The L-Space Web: Books: Synopses

Feet Of Clay

Written by Ed

On a spring evening in Ankh-Morpork, a businessman is disturbed by a knocking at his door. He opens it to be confronted by a golem, a clay work machine shaped like a large human. He can see several other golems across the street. The golem addresses him by means of a clay slate on which it writes its words: it has another golem for sale, for one hundred dollars. This price is swiftly reduced to thirty dollars, and the man accepts. The new golem comes forth-it is not like the brick red, misshapen, "gingerbread men" golems, but is made of white clay and is a perfect sculpture of a man. The deal done, the golems wander off into the streets.


The next autumn, Father Tubelcek is dying. He is an old, harmless priest who lives on a house on the Misbegot Bridge, but nevertheless has been subject to a violent attack. He looks up at an unseen being who, just before he dies, rolls up a tiny scrap of paper and presses it between the old man's lips.

Commander Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is well known for his ability to infuriate the upper classes. Now that he is upper class this makes him a legitimate target for assassination. After avoiding a crossbow bolt fired through his bathroom window he goes down to his wife Sybil's dragon pens and casually outwits a black clad assassin, yet again. As the assassin flees, Vimes is met by Willikins the butler. He is told that he has to go down to the Royal College of Heralds to organise a proper Vimes family crest, now that he has married into the nobility.

In the Ankh-Morpork dwarf-bread museum, Mr. Hopkinson the curator is also meeting with a violent death-beaten to death with one of his own loaves...

Vimes arrives at the Watch house in Pseudopolis Yard, where Sergeant Colon informs him of Father Tubelcek's murder. He also says that there is a dwarf who wishes to see him. Vimes grants the dwarf an interview-his name turns out to be Cheery Littlebottom, and he is an expert in alchemy. He is given a job, as head (and only member) of the forensics department. He is shown the ropes by the troll Sergeant Detritus, who is mildly frightening as he is currently fighting a war against Slab, a troll narcotic being produced in the city.

A group of three men attempting to rob Ironcrust's Dwarf Bakery get a nasty surprise when Captain Carrot catches them. They are even more surprised to be attacked by Constable Angua, Carrot's girlfriend-and a werewolf. With her terror-inducing bite the thieves are quickly apprehended and sent to the Thieves' Guild for punishment.

Vimes arrives at the Royal College of Heralds and is greeted by Dragon, a vampire and the head of the College of Heralds. He informs Vimes that a coat of arms for his family already exists, but has been permanently withdrawn as one of Vimes's ancestors executed the last king of Ankh-Morpork. Vimes argues that the last king was an evil tyrant, but there is nothing that can be done. Dragon shows Vimes some other crests, and the conversation comes round to another member of the Watch-Corporal Nobbs. Vimes is amazed to learn that Nobby, who has to carry a certificate to prove his species, is in fact the closest the city has to royalty. He is requested by Dragon to send Nobby to them at the earliest opportunity.

Constable Angua transforms back into a human and meets up with Carrot. It is mid- morning, and they are just going off duty so Carrot suggests that they visit the Dwarf Bread museum. Angua accepts this offer. Secretly she is planning to leave him, as she knows that in the long term a relationship between a human and a werewolf can never work. This is forgotten, though, when the body of Mr. Hopkinson is discovered...

Back at the Royal College of Heralds, Dragon takes a large tome off a shelf. It contains records of the (now defunct) royal family tree of Ankh-Morpork. It is widely believed that Captain Carrot, with his extremely sharp sword, crown shaped birthmark and supernatural charisma is the true heir to the throne, but Dragon has found some real evidence. He enters Carrot's details in the right place, and pencils in Angua's as well. Nevertheless, Dragon knows that Nobby would be the more convenient king.

Vimes investigates Father Tubelcek's murder with the Omnian Constable Visit. Sergeant Detritus is guarding the building downstairs, and Corporal Littlebottom is on his way. There are some odd clues at the murder scene-some white dust is scattered around, the room has been tidied, the body has been left neatly and with a strange piece of parchment in its mouth. Vimes identifies the dust as white clay-but white clay does not occur naturally within a hundred miles of Ankh-Morpork; there is black loam as far as the Ramtop Mountains. Vimes removes the parchment from the priest's lips and unrolls it. There are a few words written on it in a foreign language. Vimes gives the parchment to Visit and tells him to translate them. Littlebottom arrives, and the other officers leave and let the dwarf investigate.

