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Irreplaceable

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Lord Vetinari scrawled his signature across the one, two, three...four documents that Drumknott swiftly placed in front of him, one after the other.

“And if you could find for me - “ he began, and halted, raising his eyebrow at the fifth file that had apparently magically appeared under his hand, then opened it up and leaned back in his chair, a considering look upon his face.

“Will that be all, sir?” Drumknott asked, diffidently, secretly pleased at his astute guess. A true secretary knew what was required before it was asked. With the Patrician, however, that often proved to be something of a serious mental challenge.

“Hmm? Yes,” and Drumknott ebbed silently towards the door. He almost didn't catch the murmured, “You excel yourself, Drumknott,” and his heart gave a little twitch of pride. He glanced automatically at the clock as he exited the Oblong Office; late, already. Vetinari always worked late, and so, perforce, did he, but, in truth, he never minded. Now, he thought, let's see…in light of the current situation with the Thief's Guild, which he estimated the Patrician had let stew exactly the amount of time he intended to, and the latest report from the Royal Bank of Ankh-Morpork, he anticipated that his Lordship might require some rather old files from Central Filing...he should just about have time to retrieve them before he was called for again.

A short while later, a little less than Drumknott had been expecting, but a little more than he had allowed, out of prudence, Lord Vetinari reached for the speaking tube to call him in. A moment more, and he frowned, repeating the order. There was neither reply nor the familiar knock at the door. Eyes narrowing, Vetinari opened a spring-loaded compartment in his desk and withdrew a sharp, pointy thing from a veritable smorgasbord of the same. Sidling to the door, he half-flung it open, dancing away to the side. Nothing happened. Cautiously, he stepped through, eyes taking in the room before him with a practiced glance. Nobody was there, including his chief clerk. He frowned. It wasn't like Drumknott to miscalculate; and certainly, he had excelled himself earlier. He summoned a junior clerk and sent down to Central Filing, and was entirely unsurprised when the young man came literally running back, looking frightened and flustered, to report that, indeed, his personal secretary had gone missing, and, unthinkably, left his files scattered upon the floor.