"Ook." There was nothing to do but wait for full moonrise. Or Discsink. Carrot carefully lifted a small dragon out of a coffee cup. "The little ones get everywhere," he said. "Just like kittens. But the adults just keep their distance and stare at us."
"Like cats, then.," said Rincewind. He lifted up his hat and untangled a small silvery dragon from his hair. "I wonder if we ought to take a few back?"
"We'll be taking them all back if we're not careful!"
"They look a bit like Errol," said Carrot. "You know, the little dragon that was our Watch mascot? He saved the city by working out how to, er flame backwards. We all thought he was some new kind of dragon," Carrot added, "but now it looks as though he was a throwback. Is Leonard still out there?" They looked out at Leonard, who had taken half an hour off to do some painting. A small dragon had perched on his shoulder. "He says he's never seen light like it," said Rincewind. "He says he must have a picture. He's doing very well, considering."
"Considering that two of the tubes he was using contain tomato puree and cream cheese."
"Did you tell him?"
"I didn't like to. He was so enthusiastic."
"We'd better start feeding the dragons," said Carrot, putting his cup down. "All right. Can you unstick this frying pan from my head, please?" Half an hour later the flicker of the omniscope screen illuminated Ponder's cabin. "We've fed the dragons," said Carrot. "The plants here are... odd. They seem to be made of a sort of glassy metal. Leonard has a rather impressive theory that they absorb sunlight during the day and then shine at night, thus creating "moonlight". The dragons seem to find it very tasty. Anyway, we shall be leaving shortly. I am just collecting some rocks."
"I'm sure they will come in useful," said Lord Vetinari. "Actually, sir, they will be very valuable," whispered Ponder Stibbons. "Really?" said the Patrician. "Oh, yes! They may well be completely different from rocks on the Disc!"
"And if they are exactly the same?"
"Oh, that would be even more interesting, sir!" Lord Vetinari looked at Ponder without speaking. He could deal with most types of mind, but the one apparently operating Ponder Stibbons was of a
sort he had yet to find the handles on. It was best to nod and smile and give it the bits of machinery it seemed to think were so important, lest it run amok. "Well done," he said. "Ah, yes, of course ... and the rocks may contain valuable ores, or possibly even diamonds?" Ponder shrugged. "I wouldn't know about that. sir. But they may tell us more about the history of the moon." Vetinari's brow wrinkled. "History?" he said. "But no one lives th- I mean, yes. well done. Tell me, do you have all the machinery you need?" The swamp dragons chewed at the moon leaves. They were metallic, with a glassy surface, and little blue and green sparks sizzled over the dragons' teeth when they bit into them. The voyagers piled them up high in front of the cages. Unfortunately, the only explorer who would have noticed that the moon dragons ate only the occasional leaf was Leonard, and he had been too busy painting. Swamp dragons, on the other hand, were used to eating a lot of things in the energy-poor environment of their world. Stomachs used to transmuting the equivalent of stale cakes into usable flame took delivery of dialectric surfaces chock-full of almost pure energy. It was the food of the gods. It was only going to be a matter of time before one of them burped. The whole of the Disc was ... well, there was the problem, from Rincewind's point of view. It was below them now. It looked below, even if it was really just over there. He couldn't get over the dreadful feeling that once the Kite was airborne it would simply drop down to those distant, fleecy clouds. The Librarian helped him winch in the wing on his side, as Leonard made ready to depart. "Well, I mean. I know we've got wings and everything," Rincewind said. "It's just that I'm not at home in an environment where every direction is down."
"I don't know what I'll say to him. "Don't blow the world up" sounds a pretty persuasive argument to me. I'd listen to it. And I don't like the idea of going anywhere near the gods. We're like toys to them, you know." And they don't realise how easily the arms and legs come off, he added to himself. "Ook?"
"Pardon? Do you really say that?"
"Ook; "There is a ... monkey god?"
"No, no, that's fine, fine. Not one of our locals ones, is he?"
"Oh. the Counterweight Continent. Well, they'll believe just about anything over..." He glanced out of the window and shuddered, "Down there." There was a thud as the ratchet clicked into place. "Thank yon, gentlemen." said Leonard. "Now if you'll just take your seats we-" The thump of an explosion rocked the Kite and knocked Rincewind off his feet. "How curious, one of the dragons appears to have fired a little earl-" Behold!" said Cohen, striking a pose. The Silver Horde looked around. "What?" said Evil Harry. "Behold, the citadels of the gods!" said Cohen, striking the pose again.
"Yes, well, we can see it," said Caleb. "Is there something wrong with your back?"
"Write down that I spake ""Behold!"." said Cohen to the minstrel. "Yon don't have to write down any of this other stuff."
"You wouldn't mind saying-"
"-sorry, spaking, "Behold the temples of the gods", would you?" said the minstrel. "It's got a better rhythm."
"Hah, this takes me back," said Truckle. "Remember, Hamish? You and me signed on with Duke Leofric the Legitimate when he invaded Nothingfjord?"