Angua has transformed into a wolf to use her incredible sense of smell to identify Mr. Hopkinson's killer. She turns back into a human and tells Carrot that, impossibly, the murderer has left no scent at all. There was just a collection of smells associated with the museum.

Vimes has an appointment with the Patrician, Lord Vetinari. He waits outside the Patrician's office for a while-for the first time ever Lord Vetinari is unpunctual in summoning him. Vimes gets up and enters the office anyway only to discover Lord Vetinari sprawled on the floor.

Examining the body of Father Tubelcek Cheery Littlebottom discovers some strange grease under the priest's fingernails. He scrapes it off to examine later. He then uses an iconograph to take pictures of the body-and then he discovers something alarming. Amongst the protests form the imp inside the picture-box, Cheery takes close up pictures of the priest's eyes. Before he can examine the pictures Detritus arrives; Vimes has ordered Cheery to come to the Patrician's palace immediately.

Cheery arrives to find Lord Vetinari seriously ill and delirious. Rumour has spread round the palace that he is dead, and the Watch is attempting to control this. Vimes ushers Colon out of the room and quietly tells him his theory-Vetinari has been poisoned. Vimes tells Colon to fetch Doctor James Fulsom-"Doughnut Jimmy". Colon is incredulous; Doughnut Jimmy is a vet, who specialises in treating racehorses. Vimes points out that there is no human doctor who can be trusted.

After examining Vetinari, Cheery and Jimmy agree that Vetinari has been poisoned by a small dose of arsenic. The mystery is of how Vetinari has been exposed to the arsenic, as the nature of the poisoning suggests only a small quantity of the poison but exposure for a certain length of time. Cheery orders Vetinari be moved into another room and all the furniture changed.

Vimes ponders the culprit. It wouldn't be in the food, as the food tasters are all sons of the cook. Vetinari has single-handedly created stability for the city-if he was suddenly killed Ankh-Morpork would be plunged into turmoil. Vetinari has not been killed, though just gently removed.

Colon innocently mentions Carrot's name as the obvious successor, but Vimes (who practically carries republicanism in his genes) pledges that there will be no more kings. Nobby then turns up, so Vimes questions him about his heritage-Nobby shows him a gold ring that belonged to his grandfather-and then sends him down to the Royal College of Heralds. Next, Littlebottom enters and shows Vimes the pictures of Father Tubelcek's eyes. There is a folk belief that the last image a dying man sees is imprinted on his eyes- and in the middle of the priest's pupils are two red dots. Whoever killed him had glowing eyes. Once he has left Carrot and Angua arrive and tell Vimes about the murder of Mr. Hopkinson. The two killings are almost identical in style, and with both Father Tubelcek and Mr. Hopkinson there appears to be no motive. Vimes knows that the only person in the city who would benefit from Vetinari's death is Carrot. Although Carrot is the one person who actually likes Vetinari, Vimes sends him back to Pseudopolis Yard to make sure that no suspicion falls on him.

Nobby arrives at the Royal College of Heralds and is met with scorn. He is sent round the tradesmen's entrance.

Cheery Littlebottom is in his makeshift workshop when Angua enters, and tells Cheery she knows about his secret-he is in fact she. Cheery Littlebottom is a closet female. In dwarf culture females exist only in the purely biological sense, and that is a taboo subject. There is not even a dwarf female pronoun. Angua assures her that her secret is safe. Angua then sees the photographs of Father Tubelcek's eyes and puts this clue with the white clay and the fact that Mr. Hopkinson's killer had no smell, and comes up with only one conclusion-the murderer was a golem.

Nobby emerges from the Royal College of Heralds, struggling under the weight of a huge coat of arms. The Heralds fuss around him.

