© Copyright 2006 - Rubberwolf - Used by permission
Storycodes: Other/f; bond; pony; leather; nc; X
Terry Pratchet, one of my favourite authors, once wrote of Discworld that it offered him a wide scope for storyline and characters. Unlike other writers, if he wants to write a detective novel, a romance, a science fiction fantasy, or ghost story, all that he has do to is set it on the Disc. There he can introduce new characters, plots, or anything else, without alienating his loyal fan base. After all he has an entire world to play with. So, if the Discworld works for comedy, tragedy, armies, thieves (As long as their membership to the guild is fully paid up.), lovers and trolls, wouldn’t it work just as well for the fetish writer? After all, the Patricians Palace does boast the most modern, well maintained and deepest, darkest dungeon this side of the hub?
Now if you will excuse me I am just off to pack. Ankh Morpork awaits.
A Fitting Mount
Death walked across his yard towards the stables. He walked with a purposeful stride that could best be described as ominous, accompanied by the click clack of bone on cobbles. In his hand he carried a scythe, while in his other he clutched a number of large hour glasses. As was fitting, he wore a black cloak and hood, joined at the shoulder with a golden clasp depicting the letter omega. Blue eyes shone from underneath the hood, like twin lamps of sapphire.
This scene would, to the casual observer, appear to be out of character with the surroundings. Deaths domain consisted of, to the naked eye, a picturesque cottage, with a beautifully maintained rose garden. The garden also boasted a tree, complete with childs swing, a pond and an expansive lawn. A range of mountains acted as a back drop to this charming scheme.
Closer inspection would reveal that, the roses were all black. Although a swing hung from the tree, no rope secured it to the branch. If one was to spend a pleasant day walking towards the mountains, one would find that, upon arrival, the rocks lacked depth, or substance, like an oil painting where it is obvious that, when viewed from half a room away, you are looking at a mountain, but when you examine the picture more closely you can not tell what the various blobs and blotches mean. Walking into the house one discovers that, rather than quaint, comfortable little rooms, strewn with lacy furniture, dark wooden tables and stone fire places, they are in fact, unnervingly infinite.
Alfred, Deaths servant, stood holding Deaths horse. Alfred had worked for the Master for centuries. At first sight, the same casual observer who enjoys walking in the mountains, would be excused for thinking that Alfred was a particularly grumpy and set in his ways. He would think that here was an example of someone who looked so old and unwell that they had only a short time to live. They would be right on all counts. Alfred only had two days, twenty seven minutes and fifty four seconds of life left in his hour glass. He does not, therefore, visit the mortal plane as often as he used to.
“THANK YOU ALFRED,” Deaths voice boomed with the finality of tomb door closing, as he took the rains of his horse, placed the hour glasses into the horses saddle bags, the scythe into a special holder on the rear of the saddle and levered himself onto his steed.
Temple depictions of Deaths horse would have you believe that Death rode a mount as skeletal as its owner, breathing fire from its nostrils and fixing you with its menacing blue glowing coals for eyes. To be fair, Death had tried riding one, but it was not very comfortable and a skeletal horse would tend to fall to pieces whenever there was a particularly large bump in the road, or slight shift in causality. So Death had opted for a real mount, whom he called Binkey.
Binkey was large, at least seventeen hands high and pale, very, very pale. True, Binkey did have glowing blue eyes and although fire did not sprout from his nostrils, there was a certain fireyness about his breath. Everything about Binkey said horse. While other mounts could claim to be fairly equine, Binkey was, from the curve of the muscles on his neck, to the shine of his pale hooves, a very real horse. In the same way that Death was the ultimate reality, Deaths horse was a frighteningly real horse.
“ARE YOU SURE I CAN’T OFFER YOU A LIFT?” Death enquired of the small figure that had accompanied Death to the stable.
“SQUEAK,” said the figure, who was a rather large skeletal rat, who, like Death, wore a dark, hooded, cloak and carried a small scythe that, despite its size was, like the larger version that Death carried, sharp enough to cut the air.
“VERY WELL. I WILL SEE YOU LATER.”
With that, death pulled his right leg backwards along the flank, touched the underside of Binkeys belly with his left leg and thrust his hips slightly forward.
Binkey shot off across the courtyard as he went from stationary to canter in the blink of a blue, luminous coal, before taking off into the multi chromatic reality sky.
