Authors: Terry Pratchett
Tags: #Fantasy, #Fantasy - General, #Fiction
About the Book
âAll this books and stuff, that isn't what it should all be about. What we need is real wizardry.'
All is not well within the Unseen University. The endemic politics of the place have ensured that it has finally got what it wished for: the most powerful wizard on the disc. Which could mean that the death of all wizardry is at hand. And the world is going to end, depending on whom you listen to. Unless of course one inept wizard can take the University's most precious artefact, the very embodiment of magic itself, and deliver it halfway across the disc to safety...
Many years ago I saw, in Bath, a very large American lady towing a
tartan suitcase very fast on little rattly wheels which caught in the pavement cracks and generally gave it a life of its own. At that moment the Luggage was born. Many thanks to that lady and everyone else in places like Power Cable, Neb., who don't get nearly enough encouragement.
This book does not contain a map. Please feel free to draw your own.
THERE WAS A
man and he had eight sons. Apart from that, he was nothing more than a comma on the page of History. It's sad, but that's all you can say about some people.
But the eighth son grew up and married and had eight sons, and because there is only one suitable profession for the eighth son of an eighth son, he became a wizard. And he became wise and powerful, or at any rate powerful, and wore a pointed hat and there it would have ended . . .
Should have ended . . .
But against the Lore of Magic and certainly against all reason â except the reasons of the heart, which are warm and messy and, well,
â he fled the halls of magic and fell in love and got married, not necessarily in that order.
And he had seven sons, each one from the cradle at least as powerful as any wizard in the world.
And then he had an eighth son . . .
A wizard squared. A source of magic.
Summer thunder rolled around the sandy cliffs. Far below, the sea sucked on the shingle as noisily as an old man with one tooth who had been given a gobstopper. A few seagulls hung lazily in the updraughts, waiting for something to happen.
And the father of wizards sat among the thrift and rattling sea grasses at the edge of the cliff, cradling the child in his arms, staring out to sea.
There was a roil of black cloud out there, heading inland, and the light it pushed before it had that deep syrup quality it gets before a really serious thunderstorm.
He turned at a sudden silence behind him, and looked up through tear-reddened eyes at a tall hooded figure in a black robe.
? it said. The voice was as hollow as a cave, as dense as a neutron star.
Ipslore grinned the terrible grin of the suddenly mad, and held up the child for Death's inspection.
âMy son,' he said. âI shall call him Coin.'
NAME AS GOOD AS ANY OTHER
, said Death politely. His empty sockets stared down at a small round face wrapped in sleep. Despite rumour, Death isn't cruel â merely terribly, terribly good at his job.
âYou took his mother,' said Ipslore. It was a flat statement, without apparent rancour. In the valley behind the cliffs Ipslore's homestead was a smoking ruin, the rising wind already spreading the fragile ashes across the hissing dunes.
T WAS A HEART ATTACK AT THE END
, said Death. T
HERE ARE WORSE WAYS TO DIE
AKE IT FROM ME
Ipslore looked out to sea. âAll my magic could not save her,' he said.
HERE ARE PLACES WHERE EVEN MAGIC MAY NOT GO
âAnd now you have come for the child?'
HE CHILD HAS HIS OWN DESTINY
HAVE COME FOR YOU
âAh.' The wizard stood up, carefully laid the sleeping baby down on the thin grass, and picked up a long staff that had been lying there. It was made of a black metal, with a meshwork of silver and gold carvings that gave it a rich and sinister tastelessness; the metal was octiron, intrinsically magical.
âI made this, you know,' he said. âThey all said you couldn't make a staff out of metal, they said they should only be of wood, but they were wrong. I put a lot of myself into it. I shall give it to him.'
He ran his hands lovingly along the staff, which gave off a faint tone.
He repeated, almost to himself, âI put a lot of myself into it.'
T IS A GOOD STAFF
, said Death.
Ipslore held it in the air and looked down at his eighth son, who gave a gurgle.
âShe wanted a daughter,' he said.
Death shrugged. Ipslore gave him a look compounded of bewilderment and rage.
HE EIGHTH SON OF AN EIGHTH SON OF AN EIGHTH SON
, said Death, unhelpfully. The wind whipped at his robe, driving the black clouds overhead.
âWhat does that make him?'
AS YOU ARE WELL AWARE
Thunder rolled, on cue.
âWhat is his destiny?' shouted Ipslore, above the rising gale.
Death shrugged again. He was good at it.
OURCERERS MAKE THEIR OWN DESTINY
HEY TOUCH THE EARTH LIGHTLY
Ipslore leaned on the staff, drumming on it with his fingers, apparently lost in the maze of his own thoughts. His left eyebrow twitched.
âNo,' he said, softly, âno. I will make his destiny for him.'
ADVISE AGAINST IT
âBe quiet! And listen when I tell you that they drove me out, with their books and their rituals and their Lore! They called themselves wizards, and they had less magic in their whole fat bodies than I have in my little finger! Banished!