Angua, Cheery and Detritus go to Igneous the troll's pottery workshop to try and identify the white clay powder. Detritus suspects Igneous of being involved in the Slab trade and forces the troll to help. Igneous says that it is low quality, with a lot of other clay in it in granulated form. He also says that he has recently had a lot of clay stolen. Angua Cheery if it is possible to bake clay in a baker's oven. The answer is no.

After this, Angua takes Cheery to an undead bar called Biers. There, Cheery professes her hatred of werewolves. She has heard that there is one in the Watch, but is blissfully unaware that it is Angua.

Constable Visit goes to see Vimes to tell him that he has translated the writing on the parchment that was placed in Father Tubelcek's mouth. Apparently it is nothing more than inauspicious religious quotations.

Angua and Cheery go to a slaughterhouse run by Mr. Gerhard Sock to test the golem theory. They find the golem Dorfl, who works there. Angua takes a look at Dorfl's chem; golems are brought to life by a small parchment of religious instructions inside their heads. They ask Dorfl if he knows anything about Father Tubelcek's murder, but he replies that he has been in the slaughterhouse working for the last three days. When they have gone, Dorfl goes up to Sock and says that it has to leave for a "holy day". Sock knows that all golems go off somewhere on holy days, or their chems stop working. Also, as Dorfl works twenty-four hours a day for no pay Sock grants this wish. Dorfl wanders away into the town.

In a secret place, a group of people meets to discuss the poisoning of Vetinari. As the dosage of arsenic can be varied, they are content to keep him merely "out of the way".

That evening, Vimes looks after Vetinari personally. Constable Downspout, a gargoyle, is keeping watch out on the roof while the ever-loyal Sergeant Detritus is patrolling around the corridors. Content that he has done everything he can possibly do, Vimes leaves the palace.

Nobby arrives back at Pseudopolis Yard and is met by Sergeant Colon. The distraught corporal tells Colon that he has been made a peer, but that there is no money involved. Nobby's problems are soon forgotten when Dorfl enters the Watch House and gives himself up for murdering Father Tubelcek.

Vimes is walking back over the Brass Bridge when a huge and vicious assailant attacks him. In the autumn fog he cannot make out exactly what it is, but it does have glowing eyes. The attacker flees, and Vimes chases it for some distance before he loses it by the gibbet in Nonesuch Street.

Carrot has been working in Vimes's office and has worked out for himself that a golem was involved in the murder. Therefore he is not surprised when Colon bursts in to tell him that Dorfl has given himself up.

While Nobby points Detritus's crossbow (a converted siege weapon) at Dorfl, Carrot questions the golem. It soon becomes clear that Dorfl did not murder either the priest or Mr. Hopkinson, but it still admits to it. It also admits to every unsolved crime in the city. Carrot asks to see Dorfl's chem, and the golem rears up. Nobby reflexively fires the huge crossbow, but Dorfl plucks the six-foot iron arrow out of the air. In the confusion, Carrot gets behind Dorfl, opens the lid on the top of his head, and removes his chem. The golem freezes. Colon wants to smash it up, but Carrot doesn't let him; Dorfl would not really have hurt him, as golems are not allowed to harm people. At that moment, Vimes walks in.

Ten minutes later, things have calmed down and Nobby has remembered about his peerage. He and Colon go off to get drunk, while Carrot and Vimes remain behind. Carrot believes that the last thing Father Tubelcek saw was Dorfl, but he does not believe that Dorfl was the murderer. The silent work machines spook a lot of people and so there are always rumours that a golem killed someone somewhere once, but in actual fact there is no record of a golem ever harming anyone. Carrot believes that Dorfl put the parchment in the priest's mouth to try and bring him back to life; not understanding how humans work, Dorfl made him a chem. Vimes asks after Angua, and Carrot says that she is "checking a few things." Searching Dorfl, they find a broken matchstick in his hand.

Angua is in wolf form following Dorfl's trail across the city. While golems do not have a smell of their own they do pick up smells associated with whatever they work with, and as Dorfl works in a slaughterhouse his trail is particularly strong. It leads to an abandoned warehouse. There, Angua picks up eleven more scents, each one industrial; that means Dorfl and twelve other golems recently met here. The golems had a heated argument in the warehouse; their words are scribbled on the walls. Other words have been overlapped on top of them, so they are unreadable.

