The truth isn’t easily pinned to a page. In the bath-tub of history the truth is harder to hold than the soap, and much more difficult to find...
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Sourcery (Discworld Novel 5) (Discworld series) (Pratchett, Terry)
If there are words to describe what happened to the wizard next then they’re imprisoned inside a wild thesaurus in the Unseen University Library.
They didn’t seem to grasp ideas properly; more particularly, they didn’t seem able to get the hang of doom. They suffered from the terrible delusion that something could be done. They seemed prepared to make the world the way they wanted it or die in the attempt, and the trouble with dying in the attempt was that you died in the attempt.
He explained – although ‘explained’ is probably too positive a word, and in this case really means failed to explain but at some length – that it was perfectly possible to travel across the world in a small lamp being carried by one of the party, the lamp itself moving because it was being carried by one of the people inside it, because of a) the fractal nature of reality, which meant that everything could be thought of as being inside everything else and b) creative public relations. The trick relied on the laws of physics failing to spot the flaw until the journey was complete.
Sword of Destiny (Sapkowski, Andrzej)
‘Me. Unlike you, I believe in destiny. And I knew that it is hazardous to trifle with a two-edged sword. Don’t trifle with it, Geralt. Take advantage of the chance which is presenting itself. Turn what connects you to Ciri into the normal, healthy bond of a child with its guardian. For if you do not . . . Then that bond may manifest itself differently. More terribly. In a negative and destructive way. I want to protect you both from that. If you wanted to take her, I would not protest. I would take upon myself the risk of explaining why to Calanthe.’ ‘How do you know Ciri would want to go with me? Because of some old prophecies?’ ‘No,’ Mousesack said gravely. ‘Because she only fell asleep after you cuddled her. Because she mutters your name and searches for your hand in her sleep.’ ‘Enough,’ Geralt got up, ‘because I’m liable to get emotional. Farewell, bearded one. My compliments to Calanthe. And think something up . . . For Ciri’s sake.’
‘There is no better way to pass on hereditary traits than the natural way, as we know. You went through the Trials and survived. So if you need a child with special qualities and endurance . . . Why don’t you find a woman who . . . I’m tactless, aren’t I? But I think I’ve guessed, haven’t I?’ ‘As usual,’ he said, smiling sadly, ‘you are correct in your deductions, Calanthe. You guessed right, of course. What you’re suggesting is impossible for me.’ ‘Forgive me,’ she said, and the smile vanished from her face. ‘Oh, well, it’s a human thing.’ ‘It isn’t human.’ ‘Ah . . . So, no witcher can—’ ‘No, none. The Trial of the Grasses, Calanthe, is dreadful. And what is done to boys during the time of the Changes is even worse. And irreversible.’ ‘Don’t start feeling sorry for yourself,’ she muttered. ‘Because it ill behooves you. It doesn’t matter what was done to you. I can see the results. Quite satisfactory, if you ask me. If I could assume that Pavetta’s child would one day be similar to you I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment.’ ‘The risks are too great,’ he said quickly. ‘As you said. At most, four out of ten survive.’
‘Geralt!’ the little girl repeated, clinging to the Witcher’s chest. ‘You found me! I knew you would! I always knew! I knew you’d find me!’ ‘Ciri,’ said the Witcher. Yurga could not see his face hidden among the mousy hair. He saw hands in black gloves squeezing the girl’s back and shoulders. ‘You found me! Oh, Geralt! I was waiting all the time! For so very long . . . We’ll be together now, won’t we? Now we’ll be together, won’t we? Say it, Geralt! Forever! Say it!’ ‘Forever, Ciri.’ ‘It’s like they said! Geralt! It’s like they said! Am I your destiny? Say it! Am I your destiny?’ Yurga saw the Witcher’s eyes. And was very astonished. He heard his wife’s soft weeping, felt the trembling of her shoulders. He looked at the Witcher and waited, tensed, for his answer. He knew he would not understand it, but he waited for it. And heard it. ‘You’re more than that, Ciri. Much more.’