The Death of Rats strode into the stable, equally as purposeful as his taller colleague. Moments later he rode out into the courtyard on his own, less imposing transport. True the tack and saddle had obviously been designed by the same crazed saddle maker, but the small shaggy dog that served as this Deaths transportation, lacked a certain presence of his taller counter part.
Never the less, the Death of rats asked for canter, or the doggy equivalent and had to settle to a rather ungainly, lopsided, lop.
It was a slightly more dishevelled Death of Rats who steered his troublesome mount back to the stables several hours later. He should have known that there would be trouble. After all cats, while not as gruesome as traps, or effective as poison, do a reasonable job of keeping the rat population under control. He should have anticipated what had happened and taken steps, chosen another mount, or something. But he was beginning to despair. So far he had tried a chicken, a rabbit, a Cat (Which did not go down very well with the recently departed) and now a dog. All had been disasters of one form or another.
“SQUEEEEEK,” The Death of Rats lamented as he put his mount to bed.
Goodwife Cabage stared intently at the glass jars that were supposed to be bubbling away before her and sighed. She had spent several weeks pouring over ancient transcripts, consulting some of the finest minds in the guild, literally spent the rent on the ingredients, as well as stirring the contents for concoction for three hours. The net result of all of her labours was not a wondrous new source of energy that could produce light without heat, or any form of energy exchange what so ever. No, instead, she was looking at a rather disappointing brown, burnt, biscuit at the bottom of her jar.
Goodwife was used to dealing with difficulties and set backs. For as long as she could remember she had wanted to be an alchemist. A rewarding career that could help people to enrich their lives. Medicines, potions and all manner of powders, that could be used for both industry and home. The money generated from new ideas could set up an alchemist for life. But just as the reward could be great, so was the price of failure. The guild of alchemists boasted the only buildings with four foot thick, magically reinforced, blast proof walls, designed to channel explosions safely away from populated areas (A necessary expense compared to rebuilding sections of the guild every time an experiment encountered difficulties. It was also a precaution that the city rulers insisted upon).
Saving enough money to pay for her tuition fees had not been easy. It was not that her family were without money but, as her name suggests, her parents had different career aspirations for their daughter. Even now, her mothers letters are full of subtle questions like:
“When are you going to find a nice young man and settle down?”
“Have you met your cousin Quentin? His father is a butcher you know.”
Eventually, after it had become clear that she had set her mind on an education, as if a young woman actually needed such a thing, they gave her an income that would allow her to get by. After all, she might meet a nice young man while at university. At twenty three, while not unattractive, she was still unmarried. The fact that her idea of cooking in the kitchen came with a potential area affect might have something to do with the lack of suitor, or it might just be down to too much time in the lab.
Picking the jar up she tried to scrape the contents out of the bottom, only to find that it fell out rather easier than she expected and landed on the floor with a resounding thump. A rather disappointing brown thing, with no apparent urge to burst into light what so ever, sat unspectacularly on her floor.
Sighing disappointedly, Goodwife got up and headed for bed. She would clean up in the morning. Something would come up. It had to.
Death sat at his desk, a large journal open before him, as he calculate the nodes that would need to be collected for the coming day. A small robed figure leaped onto the desk in front of Death.
“SQUEAK, EEK EEK SQUEAK.”
“NO, NOT AN IDEAL SITUATION. I CAN ALWAYS GIVE YOU A LIFT WHEN I GO OUT.”
“SQUEAK SQUEAK EEK.”
“NO, IT IS NOT IDEAL. BUT WHAT CAN YOU DO? PERHAPS YOU CAN TRY A LIZARD NEXT TIME? I HAVE HEARD THAT IGUARNAS ARE EASY TO TRAIN.”
“SQUEAK EEK. EEK EEK EEK SQUEAK.”
Death considered for a moment.
“A UNIQUE SOLUTION TO YOUR PROBLEM AND IT DOES HAVE A CERTAIN CYMETERY. VERY WELL. I SUPPOSE YOU WISH ME TO PURCHASE ANOTHER SADDLE AND TACK?”
Death rose from his desk. He had finished with the evenings nodes anyway.
“I WILL PLACE THE ORDER WHILE I AM OUT. DO YOU WANT A LIFT?”
“SQUEAK,” the skeletal rodent replied as he clambered off of the desk and headed, along with his larger colleague, towards the door on the other side of the room and an infinite distance away.