Angua goes back to Pseudopolis Yard to reveal what she has found. They work out that the golems used the matchsticks to draw lots; Dorfl lost, and so went straight to the Watch. Sensing a long night ahead, Angua suggests that they send out for food, but they discover that Nobby has taken all of the petty cash.

In the Mended Drum Nobby is getting extremely drunk and is beginning to annoy the other patrons. Colon is forced to offer them all drinks.

The rest of the Watch has gone to the Bucket, which has become the unofficial policeman's bar. Suddenly three robbers burst in and take Angua hostage. Angua looks around to make sure that Cheery isn't around, and then transforms into a wolf and sends the robbers packing. Meanwhile, in the Mended Drum, Colon's finances are running dry...

Back at Pseudopolis Yard, Cheery tests various substances that she has found. After getting her samples muddled up she accidentally analyses the grease from under Father Tubelcek's fingernails-and is surprised to find traces of arsenic. Vimes orders her to search Father Tubelcek's house for more arsenic, and orders Carrot to investigate all the golems in the city.

Four beggars are enjoying life in the gutter when a golem staggers past. It is not like the others-it is white, and properly sculpted like a human. It bellows like a bull and lurches away.

Thomas Stronginthearm runs an iron foundry. His golem, Dibbuk, enters and he chides it for being away so long on its "holy day". As he watches in horror, Dibbuk calmly places itself under one of the massive drop hammers and smashes itself to fragments. All that is left is the golem's slate, on which is written a lament about the "old man" who "helped us", and expressions of shame and sorrow. It also contains the cryptic message "clay of my clay".

Colon and Nobby have been turfed out into the streets and are helping each other up when the white golem's roar echoes through the streets. Instantly sober, they run.


Early next morning, a knocking at the door of his mansion awakes Vimes. It is Constable Visit, reporting that Lord Vetinari is worse. Apparently Vetinari appeared to be recovering when he went to bed, but is now even worse. Vimes notices that he has been writing in his journal, and takes the book. While Detritus terrorises the staff, Vimes gives the book to the Patrician's clerk-nothing with interest the way he licks his finger before turning the page.

Carrot and Angua arrive at a lumber merchant's warehouse to find that another golem has committed suicide, this time by sawing its head off. This makes four dead golems (if they were ever alive).

Cheery reports to Vimes that there is no trace of arsenic in Vetinari's journal. At that moment, Detritus turns up and reports that a member of the palace staff is missing, a young maid called Mildred Easy. She lives in Cockbill Street in the Shades. As this was where Vimes grew up, he decides to investigate personally.

The heads of the most important Guilds in the city meet in the palace to discuss a possible future ruler. Soon, Corporal Nobbs is mentioned. Initially this is met with hilarity until they realise how easy Nobby would be to manipulate. One of the city's richest society ladies, Lady Selachii, is having a party that night. Plans are made to invite Corporal Nobbs.

Vimes arrives in Cockbill Street, a place of unbearable poverty, for the first time in over thirty-five years. He indulges in a game of hopscotch on his own for a moment, but then stops when the door to the Easy family's tiny, squalid flat is opened and two coffins are carried out. One of them obviously contains a baby.

Carrot and Angua walk through the streets of Ankh-Morpork and find several more golems, smashed to pieces. Suddenly they walk into the middle of a dwarf street fight. As Carrot was adopted by dwarfs and brought up as one, he is able to stop the fight and find out what happened. Apparently Gimlet, who runs a dwarf delicatessen, has been selling poisoned rats. Gimlet vehemently denies poisoning the rats but tells them about Wee Mad Arthur, a gnome who catches rats and sells them to the dwarf eateries.

Vimes finds Mildred Easy, a timid and innocent maid who is terrified of him. He questions her as gently as possible, and finds out that the two deaths were of her grandmother and her baby brother. He also finds out that she took food home form the palace.

