The L-Space Web: Books: Synopses

Lords And Ladies


Written by Ed

A young girl, named Esmerelda, is being chased across a sunny field in high summer in the small, forested country of Lancre. A playful game of kiss-chase leads her up to the Dancers, a circle of eight standing stones each filled with "the love of iron"-iron has an irresistible urge to fly towards them and stick. Inside the circle is another young woman, dressed in red and wearing a crown. She tries to tempt young Esmerelda with gifts of enormous power, but gets angry when she is pressed about why she cannot leave the circle. Esmerelda is tempted but...

It should be fifty years later, if the next universe had any concept of past or future. Now the red-clothed woman is sitting on a huge war horse in a frosty panorama, lit by a glittering aurora in the sky. She senses that they can soon return to the Discworld for, as she says, the Circles are opening.

Jason Ogg, eldest son of Gytha, is working in his forge in Lancre Town on a dark and windy night, when the door opens and a figure walks in. If Jason had not put on a blindfold at that point, owing to a long tradition, he would have seen a tall creature in a black robe, with rather more bones than skin. He has a horse that needs shoeing, which Jason obligingly does. He keeps the old horseshoes, however, for they seem to be more special than most...

In an otherwise unremarkable field, the corn that is wavering in the breeze slowly lies down in a circle...

Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick land in Lancre after a winter away fighting an evil fairy godmother in Genua. Granny lands by her home, aware that there is much work to be done to get her cottage clean again. However when she looks out of the window, she sees the herbs in her garden all lie down...

Nanny Ogg owes her daughters in law a whole season's worth of torment. She is terrifying them by checking for iota's of dust in her cottage when her little grandson Pewsey enters, proudly showing her some cress he has grown on a flannel. When she bends down to look at it, however...

Meanwhile, Magrat is having possibly the worst time. She has gone to Lancre castle to find that King Verence II, with whom she has a tentative relationship, as already arranged for them to be married on Midsummer's Eve. He is far too absorbed in his new books on agriculture to notice her shock. As they walk into the gardens, another crop circle appears.

Granny, Nanny and Magrat go to the standing stone, the meeting place for their coven. There, Granny and Nanny babble on about how serious it is that the circles are appearing, and how they should have kept the plants away at the Dancers so that one cannot appear there. Magrat does not understand them, and when they refuse to tell her what they are talking about she storms off in a rage. When she has gone, Granny takes the decision not to evolve her in the events that are about to unfold. They then arrange to go to the Dancers tomorrow and cut back the plants.

 

A hunter, William Scrope, is tracking a deer through the woods when he stumbles across the Dancers. The deer he is stalking bolts into the stone circle, and vanishes. Them out of the stone circle comes something else-unseen, but dangerous enough to kill him instantly. Death appears and tells the man that the creature that just killed him is definitely not extinct.

Magrat has decided to turn over a new leaf. She goes to her cottage and grabs all of her magical paraphernalia, and throws it in the Lancre river.

In the strange realm, a rider addresses his Queen. He tells him that her pet has escaped into the Discworld, but she seems more amused then angry.

At the Dancers, Granny and Nanny discover that the briars and bracken have all been trampled down-as if someone has been dancing round them. It is immediately clear that this is serious, but it is not explained why yet. Soon, they find the body of William Scrope. Now, Granny knows something has escaped into the world; it would seem that when something enters the stones, something can come out from the other side.

Far away, in Ankh-Morpork, the wizards of Unseen University receive an invitation to Magrat and Verence's wedding. It is decided that Mustrum Ridcully (the Archchancellor), the Bursar, the young wizard Ponder Stibbons and the orang-utan Librarian should attend.

Magrat is having trouble adjusting to life as royalty, and is finding that people she has known for years are suddenly becoming meek around her.

Back at Granny's cottage, the bees in her hives are becoming restless...

Nanny goes to see her son Jason in his forge, and tells him that people have been Dancing round the stones. She urges him to tell her who the miscreants are. He asks why it is important. She looks around to make sure there is plenty of iron, and then tells him why. She tries to tell him about the Dancers: all she can say is that they are a kind of barrier, and that within the circle is a doorway to somewhere else-a place of incredible beauty and evil. As she predicts, though, he does not understand.

Nanny arrives at Granny's cottage just has Granny returns from Borrowing-sending her mind out in the bodies of animals. While occupying the body of a bat, she went to the Dancers and saw people dancing around the stones. However, a bat's vision is very poor and she cannot identify them. Nanny, however, has found out from Jason. Granny can also sense another mind in the kingdom-not a human mind, or a benevolent one. It is searching and scouring the land; and Granny can identify it. It is the mind of the Queen of the elves.

Granny and Nanny stalk through the woods that night, on their way to meet the young girls who have been meddling so dangerously in forces that they don't understand. They discuss the elves-who they refuse to name without the safety of iron nearby-and the creature that came through. Unknown to them, it is watching them.