The following morning Goodwife came down stairs to a curious discovery. The wasted experiment from last night had been gnawed upon. Not simply by one rat, but by many, at least eight she concluded, judging by the corpses littered about the experiment. Actually one of the rats was not quite dead. Goodwife watched on in amazement as the dying animal, in obvious agony, tried to eat one more piece of the compound.
Putting on her thickest leather gloves Goodwife picked up the strange compound. She thanked the gods that she had possessed the foresight to take scrupulous notes last night.
For the next few weeks Goodwifes’ lab was a hive of activity as she tested the compound on the guilds rats. No matter what the foodstuff that she placed into the maze, the rodents would always seek out the poison. Within days the guild was free of rats. Within six months, every home contained a small packet of Cabages Rodent Pills. The tiny packet showing Goodwifes smiling features holding up a small plate of pills while a couple or rats sniffed eagerly at the upheld offering of certain death.
Eventually the rodent population would become resilient to the poison. The process of natural selection ensuring that only those rats with a certain gene survived. However, for the moment the rats of Ankh Morpork were in decline and Miss Cabages fortunes were on the up and up.
The lack of suitors had diminished in inverse proportions to her bank balance. As she could afford new clothes and her face and obvious wealth became known, so the list of suitors increased.
The confident, well healed woman who strode out to her carriage for an evening at the theatre was a far cry, in her silk ball gown and exotically feathered hat, from the bookish girl of only a few months ago. At five foot eight she was above average height. However, her family were of country stock and so Goodwife was well muscled, despite her years in the lab. Genetics had decreed that the Cabage family should be long limbed and hardy. Despite this, the right corsetry, hair and dress had transformed her into a raven haired, statuesque beuty.
The proprietor of Albion Saddles face broke into a grin as the tall figure of Mr De Arth walked into his shop. This promised to be a rather lucrative, if not eccentric commission. So far his company had built saddles for a variety of strange animals for this strange customer. Dogs, cats and even a chicken had enjoyed the benefits of the finest hand made saddles on the continent. All so that Mr De Arths’ pet rat could ride around his cage in style.
At first Mr Albion had assumed that this strange customer was a funeral director, judging by his first impressions and the style of saddle. However, one strange request could be put down to the whims of Mr De Arths own customers. But four such orders had changed this strange customers occupation from funerals to circuses and Mr Albion was convinced that the orders were for some strange circus acts. However, that opinion was about to be revised as the nature of the next rodent saddle became known.
“Although we can make the saddle you might find it easier if you sourced some of the equipment you require at another establishment. If I might be so bold, I believe I have just the place for you.”
After several minutes rummaging around in the back room, Mr Albion returned to his customer holding a business card.
“SAX LEATHERS. HMMM. YOU SAY THAT PEOPLE ALREADY DO THIS? AMAZING. VERY WELL, I WILL GO THERE AND SEE IF THEY HAVE WHAT MY RAT WILL NEED. HE IS QUITE PARTICULAR YOU KNOW. IN THE MEAN TIME, HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO BUILD THE SADDLE?”
“Should be ready in around three weeks. Of course I would require a fitting session.”
“UNFORTUNATLY THAT WILL NOT BE POSSIBLE, BUT I HAVE TAKEN DOWN THE MEASUREMENTS THAT YOU WILL NEED.”
“Very well, if you pop by in three weeks time I should be able to have it ready.”
“VERY GOOD. I SHALL RETURN IN THREE WEEKS.”
With that, the tall and painfully thin Mr De Arth turned around and left the shop leaving Mr Albion with the feeling that, despite his customers impeccable manners and the fact that he always paid promptly with old copper coins (If Mr Albion was to look more closely he would find that, not only were some of the coins incredible old, some bearing the names of rulers no longer remembered on the continent, but always came in pairs), he had just had a very lucky escape.
The Shades was not a part of Ankh Morpork to be walked lightly, or without an armed escort. Those visitors to the city who had found their way into this district had left, feet first, minus all of their valuable, as another unfortunate addition to the floating debris of the river Ankh (Although perhaps floating is not quite the right word. Most things that fall into the Ankh will usually take around twenty minutes to sink enough to be called floating.)
It had taken Death about half an hour to walk here from the Street of Cunning Artificers. However, Death was quite familiar with The Shades. He does a lot of business there. The change was, however, noticeable. Walking from the Five Ways and though the Pitts, Over Elm Street and down onto Paradise. One moment the streets, while not paved with gold, at least looked relatively well maintained, suddenly became dirty and un-kept.
