There is a room in the Patrician's home in Ankh-Morpork that only one living soul knows about. This room is tucked away at the end of a long corridor, and it is locked with a single brass key. The room itself is well-appointed (as one would expect from Lord Vetinari), furnished primarily in varying shades of green. On the walls hang several portraits of stuffy-looking dignitaries in green attire. In one corner stands an elaborate chess set with pieces carved to look like cats, dogs, crabs, jesters, and tentacled princesses, among other things. The pieces are locked in fierce competition, though it is not obvious who the players might be. In the centre is a round table in front of which sits a single chair and atop which sits a typing device. In all, everything would seem to be plush, but rather ordinary.
However, upon closer inspection, the typing device shows signs of being anything but ordinary. There are no components to transfer letters to the paper, and the paper itself is a sumptuous black with golden flecks. Nothing on the device actually moves, yet words appear on the sheet nevertheless. These words are written with impeccable eye for grammar, punctuation, and spelling, and they appear in stark white.
Havelock Vetinari sits in the chair before this strange device, his elbows resting on its arms and his fingers steepled. His eyes glance over the text on the device before he reaches out and taps a black-on-black reply.
TP: I fail to see how this in any way relates to our admittedly pleasant diversion.
Vetinari types deliberately, and the abbreviation for his "chumhandle" (as his conversational partner termed it) appears automatically before everything he enters. The gentleman responsible for the other half of the conversation found it entertaining to carry on exchanges with a "tyrannicalPatrician," and declared that to be Vetinari's identifying moniker. For his part, Vetinari does not care either way.
It doesn't, really, except in the most tangential manner.
This is the key phrase that Vetinari waits for. While the other party (who identified himself only as Doc Scratch) typically sends messages to advance their chess match, it has become common for him to slip in a question disguised as a fact and then advise that it was only tangentially related to the game at hand. It has come to indicate some snarl that Doc Scratch is unable to see through, with which he desires the Patrician's assistance.
TP: In that case, I would recommend avoiding pubescent creatures of all species and call it a day. However, I am aware that you will disregard this piece of wisdom and so I offer you another.
And what would this second piece of advice be?
Vetinari steeples his fingers again, weighing his words carefully.
TP: For a being that claims effective omniscience, you request my input on a frightening number of decisions.
I am only unaware of that which I must be blind to in order to serve my purpose. In time, these dark pockets will be filled. It entertains me to use your wit to probe these areas in the interim, particularly since you are able to go toe-to-toe with me when we choose to play games.
TP: I see.
TP: You have stated that you cannot lie, so I will concede that this is likely true.
TP: This is not the only reason for your continued association with me, though. I am sure of it.
TP: Tell me, why are we even here? Focusing less on the cosmic sense and more on the specifics of yourself and myself and this device through which we converse.
That is an astute question. Might I ask why you present it to me now?
TP: I have no compunction about lies, Mr. Scratch, but in the spirit of fair play, I will tell you the truth. It would be disingenuous to say that the thought has not plagued me since we first began our correspondence. However, I thought it best to gather some information before posing it to you.
That's quite fair. Unfortunately, I must start with the cosmic sense in order to answer your question about specifics.
I exist only to bring about my master's entry into this universe. Once that mission has been fulfilled, I will seek the conditions of my own death.
In the meantime, I play games. Most of them are not terribly entertaining, but they serve a purpose.
TP: And what purpose do you believe our game serves?
It's a way to pass the time.
Now, what is your second piece of advice?
TP: Patience, Mr. Scratch. The nature of this advice requires that I start with the cosmic sense in order to answer your question about specifics.
TP: Entertain with me, if you will, a hypothetical situation.
TP: (Whether you will or not is actually irrelevant, since I will be doing the entertaining. I am merely being polite.)
TP: You discover a room in your dwelling that had not been there before. It contains a device of unknown origin, and this device allows you to interact with a being not of your own world.
TP: As a well-established "tyrannicalPatrician," you investigate because you do not stay a well-established "tyrannicalPatrician" by remaining ignorant.
This is sounding less and less like a hypothetical situation, Mr. Vetinari.
TP: Please, bear with me.
TP: You gather information from this entity, and you perform discreet investigations into lore.
TP: There is very little to be found.
TP: This does not deter you.
TP: It finally comes to light that this entity is what is known in certain circles as a "First Guardian," and that this creature exists to usher in another entity known as "Lord English." Somehow, in all the texts you read about him, the "o" in his name is inexplicable replaced by the image of quickly shifting multi-colored balls.
TP: You find that this "Lord English" will be the destroyer of all.
TP: This brings me to my second piece of advice, which actually comes in two parts. The first is merely the Vetinari family credo: Si non confectus, non reficiat.
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it?" A bit odd for a family motto, wouldn't you say?
TP: Not at all. It has served me well during my tenure as a well-established "tyrannicalPatrician." It actually dove-tails quite well with the next part of my advice.
TP: You see, I may seem to be a humourless man who loves nothing.
TP: This is a whole-cloth fabrication, a tool that serves my position as "tyrannicalPatrician," if you like.
TP: I actually have a fine sense of humour, Mr. Scratch, and there is at least one thing that I love.
I believe I have some notion, but for the sake of polite conversation, I will ask: what would that be?
TP: This city, Mr. Scratch.
TP: More than anything else, my feelings for the well-being of Ankh-Morpork have informed all of my actions while I have served as Patrician.
TP: Excuse me, "tyrannicalPatrician."
That was unexpected.
TP: Indeed. You are one of the privileged few to know that fact.
TP: Cherish it.
TP: If you are half as clever as you believe yourself to be, I am sure you have determined my final words to you.
I can see where this is going, yes. However, I have been enjoying your exposition immensely. Please, illuminate me.
TP: Very well.
TP: I advise you to cease your meddling in the affairs of Patricians, "tyrannical" or otherwise. I have enjoyed our games, Mr. Scratch, but I cannot allow you to fix things that simply are not broken.
Your sentiment is a noble one, but entirely misplaced, Mr. Vetinari.
My master will come.
In fact, he is already here.
TP: That does not matter to me.
TP: Knight to B3.
TP: I am moving my Knight to the square B3.
TP: I believe that is checkmate, Mr. Scratch.
TP: I play to win.
TP: Good evening.
-- 's typewriter has exploded. --
Havelock Vetinari sighs. Preventing the entry of a demonic entity into the universe is not something he particularly wants to add to his rather lengthy list of goals, but it seems there is no avoiding it.
He admits to himself that he will very much miss their game.
In a green room inside a green mansion stands a lone man (if such a word may be applied to him) clad in a white suit with a green shirt and a white tie. This man stands next to the scorched desktop that represents what used to be his typewriter. While it is impossible to say what he might be thinking due to the fact that he lacks a face, there is a very strong possibility that if he had eyes, they would be seeing spades.