Although His Lordship appears only briefly in Reaper Man, it is one of your humble transcriber's favorite Disc books, and has one of the more interesting succinct descriptions of the Patrician.
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|First||The relationship between Unseen University and The Patrician explained.|
|Second||His Lordship makes use of secret passages and holds a meeting in the Oblong Office.|
The relationship between the University and the Patrician, absolute ruler and nearly benevolent dictator of Ankh-Morpork, was a complex and subtle one.Back to the Top
The wizards held that, as servants of a higher truth, they were not subject to the mundane laws of the city.
The Patrician said that, indeed, this was the case, but they would bloody well pay their taxes like everyone else.
The wizards said that, as followers of the light of wisdom, they owed allegiance to no mortal man.
The Patrician said that this may well be true but they also owed a city tax of two hundred dollars per head per annum, payable quarterly.
The wizards said that the University stood on magical ground and was therefore exempt from taxation and anyway you couldn't put a tax on knowledge.
The Patrician said you could. It was two hundred dollars per capita; if per capita was a problem, decapita could be arranged.
The wizards said that the University had never paid taxes to the civil authority.
The Patrician said that he was not proposing to remain civil for long.
The wizards said, what about easy terms?
The Patrician said he was talking about easy terms. They wouldn't want to know about the hard terms.
The wizards said that there was a ruler back in , oh, it would be the Century of the Dragonfly, who had tried to tell the University what to do. The Patrician could come and have a look at him if he liked.
The Patrician said that he would. He truly would
In the end it was agreed that while the wizards of course paid no taxes, they would nevertheless make an entirely voluntary donation of, oh, let's say two hundred dollars per head, without prejudice, mutatis mutandis, no strings attached, to be used strictly for non-militaristic and environmentally-acceptable purposes.
It was this dynamic interplay of power blocs that made Ankh-Morpork such an interesting, stimulating and above all bloody dangerous place in which to live.
There was a crash from above. A chaise-lounge cantered down the stairs and smashed through the hall door.
'I think perhaps the guards are still trying to free the Patrician,' said the High Priest. 'Apparently even his secret passages locked themselves.'
'All of them? I thought the sly devil had 'em everywhere,' said Ridcully.
'All locked,' said the High Priest. 'All of them.'
'Almost all of them,' said a voice behind him.
Ridcully's tones did not change as he turned around, except that a slight extra syrup was added.
A figure had aparently stepped out of the wall. It was human, but only by default. Thin, pale, and clad all in dusty black, the Patrician always put Ridcully in mind of a predatory flamingo, if you could find a flamingo that was black and had the patience of a rock.
'Ah, Lord Vetinari,' he said, 'I am so glad you are unhurt.'
'I will see you gentlemen in the Oblong Office,' said the Patrician. Behind him a panel in the wall slid back noiselessly.
'I, um, believe there are a number of guards upstairs trying to free--' the Chief Priest began.
The Patrician waved a thin hand at him. 'I wouldn't dream of stopping them,' he said. 'It gives them something to do and makes them feel important. Otherwise they just have to stand around all day looking fiece and controlling their bladders. Come this way.
The leaders of the other Ankh-Morpork Guilds turned up in ones and twos, gradually filling the room.Back to the Top
The Patrician sat gloomily staring at the paperwork on his desk as they argued.
'Well, it's not us,' said the head of the Alchemists.
'Things are always flying through the air when you fellows are around,' said Ridcully.
'Yes, but that's only because of unforseen exothermic reactions,' said the alchemist.
'Things keep blowing up,' translated the deputy head alchemist, without looking up.
'They may blow up; but they come down again. They don't flutter around and, e.g., start unscrewing themselves,' said his chief, giving him a warning frown. 'Anyway, why'd we do it to ourselves? I tell you, it's hell in my workshop! There's stuff whizzing everywhere! Just before I came out, a huge and very expensive piece of glassware broke into splinters!'
'Marry, 'twas a sharp retort,' said a wretched voice.
The press of bodies moved aside to reveal the General Secretary and Chief Butt of the Guild of Fools and Joculators. He flinched under the attention, but he generally flinched all the time anyway. He had the look of a man whose face has been Ground Zero for one custard pie too many, whose trousers have been too often awash with whitewash, whose nerves would disintegrate completely at the sound of just one more whoopee-cushion. The other Guild leaders tried to be nice to him, in the same way that people try to be kind to other people who are standing on the ledges of very high buildings.
'What do you mean, Geoffrey?' said Ridcully, as kindly as he could.
The Fool gulped. 'Well, you see,' he mumbled, 'we have sharp as in splinters, and retort as in large glass alchemical vessel, and thus we get a pun on "sharp retort" which also means, well, a scathing answer. Sharp retort. You see? It's a play on words. Um. It's not very good, is it.' [Transcriber's Note: it's actually a rather good pun, in my opinion.]
The Archchancellor looked into eyes like two runny eggs.
'Oh, a pun,' he said. 'Of course. Hohoho.' He waved a hand encouragingly at the others.
'Hohoho,' said the Chief Priest.
'Hohoho,' said the leader of the Assassins' Guild.
'Hohoho,' said the head Alchemist. 'And, you know, what makes it even funnier is that it was actually an alembic.'
'So what you're telling me,' said the Patrician, as considerate hands led the Fool away, 'is that none of you are responsible for these events?'
He gave Ridcully a meaningful look as he spoke.
The Archchancellor was about to answer when his eye was caught by a movement on the Patrician's desk.
There was a little model of the Palace in a glass globe. And next to it was a paperknife.
The paperknife was slowly bending.
'Well?' said the Patrician.
'Not us,' said Ridcully, his voice hollow. The Patrician followed his gaze.
The knife was already curved like a bow.
The Patrician scanned the sheepish crowd until he found Captain Doxie of the City Guard Day Watch.
'Can't you do something?' he said.
'Er. Like what, sir? The knife? Er. I suppose I could arrest it for being bent.'
Lord Vetinari threw his hands up in the air.
'So! It's not magic! It's not gods! It's not people! What is it? And who's going to stop it? Who am I going to call?'
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