'Oh,' said Victor. 'I see. Is that all? It's just plain old shadow play. That's all it is. My uncle used to do it to amuse me. You know? You kind of move your hands in front of the light and the shadows make a kind of silhouettey picture.'

'Oh, yeah,' said Dibbler uncertainly. 'Like “Big Elephant”, or “Bald Eagle”. My grandad used to do that sort of stuff.'


'Mainly my uncle did “Deformed Rabbit”,' said Victor. 'He wasn't very good at it, you see. It used to get pretty embarrassing. We'd all sit round desperately guessing things like “Surprised Hedgehog” or “Rabid Stoat” and he'd go off to bed in a sulk because we hadn't guessed he was really doing “Lord Henry Skipps and His Men beating the Trolls at the Battle of Pseudopolis”. I can't see what's so special about shadows on a screen.'

'From what I hear it's not like that,' said Dibbler. 'I sold one of the men a Jumbo Sausage Special earlier on, and he said it's all down to showing pictures very fast. Sticking lots of pictures together and showing them one after another. Very, very fast, he said.'

'Not too fast,' said Victor severely. 'You wouldn't be able to see them go past if they were too fast.'

'He said that's the whole secret, not seeing 'em go past,' said Dibbler. 'You have to see 'em all at once, or something.'

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'They'd all be blurred,' said Victor. 'Didn't you ask him about that?'

'Er, no,' said Dibbler. 'Point of fact, he had to rush off just then. Said he felt a bit odd.'

Victor looked thoughtfully at the remnant of his sausage in a bun and, as he did so, he was aware of being stared at in his turn.

He looked down. There was a dog sitting by his feet.

It was small, bow-legged and wiry, and basically grey but with patches of brown, white and black in outlying areas, and it was staring.

It was certainly the most penetrating stare Victor had ever seen. It wasn't menacing or fawning. It was just very slow and very thorough, as though the dog was memorizing details so that it could give a full description to the authorities later on.

When it was sure it had his full attention, it transferred its gaze to the sausage:

Feeling wretched at being so cruel to a poor dumb animal, Victor flicked the sausage downwards. The dog caught and swallowed it in one economical movement.

More people were drifting into the plaza now. Cut-me-own-Throat Dibbler had wandered off and was doing a busy trade with those latenight revellers who were too drunk to prevent optimism triumphing over experience; anyone who bought a meal at one a.m. after a7 night's revelling was probably going to be riotously ill anyway, so they might as well have something to show for it.

Victor was gradually surrounded by a large crowd. It didn't consist solely of humans. He recognized, a few feet away, the big rangy shape of Detritus, an ancient troll well known to all the students as someone who found employment anywhere people needed to be thrown very hard out of places for money. The troll noticed him, and tried to wink. This involved closing both eyes, because Detritus wasn't good at complicated things. It was widely believed that, if Detritus could be taught to read and write sufficiently to sit down and do an intelligence test, he'd prove to be slightly less intelligent than the chair.

Silverfish picked up a megaphone.

'Ladies and gentlemen,' he said, 'you are privileged tonight to witness a turning point in the history of the Century of-' he lowered the megaphone and Victor heard him whisper urgently to one of his assistants, 'What century is this? Is it?' and then raised the megaphone again and continued in the original plummily optimistic tones '-Century of the Fruitbat! No less than the birth of Moving Pictures! Pictures that move without magic!'

He waited for the applause. There wasn't any. The crowd just watched him. You needed to do more than end your sentences with exclamation marks to get a round of applause from an Ankh-Morpork crowd.

Slightly dispirited, he went on, 'Seeing is Believing, they say! But, ladies and gentlemen, you will not believe the Evidence of Your Own Eyes! What you are about to witness is a Triumph of Natural Science! A Marvel of the Age! A Discovery of World, nay, dare I say, Universe-Shaking Proportions!-'

' 'S got to be better than that bloody sausage, anyway,' said a quiet voice by Victor's knee.

'-Harnessing Natural Mechanisms to create Illusion! Illusion, Ladies and Gentlemen, without recourse to Magic! '

Victor let his gaze slide downwards. There was nothing down there but the little dog, industriously scratching itself. It looked up slowly, and said 'Woof?'

'-Potential for Learning! The Arts! History! I thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen! Ladies and Gentlemen, You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet!'

There was another hopeful break for applause.

Someone at the front of the crowd said, 'That's right. We ain't.'

'Yeah,' said the woman next to him. 'When're you goin' to stop goin' on like that and get on with the shadow play?'

'That's right,' snapped a second woman. 'Do “Deformed Rabbit”. My kids always love that one.'

Victor looked away for a while, to lull the dog's suspicions, and then turned and glared hard at it.

It was amiably watching the crowd, and apparently taking no notice of him.

Victor poked an exploratory finger in his ear. It must have been a trick of an echo, or something. It wasn't that the dog had gone 'woof!', although that was practically unique in itself; most dogs in the universe never went 'woof!', they had complicated barks like 'whuuugh!' and 'hwhoouf!'. No, it was that it hadn't in fact barked at all. It had said 'woof'.

