Although His Lordship appears only briefly in Sourcery, it is his first appearance (the other Patricians mentioned in the previous books are most assuredly not Lord Vetinari, as one is fat and the other owns a swamp dragon). Here are His Lordship's scenes, presented for your reading pleasure.
Warning: There be mild spoilers ahead. You have been warned.
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|First||The Patrician's guard briefly described; His Lordship's method of securing their loyalty explained.|
|Second||His Lordship's position explained to Coin; a brief description of His Lordship's position and appearance; His Lordship's interaction with the wizards.|
|Third||His Lordship's accommodations in the Library.|
|Fourth||His Lordship's accommodations in the Tower of Art, and his actions therein; with an Illuminating Note by the humble transcriber.|
|Fifth||The final scene of the story, all restored to normal... or very nearly, anyway.|
Three members of the Patrician's personal guard appeared at the top of the stairs. Their leader beamed down at the room. The smile suggested that he intended to be the only one to enjoy the joke.Back to the Top
'Don't nobody move,' he suggested.
Rincewind heard the clatter behind him as more guards appeared at the back door.
The Drum's other customers paused with their hands on assorted hilts. These weren't the normal city watch, cautious and genially corrupt. These were walking slabs of muscle and they were absolutely unbribable, if only because the Patrician could outbid anyone else.
'It seems to me,' said Coin eventually, 'that wizards rule only wizards. Who rules in the reality outside?'
'as far as the city is concerned, that would be the Patrician, Lord Vetinari,' said Carding with some caution.
'And is he a fair and just ruler?'
Carding thought about it. The Patrician's spy network was said to be superb. 'I would say,' he said carefully, 'that he is unfair and unjust, but scrupulously even-handed. He is unfair and unjust to everyone, without fear or favour.'
'And you are content with this?' said Coin.
Carding tried not to catch Harkardly's eye.
'It's not a case of being content with it,' he said. 'I suppose we've not given it much thought. A wizard's true vocation, you see --'
'Is it really true that the wise suffer themselves to be ruled in this way?'
Carding growled. 'Of course not! Don't be silly! We merely tolerate it. That's what wisdom is all about, you'll find that out when you grow up, it's a case of biding one's time--'
'Where is this Patrician? I would like to see him.'
'That can be arranged, of course,' said Carding. 'The Patrician is always graciously pleased to grant wizards an interview, and --'
'Now I will grant him an interview, said Coin. 'He must learn that wizards have bided their time long enough. Stand back, please.'
He pointed the staff.
The temporal ruler of the sprawling city of Ankh-Morpork was sitting in his chair at the foot of the steps leading up to the throne, looking for any signs of intelligence in intelligence reports. The throne had been empty for more than two thousand years, since the death of the last of the line of the kings of Ankh. Legend said that one day the city would have a king again, and went on with various comments about magic swords, strawberry birthmarks, and all the other things that legends gabble on about in these circumstances.Back to the Top
In fact the only real qualification now was the ability to stay alive for more than about five minutes after revealing the existence of any magic swords or birthmarks, because the great merchant families of Ankh had been ruling the city for the last twenty centuries and were as about to relinquish power as the average limpet is to let go of its rock.
The current Patrician, head of the extremely rich and powerful Vetinari family, was thin, tall and apparently as cold-blooded as a dead penguin. Just by looking at him you could tell he was the sort of man you'd expect to keep a white cat, and caress it idly while sentencing people to death in a piranha tank; and you'd hazard for good measure that he probably collected rare thin porcelain, turning it over and over in his blue-white fingers while distant screams echoed from the depths of the dungeons. You wouldn't put it past him to use the word 'exquisite' and have thin lips. He looked the kind of person who, when they blink, you mark it off on the calendar.
Practically none of this was in fact the case, although he did have a small and exceedingly elderly wire-haired terrier called Wuffles that smelled badly and wheezed at people. It was said to be the only thing in the entire world he truly cared about. He did of course sometimes have people tortured to death, but this was considered to be perfectly acceptable behaviour for a civic ruler and generally approved of by the overwhelming majority of citizens. [footnote: The overwhelming majority of citizens being defined in this case as everyone not currently hanging upside down over a scorpion pit.] The people of Ankh are of a practical persuasion, and felt that the Patrician's edict forbidding all street theatre and mime artists made up for a lot of things. He didn't administer a reign of terror, just the occasional light shower.
The Patrician sighed, and laid the latest report on top of the large heap beside the chair.
When he had been a little boy he had seen a showman who could keep a dozen plates spinning in the air. If the man had been capable of working the same trick with a hundred of them, Lord Vetinari considered, he would just about begin to be ready for training in the art of ruling Ankh-Morpork, a city once described as resembling an overturned termite heap without the charm.