Cheery reports that the dead rats have a massive amount of arsenic in them. Colon and Nobby are instructed to investigate, so they find Wee Mad Arthur-six inches high, but as vicious as any human. He says that he never poisons rats, but does report that he found a lot already dead under the cattle districts.

Nobby thinks that the exercise is pointless, as poisoning rats is not illegal. Not wanting to appear lazy, they go about knocking on doors and questioning people.

Vimes returns to the Watch House in a blind fury. He is no nearer to discovering how Vetinari is being poisoned, and now an old lady and a baby are dead because of it.

Colon and Nobby have split up. Colon knocks on a nondescript door. It is opened. The person inside seems co-operative, inviting him in. The door is shut behind him-and locked.

Having previously discounted the possibility of poisoned food, Vimes starts to think about it again. There is no way the cutlery could be poisoned without people noticing, and the same goes for the cruet sets. However, Vimes is intrigued to learn that a dumb waiter carries Vetinari's food up six floors, and all the hatches between the kitchens and his office are unguarded. Someone could wait by one and do anything they like to the food as it goes past.

That night, Vimes orders Vetinari a pizza from a takeaway. He also has a dwarf ride up in the dumb waiter and nail up all the hatches between the kitchens and Vetinari's office. The dwarf admits that there were no signs that the hatches had been opened recently.

Carrot is alone at Pseudopolis Yard. He strips to the waist and then places Dorfl's chem back inside the golem's head. The prone Dorfl comes to life and completes its last action- to attack. As Carrot suspected, however, it cannot harm people and its blows are held back. Carrot convinces Dorfl that he knows that it was lying, and he tells it his theory: the golems made another golem, a "king" golem, who would lead them to freedom. It was made from the clay stolen from Igneous's workshop, but with fragments of the other golems ("clay of my clay") as a symbolical gesture. Something went wrong though, and the king golem went insane and killed Mr. Hopkinson-who baked the golem in his oven- and Father Tubelcek, who wrote the chem. The other golems felt terribly ashamed of the king's crimes, but could not allow it to be destroyed. Therefore they drew lots to determine which golem would take responsibility, and Dorfl lost. Dorfl neither confirms nor denied this theory, but storms out into the streets. Angua and Cheery arrive, and Carrot leaves with Angua. Cheery has started to dress in female clothes, and this makes Carrot-with strict values concerning dwarfs-angry. This in turn makes Angua upset.

Vimes walks back through the streets. Vetinari is being moved from room to room randomly, and there is now no possibility that the food is responsible. Nevertheless, he is still ill. He resolves to think very hard.

Nobby arrives at Lady Selachii's home for the ball, and is reluctantly allowed in by the footman. At first Nobby's working class nature comes as something of a shock to the prim guests, but soon he is laughing and joking with them.

Vimes guesses for himself that the golems used Mr. Hopkinson and Father Tubelcek to make a new golem-but Mr. Hopkinson had a bread oven, and Cheery had said that that was unsuitable for clay. That would mean that the king golem has not been properly made. Vimes reaches down into his desk and finds a bottle of whiskey; he never buys that now, so is must have been planted by someone...

Colon awakes, tied up. In another room he hears voices, planning what to do about him. Apparently they are going to set Meshugah on him; Colon does not know who or what Meshugah is, but he does not intend to find out. Colon discovers that he is lying on a trapdoor that heads down into a sewer full of animal excrement; he is in the cattle districts. Floating on the surface in a little raft is Wee Mad Arthur, who offers to help him. Suddenly the door opens and terrifying king golem storms in. Colon jumps down through the rotted trapdoor into the disgusting muck below. He tries to swim away without breathing, and eventually reaches the river Ankh. He attempts to wash, but as the Ankh itself is filthy he does not in fact get very clean.

At Lady Selachii's function, the nobles have to reassure themselves that Nobby is not really an Earl.

Carrot and Angua arrive to find Dorfl being attacked by a mob. The golem tries to plead for its life but the mob smashes its slate rendering it unable to communicate. Carrot and Angua dismiss the mob and escort Dorfl back to the slaughterhouse, where they buy Dorfl from Mr. Sock. Carrot has Sock write out a receipt, which he places inside Dorfl's head. Dorfl now has no master-he is free. Unable to cope, the golem collapses, gets up, and storms away.

