There are far too many people present in the Archchancellor’s office, pondered Stibbons. Even the Librarian was there, which was rare. Ponder wasn’t even sure why they were all there, though most of the wizards seemed to know what was happening. And for a change, it seemed to not be bluff or bluster.
“Ah, err, um…”, the Archchancellor cleared his throat, “you must have all found out by now.”
“Could you be a bit more precise, Archchancellor? Did Professor Poons come back to life again?”, asked Ponder.
“On the contrary, one of our oldest and finest wizards has, how do I put it, has died, Mister Stibbons”, offered the Dean.
“Who, exactly? And why is that a big deal? Wizards die here all the time. That never seems to stop them from turning up for tea. Or dinner, for that matter.”
Mustrum Ridcully cleared his throat again. It was odd, Ponder noted, for him and the Dean not to be exchanging verbal daggers. This must be the longest they have ever remained completely civil in each other’s’ presence. It felt weird, but that was just another day at work.
“Well, he was, so to speak, one of the founders of the University. None of us have actually met him, but the Librarian tells us that he’s written some thaumaturgic treatises on Discworld which would benefit the Library should we be able to recover them.”
“Ook.” A nod.
The Dean chimed in at this point. “I have managed, using my skills, to figure out the exact address where we can find the books. Oh, and we were also planning to acquire his wizarding hat as a memento for his services to magic.”
Ponder looked at the sketch that the Dean had procured from somewhere within the folds of his robes and was now passing around. The crudely drawn picture looked a lot like a flat, wide brimmed, black hat.
“My gosh! Is that really his hat? That’s stranger than even the one whatshisname… Rincewind, wears.”
While the wizards (those who remembered Rincewind, that is) murmured in agreement amongst themselves at the Archchancellor’s observation, mister Stibbons, usually more alert than the rest of his peers, wondered inwardly whether he was the only one in the room who had noticed that Rincewind was actually standing in a corner, near the Librarian.
“Maybe we should have a vote to see who should go to retrieve these books?” There was another murmur of approval at this, though none of the wizards were quite sure who actually offered the suggestion. Only Stibbons, as usual, noticed Rincewind slinking back into the shadows.
And they say he can’t do magic? he wondered. If he slinks any further he will slink right into the wall. The shadows almost seemed to be making more space for him.
Mustrum Ridcully, forever a man of action, wanted to waste no more time on this, (in reality, he just wanted everyone out so he could practice his archery) and bellowed, “Okay fellows, grab a piece of paper each and write down who you think should go and visit the house of our late fellow wizard.”
“Yes, you too, Librarian.”
Five minutes and a lot of shuffling later, it transpired that everyone had voted for themselves, except that the Librarian had two votes.
“I wonder who voted for him, assuming the banana was cast by the Librarian himself.”
“That would be Rincewind, Archchancellor”, Stibbons pointed out.
“Ah, Rincewind, you’re here and we never noticed! How kind of you to suggest the Librarian be the one to go! However, he can’t go alone, can he? Who here volunteers to go with him?”
Unsurprisingly, no one raised their hands. Few wizards relished the idea of going on a mission like this with the Librarian, even when it involved powerful books of magic. Especially if it involved powerful books of magic. All eyes turned towards Rincewind.
“Err, maybe we should have another vote, you know. Just so we can have a fair decision”, Rincewind opined, with an expression somewhere between a forced smile and a grimace.
“Of course, my dear fellow! Get to it, all of you!”. At this point the Archchancellor was casually waving his crossbow about, so the wizards started scribbling at double the speed.
Stibbons was not surprised to note that everyone had written Rincewind’s name this time around. Neither was Rincewind, apparently, since he had managed to slip out while they were all writing down names, even while under the otherwise extremely perceptive eyes and even more perceptive crossbow of the Archchancellor.
And he can’t do magic, they say?
Once the uproar over the missing Rincewind had died down, Stibbons suggested that unless the books were a danger to non-wizards, the Watch could maybe go and pick them up and deposit them to the Library. The Librarian ook-ed affirmatively, and since no one else had any reason to complain (and no one dared risk offending the Librarian), the Archchancellor grudgingly agreed to send a letter to Lord Vetinari with their request.
“Who would take the letter to him, though? We are all busy here, you see.”
All the wizards ducked as the Archchancellor waved in their general direction, unmindful that he still held a loaded crossbow in his hands.
“I’ll go”, said Stibbons. “The Librarian can accompany me.” He was starting to get a bit curious about this whole affair.
“That’s settled, then. Thank you for your time, professors. We can discuss this further over tea.”
Ponder Stibbons was starting to get more and more curious at this point. The hat in the drawing looked quite mundane and he wondered what sort of a wizard he might have been and what books of power he might have written.
Ponder Stibbons, lost deep in thought, never noticed Rincewind follow as they headed to meet The Patrician.