He glanced out of the window at the distant pillar of the Tower of Art, the centre of Unseen University, and wondered vaguely whether any of those tiresome old fools could come up with a better way of collating all this paperwork. They wouldn't, of course -- you couldn't expect a wizard to understand anything as basic as elementary civic espionage.
He sighed again, and picked up the transcript of what the president of the Thieves' Guild had said to his deputy at midnight in the soundproof room hidden behind the office in the Guild headquarters, and...
Was in the Great Ha...
Was not in the Great Hall of Unseen University, where he had spent some interminable dinners, but there were a lot of wizards around him and they were...
Like Death, which some of the city's less fortunate citizens considered he intimately resembled, the Patrician never got angry until he had time to think about it. But sometimes he thought very quickly.
He stared around at the assembled wizards, but there was something about them that choked the words of outrage in his throat. They looked like sheep who had suddenly found a trapped wolf at exactly the same time they heard about the idea of unity being strength.
There was something about their eyes.
'What is the meaning of this outr--' he hesitated, and concluded, 'this? A merry Small Gods' Day prank, is it?'
His eyes swiveled to meet those of a boy holding a long metal staff. The child was smiling the oldest smile the Patrician had ever seen.
'Out with it, man,' snapped Lord Vetinari.
Carding had been diffident, but the Patrician's tone was just that tiny bit too peremptory. The wizard's knuckles went white.
'I am a wizard of the eighth level,' he said quietly, 'and you will not use that tone to me.'
'Well said,' said Coin.
'Take him to the dungeons,' said Carding.
'We haven't got any dungeons,' said Spelter. 'This is a university.'
'Then take him to the wine cellars,' snapped Carding. 'And while you're down there, build some dungeons.'
'Have you the faintest inkling of what you are doing?' said the Patrician. 'I demand to know the meaning of this--'
'You demand nothing at all,' said Carding. 'And the meaning is that from now on the wizards will rule, as it was ordained. Now take --'
'You? Rule Ankh-Morpork? Wizards who can barely govern themselves?'
'Yes!' Carding was aware that this wasn't the last word in repartee, and even more alive to the fact that the dog Wuffles, who had been teleported along with his master, had waddled painfully across the floor and was peering short-sightedly at the wizard's boots.
'Then all truly wise men would prefer the safety of a nice deep dungeon,' said the Patrician. 'And now you will cease this foolery and replace me in my palace, and it is just possible that we will say no more about this. Or at least that you won't have the chance to.'
Wuffles gave up investigating Carding's boots and trotted towards Coin, shedding a few hairs on the way.
'This pantomime has gone on long enough,' said the Patrician. 'Now I am getting --'
Wuffles growled. It was a deep, primeval noise, which struck a chord in the racial memory of all those present and filled them with an urgent desire to climb a tree. It suggested long grey shapes hunting in the dawn of time. It was astonishing that such a small animal could contain so much menace, and all of it was aimed at the staff in Coin's hand.
The Patrician strode forward to snatch the animal, and Carding raised his hand and sent a blaze of orange and blue fire searing across the room.
The Patrician vanished. On the spot where he had been standing a small yellow lizard blinked and glared with malevolent reptilian stupidity.
Carding looked in astonishment at his fingers, as if for the first time.
'All right,' he whispered hoarsely.
The wizards stared down at the panting lizard and then out at the city sparkling in the early morning light. Out there was the council of aldermen, the city watch, the Guild of Thieves, the Guild of Merchants, the priesthoods... and none of them knew what was about to hit them.
The former Patrician had been carefully decanted into a jar on the Librarian's desk. The Librarian himself sat under it, wrapped in his blanket and holding Wuffles on his lap.Back to the Top Back to the Top
Occasionally he would eat a banana.
There was a further obliging flash, which found him [Rincewind] looking directly into the little yellow eyes of the Patrician, who was clawing patiently at the side of his glass jar. It was a gentle, mindless scrabbling, as if the little lizard wasn't particularly trying to get out but was just vaguely interested in seeing how long it would take to wear the glass away. [Transcriber's note: Although the mindless part is very un-Patrician-like, I think the patience is a holdover from his normal state.]Back to the Top
The Patrician sat by his window, writing. His mind was full of fluff as far as the last week or two was concerned, and he didn't like that much.
A servant had lit a lamp to dispel the twilight, and a few early evening moths were orbiting it. The Patrician watched them carefully. For some reason he felt very uneasy in the presence of glass but that, as he stared fixedly at the insects, wasn't what was bothering him most.
What bothered him was that he was fighting a terrible urge to catch them with his tongue.
And Wuffles lay on his back at his master's feet, and barked in his dreams.