not by nature gregarious, at least not with other witches, and they certainly don’t have leaders. Granny Weatherwax was the most highly regarded of the leaders they didn’t have.
Nanny Ogg didn’t care much about what people knew and even less for what they thought, and lived in a new, knick-knack crammed cottage in the middle of Lancre town itself and at the heart of her own private empire. Various daughters and daughters-in-law came in to cook and clean on a sort of rota. Every flat surface was stuffed with ornaments brought back by far-travelling members of the family. Sons and grandsons kept the log-pile stacked, the roof shingled, the chimney swept; the drinks cupboard was always full, the pouch by her rocking chair always stuffed with tobacco. Above the hearth was a huge pokerwork sign saying “Mother.” No tyrant in the whole history of the world had ever achieved a domination so complete.
Nanny Ogg’s house
Look, said Granny. “What can I do about it? It’s no good you coming to me. He’s the new lord. This is his kingdom. I can’t go meddling. It’s not right to go meddling, on account of I can’t interfere with people ruling. It has to sort itself out, good or bad. Fundamental rule of magic, is that. You can’t go round ruling people with spells, because you’d have to use more and more spells all the time.” She sat back, grateful that long-standing tradition didn’t allow the Crafty and the Wise to rule. She remembered what it had felt like to wear the crown, even for a few seconds.
Lancre implores Granny to meddle
Whatever happened to the rule about not meddling in politics? said Magrat, watching her retreating back.
Ah, said Nanny. She took the girl’s arm. “The thing is,” she explained, “as you progress in the Craft, you’ll learn there is another rule. Esme’s obeyed it all her life.”
And what’s that?
When you break rules, break ’em good and hard, said Nanny, and grinned a set of gums that were more menacing than teeth.
Nanny and Magrat
As the grumbling actors awoke from the spell of magic and wandered back to the shafts of the lattys Vitoller beckoned to the dwarf and put his arm around his shoulders, or rather put it around the top of his head.
Well ? he said. “You people know all about magic, or so it is said. What do you make of it?”
He spends all his time around the stage, master. It’s only natural that he should pick things up, said Hwel vaguely.
Vitoller moved down.
Do you believe in that?
I believe that I heard a voice that took my doggerel and shaped it and fired it back through my ears and straight into my heart, said Hwel simply. “I believe I heard a voice that got behind the crude shape of the words and said the things I had meant them to say, but had not the skill to achieve. Who knows where such things come from?”
Tomjon speaks his first words
No fire had been lit under the copper for ten years. Its bricks were crumbling, and rare ferns grew around the firebox. The water under the lid was inky black and, according to rumor, bottomless; the Ogg grandchildren were encouraged to believe that monsters from the dawn of time dwelt in its depths, since Nanny believed that a bit of thrilling and pointless terror was an essential ingredient of the magic of childhood.
Nanny Ogg’s washhouse
Hoofbeats? said Nanny Ogg. “No-one would come up here this time of night.”
Magrat peered around timidly. Here and there on the moor were huge standing stones, their origins lost in time, which were said to lead mobile and private lives of their own. She shivered.
What’s to be afraid of? she managed.
Us, said Granny Weatherwax, smugly.
The witches meet
Granny subsided into unaccustomed, troubled silence, and tried to listen to the prologue. The theatre worried her. It had a magic of its own, one that didn’t belong to her, one that wasn’t in her control. It changed the world, and said things were otherwise than they were. And it was worse than that. It was magic that didn’t belong to magical people. It was commanded by ordinary people, who didn’t know the rules. They altered the world because it sounded better.
You gawping idiots! she said. “You’re so weak. You really think that people are basically decent underneath, don’t you?”
The crowd on the stage backed away from the sheer force of her exultation.
Well, I’ve looked underneath, said the duchess. “I know what drives people. It’s fear. Sheer, deep-down fear. There’s not one of you who doesn’t fear me. I can make you widdle your drawers out of terror, and now I’m going to take–”
At this point Nanny Ogg hit her on the back of the head with the cauldron.
She does go on, doesn’t she? she said conversationally, as the duchess collapsed. “She was a bit eccentric, if you ask me.”
The Duchess and Nanny Ogg
We’re bound to be truthful, she said. “But there’s no call to be honest.”
Granny Weatherwax was often angry. She considered it one of her strong points. Genuine anger was one of the world’s great creative forces. But you had to learn how to control it. That didn’t mean you let it trickle away. It meant you dammed it, carefully, let it develop a working head, let it drown whole valleys of the mind and then, just when the whole structure was about to collapse, opened a tiny pipeline at the base and let the iron-hard stream of wrath power the turbines of revenge.
She [Black Aliss] never sent the castle to sleep, said Granny. “That’s just an old wives’ tale,” she added, glaring at Nanny. “She just stirred up time a little. It’s not as hard as people think. Everyone does it all the time. It’s like rubber, is time. You can stretch it to suit yourself.”
Magrat was about to say, that’s not right, time is time, every second lasts a second, that’s what it’s for, that’s its job . . .
And then she recalled weeks that had flown past and afternoons that had lasted forever. Some minutes had lasted hours, some hours had gone past so quickly she hadn’t been aware they’d gone past at all . . .