Colon finishes "washing" in the Ankh when the king golem attacks. He and Wee Mad Arthur flee as the golem chases them making a noise like a bull. They climb up a fire escape, and Colon almost reaches the top before the ladder collapses under the weight of the king. Colon is left hanging onto the side of the roof, with the king hanging onto his foot.

Carrot arrives back at Pseudopolis Yard and is met by Mrs. Palm, Mr. Boggis and Dr Downey, the heads of three of the city's most important guilds. They ask to inspect Vimes's office and Carrot reluctantly shows them in-where they find Vimes apparently unconscious at his desk. The room smells strongly of whiskey; there is an empty bottle in Vimes's hand. Dr Downey opens one of Vimes's desk drawers and extracts a packet of white powder. At that moment Vimes springs to life, completely sober, and punches Downey out. Then, in front of everyone, he takes the packet Downey has found and eats the contents. Once the Guild heads leave, Vimes explains to an amazed Carrot that a bottle of whiskey and a packet of arsenic were planted in his office. He was expected to get roaring drunk and then be found, along with the arsenic, by important civic figures. Having realised this, Vimes poured the whiskey onto the carpet and replaced the packet of arsenic with a packet of sugar. Once they have settled down, Carrot says why he thinks the king golem has gone insane: every golem has a chem. These are small and simple, with only a few religious instructions. The chem the golems made for their king was vastly over-complicated though, a huge list of tasks and prerogatives. This information overload drove it insane and it killed the people who made it. The guilt felt by the other golems on its behalf led them to commit suicide in droves. Littlebottom arrives, and they realise what should have been obvious: Father Tubelcek was found with arsenic on him, and he was killed by a golem. Therefore a golem is poisoning the Patrician. As an ordinary golem is forbidden from harming anyone, it must be the king golem. Suddenly Vimes finally realises how they are poisoning Vetinari. He doesn't tell the others what he has found out, but they race to the palace to check if he is right.

Colon lashes out at the king golem, which falls off the roof and smashes to pieces. Colon is too tired to pull himself up, and instead watches horrified as the pieces of the king begin to put themselves back together.

At Lady Selachii's party Nobby suddenly realises the other guests' true motives for inviting him; they want him to volunteer to be the new ruler. Nobby immediately makes a quick exit through a window and runs off into the night.

The Watch storm into the palace kitchens. Vimes finds Mildred Easy and gently asks the terrified maid exactly what she took home from the palace. After assuring her that her job is safe, Vimes gets the answer he is looking for: candles.

Colon begins to panic; he is still hanging off the roof and the king golem has almost rebuilt itself. He has one hope left; he grabs a drainpipe. Unfortunately it parts company with the wall and Colon swings away into the fog.

Dorfl crashes into the slaughterhouse, storms up to the animal pens and frees the livestock. Other employees attack the golem, but they are effortlessly fended off. Dorfl exits again, as if nothing had happened. All that is left are two words written on the wall: "No Master..."

Cheery completes her tests and gives Vimes the answer he has been waiting for: the candlewicks are full of arsenic. The candles are lit; the arsenic vapourises and is breathed in by the Patrician. As Vetinari is healthy the candles were not fatal; but to the young baby and the old lady whom Mildred innocently took home candles for, they were lethal.

Colon drops down into the street and lands on a variety of farmyard animals. Helplessly confused, he ends up riding on the back of an elderly but infuriated bull.

The Watch find a group of people sprawled in an alley with the words "No Master" written on the walls. Carrot finds it hard to believe that Dorfl could have attacked them, but it soon becomes clear that the people were the attackers. At that moment the bull runs past, with the screaming Sergeant Colon on its back. Vimes sends Carrot, Cheery and Angua to stake out Arthur Carry's candle factory while he and Detritus go to Colon's rescue. Wee Mad Arthur runs up and knocks out the bull, and Colon joins Vimes and Detritus. Suddenly a boorish businessman storms up to Vimes and tells him that a golem has wrecked his workshop. Dorfl has indeed paid the man a visit, and has smashed his treadmill that his two golems usually operate. If Dorfl was still there, he may be disappointed to see the two golems immediately start rebuilding the treadmill again.

