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A Series of Accidents

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All the Duke's children turned out more or less foolish – an educated man himself, who always enjoyed knowledge, he never understood that his children, if given the choice, cared nothing for education, for the fine arts of governance, strategy or diplomacy.

Late to awaken to the situation, none the less he did begin to look into the schooling of his eldest son, Ulrich, when he was just turning fourteen. 'You will be the caretaker of the land, the master of its destiny; no-one but you: and you shall have the wisdom to do it, or the country will go to rot, and I shall not have such a legacy.'

When the Duke died, close to his eldest son's 27th birthday, in a coach accident in Uberwald (which is what they call these things), Ulrich had indeed begun to want his future duties, to exult in the skill and talent of leadership that he had grown into, and planned to become a more or less benevolent despotic.

Unfortunately, his younger brother had reached much the same mindset, and he began an investigation into his father's death.

Through all this, little Annagovia stiched, and learned languages – Morporkian, Zlobenian, even Klatchian. She had a knack for them and extended her knowledge by reading foreign books. They all seemed fictional to her, even the ones that claimed they weren't. What a funny world the people lived in, who weren't Borogravian. She quit them when, well into her teens, she discovered romances.

Her brother Ulrich was found guilty of… something or other – her brother Jan, now her guardian, said she was too young, too fragile, to hear much about it. Anna grieved with all her heart, and could not rest at night for wondering what had really happened. Ulrich would not have done anything so bad, she was sure, and she began to hate her brother Jan.

Jan disappeared one night, when Anna was seventeen. They never found a body; nor could Annagovia, with all the might of the nation and her skilled true friends around her ever find out what happened to him. The rumours around country pegged him either murdered, escaped, or hidden in the dungeons disfigured and nameless, for some political reason no-one could clearly fathom, for no-one suspected, or could suspect, sweet young Annagovia. She was so fresh, so young, and pretty too, wrapped in satin and jewelry, money on her breath, and becoming meekness in her down-cast eye.

It was, to Anna, as if she had been wrapped in a warm, comforting cloud all her life, which had blown away at the touch of wind. Her young life had disappeared in that wind, like her family around her. Suddenly, she was Duchess.