Wyrd Sisters (Discworld Novel 6) (Discworld series) (Pratchett, Terry)
‘I am a king, mark you,’ he said. WAS, YOUR MAJESTY. ‘What?’ Verence barked. I SAID WAS. IT’S CALLED THE PAST TENSE. YOU’LL SOON GET USED TO IT.
Verence wasn’t frightened, however; not simply because it is difficult to be in fear of anything when the bits you need to be frightened with are curdling several yards away, but because he had never really been frightened of anything in his life, and wasn’t going to start now. This was partly because he didn’t have the imagination, but he was also one of those rare individuals who are totally focused in time. Most people aren’t. They live their lives as a sort of temporal blur around the point where their body actually is – anticipating the future, or holding on to the past. They’re usually so busy thinking about what happens next that the only time they ever find out what is happening now is when they come to look back on it. Most people are like this. They learn how to fear because they can actually tell, down at the subconscious level, what is going to happen next. It’s already happening to them.
It has already been mentioned that Duke Felmet was one step away from the throne. The step in question was at the top of the flight leading to the Great Hall, down which King Verence had tumbled in the dark only to land, against all the laws of probability, on his own dagger. It had, however, been declared by his own physician to be a case of natural causes. Bentzen had gone to see the man and explained that falling down a flight of steps with a dagger in your back was a disease caused by unwise opening of the mouth. In fact it had already been caught by several members of the king’s own bodyguard who had been a little bit hard of hearing. There had been a minor epidemic.
Particles of raw inspiration sleet through the universe all the time. Every once in a while one of them hits a receptive mind, which then invents DNA or the flute sonata form or a way of making light bulbs wear out in half the time. But most of them miss. Most people go through their lives without being hit by even one. Some people are even more unfortunate. They get them all. Such a one was Hwel. Enough inspirations to equip a complete history of the performing arts poured continuously into a small heavy skull designed by evolution to do nothing more spectacular than be remarkably resistant to axe blows.
The Fool shrugged, very carefully, turned, and walked back into the passage. He made his way down through the hall, out into the courtyard, around the side of the guardroom and out through the main gate, nodding – carefully – to the guards. ‘Man just went past with a cat on his head,’ one of them remarked, after a minute or two’s reflection. ‘See who it was?’ ‘The Fool, I think.’ There was a thoughtful pause. The second guard shifted his grip on his halberd. ‘It’s a rotten job,’ he said. ‘But I suppose someone’s got to do it.’
Hour gongs were being struck all across the city and nightwatchmen were proclaiming that it was indeed midnight and also that, in the face of all the evidence, all was well. Many of them got as far as the end of the sentence before being mugged.
It was reckoned to be very healthy there. Very few germs were able to survive.
‘You know, Hwel, I reckon responsible behaviour is something to get when you grow older. Like varicose veins.’
Hwel shrugged. Destiny was funny stuff, he knew. You couldn’t trust it. Often you couldn’t even see it. Just when you knew you had it cornered, it turned out to be something else – coincidence, maybe, or providence. You barred the door against it, and it was standing behind you. Then just when you thought you had it nailed down it walked away with the hammer.
Dafe could hear the voices a long way off. He adjusted his mask, checked the deathliness of his appearance in the mirror, and peered at the script in the empty backstage gloom. ‘Cower Now, Brief Mortals,’ he said. ‘I Am Death, ‘Gainst Who –‘Gainst Who—’ WHOM. ‘Oh, thanks,’ said the boy distractedly. ‘’Gainst Whom No Lock May Hold—’ WILL HOLD. ‘Will Hold Nor Fasten’d Portal Bar, Here To – to – to—’ HERE TO TAKE MY TALLY ON THIS NIGHT OF KINGS. Dafe sagged. ‘You’re so much better at it,’ he moaned. ‘You’ve got the right voice and you can remember the words.’ He turned around. ‘It’s only three lines and Hwel will . . . have . . . my . . . guts . . . for.’ He froze. His eyes widened and became two saucers of fear as Death snapped his fingers in front of the boy’s rigid face. FORGET, he commanded, and turned and stalked silently towards the wings.
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