For showing that I was human! And what would humans be without love?'
, said Death. N
âListen! They drove us here, to the ends of the world, and that killed her! They tried to take my staff away!' Ipslore was screaming above the noise of the wind.
âWell, I still have some power left,' he snarled. âAnd I say that my son shall go to Unseen University and wear the Archchancellor's hat and the wizards of the world shall bow to him! And he shall show them what lies in their deepest hearts. Their craven, greedy hearts. He'll show the
its true destiny, and there will be no magic greater than his.'
. And the strange thing about the quiet way Death spoke the word was this: it was louder than the roaring of the storm. It jerked Ipslore back to momentary sanity.
Ipslore rocked back and forth uncertainly. âWhat?' he said.
OTHING IS FINAL
OTHING IS ABSOLUTE
UCH TINKERING WITH DESTINY COULD MEAN THE DOWNFALL OF THE WORLD
HERE MUST BE A CHANCE
HE LAWYERS OF FATE DEMAND A LOOPHOLE IN EVERY PROPHECY
Ipslore stared at Death's implacable face.
âI must give them a chance?'
Tap, tap, tap
went Ipslore's fingers on the metal of the staff.
âThen they shall have their chance,' he said, âwhen hell freezes over.'
AM NOT ALLOWED TO ENLIGHTEN YOU
EVEN BY DEFAULT
ABOUT CURRENT TEMPERATURES IN THE NEXT WORLD
âThen,' Ipslore hesitated, âthen they shall have their chance when my son throws his staff away.'
O WIZARD WOULD EVER THROW HIS STAFF AWAY
, said Death. T
HE BOND IS TOO GREAT
âYet it is possible, you must agree.'
Death appeared to consider this.
was not a word he was accustomed to hearing, but he seemed to concede the point.
, he said.
âIs that a small enough chance for you?'
Ipslore relaxed a little. In a voice that was nearly normal, he said: âI don't regret it, you know. I would do it all again. Children are our hope for the future.'
HERE IS NO HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
, said Death.
âWhat does it contain, then?'
âBesides you I mean!'
Death gave him a puzzled look. I'
The storm reached its howling peak overhead. A seagull went past backwards.
âI meant,' said Ipslore, bitterly, âwhat is there in this world that makes living worth while?'
Death thought about it.
, he said eventually, C
ATS ARE NICE
, said Death, evenly.
âHow much longer do I have?'
Death pulled a large hourglass from the secret recesses of his robe. The two bulbs were enclosed in bars of black and gold, and the sand was nearly all in the bottom one.
ABOUT NINE SECONDS
Ipslore pulled himself up to his full and still impressive height, and extended the gleaming metal staff towards the child. A hand like a little pink crab reached out from the blanket and grasped it.
âThen let me be the first and last wizard in the history of the world to pass on his staff to his eighth son,' he said slowly and sonorously. âAnd I charge him to use it toâ'
SHOULD HURRY UP
IF I WERE YOU
ââthe full,' said Ipslore, âbecoming the mightiestâ'
The lightning screamed from the heart of the cloud, hit Ipslore on the point of his hat, crackled down his arm, flashed along the staff and struck the child.
The wizard vanished in a wisp of smoke. The staff glowed green, then white, then merely red-hot. The child smiled in his sleep.
When the thunder had died away Death reached down slowly and picked up the boy, who opened his eyes.
They glowed golden, from the inside. For the first time in what, for want of any better word, must be called his life, Death found himself looking at a stare that he found hard to return. The eyes seemed to be focused on a point several inches inside his skull.
I did not mean for that to happen
, said the voice of Ipslore, from out of the empty air.
Is he harmed?
. Death tore his gaze away from that fresh, knowing smile. H
E CONTAINED THE POWER
E IS A SOURCERER
NO DOUBT HE WILL SURVIVE MUCH WORSE
YOU WILL COME WITH ME
OU ARE DEAD
. Death looked around for Ipslore's wavering shade, and failed to find it. W
HERE ARE YOU
In the staff.
Death leaned on his scythe and sighed.
OW EASILY COULD I CUT YOU LOOSE
Not without destroying the staff,
said the voice of Ipslore, and it seemed to Death that there was a new, thick, exultant quality to it.
And now the child has accepted the staff you cannot destroy it without destroying him. And that you cannot do without upsetting destiny. My last magic. Rather neat, I feel
Death prodded the staff. It crackled, and sparks crawled obscenely along its length.
Strangely enough, he wasn't particularly angry. Anger is an emotion, and for emotion you need glands, and Death didn't have much truck with glands and needed a good run at it to get angry. But he was mildly annoyed. He sighed again. People were always trying this sort of thing. On the other hand, it was quite interesting to watch, and at least this was a bit more original than the usual symbolic chess game, which Death always dreaded because he could never remember how the knight was supposed to move.
RE ONLY PUTTING OFF THE INEVITABLE
, he said.
That's what being alive is all about.
UT WHAT PRECISELY DO YOU EXPECT TO GAIN