But that’s just people’s perception, she said. “Isn’t it?”
Oh, yes, said Granny, “of course it is. It all is. What difference does that make?”
Granny and Magrat
There was something here, he [Death] thought, that nearly belonged to the gods. Humans had built a world inside the world, which reflected it in pretty much the same way as a drop of water reflects the landscape. And yet . . . and yet . . .
Inside this little world they had taken pains to put all the things, you might think they would want to escape from–hatred, fear, tyranny, and so forth. Death was intrigued. They thought they wanted to be taken out of themselves, and every art humans dreamt up took them further in.
Death visits the theatre
She [Granny] looked down at a landscape of sudden death and jagged beauty, and knew it was looking back at her, as a dozing man may watch a mosquito. She wondered if it realised what she was doing. She wondered if it’d make her fall any softer, and mentally scolded herself for such softness. No, the land wasn’t like that. It didn’t bargain. The land gave hard, and took hard. A dog always bit deepest on the veterinary hand.
Granny flies over Lancre
You’re not a witch, are you? he said, fumbling awkwardly with his pike.
Of course not. Do I look like one?
The guard looked at her occult bangles, her lined cloak, her trembling hands and her face. The face was particularly worrying. Magrat had used a lot of powder to make her face pale and interesting. It combined with the lavishly applied mascara to give the guard the impression that he was looking at two flies that had crashed into a sugar bowl. He found his fingers wanted to make a sign to ward off the evil eyeshadow.
Right, he said uncertainly. His mind was grinding through the problem. She was a witch. Just lately there’d been a lot of gossip about witches being bad for your health. He’d been told not to let witches pass, but no-one had said anything about apple sellers. Apple sellers were not a problem. It was witches that were the problem. She’d said she was an apple seller and he wasn’t about to doubt a witch’s word.
A guard at Lancre castle
Whatever happened to not meddling? she [Magrat] said.
Well, see, all this not meddling business is fine in the normal course of things, she said. “Not meddling is easy when you don’t have to. And then I’ve got the family to think about. Our Jason’s been in a couple of fights because of what people have been saying. Our Shawn was thrown out of the army. The way I see it, when we get the new king in, he should owe us a few favours. It’s only fair.”
But only last week you were saying– Magrat stopped, shocked at this display of pragmatism.
A week is a long time in magic, said Nanny. “Fifteen years, for one thing. Anyway, Esme is determined and I’m in no mood to stop her.”
So what you’re saying, said Magrat, icily, “is that this ‘not meddling’ thing is like taking a vow not to swim. You’ll absolutely never break it unless of course you happen to find yourself in the water?”
Better than drowning, Nanny said.
Nanny Ogg and Magrat
Magrat thought: Nanny said look at him properly. I’m looking at him. He just looks the same. A sad thin little man in a ridiculous jester’s outfit, he’s practically a hunchback.
Then, in the same way that a few random bulges in a cloud can suddenly become a galleon or a whale in the eye of the beholder, Magrat realised that the Fool was not a little man. He was at least of average height, but he made himself small, by hunching his shoulders, bandying his legs and walking in a half-crouch that made him appear as though he was capering on the spot.
I wonder what else Gytha Ogg noticed? she thought, intrigued.
Magrat and Verence, the fool
Young man, said Nanny, “you will oblige me by shutting up.”
Madam! I am a king!
You are also dead, so I wouldn’t aspire to hold any opinions if I was you. Now just be quiet and wait, like a good boy.
Against all his instincts, the king found himself obeying. There was no gainsaying that tone of voice. It spoke to him across the years, from his days in the nursery. Its echoes told him that if he didn’t eat it all up he would be sent straight to bed.
Nanny and the ghost of King Verence
The door swung open. The duchess filled the doorway. In fact, she was nearly the same shape.
Leonal! she barked.
The Fool was fascinated by what happened to the duke’s eyes. The mad red flame vanished, was sucked backwards, and was replaced by the hard blue stare he had come to recognize. It didn’t mean, he realized, that the duke was any less mad. Even the coldness of his sanity was madness in a way. The duke had a mind that ticked like a clock and, like a clock, it regularly went cuckoo.
The fool, the Duke, and the duchess
Magrat whirled away in the buffeting wind, clinging tightly to a broomstick which now, she feared, had about as much buoyancy as a bit of firewood. It certainly wasn’t capable of sustaining a fullgrown woman against the beckoning fingers of gravity.
As she plunged down towards the forest roof in a long shallow dive she reflected that there was possibly something complimentary in the way Granny Weather wax resolutely refused to consider other people’s problems. It implied that, in her considerable opinion, they were quite capable of sorting them all out by themselves.
Where I come from, we don’t allow witches, said the duchess sternly. “And we don’t propose to allow them here�Put matters in hand.”
Yes, my love.
Matters in hand. He’d put matters in hand all right. If he closed his eyes he could see the body tumbling down the steps. Had there been a hiss of shocked breath, down in the darkness of the hall? He’d been certain they were alone. Matters in hand! He’d tried to wash the blood off his hand. If he could wash the blood off, he told himself, it wouldn’t have happened. He’d scrubbed and scrubbed. Scrubbed till he screamed.
Duke Felmet and his wife