He shook his head, and looked back as Silverfish climbed down from the screen and motioned to one of his assistants to start turning a handle at the side of the box. There was a grinding noise that rose to a steady clicking. Vague shadows danced across the screen, and then . . .

One of the last things Victor remembered was a voice beside his knee saying, 'Could have bin worse, mister. I could have said “miaow”.'

Holy Wood dreams . . .

And now it was now eight hours later.

A horribly overhung Ponder Stibbons looked guiltily at the empty desk beside him. It was unlike Victor to miss exams. He always said he enjoyed the challenge.

'Get ready to turn over your papers,' said the invigilator at the end of the hall. The sixty chests of sixty prospective wizards tightened with dark, unbearable tension. Ponder fumbled anxiously with his lucky pen.

The wizard on the dais turned over the hourglass. 'You may begin,' he said.

Several of the more smug students turned over their papers by snapping their fingers. Ponder hated them instantly.

He reached for his lucky inkwell, missed completely in his nervousness, and then knocked it over. A small black flood rolled over his question paper.

Panic and shame washed over him nearly as thoroughly. He mopped the ink up with the hem of his robe, spreading it smoothly over the desk. His lucky dried frog had been washed away..

Hot with embarrassment, dripping black ink, he looked up in supplication at the presiding wizard and then cast his eyes imploringly at the empty desk beside him.

The wizard nodded. Ponder gratefully sidled across the aisle, waited until his heart had stopped thumping and then, very carefully, turned over the paper on the desk.

After ten seconds, and against all reason, he turned it over again just in case there had been a mistake and the rest of the questions had somehow been on the top side after all.

Around him there was the intense silence of fifty-nine minds creaking with sustained effort.

Ponder turned the paper over again.

Perhaps it- was some mistake. No . . . there was the University seal and the signature of the Archchancellor and everything. So perhaps it was some sort of special test. Perhaps they were watching him now to see what he'd do . . .

He peered around furtively. The other students seemed to be working hard. Perhaps it was a mistake after all. Yes. The more he came to think about it, the more logical it seemed. The Archchancellor had probably signed the papers and then, when the clerks had been copying them out, one of them had got as far as the all-important first question and then maybe had been called away or something, and no-one had noticed, and it'd got put on Victor's desk, but now he wasn't here and Ponder had got it which meant, he decided, in a sudden rush of piety, that the gods must have wanted him to get it. After all, it wasn't his fault if some sort of error gave him a paper like this. It was probably sacrilegious or something to ignore the opportunity.

They had to accept what you put down. Ponder hadn't shared the room with the world's greatest authority on examination procedures without learning a thing or two.

He looked again at the question: 'What is your name?'

He answered it.

After a while he underlined it, several times, with his lucky ruler.

After a little while longer, to show willing, he wrote above it: 'The anser to questione One is:'.

After a further ten minutes he ventured 'Which is what my name is' on the line below, and underlined it.

Poor old Victor will be really sorry he missed this, he thought.

I wonder where he is?

There was no road to Holy Wood yet. Anyone trying to get there would take the highway to Quirm and, at some unmarked point out in the scrubby landscape, would turn off and strike out towards the sand dunes. Wild lavender and rosemary lined the banks: There was no sound but the buzzing of bees and the distant song of a skylark, which only made the silence more obvious.

Victor Tugelbend left the road at the point where the bank had been broken down and flattened by the passage of many carts and, by the look of it, an increasing number of feet.

There were still many miles to go. He trudged on.

Somewhere at the back of his mind a tiny voice was saying things like 'Where am I? Why am I doing this?' and another part of him knew that he didn't really have to do it at all. Like the hypnotist's victim who knows they're not really hypnotized and can snap out of it any time they like, but just happened not to feel like it right now, he let his feet be guided.

He wasn't certain why. He just knew that there was something that he had to be part of. Something that might never happen again.

Some way behind, but catching up fast, was Cut-me-own-Throat Dibbler, trying to ride a horse. He was not a natural horseman, and fell off occasionally, which was one reason why he hadn't overtaken Victor yet. The other was that he had paused, before leaving the city, to sell his sausage-in-a-bun business cheaply to a dwarf who could not believe his luck (after actually trying some of the sausages, would still not be able to believe his luck).

Something was calling Dibbler, and it had a golden voice.

A long way behind Throat, knuckles dragging in the sand, was Detritus the troll. It's hard to be certain of what he was thinking, any more than it's possible to tell what a homing pigeon is thinking. He just knew that where he ought to be was not where he was.

And finally, even further down the road, was an eight-horse wagon taking a load of lumber to Holy Wood. Its driver wasn't thinking about anything very much, although he was slightly puzzled by an incident that occurred just as he was leaving Ankh-Morpork in the darkness before dawn. A voice from the gloom by the road had shouted 'Stop in the name of the city guard!' and he had stopped, and when nothing further had transpired he had looked around, and there was no-one there.

The wagon rumbled past, revealing to the eye of the imaginative beholder the small figure of Gaspode the Wonder Dog, trying to make himself comfortable amongst the balks of timber at the rear. He was going to Holy Wood too.

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