• Published 26th Jan 2012
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The Wizzard and the Pony - Parchment_Scroll



While his apprentice deals with the leaders of Unicornia, Starswirl the Bearded explores...

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Chapter 4: Friendship is Horsery

The Wizzard and the Pony

There is a certain visual shorthand for people (or a person and a pony) in the dark, in that, to an outside observer, the eyes are always clearly visible. It should be noted, however, that those in the darkness are incapable of seeing said eyes, and that due to this, it is a phenomenon of life on the Disc that no one is aware of, if only because they lack a perspective sufficiently detached from those they would be observing.

Beneath a copious amount of snow on the Sto Plains, somewhat Turnwise of the city of Ankh-Morpork, there was a dark empty area surrounded by packed snow in the shape of a hemisphere, as though an overturned bowl had protected it from the snowfall, then vanished, leaving only the space beneath to testify to its existence. In point of fact, this was not too far off from the truth. Within this darkness floated two pairs of eyes, one about two thirds the elevation of the other. There was also a keyhole, but as it was the same color as the background, it was easy to overlook.

"If I were to ask," said the taller of the two sets of eyes, "where I was, would I regret it?"

"I'm not sure I've known you long enough to adequately answer that question," the lower set replied.

The keyhole merely sat there, content for the moment.

"Okay, I'll bite. Where are we, and why is it so dark?"

"Well, if you'll recall, before we bedded down for the night, I cast an amniomorphic shield, yes?"

"Ye~e~e~s... ish."

"Well, it snowed in the night, didn't it?"

"Are we buried under a great deal of snow?"

"I should imagine so, yes."

"It figures."

"Hmm."

"What?" The taller eyes darted back and forth, looking in vain for something.

"From what you've told me about yourself, I rather expected a bit more panic from you."

"You just wait until things get really horrible. Then you'll see some world-class panicking."

"Not worried about freezing to death? Suffocating? Being crushed to death if this space collapses?"

"Not particularly." The taller set of eyes glared briefly in the general direction of the lower ones, which had unfortunately already moved. "Not until now, at any rate. Still, it doesn't seem likely."

"Why not?"

"Given the number of times I've nearly died in my life, it seems... insufficient, somehow."

"Oh?"

"Oh yes, not nearly a terrible enough fate."

"Good. I imagine you've already figured a way out of this situation, then?"

"Erm..."

"No?"

"Not as such, no."

"Oh." The lower eyes closed momentarily, or from the outside perspective, vanished. "It so happens," they said, "I've got a plan of sorts."

"Of sorts?"

"Yes. Grab my tail."

There was an awkward silence. The higher set of eyes widened. The lower pair narrowed dangerously.

"Rincewind."

"Erm, yes?"

"That is not my tail."

There was a flash of light, outlining the forms of a skinny wizard and a somewhat pudgy unicorn pony, and when the flash went away, the eyes had vanished.

* * * * *

Lord Vetinari glanced briefly at the ice crystals decorating his window, then back at Archchancellor Ridcully. "What do you expect me to do? Issue a decree telling the citizens of Ankh-Morpork to be nice to each other?"

"Erm, well," Ridcully replied. Now that the Patrician mentioned it, it seemed surpassingly unlikely. "I realize how it sounds--" He did now, at any rate. "--but, well, yes."

"And this will somehow end the unnatural weather that has stricken the city?"

"So I have been informed."

"It won't work."

"I rather doubt it myself," Ridcully admitted. "But I've been assured that if it does, well, it will solve the problem."

"There is no possibility of this decree making even the slightest change in the behavior of anyone at all."

"None," admitted Ridcully.

"Even now, members of my staff have fallen victim to the unnatural freeze," admitted Vetinari. "Tempers are high, temperatures quite the opposite."

"Any port in a storm, Patrician?" offered Ridcully.

"The odds against it working are astronomical," Vetinari said, and Ridcully saw his opening.

"A million to one," he said.*

The Patrician steepled his hands in front of his face. Ridcully, through sheer willpower, managed not to look smug.

"Bring me a quill," said the Patrician.


* Probability is a funny thing on a world such as the Disc, which, due to the presence of Narrativium, rigidly follows the laws of Narrative Causality. While normally, the odds follow the same rules on the Disc as in other Realities, it is a widely known fact that million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten**.
** This, in fact, changes the odds of such an event from 1,000,000:1 to 1:9, which in itself leads to bizarre twists of Probability not seen without an atomic vector plotter and a scaldingly hot cup of tea.


The caravan was an oasis of warmth in the odd weather -- so much so that the people driving it didn't know to pack for snow. That being said, the drivers, being Klatchian, didn't really know much about snow to begin with. An outrider returned to the caravan, waving his arms to get the drivers' attention.

"Nothing ahead," he said as he pulled up alongside them. "They say that their crops were ruined by a sudden storm of some sort."

"By the Seven Moons of Nasreem, Annar, tell me you did not believe them!"

Annar shrugged. "They were quite insistent."

"This is not good. At this rate, we may have to resort to drastic measures."

Annar frowned. "Pray, Isrim, to what drastic measures are you referring?"

"It occurs to me, Annar, that we do not need two magical talking, flying horses."

"The smaller one is quite popular with children. We make more money from the hands-on menagerie than the tent."

"Indeed, Annar. It also occurs to me that the larger one is, well, larger."

"It is, indeed."

"One could feed, for example, a group of, oh, hypothetically, eight hungry travelers for a month with proper rationing."

Annar smiled, a cold, predatory smile that would have been quite at home on something with scales, claws, and a great many very sharp, very white teeth. "One could," he agreed.

"How long will our current supplies last?"

"I believe we can go for a week. Two on short rations."

Isrim frowned. "Let us not be over-hasty, Annar. With such a supply of meat readily available, I see no need to short ourselves."

"Indeed, Isrim," said Annar. "However, I must ask where we would keep this bounty of meat."

Isrim pondered the problem for a moment, then began to smile. If Annar's smile would have looked at home on something large and predatory, Isrim's smile would have sent that creature running for its lair in the hypothetical hills* in a heartbeat. In fact, one could be safe in assuming that such a creature, if it existed, would make evolutionary leaps and bounds in that same time, if only so that it could invent a door to hide behind, locks to secure the door with, and a properly intimidating arsenal in case the locked door failed. "Why," he said, "where do we keep it now?"

So saying, he began to laugh, and after a moment, Annar began to laugh with him.


* The Hypothetical Hills, in fact, can be found by the curious-minded in the foothills of the mountains of the Hublands. Such people would then (hypothetically, of course) find many wondrous, magical, and highly improbable creatures living there.