by Molly Hatchet [Mike Lowndes] with apologies to Terry Pratchett

29 Jan:1998.

SubTitle: Time Team Does Discworld

NOTE TO READER: This sketch first appeared on the fan fiction section of the original Time Team Forums on Channel 4. These were unceremoniously switched off at some point in the last umpteen years but through the diligence of the community, this was saved from electronic extinction.

Belatedly dedicated to the memory of Terry. How our heroes are taken before their time.

This week the Time Team were called to excavate part of the ancient docklands on the south bank of the Ankh. The new owner of a warehouse, a Mr C. Dibbler, had noticed a curious low mound in one part of the building, which, on stamping, sounded hollow. Mr. Dibbler, being of the cautious nature required of a successful (i.e. alive) fast food (sic) merchant in Ankh-Morpork, did not wish to investigate further and called the Relics department of the Unseen University. Archmage Mick Astonelbeyron IV replied by the very same pigeon that he would be delighted to examine the site.

The mound had to be removed as the warehouse was to be converted into a meat processing factory – ideally situated as it was next to the city’s main sewer exits (for raw materials) and the main sewer exits (for waste disposal… not that there was much of that).

The team: Archmage Mick and Mages Carenza, Phil (Relics), Stewart (Theoretical Thaumaturgy) and John (Geomancy) together with a host of lesser mages and the Librarian, arrived the next morning. Master Robin of the Scrolls should also have been present but there was a slight nip in the air that morning and besides, it was nearly lunchtime.

Stewart read the landscape and peered at an old parchment map of the docklands.

“Er, there’s a bump over there?” he hazarded, pointing to the mound, upon which the Librarian was currently prancing.

The trouble with geography on the Discworld is that it is never in the same place for too long. This is partly due to the high Octarine count but it has been thought for a long time that the great Powers like to shift things around occasionally just to keep people on their toes. This also accounts for there being no true map of the Discworld , despite the assurance of certain commercial enterprises (Ed. there is now a Mappe, but we might like to think of that as a snapshot). As a consequence, Stewart’s map showed their present position as the Inner Quad of St Ginnians Convent School for Slightly Wicked Lassies. Confusion is the lot of the theoretical relicologist on the Discworld and this manifests itself in a constant worried frown, which in Stewart’s case, now deepened towards gloom.

Arch Geomancer John and his students set about checking the site for magical fields. Phil suggested that if they wanted to find magical fields they’d better look for some magical sheep. As usual, John ignored this remark and set up his Octarometer. This was a very expensive piece of kit, as sapient pearwood had to be brought in from the counterweight continent. After checking the octarine chamber and giving the Demon a new pencil, he sat back and watched the machine pace out the whole floor of the warehouse. It is well known among relicologists that geomancers get all the money and do bugger all work. After a couple of minutes it was all done and the new map showed a round area of magical resonance directly over the mound.

“Well bugger me sideways with a furry pink banana” cried Mick with not-so-well contained sarcasm, “There’s something in the mound!”

“Baaaaarrr” said Phil.

“Hmmph, luddites” snarled John and wandered off, followed by the Octarometer. The Demon on the machine turned round and graced the Team a gesture that reddened the cheeks of even the Librarian.

As the Team dug away the mound it became clear that this was a burial, and not a recent one. After a short time a large stone sarcophagus was found, upon which were carved scenes of utter monstrosity and depravity that were commonplace to anyone who knew the city. Cautiously, the Team lifted the lid of the sarcophagus, revealing the remains of a tall, crowned human. Small flares of octarine crackled around the bones, like in a cheap movie. The skeleton was carefully exposed and pictographed by the younger mages.

“Who the heck is this?” wondered Mick, half to himself.

“Well actually, I’m Patrician Anglemanger III” replied the skeleton, dustily.

* * * * *

When the Team returned, a little less fearful but a lot more drunk, some hours later, the ex-Patrician had donned a cloak and was happily munching on one of Dibbler’s Crunchy Meat Pies. This unlikely combination of emotion and action relied on the fact that he had lost the ability to taste.

-Oh well thought Mick, At least we’ll learn the real circumstances of the dea…. er, burial for once.

The ex-Patrician turned out to be a good-humoured chap, though with an abstracted air about him, as if expecting someone important to turn up.

By this time, the Librarian was running around the site, pointing at things and shouting “Oook”. Strangely, he was being followed by a scruffy bunch of young mages carrying moving pictograph machinery. One of them carried a very long stick with a big fluffy ball on the end of it. Occasionally a small green hand would poke out of the ball and blank parchment would be thrust into it. The Librarian was particularly interested in a pretty enamel brooch that had been found.

“Oooook!” he cried (The demon in the fluffy ball wrote “It says Hi, I’m Felix!”).

The Librarian passed the brooch to Carenza, who pinned it to Phil’s jacket. For the next month Phil wondered why other Mages would giggle at him in the street: it was only Carenza’s charity which finally gave way and told him that it was an Ancient Ankhian brooch for “25 cubits breast stroke”. Nobody sane swam in the Ankh.

The relicologists cleared the sarcophagus from the mound and began to replace the soil. At that moment, whilst all the humans were oblivious to such things, the Librarian looked up and gave a small “Eeeek”.

“AHA. FOUND YOU.” said a voice like falling tombstones.

“And so you have” said Anglemanger III, “I did my best you know, but even the greatest of hide spells wears out eventually and after that it was only a matter of time before some over-inquisitive relicologist found me.”

“COME, IT IS TIME FOR US TO LEAVE” said Death, calmly slicing microliths into monomolecular sheets with his scythe.

“I’m actually quite glad” said the skeleton, “Decaying naturally in the soil isn’t all it was cracked up to be, you know. After a while you begin to realise that you’re not cheating Death at all, just getting to you slowly, with more worms.”

Death smiled (not that he had any other expression to offer) and the scythe went “whick!”.

* * *

After that, the Librarian stuck to humorous historical dramas, in which his ability to inflect the word “Oook” with almost human stupidity, and his unique ability to get maximum laughs out of a common Garden Vegetable, made him very popular among students.

If you enjoyed this, read The Stone Caller