Despite this, business prospered in places. Death passed several prospering businesses. Igneous the Troll’s Wholesale Pottery, Chalkey the Trolls building supplies, before leaving Paradise and heading toward the Whore Pits, or more specifically, SAX leathers, on Sweetheart Lane.
Normally, the lone wanderer would, by now, have several pairs of hungry eyes, not only watching their progress, but calculating their net value, where to get the best market price for their shoes and were to dump the body. Not only did Death not have a small crowd following him, but those same speculating eyes seemed to slide off of him, ignoring him, or where the eyes noticed his progress their owners decided that it might be advisable to be somewhere else.
SAX leathers did, indeed have just the items that he was after. A few alterations would however, be necessary. The bit would need replacing with a more traditional, two piece link and reigns would need to be shortened to cater for the riding position. However, harnesses, reigns, girths and all that the Death of Rats could require for his new mount could easily be found.
Once he had placed his order with the shop assistant who bore the usual glazed expression of a man whose eyes were seeing a six foot five skeleton, but whose brain had overridden these images and replaced them with a tall, thin gentleman of indeterminate age and a passion for sombre dress.
Leaving the shop and following the assistants advise, Death walked into a cobbler shop and placed an order. Now, thoroughly shopped out, Death pulled an hour glass from his robe, watched as the remaining sands trickled into the bottom chamber, before walking deeper into The Shades. It was time to go to work.
Despite her new found wealth and popularity, Goodwife was an Alchemist and she had not forgotten her earlier quest for cheap lighting for the masses. Unlike her earlier experiments, she could now afford to rent rooms in the Guild which offered access to an enviable selection of equipment and knowledge. High density beakers replaced the crude storage jars of before. A network of glass pipes snaked from container to container, while a small, constant temperature magic heat plate ensured a level of thermal accuracy undreamed of in her previous life. The view from the window was nice as well. The young woman who bent over the work bench was a far cry from her previous incarnation. The Degucci lab robes that that she was wearing would have fed her for a year only a few months ago and the blast proof goggles were of the finest flexi crystal dug from the Uberwald Dwarf mines.
“Now that’s looking promising,” she muttered to herself.
Bending over she read the rest of her notes and nodded to herself.
“Now, just a drop of Argon,” she muttered to herself as she filled up a glass dropper with the yellow, glowing liquid from a jar on the bench beside her and squeezed a drop of the liquid into the bubbling potion before her.
Despite the blast proof walls and channelling, large sections of her lab exploded in a red hot cloud into the direction of the river. Bits and pieces of lab, glass and Degucci robe rained down on the city.
Goodwife climbed out of the rubble that had once been her lab. She was grateful for the fact that the workbenches were made from the finest, triple layered granite that Troll artisans could manufacture, and that she had ducked at just the right moment. She was also pleased that she had written her will and that her family would inherit the business if something happened to her.
“Well, that could have been worse,” she muttered as she dusted herself off.
“SQUEAK,” said a voice behind her, or at least, that is what her ears heard, her brain seemed to understand something else, as though she could hear a voice saying “WELL, NOT REALLY,” inside her head.
Goodwife turned to where the squeak had come from.
“Oh no,” she groaned as she took in the small, robed figure carrying a scythe.
Looking behind her she saw what she had expected to see. Normally, when a person dies, a strand of light will connect the soul to the body, running from the temple of the dead body, to the back of the head on the soul standing near the remains. In Goodwifes’ case, over a score of strands spread out from her head to several places around the room.
Goodwife stood numbly surveying the carnage that had been her. A high pitched, squeaky chuckle brought her attention back to the rat, who held an hour glass in his hand. An hour glass with her name on it. Then, to her amazement, the Death of Rats turned the hour glass over.
Pain shot through her body and she staggered as flesh returned to her and she was once again, standing in the ruins of her lab, alive. Alive and, thanks to the blast, naked. Goodwife tried to cover herself as her 34C breasts were exposed to the world.
“Why did you do that? Why am I alive?”
“SQUEAK, EEK EEK EAK. (I HAVE A JOB FOR YOU. THANKS TO YOU A GREAT MANY RATS WILL DIE. IT COULD BE SAID THAT YOU AND NOT I WERE TRULY THE DEATH OF RATS.)”
Goodwife stood in stunned silence as she took in what she had been told.
“What job. What could I possibly do for you?”
“EAK EEK SQUEEK EAK. (ALL IN GOOD TIME. BUT FIRST THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE YOU SHOULD MEET.)”