"Aye, I mind it."
"Five damn days, that battle took," said Truckle, 'cos the Duchess was doing a tapestry to commemorate it, right? We had to keep doing the fights over and over again, and there was the devil to pay when she was changing needles. There's no place for the media on the field of battle, I've always said,"
"Aye, and I mind you makin' a rude sign to the ladies!" Hamish cackled. "I saw that ol' tapestry in the castle of Rosante years later and I could tell it wuz you!"
"Could we just get on with it?" said Vena. "Y'see. there's the problem," said Cohen. "It's no good just doin' it. You got to remember your posterity."
"Hur, hur, hur," said Truckle. "Laugh away," said Cohen. "But what about all those heroes that aren't remembered in songs and sagas, eh? You tell me about them? "Eh? What heroes that aren't remembered in songs and sagas?"
"What's the plan?" said Evil Harry, who had been watching the shimmering light over the city of the gods. "Plan?" said Cohen. "I thought you knew. We're going to sneak in, smash the igniter, and run like hell."
"Yes, but how do you plan to do this?" said Evil Harry. He sighed when he saw their faces. "You haven't got one, have you?" he said wearily. "You were just going to rush in, weren't you? Heroes never have a plan. It's always left up to us Dark Lords to have the plans. This is the home of the gods, lads! You think they won't notice a bunch of humans wandering around?"
"We are intendin' to have a magnificent death," said Cohen. "Right, right. Afterwards. Oh, deary me. Look, I'd be thrown out of the secret society of evil madmen if I let you go at it mob-handed." Evil Harry shook his head. "There's hundreds of gods, right? Everyone knows that. And new gods turning up all the time, right? Well? Doesn't a plan suggest itself? Anyone?" Truckle raised a hand. "We rush in?" he said. "Yes, we're all real heroes here, aren't we?" said Evil Harry. "No. That wasn't exactly what I had in mind. Lads, it's lucky for you that you've got me ..." It was the Chair of Indefinite Studies who saw the light on the moon. He was leaning on the ship's rail at the time, having a quiet afternoon smoke. He was not an ambitious wizard, and generally just concentrated on keeping out of trouble and not doing anything very much. The nice thing about Indefinite Studies was that no one could describe exactly what they were. This gave him quite a lot of free time. He watched the moon's pale ghost for a while, and then went and found the Archchancellor, who was fishing. "Mustrum, should the moon be doing that?" he said. Ridcully looked up. "Good grief! Stibbons! Where's the man got to?"
Ponder was located in the bunk where he had flopped asleep fully dressed. He was hustled up the ladder half-asleep, but he awoke quickly when he saw the sky. "Should it he doing that?" Ridcully demanded, pointing at the moon. "No, sir! It certainly shouldn't!"
"It's a definite problem, is it?" said the Chair, hopefully. "It certainly is! Where's the omniscope? Has anyone tried to talk to them?"
"Ah, well, not my field then," said the Chair of Indefinite Studies, backing away. "Sorry. Would help if I could. Can see you're busy. Sorry." All the dragons must have fired by now. Rincewind felt his eyeballs being pressed into the back of his head. Leonard was unconscious in the next seat. Carrot was presumably lying in the debris that had been rammed to the other end of the cabin. By the ominous creaking, and the smell, an orangutan was hanging on to the back of Rincewind's seat. Oh, and when he managed to turn his head to see out of the window, one of the dragon pods was on fire. It was no wonder - the flame coming from the dragons was almost pure white. Leonard had mentioned one of these levers ... Rincewind stared at them through a red mist. "If we have to drop all the dragons," Leonard had said, "we-" What? Which lever? Actually, at a time like this the choice was plain. Rincewind, his vision blurred, his ears insulted by the sound of a ship in pain, pulled the only one he could reach. I can't put this in a saga, the minstrel thought. No one will ever believe it. I mean, they just won't ever believe it... "Trust me, right?" said Evil Harry, inspecting the Horde. "I mean, yes, obviously I am untrustworthy, point taken, but it's a matter of pride here, you understand? Trust me. This will work. I bet even the gods don't know all the gods, right?"
"I feel a right twerp with these wings." Caleb complained. "Mrs McGarry did a very good job on'em, so don't complain," snapped Evil Harry. "You make a very good God of Love. What kind of love. I wouldn't like to say. And you are ... ?"
"God of Fish, Harry," said Cohen, who had stuck scales on his skin and made himself a sort offish-head helmet from one of their late adversaries. Evil Harry tried to breathe. "Good, good, a very old fish god. yes. And you. Truckle, are ... ?"
"The God of bloody Swearing." said Truckle the Uncivil firmly. "Er, that could actually work," said the minstrel, as Evil Harry frowned. "After all. there are Muses of dance and song, and there's even a Muse of erotic poetry-"
"Oh, I can do that, said Truckle dismissively. ""There was a young lady from Quirm. Whose grip was-"
"All right, all right. And you. Hamish?"
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