The small coven of young wannabe-witches has met in the home of their domineering leader, Lucy Tockley, who calls herself Diamanda. Granny and Nanny burst in, but Diamanda stands up to them. She sees them as useless old hags, and challenges Granny to a duel. Unable to resist the challenge, she accepts. It is set for noon the next day. As the two witches walk home, Nanny remarks that Diamanda seems to have gained amazing power from nowhere. Granny, however, knows exactly where she has got it from, and who gave it to her. To make matters worse, Granny seems to be losing control of her mind, and is having premonitions of herself in situations that could not possibly occur. At home, she sets about writing her will. Before she finishes, however, a huge, white elvish unicorn steps into the garden. When she threatens it with an iron poker, however, it flees; no elf, nor any elvish creature, can stand iron.

 

At noon the next day a crowd gathers in the square of Lancre town, waiting to watch the battle. Diamanda of course arrives late so as to make an entrance, and Granny Weatherwax is in very bad shape; she has been up at the Dancers all night clearing away the plants to prevent crop circles.

Magrat is bored in the castle, and then learns from Shawn Ogg, Lancre's one-man army and general castle dogsbody, that Granny is engaged in a magical duel. She runs down there, to find that Granny and Diamanda are trying to out stare the sun. Nanny has drawn a magic circle around the two to protect passers by from the magic they are using, but Granny is losing badly. The only way she can end the duel without losing is by waiting until the sun sets, but she won't last that long. Nanny takes drastic action-she waves a bag of sweets at her grandson Pewsey, who runs across the circle and is hit by a discharge of magic. Granny gets up and returns the shocked but unharmed boy to his mother, thus ending the contest. Technically, Diamanda has won but as she ignored the boy's scream the crowd side unanimously with Granny Weatherwax. She storms off in a fury.

Later, in the pub, Granny is recovering while Nanny Ogg is having a celebratory drink or five. Magrat asks how Verence knew that they were returning in order to organise the wedding, but Nanny claims not to know. Magrat and Nanny then discuss the Entertainment-a special play that has been written for the marriage. It will be performed by Nanny's son Jason and his friends, who are currently arguing. They are embarrassed at being seen rehearsing, and so they elect to venture off into the woods where no one will see them.

Ridcully, the Bursar, Ponder and the Librarian are travelling by coach across the flat, featureless Sto Plains when they are attacked by a dwarfish highwayman. When the dwarf realises that Ridcully could quite easily vaporise him with a fireball, he changes his tune and joins them. He presents his card-he is the one and only Casanunda.

 

Magrat visits Hodgesaargh, the castle falconer, but as he is busy being eaten alive by his birds she moves on and meets Mr Brooks, the beekeeper. He explains to her about bees, and how there can only be one queen in each hive.

Crop circles continuously appear. Circle time is now well underway, and the different universes are coming together...

Granny is having another out-of-body experience when the young witches, except for Diamanda, come to her along with Nanny Ogg wanting to be trained up as witches. She demonstrates the principals of headology to them, but when they dismiss as simple trickery she magically blows Nanny's hat to dust. They flee.

Nanny goes home and, that night, she thinks about the elves. She remembers how evil they are, and also how they are able to project their glamour upon others, to make their prey feel weak and themselves strong. That is why humans do not understand them-they cannot comprehend their evil.

Granny confronts Diamanda at the Dancers. Her suspicions are correct-the girl has got her power directly from the elven queen. She tries to persuade her to repent; the power in the magnetic stones can hold them back, but wishing for their presence can be enough to bring them forth. Diamanda refuses, runs into the circle, and vanishes. Granny has no choice but to follow, and ends up in the savage and mysterious elven realm. There, Diamanda has been captured and is about to be killed for the elves amusement, but Granny confronts the Queen. She grabs Diamanda and runs back towards the elvish Dancers, but the girl is shot by an elven arrow. As Granny pulls the stricken figure into the circle, an elf follows and is released into the Discworld, but before it can get its bearing it is knocked out by Nanny Ogg, who has followed Granny to the stones. They take the elf and Diamanda to the castle, where Magrat and Verence are having dinner. Granny has Magrat look at Diamanda, who is unconscious due to the poison from the elf- shot. Granny, at this point, still refuses to tell Magrat about the elves.

While Nanny and Magrat deal with Diamanda, Granny takes Verence to the dungeons where they have put the captured elf. She tells him that they are pure evil, and will torture anything for fun. They also project glamour, making them seem kind and wonderful to others. She also explains exactly how they can break through:

Normally, all the different universes sweep round each other. However, every fifty years or so they interlock, and material from one can flow to the other. The points where two universes collide are marked with crop circles. Mostly they are two small or weak to allow anything to pass through, but up on the moor is a site of dimensional instability, meaning that every circle time a gateway is opened to the elven realm. The stones are made of magnetic rock-magnetism is hated by the elves even more than iron-and so can keep them at bay. However, they can be given the power to break through the barrier by being "called": if something goes in, then something can come out. Also, wishing for their presence can bring them, and in the height of circle time even mentioning them can do it-hence the nicknames of Lords and Ladies and the Gentry.