If was then that she noticed the rats. She was surrounded by thousands and thousands of rats.
“EEK SQUEAK, EAK EAK EEK. (THESE ARE ALL OF THE RATS THAT YOU HAVE KILLED. MURDERED BY YOUR POISON, AS IF YOU HAD SQUEAZED THE LIFE OUT OF THEM YOURSELF. YOUR POTION WILL SELL BY THE THOUSANDS, KILLING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS, MILLIONS EVEN. THEY HAVE A GIFT FOR YOU.)”
Goodwife screamed, throwing her hands up in horror to protect herself from the tidal wave of fur and claws that rose up before her, engulfing her and forcing her to the ground. Thrashing and screaming she tried to throw her attackers off of her, but it was useless, there were too many of them and she lost the battle as thousands of claws and tiny teeth bent her to their collective will.
Eventually, it was over and the claws and teeth withdrew, leaving her as a lone island in a sea of grey and brown fur and red eyes. Goodwife struggled to take in what had happened. She was tied up and dressed strangely.
“SQUEAK EEK EEK (GET UP. GET UP AND SERVE ME.)”
Goodwife struggled to rise, but it was not easy. Her arms were secured behind her back somehow by leather straps, so that her elbows touched. Her hands were attached to a leather corset, by cuffs on either side of her waist. Although corsets were common to the women of Ankh Morpork, none were as tightly binding as this one. Her waist had been squeezed to minuscule proportions, while at the same time her bust seemed enormous. As if this were not enough to restrict her, she wore strange gloves which forced her hands into fists. These gloves also had a strange dark bone like substance, giving her hands the shape and appearance of hooves. She also wore a strange series of straps around her breasts that formed a strange outline to her naked bust (Leather strap bra).
In addition to this her attempts to rise were hampered by the strange ankle boots that she wore. They were incredibly high, forcing her to stand on the balls of her toes, while her height was further increased by the same bone like hoof attached to the bottom of the boots. Thick lacing robbed all flexibility from her as the hoof boots formed a tight corset around her feet.
Goodwife felt more leather straps around her head and her mouth ached from something cold and metallic that hooked over her molars and forced her tongue down into her jaw. She tried to push the intruder out, but although formed by two pieces, which were joined in the middle, she could not free her mouth.
Angrily, Goodwife threw her head back, not an easy thing to do when wearing a thick collar, to complain, which was when the straps ran from the lower half of the French bridal pulled on her nipples painfully. Ann had thought that the pain in her nipples had been caused by the rats claws. She was wrong and she screamed a strange, grunting sound, as the bridle pulled painfully on the nipple clamps which imprisoned her tender flesh. She also noticed the common design. Hanging from various points on the leather work, small silver rats skulls adorned the leather.
Sinking to her knees she looked down at the straps that ran from her nipple clamps, under her arms behind her. With a growing suspicion, Goodwife looked behind her. There, strapped to the V formed by her arms was a tiny saddle. Angling further around she found that the reason her ass hurt was because a tail had been forced into her anus and long raven hair curved out of a place that hair should not curve out of.
“Narghhh. Um Igh ee. Att OO OO Ant,” she complained into the gag.
“SQUEEK, SQEEK EEK. (YOU KNOW WHAT I WANT. YOU MUST ATTONE FOR ALL OF THE WRONGS YOU HAVE DONE. WHAT BETTER WAY THAN THIS? NOW RISE AND SERVE ME. I WILL TREAT YOU WELL. I THINK I WILL CALL YOU GOODY. HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR NEW NAME?)”
Goody stared mutely as she rose to her feet and her small master, pulling on the lower reigns and, stepping upon her slightly bent knee, levered himself into the saddle that perched on her arms and placed his feet into the stirrups.
The Death of rats fed the reigns through his lower fingers and up over his top fingers, so that he could press his thumbs down, trapping the reigns securely. Adjusting the reigns so that the upper set pulled Goodys’ head up, but keeping tension on the lower set, the Death of Rats dug his bony heels into his new mounts sides.
Goody had no choice and she knew it. She was bound securely and her new master literally held her life in his hands. She could feel the tension on the lower reigns which promised unspeakable pain if she disobeyed. The bit in her mouth would be painful enough anyway, if tugged hard and with heels that bony her rider did not need spurs. Resigned to her fate, Goody walked forward as she was commanded.
“THAT’S IT, NOW PICK YOUR FEET UP HIGHER AND WE SHALL TRY FOR TROTT?”