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Rince and Repeat

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Once upon a time there was a wizard who was very good at running away (he'd had lots of practice at it, after all) but was also very good at being chased by Trouble.

His name is Rincewind, except when it's not.

#

"Hello!"

Rincewind looked around, startled and just a little scared. He'd thought that this strange other dimension would be safe -- for definitions of 'safe' that included 'everything leaving him ALONE for once oh please' -- but apparently it wasn't.

There was no one behind him, and no one to either side.1 There were trees and animals and such, but no obvious source of the voice. Unless... oh dear, Rincewind thought, and eyed the Luggage warily, even though the Luggage had never actually spoken before.

"Up here," said the voice.

Rincewind looked up.

"...," he said.

"Hi!" the voice said, sounding scarily chipper.

Rincewind blinked. "...A talking, floating rock?"

"A talking, floating, MAGIC rock," it corrected, and blinked back at him.

Rocks, Rincewind told himself firmly, didn't blink.

Or talk.

Or--

"I'm not just a rock," it told him chirpily. "I'm your Familiar!" The Luggage growled warningly, and the rock bobbed a bit higher, uneasy. "Your other Familiar?"

"Right," Rincewind said. "More hallucinations." And he made a firm decision to ignore it.

#

It continued to talk. In fact, it never seemed to want to shut up. It kept wanting him to go on quests -- absurd things like petting trees and nibbling pigs, none of them things Rincewind did on a regular basis.

Rincewind firmly ignored it. It continued talking.

"You should start learning a Skill!" it told him eventually, with unrepentant chipperness.

"I'm a wizard," Rincewind protested, "I know plenty of--" Ignoring. Right. He shut up again and stared off into the distance, where two bubble trees were exchanging nervous whispers. "--skills," he finished, speaking to nobody in particular.

"Hm," the rock said, "BRB," and it vanished while Rincewind completely and totally ignored the puzzle of how it had pronounced a word with no vowels.

A passing butterfly giggled. Rincewind tried tp ignore that too. Really, he was quite good at ignoring things; it was a shame that things weren't as good at ignoring him.

"Cluck," agreed a chicken as it strolled by.

Rincewind decided that sanity was the better part of valor, and stared up at the sky. The clouds, thankfully, didn't seem inclined to talk, or even need attention.

The rock that reappeared above him, on the other hand, did. "Hi I'm back I brought some friends," it said in a rush.

Cautiously, Rincewind glanced around. Native flora, check; native fauna, check; decidedly non-native Luggage, check; but all of that had been there before. No new friends, granite or otherwise.

HELLO THERE, LITTLE GLITCH.

"Oh, crap," Rincewind said heartily, as his feet prepared to run away from the inevitable figure that voice was attached to. Another glance around him failed to produce any visible Death, hjood and scythe or no. "Er."

DON'T WORRY, GLITCHLING, I AM NOT DEATH. I AM TII.

AND I AM POT, said a fairly similar voice.

"I'm glad to meet you, o teapot," Rincewind said cautiously. "But I'm not a glitch, I'm a wizard."

YOU ARE IN UR. THIS MAKES YOU A GLITCH. I'M FRIENDLY, BY THE WAY.

"I'm going away now," Rincewind said, because in his experience anyone that needed to say they were friendly, actually weren't so much.

WE ARE THE GIANTS. THIS PLACE IS A PART OF US. YOU ARE A PART OF US NOW.

"Uh-huh." Rincewind tried to open a portal to somewhere else. Anywhere else.

HEH. YOU CAN TRY.

#

Anywhere else turned out to be extremely cold, quite wintry, and very much the same place. A different region, yes, but of the same dimension.

"Damn," Rincewind said, shivering, and ran back through the still-open portal. Retreat seemed to, once again, be the better part of valor.

TOLD YOU.

It was amazing how smug a disembodied voice could sound.

#

"Okay, look, you don't want me to stay here," Rincewind said desperately. "I'm being followed by... things! Horrible, evil, awful things! For the safety of, uh, wherever this place is, you must let me go somewhere saner. Safer, I mean."

MORE EVIL THAN ROOKS?

All of the disembodied voices shuddered. A butterfly fainted2. Rincewind looked confused, a feeling he was unfortunately familiar with.

"Uh... sure, yeah..."

OOH I HAVE JUST THE POTION! HANG ON A SEC PLZ. (A beaker appeared out of nowhere, a greenish-purple liquid swishing inside.) POTIONING... POTIONING... THERE! (The liquid poured itself into a bottle, which nudged at Rincewind's hand like an eager puppy.) DON'T WORRY, IT'S HARMLESS.

"Goody." Harmless was never a reassuring word. Quite the contrary, really.

IN THEORY.

Rincewind sighed. "Why, exactly, should I trust scary disembodied voices who may or may not know what they're talking about?"

WE'RE NOT SCARY. WE'RE FRIENDLY.

WELL, HE'S FRIENDLY; I'M HUMBABA.

HEHEHE YEAH.

"If I drink this, will you all shut up?" Rincewind finally asked.

SURE YEP NO PROBLEM.

It was not the stupidest thing Rincewind had ever done, but that really said more about his life than about the current situation.3

At any rate, he drank.

#

"Hi there," said the magic rock.

Rincewind unfolded himself from the Luggage. It appeared to be made of a different sort of wood.

It precisely matched the wood that Rincewind now seemed to be made of.

He tried to swear vociferously, but what came out was: "Hey, magic rock! Come talk to me if you'd like to trade."

The rock cheered. "Oh, it worked! I really should tell Pot; he'll be delighted. It's the first time he tried that, you know."

Rincewind had a sudden urge to ask the rock for a cherry in exchange for a diamond. It was ridiculous. He had no use for a cherry, and also he didn't have a diamond to trade.

The Luggage burped, and opened to display some rather spectacular objects, gems and fancy tools and plain wrapped boxes.

Oh, Rincewind thought, I guess I do.

"And the best part is," the magic rock burbled, "the things that are chasing you won't find you! But the Giants said we can't call you by your name any more, so how about Rube? It's short for RubeistotallynotRincewind. No, kidding! But it's short, and that's good, right?"

"I'll give you a Cubimal Box for one of your Grains," Rincewind said helplessly, "OK?"

At least it was better than being eaten.4


1: Unless of course one counts a box of sapient pearwood as "someone".

2: Which was interesting, since generally butterflies don’t. Had Rincewind paid attention to this, everything might have made more sense.

3: There were a number of things that might qualify. Of course, in order to determine this, one must develop a scale to judge stupidity. Rumor has it that both Bloody Stupid Johnson and Leonard of Quirm had attempted to create one, but had become entangled in a stupidity feedback loop.

4: Maybe.