Carrot, Angua and Cheery arrive at the candle works and see the king golem. It is beginning to crack up; Cheery's theory that was baked in an unsuitable bread oven is correct. Carrot and Angua move in, while Cheery waits outside. Arthur Carry, who is becoming deranged, then holds up Carrot and Angua. He says he is being forced to make poisoned candles, and he also knows that the king golem has killed people. Apparently it wanders off into the streets whenever it runs out of work so his entire staff are trying to keep the supply of raw materials coming in. At that moment the king golem storms in. Carry panics and fires his crossbow, hitting Carrot in the hand. As Carry flees Cheery runs in and attacks the king golem with her battleaxe, but with no effect. The king effortlessly throws her aside and advances on Carrot and Angua-but suddenly the door is broken down and Dorfl enters. He and the king fight, but the king wins by karate- chopping the top of Dorfl's head off and crumpling up his chem.

Vimes and Detritus arrive at the candle works and chase Carry into an alleyway. Vimes goes in after him while Detritus blocks off his other exit. There is silence for a time, and when Vimes investigates he finds Carry dead, his neck broken. Only a vampire could have got into a guarded alley without being noticed. Vimes suddenly realises who the true culprit is.

The rest of the Watch burst in just as the king attacks Carrot again. Detritus fires his huge crossbow, but the bolt bounces off the king. Suddenly Dorfl comes back to life, swings a huge punch, and decapitates the king. Several dozen chems spiral down to the floor, each one containing the hopes and dreams of the other golems. Vimes asks the badly damaged Dorfl how he is alive without a chem. The golem writes: "Words in the heart cannot be taken". It seems that freedom can do the work of a chem. At that point they notice Cheery, who is hanging precariously over a vat of molten tallow. Angua is forced to transform into a wolf to rescue her, and burns her mouth on Cheery's silver vest. Vimes orders Dorfl to be rebuilt-and given the ability to speak.

Dorfl's remains are taken to Igneous's workshop. Igneous is reluctant to give Dorfl a voice (it is generally held as blasphemy) but is forced to comply when Detritus smashes open one of his statues; it is hollow, filled with thousands of dollars worth of Slab. As Dorfl will have to remain the oven overnight Vimes leaves, leaving Carrot and Detritus to keep watch. The next morning Vimes returns to find Carrot and Detritus asleep, but suddenly the handle on the kiln begins to turn, the door opens and Dorfl steps out. Vimes needs Dorfl for a special task, and the talking golem leaves with him.

They go to see the person who organised the poisoning of Vetinari: Dragon, King of Arms. Vimes tricks him into admitting knowledge of the candles, thereby confirming that it was him. He suggests to Dragon that Vetinari was to be removed slowly, so as to gently ease a new ruler in. Captain Carrot is the obvious choice, but as he is genuinely fair and just he would be impossible to manipulate by the nobility. Dragon then faked Nobby's heritage so as to give the city a more easily controlled ruler. Dragon replies that this theory is mostly correct but for the motive-he believes that Carrot would make a good ruler, but due to his relationship with a werewolf any children he has will be of uncertain nature. Vimes has him arrested for poisoning the Patrician, and also for the murder of little William Easy and his grandmother.

Vimes goes to see the now recovered Lord Vetinari. Vetinari shows Vimes something in the Rats Chamber, the palace conference hall. Apparently earlier that morning there was a meeting of civic noblemen there, and a watchman walked in and slammed an axe into the table. Vimes denies it, although it is obvious it was him. He also denies burning down the Royal College of Heraldry (to the considerable distress of Dragon) but it is clear that he was responsible for this as well.

The Watch look on in delight as Dorfl (who has been sworn in as a watchman, as was his wish), a purely logical creature, has an in depth debate with the city's priests over the nature of religion. Angua, on patrol with Cheery, reveals that she has changed her mind about leaving and has decided to stay with Carrot after all.

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