Granny tells Verence to keep this secret from Magrat, and also not to the let any dwarfs and trolls know, as if they find out they will wreck the castle to get at it.

Upstairs, Nanny has been forced to tell Magrat about the elves, but the young girl refuses to believe that they are evil. Diamanda is too ill to be moved, but Granny warns that she is not to be left alone, and so she is put in a guest bedroom with iron all around her.

Granny and Nanny leave the castle. Nanny is confident that all is over now that the young witches have been stopped, but Granny thinks that she has missed something. She can still sense the Queen's presence, and the unicorn is still on the loose.

Jason and his acting troupe set off into the woods, heading towards the Dancers...

They arrive, and the rehearsals go badly. Eventually they give up, and have some scumble, a dangerously alcoholic drink. Soon they are all asleep by the Dancers, and dreaming.

As Granny goes out borrowing, Nanny has a bath and Magrat thinks of Verence, the wizards' coach near's Lancre. They arrive in the early morning of Midsummer's Eve and met Shawn Ogg and the king, who has come down to stop Shawn finding a mail-order book on marital arts. When a book on martial arts arrives, however, he gives it to the boy to start practising with.

Jason and the troupe awake and, not knowing the dangers of what they have just done, stagger back to the town to prepare for the play.

 

It is the day of Magrat's wedding and she is extremely nervous. She is also angry, and has the iron that Granny has placed around Diamanda removed. She secretly enters Verence's bedroom, and finds a letter from Granny Weatherwax telling Verence that she is coming back. Now she knows how he knew when she was returning, and is very upset.

Granny and Nanny are at the pre-Entertainment party. They are both preoccupied with thoughts of elves, but then events change-Nanny meets Casanunda, whom she had met in her last adventure in Genua, and Granny meets her old flame Ridcully. Ridcully magically teleports them both to Lancre bridge for some privacy, but Granny is annoyed. She is angry that he seems preoccupied with what might have been, and she explains to him about parallel universes and elves, and about how circles are doors half-open leading to other places. Granny has identified her strange premonitions-she is picking up the minds of a million Granny Weatherwaxes from a million different universes. At this point, the unicorn jumps into the street.

Nanny tries to talk some sense into Magrat, who has locked herself in her room, but she gets no reply. Giving up, she goes on a dinner date with Casanunda.

The unicorn attacks, and Granny and Ridcully leap over the bridge and into the river.

As the sun sets, the Entertainment begins. As the acting goes on, telling a story about how a king is captured by the Queen of the Fairies, it begins to snow up on the Dancers.

Nanny is quite unaware of this, and is gorging herself on gourmet cuisine at Casanunda's expense.

Granny and Ridcully, meanwhile, are hauling themselves out of the river and are setting off through the woods back to the town.

Meanwhile, back in the castle, Diamanda wakes up. Shawn Ogg hears a noise and goes to investigate, and sees both Diamanda and the captured elf coming towards him. He flees.

The elven Queen is affecting Granny's mind, making her lost. She and Ridcully are simply going round in circles.

Shawn finds Magrat, and warns her about the elves. She realises that Granny and Nanny were deliberately hiding the facts from her, and gets even more angry. Shawn locks her in the room for her own safety, and climbs out the window to get help. However, he is caught by the marauding elves who are continuously pouring into the kingdom, and his key is taken. Magrat climbs out of the window and up to the room above. The elves follow her up, but she tricks one of them into looking into the garderobe so that she can sneak up behind it and knock it out with a chair. She runs out, and down the Long Gallery. She travels right down to the far end, where she sees a portrait of an old queen-Queen Ynci, a warrior maiden. It gives her some inspiration. Suddenly, she encounters Nanny's cat Greebo. She picks him up and runs on. After knocking out an elf with a fragment of the chair she is still holding, She takes refuge in the first room she sees.

Granny is still lost, but now she has another problem in that there are five elves in the tree above them, waiting to ambush them. Ridcully teleports away to get help, while Granny gives herself up.

Magrat is in the armoury. It is full of iron weapons and shields. She finds some armour that looks just like that of Queen Ynci, and dons it excitedly. She now gains a new attitude-she means to fight. However, a party of elves arrives outside, with Shawn Ogg. They have broken his arm. He says that they have hurt Diamanda and that they will torture him if she does not come out. One of the elves looks through the keyhole of the armoury door-and is instantly shot in the eye with an iron crossbow bolt. Magrat emerges and is attacked, but the elves are unaware of the iron armour that she is wearing under her dress. She stabs one of the elves and shoots another, leaving just one left. She wraps him in iron chain mail, and then leads Shawn to safety.

The elves in the gardens are having little success. Mr Brooks squirted three of them with his corrosive poison used for killing wasps, and one other is learning of the dangers of Hodgesaargh's birds.

Magrat tends to Diamanda and then sets off to rescue Verence, who has been captured. She mounts an elven warhorse, which becomes docile at the touch of her iron armour. As she rides, she remembers all the little folk songs that she learned, and realises that most of them are in fact riddles designed to warn against elves and fairies. She arrives at Lancre town, and talks to one of the townspeople hiding in his home. He tells her what happened at the Entertainment, and where Verence is.

Jason's troupe are beset by elves. They start to perform a Morris dance, as it will fascinate the elves and stop them from attacking. They begin to incorporate moves into the dance which allows them to club the elves over the head with their sticks without breaking the rhythm.

 

Nanny Ogg and Casanunda emerge from the chimney of the pub, which has been wrecked by elves. Nanny decides to take drastic action. She returns home, which has also been ruined by the elves, and gets her broomstick. She and Casanunda fly to Jason's forge to get some iron weapons, as well as something else, and then fly off into the night.

Suddenly, they are beset by elves flying on yarrow stalks. Casanunda attacks and kills one with a crowbar, and the others fall back and shoot arrows at them. Then, they arrive at their destination-the Long Man, an old burial mound. The elves will not go there, and retreat. They enter the burial mound, which leads to the Lancre caves, and go down. The caves lead to a second, secret elven realm-in this case a prison. The entrance is guarded by three magnetic stones, to prevent the elves inside getting out and iron coming in. They enter, and meet the giant, horned King of the elves. He plans to kill her, but she shows him what she has brought-an iron horseshoe that she has got past the stones. It is Binky's horseshoe, taken from Jason's forge from when he sod Death's horse. The iron of Death's horse can go anywhere. No elves can touch her.

The King hates the Queen, who abandoned him under the ground. Nanny implores him to come out and stop her. Nanny cannot be sure he will comply-he may be perfectly happy to wait until the end of the world to come out.

Magrat is beset by elves, but is rescued by the Librarian, who is more than a match for any elf. She continues towards the Dancers.

Ridcully materialises at Lancre castle as Nanny Ogg arrives by the air. She spurns the beleaguered people into one last fight.

Magrat toils towards the moor, with Ponder Stibbons defending her with an iron sword. Meanwhile, Granny is in the elven camp being threatened. She is taken out just as Magrat and Shawn's army arrive, but they are hit by a wave of elven glamour that stops them in their tracks. The Queen threatens her, but Granny has become powerful since the last circle time and uses the power of the land to stop the elves in their tracks. The Queen and Granny begin a magical battle destined to end in stalemate, so Granny instead turns her attention to Magrat, freeing her from the elven glamour. Meanwhile, at Granny's cottage, the bees are swarming out from the hives.

The bees boil over Granny and fly away. Suddenly, as if she has just been worn out beyond the point f exhaustion, she collapses. The elven queen cannot enjoy her victory, however, as Magrat attacks. The elven queen is physically weak, but she knocks off Magrat's iron helmet. Magrat is hit by a wave of glamour, which strips her soul down to the core-exposing the rage. Granny has planned this all along-not telling Magrat things, making her angry, so that if she ever met the Queen she could fight. The grapple again, and as it looks as if the Queen is about to win, a huge, horned figure appears on the horizon. The King of the elves strides forward. The Queen utters a curse, but there is nothing she can do...

The townsfolk wake up. It is the middle of the next day. The elves are gone. Nanny intends to go up and put the Dancers back, but first there are more pressing matters.

Granny Weatherwax is dead.

Nanny returns solemnly to Granny's cottage, where she opens up a box the Granny told her about earlier. There are two envelopes inside-one contains Granny's will, and the other contains a card that Granny holds when she is out borrowing-it reads: I ATE'NT DEAD.

Nanny races to the castle, where Granny is lying in state. Magrat hurls a candlestick at the window, smashing it. A swarm of bees pour in, and cover Granny's body.

She wakes up. She has achieved something no one else has ever done-she has borrowed the minds of an entire swarm of bees. It is the greatest achievement of her life.

Magrat and Verence are married, with Magrat wearing her torn dress over the armour of Queen Ynci. The Librarian is the best man.

Granny gently chides Nanny for involving the King; she had never died or given up. She debates with Nanny whether or not to tell Magrat that Queen Ynci was in fact fictional, when the unicorn confronts them. However, Granny simply tethers it with one of her hairs, and then has Jason shoe it with silver. The Queen of the elves has lost her last link to the Disc. With circle time over and Magrat married, Granny and Nanny join in with the festivities.


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